13 14 800N 61 16 200W St Vincent & The Grenadines
We had a really fab sail from St Lucia to St Vincent, more dolphins on the way which is always special. The wind acceleration zone at the north end of St Vincent was a doddle as we reefed in time and Joy roared southwards slicing through the swell. The north has a volcano which is beautiful lush green with its head high in the clouds, so once through the acceleration zone the wind shadow arrives. Luckily only briefly we bobbed, and then found a wonderful onshore breeze which took us down to Wallilabou bay, where we were greeted by half a dozen boat boys all hanging on to the side of Joy wanting to sell their fruit and jewellery, only we hadn’t even anchored yet! A helpful chap (his fee determined in advance of accepting his offer of help!) took our aft line ashore once we had dug our anchor in, it is only a small bay but the water is very deep so we were secured by anchor and aft line tied to a sturdy tree. Then the bun fight started, angry boat boys all wanting you to buy their mangoes, arguments and swearing firing between them, so after buying a few limes and mangoes from one man that had approached us first and in a much friendlier manner, I refused all others apologising that I couldn’t buy from everyone. Miserable faces and requests for beer or coke, one last hanger on got a beer just to get rid of him. The welcoming sight of Pannikin arriving in the bay meant that they all buggered off to annoy him and we were left in peace!
The bay was used to film some scenes from The Pirates of the Caribbean and part of the set has been left behind with a few sorry artefacts and photos. The customs office is a room in a building that had a false front placed on it during filming to make it look old – this still remains! Customs open from 5 til 6pm here – oh but not today as in typical Caribbean style they chose not to turn up. A few cold beers in the strange bar by the dock and then back to Joy for Steve’s birthday dinner and a few laughs.
The rock arch at the entrance to the bay was used in the movie too, to hang pirates from!
The following day Pannikin headed south in readiness for Ange’s return from Oz, we motored north to another bay which has a permanent customs office at Chateaubelair. We were again greeted by a local in a kayak claiming to be famous as he is mentioned in Chris Doyle’s cruising guide and felt the need to dish out anchoring tips to the captain. This didn’t go down so well, and even after pointing out that he had anchored Joy 365 times this year alone and had a depth gauge too so really didn’t need to pay for advice from someone in a kayak who had never been in a sailing boat before, the chap still barked orders to reverse to dig the anchor in. I thought for a second I saw steam coming out of Captain’s ears but I guess it was a hot day. We went ashore with the man still waiting at our boat, and as we approached the dock there were two more waiting to help us tie our dinghy up. I left Jez in the dinghy keeping a beady eye on our anchoring guru, and hot footed it to the Customs office (a lady’s house along the beach). Despite being smack bang in the middle of her opening times, she wasn’t there. The guys on the dock informed me she had gone into town and didn’t know when she would be back! I was directed to the police station instead as immigration is apparently there. When I entered the reception area, the guy behind the desk was sparko, away with the fairies having a lovely dream in front of the oscillating fan. A few ‘excuse me’ and ‘good morning’s didn’t arouse the sleeping policeman, so I walked back out the door and tried again with a louder and jollier GOOD MORNING! He woke, startled, with very red bloodshot eyes and stared. I explained that I needed to clear in and the customs lady wasn’t about so could I speak with Immigration, he called out a couple of times to someone in the back office. A few minutes later a tee shirt and shorts clad young lad emerged, rubbing his eyes and yawning, another person I had rudely disturbed from a sleep. He shrugged his shoulders and looked at his watch, I had to come back he said. When I said. Anytime he said. But the Customs lady isn’t there. Shrug. I gave up and wandered back to the dock where Jez was a having a friendly chat with his two new friends. Checking in at St Vincent is a nightmare, the main town of Kingstown has a cruise ship terminal and the customs there are not used to dealing with yachties. So we will wait until we get to Bequia to check in as they are part of the same group of islands, in the meantime we head to our anchorage by Young Island on the south coast of St Vincent to collect my mum as she flies out to meet us for a couple of weeks. For the first time on our travels we are illegal immigrants!