St. Vincent and the Grenadines

July 20

We sail from Union Island to Carriacou with a snorkeling stop at Sandy Island and get to eat in a real restaurant.
Map of July 20th's travels

During the night of July 20th a tropical wave (1) came through the area. Another night that we had to keep the hatches closed, but it was worse than that. With the wind, the boat was very noisy. The guest bed is right next to the metal mast. Any heavy wind shakes the mast which causes a lot of noise to be propagated down to the guest bedroom. And there were other, unusual sounds (2) as well that made for a restless night.

Pelican in mid flight

We were actually very lucky. July is the first month of the rainy season and it could have rained every day. But we only got one real storm, and that was overnight while we were (supposed to be) sleeping. Although the days were often cloudy, the weather was fine for swimming, snorkeling and just hanging out on the deck of the boat.

After a breakfast of sausage and eggs we head over toward Carriacou - or rather Sandy Island, which is a small island just north of Carriacou -- for lunch. Jeremy said that he often catches wahoo on the way over, but we had no luck (3). I spent a good portion of the ride over to Sandy Island on the front deck getting splashed by the waves. We finally had a little wind (remnants of the tropical wave; it wouldn't last).

Sandy Island is a little cay made of -- you guessed it -- sand. There is only one living palm tree left on the island; if you can call it living. A hurricane in 1999 wiped out all the others. After the traditional anchor beer (4), Joel and I went snorkeling. The water at Sandy Island was very nice, but the sky was a little bit cloudy (another remnant of the tropical wave). Still we saw a lot of fish.

The first fish we saw were the ones that a pelican had been going after earlier. Huge schools of sardines in the shallow water off Sandy Island. With a smaller school of palmetto chasing them. Farther up the beach were some coral, with lots of tube worms including some bright yellow ones. My favorite fish was a huge puffer fish. I almost missed him, because he (she?) was hiding under a large coral rock. But it was a cleaning station and I was watching a parrotfish getting cleaned off by the little fish. The puffer was behind queued up behind them and I saw it again when the parrotfish was done getting cleaned (5).

Carribbean reef squid
Christmas tree worm on star coral

Other fun fish we saw near Sandy Island: a huge scrolled file fish, yellow headed wrasse (ok blue headed ones too, but those we see everywhere), porgies, hog fish, lots of yellow snapper and myriads of other fish, including a school of bright iridescent small blue fish. Now I've seen a lot of iridescent blue fish in the coral, but I've never seen any in large schools. Bright flashes of blue light everywhere.

Lunch was a native Caribbean disk called a roti; made with meat and potatoes. It was served with hot sauce and we had our choice of sauces -- hot, hotter, or really, really hot. I tried all except the hottest sauce. Jeremy was eating that one, and he was in tears from it.

The afternoon at Sandy Island was lazy. We stayed in the bay and snorkeled a second time, and read. I loved the snorkeling here (at Sandy Island), it has one of my favorite attractions -- lots of huge schools of fish. I chased them around and watched them form different patterns (6). Sometimes one group would break apart; sometimes it would meld back into a whole. The best part was when some large three foot long needle fish came in and started hunting them. The schools of fish would form a smaller, more compact groups just seething with fish, which then made very quick precision turns all together. I also saw an eel that was moving along the bottom just like a snake. When it was still, it blended into the bottom perfectly just like a flounder.

After spending the afternoon at Sandy Island, we motored over to Tyrrel Bay in Carriacou, which was just around the corner from Sandy Island. Carriacou is actually not part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; rather it is part of the country of Grenada. But it didn't look any different. Tyrrel Bay was full of moored sailboats just like all the other islands we visited, and they still sold beer (Jeremy went on another beer run).

Family beach day on Sandy Island

When planning the trip, we told Jeremy that we would like to eat on the boat most nights, but go out to a restaurant for one dinner. Well, it turned out that there really weren't too many restaurants in the Grenadines worth sailing out of your way for. But we decided that Tyrrel Bay offered us the best chance to eat out (since the next two nights would be among the unpopulated islands of the Tobago Cays).

Jeremy gave us two suggestions, I do not remember the name of the first but it I seem to recall that it served Caribbean barbeque cuisine. The second option was the Turtledove, a local pizza joint and internet cafe. The Turtledove does not sell local fare, just pizza (7). But, it was quite good, but we only got cheese since I hate meat on my pizza and Joel hates veggies. Joel ate all his half and nibbled on some of mine. I brought one left over piece back to the boat from my half.

As it happens, Jeremy and Vanessa also ate at the Turtledove that evening (we went over in the dingy together), but they were nice enough to give us a table by ourselves. They did pick up the check, however.

And it was evening, and it was morning ... the third night.

Footnote 1: A tropical wave is like a baby tropical storm, which is like a baby hurricane. It's just a lot of wind and rain, nothing serious. And in the rainy season, there is a new tropical wave (or worse) every few days, although most of the time the waves go north of the Grenadines.

Footnote 2: The sounds were only unusual for us landlubbers. Jeremy slept right through most of the noise. But not because he is a heavy sleeper. Instead, Jeremy has trained himself to listen carefully and only wake up if a sound is unusual. The sound of another sailboat breaking its anchor and heading for Fortitude would wake Jeremy up in an instant, and probably the sound of made by a single termite landing on the boat would wake him up as well. But the booming sound of a mast being shaken up by heavy winds, Jeremy sleeps right though that.

Footnote 3: Sigh.

Footnote 4: One of the most important traditions on Fortitude is to break out the beer after setting anchor at a new spot. I think that explains why the itinerary consisted of so many short trips between anchorages.

Footnote 5: A fish cleaning station is not an environmental device introduced by humans (actually it is, but that's not what we mean here); rather, a fish cleaning station is place on the reef share special fish or shrimp, known as cleaners, live. These special fish eat the bacteria and dead skin off fish, and other fish will often line up at a fish cleaning station to be cleaned. Just like the car wash on a Sunday morning.

Footnote 6: Meanwhile, Joel chased the fish around with the camera, trying to capture a school before it broke up and reformed. Taking pictures of the schools of fish is hard since the fishes natural reaction to seeing a camera is to scatter in all directions. Just like our kids.

Footnote 7: When traveling in the Caribbean we usually like to try out the local dishes. But I think that laziness got the better of us at this point and we went for the easy choice.

 Back to July 19   Go to July 21 
Introduction | July 14th (travel day) | July 15th (Falls of Baleine) | July 16th (Petit Byahaut) | July 17th (La Soufriere hike)
July 18th (sail to Bequia) | July 19th (Union Island) | July 20th (Sandy Island) | July 21th (Tobago Cays) | July 22th (Petit Tobac)
July 23th (arrive at PSV) | July 24th (West Side Beach) | July 25th (Atlantic Beach) | July 26th (Mopion) | July 27th (travel day)
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