Tobago Cays, Mayreau, Canouan and Union Islands.

Salt Whistle Bay from the top of the hill.

Our next stop 19nm to the South west of Mustique, was Salt Whistle Bay on the island of Mayreau. We had drinks and dinner at the “Last Bar before the Jungle”, a Rastafarian joint where you can also smoke pot.

Walking along the Salt Whistle beach before dinner.

Unlike Keith Richards, I was not climbing up to pick a coconut and fall on my head.

Salt Whistle Bay restaurant strip!

The last bar before the jungle.

The wind came up overnight and after heavy rain the next morning, we motored the mile south to the sheltered anchorage of Saline Bay. The anchor winch gypsy started slipping whilst we were anchoring, so after settling down, we stripped the winch, cleaned and serviced it, with a note in my diary, to do it again in 60 days. At sea, the salt buildup inside the anchor winch is substantial and needs constant cleaning.

View down to Saline Bay with Union Island in the background.

We walked to the highest point on the island, to orientate ourselves with the Tobago Cays which lies next to and to the east of Mayreau Island.

Walking down to the anchorage.

The unique Rastafarian architectural style.

The next morning we motored into the Cays through the South Passage and anchored between two small islands, Petit Bateau and Petit Rameau, which are located in the National Marine Park costing us EC$10/person/day. After a swim and relaxed Sunday afternoon Nanna nap, we tackled the walk to the crest of Petit Bateau to check the dinghy pass through Horseshoe reef.

Our anchorage between Petit Bateau and Rameau.

View from the top of Petit Bateau – Petit Tabac on the other side of the reef..

The dinghy pass through the reef led us out to sea, to do the short one mile hop to Petit Tabac Island, where there are good dive spots. Unfortunately, the swell coming out of the East resulted in huge breakers on the beach, ruling out a landing and the swells on the reef would have smashed us while snorkelling. So we bounced back in the dinghy, to safety inside the reef.

Petit Tabac out at sea – too rough to land.

The reefs inside the outer Horseshoe reef, are disappointing, but the water and sand is quite clear. In the afternoon the heavens opened and so we had to shelter from the tropical rain through the night. We picked up the anchor at 8:30 the next morning and motored out through the North Passage into a 30 knot wind on the nose, to Canouan Island 6 nm to the North and anchored in the sheltered Grand Bay.

A dinghy ride to the rough concrete ferry wharf, got us into Charlestown, which from a distance looked quite pretty, but up close, down at heel and dirty. Photos won’t do justice to the squalor. I spent the afternoon doing a long overdue service on the high pressure desalinator pump, replacing the oil and the filter. The strong easterly wind predicted  for Wednesday night the 12th August, hit us with force during the night, tearing the canvas infill panel over the cockpit – more repairs to be done when we get back to Bequia.

Grand Bay anchorage and Charlestown, at Canouan Island.

The wind settled down the next morning, so we had a relaxed sail down to Union Island, 11 nm to the South. Quacey, of Marine Tech Services in Clifton harbour came highly recommended as an outboard repair specialist, so we had him test our Suzuki 6hp dinghy outboard motor. The motor has for the past two months, just spun and cavitated at higher revs.

Clifton harbour anchorage at Union Island.

Quacey stripped the propellor and found that the rubber hub on the lower drive shaft had stripped and hence the prop slipped at higher revs. He didn’t have the correct prop or hub kit in stock, so he refitted the prop. Hopefully, we will find the correct parts soon – we just need to be patient about puttering around slowly.

Small bar on a rock in the bay.

Union Island history.

Quiet main street of Clifton.

Now we know where to run to in case of a tsunami.

Union, like Canouan and Mayreau, being smaller islands close to the Tobago Cays are totally dependant on tourism. Covid-19 has wiped out their small economies and the towns have hardly anybody on the streets, with the locals lazing about or fighting one another, zonked out on beer and ganja. It is quite a sad situation.

Our anchorage in Clifton Bay behind the reef – lots of kite boarding and Palm Island to the right.

Palm Island – we didn’t stop, as it is a private island.

Esprit’s track in the Grenadines.

On Saturday the 15th August, the wind changed to the South east providing us with a good apparent wind angle to sail back North to Bequia. We left Union Island at 9am and anchored off Jack’s Bar in Bequia at 2pm – in time for drinks and a BBQ at the Upper Deck at 5pm. On Monday we will check if my Visa renewal card has arrived at the Fedex agency. We will hopefully report from Grenada, in the near future, as Trinidad is still closed . Until then, cheers for now.

Bequia and Mustique.

Since our last post, all the major maintenance work on the boat had been completed: the sail and canvas work mentioned before, reinforcing of the framework for the solar panels over the bimini, stripping the stove and oven to replace broken door springs and treat corrosion and numerous smaller jobs.

No sooner could we sit back and relax, when tropical storm no. 7 started forming south of the Cape Verde Islands and moving across the Atlantic. On the 22nd July this storm was named “Gonzalo” by the US National Hurricane Centre, predicted to reach Bequia by midday on 25th July 2020.

Hurricane Gonzalo.

The cruisers anchored in Admiralty Bay, Bequia decided to have drinks on the beach on the 23rd, so that we could all worry together and talk about what to do. Quite a number of boats sailed south the following day and a few went north, as it appeared the centre of the hurricane was heading for Bequia.

A toast to Gonzalo.

This being our fourth hurricane since 1987 and having survived the previous three, gave us the misplaced confidence to think we knew how to deal with this one. So, we stayed put in Bequia, moving Esprit 400 metres to a buoy on the north side of the bay, stowing all loose items and crossing our fingers.

Alex the mooring man helping Annie to tie up to a buoy.

Luck was on our side, as 24 hours before reaching Bequia, the hurricane veered southwest and passed south of Grenada, leaving us with a 30 knot wind and heavy showers for an hour. We celebrated by having a hike across the hills to Friendship Bay and back – and the news that another system was already forming off Africa and heading for the Caribbean, faster this time!

A solid downpour.

Hurricane Issaias.

Hurricane Isaias came charging across the Atlantic, but on a more northerly course, hitting the Leeward Islands to the north of us and producing heavy rains in the rest of the Caribbean – most of the islands needing the rain. On Friday the 31st July 2020, Esprit was booked to be hauled out at Peakes Boatyard in Trinidad. The Trinidad borders are still closed, so, no do.

On the coastal track into town.

View from the coastal track across the bay.

Walk to Friendship Bay – a friendly dog at the bus stop.

Friendship Bay – life’s a beach.

Old Pretoria girls at Jack’s – Rowena and Annie.

Sunset at Jack’s jetty.

Life carried on in Bequia, with walks into town to get provisions, drinks at Jack’s with the sailors and Annie having an EC$30 haircut. I asked her to cut my hair, and either out of spite because I wouldn’t pay her, or because she thought I could audition for the new season of “Prison Break”, she cut my hair to within a millimetre of my life. I now wear a stylish Panama hat for the sun.

My free haircut.

Annie’s EC$30 haircut.

My sun protection.

The 1st to the 4th of August were public holidays in Bequia – Emancipation Day and Vincy Mas days. The party music was very loud on the Monday, so we decided to leave town and go and explore a bit further afield. We had a good sail down to Mustique, 14nm to the south east, where the friendly harbour master tied us to a mooring buoy. Not cheap at EC$220 for 3 days.

Anchored off the beach in Mustique.

The island is owned by the Mustique Company, a private limited company which is in turn owned by the island’s home owners. The island has around a hundred private villas, many of which are let through the Mustique Company. The name Mustique comes from the French moustique, “mosquito”, which thrive in the tropical environment of the Grenadine Islands.

Statue of Lord Glenconner.

Mustique was purchased from the Hazell family in 1958 for £45,000 by The Hon. Colin Tennant, who became The 3rd Baron Glenconner in 1983. He initially planned to start farming, “cotton, beef and mutton” but then decided to develop the island into a hideaway for the wealthy, after forming the Mustique Company in 1968 and spending a fortune on the project.

Two pretty shops in Mustique.

The Food store.

View out on the anchorage – Esprit the only yacht in the bay.

Today, the rich and famous holiday on the island, to name but a few: Tommy Hilfiger, Paul McCartney, Shania Twain, Tom Ford, Mick Jagger, Peter Lynch, Denzel Washington, John Travolta and Bryan Adams. We didn’t spot any celebrities during our hikes over three days around the island – only candidates for “Weight Watchers” tooling around in golf carts.

The rich and famous do need horses – picture Mick and Keiff on these fillies!

Walking to the south – a tortoise crossing.

On his way to a tortoise meeting.

Sea view.

Basil’s Bar, which is on the water’s edge and famous for its Blues Music Festival in January/February each year, is an excellent watering hole with good food. They hosted a “Jump Up” music session on the Thursday night we were there.

Basil’s Bar.

On the deck for sundowners.

The stage for the music events.

Annie having a rum punch and studying the dinner menu.

Our next report will be from the Tobago Cays!