The Tobago Cays

Imagine Of Falmouth Online Log
Jon Constantine
Mon 29 Jun 2009 13:30
Mon 29th June 09 to Tues 30th June 09

Hurray, we're going to the Tobago Cays today.  The weather has cleared and the forecast is looking good.  We do however have mixed feelings about how good they will actually be.  We've heard a lot about the Cays from other cruisers: some raving about them while others were totally disappointed, with seemingly nothing in between.  Well, there's only one way to find out... We'll make our own decision.

We had a fabulous sail with 16-18 knots of wind coming from the East and just forward of the beam.  The sun was out with very few clouds so it looks like we maybe rain-free for a while.   The rod has been  out all morning.  We're very hopeful this time as last year we caught a Yellow Tail Snapper on this route.  It's rare not to catch a fish between Canouan and Mayreau apparently.  And we weren't disappointed.  A little after lunch having just sailed past Canouan (we're not stopping here this time) the line went whizzing through the reel.  It felt like a biggie and it was a bit of a fighter.  Jon slowed the boat down as we'd been doing about 6.5knots, and I slowly reeled in.  Damn, it's a Barracuda, about 5lb we reckoned.  Although Ciguatera is not so prevalent in the Windwards it's still not wise to keep the big ones so lucky for him, he was sent swiftly back into the sea.  So out went the rod again and within 15 minutes the reel was whizzing yet again.  Another little fighter.  Please, not another Barra, or the same one for that matter!  This time it was a 5.5 lb Yellow Fin Tuna.  Fantastic.  We had to use our home made gaff to get it aboard and then quickly poured some rum down it's throat.  More humane and less gruesome than a whack on the head with a winch handle!  Less messy too.  That's our fishing done for the day; this one will keep us going for a while.  We continued on, carefully making our way through the shoals and reefs before dropping anchor in 5 metres of clear blue water, on a sandy bottom, at the entrance to the channel between the main islands of Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau. 26 miles logged in 5 hours arriving at 14.30.  I
t's beautiful here and there are only 2 other boats anchored nearby.  Me thinks we are going to like the Tobago Cays.  Once the boat was tidied up, the customary arrival beer had been drunk and the fish gutted and filleted (6 good sized ones), we hopped into the dinghy to explore while we still have plenty of daylight. 

Tobago Cays is a national park and is made up of a group of small, deserted islands protected from the sea by Horseshoe Reef.  We dinghied through the channel and into the 'lagoon' behind the 2 main islands and hauled our dinghy up the beach of the very small island of Baradel.  There are quite a few yachts in the lagoon, mainly catamarans, but it's by no means busy.  Wonderful.  We've heard that it gets very crowded here during the holiday season.  This is definitely the time of year to come although the weather can be a little unpredictable.

We had a fabulous time snorkelling in the shallows.  The water was a little murky here with lots of algae and no coral to speak of.  We came across two large Southern Sting Rays who seemed very keen to make our acquaintance.  It was a bit nerve racking to be honest seeing them come out of the gloom and then just as quickly disappear!  They came very close to us at times!  They won't attack unless threatened but even so, look what happened to Steve Irwin!  We soon snorkelled out of their territory and into the centre of the lagoon.  I've never seen so many turtles in one place and they were quite unconcerned by us swimming with them.  Lots of fish too.  I'll bring my underwater camera tomorrow.  So, it was back to the boat for showers and cocktails followed by fresh Tuna on the BBQ. 
We had a quick visit from the Rangers earlier and decided to pay for just 2 nights.  We may stay longer but we'll see how it goes. 

It's Tuesday morning and we are very keen to snorkel on Horseshoe Reef so off we set with all our snorkelling gear, my underwater camera and a picnic.  I'll let the pictures do the talking.....

                            Snorkelling on Horseshoe Reef - the recent storms have almost destroyed the corals but they are coming back slowly.

                                                                                        Parrotfish and Yellowtail Snapper

                             Heading to Jamesby  for lunch                                                                               The beach on Jamesby


                                                                              Lunch on our own deserted island - for a while anyway

                                                                                             Local wildlife on Jamesby

                                         Don't ask!                                                                                 Jon practising his golf swing - straighten that arm!

                                         Baradel                                                                               Petit Tabac in the distance, on the other side of the reef

                 One of the many turtles in the lagoon                                                                           This big guy is a Palometa

                 Queen Triggerfish (not very clear I'm afraid)                                                     A Smooth Trunkfish - loads of these around

It was the perfect day.  We like the Tobago Cays very much!