27th March 2012 – Wallilabou
After our few lotus eating like days in Bequia, it was time for a decent
sail north to St
Vincent. So, we set
sail around midday on Saturday 24th March for Wallilabou Bay.
One can clear in through customs there, the photograph in the guide book
was very attractive and there was novelty value in that many scenes in the first
two “Pirates of the Caribbean” were filmed
there. It was Port Royal.
We’d rung ahead to arrange to take a mooring but inevitably were
approached some way off by rival boat boys wanting to take a line ashore for us
– it seemed at one point that a turf war might break out. If only the lads would do what the guys
in Dominica have done and get together
and agree a rota it would save time and tempers for everybody.
The Anchorage restaurant has made the most of the film connection with
many artefacts, photographs, storyboards laying out the plot and still photos
from PotC2 (we think) copies of scene shot directions and even letters from the
crew objecting to changes to working conditions! Regrettably, neither Mr Depp nor Miss
Knightley were anywhere to be seen.
Odd, that. Must have been
unavoidably detained elsewhere. I’m
sure we e-mailed to let them know we were coming.
Pirates of the Caribbean – Port Royal Quay aka Wallilabou Bay
Note cannon et al on the waterfront
A house built for the film – it has no back, just
A pretty life-like pirate – note cotton bales,
made from polystyrene, in the loft in the background.
The dock where Capt Jack Sparrow stepped ashore from his sinking ship
Arnamentia not sinking just beyond
As a grand finale before Bob returned home, we decided that we would do
something rather different from the normal “tour round the island in a taxi” day
out. Quite what possessed three
retirees to set off on a sixteen mile trip up the La Soufriere volcano (height
4048ft) is not certain. Since the
decision to go was made in the middle of the afternoon, rum punch had nothing to
do with it! We were sceptical about
the local guide’s promise that it would only take a couple of hours – the
freebie tourist map indicated it was a round trip of about 16 miles – and, of
course, it was pretty uphill one way and pretty downhill the other. Chris Doyle’s guide indicated 24. Experience indicates that it certainly
wasn’t a 24 mile round trip – it just felt like it. An early start saw us stepping out
smartly, fording three streams (shades of Sandhurst again – flood the boots early to raise morale),
the beach and then a lava track made by the last eruption in 1979. Then the track took us up steeply
through rain forest along overgrown, often muddy tracks, sometimes on knife edge
ridges, all the time passing small farms buried in the hills. Many of these grow what is the most
profitable, if illegal, crop in St
Vincent. This is ganja
country and some of the locals grow it; the police tolerate it. Anyway, it’s a long way to go in your
smart police uniform to stop it.
The going was quite tough, not made any easier by the heat and
humidity. Jon slipped very badly at
one point and landed on a broken branch – he was clearly in a lot of pain and
thought he might have broken a rib – it would be the third time so he knows what
it feels like. However, he
soldiered on – he wasn’t going to be outdone by his wife – or either of the
shoeless guides! One of these was
good enough to point out that the people who live and farm here go up and down
daily (shoeless) carrying sacks of fertilizer up and bringing harvested crops
down. He knew how to make us feel
good! It was a relief after about
two and a half hours to get above the tree-line and enter terrain that was more
like that of the Lake District or Brecon Beacons where it was much cooler with a
really strong wind blowing. Like the Brecon Beacons each summit, until you were
actually within spitting distance of the final objective (and, of course you
didn’t know that until you got there at last), proved to be a false summit with
another half mile to the next (assuredly real) one. Nonetheless, another 40 minutes saw us
at the rim of the crater and the sight the other side made the effort totally
worthwhile. It was like a living
geology lesson with a massive semi spherical volcanic plug in the middle of a
huge crater belching out sulphurous fumes.
Whether these had been going since the last eruption in 1979 or heralded
the start of another one we never found out.
Where we were headed – La Soufriere – centre peak in the background -
from the beach.
Where we came from – the beach (towards left of picture in the
background) from the crater rim.
And, we’re as fresh as daisies.
La Soufriere still smouldering beneath
the clouds. A view from the crater
rim to the plug.
The descent was quite a lot easier but months aboard a yacht hadn’t toned
walking muscles much. The round
trip had taken nearly seven hours.
We were right to have been somewhat sceptical when Kenny, our principal
guide, had said that we’d be back in about four! He’d finally convinced us when he said
“Last week I take some ol’ people up dere an dey really enjoy it, man”. Yeah; what do you mean by “ol’”,
buddy? There’s a challenge if ever
we heard one. But, we’d do that
again. It was an achievement and a
welcome physical stretch after a long period aboard. The final treat of the day was a visit
View Falls where we all stood under the
waterfall, washed the mud off and had a penetrating massage all at the same
Throughout, we were intrigued by the chatter going on
between the two guides. It was
impossible to understand a word of it.
It’s English, of a sort, but delivered at such speed and in such a
dialect that the normal English ear has the greatest difficulty in deciphering
anything at all. When these guys
speak to you, however, they do so in the same sort of slightly broken English
but without either the pace or many of the idiosyncrasies of the local
language. They laugh heartily at
the fact that you cannot hope to understand what they are on about when talking
amongst themselves – and they love it.
Their pop songs are much the same.
Bob had a flight to catch from Grenada on the evening of Wednesday
28th March from Grenada. Having dawdled as long as we could
afford to in St Vincent we set sail after lunch on Tuesday 27th to do
the 80NM passage back to Grenada with the intention of anchoring off
sometime that night and sorting ourselves out the next morning.