A month goes by ...

Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Sat 9 May 2020 15:23
... and we are still here in Clifton Harbour.

Clifton harbour, looking south.  Mystic is closest to the tee head jetty.

Easter was even quieter than the  "new normal".  The SVG government issued advisory notices in the media encouraging people to stay at home and refrain from the usual gatherings and celebrations.  A large coastguard boat (as in small destroyer - there is no Navy) arrived here - making sure the local tripper boats stayed put.  Meanwhile, the kite surfers continue to charge up and down alongside the outer reef, seemingly immune to it all.

Clifton town, looking towards Carriacou (that's 'abroad' from here, being part of Grenada)

We've managed to explore the island a bit by foot, though the heat is a limiting factor.  There's little shade so 2 hours is enough for us to get dehydrated despite drinking lots of water.  It's not far to the end of the airport runway for views of the Tobago Cays and Mayreau island to the north.  Just recently we met a Bavarian couple walking along the seafront.  He was the architect of the airport, built 28 years ago, and since then this has been their winter home. 

For better views we walked up the nearest hill to Old Fort and across the island to a salt pond - the source of much wealth in the past.   Another day we ventured west and hiked to Frigate island and back, meeting few other walkers.  The area between Frigate island and the shore of Union Island is shallow and protected by a reef.   It's now a pleasant nature reserve but in the 90s was turned into a construction site for a marina/resort development that eventually failed. 

Salt pond - what more can one say?

There's a good anchorage at Frigate island which is probably more comfortable than Clifton.  Quite a few yachts seem to come and go but we decided to stay put in the current uncertain situation.  Tiger, whose mooring we rent, Sheena at the fruit and veg stall, the ladies at the bakery and supermarket, and sometimes even the fishermen are very welcoming and it's nice to chat with them when we go into town, even if it turns out to be a good moan ("when is it all going to end?").

Two suspension bridges link the reefs which were to form the marina with Frigate Island and the main (Union) island

A nature reserve, part of the abandoned marina/resort development, with Ashton town behind.

The anchorage was busier after Easter, mostly with French yachts, but generally Clifton remains very quiet, perhaps more like it was 50 years ago before the growth in tourism and yacht chartering.  Most of the tourist shops and restaurants are closed but a few cafes and most of the ordinary shops are open.  Local people seem to come and go as normal and just a few shop workers wear (home made) masks.  The boatmen and fishermen hang around, hoping for a little business to come their way.

View of Ashton from the northern hills

'Sparrows', the posh resort on the Atlantic coast, almost empty

We have been keeping busy spring cleaning both inside and outside the boat.  The bookshelf has had a thorough overhaul (that's the structure of the book shelves and the sliding doors, rather than the contents) and Paul is working through all the technical files he keeps, trying to make sense of notes made since we took on Mystic.  When the seas are not too bouncy, Rachel has been scraping the weed off the bottom.  Unlike in Deshaies there are no barnacles here but a red velvety growth that is tenacious and regrows very quickly.   

The weather has turned more stormy in the last couple of weeks - a sign that the wet season is on its way.  Some days we get squalls coming over, with stronger winds and rain showers.  This is the hottest time of year - with the sun overhead - and the cooling rain is a welcome respite as well as important for local people.  Water is scarce and expensive here so they collect it in buckets to fill up their tanks.

While waiting here we remain hopeful that Trinidad or Grenada will let us in before too long.  What else can we do?  We haven't ruled out sailing back across the Atlantic, but it's a big undertaking and not one we planned for this year.  And, if we got Mystic back to the UK, what then?  Until the situation is clearer, both in Europe and the Caribbean, we think it best to stay put.