Carriacou and the Tobago Cays
Carriacou and Tobago Cays Tour.
Apologies for the recent derth of blog – we have been day-sailing and, unlike watch-keeping, there is no down-time for writing. Steve Oliver met us in Port Louis marina and after a day of orientation in St Georges’ the plan was to cruise up to the Tobago Cays to give him a taste of the Grenadines.
We split the journey with a first leg to Tyrell Bay on Carriacou Island which we wanted to explore because it was reputed to still have traditional, wooden boat building on the beaches at Windward. The trip up to Carriacou turned out to be dead to windward and we had to tack – which was something we had almost forgotten about having been pretty much down-wind most of the way from Plymouth. It was 30, wet, windy miles in a straight line and we sailed nearly 40 miles but well- reefed, Scathach can eat close-hauled sailing. Ashore in the evening on the beach we found the Lambi (conch) Queen bar and introduced Steve to rum punches. The next day we caught mini- busses first to the capital, Hillsborough, and then on to Windward where, sadly, it seems the traditional wooden, sailing boat building has disappeared as the local fishing industry has moved to motorised boats.
The following day we set out for Mayroue island, the stopping-off point for the Tobago Cays Marine Park. It was still dead to windward and the wind was even stronger than our previous beat and after a few wet hours we diverted to Chatham Bay on the sheltered, west side of Union Island a name (which started Steve off on Blondie numbers) where we anchored in just a few meters of water – no tide to speak of and with crystal-clear water, it is easy to check that the anchor is nicely ‘dug in’ with a quick swim.
We met a lovely, German crew in a beach bar in Chatham Bay and exchanged Atlantic crossing stories; our stories were trumped by their stories and pictures of an Orca ‘incident’ from a previous time off Portugal. Annoyingly, they had also managed to catch more fish than they could eat and were very pleased to show us their trophy photos and, whereas we had caught nothing except sargassum weed, they were lovely company.
The following day we beat the last few miles to Mayreau and anchored in Saline Bay, 12:38.02N 61:23.0W, again on the sheltered western side. The Cays are on the windward, Atlantic side but relatively sheltered by extensive coral reefs. Given the strength of the wind and very shallow, constrained anchorages within the Cays, we opted to pay a local boatman to take us into the park to snorkel. Patrick picked us up from the slowest service lunch restaurant ever and blasted us across some turquoise but choppy water which took a few more years off my spine. The snorkelling was sublime – hovering over a very relaxed turtle which was about two feet wide while it grazed on sea grass in between languid trips to the surface, almost within touching distance, to breath. We also swam through vast shoals of multi-coloured fish, ghosted over large starfish and startled bigger fishes. We were all three of us totally shattered that night.
The following morning, Tuesday, we set off south aiming to get Steve back to Grenada for his flight on Friday evening. We split the journey with a lunch stop in the township of Clifton on the east side of Union Island in a bay protected by a reef on the seaward side, then transited on to Tyrell Bay on Carriacou for an overnight anchorage stop. Steve cooked on board several nights running – usually prepping a meal before going ashore for a ‘sundowner’ rum punch -now a staple- and then finding our way back to the boat in the dark to eat dinner.
On Wednesday we ran a fast but lumpy, two-reef, 30-mile passage from Carriacou down the east (Atlantic) side of Grenada to St David’s Harbour on the far southeast corner where I wanted to make arrangements to be lifted out for a scrub and anode service in early February. St David’s was another stunning location with multi-coloured buildings among verdant greenery and colourful flowers in a very sheltered bay (inlet) with turquoise water. The peace and tranquility made the view to seaward of white caps and sea breaking on the reefs in the entrance all the more surreal. We ate ashore last night, nothing special: in fact, the battered fish pieces turned out to be fish cakes and the curry with naan bread and mango chutney didn’t have naan or chutney, but the service was charming.
On Thursday we transited to Clarkes Quay in a couple hours. This is another cruisers haunt in a big sheltered inlet. There is a big chandlery and also a second-hand boat bits, ‘treasure trove’ here. I have just bought a solar panel to charge our electric outboard motor battery. However, the main draw was Nimrods Rum Shack where we have just had roti for lunch – each one big enough to feed a family of four – but the main attraction will be the live music, open mic, session tonight.
Tomorrow, we have to get Steve to Port Louis marina for a taxi to the airport, all go od things must come to an end.
All best, Tony, Brian and Steve.