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Windward Islands

April 10, 2016

We have now spent a month in the “Windward Islands”, called that because the Englishmen had to tack to get to these islands, from their other colonies in the West India. What is so fascinating is that all islands are different and many of them are different countries as well (cost us a lot of different courtesy flags (smile)). Many are dry, but we found Martinique and Grenada rater green, Tobago Cays, Mayreay, Bequia drier. Now, in March/April, the spring is coming so many of the trees that have ben leafless will now bloom and become green.

Going north from Grenada we sailed to Carriacou and Tyrrel Bay for checking out of Grenada. We only stopped here for a night and went on to Union Islands the day after.  This was the first Island, for us, where we had no shelter from the wind and a reef taking care of the waves. We checked in at the small airport in Clifton, strolled through the “main street”, bought some very expensive vegetables, and enjoyed the view. Some Rastafarians were seen carrying their hair in the typical colourful caps. We especially enjoyed the dingy parking, which was fantastic, through an arch in the wall you came in to a basin made especially for dinghies.

Since our main focus was snorkeling in Tobago Cays, we moved next day, got a place anchored at 10 m depth and really enjoyed ourselves for the next 3 days. We saw a lot of reef fishes, new to us, many Turtles and Rays and on land quite a few Iguanas. We saw a few big fishes that we later understood were Porcupine fish (a fish that when scared blows itself up to a larger size, with or without pigs). The corrals to the east were badly hurt from storms. Now that the whole area is a nature reserve the corals are slowly starting to come back,. We enjoyed the islands so much that we went back later when we had my sister and brother in law on board. With them we also checked out the barbecue facilities. Very well managed with pick/up on the boat, lobster barbecue and taxi boat back in the evening.

At the second stop we also visited Mayreau, a small island with two anchorages, colorful houses and very few tourists . Staying in Salina bay, we celebrated Eastern and took walks in the neighborhood, as well as some very good snorkeling. Crystal clear water. The resident Turtle looked curiously at us.

By foot we also visited the Salt Whistle Bay, but found it more crowded and with more charter boats, than Salina Bay. The small street between the two bays was covered with very simple but cosy restaurants and bars. Hopefully the charter ships anchoring in the weeks, can fill them all.

One of the nice features with sailing in the Caribbean is the closeness between the islands. Our next stop, Bequia, was only approx.. 20 nm away. We anchored in Admirality Bay (one of the biggest natural anchorages we have been into), both on our way going north to pick up my relatives in Martinique and south on our way down to Tobago Cays with them. We tested both the northern side of the bay and the southeast side. Both OK, maybe a bit more swell on the eastern side. The village is nice, not very big, with colorful houses climbing the steep slopes, checking in and out is OK and the snorkeling and swimming is lovely, in clear water. The people are also colorful, with some men wearing the typical Rasta hat. We found some nice restaurants and enjoyed ourselves. Eva also managed to exchange some books in the “Fig Tree” restaurant.  Bequia is rather dry and expensive due to almost all goods being imported, eg a medium sized Pineapple costs 8 or 9 Euro. A passenger ship or two were anchoring in the bay, but most of them left at sunset, rushing off to the next island. Compared to Martinique it seems that most inhabitants are previous slaves, where Martinique has more Europeans from France, as it is part of the French government.

We checked out from the Grenadines at Bequia and, due to recent violence, skipped St Vincent. Having to deliver our relatives in time, we also skipped St Lucia (will go there on our way back south) and went directly to Martinique, Anse Mitan. Good shelter and good holding. It turned out to be a very nice village filled with shops, restaurants and people. We feel we need the mixture of nature and civilization. We stayed there for the last days in March, did some shopping and waved good bye to my sister and husband. It has been very pleasant having them onboard. (Don’t know where we see each other again, but we are already longing for that.)

In Martinique we have tried a couple of different harbors

  • Le Marin. A big yacht harbor and anchorage with maybe 1000 ships all sizes and shapes. The village is small with plenty of chandlers, supermarkets and restaurants
  • St Anne. An anchorage outside Le Marin with plenty of space and clear water
  • St Pierre. A small village on the west coast further to the north. We stayed for three nights enjoying the scenic views of the volcano, Mt Pelee. The volcano had an outbreak that devastated the village 1902. 30.000 people died due to fume and ashes. Today only 4.000 people live in the village and you still see ruins from the old time when St. Pierre was the commercial center of Martinique.

Nature

The nature is rewarding, if you keep your eyes open. We have seen a lot of turtles, dolphins, rays when sailing, snorkeling in these clear waters is fantastic and on land you might see some lizards and listen to all the birds. We are now also entering the rainy season, spring, so the flowers are everywhere.

The Mangrove that we explored in Martinique was spectacular, and some sailors use it for shelter during the hurricane season. Looking at the trees and their roots, you can understand why. Unfortunately the water is more murky when you are close to the Mangrove.

 

Until next time,

BR, Eva & Peter

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