2 days to sail 8nm to Carriacou

Darrell Jackson and Sarah Barnes
Sun 25 May 2014 16:18
12:32.03N 61:23.04W

"When did you leave Union Island?" asked the Immigration lady in Carriacou, as she looked at our clearance form.
"2 days ago" said Darrell
"So it's taken you 2 days to get here?"

The 5 nm sail to Petit St Vincent was a quick beam reach, made interesting by passing between a couple of reefs, each with a small patch of sand, no bigger than a tennis court, and one of them complete with a thatched beach umbrella. PSV is a private island and "the beaches and facilities are mostly reserved for the in-house guests of our award winning 22 cottage resort, but we do welcome the owners, guests and crews of yachts of all sizes to enjoy our beach bar and restaurant." Sounds like an invitation to me!
We anchored in the clear aquamarine water that we are becoming used to, with just a couple of other yachts and the resort's traditional Petite Martinique-built sloop on a mooring buoy near by. The island is low, and although the waters we were anchored in are protected by a reef to the east, there is no shelter from the wind, the same as at Happy Island and the Cays, and so the continual force 4/5 wind did become somewhat tiring with Stream continually veering through over 90 degrees. The scenery does make up for it though, with Petit St Vincent a hundred metres away on one side and a mile or so away on the other, Petite Martinique, both surrounded by seas the colours of lapis lazuli and bright turquoise.
There was not a lot we could explore on PSV but we managed a sneek look at the main restaurant which overlooks the bay where we were anchored. It had a very nice, relaxed feeling and was not too "over the top" with both indoor and outdoor dining areas. Goaties Bar, which we were "welcomed to use", is by their small dock and right on the beach and is very nice! The rectangular building is constructed out of tree trunks supporting a palm thatched roof with open sides all round and a very nicely finished mahogany bar in the centre. Drinks and food were, as one would have expected, not cheap, but were not "silly" prices, although 15% tax and 10% service on top, soon makes more than one drink the cost of a cheap meal anywhere else! Perhaps a bar meal here when we are back in the area one day. We only saw two obvious guests and the rest of the customers were yachties taking advantage of their kind invitation to part with our money in their private resort.
So far this holiday we have only ever seen one Moray eel when snorkelling. However, while on PSV standing on a jetty, we were lucky enough to see a large Green Eel and a couple of Conga Eels that had been attracted by the gutting of some fish by one of the staff.
Our wet dinghy trip across the short stretch of open water to Petite Martinique (part of Grenada!) soon saw us tying up at their dinghy dock and walking ashore with a small bag of rubbish, first stop the rubbish skip. Not so! The first person we met did not greet us with, the now customary, "good morning/afternoon", but the rather uninviting, "You can't leave rubbish on the island, you'll have to take it back to your boat". So they would welcome our custom at the supermarkets and bars, but don't want our small amount of rubbish. Apparently this is also a big problem for yachties in the Irish Republic. All the other islands we have visited recognise the economic importance of yachts and will have skips or bins near to where crews land with their bin bags of rubbish. We leave some rubbish and in return spend money in their shops, bars and restaurants. Rant over! Mind,it was difficult to find any where open to spend our money in on Petite Martinique as nearly everywhere was shut.
The ironic thing is, that whilst they don't welcome yachties rubbish, they don't seem to care too much about their own island and there is a general air of neglect about much of the area. No sign of any "civic pride". Very surprising to read then that the island has one of the highest per capita incomes of the Eastern Caribbean. The island is so small (about 194 Hectares) you can walk around it in a couple of hours and is now most known for its traditional wooden boat building. This was started back in the early 19th century when they "imported" boatbuilders from Scotland and many locals can trace their ancestry back to Scotland or Africa.
We did manage to find a place open for a light lunch whose only other customers were a group of 8 French yachties.
A feeling of deja vue came over us whilst having a post meal drink in the evening, when a green starboard nav light appeared and soon after, a large spotlight which lit up the anchored yachts. It was another ferry. The ferry came very close to one of the anchored yachts as it tried to manoeuvre in the strong winds to go stern to on the small dock we had used previously for the dinghy. He finally accomplished the berthing but not without some loud bangs and much shouting ashore and from the crew. A large 4x4 came off the ferry along with a few passengers and there was an exchange of large gas bottles before he left the jetty, again just missing the anchored yacht. In the cool light of day it was obvious that the wooden mooring bollards had had a bit of a battering from the ramp and one of the pier head lights was now lying on its side on the jetty with bare wires left sticking out of the ground!
We left PSV after breakfast the following day and had another very pleasant short sail to Hillsborough, the main town on Carriacou and the port of entry where we could clear customs into Grenada. Carriacou is thought to have got its name from the Carib word for "land of the reefs" and in the 17th and 18th century was spelt Kayryouacou. The French were the first European settlers and were soon joined by English and Scottish settlers. The residents are known as Kayaks and are described as "a proud and independent people".
The customs office is very conveniently placed at the head of the main jetty and there was no queue but we were told we had to clear Immigration first which was in the police station, just across the road. We have always cleared customs first on this trip, but we weren't going to argue and so walked the short distance to Immigration. Our interrogation on why our short trip had taken two days was soon resolved when Darrell explained that his wife "had been poorly" and so we had delayed our departure. The immigration lady then asked of Sarah's current condition and suggested we bought some "bitters" as that was what the Kayaks all use for an upset tummy. The bitters she referred to were Angostura Bitters which are 47.5% proof so whilst they may have helped "the upset tummy" their alternative effect on someone allergic to alcohol does not bear thinking about! Another first for this trip was the requirement for us to complete the normal Immigration forms that are required when travelling by air. Customs was easy, a payment of $EC75 for something and then hand in the third duplicate of the form to the Port Authority which was opposite the Customs. Then it was off to do the sites of Hillsborough.