Saturday, March 17, 2007

My Caribbean Adventure

Actually, it wasn't that adventurous, which is fine for me. At my age, I don't need a lot of excitement, just a whiff is fine.

Nine of us (well, eight landlubbers, and the skipper) set out on February 28 for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It really is a country and it is far, far away. The main island is St. Vincent, which is basically a very large volcano in the middle of the ocean, a very warm and palm tree growing part of the ocean, featuring callaloo soup, Bitter Lemon Soda, and some of the best rum that you'll find anywhere. Who needs drugs when alcohol's so cheap?

We sailed on a TMM bareboat chartered 43-foot Catamaran, the Amaryllis. It slept nine very comfortably, had an adequate galley and salon, and worked out very well for us. Among the guys we had plenty of good cooks, and a couple of old hands at these kinds of sailing trips. For the most part we were compatible, and we threw the three guys overboard near Mayreau who weren't (just kidding...).

Our skipper, Captain Rick, hails from Hilton Head, South Carolina. He's also an American business tycoon, pretty much owning the manufacturing of kazoos made in the United States. His is a quality product, not at all like the cheap Chinese rip-offs. His kazoos are the kind that play in the Kennedy Center, you know - classy!

The second day out, I totally fried myself. Waterproof sunscreen does not mean waterproof. How stupid of me to believe the label. I was in pain for only four or five days, so it was nothing, really. That second day we snorkeled at Petit Byahaut. PB is an eco-resort on the southwest coast of St. Vincent. It has a beautiful bay and beach and some nice snorkeling. Dogs patrol the beach, though. I assume that they are friendly dogs that don't eat the tourists.

There is a bat cave at Petit Byahaut. Several of the guys snorkeled through the cave. I didn't go. I don't trust my snorkeling capabilities quite that much yet. The boys talked about the blue light, the bats, the crabs, well it sounded gothic if not Gotham. Maybe some experiences are worth dying for; I don't know.

From PB, we headed across the channel to Bequia. We went to the less-developed side of the island and anchored in Friendship Bay. It's the first time I'd been to Friendship Bay (I'd been to Admiralty Bay on the other side). Several other boats were in the bay. It was windy, but not unpleasant at all. One of the simple pleasures of this trip is that there is amazingly little to do.

The next day, we had one of the longest sails of the trip, all the way down to the Tobago Cays to Baradel. We wanted to be in the Cays for a total eclipse of the moon. We anchored on the backside of Baradel, many fewer boats on this side.

We went snorkeling on the reef. We had a very strong back current, which put you back at the boat fairly quickly. Again, since I don't quite know what to do when snorkeling, this is a good thing. The reef is amazing. I have no idea what I'm looking at, but I've never seen anything like it. It's an alien world full of beautiful aliens. Or maybe I'm the alien in a beautiful world. I was quite taken with it.

That evening after dinner, Captain Rick brought out the kazoos, and everyone played Happy Birthday for me, on my 56th. I was very touched. I really enjoy the company of these guys, and couldn't have had a happier birthday. The boys make a really great kazoo band!

So the next day, Yellow Man, one of the boat boy entrepreneurs in these parts sold Jim some baguettes. He owed Jim some change and said that he'd be back for it. Beware of promises made in the middle of the ocean! Jim was still waiting for change four days later, and Yellow Man was nowhere to be found. The bread was very good, though.

I think this is enough about this. Check out the full trip report, and take up sailing in the Grenadines!