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by Dan and Jan Ahart
The Caribbean country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines consists of a single large island, called St. Vincent, which is about the size of Grenada and a group of smaller islands that lie between St. Vincent and Grenada, which are called the Grenadines. St. Vincent itself is very much like other Caribbean islands in that it is of volcanic origin and is very mountainous. It has several small bays on the leeward or Caribbean side and one large bay, wherethe capital, Kingston, is located. Again, like other Caribbean islands, there are other bays on the Atlantic side, but they are on the windward side and are subject to strong trade winds and high surf and are therefore not suitable for comfortable anchorages. On our way south we stopped for one night in Cumberland Bay, which is a small bay and home to about six fishing families. The water along the coast of St. Vincent and even in Cumberland bay is so deep that anchoring is accomplished by bringing the stern of the boat very close to the shore and tying it off to a palm tree. The bow anchor is set a few yards from the bow in deep water. In our case, our stern was about 30 feet from shore and was in 30 feet of water. Our bow anchor was set in over 60 feet of water. The local fishermen help with the tying off and earn a few dollars for their efforts. The middle of the bay, which is only about 250 to 300 yards from shore is well over 100 feet deep.
We spent a restful night and left early the next morning for Salt Whistle Bay on the small island of Mayreau, where we had arranged to meet friends. One night at Salt Whistle Bay was enough because it was so small and crowded. The next day we sailed over to Chatham Bay on the west coast of Union island, which is the largest of the Grenadines islands and anchored there for the night. Chatham Bay is very large, clean and attracts few cruisers because it is off the main route from St. Vincent to Grenada. We had a delightful time snorkeling and exploring. The coral is in very good condition, thanks to few anchors being dragged through it. And the fish were abundant. In addition to the regular crowd of reef fish, we saw a sea snake of some variety, a moray eel, a small octopus and several fish we had never seen before, and could not identify via our guidebook, that swam over the sand and used their very extended pectoral fins to dig in the sand looking for worms and small crustaceans. The next day, we left under sail only. We like to practice this technique whenever we get a chance. We set the main and then sail up to the anchor lifting it as we cruise over it and then turn on course and set the jib. It is really a smooth and quiet operation, meaning no engine noise, when conditions are conducive to using it.
Our next stop was Grenada, where we anchored for the night in Dragon Bay, which is a small bay just north of St. Georges. It also is home to a few fishermen and because of the coral areas, there is only room for two boats to anchor in the sand. We were the first boat in and a couple of hours later a charter boat with four couples came in. They were European, but spoke English and asked our assistance to locate a sandy area where they could anchor and not damage the coral. If all boaters were as conscientious, there would be much more coral to enjoy. Most of the islands do have restricted areas where anchoring is forbidden or where boats must tie off to moorings to protect the coral, but coral will grow almost anywhere in the Caribbean given a chance.
After another quiet evening, we sailed to Trinidad. This was intended to be another overnight sail and was the only one that was uncomfortable on our trip from Martinique to Trinidad. The winds and seas were forecast such that we should have required 18 hours to make the trip. So we left the coast of Grenada at noon, planning to arrive in Trinidad at sunup. However, the winds rose, along with the seas and we rocked and rolled along at a pretty good clip arriving in Trinidad at 0200. Visibility was good, with a half moon and lots of stars, so with our radar to help, we negotiated the Boca Dragon (Mouth of the Dragon), channel, which lies between the main island of Trinidad and Monos island. We were anchored in Grand Fond Bay on the south side of Monos and asleep by 0300. The next day, Thursday May 30th was a local holiday as well as Friday, so we waited until Monday to check in. Since we had to wait anyway, we motored over to Scotland Bay, where some friends were anchored and rafted up with them, meaning the two boats were tied together. It wasn't much of a holiday for anyone though because it rained and the wind blew very strong most of the time. We tied both boats to the shore and both boats had bow anchors. A large catamaran next to us began to drag toward us, so we helped them tie off to shore also. The occupants turned out to be a retired German doctor and his young female Venezuelan companion. They were very appreciative of our help and invited us over for a visit and refreshments.
On Monday, we motored over to Chaguaramas, which is the main cruisers' anchoring and marina area on the main island of Trinidad and checked in with Immigration and Customs. We decided to take a slip at Hummingbird Marina because we wanted our jib to be re-sewn in some places and we didn't want to hassle with it in the dinghy, which we would have had to do had we anchored out. All went well. We got the jib re-sewn and picked up other supplies in Port of Spain, which is the capital of Trinidad and a short bus ride away. Hummingbird Marina is a very interesting place in that it is the smallest marina in Chaguaramas and is run by the Laborde family. Hummingbird is the name of their boat in which they have circumnavigated the earth twice. Visiting the bar is like visiting a museum. The bar top is clear plastic and under the plastic are pictures of the Laborde's and other circumnavigators from all over the world. Each picture is carefully captioned so it also makes interesting reading. It isn't a fancy marina and there aren't many amenities like a swimming pool or restaurant, but the typical cruisers who stay there are usually experienced, unpretentious and friendly. No white ducks, embroidered shirts or nautical caps here. Just raggy shorts, tee shirts and a world of experience and advice for the asking. The music played at the bar is kept low and includes an incredible variety, which is rare for the Caribbean. One is likely to hear classical, jazz, swing, country or rock and roll as well as "island music". In addition to these attributes, Hummingbird is the cheapest marina in the area.
Finally, on June 8th the weather was right and we were ready to sail
to the Venezuelan islands of Los Testigos and then on to the island
of Margarita. Stay tuned.