Just got back
Saturday at 2:30 am from two weeks in the Grenadines, February 10
- 24. Thought I would drop you a line about some of the
American Airlines has cancelled all flights into St Vincent - they
no longer service the airport. They have a person manning
the desk for the next two weeks to absorb all the complaints but
they are out of there. We found out 15 minutes before we
were due to leave for JFK airport in NYC! Some found out two
weeks earlier and so all the easier flights had already been
booked by then. The flights were complete fiascos!
Instead of NYC to San Juan to St Vincent, it was NYC to San Juan
to St Martin to Antigua to Barbados to St. Vincent!
still arrive the same day, albeit, late at night on the very last
flight out of Barbados and after being on standby twice and biting
nails waiting to see if we made the flight. Not a good start
to the trip! We became experts at talking to travel agents
and in the proper form to assume in leaning against ticket
counters for long hours. On our return trip, we had to pass
through Chicago to reach NYC later that night!
We found interesting
explanations for the flight cancellation. The first one we
heard from an AA attendant was that AA lost their gate assignment
(hey, not our fault, the airport cancelled us). The next one
we heard was also from AA that they cancelled all flights because
the airport was unsafe! (canít blame us for that one, weíre
just looking out for our customers, but oh those other
airlines....) Lastly, we heard that AA wanted to fly larger
planes into the airport and it wasnít equip to handle them - AA
was trying to force St Vincent to enlarge the runways but
failed. Interesting, all the half truths.
We had 9 to 12 foot
seas and 25 to 35 knot winds for much of our first week. The
crossing to Mustique on the first day was quite a baptism for the
crew since we hadnít sailed for 5 months. In that weather,
many of the supposedly good anchorages are very rolly.
Mustique was impossible with the boat rolling 30 degrees both ways
all night long. We couldnít keep anything on the table for
We scrapped plans to stay an extra day at Mustique
and sailed for Salt Whistle Bay, met Yellow Man and he led us into
the most protected part of the bay, north corner and near the
shore - but the rollers still made it in, not as bad as Mustique,
just 15 degree rolls.
We sailed into Union the next day (all
the rolling stirred up the fuel and both fuel filters had to be
changed) and found peace. One thing you didnít mention was
that if you wanted to pick up water at the Anchorage YC, you had
to moor rear to the dock, Mediterranean style. The only
slots open were with the wind pushing you into the dock - exciting
maneuver to back in while laying out the anchor and fit between
two boats with a 30 knot wind pushing you into the dock (hope the
anchor holds!! --- it didnít the first time).
There is a scam going
on at Union where a boat boy will sell you a mooring and then the
real owner shows up later! We werenít hit but the boat
next to us was. Your boat boy guide was extremely
helpful. We met Herman and found him just as you described
him - with us he was very helpful!. Lambiís was $151 US
for 6 people for dinner and two rounds of drinks with a great
steel band and three dancing girls.
Petit St. Vincent was
also calm, no rollers, even in the raging conditions we
experienced. We were told at every stop that the 9 - 12 seas
and 25 to 35 knot winds with no sun were very unusual for this
time of year. The weather finally broke the second
week. I used Maptech digital charts corrected to WGS84 and
printed out a copy for the boat with waypoints - which were
deadnuts accurate - reassuring when you trying to anchor or
navigate near reefs.
The boat boys really
came into their own at Tobago Cays. We found Walton Bob to be
absolutely reliable. We even placed an order for a Sunday
delivery and he arranged it to be done even though he was off on
Sunday. We bought tee shirts from Mr. Quality and Sydney
Dallas. Prices: $4 EC for small loaf of bread, $6 EC for a
large loaf, $10 EC for French bread, $20 EC ice (about 2 feet
long), $20 US for t-shirt from Mr. Quality and you got a volume
discount from Sydney at $18 US each if you bought more than one.
Sydney was great and
after we introduced ourselves (we told him he was on the Internet
- he was famous!) he went into quite an explanation about the boat
boys. Seems the government is trying to eliminate them as
part of the national park formation. There would be park
rangers and no boat boys. Sydney is part of the boat boy
organization (he said he was president of the group) and they have
approached the government to be deputy park rangers. They
would agree to keep off the islands (there goes Mr. Plat!) but
still be allowed to approach boats as in the past. He went
on quite a bit about providing a service to the boating community
at the isolated anchorage of Tobago Cays. If thereís a medical
problem, the boat boys can provide fast transport to Union.
They provide a level of security too. At any rate, thereís
an election coming up in March and in order for the boat boys to
remain, Sydney believes there must be a change in the controlling
party. He talked on for at least 20 minutes. Heís
off to Germany in the summer to visit his two kids he hasnít
seen for 13 years. The boat boys make good money as measured
against the average wage of $40 EC/day in Union for unskilled
labor and $80 EC/day for a tradesman.
All the boat boys
were great. However, Mr. Platís on-beach barbecue was
lacking. Of the 6 of us, 2 got very small lobsters.
The table consisted of a sheet spread on the sand. The
lighting was a wick in a wine bottle that kept going out every 1
to 2 minutes (those 25 knot winds!). Eating lobster in pitch
black darkness is a real challenge (how to keep sand out of the
lobster if you canít even see it?) A Dutch couple ate with
us and he commented, ďThe only nationalities stupid enough
to pay for this is American and Dutch.Ē Actually, I
enjoyed the meal - the darkness was a challenge but I had brought
a small flashlight (Platís was sorely in need of new
batteries). The meal came to $25 US. 4 left satisfied, 2
very dissatisfied in our group. We had to provide our own
dinghy service too.
The Tobago Cays was
great. Not rolly at all and the snorkeling was great.
We stayed three days.
Off to Canouan and
another scam. We saw a young man holding up a mooring as we
approached. He was on a sailboard (minus the sail). He
asked rather forcefully for a $20 EC tip. We asked who owned
the mooring, he replied that he didnít know - had no idea,
etc. We thought the mooring was free courtesy of the
hotel. Against better judgment, I gave him the $20EC tip
thinking thatís not so bad since the mooring was free.
Another fellow came by and asked how much I tipped the other
man. It seemed that the first guy used this guyís
sailboard and he wanted half of the tip. When I replied $20
EC, he left to collect part of the $20 EC. We overheard a
loud argument which ensued, from which I concluded he didnít get
any part of the $20 EC. Next came the real owner of the
mooring. $40 EC he said. Hummm, Iíve been had.
I complained that I already tipped the first guy $20 EC. He
lit out after him and they both came back in the boat. They
obviously knew each other and more arguments ensued, mostly
between the two of them. I did pay for the mooring, $40
EC. I later saw a repeat performance on another incoming
boat, this time the first guy swam out with a snorkel mask - he
apparently lost the use of the sailboard. At any rate, I couldnít
find a free mooring at Canouan. Later that night, the
rollers came in and much of the crew got little sleep. I
never had a problem with the rollers but it affects some
people. It does make dinner and breakfast difficult.
At Bequia we took a
Daffodil mooring at $16 US a night. Itís on the north
shore and was protected from the rollers. We toured the
island at $60 EC/hour for the 6 of us and had dinner at
Gingerbread which was very good.
At St Vincent, we
also toured for $60 US for about 2.5 hours going to the Fort in
Kingstown and the Gardens, which were outstanding.
Overall, the sailing
was extraordinary! 9 to 12 foot seas are exhilarating.
The anchorages have to be carefully selected if you have crew
sensitive to rolling too much at night. At any rate, eating
dinner with 30 degree pitches is still difficult. The
snorkeling was very good but concentrated at the Tobago Cays and a
few other places unless you wanted to travel in a dinghy to
snorkel. Sunsail was outstanding in every way. The
hotel we stayed at the last night was first class ($95
US/day). Lots of hot water and it came with a swimming pool
Any questions, just
ask. Your guide was most helpful, please keep it up!!