October 24 – November 11 2021; 7199 nm and 966 days after departure from La Rochelle.
After our somewhat bumpy start in Bequia, we enjoyed our freedom and Bequia even more. It was so nice to just stroll around the huge Admirality Bay and Bequia’s only town, Port Elizabeth. Discovering all the small little businesses, which seem to be a bit better equipped than what we were used to from Grenada, was such a treat! A stop for a coffee here, lunch somewhere else and a long walk from the north end of the bay to the south made Altimate’s crew very happy.
For the first time since ages we were suddenly a bit tight in time. Originally our plan was to spend about 6 weeks in SVG and then move slowly up north to Martinique arriving end of November, beginning of December. The experience with the unexpected elongated quarantine in Bequia and the confusing entry information of Martinique made us change our mind. We felt a bit uneasy regarding our travel plans to Europe and decided to leave SVG earlier. All that to make sure we have plenty of time for the entry procedure in Martinique (just in case) and get Altimate ready to be on her own for a few weeks. We did not want to give the fate any chance of mixing up our travel plans! That again shortened our time in SVG a lot and it made us explore Bequia and the other islands in a different pace than we were used to.
We spent a few more days in Bequia, inhaled the tranquility of the bay and the kindness of the people. They were so relaxed and friendly even though Covid has certainly wreaked havok (I learned some new words from our Canadian friends 😎) regarding business and health on the islands. Amazing people!
After some days of exploring Bequia we felt it was time to move on to see more islands of the Grenadines. Our next destination was Mayreau, a little island just in front of the national park of the Tobago Cays. It had pristine beaches and when we walked up the hill we were spoiled with spectacular views. We could e.g. see Union island to the west and Tobago Cays to the east side. The latter were a group of small, uninhabited islands protected from the sea by the famous Horseshoe Reef. Inspired by the nice view we lifted the hook and sailed the few miles to the Tobago Cays. The anchorage there was unique. Altimate was softly swinging in shallow water in front of the reef. The reef and water colours were a kaleidoscope of gold, brown, blue, turquoise and green. Inbetween that colourful spectacle turtles aplenty and so used to humans that snorkeling felt like being in turtle town. There as well, we had a stroll up the little hill of one of the bigger small islands. Some locals were offering lobster, fish and drinks. To support them or rather to spoil ourselves we went for a fish bbq. The supper was great but even better was the company as we bumped into the British “charter” couple, David and Josie, which we had already met in Bequia and Mayreau. We had a nice chat and were confronted with the beauty of our crazy, fu..ing, cool lifestyle 😁. When we thought having only about 3 weeks to explore SVG was not enough, Dave and Josie thought it was a long time…
Though it was an amazing anchorage we wanted to move on to see more. This time we headed to Union island, but instead of going to Clifton, the main harbour, we set our hook in the lee of Frigate Island. A very quiet, pleasant place with only 3 boats at the time and a short dinghy ride to Ashton, the other town on Union. On our trip to Frigate a nice big barracuda grabbed our pretty octopussy hook. As we were almost back to Carriacou and the baracuda was 1m of length, we dared to eat it. Further north in the Carribean it would not be advisable to eat barracuda anymore because of ciguaterra. In Grenada the locals told us it would be ok to eat barracuda up to 1m. Anyhow, we had enough food for the next days, barracuda fried with rice and plantain, fish curry, steemed and more… and no side effects!
From Ashton we walked along the road to Clifton to get some fresh food and enjoy the bustling little village. Again we bumped into Josie and David, the charter couple. Of course we had a little chat and some coffee in a bar. This time it was definitely for the last time we would see them as they already had to sail back to Bequia to return their boat and fly back home. How lucky we were to stay longer!
The next day we explored Frigate Island, which was initially seperated by water but later joined by a meandering man-made-causeway during the “Ashton Marina Project” in 1994. A man-made disaster! Being able to walk all the way from Frigate to shore or vice versa was wonderful and exciting, but at the same time very sad. The exciting part was that we were walking along the largest lagoon in the Grenadines. The sad part was that it was only possible due to a failed marina. The developement was to have, next to the causeway, a 300-berth marina, a golf course in the mangrove area and large condominium. Only a year later in 1995 the developer went bankrupt, the marina was abandoned and the developer disappeared. All that happened even though the lagoon was designated a Marine Conservation Area and protected under the Fisheries Act of 1986. At least lately some organisations were looking after the island to keep it clean and made sure that the flora and fauna was recovering.
A couple of days later we left our empty anchorage and sailed around the south part of Union to Chatham Bay. A magnificent anchorage on the west side of Union Island with a beautiful long beach to the south and a steep headland to the north. Carribean lifestyle pure. Two beach bars offering nice food and delicious drinks apart from that nothing but nature. The first couple of days we were just swimming and snorkeling. The afternoon was used for a little beach walk and a delicious sundowner at one of the beach bars alternating each day😋. There was also a nice hike up the headland, which was shouting out for us to be walked. The steep hike was worth the effort to leave our lazy mornings habbits for once. At the top we were rewarded with stunning views over the ocean and lots of scary wildlife, like cows and turtles. Coming back to the beach our throats were very thirsty and our bellies needed attention. Enough reason to stop at the beach bar for a nice lunch and cool beverages.
I can’t remember how long we stayed in relaxing Chatham Bay but it was again time to move on. Before going back to Bequia we decided to have a stop at Canouan, another island about 20 nm north west of Union Island. Canouan turned out to be a poor spot. All the little bars were closed merely the grocery huts were open. It looked sad. Just before we were giving up to get a beer let alone some food somewhere, we run into a local who just came back to his beach hut. The only one who opened in the whole village and we finally got our cold beer. A nice guy who apparently also rents moorings and delivers water and fuel to boats. We had a nice long chat and stayed for a couple of beers before we went back to Altimate. As half of the island was private and therefore the interesting nature of Canouan not accessable we decided to sail back to Bequia the next day.
Bequia doesn’t seem to be our island, even though it is such a sweet island! The start was bumpy and so was our end. In the procedure of getting ready for our sail to Martinique we also needed to do some laundry. As alsways we brought it to our favourite laundry in Bequia. Usually it is an easy and convenient service. It takes about a day to get it washed, dried and folded back. Nice! So it was this time. The laundry was brought back to Altimate, we paid and were happy, but busy with other duties. When we finally wanted to put our clothing away we discovered, that most of MINE clothes were missing. What? No! The laundry lady was very sorry but had to tell us that our cloths are on another boat, which was on it’s way to Barbados. Direct hit! That ment our clothes were gone, well mine! I know, it was not the end of the world, still very annoying. After a few hours and with a lot of help from the very, very sorry laundry lady, we figuered out the name,the flag of the boat and most importan, that it hadn’t checked out of SVG. That was good news as it ment the boat was still somewhere in SVG. With these information we asked in several facebook groups for help. The cruiser world is fantastic! Within minutes we knew the flag was wrong not French but Danish and that some cruisors had seen the boat going north. After only a couple of hours we had contact with the boat and we happily arranged a meetup for the next day at Young Island, Saint Vincent. What a relief! The next morning we checked out of SVG, waved goodbye to Bequia and headed to Young Island to eventually got reunited with my cloth😁.
Martinique we’re coming!