Early one morning we weighed anchor from Admiralty Bay, waved good-bye to Bequia and set our genua for Canouan. Canouan is not as well known or visited as the other Grenadines. The northern half of the island is an exclusive resort (very exclusive), which is gated and requires permission and a guide. It does have a golf course and Vinni and I thought it might be time to get our clubs out and play a round or two.
Our Sailing Directions noted that the main bay was typically quite rolly and the winds would hide in the hills, build up to raging gusts and then come charging down on unsuspecting yachts at anchor.
Later that day we dropped our hook close to Tamarin Beach Hotel’s dinghy dock (the only dock you can use). Mindful of the Sailing Directions we backed down hard on our Mantus.
It was rolly – gee the Directions weren’t kidding. Matter of fact – it was really rolly, like we were on a roller coaster.
I would like to show you pictures of Canouan – but I can’t. I didn’t empty the camera of pics and it went overboard from our dinghy at Tobago Cays (long story which you will hear later). So we have no pics of Canouan, which is a shame.
Because of the poor anchorage, few visit here. While we were here there were 6 boats the day we came and only 4 boats the second day. The town has a vegetable market with very nice veggies – good tomatoes etc and a supermarket (very small) where you can buy most staples and things you might need. There are few, if any luxury items.
There is one road that leads the entire way from one end of the island to the other. There is an airport capable of serving the largest private jets on the planet (the wealthy who stay at the resort arrive by private jet – not like us – a couple of boat bums).
They are building a mega marina on the south side of the island so Vinni and I walked over. Supposedly there is a restaurant there that is open. It was a nice walk, out past the end of the runway and down to the marina.
They are still building the marina, lot’s of trucks hauling stones etc. We were stopped by a security guard at the gate. What did we want? We explained that we wanted to look at the marina preparatory to bringing our boat around and we wanted to have lunch at the restaurant.
He wouldn’t let us in. I asked if the Marina was open and he said yes it was, but we couldn’t come in. Then I said, I guess you don’t want any customers and he said “Oh yes we do”.
We left it at that. Somehow he was unable to understand the paradox of wanting customers but not allowing them to come in.
Or maybe we’re just getting old and senile and unable to understand that logic………………………
We loved the island. It is still completely unspoiled. Unfortunately that will change when they open the marina – then the yachties will come. Right now the anchorage is too uncomfortable for most.
Speaking of the anchorage……………….
Hell yes it was rolly. We rolled like mad and every few minutes the winds that were hiding in the hills wold build up enough strength to roar down and literally smash into Capri. The two nights we spent here were interesting to say the least.
In Mantus (our anchor) we trust.
But how was the golf? You ask.
Ah the golf. Well we asked at the Tamarin Beach Hotel how much green fees were at the resort course and they checked.
$350 US! Each! But they did give you a complimentary buggy and the $350 also gave you a one day membership of the club which allowed you to eat lunch in the clubhouse (not for free though).
Needless to say – we skipped on the golf……………………..
After 2 days on this beautiful unspoilt island, we weighed anchor again and this time we are on our way to the most photographed place in the Caribbean and the place that everyone calls
It took several hours to sail to paradise (yes you can get to paradise if you have the right Sailing Directions and a good boat), winding our way in between the coral reefs and rocks. Tobago Cays is really a large horseshoe shaped reef with several small islands behind it. The water is beyond crystal clear. The beaches are pure white sand and the water is a warm as a nice warm bath in the morning.
The only problem with paradise, of course, is that you’re not the only one who wants to be there. We were lucky, the days we spent there, there were about 30 boats, so it wasn’t crowded. We’ve been told that New Year’s eve there were upwards of 150 boats in there.
We dropped the hook, backed down on it to make sure it bit and then – well there we are.
So what does one do in paradise? Besides losing your camera overboard from the dinghy without noticing (shit – we’ll have to buy a new one when we get to Matinique).
You get up in the morning, scratch your butt, dive off the back end of the boat – go for a swim, take a shower on the bathing platform to wash off the salt, then have some coffee while you study paradise. Later have some breakfast, study paradise some more. Then go snorkeling, rinse off the salt, study paradise some more.
Exhausted by all this – you need an afternoon nap,the before studying paradise some more. Finally you can welcome happy hour and have a sundowner, before dinner.
Now it is time to watch the stars or in our case since we were there during a full moon, watch the moon rise over the ocean and the surf breaking on the reef. Later, when you’re finished splitting a bottle of wine, you go to bed. Then get up the next morning and do it again.
Yes my friends, life in paradise is hard. Some say “suffering builds character”. Indeed, a few days on Tobago Cays will toughen you right up.
Of course, if you’re truly adventuresome(like Vinni and me), you can take the dinghy to one of the small islands, get out and march up the hill and down the other side, thereafter taking the beach back to your dinghy.
This is strenuous and should not be attempted by anyone who is not in magnificent physical shape (like Vinni and me).
Believe it or not – after a couple of days we had had enough of paradise and set sail for Union island, a few nautical miles away. Paradise is fine and had we been here 10 or 15 years ago, we would have spent many days here diving and snorkeling. Unfortunately, the coral is all dead. The water has gotten too warm and the coral has died. So snorkeling is nowhere near the experience it was. The video will show what can be seen here when you snorkel.
We sailed the few miles down to Union Island, around the reef guarding the bay and dropped anchor amidst 50-60 boats including the ugliest catamaran I’ve ever seen (big-yes, impressive – yes, ugly as hell – yes – judge for yourself).
The town of Clifton is very charming and typical for the Caribbean, very colorful. As everywhere in the Grenadines, the people are friendly and charming. Everyone says “good-morning” or hello and there are smiles all around.
When we, of the western European world visit here, we’re struck by the differences. Sure they all have mobile phones, but by our standards, their houses are poor (not all, but some) and their food is bland and repetitive. Most do not have possessions as we do in Denmark or at least not as many. But the islands are awash in almost new 4 wheel drives. Lots of cars. We simply can’t understand why. Most of these islands are small enough that you can walk from one end to the other in an hour. MOst only have 1 or 2 roads. All have lots of busses that run constantly and only cost $2EC (75 cents US). What in the world do they need all those cars for?
On the other hand, none of the ouses have fences or bars on teh windows which clearly says that crimes like breaking and entering are few and far between. As a matter of fact – there is little crime here and the local police almost always know who did what immediately (these are small islands with only 3-5000 inhabitants – there are no secrets here.
Denmark is frequently voted the happiest country in the world. But I wonder. Danes have color TV’s, cars etc and are enmeshed in the material world. Is that what brings happiness? I think not and most of the local population seem very happy indeed.
We also haven’t seen any satelite dishes here. So either the pocal population all have cable or else they don’t watch TV. I hope it is the latter. Vinni and I have a TV on boatd and we did watch a couple of movies back when we were in Scotland where the weather was so nasty we stayed inside. Since then we haven’t had it out at all. We have gott3n a replacement TV antenna for the one I ripped off out in the middle of the atlantic when I was up the mast, but I haven’t gotten around to mounting it yet. We don’t listen to the news on the shortwave. When we have internet I sometimes check the major danish newspaper to see what is happening, but the headlines seem to be getting stranger and stranger.
Are people really interested in those things? Are they that important? None of them seem to have any relavance to us and our lives any more.
Back to our story. We walked around part of the island the first day and ended up having lunch at the Italian place on the pier. This is very good Italian food. Turns out the cook is from Tuscany so no wonder. The tuna carpaccio with coconut on top is marvelous can be recommended ( have the recipe).
As we walked around we went through the small town of Ashton and stopped at a store to look at sandals for me (mine broke). The owner asked us where we were from and when he heard Denmark, he said that he had been a sailor aboard tankers for almost 20 years and had been in Kolding in Denmark.
Actually he was a fascinating guy, telling us he had lived in New York and traveled over most of the world. A very good looking man, his hair was black as was his mustache. He had not a wrinkle on his face. Both Vinni and I judged him to be in his middle forties – hell he could have said early forties and we’d have believed him.
He was 71 years old.
I’d like to get some of the youth elixir he drinks.
Union Island is the kitesurfing capital of the Grenadines and there are tons of them all around the island. They fly in, stay at the local pension and kitesurf all day, eat pizza and drink beer at night and do it all over again the next day.
There are many idyllic places here on Union. Truly Idyllic. Marvelous beaches, no people. What more can you want?
Well the food and the liquor is expensive.
A couple of the kitesurfers recommended that we go to a local restaurant, Joy’s, for dinner. They are only open Friday and Saturday and only have 3 tables. We ran into swiss couple from Nalu and they decided to join us for dinner. Joys has a set menu – this evening it choice of Pigstails or chicken, served with potato salad and spaghetti and bananas. None of us were adventuresome so we all took the chicken.
It was great – bar-b- qued chicken with a great sauce, good potato salad and spaghetti (first time I’ve had that combination). The entire evening, people came to get take-out. Lots of take out. She was doing a thriving business just on take out.
Later we got the bill, 4 dinners, 1 bottle of wine, 2 beers, 1 coke – $105EC – uuuhhh excuse me, $105EC? Something must be wrong – that’s dirt cheap. The cheapest dinner we’ve had in the carribean.
So here is our recommendation to anyone visiting Union Island – eat at Joy’s. The food is great and the prices simply can’t be beaten.
I apologize for the poor quality of the videos here. I’ve had to use my Nikon and I’m not used to using it for videos – so it will take some getting used to.
We have one more day here and then we sail for Petit Martinique – where thee food and liquor is cheap (well less expensive) because it enjoys a semi duty free status.
So could we live in paradise?
Damned if I know. Life is simple here, but I suspect that unless we found something to do (you mean like , perish the thought, work????), it would get boring. On the other hand, you can’t get stressed here.