After a convivial couple of days with the crew of Fortino in Rodney Bay, we settled in t St Lucia, to be joined a couple of weeks later by daughter Jn with partner Rl and their 3-month old baby Io. It was a time of high winds, and it was a rolly anchorage at times, so we were glad that the weather improved before the family arrived.
Pirate trip boat in Marigot Bay, St Lucia
We moved to Marigot Bay where they had booked a B&B for the start of their holiday. After 3 nights on a buoy in the outer bay, we took a pontoon berth (stern-to) at the marina which is attached to the posh hotel (complete with swimming pool). Marigot Bay is very sheltered, so we enjoyed calm water even on the buoy. We were visited by various ‘boat boys’ – some of whom could not even afford a boat and traded fruit and vegetables from sailboards etc. Large vessels packed with day trippers visited from Rodney Bay, the small ferries crossed to the beach and back – there was plenty going on. The scenery was lush and beautiful, although the mangroves were a little smelly. In the marina, we were in the small boat category for once, being under 50ft long. The baby had her first swimming lessons in the hotel pool and soon got used to the water.
Superyachts in Marigot Bay (spot the helicopter)
As our visitors had a hire-car, we all took a trip to Souffriere, 10 miles to the south. The roads are pretty hairy but the views stunning, especially the volcanic plugs known as the Pitons. We all enjoyed exploring Souffriere, which has colourful buildings in many states of repair. J expressed her thanks for Rl’s careful driving but decided to stick to water borne transport in future.
The Pitons, St Lucia
We also visited a former plantation where many species of fruit-bearing tree are still cultivated, as well as orchids ad other flowers. It was interesting to see the process from cocoa bean to chocolate! The chocolate made on the premises was expensive but delicious.
Cocoa pods on the tree
Antique cocoa bean drying trays
Another day we visited the market in nearby Castries, where we could buy and sample some of the fruits we had seen on the tree. The sour -sap fruits were the most interesting – a natural version of the penny fruit salad sweets that some of us remembered from childhood.
Graffiti in Castries (on the back of the police station)
With all 5 of us aboard, we sailed south for St Vincent and the Grenadines. It was a rougher crossing than expected – too much for some! But the baby was OK, rocked to sleep in her hammock, slung in the pilot berth. When she awoke, she was entertained in the downwind corner of the saloon seats, with her toys on the table and many entrancing mobiles: the fruit nets, the tea towels and the swaying lantern. In calmer waters, she enjoyed being up in the cockpit but it was easier to lull her off to sleep in the corner below.
Baby in hammock at sea
Asleep on the job
It was almost dark as we arrived in Cumberland Bay, St Vincent, so we were glad to see a local boat heading out to greet us. With help, we anchored off the beach with a long stern line ashore. Cumberland Bay was beautiful, with lush trees right down to the shore.
Moored to a coconut palm in Cumberland Bay
Next morning, we motored round to the next bay, Wallilabou, which was one of the settings for the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Here we were under siege from guys selling local produce and offering various services. One guy (we’ll call him “Beach”) had only a paddle board and always showed up smoking a spliff. We ended up with a good supply of coconuts and a bag of random small green fruit purchased from local youths, which in the fullness of time turned out to be limes, lemons and oranges. These took some hours to arrive so we did wonder whose garden(s) they came from.
Pirates of the Caribbean film set at Wallilabou
Moored off the jetty at Wallilabou
We ate a tasty lunch including local vegetables at the pirate bar and then had a look around the various film props and items in an idiosyncratic collection (old telephone equipment & Carib pottery). This was followed by a walk up the road to a waterfall, guided of course by Beach. The former dammed stream serving a sugar mill wheel has been converted to a garden and the pool below the waterfall makes a fun place for a cool dip.
Wild swimming upriver at Wallilabou – Jn was first in the water…
…followed by the guys
Next day we bought some fresh fish (Mai-Mai) from one of the boats and set off for the Grenadine island of Bequia. It was an easier sail, and we picked up a mooring on arrival, and cooked the fish for a late lunch before Jn and family caught a water-taxi ashore. They had a couple of B&B nights booked inland. The local traditional sailboats (presumably a relic from the whaling days) could be seen sailing in the harbour, or in various states of repair on the beach.
Remains of a traditional boat, Bequia
We spent a pleasant afternoon at Lower bay beach on Bequia and had lunch at a great local café (Dawn’s) tucked away at the western side. We enjoyed an interesting walk back to the main town along Princess Margaret beach, coastal paths and one or two more exciting sets of steps.
There is strong community involvement in sailing, with young sailors out in Optimists, teenagers learning the ropes on faster boats and older sailors taking part in competitive rallies round the local islands. Bequia is a popular island with cruisers and its friendly family ambience, large safe harbour and varied scenery all contribute to its appeal.
Youth sailing, Bequia
We launched Tringa, our own sailing tender, to get about the harbour. Jn and Rl both went out with R in the dinghy and took turns on the helm.
Tringa in Bequia
All aboard again, we set off for Canouan, some 15 miles south, where we booked into the new marina in Glossy Bay next to the airport – part of a resort complex which is still being developed. At $90 US per night it was the most expensive ever, and no wonder it is almost completely empty! However, the staff were helpful, the facilities were luxurious, and it served as a handy base to explore the nearby Tobago Cays. Canouan has large resort developments in the north and the south of the islands, with the local population living largely around the village in the middle. There is a more marked contrast in the space available for locals and visitors than in other islands that we visited.
The empty Glossy Bay marina, Canouan
An afternoon was spent on one of the attractive southern beaches of Canouan, fronted by a wide sandy lagoon with surf on the reef beyond. Amongst the trees behind the beach we found land tortoises, and on the shore, conch and sea-urchin shells.
Land tortoise on Canouan
Back on board, the Ship’s baby was getting into the ropes (eating them) and other equipment. She too was signed on as part of the crew when we checked in at Customs, and has “By Sea, Ambition II” on her passport stamp!
Ship’s Baby inspects the equipment
Next morning, we negotiated the reefs of Tobago Cays, and moored in about 3m of lovely clear water over sand, to the south of the island called Baradal. We soon noticed the turtles bobbing up for air near the boat. We were in the ‘turtle watching area’ and it lived up to its name!
Turtle coming up for air, Tobago Cays
After taking turns to swim with the turtles, we all went ashore in the rubber dinghy to Petit Bateau to partake of the sumptuous beach barbecue – lobsters and tuna steaks with rice and salad dishes, and Carib beer.
BBQ lobster and tuna, on the beach at Tobago Cays
The beach scenery here is stunning. Stingrays swim along the shore to be fed scraps from the barbecue, and metre-long iguana hunt on the sand.
Anchorage and islands to the West of Petit Bateau, Tobago Cays
Rl, Jn & baby on Petit Bateau
Iguana, Tobago Cays
A couple of us took the dinghy out to the reef, where small red mooring buoys are provided. The coral heads were mostly blanched and dead, though a few live corals remained, and colourful fish swam between them. Later we returned to Glossy Bay for the night, and next day headed North again to St Vincent, where we checked into the Blue Lagoon marina (after navigating the narrow entrance with just a few inches over the bar – just like at home on the East Coast).
Blue Lagoon, St Vincent
The restaurant provided another fine barbecue-buffet. Next day Jn and family caught a plane back to St Lucia where another B&B was booked at Rodney Bay. Ambition II stayed another night in St Vincent then checked out and headed north to join them, anchoring overnight in Souffriere Bay. The B&B came with a garden mooring so Ambition II was tied up alongside!
Moored at Admiral’s Quay
All too soon it was time for Jn and family to return to the UK. Ambition II was stocked up from the local store and moved out to the anchorage. Next morning, there was a slow swell and we were surrounded by weed! The sea weed that had looked so interesting in strings out in the Atlantic turned into a menace when it gathered in huge mats near the coast of islands. One of the beaches on Bequia had to be temporarily closed until the heaps of drying weed could be removed. After we set off from St Lucia, the engine temperature got a little high, and R had to clear the weed out of the intake filter.
Surrounded by weed in Rodney Bay
We were relaxing in the Caribbean warmth which was a huge contrast to the weather in the UK as it recovered from the aftermath of ‘the Beast from the East’. Once again, our friends from the RSA helped out when problems arose at home in our absence – much appreciated!
Jn, Rl and the baby flew home, leaving us with many happy memories.
Baby on board!