30 January – 05 February 2012
We had sampled all on offer at Bequia, enjoyed our stay but it was time to move on. On yet another very windy morning it was time to shake the cobwebs out of the mainsail (last used with 3 reefs enroute from the Canary Islands to Cape Verde Islands) and head south. It’s 23 miles down to the next island of Canouan and we had a good race with Cuttyhunk, we did have the advantage of having a double reefed main, whereas they went for the much more leisurely option of headsail only, and although we arrived before them, by the time we had stopped to drop the main we had been caught (note to Skipper – we don’t need the main!!!!!).
The anchorage at Canouan had beautiful white sand and turquoise waters, it was just stunning. Ashore there is a huge resort complex that encompasses over half the island. In fairness it had been designed to blend in with the environment and was hidden amongst the swaying palms. These tiny islands are situated in the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean so even the most sheltered bays experience some ocean swell sneaking around the corner and over the shallow reef. One night of gentle rolling was enough for us.
We had a very leisurely short sail down the Grenadine chain to the next island of Mayreau. The tiny and picturesque Saltwhistle Bay came highly recommended, however 10 Catamarans and 2 yachts had it bulging at the seams, not even room for a lunchtime stop, oh well. We carried on to the larger Saline Bay, tucked in around the headland, managed to find a sandy spot for the anchor on our second attempt then sat back and admired our surroundings.
There was a postcard perfect white sandy beach ashore and an almost deserted foreshore. Sun loungers were stacked in piles, there were a couple of cute thatched drinks bars that were empty, hmmmm. The “settlement” was up an extremely steep hill, a handful of shacky bars, a minimarket, internet cafe and a wonderful stone church (with best view in town) were about all Mayreau had on offer, it was just great! The next morning we awoke to find a cruise ship anchored outside the bay. The sun loungers lined the beach, the tee-shirt sellers lined the dock, and little orange life rafts continuously dropped droves of passengers ashore, ready to spend their day lying on the beach in paradise (it was highly unlikely any on them made it up the hill).
But of course we are lucky, we get to spend the night at paradise too. We enticed Bandit to retrace their steps 4 miles by suggesting a kiwi potluck dinner. What good sports they were and they joined us and Cuttyhunk on the beach for a great evening. The cruise ship and its passengers were gone. The beach was once again deserted. We had the place to ourselves again. We hung torches in the trees – ate, drank and talked. However, we have learnt by now there is no such thing as paradise and sure enough the persistent strong winds and squally skies meant another restless night at anchor. What do the locals and cruisers that have been here before say ??…….. you guessed it …….. Its not normally like this !!!. Yeah right.
All advice concurs, you should try to visit the Tobago Cays in calm conditions. All weather sources concurred, there was to be no calm weather in the foreseeable future!! With winds gusting over 25 knots we headed west the few miles out to the Cays, it really didn’t seem like a sensible idea but we could easily see the reefs in the bright sun, it was just very windy. We tucked in behind Petit Rameau, one of the small islands as advised by Bandit, we had much less wind but it was a bit wobbly. However, a stunning setting none the less.The photos really say more than words can, the water colours were outstanding.
We took the dinghy ashore to Petit Bateau and did the walk to the summit (just 45 metres but what great views), enroute we encountered a local iguana, he was in no hurry to get out of our way as he relaxed in the sun.
Next morning we moved around to the main Horseshoe Reef anchorage, the wind still howled but it was a much shorter dinghy ride from there to the reef, and although the water was choppy there was no roll. However we didn’t end up going out to the outer reef to snorkel, the surf was breaking over it – it just didn’t look like an enjoyable option. There is an inner reef area inside it but there were about 20 kite surfers, zooming backwards and forwards along it in the relatively flat water. Another time maybe.
We swam with the turtles, they have a cordoned off area, because of the chop the water was murky and to be honest, after swimming with turtles in some of the remote places we have been this was similar to seeing them in an aquarium, it didn’t actually feel that “natural”. There are hundreds of boats visiting the cays every week, if you haven’t been to reef areas or swam with turtles before it would be wonderful but we have been extremely fortunate to visit some outstanding locations, sometimes being the only boat in the anchorage – you can’t compare.
For all the info on our anchorage waypoints, where everything is ashore, where to check in etc click here for our other blog