Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Mon 3 Jun 2019 20:16
While in Bequia we had an email from Janice and Tony. They were on their way to Tobago and suggested we meet them there. Sounds like a good idea? Well, there's a reason why few cruisers sail to Tobago from the Genadines - the strong northwesterly current and the prevailing easterly wind. At this time of year the winds tend to shift a little to the south, making it even worse. Never mind; we decided to go. Tobago is a lovely island and, by going there on our way to Trinidad, we'd stay well clear of Venezuelan waters and the nasty people who (very occasionally) attack yachts sailing to and from Grenada.
Sunset over the Grenadines
We waited for a favourable forecast and set off at dawn, heading south through the Grenadines. The water is relatively shallow and the tidal streams make for horrible lumpy seas. The first 12 hours were slow and bumpy. Once we were in deeper water the seas were kinder and we were happy with our progress, hoping to reach Tobago on one tack. Overnight, about halfway, we were suddenly hit by a strong current that pushed us westwards. For three hours we struggled - thinking we were going to end up in Trinidad - but finally the current abated and we were back on our course, reaching Tobago mid-morning the following day.
We made landfall in Stonehaven Bay and anchored off the beach in full view of the apartment where Tony and Janice stay (owned by their friend Jim). Once we'd recovered from the trip we went ashore to enjoy the luxury of a proper shower and air-conditioned living. We drove to Scarborough to do our check-in. In 2015 we'd had to wait 3 hours at immigration. This time we were through all the form filling at both immigration and customs in just 45 minutes and the officials were all very friendly.
Twilight at Stonehaven bay; Mystic peacefully at anchor
Tobago hasn't changed much. Apart from the southern tip of the island and Scarborough it's very quiet. The lovely beach at Stonehaven rarely has more than a few visitors, even at weekends. Mystic was secure on her anchor, in light winds and just a bit of swell, creating breakers on the shore. Getting ashore in the dinghy was a wet experience so we wore our swimmies and wrapped everything we were carrying in plastic bags.
Tony and Janice swam out to greet us; their reward a short but bumpy excursion along the coast
The weather was glorious, despite a forecast of rain, which only appeared on our last day. We drove across the island, through the rainforest and got lost in some of the side roads - not a worry because it's never far to somewhere. Everywhere looks very neat, especially as the roadsides are kept clear, but on the windward side the beaches are covered in Sargassum weed - a blight on all these islands.
On Sunday evening we went to Buccoo to listen to the famous "Buccooneers" steel pan band. It's a very diverse group of men and women, young and old. They play very well and, of course, enthusiastically. It's the kind of music you have to listen to live to really appreciate it.
If the manchineel trees don't poison you the coconuts are out to drop on you!
Bloody Bay, another beautiful empty beach on the leeward coast
Stonehaven bay is a turtle nesting site and we often saw signs of overnight activity. One evening we were returning from eating out at a local restaurant when we saw people on the beach. Nearby there was a leatherback turtle busy laying her eggs then covering them over before returning to the sea. It was an extraordinary sight.
We could have stayed much longer in Tobago. Maybe next time. The 1st of June approaches and we have to get to Trinidad in time to put Mystic safely on the hard for the hurricane season.