Redwings Round the World

St. Vincent & the Grenadines

24 January - 2 February 2001

 
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 Aaron & Colleen in Mustique, Redwings in the background

24 January, Wallilabou Bay, St. Vincent

Aaron - We got up at around 0700 and were off the boat and hiking towards Gros Piton by 0800.  Trying to get up there while its still cool.  Gross Piton towers over the anchorage and stands like a huge green gumdrop sentry at the southeastern tip of St. Lucia.  On the way by Lord Glenconner's house, we actually saw him outside wearing some sort of East Indian get up and directing the unloading of what looked like a bunch of Indonesian wooden furniture.  He waved and said hello to us.

The trail was steep, but paved - a road really - so it was pretty good going.  As we passed through the first village (where our waitress Marie from Bang's the night before was from - she gave us the basic directions on where to go), calls came from shaded houses "You going to de Gross Piton?  You need a guide?"  No thanks.

After the village, we walked through overgrown banana and mango orchids and after an hour or so, same to a second village.  Right away a young guy came up to us and asked if we were going up to Gross Piton and confirmed that we needed to pay a bit to proceed (with or without a guide), and ran off to fetch the woman who was responsible for collecting fees.  We knew there was some sort of park fee for hiking to the top - I guessed it was probably $10 EC (US$4) or so.  However, they fee was US$25 per person!  For a two mile hike up a narrow path without a guide?  Forget it.  They got zero from us and we turned around.  We did not even have US$50 on us.  Again - another St. Lucia rip-off attempt.  US$50 is probably more than anyone in the village makes in a month!

With our hike shortened to two hours, we decided to definitely leave for St. Vincent and quickly got the dingy on board, everything stowed, and motored out of the anchorage at 1100.  Under the lee of Gross Piton, we hoisted the main and put in the reefing line for the double reef.  Can't find the #1 reefing line.  Where is it?

We enjoyed a fast beam reach across the 30 mile pass between St. Lucia and St. Vincent in 15 to 20 knots of wind and moderate swells.  However, as soon as we were in the lee of St. Vincent, the wind was almost completely blanketed by the high mountains so we motored the rest of the way up to coast to our chosen anchorage of Walillabou.

As we approached the anchorage, two little pea-pod row boats that were standing one mile off the bay shot out towards us.  Apparently, the first to got to us would have the right to claim us as his customer.  They wanted to help take a line ashore.  We passed initially preferring to get close and scope out the situation, but as more and more guys on surfboards, row boats, and Styrofoam floats surrounded us, we decided to give the first guy who caught up with us the go ahead to take a stern rope to shore as we Med moored between two other boats already likewise tied to the shore.  Of course, our only long strong rope (second anchor rode) was at the bottom of the cockpit locker, so we quickly strung together a few dock lines - they were not long enough - so we kept piecing together more lines.   Bad organization.  Boat boys hanging off the life lines all over the boat.  A frustrating mess and I was getting very hot under the collar.  During the whole maneuver these guys were asking if we wanted bread, fruit, tours, etc. etc.  and would take no or leave us alone.

We finally were situated and I hopped in the dingy to go check in.  While I was gone, Colleen literally had to hide down below to avoid being hassled by boat boys.  When I arrived at customs, I looked in my ships papers back for our papers and - ahhhh - I only had the clearance from St. Lucia and (luckily) passports - all of my other papers were gone (documentation, bill of sale, old documentation etc.)  Could not find them anywhere on the boat.  Must have left them in the Customs office or sail loft in St. Lucy. Fraying already frayed nerves.  Temper and sense of humor gone.

Luckily, the deadbeat customs officer did not ask for the ships papers - only the St. Lucian port clearance - so that was no problem.  He did notice though that we were declaring about 30 liters of wine on board and stated that that was a lot of wine for two people to drink by themselves and how much he liked wine before giving us our entry clearance.

We had a mediocre meal at the restaurant before turning in.  The boat boys had apparently finally gone back to whence they came, only to be replaced by a few mosquitoes.  However, it was a quiet night - our first for weeks without the wind whistling through the rigging - and we had a great sleep.

25 January, Wallilabou Bay St. Vincent to Admiralty Bay, Bequia

Aaron - Although the boat boys are a pain, Wallilabou is a beautiful bay with steep-to mountains falling to the North and South of the horseshoe bay and a nice beach ringed with huts and palm trees where the horse's toe nails would be - if he had them that is.  Of course, however, paradise was soon lost and within a minute of being awake and on deck the boat boys were at the side trying to get something going and making us feel guilty for not giving them any business.  We were by this time so annoyed there was no way we were going to buy anything from any of them.

We locked the boat up well and hopped in the dingy and pulled ourselves ashore by the stern line.  The crowd asked where we were going and we said we were taking a walk to Walliabou Falls.  "Oh, that is really far", they claimed, "you will never find it - you need a guide".  No thanks.

Fifteen minutes later we were at the "falls" after an eventless direct walk down the main highway (a one lane semi-paved road full of chickens).  The falls were only about five feet high.  Wow.  Still it was a pretty little stream and a nice walk by some orchids.  Ok, nuff of Wallilabo - or however you say it -outta here.

We felt lazy and I wanted to fully charge the batteries to make sure the new amp hour meter was properly calibrated so we motored the whole way to Bequia - which was only about 15 miles away.  We did a few boat jobs enroute.

Shortly after anchoring in the bay, a couple came up to us in their dingy and asked if Redwings was a Peterson.  We confirmed and invited them aboard. Rocky and Laura live on a C&C 37 with their two boys are a looking to upgrade to a larger boat.  Rocky is a professional skipper and had done at least one delivery in a Peterson 44 and really liked the boat.  They took a tour and gave us the poop on Bequia and lots of other stuff as well.  Great to meet them and I'm sure we will speak with them some more.  The spend winters here where Rocky looks after a Hinkley 49 and then summers in Marblehead (Massachusetts) when he delivers the boat up there for the owners during the summer cruising season.

We then did a quick recon of the town and got quotes from four different sail makers to install a new zipper on our bimini.  Lots of yacht support services here.  Bought a few Newsweeks at the bookstore and caught up on the world (as best as one can reading the candy-coated non-objective and sensationalized "journalism" of Newsweek) and sipped tea at the Gingerbread House overlooking the harbor.  Really nice.

On the way back "home" we stopped at Rocky and Laura's boat Mololo and met their younger son Skyler (age 6) and new cat Ting.  Mom and big brother (13) were out for a night diving session.  Rocky gave us tips for cruising the area while Skyler climbed around in the rigging like a monkey and Ting knocked things over down below. 

26 January, Admiralty Bay, Bequia

Aaron - Talked to Jeff on Sifar this morning on the SSB and he had some good news: "they" had our ship's papers in St. Lucia, "they" being the customs officers.  Apparently I'd left them there in my normal haze-phase.  Good news.  But the bad news (ridiculously stupid news?) was that "they" wanted a 20$ handshake to hand the papers over.  I thought even the St. Lucia guys were above that, but after the "30$ cab ride" incident (Colleen had to fork out the dough to have an official brought 1/4 mile by cab and back to our boat to check out what we had on board before we left for the US), I guess I should not be too surprised.  Anyway, it was tough to make it out over the radio, but Jeff got the papers and did not pay the "fee" so that is good.  He will be gone when we get back to St. Lucy, but he said he'll leave them with the marina office for us.

Well armed with info following yesterday's recon, at 0900 we headed in to the beach to deliver our laundry and the bimini for repair.  I also brought the fishing rod in to see if I could get some parts for the aging reel.  Had a bit of luck and got some of the parts I needed for the rod and reel and several "killer lures" for the local area.  Watch out fish.  We are serious now.  Redwings always catches when she decides to!  The guy at the fishing shop was really helpful and gave me some glue to stick on the new rod tip and also gave me a spare part for the reel.  People in general seem much less on edge and more relaxed and genuinely friendly here than in St. Lucia - where the people are also reasonably friendly.  Perhaps it's because this is a historically more racially integrated island which had its own non-slave based economy (whaling).

After the errands, we too a three hour walk up and around the Northern side of the island.  Great views, killer dogs, cows, beautiful bay, and chicken sandwiches (with whole drumsticks and wings with the bones still in them for US 80 cents each).  Stopped into an artist's roost on the walk back.  A couple have converted an old sugar mill into a studio and gallery.  One of the owners gave us a tour of the whole thing demonstrating limitless energy. Pottery is the main medium and she showed us the working of the kilns, glazing, etc.  One of the painters there was from Kittery, Maine! Running into a lot of Mainers around here.

Took it easy in the afternoon.  Fixed my rod and reel and put on the killer tackle.  Headed to the internet cafe, back to the boat for a sundowner.  First evening since we have been back practically that the wind has been less than 10 knots!  Its so peaceful and beautiful.

27 January, Mustique

Aaron - We headed in towards the beach first thing in the morning as Colleen waned to see the Doctor about her.  While she was at the hospital, I did e-mails and chatted with Mololo.  We had understood that a visit to the hospital was free, but for once in her life, Colleen did not double check the potential cost of a service and was stuck with an EC$120 (US$50) bill for a very limited opinion and some dubious eye drops.  Anyway, it seems she is not going to go blind in the near future and that is good news.

We weighed anchor at around 1030 and headed around the southern tip of Bequia and crossed the bay towards neighboring Isle a Quatre.  Rocky on Mololo had suggested we stop and anchor on the back of the island in a small bite tucked behind a reef as the spot is not really on the radar screens of the cruising and chartering community.  We eased in to the spot with only a meter under our keel and finally anchored behind the reef in a sandy four meters.

However, after a quick lunch, walk on the beach, and snorkeling excursion to the reef, we decided to head over to Mustique as the spot was a bit rolly and if the wind decided to come around more to the south, we would have had a noisy and nerve wracking night.

We arrived in Mustique after a one hour run from Isle a Quatre.  We kept our new "killer lure" in the water the whole time we were moving today, but nary a strike.  Perhaps we need to go back to our traditional two line "meany greenie" rig that has performed so well all around the world.

Mustique is a private island owned by 50 "rich and famous" individuals such as David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and Princess Margaret.   Glad we came.  Beautiful clear water and a calm anchorage.  As we pulled in, we saw Farr Ahead, a boat and crew we met back in St. Lucia, in the anchorage.  As soon as we tied up to one of the available moorings, we jumped in and swam over to see Mike and Kitti on Far Ahead.  Their American guest Greg was still on board as well as his wife Candy who had recently joined them.  Fortunately, even though they are from Connecticut, they are Red Sox fans, so we got along fine.

Took a beautiful walk up into the hills and along the shore.  Had Far Ahead crew over for a drink and got rave reviews on the ginger beer.  This will become a house specialty, if only I can find tartaric acid somewhere for sale....  The Mustique Blues Festival is "on", and we were gonna go, but got tired and had pretty good acoustics on the boat so just listed to the music till it ended at midnight or so.

28 January, Tobago Cays 

Aaron - We hit the beach at 0900 with the crew of Farr Ahead to take a tour of the island with one of the local "taxis" (covered pick-up trucks like a Thai Baht Bus).  However, apparently he had to first pick up people at the airport and the plane was late so we were left waiting.  It seems (rightly so I suppose), that the first loyalty of all of the workers on the island is to the rich and famous residents and their whims, and any other tours or services offered are just done on the side if they have time left over.  The "natives" seem to be very well taken care of by the island's owners so one cannot blame them.

Anyway, we had a nice time chatting by the beach.  There are so many birds in the trees and on the beach - you really notice them as the other islands we have visited so far have been pretty quiet on the non-domestic animal front.  Beautiful in here with the clear water and perfect sand beach.

We gave our man till 1030 and then bagged it - we needed to get going to Tobago Cays and Farr Ahead to Young Island at the bottom of Saint Vincent.  We said our goodbyes and I passed on the handed down (Flashdance II to Navara to Redwings) to ginger beer recipe and we parted ways.

We had a nice broad reach in 15-20 knots for the 20 miles to the northern end of Mayreau Island where we banged a left leaving Baline Rocks to port, furled in the genoa, and headed straight up towards the Tobago Cays.  Just as we turned the corner, I noticed a bit more action than normal on the fishing rod and gave it a tug - sure enough there was a fish on the line!  I quickly reeled in a small 5-6 pound tuna / mackerel type fish.  Hit on the new killer Rapala lure, but I was trailing a meanie greeny as well on the hand line.  We really do seem to have more luck with two lures in the water at the same time.  I quickly cut his gills and tied a rope round his tail and threw him back over to drag behind us and bleed out while we motored up into the anchorage.

The Tobago Cays are four small islands to the east of Mayreau island fronted by two massive horseshoe-shaped reefs.  There is a narrow entrance through 3-4 meters of water between two of the islands which then opens up into a 10 meter deep clear lagoon behind the fronting reef.  There is nothing between the reefs and Africa, but the reefs are so substantial that no swells make it in to the lagoon.  The wind whips in though, but that's ok as it stays nice and cool.  This is a truly magical spot - but unfortunately everyone in the Caribbean knows it and there are about 50 boats in here.  There is plenty of room though and we founds a good spot tucked behind the northern-most cay.

Colleen cooked up our fish.  I'm sure she did a good job, but it was disappointing.  A bit gamey tasting.  It's too bad cause I don't know if these small tunny around here will just not taste good in general, or if it was this one in particular.  We have eaten lots of small tuna before and while not as yummie as a sail fish or dolphin fish, they are still usually pretty good.  Have to ask around about the best way to cook them and or if it is even worth keeping them.

29 January, Tobago Cays

Aaron - After breakfast, we hopped in the dingy with our snorkeling equipment and headed for "dingy pass", a break in the outer reef.  Just outside the reef we found several mooring buoys that the local dive boats use and tied up the dingy, and flopped in the water.  A nice "wall" snorkel with lots of fish and interesting coral, but I think we were really spoiled by the Indian Ocean and Red Sea diving and its hard to get excited by anything other than spectacular.  Still, it was great to get out and get some exercise.

We then zipped back into the lagoon and stopped at the southern-most cay for a bit of snorkeling around its reef and a walk on the beach.  Again, a nice diversion, but nothing to write home about.

When we got back to the boat, I put on the dive gear and spent an hour or so removing the barnacles and other sea creatures that had taken up residence on Redwing's hull when we were buried in the mud at The Bistro. We had two coats of hard anti-fouling put on in October, but it seems like thingies are already growing on the bottom pretty quickly.  The US / Western European anti-fouling paint just does not have the bite of the Asian / Turkish stuff.  I guess that is the downside of "environmentally friendly" anti-fouling paint - it creates a friendly environment for marine growth on your boat!

30 January, Admiralty Bay, Bequia

Aaron - We took our time in the morning and pulled up the main and then the anchor at 1100.  The Cays' anchorage was already emptying of boats at a rapid rate by the time we left - charters rushing to get back to base I suppose.  Must be that time of the week.

As soon as we cleared Baline rocks, we pulled out about 1/2 of the genoa and roared off at 7 knots towards Bequia on a close reach.  Good sail except for one major squall which brought rain (good - washes off boat) and wind (30 knots - not good, have to furl in flapping genoa which is tough).

We arrived at 1600 and this time anchored in just three meters of water a bit closer in.  The wind is still howling every night (about 5 knots higher wind speeds than in the day, so that means 20-30 knots) and we hope it will be a bit quieter closer in.

Saw Free Spirit, a Canadian boat we last spent time with in Italy, anchoring soon after we did.  We'll have to catch up with them tomorrow.  Called Navara on the VHF and Rob confirmed that they were in Admiralty Bay.  Lady Kathryn and obvious Sifar (Jeff is bringing our papers) are coming in tomorrow so looks like a social day coming.

We were happily tired after the sun and the sail and went to bed to "read" at around 2000, but only lasted to 2030 before lights out.  What old farts.  

31 January, Admiralty Bay, Bequia

Aaron - As expected, this was a day of socializing.  Went over to visit Doug and Annette on Free Spirit after our coffee.  Great to see them!  They are great friends of Kel and Lorraine on La Scala and we last saw them in Rojellica Ionica on the west coast of Italy, even though we saw their boat in the marina in Barcelona last summer.  They left Las Palmas to cross the Atlantic a few days after Navara and hope to traverse the Panama canal in April and complete their circumnavigation to Vancouver by June. 

Stopped in to visit with Rocky on Mololo, spent the afternoon playing on the beach with Navara, and then had a nice drink on Lady Kathryn with Mayer and Kathryn.  We have not really had a chance to talk to them too much one on one and it was really fun.

Jeff made it in with Sifar around sundown so we tooled over and had a visit and grabbed the papers.

Back to the boat, dingy on deck, and ready to go "ear-lye in the morning" (to the tune of hey ho and up she rises).

1 February, Bequia to St. Lucia

Colleen - We hope this will be our longest and toughest" "passage" for a while.  We set out at dawn with a 2X reefed main motor sailing out into the Bequia channel.  It was a pretty wet ride through there, but as we finally tucked into the lee of St. Vincent, the sea died down for a while.  The day was filled with multivariate conditions varying from howling winds and seas funneling through the channels in between Bequia and St. Vincent and St. Vincent and St. Lucia, and windless calms in the lee of St. Vincent.  We hit about 5 squalls in the 12 hour sail, three of them fairly strong with winds gusting to 35 knots.

The sail was tiring, hard on the wind all the way, but we really can't complain. This time we were really prepared for it; everything battened down, the dingy lashed aboard, lunch pre-made.  I even had my foul weather jacket all set in the cockpit to avoid having to dig for it below in a big sea.  And you can never really complain about a sail when you got a night's sleep ahead of it, and will get one when its over.  We were fortunate to see a lot of sea life during the trip.  We ran by a pod of pilot whales at the top of St. Vincent, then in the middle of the channel, spotted a small sperm whale 100 meters off our bow.  Aaron ran down to get the camera.  The wind was gusting up and I was on the windward rail, barely able to keep my balance with the heel while I kept an eye on the whale. To my horror, it looked like we were just about to slam into him, he wasn't moving out of the way as Redwings steamed ahead.  As Aaron made it back to the cockpit I yelled to him "go port, head down," and he passed a few feet to windward from us.

By the time we got into the lee of St. Lucia around 3 pm, the seas were down a bit, but still large and prevented good headway.  The angle was too tight to fetch Pigeon Island, so we motor sailed into the wind.  A slow slog. We barely made 5 knots at 1400 rpm.   We were really pushing it to make it into Rodney Bay before dark.  We just barely made it with a smidgeon of light to get the mainsail down, and were anchoring in the dark.  

2 February, Fuel Dock, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Colleen - We decided to make a run for Martinique.   The plan was, quickly go into the fuel dock, load up with diesel, then grab the sail we left at Doyle's Sail Loft for repair and head right out.  We were hoping our turn around time would be about an hour and we would be underway in the Martinique Channel by 11:00am.  

As I raised the anchor we were pretty shocked to see a huge head of coral stuck in it, almost two feet in circumference.  I couldn't wedge it out.  Aaron had to go below to get a hammer and eventually split it after some serious whacking.  

We got into the fuel dock at 9:00am.  The boy who ran the pumps, Nigel, told us that to get the duty free fuel price (a difference of 25% on almost a 200$ bill), we actually needed to go over to customs/immigration and check in/check out. We needed the check out clearance to get the duty free price.  He very kindly let us tie to the dock, on the promise that we would be back as quickly as possible.  It took us 5 minutes to walk over to the marina where the sail loft and customs are located.   

Of course the pot smokers who run the sail loft had still not finished our sail.  Many excuses later, and over a month and a half after we first left it with them, they hadn't even touched it.  Of course they said it could be done tomorrow if we wanted to wait, we declined.  Aaron went to check out and I went to the taxi stand to see how much it would cost to taxi the heavy sail just over to the fuel dock (5 minutes walk).  The taxi drivers refused to do it for anything less than EC$15, which really irked me.  I went to the bakery to get some sandwiches to have underway.  While I waited for them to them to prepare them I thought I would pop into the shop next door and see if they had any of the cruising guides for the Virgin Islands that we needed.

A very very pregnant woman was making her way ahead of me to the shop, she arrived at the door first to see that it still hadn't opened.  When I arrived at the door, she asked what time it was.  After I answered, she said, "Don't I know you? Did you go to BC?"  Indeed we knew each other.  It was Melinda Wells, we were on the same dormitory floor freshman year.  She is living in St. Lucia, involved in development work.  As we caught up, she offered to give us a ride back to fuel dock, which worked out nicely.  

She came below on Redwings and we chatted while Aaron filled the fuel tanks.  About 15 minutes later, She stopped our conversation mid-sentence to say, "Oh my gosh, there is water gushing out from the woodwork behind you."  I looked behind.  To my horror I replied, "That's not water, that's diesel!!!" She made a very quick departure as she could see all hell breaking loose on Redwings.   The pressure pump on the fuel was so strong, that it blew our filling pipe connection (hose clamp let go), right above our clothes closets.  Aaron had pumped 20 gallons of diesel into our closets before Melinda noticed it coming out through the floor boards.

The disaster was pretty tremendous. Half the boat interior was covered in diesel.  We lost 95%  of what was in Aaron's closet and the bottom of my closet, including a computer printer and computer parts.  As we moved stuff out of the boat, the diesel slick moved into the cockpit, and along the main cabin floor.  The only big save was most of the canned food stored under there, which I washed on the dock.  

We had to hire a man with a pump for EC$100 to pump out all the diesel in the bilge. Aaron and I spent the whole day covered in diesel.  On the good side of the episode, the people in the boat yard were great.  Nigel the pump attendant was patient and kind, and interesting to talk to while I labored away scrubbing. He took the printer and computer parts home to see if he could revive them.  It was great to spend time with a nice St. Lucian, who is not out to make a buck when he sees a foreigner.  

A gentleman with his boat on the hard (boat name: Mother of Pearl) came over to express his condolences.  He said a similar thing happened to him in Sweden and the clean up cost him US$1,000.  He gave us a gallon container of cleaning fluid, which was a lifesaver because we barely had any left (I was planning to stock up in Martinique) and a lot was needed.  When we left we gave him some of our nice food from Spain that he saw drying on the dock, like artichoke hearts.  He seemed pretty psyched as the likes are hard to find and prohibitively expensive in the West Indies.

At 3:30 we were still scrubbing away, unfortunately taking up one of the two slips for refueling on the dock.  Nigel hinted that we really need to move on as he closed in a half hour and there were many boats standing off waiting for fuel before the weekend (its Friday afternoon).  I rushed up to pay the bill before take off, and was surprised to hear their credit card machine was not working.  The bill in total was EC$600 including the pump out and all the diesel we bought that we just pumped right into the closet (as a break Nigel didn't charge us for the water we used in the clean up!)

The cashier was really stroppy, and already having a rather ugly fight with the customer in front of me about him needing to get cash.  She sent me off on a long journey to an ATM, up a hot dusty road.  I was ready to drop at this point.  Naturally the ATM was out of order, and Aaron had already left the fuel dock and was circling the harbor with Redwings waiting for me.  Poor Nigel was in a panic as the cashier was yelling at him not to let anyone else take fuel without cash, all these boats were standing off waiting to take fuel, and they were about to close. 

I had to yell to Aaron to check how much money was in his wallet.  Luckily between the two of us we had just enough.  But how to get it to me on the dock.  I had to stand in the dingy of a boat on the dock and reach up for his wallet as he drove by.  I paid, then how to get back on Redwings?  Luckily the kind boat owner of the dingy I stood in offered to dingy me out to Redwings as she came by again.  

What a day! We arrived at the opening of the fuel dock in the morning, and left at the closing in the afternoon.  Back out to anchor for the night off Pigeon Island and try again tomorrow to set out for Martinique.  I nearly dropped from exhaustion and the sickening smell of diesel that was still everywhere.

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Copyright 2001 All Rights Reserved by Aaron Henderson and Colleen Duggan