Glorious Grenadines – how to sum up such an incredible sailing holiday in the Caribbean?
Posted in : Bluejay
Arrival day in Grenada was a pretty standard day, welcome lunch and snacks followed by a round of safety and boat briefs, modified to a relaxed Caribbean pace to take account for acclimatising to the warmth.
Safety briefs completed during the morning and an opportunity to pick up a last few provisions, Bluejay slipped her moorings around noon and chugged out into the Caribbean Sea. Soon some of the old ‘Rubicon’ hands were helping first timers raise the sails and training began in earnest.
Bluejay flew along in the fresh easterly breeze and we cleared around the Southern Tip of Grenada for the beautiful secluded anchorage of le Phare Bleu, where an crew meal ashore had been arranged.
Our third day was another sailing and training focused day. Weighing anchor Bluejay, pokes out into the Caribbean swell and heeled over onto a close reach to sail along the East coast of Grenada. Fishermen were out checking their pots but otherwise we were nearly alone, apart from swooping frigate birds and flying fish flicking themselves across the wave tops.
Anchoring for the evening on the island of Caricou, Customs procedures were completed ashore with typical Caribbean alacrity, which allowed the team onboard time for a leisurely breakfast, and boat preparation. Our first stop was at the small Marine Reserve around Sandy Island, (no photographs required). The team were able to swim and snorkel on the reefs and stroll along the beach in the shade of the palm trees.
A quick lunch and then the short passage to a new nation – Union Island part of the St Vincent and Grenadine chain. The approach to the anchorage at Clifton Harbour is well guarded by treacherous reefs and provided a superb opportunity for Day Skipper Maxine to hone her pilotage skills.
Once the skipper had cleared customs we all strolled ashore and discovered something like St Ives in the Caribbean, boutique coffee shops and kite surfing outlets interspersed with vegetable hawkers and general stalls – beautifully surreal, charming and friendly. Finally we closed the day with Rum Cocktails on the reef bar, an isolated hostelry built on the reef in the middle of the harbour – an ideal location to coif cocktails and delight at the Sunset.
The following morning, as the sun began to heat up the day, the crew went ashore to browse a little further around Clifton before setting off on a hike across Union Island to the spectacular Chatham bay on the east side of the island! While the Skipper and mate moved the boat around to meet the crew for lunch at the beach bar, a hill climb began across the top of the island, stopping on the way to sip coffee and light lunch at Islander’s Inn that overlooked a deserted beach – a welcome discovery. The afternoon was then spent in. Chatham Bay snorkelling with turtles, rays and huge starfish! Sundowners were had in a typical Caribbean little bar aptly named ‘Sunset Cove’.
After a brilliant day spent on Union Island, (a favourite island amongst most of the crew onboard) we had an early start to do some more sail training on the way to infamous Tobago Cays. We did everything from tacking practice to learning how the prevents are rigged to gybing. What better way to learn sailing techniques, than floating on a turquoise Caribbean Sea.
Before being expertly piloted by Julie between the rocks and reefs that make up the Cays, we dropped anchor and went for a snorkel on Turtle Beach, no prizes for guessing what we were swimming with! That evening we were hosted by ‘Captain Neil’ ashore who laid on a fantastic lobster barbecue.
Day 7 saw us sail up to the private island of Mustique, where the 25th anniversary of their blues festival was being held. It was a fast passage up to the island in the glorious Caribbean sunshine and once a mooring buoy was picked up , a refreshing dip in the sea was a must! After a quick freshen up we all headed ashore to the legendary Basils’ Bar on the waterfront where we had a delicious dinner and soaked up the atmosphere of the blues festival. Mick Jagger even popped down to the bar for a drink!
After all the swimming and sailing we decided that the luxury of a marina and its facilities were needed. Thankfully, Glossy Bay Marina wasn’t too far away and it allowed the crew to experience what a 25 nM downwind passage was like. The general feeling that downwind sailing is preferable! Glossy Bay Marina has 5 star luxurious facilities treating us to view a 5 star sunset with the moon and Venus twinkling at twilight.
Refreshed, provisioned and pampered, the boat and crew were ready for the next chapter, a cheeky 30nm beam reach to the sleepy island of Bequia. Arriving a few hours before sunset, the crew showed off their honed seamanship tacking into the anchorage to the amazement of the onlooking charter sailors.
The team spent a day exploring Bequia, picking from a selection of snorkelling, shopping, bar chilling and just chatting with the extremely friendly locals.
Returning onboard for another spectacular sunset and even more spectacular fish curry – thank you Paul. We briefed and prepped for a night sail to St Lucia.
Departure was timed so the boat arrived at the fantastic Piton mountains at sunrise. Sailing under the starlit canopy in a warm easterly breeze, was an amazing experience capped with wonderful views with breakfast.
Upon arrival in the bay beneath the towering Pitons, an early morning refreshing dip was had by some while others caught up on sleep. Customs cleared, a group of the crew went ashore to see the sights that included a sulphur mud bath and swim in the plunge pool beneath a beautiful waterfall. Back on board, we had a delicious dinner and a well deserved early night.
Alarms went off at 0530 the next morning in readiness for some to attempt to climb Petit Piton, only 30m smaller than it’s next door neighbour Gross Piton. We found that it was more of a scramble up the side of the Piton rather than a hike and not for the faint hearted! Challenging climbs up rock faces including a few vertical ascents, had the crew clinging onto only a rope, we eventually made it to the top where as expected the views were incredible! It was well worth the hard work of the climb and the early morning start. After a careful decent, we were all back onboard slightly dusty but exhilarated and on a short sail to our next stop at Marigot Bay.
Bluejay arrived in the beautiful sheltered anchorage, famous as a Hurricane Hole (a place of excellent protection) and for the first time in ten days experienced mass tourism as boats rammed with tourist flowed through the anchorage blaring an eclectic mix of reggae and country music. Entertaining as that was for just one evening, we longed for the charm and exclusion of deserted coves of the previous few days.
The last day at sea entailed another fantastic fast reach North 30nM across the St Lucia channel and into Marin, a Mecca for French sailors on the island of Martinique. There was opportunity to practise sail trim, and reinforce sailing skills from the last few days, before ‘Skipper’ Nichola and ‘Navigator’ Eduardo hides us into the Marina.
The last evening was spent spinning tall stories and embellishing memories over long drinks and local cuisine.
A fantastic end to a wonderful fortnight of idyllic islands that were essentially jewels of the Caribbean that couldn’t be found without Bluejay.