Island hooping in the Southern Caribbean

St. Vincent & Grenadines

We find it really beautiful here, on the islands of “St. Vincent and the Grenadines” (SVG). A long name for a small country with only 110,000 inhabitants. Independent, but a member of the Commonwealth. However, payment is not in GBP, but in East Caribbean dollars, like in some Caribbean states. Actually, the SVG consists of more water than land. The 34 islands make it a spectacular cruising ground for sailors. The next island is almost in sight, anything goes with day sailing. Turquoise water, reefs, white and black beaches – simply a paradise.

SVG never had a C19 lockdown, but the volcanic eruption in April/May was the reason that only few visitors are on the island. So it’s unusually empty in paradise right now.

Our stop in Bequia was once again longer than planned. We – or rather Terone – tried to repair our alternator, unfortunately without success. Now the broken one is mounted again and it is annoying with permanent alarm beeping.

But there was also some particularly unpleasant weather that we wanted to wait out in Bequia. Either the wind was blowing at 7 Bft+ or it was raining buckets – cats and dogs wouldn’t describe it  – , with thunder and lightning. Not fine sailing weather. The locals were happy about it, because rain is the only fresh water on the island. Every house has an enormous water tank and that it. There are no springs and if it gets really dry, water has to be bought expensively from St. Vincent and transported by ship.

Although only 10 nm away from St. Vincent, the people in Bequia insist that everything is much more relaxed, peaceful and friendly here. For us, it has never been easier to get in touch with the remarkably nice people on our trip. The locals report that people here get along very well, regardless of colour or bank balance. I think Bequia is a dream destination for non-sailors too.

Anchoring vs. mooring buoy in Bequia

But even in paradise, things can be improved. Normally there are dozens of ships anchored in this bay off Princess Point alone. At the moment there are only about 10-15. The anchors of the ships have completely milled through the seabed and devastated it. Nothing lives there any more. It is a controversial topic among sailors: anchoring vs. mooring buoys. Some don’t trust the mooring buoys, others simply don’t want to pay money.

Why not ban anchoring in Bequia – at least in some areas – and put out mooring balls and maintain them properly? 10 or 20 USD per night as a conservation contribution, that should be worth it and the seabed could regenerate. Nobody wants to hike in a broken forest either. Funnily enough, we met Rikki here, a very likeable scientist who sails alone and advises countries on marine conservation. Among other things, she was responsible for deploying mooring balls and banning anchors in the nature reserves of the US Virgin Islands. Hopefully she will manage to convince the locals to do the same here. In a few years, everything could recover. And if a few less sailors come because of the costs, so be it.

Canouan Island

Due to our alternator issue we had to change our plans to reduce the number of engine manoeuvres. Cancellation for Mystique, Union Island and Tobago Keys. Instead, we sailed on Saturday morning from Bequia to “Canouan Island”, 22 nm away. We got the tip in Bequia. And this is another side of SVG. Some of the islands are inhabited by mega-wealthy people. You surely know Mystique as an island of stars and millionaires. Canouan is not inferior to that, if you count the Learjets on the runway. But Canouan is more undercover compared to Mystique.

We moored in the new marina “Sandy Lane”, as the only boat. Our cat normally passes for a dinghy here. Here they have planned with vessels slightly bigger. But with the recent volcanic eruption, C19 and hurricane season, there’s something going on for us non-mega yachties.

We were super happy with the marina’s sensational service, especially Kareem. We can take care of all the paperwork for leaving the country and the PCR test here. In C19 times, the possibilities for entry and exit are greatly reduced. And a PCR tester is not to be found on every corner. Especially not someone who can deliver within the required deadlines.

Canouan Island and Sandy Lane is such a sensational place that we will write another article about it soon. We think it’s so brilliant here that we’ll add a few more days.

To our final destination in Grenada, we have one more stopover and another 50 nm to sail. From here we sail 20 nm through the spectacular Tobago Keys to Carriacou, which is already part of Grenada. There we check in and do another PCR test. Once we are cleared, we sail another 30 nm to the south of Grenada, near the capital Kingstown. Then we will have reached our hurricane season destination until early November.

All the places we had to skip on the way south we will definitely make up for. I have a feeling you could spend a whole season in St. Vincent, the Grenadines and Grenada. Who knows…/ Holger Binz

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