We're still on the lookout for a desert island.
There have been a couple of likely candidates so far, if only everyone else
would shuffle off. As I write, the sun is setting over Union Island, to the west
as we look from Tobago Cays. We've crossed the invisible line between the
Grenadian Grenadines and the St Vincent Grenadines and are now anchored up in
what is said to be one of the most beautiful marine parks in the
It's true, the snorkelling is mind boggling in the
first crystal clear, turquoise water we've seen since leaving the Islas Cies in
Galicia. But due to a poor application of the democratic principle, the skipper
anchored up in 'Grockle HQ' within Tobago Cays - a place notable for its
abundant Club Med fauna, arrayed in many hued swimming garb, but all with the
same basic lobster pink sunburn. Small ferries captained by fellows in pristine
starched white unifrom have been plying the waters between the floating eyesore
that is Club Med 2 and the beach here.
The good news is that they're all going back to
their cruise ship, leaving the anchorage to yottin' folk. We'll explore a bit
tomorrow, because there is sight of an astonishingly pristine beach with a few
shady palms on the other side of the reef. Getting there will be a bit like
finding our way through the minotaur's lair in the dark, but at least we have
the GPS to guide us through the maze or coral heads and reefs.
We've only covered a dozen miles over the last few
days, but it feels like we've travelled far. We spent a day exploring Carriacou,
after our demanding and sploshy sail up here on Wednesday. The island is
delightfully uncaring of tourism, and we commissioned a local chap to show us
round, which he obligingly did in minute and fascinating detail. Like most
places in this part of the world, the British and the French squabbled over
Carriacou for many years, leaving a trail of forts and rusting cannon as
Plantations producing sugar, then cotton and now
weeds were first worked by slaves, then broken up into smallholdings, and now
mostly abandoned as young people turn their backs on the land. Nonetheless,
there are avocadoes, papayas, mangos, passion fruit and grapefuit growing in
abundance. Boatbuilding is the other mainstay of the island's economy and, of
course, visiting boats who are offered everything from spiny lobster (see
previous blog entry) to bread and wine.
Carriacou also includes 'Sandy Island' among its
retinue of small islets. This place was a revelation to us. No more than a bar
of coral sand, stripped of trees by hurricanes, the water was clear enough to
see for dozens of metres and teeming with fish. Snorkelling here after a
breakfast stop, we saw more fish in ten minutes than I've probably seen in my
life to date. Chief among them was a glorious sole-like contraption drifting
along the bottom with crooked eyes.
Since then we've spied an octopus, sting rays,
snapper, grouper, angelfish and a million other brightly coloured fishy things.
After clearing in to St Vincent on Union Island - an extraordinary place with a
slightly malevolent air to it and border officials preoccupied with their
relatives' love affairs - we scooted across a narrow strait to spend the night
on Palm Island. It is a private island, owned by a hotel group whose speciality
is luxury bungalows on the beach. Despite a rocky night (Andy tried to avoid
going below until the last minute) with little sleep for any of us, the
anchorage was worth it for the glorious reef that surrounded it on every side.
Sadly, it too is in a marine park, so all we could do was stare wistfully at the
plump sealife floating around in front of us.
Celia has certainly discovered her sea legs and has
been helming the boat. Andy, it is fair to say, hasn't. His favoured position is
on the foredeck, staring into the middle distance to avoid feeling sick. It
looks like a less rocky night tonight, but I'm sure the sea legs will come -
even Nelson needed three days before he felt comfortable at sea, or so the