Bareboating (and lobster-eating) in the Grenadines
(Location: St Vincent & the Grenadines, Caribbean)
We’d heard the Grenadines was “like the BVI was 20 years ago.” The BVI had become pretty developed, so were intrigued.
We’d also heard that “the BVI is where you go if you want to drive your boat from bar to bar, the Grenadines is where you go if you want to sail.” Again, intriguing.
This is how we found ourselves chartering a 41′ Beneteau for Christmas in 2012.
It’s not easy to get to the Grenadines, especially when you plan a trip over the holidays a month in advance. For us this meant flying to Barbados and spending two nights at the Hilton (on points). With the flight schedules, we got in late the first night, had a full day at the beach, and then departed super early the next morning. This was actually a good way to rest up for the adventure to come.
We arrived into St. Vincent SUPER early – we arrived at Barefoot Yacht Charters before they even opened. We had a walk around their property and spotted the boat that would be our home for the next 7 days: a 41′ Beneteau named Lady Di.
As with previous charters, we didn’t pre-order food and just went to the local grocery store (Super J). We didn’t need that much as we planned to overnight near restaurants/resorts so we could go ashore for dinner. The chart briefing took about an hour, and then we headed down to the boat for our orientation and checkout. The next thing you know, we’d dropped the lines and were off !
Of course, this is when the weather kicked up. And by “kicked up” I mean swells, wind, current, and all kinds of nastiness. I’d also forgot to take any sort of motion sickness medication, so I was in a bad place. I finally gave in and threw up over the side. Well, mostly over the side. Meanwhile Andy was puking off the back of the boat. Good times.
Luckily, the storm passed through and the weather was clear by the time we reached Brittania Bay in Mustique. A harbour master boat escorted us to a mooring and helped us secure our lines. He then came alongside to take care of payment (US$75). “Rough crossing?” he said as he surveyed the vomit-covered rails. Nice. On a positive note, when we hosed the boat off a little later, our boat was surrounded by thousands of fish. How’s that for turning a negative into a positive? We relaxed for a bit and then went ashore to Basil’s for dinner.
The next day (Christmas), we went ashore in the morning to walk around a bit. The map provided by the harbour master highlighted the tiny area of the island that we were able to explore. Aside from being a private island, Will and Kate happened to be vacationing in one of the villas, so security was extra high. The “town” is one street with less than five buildings. Fortunately, one of them was Sweetie Pie bakery, so we enjoyed fresh cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
We planned this trip about a month in advance – we’d been so focused on Madagascar that we forgot to plan anything for Christmas. As such, we’d done pretty much NO research, other than skimming through “A Cruising Guide To The Windward Islands” on the flight. As such, we didn’t really have an itinerary. Our mooring fee allowed us to stay up to three nights, and as we’d had a rough day previously, we decided to stay another night rather than move on to a new island. We had a fabulous dinner at Firefly (radio them for a reservation and they will pick you up at the dinghy dock).
We got an early start and headed south. We were headed for the Tobago Cayes, but it was super crowded so we opted for Salt Whistle Bay in Mayreau.
The bay has one low key hotel and a few beach bars. “Boat boys” from nearby Union Island cruise from boat to boat selling everything from beaded bracelets (no) to banana bread (maybe tomorrow), to lobster dinners on the beach (yes please!). We lounged on the boat most of the day and then decided to hike over to the Settlement (a town of about 400 people, chickens, and goats). It was a 25 minute walk up a very steep road, but the view from the old stone church were worth it. We stopped for a drink at Dennis’ Hideaway and then returned to Salt Whistle Bay. Dinner (two bbq lobsters with corn and potatoes) was served on the beach. Between the exercise and the giant meal, we both slept pretty well that night.
Why leave. Seriously. This place was perfect. Mayreau is simultaneously sensory overload (crystal clear, unrealistically turquoise water) and sensory deprivation (no phones or tv or noise other than gentle waves and the occasional beach laughter). For dinner we walked back to the Settlement and indulged in lobster at Dennis’ Hideway, and then stumbled back to Salt Whistle Bay (there are no lights on the one paved road, but luckily it was a full moon).
After a short sail, we arrived in Clifton Harbour in Union Island. We had planned to dock to top off the fuel and water, but a helpful boat boy offered to bring us fuel and water to our mooring (yes, it cost a little more, but worth it). This is as far south as we would travel.
We headed north to Canouan Island and picked up a mooring. We were treated to an amazing sunset during dinner at the Tamarind Beach Club, and then a storm rolled in. I don’t think either of us slept much that night because it felt like we were moving in circles around the mooring ball.
We continued north to Admiralty Bay in Bequia. After being so isolated for a few days, Bequia seemed like a giant city (which is funny because it is about 7 square miles and has a population of about 4,000). After securing a mooring, we went ashore for lobster pizza at Mac’s and then drinks at Whale Boner, and yes, we bought the t-shirt. We walked around town and settled on L’Auberge for dinner. YUM.
Our last full day 🙁 We had a craving for pancakes, so we went ashore for breakfast. We dinghied over to Princess Margaret Beach and had it all to ourselves until around noon. We returned to L’Auberge for dinner.
It was a short sail back to Barefoot at Blue Lagoon in St. Vincent. Our flight wasn’t until the following morning, so we’d booked a room at the charter base. We enjoyed the air conditioning, took a much needed nap, and then had New Year’s Eve dinner at Driftwood (also at the base).
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