St. Vincent and the Grenadines

July 22

We move the boat to a less busy part of the Tobago Cays and discover that unpopulated islands can still have noise pollution.
Map of July 22th's travels

We spent the night anchored in the Tobago Cays. Then, in the morning, after breakfast, we went out for a second snorkel. This time, Jeremy took us in the dingy to the outside of Horseshoe Reef (there is a marked channel deep enough for dingies to pass).

Jeremy tied the dingy to a mooring buoy and we all jumped in. We first swam north along the outside of the reef. Jeremy noticed a nurse shark along the reef and pointed him out to me. But the shark swam away before Daphne got a look. We went north as far as was safe (because of the current), and then swam back to the south, and past the dingy.

Even though this was the same reef as yesterday, the snorkeling couldn't have been more different. The outside of the reef is a sloping cliff face, covered with coral. The bottom is quite a distance away, although still visible. Instead of coral heads, as we saw on the leeward side of the reef, the outside is a solid sloping wall of coral. Much of the coral was fire coral, the kind of coral you do not want to touch (1). But that did not stop me from floating above the coral, trying to get a picture of an ellusive moray eel that I noticed slithering around.

This trumpetfish thinks the rope hides him

Surprisingly enough, I wasted the most pictures on the rope that was being used to moor the dingy. Actually, it wasn't the rope that I was taking pictures off, but rather a trumpetfish that was unsuccessfully trying to hide behind the rope. It was a unique opportunity to get a close picture of this unique fish, since the trumpetfish actually thought that he was successfully hidden or disguised.

After swimming as far south as was safe because of the current, we went back to the dingy. But instead of climbing in, Jeremy let the dingy drift back through the channel in the reef, while we continued to snorkel around the floating dingy. We drifted back to the leeward side of the reef, while Jeremy (dragging the dingy), pointed out various creatures around the coral heads.

Schools of fish at Petit Tabac

After finishing our morning snorkel, Jeremy moved the boat to Petit Tobac, the fifth island in the Tobago Cays, and the only island on the other side of Horseshoe Reef. The line of sight distance was pretty short (say half a mile), but the trip was much longer since we had to go around Horseshoe Reef by motoring southwest, and then back east (2).

We moored the boat just north of Petit Tobac, another area of shallow water over white sand. There was one other sailboat in the area when we arrived, although they left soon after. Then we had lunch (3).

After lunch, we went snorkeling. But first we wanted to go ashore. We swam directly towards the beach, but our path was blocked with reef. So we swam east along the shore looking for a break. We tried a few channels through the shallow reef only to find our way to the beach blocked at every turn. It was laughable. The water was only a few feet deep and we could not have been more than ten feet from shore. But the shallow water reef formations blocked our access. Finally, we found a break in the reef much further to the west, and we climbed out of the water.

This seagull is looking right at me
Petit Tobac was a nice little island, although it was really no more than a sandbar with a ridge of brush and trees down the center. We walked all the way to the western end, then crossed over to the south side to take a look. When we returned to the north side, we noticed some commotion at the east end of the island. It turned out that there were some local fisherman (or perhaps divers), who had a small camp at the east end of Petit Tobac, and they were returning to shore with their two boats.

After walking around the beach, we climbed back into the water and snorkeled around. We stuck mostly to the shallow water near the shore, which was teaming with schools of six-inch fish. We also saw two sand eels in water a little closer to the boat. While we were snorkeling in close to shore (Daphne really loves the schools of fish), Jeremy went out towards the reef just north of the island. Later, when we returned to the boat, Jeremy mentioned that he saw some lobsters out near the reef.

Local fisherman return to their encampment

The area around Petit Tobac was much less crowded than the center of the Tobago Cays, but it was not as quiet. Those fisherman (or perhaps divers), who were camping on Petit Tobac, ran a compressor (or maybe it was a generator) for a better part of the afternoon, spoiling the otherwise peace and quiet of the area. Oh well, they did eventually stop the noise by evening.

Dinner was chicken curry, and hot sauce. As mentioned before, Jeremy was well stocked with a selection of different hot sauces of varying degrees of spice. The hottest sauce, however, had been opened for a while and Jeremy was concerned that it had lost a little of his bite. Therefore, that bottle got tossed and replaced with an unopened bottle of Jeremy's hottest, which both Jeremy and Joel used (carefully) on their curry.

During dinner, a second sailboat arrived at Petit Tobac, just west of our position. Normally that would not be a problem, but did they have to park such that they blocked the setting sun?

About the writing of this travel journal

Fans of our web site may have noticed that we write travel journals for a lot of our trips. The process of getting a travel journal written and posted on the internet, can be very time consuming. But we do it, both as a way of documenting our trip for ourselves, and to share our experiences with others. (If you appreciate our travel journals, please write.) Here is a brief description of how the journal was put together. This topic does not include the processing of the pictures, which I document later.

Daphne writes the first draft of the journal as we travel. She tries to find time every day, either in the evening or the next morning, to catch up on the previous days events. Daphne uses a Palm PDA, with a fold-up keyboard to write her notes. Every once in a while, I relieve her and write about one of the days myself. For example, I wrote the text for July 17th, all about our trip up the volcano on St. Vincent.

Some days, Daphne writes more text that other. It all depends on how much time she has, and how much she feels like being verbose. Some days the text is sparser than others. For example, the entire original journal entry for this day is shown below:

  Morining outside the reef snorkel. Joel hoved over fire coral for eel and daphne missed the shark
  siting. Floated in with the raft
  Sailed to petit tabac
  had lunch there
  No anchor beer since I wastn  feeling well.
  Swan to shore had trouble with break i reef. Swarms of 6" fish. Jeremy saw lobsters. Saw two of the
  sand eels.
  Compreser noise. Boat came and blocked joels view of the sunset.
  Chicken curry. Cracked open the new hot sauce.

On this trip, Daphne often had to take notes without the backlight on the display to save batteries (since we could not easily recharge the Palm.) Sometimes the caps lock state would get switched, so sections of the journal were all uppercase. Sometimes, Daphne's hands slipped on the keyboard and she didn't notice. For example, the journal entry for July 23rd included this block of text:

  The deack is huge. /rgwew ua AURRUBF EIIN bs VWSEIIN bs Kefw vRG SEWAAUBF ewB, 
Daphne works on the trip journal

For many trips, Daphne writes the final draft of the travel journal as well. However, because of other commitments, I ended up writing the travel journal for this trip, using Daphne's notes as a starting point.

I work on the journal only after having dealt with the pictures for that section of the trip. That's because looking at the pictures reminds me of everything that happened each day, providing an additional source of information for the journal. Then I open Daphne's notes and start cleaning them up. I fix (most) spelling and grammatical mistakes. But I also do some editing of the text to make it read better (in my opinion). On many days, I flesh out the text with additional commentary about things that Daphne did not record (sometimes inline, and sometimes in footnotes).

After finishing the text, Daphne and I pick a subset of the pictures from that day to add illustrations to each page. We try to pick out both the best pictures from that part of the trip, and also pictures that complement the story. Finally, I add additional topics like this one to make the whole journal more complete and interesting. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the reading the results.

Footnote 1: Actually, you do not want to touch any of the coral when you snorkel or dive. Touching the coral damages it and causes the reef to slowly die. Reef damage of this type, both accidental and inadvertent, means that our grandchildren will never have the same ability to see vibrant reefs. That said, touching fire coral results in skin irritation like being stung by a jellyfish.

Footnote 2: Here is a link to a nice map showing the islands and reefs in the Tobago Cays. From this map, you can visualize the route that the Fortitude must have taken to get from a point just southeast of Barbadal to just north of Petit Tobac. You can also see the dingy channel that goes through Horseshoe Reef, due east of Barbadal.

Footnote 3: Although mooring the Fortitude is usually accompanied by an "anchor beer". Daphne did not have any anchor beer this time because she wasn't feeling well. At least that's what she noted in her journal; I do not have any more details (except that it wasn't serious).

 Back to July 21   Go to July 23 
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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