Hello faithful blog followers. As you probably know we’ve been back in the US for some time now. There are a few places we never got to in our blog, so we will roll-out some belated posts to fill you in on the missing islands.
In the Caribbean, the ocean is constantly changing from one vivid shade of turquoise to aquamarine, to purply shades of dark blue in deep open waters. I thought I had seen every shade possible until our final approach to Union Island, the southernmost island in the Grenadines chain. As we entered the harbor, the ocean turned an unbelievable shade of vivid, electric blue. It was like the ocean was glowing.
We anchored in between two coral reefs, one of which had a tiny manmade island on it, home to a bar called Happy Island. That evening we sipped drinks there and watched the harbor fill up with acrobatic kite surfers, doing tricks right in front of us. One of the kit surfers placed a GoPro in a dinghy to video their arial tricks, so we had a front row view.
The next day we were off to another island–Mayreau. It was such a short sail from Union Island to Mayreau that even though Scott grabbed a banana right after we got the sails up, he hadn’t finished eating it before dad gave the order to start flaking down halyards.
Once the anchor was down, it was off to the beach. Isaac and I headed off to explore the island, fully prepared with our bathing suits on under our clothes.
Off we went up a steep cement road, lined with ramshackle houses and Rastafarian eating establishments. One of these was completely and artfully covered with nautical bric-a-brack and other assorted flotsam and jetsam. We continued up the hill to enjoy the scenic overlook. The view was spectacular. Nothing but white sand, green palms, and ocean in various shades of turquoise as far as the eye could see.
On we pressed, in search of Salt Whistle Bay. When we arrived more than a little hot and sweaty, the bay did not disappoint. This place was picture perfect. The water was swimming pool calm, clear as glass, and refreshingly cool yet still pleasantly warm. We spent a glorious afternoon in relative solitude floating around and lazing on the beach.
After we were good and pruney we headed back to Saline Bay, where everyone else was swimming and then back to Koukla. That evening, we invited aboard one of our neighbors who we had seen off and on throughout the trip. The swiss gentleman was single-handing a specially designed yacht so he could comfortably sail himself around the world. But we thought he might like some company, so we invited him over.
To look at him and his boat, it would seem like he has it all. But he had a rather sad tale. He had basically just realized his dream–to sail his own boat around the world, but it was costing him in other ways. He had the misfortune of falling in love with a woman who was very much not a sailor. And now he must choose between the love of his life and the life he loves. Hearing his story, I think we all felt incredibly fortunate that we did not have to make such terrible decisions, and had been able to take our adventurous, reasonably seasickness-resistant significant others out on this amazing voyage. We were truly the ones who had it all.
But we also had rather a lot to thank this man for. The next island in the grenadines, or rather collection of islands, was the Tobago Cays. We were all itching to go there and visit the sea turtle sanctuary located there, except for the captain, who thought it would be too tight a spot for Koukla and not worthwhile. Thankfully, after talking to this man who’d just been there, he was convinced otherwise. So next stop, Tobago Cays!
As they were described to us, the Tobago Cays are what people picture when they think of the Caribbean–perfect sandy beaches, half a dozen different shades of turquoise, and palm trees. With no settlements, they are the classic image of island paradise. The Tobago Cays are so close to Mayreau we didn’t even bother putting up the sails, and just motored over. As soon as Koukla was settled on her anchor and the standard afternoon rain shower had passed, we hopped in the dinghy to head to the turtle sanctuary, snorkles in hand.
Just so that you know, snorkeling with wild sea turtles in the sanctuary is not only legal, but incredibly popular. The tiny coves were jam packed with boats. It was amazing how many people were in such a remote location. I guess island paradise attracts a crowd.
Snorkeling with sea turtles in the Tobago Cays is pretty high on the list of amazing things we did on the trip. It was incredibly peaceful, almost surreal, watching these graceful creatures munching sea grass and swimming around. The way they moved, it almost looked like they were flying. But it was almost a bit eerie how close you can get to them.
Along with the turtles, we saw a couple of huge manta rays. Isaac and I were swimming back to shore at a decent clip, and all of a sudden there’s this huge ray right in front of us, and we had to suddenly put on the breaks and try to swim backwards, which is a bit tricky. Ever since the whole Steve Irwin incident, I think people have had a much more healthy respect/fear of manta rays, myself very much included.
That evening we enjoyed the significant lack of light pollution thanks to the uninhabited islands we were anchored next to. Isaac had been studying our field guide and had learned to identify several constellations, and we could see a good portion of the Milky Way. We spent quite a while laying down on top of he doghouse enjoying the sights and sounds of that balmy night.