15/01/2017 – The St Vincent Grenadines

We left Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia, soon after noon on Friday 30th and motored south to Anse Cochon where we anchored for the night. The repaired alternator worked! At first light on Saturday we pulled up the anchor and motorsailed towards St Vincent, the alternator stopped working but at least it kept pumping the fresh water cooling system. It was a windy, bumpy ride between St Lucia and St Vincent so we stopped the engine until we reached the wind shadow of St Vincent. Sadly, it is not considered a safe island to anchor at so, as several times before, we continued on to Bequia which is the first of the St Vincent Grenadines' islands. We anchored in daylight, but too late to go ashore to clear in and have to pay overtime. Saturday morning we launched the dinghy and went ashore to clear in, the woman who stamped the passports complained there was no room left! We appear to have a problem, we each have space for only 3 more stamps. The only way we can get replacement passports is to send them back to the UK and wait 4+ weeks. This isn't viable for a couple of reasons: we don't have an address to send them to and we need them regularly. Our best bet is to only visit French islands until we get ready to leave the Caribbean from the BVI then take our chances with being allowed in to Bermuda. Ho hum, these things are sent to try us. The firework display in the harbour was spectacular and free, much better than New Year's Eve on Union Island in 2009 and Martinique in 2013. Following the display, someone then sent up a big display from the hillside overlooking the harbour. It was wonderful. The weather in the new year wasn't spectacular, windy and wet, but our anchor held us very steadily. One problem that we became aware of in St Lucia was that the wind instruments were only reading 50%, however we had a spare masthead unit. Since the discovery it had been too windy to do anything about it. John went up the mast several times three days ago to swap them, take them apart, put them back together, replace them etc. until,eventually, the instrument was reading accurately. On Bequia we took a taxi, shared with two Russian guys, to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. It was an interesting visit, marred only by John slipping as he got back in the dinghy and dunked my iPad! We eventually left Bequia 10 days after we arrived and made our way to the Tobago Cays, motoring all the way because we needed to make water. The bottom tank is leaking again, we shouldn't have used a full tank in 10 days! This is a stunningly beautiful area; a park with turquoise seas surrounded by a reef to offer protection, small islands inhabited only by iguanas and birds, the water is home to a number of turtles. In 2009/10 the turtles gathered just off Baradel where the park wardens had installed a buoyed area to keep dinghies off, except a small passage through to the beach. Now the turtles have eaten all the seagrass and we have seen none there on three visits during 2016/17. Instead they pop up close to the boats just to tease! You see one, grab a camera and they disappear. We have seen large, full grown adults and some smaller, younger ones. The area is served by a number of 'taxi drivers' who come up from Union Island daily offering a number of services including garbage removal, fresh bread, T-shirts, fresh fish and lobsters, help with picking up a mooring (essential) and beach BBQs. They take it in turns to meet and greet and offer their services, all very orderly and not at all pushy. Kojak helped us with the mooring and, a few days later, we had a meal ashore. His partner, Aquila, is an excellent cook and took very great care to ensure no cross contamination of my food when we explained my allergy to lobster, crab and prawn. John was really pleased with his lobster, my tuna was excellent, and the meals were served with rice, jacket potato, green salad, plaintain chips and banana bread for dessert. We can strongly recommend Kojak and Aquila. A couple of days ago I spotted Makena coming in; Luc and Sarah with Kai were on the World ARC we joined in Fiji. Luc offered to have a look at my dead iPad as he has the proper tools and has taken a number apart before. He returned it later with some hopeful news. Connected to a computer, it will communicate with iTunes but needs my id entered however the only obvious damage he found was a badly corroded connector affecting the backlight to the screen. My next challenge is to connect it to my laptop and try to hit the correct 'buttons' when you can't see them. If that works we'll try to find an Apple shop and ask them to fit a new screen. Thanks Luc! At the moment the wind, which had been from north of northeast is slowly clocking around to the east so the plan is to leave for Bequia in the morning. There is quite a good breeze today and about two dozen kite surfers are whizzing up and down in the shallow area between the anchorage and the reef. One or two are doing little jumps but no real tricks. I spoke too soon, one has just successfully landed a jump with a triple twist or something just behind us, impressive. Yesterday we snorkelled just off Jamesby and saw squid for the first time. Today the water is choppier and the kite surfers have taken over Jamesby so I don't think I'll venture in today. Joyce Starblazer

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