Position: 12:42.398N 61:19.842W
Date: Wednesday 6th March 2013
We were practically out of cash (the customs & immigration pirates in Union Island a few days ago had hit me with outlandish overtime fees). The sailing guidebook told us that in the next island up the chain, Canouan, there was both a bank with an ATM and a Moorings base where we could obtain some water. So we left Mayreau and headed northeast towards Canouan, only about 7 or 8 miles away. We were close hauled in a lightish breeze and had another wonderful sail. For a change we were also lucky with the fishing, catching small barracuda on a lure that I had made myself. As soon as I had landed the fish (or should that be boated the fish?) it was obvious what we had seen the previous night in Mayreau. They were a school of very large barracuda.
We entered Charlestown Bay in Canouan, anchored, had a swim and then headed ashore to get some cash. As we approached a pontoon a local guy came to help. Now Eileen always struggles to get out the dinghy and welcomes any help she can get. For my part I am always wary of accepting help from folk in this part of the world as I have learned that they do nothing for free. Sure enough just as his right hand extended to help, his left hand followed up pretty smartly with a demand for payment.
Sometimes it is almost impossible to land without hassle from a small army of local layabouts demanding that you pay them for holding your painter, guarding your dinghy, disposing of your rubbish, or pressurising you to buy some unwanted merchandise. Always implicit is the suggestion that failure to pay for a minder may result in your dinghy being damaged in your absence. If you do decide to pay them something then usually whatever you give they demand that it is doubled. And they are not all youngsters, some of them are well into their 40’s.
The guy’s name was Wilbert. It was hot and I was tired and so I gave in and agreed to pay his ransom on our return. We found the bank and got our cash, and I went to The Moorings office to ask about getting some water. When I saw their pontoon it was immediately clear that going alongside to fill up would not be possible as there was quite a surge running. It was also explained that water could only be provided by a small boat with containers coming out to us at anchor and pumping into our tanks. So far I have always avoided this as there is no control over water quality. Also it was explained that the person who operates the service would not return to the bay for several days.
We went back to our dinghy and Wilbert was waiting for us, with his hand out. In our absence he had been hitting the juice. When some people drink they become sleepy, others become aggressive. Wilbert belongs to the latter category. He was cursing everything that moved and in his disorganised state if left to his own devices he would have done some harm to our dinghy, so I just paid him and asked him to leave.
We didn’t see much of the island. We didn’t go back ashore. Landing was difficult in the surge and we needed to get some water pretty soon.