Tobago Cays

Ocean Gem
Geoff & Eileen Mander
Mon 4 Mar 2013 12:00

Position: 12:37.926N 61:21.423W

Date: Monday 4th March 2013


We left Chatham Bay at about 10:00am and headed north. In just a couple of hours we had arrived at one of the gems of the Caribbean.  The Tobago Cays are a group of very small islands with no permanent inhabitants that have been turned into a national park. They are protected from the Atlantic swell by a large reef system (horseshoe reef). The water is exceptionally clear. Where the bottom is sand the sea shines with a brilliantly luminous turquoise, but where coral grows the colours change to gold, brown, yellow and green.


We dropped anchor, turned the engine off and then noticed that the automatic bilge pump was pumping water from the bilge onto the sea.  Being a national park with protected waters this was not a good thing to be doing. My immediate concern was that we had a leak through the hull.  A quick check (dip finger into bilge water and taste it) showed that the water was fresh and warm, so the leak was from the hot water system. The hot water cylinder had developed quite a significant leak and had dumped the majority of our drinking water into the bilge, from where the pumps had put it into the sea.  So we were going to have to be particularly frugal with our water usage for the next few days.


I took a short swim to check that the anchor had dug in OK and within the first few seconds of entering the water I saw a beautiful spotted eagle ray gliding over the seabed under the boat.  There were also a number of other fish including a trunkfish maybe 18 inches long.

Later on we went over to a small island nearby (Baradel) and swimming from the beach soon found a group of about six turtles feeding on weed and not really too bothered about our presence.


Because they are so spectacularly beautiful the Cays are also unavoidably popular, so we had to share them with quite a large number of other boats.  Also the ubiquitous boat boys were everywhere constantly driving around at top speed in their colourful but noisy and smelly speedboats trying to sell various merchandise to the boats in the area.


We had been warned that the Cays are not the best of places to spend the night.  Moving a boat in the area after dark is a definite no-no.  There are just too many reefs none of which are marked or lit.  Also it is quite common for large swells to enter the anchorage overnight making sleeping very difficult.  So we decided to return to a nearby island called Mayreau to spend the night.