Grenadines Trip Report – 2010

This was the 12th annual Caribbean sailing trip by, mostly, members of the Downtown Sailing Center, Baltimore. The crew comprised 21 people on 3 catamarans chartered from TMM on St. Vincent. This was the third time we have sailed in the Grenadines – which says a lot about what a wonderful sailing venue it is.

Our first day and last days were dominated by the incredibly poor, irrational service of LIAT. However, to just focus on the sailing trip, I will put that rant in a different post. <img src="" alt="" /> <img src="" alt="" />

When we arrived at the TMM base on St. Vincent we all then had a nice dinner at the new restaurant (well, new to this location) Surfside and then slept onboard. The next day, after finishing provisioning and the briefings we were off to Bequia. All three boats used the Daffodil moorings. This mooring field is a well located to avoid the northerly swells and still close to town. It is also right next to the L’Auberge restaurant, which is excellent (but, at that time, had no dingy dock, despite the Cruising Guide.)

The next morning the crew spent shopping along the main street of Bequia. I found Wallace’s (check the very newest Guide for current location) and bought fishing lures. In the afternoon we cruised slowly past the Moonhole houses and then on to Mustique. We had dinner onboard and then really enjoyed a jump-up at Basil’s. Many of the crew took a taxi tour of Mustique – which I highly recommend.

Before leaving the mooring field of Mustique all the crew took turns practicing approaching a mooring ball into the wind using just the throttles. Some did better than others! Then we took a broad reach down to Mayreau (and caught a nice barracuda while trolling with one of those new lures!) Salt Whistle was too crowded – as usual – so went on to Saline. After a couple anchoring attempts, with no luck, we finally let a boat boy, Patrick, put us on a ball. During the evening we were reminded again about NOT anchoring near the approach to the commercial dock. The supply ships nearly ran over someone anchored in their path. Saline has a beautiful beach with very fine sand and good snorkeling on the south end – it is a great alternative to Salt Whistle.

My personal adventure was managing to sink one of the hooks from that new lure solidly into my forearm. Funny thing about large fish hooks; they are made of really strong metal and that barb on the end is very effective! Luckily, we had both a surgeon and a nurse in the crew and during a rather painful interlude; they managed to push the barb-end up out of the arm, found a wire cutter (somewhere) to cut off the barb, then pulled the whole thing back through. As the nurse mentioned later, surgeons aren’t accustomed to working on patients who are awake!

For some reason we were low on both tank water and drinking water, so took a quick trip down to the Bougainville dock on Union Island. We then went back up around Mayreau and out to Tobago Cays. Mooring balls have been added since the last time we were there. There seemed to be about 15 balls along the turtle “enclosure” south of Baradel and about 8 more going south along the reef towards Jamesby. Note: one CAN NOT pick up these mooring pendants with a boathook. You must have someone in a dingy put your lines through the eye and hand them back onboard – of course there are boat boys available to help. We spent two days here snorkeling (except for the one person with the forearm under repair!), swimming with the turtles, looking for the “pass” through the reef (unsuccessfully) and hiking around the islands. Tobago Cays is simply heaven on earth.

We then sailed out of Tobago Cays, back around Mayreau and down to Palm Island. There are about a dozen mooring balls here and we went ashore for lunch and to get a feel for the island. Well, they let us drink at the bar but would not serve us lunch until around mid-afternoon – they evidently only have seating for their guests. We did walk around and bought some artwork (painted tiles, etc.) from the resident artist. I guess this is one place I can now say: been there, done that. After a short trip back to Union, all three boats did the stern-to, Med-mooring thing along the dock at Bougainville. This was Sunday so many places were closed and the next day was a national election so many were not open then either – otherwise Union is a good place for shopping, restaurants, banks, etc. We did have a delightful dinner at Bougainville, right at the end of the dock.

With PSV our next destination, instead of doing the short, direct route, we decided to sail north between Union and Palm then south around Petite Martinique and then back up to PSV. A few of us then took a dingy around the west end of PSV and north to a patch of coral about half way out to the full reef. It was great snorkeling with the hard coral coming back, plentiful soft coral and many colorful fish. After having a swim party with the crews of all three boats, we then had dinner onboard. This anchorage at PSV is one of the prettiest ever.

Needing some provisions, the next morning we took the dingy to Petite Martinique. While there are a couple stores – one with a little boutique and the other with a little hardware store – this island did not live up to our expectations from reading the Cruising Guide. We did not get to the Palm restaurant, which might have improved our impression. After shopping we needed to start heading “back north” and sailed back past Palm and Mayreau to Canoun. As Moorings has, basically, pulled out of this base and their huge mooring field is still there, I radioed Moorings for permission to use one of their moorings. They said, “no problem”, so we moored. Then they radioed back, and sent someone in a dingy, to tell us we could not use their mooring – never did find out what that was all about. So after attempting to anchor a couple times, I finally let a boat boy take us to a mooring ball (in about the best shape I have seen a mooring ball!) We had a nice snorkel around the rocks north of the harbor then had a really nice evening of drinks and dinner at the Tamarind. Great service, drinks and food.

Going on back north, we stopped in Bequia – again using Daffodil moorings – with dinner onboard. The next morning many people took a taxi tour of the island, including the turtle sanctuary. By early afternoon we headed back to Blue Lagoon. We motored along the northwest shore of Bequia until we reached a good jump-off spot to sail over to St. Vincent. Everyone enjoyed an outstanding meal at the French Verandah restaurant at the Mariner’s Hotel.

After this wonderful, beautiful time sailing in the Grenadines and enjoying the great service of TMM it was very, very unfortunate that we had to end the trip by, again, suffering the disabuse of LIAT (but instead of sullying this trip report about a great sailing adventure, I will put that on a separate post.) However, the sad part is that the LIAT experience was so bad my crew made it clear it was not worth sailing in the Grenadines if it meant using LIAT!