Monday, July 26, 2010

Spending Some Time in The Southern Grenadines

In the more remote Grenadines (other than Bequia, Canouan and Union Island), it is a little hard to find decent wireless internet. Even with The Wirie! We would pick up signals from other islands, miles away, but to be able to work without frustrations, we need a good connection, not one that cuts in and out (which is OK to grab emails and check the weather). Mark and I got very fond of the island of Mayreau, but WiFi is non-existent. That resulted in Irie having to return to the “metropolis” of Clifton in Union Island multiple times. There, we focused on the business and customer service for a few days and then left for the weekend to a more quiet area.

During one of our short stays in Clifton, we checked out Happy Island with our friend Dave from Tatia. Janti founded Happy Island a few years ago, by building his own piece of property/paradise on a pile of conch shells, in the middle of the reefs. The place is very popular with tourists and has grown out to be a successful enterprise. It is totally self contained (he collects power and water from Mother Nature) with 360 degree views over the islands, just like on a boat!

The Tobago Cays lure from a distance and from the pages of guides and brochures. Irie stopped there briefly last November, for my birthday. We looked forward to returning for a while. The little islands, or cays, belong to a National Park, which charges EC$ 10 (US$ 4) per person per night and mooring balls are available for an extra cost. The main anchorage is protected by a big horse shoe reef, so the water is relatively calm, but the breeze is steady and perfect to create electricity. All of the five islands have pretty white sand beaches, framed by palm trees. The reef offers good snorkeling and some trails lead to the top of hills with nice views.

Normally, the water is turquoise and very clear, but this time, there was a green hue to it, something we have noticed all through the Caribbean this summer. We think it has to do with the higher temperature of the sea water, which attracts algae. The water of some beaches is now so warm that it makes you want to get out again! Another inconvenience was an annoying swell that made Irie bounce all over the place, twelve hours a day. A result of outgoing tide running into wind chop, we presume. The six hours of daylight with calm seas and wonderful surroundings, we used wisely. Mark and I went snorkeling on the reef and enjoyed the pretty, colorful waterscapes and many fish species. A feeding snake, sliding through the coral heads was the most interesting sight.

We picked Darwin up for a dinghy tour around the islands and checked out every sandy beach, with a little swim to cool off. On a couple of islands, a trail revealed wonderful vistas of the Tobago Cays. In the shallows off Baradel Island, sea turtles feed on grass. It is a delight to snorkel with them and watch their habits. All you have to do is don some snorkel gear and float away from the beach. The uncomfortable pitching of our boat, made us leave the area prematurely after two nights.

Mark and I decided to give Salt Whistle Bay another try. The setting is gorgeous in this bay, but last time, a whole bunch of powerboats disrupted the peace and took up most of the space. This time, all we could see was a huge mega motor yacht, surrounded by sailboats. One of them left the bay, so we grabbed their spot close to the beach. The wind was absent and boats started to do weird stuff. Before long, we found our butt very close to the beach. It was a bit nerve wrecking, but after some calculations and personally checking depths in the water, we figured we’d be all right. For the first time ever, we could just walk off our back step, in the water and all the way to the beach! Quite a funny and practical revelation, but not one we’d like to repeat often!

After combining relaxation, reading, snorkeling, walking, having fun with Darwin and the normal chores with the necessary days of work in between, we felt it was time to leave St. Vincent and The Grenadines for Carricaou, one of our favorite islands and part of Grenada. A few days at quiet Sandy Island (which is being turned into a National Park on August 1st 2010, prohibiting anchoring and charging for the mandatory use of mooring balls) is now followed by a week’s stay in Tyrrel Bay to attend the Carriacou Regatta, be part of the local culture and festivities and promote The Wirie. Vacation is over!

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