January 31, 2009
Jim, John and Alice
Our friends, John and Alice, arrived at Bequia Tuesday morning. Jim put John to work right away as our new roller furler had arrived just that morning. Perfect timing!
Jim and John replace the roller furler
Hauling up the anchor the next morning was interesting. The snubber line was covered in a lot of growth from the previous two weeks. The more chain I brought up the more junk I had to cut off. At one point it resembled a laundry line or a section of those colored triangular flags that car dealerships string in their parking lots. It was amazing how many bags and random pieces of cloth were attached. The water had seemed so clear and clean.
By 0930 we were sailing south on a broad reach and reefed sails. The wind was 22-28 with gusts over 30 and the waves were 2 meters. John took the helm for several miles and then we let the windvane steer. After 5 hours and 25 miles we reached Mayreau, a small island 1.5 miles long. We anchored at Saline Bay, a pretty anchorage in a gorgeous setting.
John at the helm on the way to Mayreau
After a rolly night we motored the short distance to the Tobago Cays. The scenery was absolutely beautiful! Tiny islands floated among the reefs with breaking waves. Turquoise water rippled in the wind. White puffy clouds broke up the brilliant blue sky. Truly a tropical island paradise!
Petit Bateau in the Tobago Cays
We anchored in the cut between Petit Rameau and Petit Bateau islands. Protected from the swell by Horseshoe Reef the boat rested quite comfortably. Immediately Alice wanted to swim to a sandy beach on Petit Rameau but we opted to take the dinghy and explore a little first.
With the dinghy tied to a tree we were ready to explore
Katie and Jim with Tenaya in the background
The Tobago Cays are a national park and completely undeveloped. The only way to reach them is by boat. An area off Baradal Island is buoyed off to allow people to swim near turtles. That sounded fun so we tossed our snorkeling gear into the dinghy and headed over.
The sea bottom is sandy with short grass in places. We snorkeled around a bit and saw several interesting fish and a couple of starfish but nothing like the colors found on reefs. And no turtles.
Having decided the turtle thing was a farce and heading back to shore a turtle swam right in front of us. It was amazing! Its powerful front flippers propelled the graceful creature through the water effortlessly. We followed and watched as it surfaced for a breath. How extraordinary it was to see it from both above and below the water. As we began to snorkel back to shore we spotted another one. It was about 30" long and swimming slowly along the bottom moving its large head from side to side chomping on the grass. We had seen two turtles!
A rainbow over Catholic Island greeted us Friday morning
Normally John and Alice are at the cabin they built in the Yukon this time of year. Although they both love it there they remarked that this wasn't a bad place either ... especially in January.
Alice and John stroll along the beach on Petit Bateau Island
Tenaya at anchor in the Tobago Cays
The islands were magical
Just after we anchored at Tobago Cays one of the local guys came up to Tenaya in his colorful wooden boat and asked if we wanted to have a picnic with barbequed lobster on the beach. Sure .... That sounded like a great idea! It was delicious. Coris, alias Capt. Jack, made us a delectable dinner.
Katie, Capt. Jack, Alice and John at the barbeque
The next day Alice and I snorkeled over to Petit Rameau Island. It wasn't far but the current was strong so we swam hard against it to reach the island. A small jetty made from conch shells protruded from the shore and many, many fish lingered and darted about it. We were delighted to watch them before resting on the sandy beach. The swim back was nearly effortless.
Alice and Katie after snorkeling to Petit Rameau
Saturday morning we sailed back to Bequia in perfect conditions. On a beam reach the wind was 15-20 knots with slight waves. Clouds kept the temperature from getting too hot. It was about as good as it gets. John and Alice took turns at the helm the entire way with big smiles on their faces.
Alice sailing back to Bequia
What a great sailing adventure!
Later in the afternoon we dinghied into the small town of Port Elizabeth and took a cab to the turtle sanctuary. Brother King, owner of the sanctuary, explained the plight of the endangered hawksbill turtles and his efforts to save them. He receives no help from the government and relies solely on the meager entrance fee and donations to feed the many turtles. Fortunately most guidebooks feature the sanctuary so yachties and other visitors eventually make their way up the island for a visit and are enchanted by the turtles and enlightened by Brother King.
A young hawksbill turtle
Alice is a wonderful cook and made all the meals while on board. The last night she prepared a delicious sushi dinner with fresh tuna we bought from one of the local fishermen and tasty avocados and cucumbers from the Rasta's market.
Alice's fabulous sushi dinner
We enjoyed having John and Alice visit us on Tenaya. The Caribbean is a perfect place for people to join us as the islands are close together and easily accessible by plane or ferry.