Thursday, April 26, 2007

St Vincent and Tobago Cays

Another day sail has us anchored in Kingstown, St Vincent to check in and enjoy the sights. This town has some nice colonial architecture to check out. Stone buildings, cobblestone streets and sidewalks and nice pillared overhangs make for an enjoyable stroll through town. As it turned out, a few boats we knew were also there and others arriving the following day promised to make for a fun time. This proved to be the case with one exception. Two boats that we knew, both had kids onboard and were good friends, often have sleep overs etc. Upon departing St. Lucia the kids from one boat were invited to sail to Kingstown on the other one and rejoin their family the next day. However, they failed to enter these kids on their departure crew list in St Lucia and, literally, entered St Vincent with 2 illegal aliens onboard. The boaters just assumed it was a case of sailing from one island to another but in fact they were sailing from one country to another. The boaters did understand maritime regulations but felt that perhaps it didn’t apply here. I was at the immigration office with them where we met with VERY British officials wearing immaculate uniforms, taking great pride in the position and country. Having visited many Commonwealth countries I can attest to the complex and antiquated system that prevails. Neatness and courtesy is mandatory. Even says it on the door. ‘Upon visiting the Immigration Office trousers, shirt and shoes is expected’. This crew entered the office deciding that it was their right to be as filthy, unshaven and slovenly as possible and proceeded to tell the officials their rights. Not a good idea. ‘The kids just came along for the ride, what’s your problem’. The parents from the other boat had to be summoned, they had not checked in yet, and to verify the story and identities. The children had no I.D. and they expected the officials to take their word without any paperwork. Heated words were exchanged and veiled racial comments (the captain, a USA southerner, didn’t take kindly to black people from a ‘nothing’ nation as he puts it giving him orders. Another friend of ours who is a lawyer let him know that the law was on their side not his and he eventually cooled off. I guess the fact that the possible confiscation of the boat, a heavy fine and possible jail time also calmed him down. It all got sorted out and he was released with a stern warning. Note: the last we heard he was thrown out of another country for lewd behavior. Oh well, who says all sailing is smooth. A little drama once in a while makes things interesting. We then went to the New York Bar for their famous happy hour and let the alcohol chill us out.

Apart from that Bequia was one of our favourite places in the Windward Islands. The town was beautiful and the locals were so much friendlier than previously encountered. Max’s Pizzeria on the waterfront had the best pizza we had tasted in a long time, yummy lobster and great live music. We took a couple of sightseeing tours but the most interesting was ‘Moonhole’. These are houses that are completely made out of rock both inside and out. All the furniture too. There are about 10 houses and the people have formed a small isolated community started by an Architect named Tom Johnson. It looks like the Flintstones live there. The only softness came from the cushions and linens on the bed. Really interesting but I couldn’t live there.

The Tobago Cays are a place that we kept hearing about since leaving St Thomas. ‘You’ll love it, it’s what going sailing is all about. Deserted islands, pristine waters, sandy beaches for the numerous beach parties and bbq’s etc’. So we sailed in search of this unspoiled paradise hoping it was all true. Our first port of call was Mayreau and its pristine beaches. Rumor had it that a small resort existed there but was hidden so as not to spoil the beach view. Amongst the palms. The rumours were right, spectacular. The only down side was the cruise ship anchored off and the dozens of overweight, white and sunburned (lovely combination) tourists wearing socks with their sandals. Still trying to figure the socks out. The anchorage was also full of charter boats, to be expected when there is paradise to be found. We also didn’t want to anchor downwind with an impending blow the next day so we decided there was enough light left to scoot around Mayreau to the deserted Tobago Cays and into the huge anchorage, behind the horseshoe reef. Several boats were already there, Highlander, Twighlight, Architedes, Cherry Bowl, First Light and others were starting a beach party so we joined the festivities ashore. The next day it did blow hard and a few charter boats discovered that a 2:1 or 3:1 scope on the anchor rode wasn’t sufficient. They bumped and bounced off other boats in the anchorage like pin balls. After re-anchoring, with more scope, they settled in for the nights. A week later our desires were sated. We had snorkeled, swam, suntanned and barbecued to our hearts delight and it was time to move on as hurricane season was upon us and Adagio was uninsured.

Clifton Bay in Union Island is where we had to call and check out for Carriacou, out next stop. Clifton, itself, was an ok town but the reception we got upon entering the bay and later at immigration was appalling. Clifton is renowned for its bad holding and the shoal in the center of the bay. Some moorings, privately run and of dubious quality exist but expensive. Upon entering with SV Highlander, we were approached by a local to rent his mooring for $30 per night, was he joking. We declined the offer several times and he became abusive and cursed our race, country and parents. He’s never met our parents. Next came another and the process was repeated. We made sure our anchors were set well and went out to dinner. All was hunky dory and upon mentioning our welcome, the staff replied that the mooring owners hope to get cash from boaters rather than fish or work. Now we understood the anger at our refusal. In the morning Tim and I went in to check out. This was done at the airport that was quite a hike and no transport available. Not to worry, nice day for a walk. To say the Customs and Immigration Officer was rude would be the understatement of the year. He was a major arsehole. After being informed of our presence he asked us to wait outside. Ok fine. An hour later, nowhere to sit and in the sun, we were wondering if he had forgotten us. Finally he saw us in to his office, sat down while we continued to stand and proceeded to read from the bible and ignore us completely for another 20 minutes. When he closed the bible we received such a look of contempt that left us dumbfounded and wondering if he was related to the mooring owners. Here we were, shaved, well dressed and courteous. What was with the attitude? When the paperwork was done not one more word was spoken by him, he turned and continued to read his bible, curious to read what passage he was looking at, something about heathens I suppose. I wanted to take his bible and smack him upside the head.

Not to worry, we were off south and loving life, his loss.


Post a Comment

<< Home