ST LUCIA AND SOUTH

posted from Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada

BIRDING ST. LUCIA

At the end of our last post we had put Dave on a bus to the airport at Vieux Fort.  It was great to have him along for the passages south from Antigua, but it was really nice to finally have the boat to ourselves.

St. Lucia hasn’t changed much.  One of the things you can always count on is the vegetable guy.  He has expanded his business by growing herbs on the top of his boat.

A visit from the fruit and vegetable boat

A visit from the fruit and vegetable boat

We relaxed a bit and looked around for some bird watching and hiking opportunities.  There is always the hike up to Fort Shirley at the north end of the anchorage.  You get a great view of Rodney Bay and there are always interesting birds.

Will he grow up to be a big shot?  A man of high caliber?

Will he grow up to be a big shot? A man of high caliber?

View of Rodney Bay from Fort Shirley

View of Rodney Bay from Fort Shirley

Bare eyed robin

Bare eyed robin

We also found that there are some nature preserves around the island.  The first we discovered was the Union Nature Trail just a couple short bus rides from Rodney Bay.  The trail is relatively short, but much of it is along the side of a ridge so you are close to the tops of the trees growing on the slope below and that’s where the birds hang out.

Adelaides Warbler

Adelaides Warbler

Lizard

Lizard

Peewee

St. Lucia Peewee

The next park we visited was the Millet Nature Trail.  We wanted to get there early, so we shared a taxi with Bruce on Wild Matilda for the forty five minute ride into the interior of the island.  There we met our guide who led us through the park and helped us find and identify various birds.  The goal was to see parrots and we did see a few, but they flew fairly high and far away. The one time they flew fairly close Bruce got a good picture of them, but Jackie and I were still working our way up the trail.

Freshwater crabs were all along the trail

Freshwater crabs were all along the trail

Mangrove Cuckoo

Mangrove Cuckoo

Saint Lucia parrots

Saint Lucia parrots (picture by Bruce)

The next big outing was to Maria Isle just outside of Vieux Fort.  Again we shared a taxi with Bruce and also Rowena and Richard on Galene for the ride to the other end of the island.  We met our guide at a small fishing harbor where he had arranged for a local pirogue to take us to the island.  At first look it appeared that we would have to traverse some serious surf, but our captain took us along shore behind the reef and then stayed in the lee of the island for the last stretch.  We hiked to a few vantage points and spent lots of time watching the birds soar off the cliffs in the high winds that constantly buffeted the island.

Our transportation to Maria Isle

Our transportation to Maria Isle

Caribbean Martins landing on the cliffs

Caribbean Martins flying near the cliffs

An inland marsh we visited after Maria Isle

An inland marsh we visited after Maria Isle

Birders in action

Birders in action

One evening we decided to sit up on the bow and relax.  I spotted something on the bow pulpit.  It was a brown boobie looking for a place to spend the night.  It got tired of the camera flash and eventually left.

Why go on bird watching hikes when they land on your boat?

Why go on bird watching hikes when they land on your boat?

We later met some people who had the same thing happen and thought it was pretty cool until the next morning when they discovered the messy bird droppings.

MARIGOT BAY

We saw some favorable weather coming and decided to head south.  The next island is St. Vincent.  We have heard enough about people being hassled by boat boys, problems with customs, and boat break-ins that we have always skipped St. Vincent.  This makes for a long trip, so we moved about eight miles south to Marigot Bay.  That brings the trip down to about sixty miles.

Marigot is essentially two small bays with a relatively narrow passage between them.  The holding and private moorings in the outer bay are pretty sketchy so we picked up marina mooring in the inner harbor.  That gives us access to the marina facilities (the showers).  A small boat came by advertising a restaurant that features live jazz in the evenings.  We caught a water taxi there after dinner and listened to a really great jazz pianist.

BEQUIA

We were off at first light the next morning.  We plan our passages at five knots so we were looking at a possible twelve hour trip and we wanted to be anchored before dark.  The winds were favorable and currents not bad.  We even sailed most of the way down the lee side of St. Vincent and kept moving well enough that we were anchored in Bequia well before dark.

We dodge some squalls on the way to Bequia

We dodge some squalls on the way to Bequia

We like Bequia because the town is small and quaint with a couple nice beaches and lots of restaurants.  There is a beach where you can find lots of sea glass and some nice snorkeling near where we anchor.

Yellow Tube Sponges

Yellow Tube Sponges

Sand Diver

Sand Diver

Trumpet fish

Trumpet fish

Smooth Trunkfish

Smooth Trunkfish

Sharp tail Eel

Sharp tail Eel

Banded Butterfly fish

Banded Butterfly fish

Bearded Fireworms and remains of a sea urchin

Bearded Fireworms and remains of a sea urchin

 

Bequia is known for model boat builders and we stopped at one of the shops to take a look.  They build some very nice, but very expensive models.

Boats in various stages of completion at the model building shop

Boats in various stages of completion at the model building shop

Just a few of the many beautiful model boats

Just a few of the many beautiful model boats

Bequia also has an interesting variety full size boats built locally.

Locally built racing sailboats

Locally built racing sailboats

Many island beaches are a study in interesting watercraft

Many island beaches are a study in interesting watercraft

Local workboats

Local workboats

The second day in Bequia we stopped at a restaurant/beach bar at the far end of the beach where we were anchored.  They had a bunch of temporary tables and seats set up on the beach.  We soon found out that a French sailing rally of thirty five boats was due in the next day.  Sure enough, early in the afternoon boats began pouring into the bay.  Now we know how the English commanders on these islands felt when the French fleet appeared on the horizon.

With that many boats coming in we knew that everyone would anchor close and they certainly did.  I have to admit, though, that they generally did a good job of fitting their boats into some pretty small spaces.  They had their party at the restaurant and were back on their boats relatively early.  Then at dawn the next morning they pulled there anchors up and headed out.

MAYREAU

We left Bequia for the Grenadine Islands – the group of islands between St. Vincent and Carriacou.  The trip is short, so we got a leisurely start rather than our usual crack of dawn departures.  We had talked about going to Tobago Cays and spending a couple days, but once we got out there we started discussing other options including checking out at Union Island and going to Carriacou.  We discarded this idea because of our relatively late start and light winds that kept our speed down.  We finally decided to go to Saline Bay, Mayreau.

We have been taking pictures of birds while sailing as long as it isn’t too rough.  We spotted these birds along the way and got some shots.  Jackie posted the pictures on Birding Aboard.  Here is her post:

Sailing from Bequia south we kept seeing these white tailed birds, often skimming the water, barely visible as the seemingly flew between the waves. We finally snapped an identifiable picture just north of Mayreau.  Unfortunately it was difficult to get a really good picture, the birds are flying fast, and we are sailing fast.

White morph of red-footed boobie

Dark morph of the white-tailed red-footed booby

More of the rare boobys

More of the rare boobys

Here is the response she got:

Nice! These are white-tailed dark morph Red-footed Booby. This species is among the most polymorphic seabirds with respect to plumage color.

Three main adult plumage types are recognized (brown or dark, white-tailed brown and white morph) with many intergrades such as white-headed and white-tailed brown, black-tailed white morph and golden white morph to add to the confusion. The latter two species are restricted in range as they may only breed on the Galapagos and Christmas Island.

Great documentation

I think it’s’ pretty cool that Jackie found some birds not known to frequent this part of the world!

We anchored in Saline Bay, Mayreau.  We had been rocked badly by a ferry last time we were in here, so we anchored well away from the path to the dock.  We had plenty of time so we did some exploring and found some fairly good snorkeling at the south end of the bay.

Blue Tang juvenile (l) Bluehead juvenile (r)

Blue Tang juvenile (yellow fish on left) Bluehead juvenile (yellow stripe on right)

The next morning we sailed the few miles to Clifton, Union Island and checked out of St. Vincent.  This is always an interesting process because we don’t trust the local moorings and we always seem to have trouble finding a good spot to anchor.  This time was no exception, so I stayed on the boat in case we dragged and Jackie took the dinghy in to check out.  She found customs in town, but then she had to go to the airport to clear out with immigration.

CARRIACOU

The next stop was Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, an easy sail from Union Island.  We used to have to anchor at Hillsborough to clear in and then sail around to Tyrrel Bay, but there is now a Customs and Immigration office in Tyrrel Bay.

Approaching Carriacou

Approaching Carriacou

Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou

Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou

We met up with our friends Bob and Debbie on Chimayo, who we hadn’t seen since they were in Antigua in 2013.  Debbie told Jackie about  drum lessons given on the beach each day by a local guy named Bongo (aka Zulu).  She tried it out and liked it and showed quite an aptitude for traditional drumming, so yes, we now have a drum on board.

Drum lessons on the beach

Drum lessons on the beach

 

Jackie checks out a drum

Jackie checks out a drum

One of our favorite things to do in Carriacou is to take a bus most of the way up the west side of the island and then walk around the north side to Windward on the northeast side.  We started walking the dirt road and a fellow in an old Land Rover stopped to say hello.  He was Dario, from KIDO, a wildlife conservation and wildlife education group.  He took us to their facility – a modest but beautiful home converted for group education.  They are involved heavily in protecting and rescuing sea turtles.

KIDO conservation group

KIDO conservation group

We also visited the bird sanctuary at Petit Carenage and Windward, where they make boats on the beach.  We didn’t see much in the way of interesting birds, but we did get a good view of some wrecks off the north coast and some interesting things on the trail.

Humming bird

Humming bird

Carriacou crab

Carriacou crab

Cow in mangroves

Cow in mangroves

Boat being built on beach

Boat being built on beach in Windward, Carriacou

Boat being battered on beach

Boat being battered on beach

NC HURRICANES

This item chronologically belongs in the next post, but it’s best to cover it now.  We left Antigua and headed south for Grenada without a real schedule.  The only driving concern is that our insurance doesn’t cover us for named storms during hurricane season unless we are below 13 degrees latitude – the southern end of the harbor in Bequia.  We like to stop and enjoy the islands as we go, which causes us to run behind schedule.  This isn’t a big worry because we can do an overnight sail and get out of the hurricane box.  That doesn’t guarantee that we will avoid a storm, it just means we are insured.

 

Sailing from St. Lucia to Carriacou

Sailing from St. Lucia to Carriacou

So we are where we need to be, but we do have a little history with hurricanes since we started this trip.  When we headed south in 2009 we spent a few days in Southport, NC waiting for the rainy edge of Hurricane Ida to clear out.  In 2011 we had Compass Rose in Oriental, NC and Hurricane Irene came right over us.  Last year we built a house near Wilmington, NC and guess what?  Hurricane Arthur just made a close pass.  Do you see something in common here?  NC.

 

Hurricane Arthur visits North Carolina

Hurricane Arthur visits North Carolina. Our house is by the red arrow

 

 

Next: Back home in Grenada

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One Response to “ST LUCIA AND SOUTH”

  1. Dale Macon Says:

    Glad to see you’re having such fun!!

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