Down to SVG

We've spent a couple of days in Martinique, provisioning, and hiking. Cathy and taffit took us to see a pink mangrove swamp, "Mangrose". This happens when high salinity in the water causes algea to bloom with carotene.


Joined by our friends Connor and Robin, we also went on a canyoning hike with taffit, up between the pitons of Martinique.


We want to head back down to the Tobago Cays in St Vincent and the Grenadines. To enter St Vincent, we needed PCR tests, so we planned to leave on Tuesday, after getting COVID-19 tests on Monday morning. However we didn't book these far in advance, and come Monday morning, we found we weren't on the day's testing list, and they couldn't accommodate us. So we extended our car hire for another day, and went into Fort-de-France to get tested at a lab there.

First we need to check into St Vincent, and we plan to do that in Bequia. That's slightly more than a reasonable day's sail from Le Marin, so we planned to leave early, and overnight at Chateaubelair, again.

We weren't able to return the hire car on Monday afternoon, so we had to wait until they opened on Tuesday morning, before we could depart. Then, when tensioning the genoa halyard, it snapped. So, another couple of hours' delay while Connor went up the mast to replace the halyard.


Finally, at about 9:30, we set off South. The wind was light, so we only used the first reef on the main, and the full genoa. It was mostly a broad reach, comfortable downwind sailing.


Clare spotted a pod of whales, we think. Lots of spouting and some fins.

A fair number of yachts out, and there was a report of a missing fishing-boat, so lots of chatter on the radio.

This carried us most of the way down St. Lucia, but as we approached the pitons in the South, we got caught in their wind-shadow and had to motor-sail a bit.

An hour later, we were comfortably sailing through the channel to St. Vincent, as the sun set. We knew the winds at the North West corner of St. Vincent could be quite strong, so we switched down to the staysail. This turned out to be prudent, we were carried at 8+ knots towards Chateaubelair. Finally, we dropped the sails (in still quite strong wind), and motored into the sheltered bay, to drop the hook. There were a few other yachts at anchor in the bay, but thankfully the spot we'd previously anchored in was free, so we knew we were dropping in an area with good holding.

Time on the water: 14:19
Distance covered: 74.3nm
Avg speed: 5.2kts
Max speed: 10.1kts
Crew: Stefano, Clare, John, Connor, Robin


We set off at 4am from Chateaubelair, St. Vincent, so we could arrive in Martinique with plenty of time to anchor before sunset. It was pretty calm in the bay, making things easy. We got the sails up by moonlight and motored out until we could pick up some wind and sailing.

It can blow quite strongly in the Saint Vincent channel, so we were well prepared, double-reefed with the staysail, and headed 5 miles offshore before turning North. The sea stayed fairly calm, and we crossed the channel to Saint Lucia, quite easily, as the sun rose.


While John and Clare were in the galley making breakfast (the sea was flat enough for comfortable cooking), I saw some splashes off the side of the boat, that turned out to be a pair of humpback whales, swimming North alongside us. Presumably a mother and calf, they were staying on the surface, breathing very frequently.


We remained quite far out from Saint Lucia, but still got caught in its wind-shadow. We switched from the staysail to the full genoa, as the wind dropped. But soon we got becalmed, and had to motor-sail our way up for an hour or two, through some patches of rain.

And a surprising amount of heavy traffic coming past. At one point, we had two large vessels bearing down on us from opposite sides, passing together. It looked like one of them adjusted course to avoid us, hopefully seeing us on AIS makes it easier for them to predict.


About half-way up Saint Lucia's west coast, we started tracking towards our anchorage in Sainte Anne, Martinique. We were pointing as high in the wind as we could, and following it as it shifted up and down. There was a little more wind in the Saint Lucia channel than we'd had in the Saint Vincent channel, but we stuck with the full genoa, and got a good ride.


The day's prediction had been for an Easterly wind, a little more from the South than usual. But it seemed to be coming from North East, with a strong Easterly current, so struggled to make it to Sainte Anne on a single tack. We only made it half way up the bay, and had to do a port tack to reach the Sainte Anne anchorage. It was nice to be able to do it by sail, before sunset.

I have some Debian friends in the area, taffit and Cathy. So, we met up in Sainte Anne for some drinks and dinner, after we arrived, before the curfew. A nice catch-up and a great end to a long day on the water, thanks!

Time on the water: 12:58
Distance covered: 82nm
Avg speed: 6.3kts
Max speed: 10kts


We've spent several very quiet, lazy days at anchor behind Young Island. We tried to find a car to hire, to go and see the sights of the island, but there were none to be found. Even the airport's car hire was out of cars.

So, we relaxed on board, and climbed the nearby island, Fort Duvernette. The only access is a spiral staircase around the edge of the island, leading to the fort at the top. It was built in the early 19th century, under British colonial rule. Somehow a number of cannons were hauled up the rock, so the "lobsters" (Royal Marines) could defend Calliaqua Bay. The cannons remain, with the ruins of the powder magazines.


We snorkelled the area, which was quite deep and overrun with sea urchins. But still full of fish life and corals, lots to see. At night, some of the fish put on light show.

Our neighbours were a couple of South Africans on a South African Leopard 45 catamaran, Sisu. They needed some help getting a broken Microsoft Surface laptop to charge. We tried our best, but nothing worked — they're going to have to find someone to help them get the SSD out (not an easy task). We went over for some drinks and got the catamaran tour.

Now, it's time to head north to Martinique, to pick up some friends. So, we took a taxi into Kingstown to get antigen tests. While we were there, the supermarkets lured us in, and we stocked up on fruit and groceries. St. Vincent has excellent fruit, and a big fruit and vegetable market.

I went to the city's customs office to check out, while we there. The fire alarm went off just after I'd arrived, but thankfully an officer ran back in to grab the forms I'd need to fill out, while the building evacuated. I could fill out departure forms in multicoloured triplicate, while the fire marshals did their thing. This may not be the best place to do do check-out, small yachts are not high on their priority list, and I had to sit around waiting quite a bit, for someone to process my form. Then he couldn't get the key to the room that he was supposed to stamp the form in so, very apologetically, he stamped the form outside the locked official room.


Bureaucracy done, and well stocked up, we set out under sail for Chateaubelair, towards the North end of St. Vincent, on the way up to Martinique. Tomorrow we'll head out first thing in the morning.

The anchorage in Chateaubelair has very mixed reviews, so we were very happy to have a local, Fitzmore, paddle out to us when we arrived, and confirm that we'd anchored in a good sandy area. He twisted our arm to come to shore for a drink, which was a nice way to get a quick glimpse of the town.

Chateaubelair is nestled towards the base of La Soufrière, the volcano that erupted in April. The whole village was evacuated for 3 months afterwards, but seems to be picking up again now. It has beautiful black beaches.

Time on the water: 2:30
Distance covered: 14.9nm
Avg speed: 5.96kts
Max speed: 9.2kts

Navionics Track

Goodbye Sarah!

We weren't 100% confident in our anchorage in Bequia, just as the sun went down. We'd dropped the hook in a somewhat rocky area and it moved a little when we pulled on it. But it was secure enough for the night, and we just let a lot of chain out to be safe. After that it didn't budge at all, but maybe we should have moved anchorage in the morning, to find something we trusted...

The next morning, Bequia put on its full charm for us. Dinghying in to the dock, you pass the gorgeous Friendship Rose, a Bequia wooden schooner. We took a hot hike over the hill to get Sarah a COVID-19 test at Bequia Healing Centre, in Friendship Bay.


That done we had an easy, relaxing day at anchor. We hit the shore again in the evening, to walk around the bay. We'd hoped to get some home-made ice-cream from a shop in the bay, but it closed in the early afternoon. Oops. Had to make do with focaccia and trofie al pesto, back on the boat, instead.


The next morning, we finally did the boat's renaming ceremony. This is a little bitter-sweet — we had to make a decision on whether to rename the boat or not as soon as we'd purchased it. The name is the first step of registration, and we needed to be registered to cross borders. But of course, over time the old name grew on us over time, and it was hard to let it go.

We've been travelling under it for months. Even with a new provisional registration, in a new name, people of course referred to the yacht by the name on its sides. Grenada preferred to use the old name in official documents until we had a final registration with an official number, in the new name.

But now registration is final, the new name is on the sides, and it's time to leave the old name behind, and call the yacht Aweh. Sarah, the crew poet, wrote up a renaming ceremony for us, and we did it this morning before setting sail.

The sail north to St. Vincent, to drop her off, was short but pretty intense. The sea was big. The sailor's guidebook describes it as sailing into a range of liquid mountains, which was somewhat accurate. There was a strong wind blowing South East down the Bequia channel, working with a strong current and big waves.

We started sailing on a double-reefed main and genoa, and quickly swapped the genoa for the staysail, when we got out into the wind. We heeled the boat the most I ever have, and spent the rest of the crossing very close-hauled, on the edge of the eye of the wind. Hand-steering all the way, I just couldn't trust the autopilot to handle it. But it was good fun. Nice to have some sailing that requires your full attention the whole way.

The wind shifted a little during the passage, but it basically took us directly to our destination, on one tack. We just had to motor into the anchorage.

We picked up a mooring buoy off Young Island, near Blue Lagoon in the South end of St. Vincent. We've spent a night in this anchorage before that was absolutely terrible. Hoping that the mooring ball, right up against Young Island, is more comfortable than that night at anchor was, further out.

Went into town to get Sarah signed off the vessel, and safely to the airport. I think we'll spend a few days here in St. Vincent, and see some of the island.

Time on the water: 2:27
Distance covered: 9.4nm
Avg speed: 3.8kts
Max speed: 8.5kts

Navionics Track

Tobago Cays and up to Bequia

We've had a wonderful few days in the Tobago Cays. There were a few other yachts there, but not enough to feel crowded. There is reef all around with good snorkelling, you get to pick one with nice currents to spend your time on.


Baradal Island has turtle sanctuary south of it, and was often quite busy with dinghy-loads of people on it. So we visited it for a morning walk, before the crowds. Some scuttling in the bushes turned out to be an iguana. Then you start seeing them in the trees, raiding nests — they're everywhere. It's hard to imagine there being enough birds eggs to keep that many big lizards fed.


Snorkelled a little between the boat and Baradal Island to watch the turtles. They aren't hard to find, at all, sometimes you'll see a group of several together. They spend their time eating grass on the sea-floor, and occasionally coming up for a few breaths.

On Monday morning we took the dinghy out to Petit Tabac island, outside the horseshoe reef. A windswept little island, surrounded by reef, with some grass and coconut palms on one end, and a little bit of a forest in the middle, full of desperately hungry mosquitoes.

The snorkelling off Petit Tabac wasn't bad, although a little cloudy, near the sandy beaches.


Sarah is soon nearing the end of her visit, and needs to get a COVID test before she can return to the US. We planned to do this in Bequia, on Tuesday, which is a good 5+ hour sail away.

After lunch, we decided to head north to Bequia immediately, rather than leave it to Tuesday morning. I'd rather anchor in Bequia at dusk than navigate between reefs before sunrise.


So, a brisk sail north, and eventually ran on the engine for a couple of hours into Bequia, to anchor as the sun set. A little tight, but we made it.

Time on the water: 5:20
Distance covered: 31.9nm
Avg speed: 6kts
Max speed: 11.1kts

Navionics Track

The Tobago Cays

We weren't too keen to enter the Tobago Cays yesterday afternoon, and spent the night in Saline Bay instead. When picking your way through reefs, you really need to be able to see them, not just trusting the accuracy of charts.

So, after breakfast we motored around Mayreau and into the Cays. They were less busy than we'd expected, but still a few yachts around. The protected side had a cruise ship and some super-yachts in it, so we went around to the exposed side and anchored in the anchorage between Baradal and Jamesby islands.

Exposed to the wind, but protected from the swell by the reefs. The sea is all spectacular shades of turquoise, and the snorkelling was pretty good. On the reefs, the clarity was excellent, with lots of pretty corals and big fish to see.

Time on the water: 1:14
Distance covered: 4.9nm
Avg speed: 4kts
Max speed: 8.3kts

Navionics Track

Cleared into SVG

In the morning we tried to chase down the missing PCR test result. Phoning the lab in Grenada didn't get very far, the receptionist apologised that nobody in the lab liked answering the phone. She suggested we come in-person...

However, we were able to get the clinic that took the sample to find the results for us, and we could forward them to the Clifton port captain to start the check-in process. They told us to wait for "Buddha".

He eventually turned up — a taxi boat driver. We were free to go to shore and do paper-work. Of course it was now lunch time, so we had to wait for immigration to re-open.


Clifton is a small little island town, but unlike Carriacou everyone is hustling. The taxi boats are constantly circling the harbour, offering their services to bring you goods.

Once we were cleared in, we headed out towards the Tobago Cays. It was a little too late in the day to navigate through reefs, so we motored up to Mayreau, and anchored for the night in Saline Bay. Next to a monstrous cruise ship.

Clare and Sarah baked some raisin swirls and banana bread, so we're well set for the next day or two.

Time on the water: 0:46
Distance covered: 3.3nm
Avg speed: 4.4kts
Max speed: 7.5kts

Navionics Track

To Union Island


Our first border crossing of the new season, from Grenada to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We went into town in Hillsborough to check out of Grenada (and have a last Roti for lunch). But the Immigration office in Hillsborough only does immigration, not customs, and we had to pay customs to extend our Grenadian cruising permit to December before we could check out of the country.

So, took a taxi to Tyrell Bay to visit the customs office, and check out, there. Back to Trap's in Hillsborough for fish and lambi (conch) rotis, which were excellent again. That plus a last tub of nutmeg ice cream, put us in a food coma for the rest of the day.


Had a nice easy sail up to Clifton, on Union Island. The wind was pretty steady, and 3 tacks took us into the Clifton bay. The quarantine anchorage is in the fairly narrow area between a reef and the main shipping channel, so we're sticking out a bit, into the channel. But that doesn't seem to bother the big ferries that come into Clifton at all, they happily squeezed behind us.


Most of the PCR test results arrived as we did in Clifton, but one didn't. We'll chase it up, and check in to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the morning.

Time on the water: 2:38
Distance covered: 12.1nm
Avg speed: 4.6kts
Max speed: 9.8kts

Navionics Track

PCR Tests

Got moving fairly promptly in the morning to sail back to Carriacou, to get our PCR tests taken. This time we weren't going to miss the boat.

So, after some breakfast, and a morning swim, sailed out of the Petit Martinique anchorage, on a broad reach between the reefs, round the North tip of Carriacou, and down to Hillsborough.

With lots of time, we stopped on the way, at Jack Adan Island for a snorkel. It was still a little early, and cloudy, so the light wasn't great. But the sun did come out, and it suddenly came to life. Lots of pretty coral flowers and fish.

Got to the Hillsborough clinic comfortably before 1pm, so we had to wait a while before they started testing, but we were at the front of the queue when things did start.

Unfortunately the Roti restaurant we'd been recommended to was almost sold out when we got there, after the tests, with only 2 fish rotis left. Shared them, and they were excellent. Half-a-roti is probably the more sensible way to go, anyway.

Carriacou has amazing local Ice Cream (with Grenadian flavours like Nutmeg and Cinnamon), that we've been buying in Hillsborough and the Tyrell Bay boat yard. Today we went to find the source, at Bogles Round House. It was an half-hour walk to get there, but well worth it. Surprisingly, it's made from powdered milk and canned cream. On a little island, fresh milk is hard to come by, and the UHT stuff just doesn't taste as good.

Back to Sandy Island for the night, and tomorrow we'll check out of Grenada, and into St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Time on the water: 2:06
Distance covered: 9.4nm
Avg speed: 4.5kts
Max speed: 8.6kts

Navionics Track

Petit Martinique

Time for a proper sail. We haven't had our mainsail out, since we splashed, and it really needs an airing.

Embarrassed to say we've been on the water for almost a week, and hadn't really had a proper sail, yet. (Our excuses is that we'd been heading directly upwind, which is excruciatingly slow sailing.)

To get around the north point of Carriacou, we had to do a big tack towards Union Island, tacking again as we started to enter its wind-shadow. That took us all the way down to Petit Martinique.


Finally, we see our yacht appear on MarineTraffic. We'd installed an AIS transponder while on the hard, but there were no stations south of Union Island to pick up our signal and relay it to the ship tracking sites. The stations on Carriacou and Grenada are offline at the moment.

Petit Martinique is well worth visiting, we were very glad that we found an extra day to get to it, behind Carriacou. It's a tiny island, with 1000 odd inhabitants. Everyone we spoke to was incredibly friendly. We were just walking down the (one and only) road, when we got talking to a man, Fenrick Ceasar, walking the same way with his grandchildren. He invited us back to his dad's picturesque property, to see the view and drink some coconut water.

Time on the water: 2:33
Distance covered: 11.7nm
Avg speed: 4.6kts
Max speed: 10kts

Navionics Track