Friday, 13 June 2008

St Lucia to Tobago Cays

Unfortunately, our whole St Lucia experience was only 12 hours long, we pulled into Marigot bay, in the late afternoon, had a swim, a beer, dinner, and a good nights sleep before heading off early the next morning for St Vincent. Marigot Bay is an absolutely beautiful setting. It is a deeply indented harbour so is very sheltered with steep hills coming right out of the water. It seems to be a rather exclusive area. We didn’t feel we could afford the time here as our weather reports indicated Tropical wave formations off the coast of Africa therefore we felt we should be moving further south closer to the southern end of the hurricane zone. Our visit to St Vincent was even shorter, sailing along the western shore, we ducked into Wallilabou bay just after lunch, to see the set from the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. This is the scene in the beginning of the movie where the pirate skeletons are hanging in the arch and Jack Sparrows sad little boat sinks. The dock and some of the town are still standing, as well the rock arch is impressive. By nightfall we were safely anchored in Bequia. Port Elizabeth in Admiralty Bay Bequia, is a typical West Indian town, complete with produce market, taxi stand , a bunch of rum shops, restaurants, internet cafes, and a couple of dive operations. Port Elizabeth also has a couple of reasonably well stocked boat stores, so a few boat parts were able to be had. We visited the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, where they raise turtles until they are around five or six years old and then release them into the wild. The animals are marked with 2 holes punched in the back of their shells and from what they can tell, their survival rate is good. In the wild only around 1 in 3000 gets to reproductive age which is 25 years old. It was a good field trip, it is good to see an effort is being made to increase the numbers of these amazing creature. Although there are rumours that without more funding this sanctuary could be in jeopardy. Ethan, from Salt and Light celebrated his 6th Birthday while in Bequia. It started with the field trip to the turtle sanctuary, then lunch at a local bbq and then the big event, a treasure hunt on the beach where a chest full of pirate booty was found along with a treasure map leading the band of marauders to Macs Pizza for the rest of the party. Steve, Kathy, and Emmett, from Uliad joined the party as well. Happy Birthday Ethan! The older two kids, Liam and Michaela, and the dad from Salt and Light took a SCUBA diving course on Bequia. So one afternoon the crew of High Five and the crew of Salt and Light enjoyed a dive near Moon hole, on the western tip of the island. As always, the kids young and younger had a great time. Bequia is one of those places that makes time stand still, a year could go by and you would not realize it. We do not have another year, so the morning after our dive we left Salt and Light to finish their course and we headed south to the Tobago Cays to meet up with Losloper, our friends from Calgary. They are soon headed to Grenada to put their boat on the hard and head back to Calgary for work and school. The West end of the Tobago cays are protected by a series of large reefs, and although you look out at the open Atlantic Ocean, you are well sheltered from the swells. It is a national Park and is well protected. No fishing, lobstering, shell collecting, or littering allowed. Boat boys zip around offering T-shirts, garbage disposal, and Wally, who was introduced to us by Losloper arrives every morning with fresh croissant and baguettes. There is a large area of “turtle grass” similar to what we call “eel grass” in BC that is roped off, not allowing boats to anchor. Here we were able to swim with at least 6 or 8 different Green Turtles. They would eat, and swim around, pretty unconcerned about the 5 of us watching them. If you got too close, they would just swim away a few feet and continue eating. Although they appear unstreamlined, they are capable of blinding speed when necessary. A few snorkel trips on the outer reef showed us a multitude of tropical fish. Tying to the bouy just outside the cut in the reef, Magnus Gary and Janine jumped in. The reef drops off from the surface to a dark blue abyss, dramatically reminding us that we are not always at the top of the food chain. That and a little bit of current had us head back to the protected waters inside the reef for more exploring. The spectacular colours of the fish continue to amaze us. A small eel was spotted amongst the coral, as well as a lobster and some very large parrot fish. This was Loslopers last day in the cays, they left early the next morning for Union island, and then Grenada. For us it was one more swim with the turtles and then off around the corner to Salt Whistle Bay on Mayreau. A picture postcard bay, well protected, rimmed with white sand beaches and palm trees, eight or 10 boats bob peacefully at anchor. There is a strong French influence here so the only thing hard on the eyes is the occasional very large Frenchman in a very small speedo or nothing at all! Some people really need a mirror! We were joined on our second day here by our newly dive certified friends on Salt & Light.

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