St. Vincent and the Grenadines

July 23

We arrive at Petit St. Vincent and discover what six days on a sailboat does to damp clothing.
Map of July 23th's travels

Joel work up early and poked his head up through the forward hatch. It was just before sunrise and there was nothing blocking our view to the east (1). Time for a sunrise picture. Jeremy, Vanessa and Daphne were all still sleeping so I had to be creative. I took out the camera and climbed up on the sink in the forward bathroom. Then I opened the forward hatch as far as it would go and stood up on the sink. I was able to get my entire upper body above the lip on the hatch to watch and photograph the sunrise.

Then, the rest us of the woke up to our last morning on the boat. Jeremy went all out and made us pancakes. They were harder to make than he expected, and the birds go the first couple, since they kept sticking to the griddle. But eventually he got the griddle seasoned well enough, and we ate.

Jeremy hooks a barracuda

It was sad packing up but it didn't take long. Then we enjoyed the morning at Petit Tobac. It is such a pretty spot.

Jeremy only put one line down for fishing this morning, on the way over to Petit St. Vincent; but, lo and behold Jeremy caught a barracuda. Joel was kidding him that catching the fish didn't count since we weren't going to eat it (2). It was sad to say goodbye, but we had to move on to our next adventure. Petit St. Vincent. Ok, so it wasn't much of an adventure. It is a resort that is the lap of luxury. I picked this as the last stop because I figured after a busy week and a half of hiking and snorkeling we would want to relax.

After we anchored and had the traditional anchor beer, and settled up our bill (3), Jeremy took us over to the island and we were brought over to the main office to check in. They don't really have cars on PSV -- well they do, but the look more like gas-powered golf carts. The man that picked us up had a box filled with little turtles that had just hatched. They were hawksbill turtles; and they were very cute. The turtles were being collected to be sent to the turtle research facility on Bequia to be raised.

Baby turtles freshly collected from the beach
The overlook at the top of Marni Hill, PSV

When we arrived on PSV, our room wasn't ready yet (even though Jeremy has called earlier that morning to warn the resort that we were coming). We had about an hour or so to waste, so we wandered around the island getting a feel for what it was like. The carts go all over the island on, not roads, but two little concrete tracks with grass growing in the middle. I was walking barefoot and the "roads" weren't very conducive to it. I was hoping to just walk around barefoot everywhere, but I found out that it wasn't really option on PSV. Among other things, in addition to the hot concrete there are manchineel trees everywhere. And in some places, the road was covered in manchineel fruit that I really didn't want to walk through (4).

When we got back to the office after walking around the island, our room was ready, so they drove us over. The room (cottage 4) was beautiful. We had a wonderful view out of the ocean (the cottage faced east). The deck is huge. There is a sitting room and a bedroom and a large bathroom/dressing room, including two sinks. The walls are made of rock and hold up a wooden cathedral ceiling.

Most of the decorations are island themed, just lovely. I could have stayed just in the room and been happy. In addition, the cottage is very private. Outside they have a signaling flag (see the sidebar on the next journal page). There is a beautiful wooden door leading into the cottage, and next to the door, a bell used to announce the arrival of staff. The door has a wooden slide you can look though, and you can lock the door from the inside with a wooden rod (5). The room itself has a series of sliding glass on two walls -- the wall facing the Atlantic Ocean and the side wall facing the entrance door (6).

One of the first things we did after we arrived at our cottage was to unpack. We traveled light on this trip so there was not much to put away. But we did have a bunch of dirty clothing that needed attention. Our laundry was last washed on the day of our volcano hike on Petit Byahaut, six days ago. The clothing we wore on the sailboat needed cleaning, as did the clothing that we used hiking up the volcano. Our hiking clothes were in the worst shape. We had stashed them, still damp, in a pocket in our luggage when we packed at Petit Byahaut. Since we did not need our hiking clothes on Fortitude, they stayed in that pocket until we arrived on Petit St. Vincent. That turned out to be a mistake. Our hiking clothes, and especially Joel's sweat drenched shirt, did not travel well. The shirt smelled like it had fermented while we were on the boat.

We took the worst of our laundry and bagged it up for the hotel staff. The laundry bags were placed by the signaling flags and we filled out the laundry form and raised the yellow flag. The other items we just hand washed (a good thing too, as you will learn later).

Sunset over Conch Bay, Petit St. Vincent

After getting settled into the cottage, we decided to do some light hiking. The tallest peak on Petit St. Vincent is called Marni Hill. It's only 275 feet high and has an easy trail that leads to the top (nothing like our volcano hike). At the top of Marni Hill are two chairs with a view of the Atlantic Ocean. But, the real nice views were on the path up, when you could see Petit St. Vincent's harbor.

Dinner at Petit St. Vincent is in the dining complex (although you order dinner in advance if you want to have it brought to your room). The dinner menu changes every day (the breakfast menu, on the other hand, never changes). You have a choice for every course, including desert. There is always at least one fish dish on the menu, often two, and Joel always goes for the fish. Meals are included in your package at PSV, but drinks are not (7).

One really nice habit we aquired while on Petit St. Vincent was to eat in the dining room, but then ask them to bring desert to our cottage. Since we walked back (and desert took one of the little carts), we never had to wait once we got back to our room.

A comparison of our two sailboat trips

Our trip on Fortitude was the second time that we have chartered a sailboat. Our first charter was the Cat Maudy for a week in the Virgin Islands in June of 2002. Although the two trips were similar in many way, it is the differences between our two experiences that is so interesting.

The Cat Maudy is a catamaran, and although it is approximately the same length as the Fortitude, it was much roomier. The passenger cabin is in the port hull, completely separated from the crew quarter's in the starboard hull. The Cat Maudy main passenger bedroom is just a little larger than the passenger cabin on the Fortitude and laid out differently. But the Cat Maudy cabin feels more private. For one thing, you can actually get from the deck to the passenger cabin on Cat Maudy without feeling that you are intruding on the crew (if, for example, they are sleeping).

Also, the passenger cabin on Cat Maudy is on the side of the boat (since the boat is a catamaran). This means no mast noise, like we heard on Fortitude. On the other hand, the Fortitude seemed better ventilated since it was more open to the sky. The main window in the Cat Maudy passenger cabin opens under the deck, while the Fortitude has three hatches that opened to the sky. So you get more air in the Fortitude except when it rains. Then you need to close up the Fortitude hatches (while the Cat Maudy's one hatch could stay open in the rain and had a wind catcher to funnel air into the room). The cockpit and deck on the Cat Maudy were also larger than on the Fortitude. This meant more room to stretch out.

Vanessa, Fortitude's mate.jpg

The personalities of the crews seems to match their boats. Cat Maudy is crewed by an older husband and wife couple (Theo and Ursula). They are friendly enough, but have a very hands off style. Dinners on Cat Maudy were always by ourselves. Ursula brought out the food, but then Ursula and Theo would eat separately below deck. On Fortitude, on the other hand, meals were a group affair. We always ate with Jeremy and Vanessa.

Jeremy is also more outgoing and social than Theo and Ursula. On Cat Maudy, the crew was perfectly willing to leave you alone, even while sailing. Theo would talk to you, but I had to work hard to get any type of conversation started (Ursula never really talked to us at all). But on Fortitude, Jeremy and Vanessa were always there to keep you company.

I am not sure that one boat was better than the other. It depends on what you want. We chartered the catamaran in the Virgin Islands because we wanted the space, and the cat had a lot of space. On the other hand, for the Grenadines' trip, Daphne wanted to try a small monohull, because she loves the feel of the waves and missed it on the cat. (That said, we never had waves over 3', which is very small.) In the Virgin Islands, our entire vacation was on the boat so the privacy was welcome. But in the Grenadines, we had plenty of private time in the two resorts, so the closeness of Fortitude was welcome.

Footnote 1: For every night on the sailboat, except for the two nights at the Tobago Cays, the boat was moored on the leeward side of an island. That meant that the view to the east, towards sunrise, was always blocked by an island. But not while we were in the Cays.

Footnote 2: There was not enough time to cook and clean the fish and we were eating lunch on Petit St. Vincent, not on Fortitude. Jeremy said that he already found someone to take the barracuda off his hands (sigh).

Once Jeremy pulled in the barracuda, he had to kill it. With a barracuda, you have to be very careful of the sharp teeth. It turns out that the easiest way to kill a barracuda is to pour rum down its throat. It doesn't have to be good rum, and Jeremy has a jug of stuff just for occassions like this.

Footnote 3: We not only had to pay the balance for the trip, but we gave Jeremy a tip (as is customary when chartering a sailboat). We also had to pay the bar bill. Bar expenses are never included in any of the packages, not at the resorts and not on the sailboat. But there were no surprises, the cost of Daphne's beers and Joel's cokes was very reasonable.

Footnote 4: The manchineel tree is highly poisonous. It grows throughout the Caribbean. It has a fruit that looks like a small green apple, but the fruit is not the only problem. The tree also has sap which is poisonous to handle. The PSV resort staff does try to keep the roads clear, but you still want to avoid walking around near the manchineel trees with bare feet, and at least in some parts of PSV, the trees were very near the road.

Footnote 5: The lock on the door is mainly for privacy. It prevents the staff from accidentally opening the door until you are ready, but it does not really prevent access to the cottage. In fact, on more than one occasion, I entered the cottage after Daphne had locked the door by simply climbing over the low wall next to the door. Securely locking the cottage, of course, should not be a real problem since there is no crime on the island (unless you consider the lack of fresh mangos a crime).

Footnote 6: It should be obvious that the cottage was not really secure against humans or even animals. The bathroom, for example, seemed to be home to a really cute lizard. The lizard was there most days, and was willing to sit still for the camera. Also during our stay, two different birds (pic and pic) flew into the cottage. A welcome change for your usual sterile hotel room.

Footnote 7: Jeremy had a previous guest who stayed at PSV first and then borded Fortitude. Once on Fortitude, that person was still in shock at the amount they had to pay PSV to settle their bar bill. Since you do not pay as you go, it is very easy to build up quite a bar tab by the end of a long stay.

 Back to July 22   Go to July 24 
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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