In the wee hours of April 30, we slipped our mooring and continued south to Fort de France, Martinique. As usual, the trades were blowing out of the east so our southerly course put us on a rollicking close reach across the channels between Guadeloupe and Dominica and again between Dominica and Martinique. In the lee of Dominica and Martinique and their tall mountains, we found swirling winds and smooth seas. By 17:30, we had our anchor down near Fort Louis and the Ferry terminal at Fort de France.
Unfortunately, we discovered that May first is Labor Day in Martinique, another Department of France. This meant we couldn’t check in to the country, nor could we shop or take in the hustle and bustle of Fort de France on this, our only day on the island. Ah, the problems with schedules… In the afternoon, we moved south to Petite Anse, a delightful anchorage with a lovely beach fully populated with locals enjoying their national holiday. After an early dinner and nap, we set sail at midnight for a southerly shot past the islands of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and onward to Bequia in the Grenadines. The brisk trade winds didn’t disappoint as we blasted across the inter-island channels and in to Port Elizabeth by mid afternoon.
As we neared this island of Bequia, Cindy spied a “crazy guy, standing up in his inflatable as he’s crashing over the 2m waves.” Indeed, action photographer Kenmore Henville was hurtling toward us to take (and sell us) photos of Pazzo in action. As expected, the following day we met and bought Kenmore’s excellent photos of Pazzo pressing hard under reefed main and staysail.
The island of Bequia (beck-way) is the largest and most populated of the Grenadine cluster of islands lying between Grenada (Gren-aid-a) and St. Vincent. In fact the independent nation comprises, and is called, “St. Vincent and the Grenadines.” The Grenadine islands are idyllic, low-lying islands wildly popular with the charter crowd as they boast reliable trade winds and mostly comfortable anchorages protected from ocean swells by fringing reefs and rigged with pay-to-use moorings.
Port Elizabeth, the principal town and well-protected bay of Bequia was croweded with cruisers and charter boats alike. On our initial arrival we counted about 150 yachts at anchor or on moorings! The small island is well maintained and caters to tourists who arrive by air, ferry, or yacht. We enjoyed several beautiful hikes to tall peaks for lovely vistas over the islands and to nearby beaches and villages. In Port Elizabeth, we found several nice bars and restaurants dotting the shoreline. And, of course, we bought fresh bread and rolls each day – usually eating them on our walk back to the dinghy dock.
From Bequia, we continued south to explore the rest of the Grenadine archipelago, finding secure but windy anchorages at Canouan Island, The Tobago Cays, and Union Island, before returning to Bequia and on to St. Vincent. The Tobago Cays are group of four low-lying islands with small but nice beaches and protected by a network of reefs to offer a selection of safe (but a bit rolly) anchorages and mooring fields. The brisk trade winds keep the anchorages bug free and cool. Snorkeling was poor: good visibility but nothing to see. We took a dinghy excursion about a mile to windward of our anchorage to Petit Tabac, a small island where the rum-burning scene from “Pirates of the Caribbean (1)” was filmed. Big fun for “Pirates” fans!.
We spent 5 days, poking around the leeward (west) side of St. Vincent, finding beautiful, calm anchorages everywhere. From our Blue Lagoon anchorage on the south end of the island, we caught a mini-van bus into the capital city of Kingstown for a visit to the Island’s botanical garden. The beautiful garden is complete with an aviary full of elegant St. Vincent Parrots, the country’s national bird. We also found a tree with the brightest hot-pink flowers we’ve ever seen. Odd this is: the flowers are on the inside of the foliage, rear the trunk and branches. From afar, the tree is just another leafy-green tree, but from below it is abloom in stunning pink and the ground below is littered the same. Our bus ride back to the Blue Lagoon proved terrifying. We hopped on the wrong bus which, while finally delivering us to the anchorage, took us hurtling down steep, narrow, twisting roads with music blaring at top volume. Roller coaster rides are tame compared to this death-defying bus ride!
From Blue Lagoon, we sailed north past Wallilabou bay to take pictures of the rocky arch where skeletons hung in “Pirates 1” and then to our anchorage in Cuberland Bay renown for it’s delicious mojitos – made entirely from fresh ingredients. So good were the drinks and so peaceful the anchorage that we stayed a second night.