May 2018 - Bequia to Carriacou

1 May 2018   Bequia to Tobago Cays, St Vincent
We were up at 07:00 and after a quick breakfast, set sail towards Canouan.  After going past the bizarre Moon-hole houses, we rounded the south-west headland and had a lovely beam reach for 3-4 hours to Rameau Bay.  We anchored in 7 metres of water in a patch of sand at 12°43.48N 061°19.99W, which is surrounded by broken coral and weed.  It’s not a very secure anchorage and the boats swirl around in the current and wind, so we decided to move on after lunch.

We went for a snorkel around the head land, which was rocky reef.  The water visibility was ok, but there wasn’t very much to see.  After a nice bowl of Calaloo Soup, we upped the anchor and headed off to the Tobago Cays sailing in through a small pass just east of Baline Rocks.  We dropped our anchor at 12°37.81N 061°21.42W in 4 metres on fabulous holding sand. 

Tobago Cays

The Tobago Cays is still very pretty, but the wind howls across the shallow fringing reef and it’s quite bouncy.  A park ranger soon came over and extracted the fee of $10EC (£2.50) per person per night, which is very reasonable.   It’s getting to the end of the tourist season, so there were only about 30 boats in the anchorage, the majority being large chartered catamarans.

2 May 2018   Tobago Cays, St Vincent
After waiting for the sun to get a high in the sky, we went snorkelling in the turtle protection area.  It’s buoyed off and no dinghies are allowed in the area, which is good because there’s a lot of traffic, including kite-surfers whizzing about.  The conservation efforts are obviously still working well because we saw at least ten turtles in an hour.  The water is lovely and clear, so I took a few nice photos.

We tried snorkelling over by the reef towards the small boat channel, but the reef is in very poor condition.  We spent the afternoon chilling out and doing a few chores like running the water maker.  In the evening, we were invited for a glass or two of wine with Rob & Cathy on “B&G”, a 53ft Hallberg Rassy.  

3 May 2018   Tobago Cays to Saline Bay, Mayreau
It was another bouncy night with the anchor snatching as we veered about in the strong winds.  Last night, I managed to cut my foot on our swim ladder as I leapt onto our sugar scoop, so I didn’t want to go snorkelling until it has a chance to heal.  

Green Turtle

We chilled out until 10:00 and then sailed out of the south west channel between Jamesby and Petite Bateau.  We had good light, so the channel was easy to navigate, but as we came out of the shelter of the reef, we had big, steep waves on our port beam, rolling us over dramatically.  We hadn’t prepared very well for rough seas, so things were crashing to the floor down below.

It was only a couple of miles of open water, so we were soon rounding the south tip of Mayreau and into the calm shelter of Saline Bay.  There’s a lot of weed on the sea bed, so we dropped the anchor in a patch of sand at 12°38.05N 061°23.84W in 5 metres of water.  It’s a beautiful bay with a lovely white sand beach and coconut trees swaying in the breeze - one of my favourite anchorages in the Grenadines.  

I had another go at getting North Sails to accept responsibility for adjusting our baggy mainsail.  After a few stroppy emails with their Singapore office, I finally decided to get in contact with the headquarters in Rhode Island, USA.  I’m now in contact with Bill, the Global Cruising Products Manager with whom I'm now having a civil conversation.  

Bill has come up with lots of suggestions and information about the relationship between the rigging and sail shape, so I’m planning to get the rig inspected and adjusted when we get to Trinidad.  Bill has given me a contact in Trinidad, who will come to inspect the sail and he has said that if there’s a fault with the sail, then they will be “open-minded” about who pays for the adjustments.  I’ve said that I’ll report back in a couple of months.  

In the evening, we invited Anthony and Sally from “Fortino” over for cocktails.  We’re slowly building up a circle of British friends.

4 May 2018    Saline Bay, Mayreau
It was a lovely, albeit a windy day, so we went for a walk around the island.  (I have some hiking notes on this.)  I was pleasantly surprised to see that there wasn’t much Sargassum Weed on the windward beaches.  I guess that the reefs of the Tobago Cays to windward are keeping the weed away.

Windward Beach, Mayreau

Our walk took us to Saltwhistle Bay which hasn’t changed much.  There’s a hotel there and the tiny bay is always crammed with charter boats who pick up moorings for £15 per night - we don’t bother to go there.

After a long walk up the steep hill, we looked in at the small church at the top of the island - it’s very cute and has a great view across to the Tobago Cays.  On the way down the hill, we stopped off at the Combination Café which is a nice restaurant with a view over the sea.  Glenys indulged herself with a Lobster Sandwich.

We stopped off at the Boat House beach bar and said hello to Dennis, who is a friend of Glenys’ brother, Gareth.  We chatted for a while and Dennis says that business is not too good because the aggressive boat boys are intercepting the tourists before they get to Dennis’ restaurant.  The boat boys are not from Mayreau and are costing him business.  Grenada has banned boat boys from selling beach barbeques and Dennis hopes that a similar ban will be put in place in St Vincent.

We had a quiet afternoon and evening.

5 May 2018    Saline Bay, Mayreau
It’s a Saturday and the start of the charter week, so our nice quiet anchorage was inundated with boats.  I couldn’t believe it when two French catamarans anchored 20 foot in front of us and blocked our view of the beach.   The worse thing was that they didn’t stay on-board to enjoy the view that they’d stolen, but immediately went ashore for a very long lunch.

Damn Charter Catamarans

To make matters worse, we then had a German boat anchor close next to us with two aged naturalists on board.  They proceeded to rip off their clothes and expose their flappy, old bodies to us.  Talk about euro-stereotypes…

In the afternoon, we went for a snorkel.  We picked up a mooring on the wreck on the Purina, but the water clarity was shocking and it was very windy.  Glenys stayed in the dinghy while I went for a quick 5 minute swim around.  The wreck is in 8 metres of water and has collapsed a little bit more since I last dove on it 6 years ago - there’s lots of sea life and I had a shoal of 20 large Barracuda swimming around me for a while.  Unfortunately, it’s in a Marine Park area and you have to go with a local dive guide.  We went for a snorkel at Monkey Point, but the visibility was very poor as well, so we soon gave up.

We went to “Fortino” for sundowners.

6 May 2018    Saline Bay, Mayreau
I woke up all dynamic and tackled some maintenance jobs.  The main bilge sump is under the companionway steps and is the central point in the boat where all water in the bilges accumulates.  It’s impossible to empty completely and there’s always some foul, oily water in the bottom - it was pretty disgusting.  To make matters worse, the two fridge compressors are on the bulkhead above the sump and, being constantly in a humid environment, they were going rusty.

Cleaning the Bilge

I spent all day cleaning, sanding and wire brushing hanging upside down in the bilge.  The three seacocks and the painted surfaces in the bilge have come up fairly clean.  I degreased and de-rusted the fridge compressors and then sprayed them with black paint, so they look much better.   All the pipework and wiring is good with no signs of wear.

We received an enquiry from a couple in Brazil wanting to buy Alba.  They say that they are very interested, but they have a limited budget and would we accept an 18% discount on our asking price?  They wanted to clarify the price before they go to the expense of flying from Brazil to Grenada.  We wrote back and said that we’re not in any rush to sell the boat and, although we have some flexibility, their offer was too low.