Blog update Saturday 12th March 2011
Brian & Loretto Linehan
Sat 12 Mar 2011 20:18
Since then we have been in St Lucia, Martinique, Bequia, Union Island, St
Vincent, Grenada and the Tobago Cays. It has been an absolutely fantastic
few weeks and has gone by so fast - I can hardly believe it is March
Eleanor was with us until 6th February and during her stay we visited the
majestic Pitons in St Lucia. These are two huge towers of mountain with a
beautiful bay in between. The national flag of St Lucia shows two
triangles which represent the Pitons. The shore of the bay is taken up by
the Jalouise Plantation, a 5* very elegant resort which is set on the
site of an 18th century sugar plantation and uses some of the original
buildings while a lush rainforest surrounds it. We took up a mooring in
the bay and then dinghied ashore to enjoy the white beach and the bar and
watched a stunning sunset. We ended up staying here for a couple of
nights as the ambiance of the hotel and the breathtaking surroundings made
it very, very enjoyable. Eleanor, myself and Cliona enjoyed a treatment
in the hotel spa which is housed in, what could only be described as,
treehouses - each individual room is traditionally built on stilts in the
forest and joined together with wooden bridges. Really the place to
unwind and relax and we did!
We re-visited Martinique to show it to Eleanor and to enjoy the Carrefour!
And then returned to Marigot Bay, St Lucia, before she had to fly home.
There we ate at the Rainforest Restaurant - (Bono (U2) has eaten here!)
and I can only say it was the best meal I have had in years. Location -
beautiful, waitors - really friendly and helpful, and the food - out of
We hired a car to take Eleanor to the airport which is at the bottom of
the island. This gave us a chance to see what inland St Lucia was like.
The interior is very mountainous with beautiful rainforests but the towns
and villages inland were very, very poor. Some of them were like the
townships in South Africa - just shacks. There was an election rally in
every one of them on the way down to the airport as there are national
elections in the summer and people were being very vocal and enthusiastic
about their support for their candidate. We got slightly lost in a town
called Soufriere and stopped to ask directions and the local priest spoke
to us - and where was he from - Ireland of course! Just a brief moment in
time but he left a big impression on both Brian and I - we would both love
to meet him again. It’s funny the effect some people have on you even if
you only meet them for a minute or so.
We left St Lucia and then headed down to St Vincent and the Grenadines
which is made up of the islands of St Vincent, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan,
Union Island, the Tobago Cays and a few other smaller ones. Unfortunately
St Vincent does not have a good reputation among sailors as there have
been many robberies etc. and some of the bays are absolute no-go areas.
So we decided not to stop there but head straight for Bequia. But sailing
by on the way down what we saw was an absolutely beautiful island. It has
the lushness of the rainforest, multiple craggy peaks, towering mountains
and La Soufriere, the volcano.
The island was named by Christopher Columbus as he found it on St
Vincent’s Day. The island was then occupied by a fierce tribe which
Columbus called the Caribs. They fiercely defended their island from any
intruders and actually enslaved a shipload of slaves which was wrecked off
Bequia. This turned out to be a bad move as over the following years the
slaves themselves turned against the Caribs and eventually took over the
island. These “Black Caribs” were eventually defeated by the British who
promptly shipped them off to Honduras. There is also a link with Captain
Blight of the Bounty - after the Bounty excitement he had a new ship
“Providence” and on this he brought more than five hundred breadfruit
trees from Polynesia to St Vincent - the breadfruit could be compared to
the potato in Ireland - totally sustaining the indigenous population!
But we passed the whole thing by and eventually got to Bequia. We only
stayed one night there as we wanted to get to Grenada. Friends had been
telling us that it was absolutely beautiful but we did not get to see the
interior just the main town of Port Elizabeth which is quite quaint with a
very colorful waterfront with a veg/fruit market and vendors selling
t-shirts, handicrafts etc. Bequia is enormously popular with yachts
people. And is also has a traditional whaling industry - local whalers
can take four whales a year and they do it the old fashioned way with open
sailing boats and hand thrown harpoons!
The next day we decided to depart for another bay on Bequia - Friendship
bay - which on paper looked beautiful. A bad decision. We had wind
against tide and enormous sea swells - about 20ft. The decision was
revoked and we headed for another island, Canouan.
Canouan recently made the headlines in Ireland as the island where Dermot
Desmond is going to invest in an upmarket resort - it is a beautiful
island and will really benefit from the investment. This was a very
special day - Ciara’s birthday and we marked the occasion by having a
celebration meal ashore in the Tamarind Beach Hotel. The birthday cake
was produced on the boat along with the presents - mostly books which
Ciara loved (she devours books!). It was a little rolly in the anchorage
so the next morning we moved on to Union Island.
Picture a small green mountainous island partially surrounded by a reef
with the dark blue of the deep sea on the outside and the
blue/green/turquoise sea inside the reef. It is picture perfect
Caribbean. We anchored inside the reef at Clifton, the main town, and
watched the white tops of the waves outside the reef while we were
perfectly calm. We had to check out of St Vincent with Customs &
Immigration here so we took a trip ashore and enjoyed the various shops
and street vendors. It is a really pleasant town to walk through with
very friendly people - definitely a place to come back to. The atmosphere
was welcoming. It was so beautiful sitting in the cockpit taking in the
scenery. Unfortunately we had the lovely experience of having a charter
catamaran near us with very enthusiastic swimmers (read noisy!) who went
“au natural” - children avert your eyes! Thankfully after they had
enjoyed the water they upped anchor and left leaving the peace and quiet
Our next stop was the island of Carriacou which is part of Grenada. The
island was first colonised by the French but today’s population are mostly
descended from African slaves. It is an island with a large history of
smuggling, mostly alcohol - it is said that it is easier to find rum in
Carriacou than fuel.
Here we anchored briefly in Hillsborough Bay to check in with Customs &
Immigration. I was not overly impressed with the town but have to add
that I did not see a lot of it. According to the tour books it is a
beautiful island but we did not explore this time. We moved to Tyrell
Bay, a large peaceful bay. and anchored there that night. Brian took
Jack ashore to play on the beach while the girls and I had some quiet
The next day saw us arrive finally at Grenada. The island was originally
called Concepcion by Columbus when he discovered it on his third visit.
It’s name was changed by subsequent Spanish sailors as it reminded them of
the green hills above Granada in Andalusia. The British kept the name
when they took over. The French then came along and after much bloody
fighting they had the native Carribs penned in on a high ridge on the
north coast of the island. Rather than surrender the Carribs jumped and
the cliff now has the name Morne des Sauteurs (Jumpers Bluff but locally
called Carrib’s Leap). The English and French continued to fight over the
years but eventually it became completely English in 1683 after the Treaty
of Versailles. It became an independent member of the Commonwealth in
The island’s more recent history will be familiar to most of us with the
left wing coup in 1979 by Maurice Bishop. He was particularly friendly
with the Cubans who helped build the strategically significant airport
supposedly giving Ronald Reagan nightmares about soviet missiles being
located there! He was assassinated in 1983 and, with the subsequent
upheavals, the USA along with Grenada’s eastern Caribbean neighbours
stepped in and a more conservative regime was put in place. Obviously
this upheaval did not do a lot for the economy of the island but it has
concentrated on developing its tourist trade and, from a yachting point of
view, provides many attractions - marinas, lift out yards, Sailing
We arrived at St George’s which is the main town. We opted to stay at the
new marina there, Port Louis, which is run by Camper & Nicholson. This is
perfectly located inside the port and is a very well thought-out area with
good docks, great staff who help take lines etc., nice restaurants and
bars and a swimming pool. It was not expensive to stay and we enjoyed the
luxury for two nights.
One purpose of getting to Grenada was to fly Bono home to the UK.
Unfortunately with the various immigration rules in most of the Caribbean
islands getting an import permit for him to go ashore would be long and
complicated and he did not fulfil most of the veterinary requirements.
Grenada would give an import permit as he had all the required shots and
we could fly him from there with BA. Getting the import permit was
trouble free - I took all his documents to the Chief Veterinary Officer in
the government buildings, a five minute walk from the marina. After
explaining what we wanted to do all the documents were signed and Bono was
free to land and go to the airport. The staff were so friendly and
nothing was too much trouble.
Unfortunately BA Cargo’s rep. at the airport did not reflect this
experience. Not returning calls, not phoning us because we were calling
from a UK mobile, not giving enough information - the list goes on. On
the Tuesday, 22nd Feb, we agreed that BA would book Bono to fly the
following Tuesday, 1st March. Email confirmation came through on the
Wednesday to say he was being booked and we would receive the airway bill
in due course. Nothing heard until Sunday when we got an email to say
that there was computer problems and no booking was possible until the
following Saturday. By this time we had made arrangements to leave on the
3rd March and if we did not go then, the weather would permit further
travel for a while. More phone calls - with me suggesting that they phone
BA in London and get the booking made over the phone and explaining our
own travel plans, and eventually the booking was made for the 1st March.
So we arrive at the airport with the dog - having had one hours notice
that his presence was required at 1pm and not 4pm as previously suggested.
And we are effectively ignored for about 45 mins. Eventually, again, the
paperwork was completed and we were told to return with the dog at 5pm.
We duly arrived back and after much petting and cuddling of the dog by the
children, Bono left the Caribbean and was on his way back to the UK.
On the boat that night the BA flight took off over head and we waved
goodbye to our canine companion.
And why return the dog anyway. Well two things really - he was becoming
more and more adventurous. Originally he was content to stay on the boat
but in the last month he jumped off the boat a couple of times - into the
water and onto a dock! And, as I said previously, we did not have
permission for him to land anywhere. In fact some of the islands would
“humanely euthanise” him if caught illegally onland. We were on St Lucia,
in Marigot Bay, enjoying an ice cream while we watched Asteroid on her
mooring just yards away. A boat boy walked on in front of us with a
bedraggled dog - we all thought “that looks like Bono” and guess what - it
was. They told us to get him back on board asap before Customs saw him.
So he wanted to stretch his legs more and unfortunately at the moment he
doesn’t qualify for any of the import permits except in Grenada. When he
is back in the UK he will get his Pet Passport which will make it easier
to get the import permits next year.
Also we have decided to return to the UK for the summer months. You have
probably guessed that we changed our plans as if we had stuck to the
original plan we should be in the Galapagos Islands by now. We felt that
we had not seen enough of the Caribbean and it is such a beautiful place.
And we have a few things to sort out in the UK and Ireland. So home we
will be from June to November. The boat is being taken out of the water
for the hurricane season in Antigua and we fly back to UK on 26th May. So
we are now taking it easy - no rush to be anywhere (now that the dog is
gone) and enjoying taking in the sights and sounds of the islands on
After Grenada we will make our way back up to Antigua -slowly!
Well Grenada is an absolutely beautiful island. It is mountainous, lush
green rainforest and wonderful golden beaches and coastline. We just saw
a glimpse of its interior and hope to see more some day. We stayed in St
George’s, then moved onto Prickly Bay (where we saw Bono’s aircraft
overhead). Prickly Bay is a lovely anchorage, somewhat rolly at times but
very pleasant. It is obviously a more well-to-do area as the houses
surrounding the bay are large and very comfortable looking with pools and
wonderful colorful flower-filled gardens. We ate in one of the
restaurants - De Big Fish and had a wonderful meal accompanied by live
music. There is a shopping mall just minutes by taxi, which is beside
the Grenada Medical University - so you do your shopping (somewhat
comparable to halfway between Sainsburys and Waitrose) and meet all the
students still in their scrubs! Very well stocked and pleasant to shop
We also stayed in Petit Calivigny, a small bay in the larger Clarkes Court
Bay further down the south coast. From here we dingied over to Le Phare
Blue marina around the corner. They were holding a regatta on the weekend
we were there. On the Saturday we watched the rugby in Clarkes Court
Marina and on the Sunday we enjoyed another lovely meal in Le Phare Blue
Marina while enjoying music and the after-sailing noise that usually
accompanies a regatta worldwide - tales of sailing exploits greatly
exaggerated as the night goes on! Another advantage of Le Phare Blue
marina is the swimming pool which the kids loved. And the food - really,
Soon though it was time to say goodbye to Grenada and we stopped the last
night in the marina of the Grenada Yacht Club in St George’s. Stern to
mooring which proved to be fun (not) with no bow thruster and a boat that
does not like going in reverse. But we had friendly help on the dock to
take the lines and enjoyed a peaceful night. Next morning it was an early
start - check out of Grenada Customs and then onto Union Island to check
in with St Vincent Customs.
The Tobago Cays were our next destination. Now these are what everyone
imagines the Caribbean islands to be like (google them or look at our
photos on flickr.com). These are a group of small, deserted islands
protected from the sea by Horseshoe Reef. And the colours - gold, green,
blue, turquoise. Golden beaches - clear, see to the bottom sea and reefs
to snorkel on. It is stunning. We anchored and then onto the beach to
enjoy life on a deserted island for a while. So peaceful - I am really
looking forward to going back there someday. And they also filmed parts
of Pirates of the Caribbean there!
Speaking of Pirates of the Caribbean out next stop was Wallilabou on St
Vincent. I know I said that we were wary of stopping at St Vincent for a
night but this a quite famous cove as, yes, the pirates movies 1,2 & 3
were filmed there and some of the set still stands. It was the set for
Port Royale and they have a building dedicated to memorabilia - lists of
shooting schedules, plot lines, actors schedules -flight times hotels etc.
It was really interesting.
Wallilabou itself is so poor. It is also very, very beautiful. In fact
the whole of St Vincent looks absolutely beautiful. It is such a pity
that robberies etc are a fact of life as a bit of investment would do the
people a world of good. Even just to bring more sailors there would help.
While we were there we were told that the weekend before a boat as robbed
in Wallilabou as the people returned from a meal ashore. This information
came from a local man who rowed his boat over to us and asked if we had
any spare soap and shampoo! We also were asked for old children’s clothes
and luckily we had just done a round up of the kids wardrobes and were
able to help out. So little was asked of us. I would definitely go back
there and would encourage more sailors to stop there. The people we met
were so friendly and helpful.
I am sorry if I do not do it justice.
After Wallilabou it was back to St Lucia and Marigot Bay. Such a
difference in countries and them only a couple of hours sail apart.
We are now here until Monday as we are trying to get the watermaker fixed
which looks unlikely. We have also just watched the rugby in comfort in
the Marigot Bay Marina hotel pool bar - kids happily playing in the pool,
parents happily watching the tv and not so happy now after the result!
But hopefully next week will bring a better match and result - we just
have to find somewhere to watch it.
So goodbye for now. And remember go onto www.flickr.com/photos/asteroid68.