Published: July 4th 2011July 3rd 2011
There is a large fleet of ferries that go between Bequia and the neighboring islands. One of the ferry lines was started by a local from Bequia that went overseas and got his Captain’s license and experience, but returned home to start this very successful business.
After a full two weeks in Bequia with our teak finished (7 coats),the stainless polished, and thanks to the new hookah and Bob a clean bottom on the boat we moved on to Union Island. Some of you may be asking what is a hookah? It is a compressor with a regulator on the end of an air hose. The air hose is 60 foot long so with a weight belt on Bob can very easily work on the bottom of the boat scraping off barnacles and cleaning the prop.
The sail from Bequia to Union Island was a broad reach with 18-20 knots of wind out of the east. This was great except we also had some wind driven waves that we hitting us broadside. An interesting ride results from a 40 foot sailboat “surfing” the waves. When we were surfing our hull speed increased to over 7.5 knots. We were trying to make water with our watermaker on this crossing so we really didn’t want too fast a crossing, but no matter what we did, the hull speed never got below 5.5 – 6 knots. Luckily we will be moving tomorrow after 2 nights at Union Island so
An interesting concept
Moonhole was the concept of an American architect. The houses grow out of the rocks with no straight lines or right angles. They have huge arches, fantastic views and lovely patios but are not easily accessible from land or sea. There is seldom glass in the windows and there is no electricity. If you want a vacation home with privacy this is it.
will have another opportunity to make fresh water out of saltwater. It takes quite a bit of energy to do this so many times we keep the engine running for this process.
Union Island is one of many of the islands in the Grenadines. It is only 3.2 sq miles with a population of less than 2,000. The main town of Clifton is small but it is obvious that many of the businesses are set up to cater to the cruiser and the people that vacation on the neighboring islands. The Tobago Cays marine park is very close to Union and is a place we really wanted to visit, however, with the winds blowing 20 to 25kn we decided to by-pass them this time and put them on the list for next year. From what we hear they are a spectacular place to visit with excellent snorkeling. They have a turtle watching area set up (no fishing or anchoring are allowed) and our friends on Happy Times saw more than 30 turtles there.
The Grenadines are a group of islands that are located south of St. Vincent in the Windward Islands. Politically they are part of St. Vincent,
Morning at Union Island
A view of the sunrise while anchored at Union Island.
however, locals on Union Island feel as if they are very different from St. Vincent. What we were told was that those in the Grenadines are fisherman and they mind their own business and sell their fish. The “Vincers” from St. Vincent are the ones that come to their islands with their power boats and hussle the tourists/cruisers. We have had excellent experiences with boat boys and the services that they have provided. We definitely let our guard down while in Union Island however. We went ashore to explore the town of Clifton and to get our gas can filled. When we arrived, Skipper, met us at the dock and said that he would get our gas for us while we explored town. We asked how much and he said that he would let us know when we returned. We figured we would be paying him some extra for his trouble, but when we returned he gave us a price much higher than we saw on the gas pumps in town. We talked to him about this and we did get him to come down to a more reasonable price, but realized that we should have set the price before
Is it air conditioned?
We are always taken by the names of many of the businesses we see. This bar was “the Kool Spot”
allowing him to do this for us. We had thought of doing that but figured that the price could vary as the gas prices at the pump vary on a regular basis. Needless to say, we learned a lesson from this one. Next time we will definitely fill the tank ourselves. In talking to one of the locals today he stated that he knows that cruisers talk and that he would hate for the “vincers” to ruin it for the island and discourage cruisers from coming here. We assured him that we would definitely pass on our positive thoughts about Union Island, but give very specific information about not dealing with “Skipper”. He was pleased that we would be specific with our comments. Definitely another lesson learned.
We explored the town of Clifton – it is quiet right now as it is at the end of the high season with everyone moving south for the hurricane season. It looks like it must be quite a hopping place in season with lots of restaurants, bars, and boutiques. One place that a new acquaintance (Fred from Tiki) told us about was Happy Island. He told us we shouldn’t miss it. In
Glad he is legal
This person is licensed to sell intoxicating liquor vs. the non-intoxicating kind!
reading through the guide book we found out that it was a man-made island from the conch shells found on the shores of the island. It took him 9 years to build the island, but it has really paid off. The owner has built quite an interesting bar on the island and is very welcoming to all that come. In season he also is known for his barbeques. Needless to say we had to have our sundowners at Happy Island while there. He sure makes a mean rum punch with a dash of nutmeg on top. These are the type of rum punches that sneak up on you as they taste so good, but definitely pack a punch. Luckily our boat was a very short dinghy ride away and we got home safe and sound.
Clifton is the farthest south that you can go in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to check out of the country. We were able to do this process with just a little bit of paperwork and a visit to 3 offices. The first office was to complete the form, the 2nd office was to have the form officially stamped by customs and the 3rd
Concete is heavily used
All the roads on Union Island are made of concrete -definitely makes it easy to get around and much nicer during the rainy season as they have deep gutters on the side.
office was that of immigration. We now can legally leave the country tomorrow morning as we will be checking in at Hillsborough which is on the island of Carriacou which is part of Grenada. The move will be short as it should only be about an hour and half to Hillsborough and then we will move to Tyrrel Bay on the same island as that is a better anchorage. A few days with strong squalls are coming so we aren’t sure if we will move on to Grenada or wait a few days for it to settle down. We still have time as we have set our schedule to be in Trinidad by the middle of July. The insurance company considers hurricane season to be July 1 but the weather predictions are not always in line with the “official” start of the season. We are listening closely to the weather and if anything does come up we can always move quickly to Trinidad which is where our insurance company feels we will be safe. Many cruisers stay in Grenada for the hurricane season, but as they had been hit by a hurricane a few years ago, the insurance company has
Pinnacle Hill on Union Island is quite identifiable as a landmark and stands at 740’ high.
now moved our “hurricane box” to a lower latitude. We are fine with that, it just means one 14 hour crossing from Grenada to Trinidad. We will start in the middle of the night so we can arrive in daylight. We have already heard from a few boats that have arrived there before us that the crossing went well. We should be there soon ourselves. We will haul the boat out of the water to have bottom paint put on and Bob wants to do some work on the thru-hulls. We will need time to get the sails and canvas off the boat and empty the freezer and refrigerator before we can leave for the US. Our refrigerator/freezer is the type that is cooled by seawater, as a result we will have to empty it completely. The last time we defrosted the freezer we took a very complete inventory so we can plan out our meals in order to use up all the frozen food that we still have on board. We have surprised ourselves in finding out how much we still have remaining from our provisioning back in the US. Everyone had told us to stock up on our
A few nurse sharks located in front of a hotel on Union Island.
meat supply and we appear to have done well with that. Guess those times that we ate on shore helped in that regard as well.
We did anchor in Tyrrel Bay in Carriacou for two nights. The first day we stayed on board as it rained all day. It was a good day to catch up on reading as we could not get wi-fi on the boat. The next day we were invited to go on a hike with Ann and John of “Livin’ The Dream”. We really enjoy getting off the boat and stretching our legs. Luckily they had been here before so knew of a great trail that gave us a great view of the other side of the island as well as the harbor we were anchored in. The wildlife we saw on this short hike were a couple of tortoises crossing our path, lots of very large orange crabs and an iguana. Nothing too exotic, but still not the norm for those that are used to hikes back in upstate NY. That same evening we had a great visit with Anna-Karin and Hakan from Unicorn. They have been full time cruisers for a few
We walked to the north side of Union Island and were rewarded with this magnificent view.
years and we always pick up lots of tips from them on places to see and things to do. One thing we have found out since being full time cruisers is that there is a wealth of information to be gained from those that have done this before.
The weather on Saturday, July 2nd was good to make our move to Grenada. It actually was calmer than we thought it would be. We got in some good sailing for part of the trip, but at times the wind died down to almost nothing. Even with this we made it to our destination of Hog Island in 7 hours. We went down the west side of the island which takes you past an underwater volcano called “Kick Em Jenny”. For safety reasons they suggest that you keep at least 1.5 miles away from the volcano which we did. We even were told to check out a website to find out if it was active and if so we should stay 5 miles away. Luckily for us it isn’t active right now so we didn’t have any problems.
We are among friends once again in the Hogs Island anchorage. Zero
The local sea life
One of many colorful crabs we saw walking while on Union Island.
to Cruising (Mike & Rebecca), Unicorn (Anna-Karin & Hakan), and Snowbird (Johanna & Martin) are here and Happy Times (Mike, Cheryl and Mikayla) are nearby. Today, July 3rd there is a get together to celebrate both Canada Day and the 4th of July. It should be fun and another venue for making new friends. We are hoping to also find others who will be traveling to Trinidad. It is always nice to have others to go with especially on a night passage.
We wish you all a Happy 4th of July weekend!
There are more photos below