Friday, March 19, 2010


To date, our highest recommendation to anyone wishing to visit the Caribbean would be to visit Dominica. We found Dominica to be a friendly place with beautiful scenery and amazing plants to satisfy all appetites and medical ailments. Our guide, Stowe (who was the brother of the husband of a cousin of Leonie) took us around to some amazing sights.

He drove around stopping frequently to pluck a branch or some fruit, giving us a smell or a taste and the background of the uses of each one. Dominica has nine (inactive) volcanoes and the mountainous landscape, frequent rains and rich soil result in beautiful lush and colourful landscape. Our first stop was the Titou gorges where we swam (with Emma and Macsen on our backs) through a deep gorge with crystal blue water and shimmering walls to a rushing waterfall. Incredible. We then took a short but complicated hike to the Trafalgar waterfalls and swam alternating between the warm sulphur pools and the cool fresh waters. The monkeys had a good giggle and so did we. Our final stop was at a geyser where we saw boiling water spurting from under the ground and warmed our hands on a natural oven.

Upon our return to the bay we stopped for a drink at the Anchorage hotel and just as were about to climb into our dingy along came Kees and Marta Slager from the big Pjotter. We turned around quickly and headed back to the bar for another drink and a good chat to catch up. We hadn’t seen them since early January in Suriname and there were lots of stories to exchange.

Emma and Macsen seem to be flourishing with the constant attention that they get from Seb and I at the moment. They are both becoming more competent with their swimming and castle building and they can really play together now. They wrestle like little tiger cubs and are sometimes quite competitive. Emma recently stated that she thought she had more toes than Macsen and had a little trouble adjusting to the harsh reality when I asked her to count them. But they are generally very good friends and frequently form an alliance against the adult members of the crew.

Turtles and Fish

Our last stop in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was the relatively unknown island of Bequai. The anchor bay was full of boats on moorings or lying at anchor. We cheerfully threw out our anchor in a small spot between the masts and waited for it to take hold. It didn’t. Try again, still no luck. We gamely moved to another spot ad tried again. Still no luck. After five tries the holding was finally solid. Whew. Result was a rather grumpy arrival. It was a slight relief to hear that our troubles were not a reflection of our skills but that the holding ground was generally considered to be terrible. A favourite pastime in the bay is watching boats arrive to anchor or re-anchor and placing bets to see if the crews will be speaking to one another when the ordeal is over.

Once ashore Bequai is a rather sleepy and sweet island. There are a few fabulous restaurants along the shore, a great bookstore and a well stocked fruit market (if you can stand the pushy sellers). We found a very friendly driver of a pick-up taxi and he took us out to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. This place was founded and is run by ex-skin diving fisherman Orton King who now dedicates his time to saving the hawksbill turtles. To date, he has released 2000 turtles back into the wild. Orton himself took us around the sanctuary and his enthusiasm and love for the turtles was wonderful to see. The tanks were low on the ground and Emma and Macsen spent ages watching the turtles (ranging from 6 days to 40 years old).

Left St. Vincent and the Grenadines and headed towards St. Lucia. On the way we fished as usual and were thrilled (as usual) to hear the zzzzzing of the line pulling out signaling that something had taken a bite. After a rather significant fight, Seb pulled in a lovely long barracuda with extremely vicious looking teeth. Despite the ferocious looks the very firm white meat was delicious and made for two good meals.

Our first stop in St. Lucia was on the South West of the island by the Pitons. Unfortunately, although the view was stunning, the bay was very rolly and uncomfortable and we headed on the following day to Rodney Bay in the North. Rodney Bay has a comfortable little marina with a swimming pool but does not have a great deal of character.

On our next sail, from St. Lucia to Dominica Neptune was kind to us again in the form of a 7,5 kilo tuna! This is (in our opinion) the most impressive fish that we have landed to date and it took four rather large meals to consume it. Our first meal was a romantic lunch for two (during naptime) of tuna sushi with a lovely chilled white wine. We are again grateful for our wonderful working fridge and freezer for chilling the wine and freezing the remains of the fish.


Mustique is a private island known as a refuge for the rich and famous, Mick Jagger and Tommy Hilfiger have houses there among others. Access to the island is highly restricted to the 120 home owners and guests of two tiny and rather exclusive hotels. Yachts can anchor in the bay for a relatively low fee however.

We met a lovely family of Dutch-Swiss origin in the playground on Mustique. Valerie and her daughters Alexandra (who is close to Emma’s age) and Leonora invited us to their stunning house for a swim in the infinity pool. While the children splashed about we floated out gazing over the endless water at the spectacular view that spanned all the way to the Tobago Keys.

The island has small twisty roads and there are very few cars as most people travel around in golf cart-like vehicles called mules. We rented a mule for the duration of our stay and used it to explore the island and visit the relatively empty beaches. Seb took a diving lesson and Emma and I went horse-back riding (sadly for Macsen the minimum age was three). Emma, on Duchess, was thrilled to be led around on a line for ½ hour and my trail ride took us along a beach where we were able to take our horses swimming in the clear blue water. What an amazing experience. In all my years of riding I had never been on a horse while it was swimming.

Turtles in the Tobago Keys

The Tobago Keys are a small group f islands surrounded by reefs that have been designated as a national marine park. Navigation through the reefs takes some concentration and it is amazing to anchor seemingly in the middle of the open sea but protected from swell and heavy seas by the reefs. The area is absolutely beautiful, almost exactly like you would like a group of uninhabited islands in the Caribbean to be. We were however, a little taken aback by the sheer number of boats anchored between the islands and the reef. This is a busy attraction.

Shortly after dropping anchor we headed in with the dingy to the beach closest to the hawksbill turtle reserve. Emma was happy to wear her swimming goggles on her head but was not yet willing to put her face in the water. Seb and I took turns snorkeling through the turtles and splashing about on the beach with the monkeys. The turtles were beautiful. I think of turtles as being somewhat slow and cumbersome but these turtles seemed to fly and dance through the water able to adjust their course or speed with a seemingly effortless tip of a fin. We spent the next couple of days exploring the islands and snorkeling in the reefs. Once away from the turtle reserve the crowds thinned out a lot and we were able to find perfect little beaches and snorkel spots for ourselves alone.

Happy Island

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a nation in the Lesser Antilles chain, which lies at the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of the main island of Saint Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, which are a chain of smaller islands stretching south from Saint Vincent to Grenada.

Our first stop (other than our illicit visit to PSV) was in Clifton Bay on union Island. We were feeling a little despondent upon arrival so we headed out for a good explore. The Spikkel took us on a good ride around the busy bay and we ended up on Happy Island. Happy Island is a small round island built by a local man named Janti out of cement and conch shells. Upon completion of this five year project, Janti opened a wonderful little bar and restaurant on the island. He met us and helped to tie up the Spikkel and lift out Macsen and Emma. We immediately felt the appropriateness of the name as we sipped our rum punches and watched our monkeys playing around in the sandbox in the middle of the island. A great place for lifting the spirits!