West Coast Tobago
We continued to slowly bay hop down the west coast of Tobago, taking our time and enjoying the colourful little anchorages and friendly people. Castara was a pretty little fishing village with a few holiday apartments by the beach, so it had a nice holiday vibe without being too touristy.
We had some wonderful sunsets here.
The small town of Plymouth made a good stop for provisions, it had several small supermarkets and a great fruit and veg seller. Next to the town is a lovely long sandy beach which curves around the bay to a hotel on the other side. We decided on a walk in search of some Wi-Fi and a beer, and once behind the palm trees we were confronted with a scene from the comedy ‘Benidorm’, quite a change from the Tobago we had seen so far. We asked the bar tender for a drink and were told to go to reception to buy our drinks vouchers…the Joysters left very quickly, returning to mother ship for happy hour. Plymouth was a good place to catch a bus to Scarborough, the capital, on the other side of the island. Their bus system is very cheap but rather hit and miss, might turn up..might not. So we used the maxi taxi, a taxi shared by whoever is going in the same direction, and so the fare is shared. So only 5TT dollars each for a 25 minute journey, that’s less than 50p. Scarborough was bustling, but not much there other than some very random shops and lots of eateries, we managed to sort our Wi-Fi out eventually at the Digicel shop, always a very long queue but at least we could check on the weather again. Getting back wasn’t so easy, we waited for two hours, no sign of the hourly bus and as a result all the maxi taxis were full and we found it impossible to flag one down going back to Plymouth that wasn’t already full. Eventually we found an ordinary taxi who took us back for a huge 50TT dollars, still only less than a fiver.
Back at Plymouth we watched the hundreds of birds diving for fish, the bay was thriving with life.
There were even cows on the beach!
Next stop was Mt Irvine Bay, and as we rounded the headland we found we had company, not only were there two other yachts anchored there, but the dolphins had come to lead us in too. The bay has a reef along the northern shore, so we anchored away from the other yachts in the south so that we could put out two anchors to reduce the roll as the swell seems to enter all the bays on this side of the island. The snorkelling here was great, not only over the reef but also the rocky shoreline. After beaching the dinghy we went on a walk in search of the Grafton Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary, a mile or so up the road. It is a private estate which used to be part of a plantation of some 200 acres, now an unspoilt haven for wildlife. The owners have been feeding the birds since the island was hit by a hurricane in the 1960’s, which destroyed over 75% of the islands trees. It is open to the public, although we didn’t see any other people about as we walked through the tracks amongst old relics of a bygone era. There is a feeding station with a covered seating area, once you had tuned in to the lizards you could spot them just about everywhere.
This lizard blew his throat up like a balloon as we watched.
This one is shedding his skin, it looks like a raincoat.
The sanctuary was dominated by Tobago’s noisy national bird, the Cocrico. It looks a bit like a slender turkey, apparently their numbers are in decline because a) they are noisy and b) they taste good! They sit in the tops of trees and have a raucous cry – they were the first thing we heard when we sailed into Charlotteville early morning, wondering what on earth could make such a loud noise. Now we know.
Also waiting patiently at the feeding station was a beautiful woodpecker.
It made a nice walk, although it did look as though not many people visited as some of the tracks were very overgrown. Considering the devastating damage caused by the hurricane over 50 years ago, the landscape has recovered remarkably well.
We have seen a dramatic change in the landscape from the north to the south, the north being mountainous with beautiful lush rainforest, the south is very flat and not spectacular at all.
Our last night on Tobago was spent at Store Bay on the south western tip of the island, right underneath Buccoo Reef which is protected. It was busy with plenty of anchored yachts, I couldn’t quite work out why all the yachties had congregated here and so few had ventured to the stunning anchorages further north.
After another eventful trip to Scarborough, this time the buses were running (buses as we know them back home – except of course these ones have air conditioning, very friendly drivers and they cost less than 20p for a half hour ride!) so we checked ourselves out with the authorities and got our paperwork to visit Trinidad. When we returned to Joy the rain and mist that we had when we entered the bay that morning had cleared, and for the first time we could see Trinidad in the distance.
Our last evening on Tobago gave us another beautiful sunset and a dozen or so visitors for a sleep over. They looked like a small martin or swallow, as darkness fell they flew around Joy distracting us from our backgammon contest, eventually settling themselves down to a night onboard – perching on the radar, main boom and mast spreaders.
We got up at 5am the following day, just as the day was dawning, and one by one they chit chatted and flew off back towards shore. Captain wasn’t too pleased about the mess (I think it had more to do with his defeat at backgammon), but we had a 12 hour sail ahead of us so plenty of time for cleaning.