Friday, March 1, 2024

Tobago Cays in the Southern Grenadines

We stop for a day in the Tobago Cays in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for snorkeling, beach wandering, and a day of leisure in a tropical paradise.  Our ship anchors just outside the Tobago Cays Marine Park, near Petit Rameau island.  The Park is a 50 sq. km (19 sq. mile), sand-bottom lagoon surrounded by a series of beaches and uninhabited islands.  We are here to explore the coral reefs, but will also keep our eyes open for sea turtles who nest in the park.

Snorkeling!

We transfer from our sailing cruise ship, the Wind Star, to the Sky Flirt, an 85-foot catamaran, to get over to the reefs that hold great fish sightings for us.

Transfer by small raft to the Sky Flirt

Sky Flirt waiting for us to come on board

Sky Flirt is operated by Wind and Sea, located in Bougainvilla on Union Island in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.  Union Island is about 200 km (125 miles) west of Barbados and directly north of Grenada.

We sail around the island and anchor near the reef.

 Coral reefs from above

In one stretch where the current is strong, the Sky Flirt drops us off on one side of the beach, we snorkel over, cross the beach, and snorkel the other side back to the Sky Flirt, which has moved.

The beach is quiet before we get there

Minions crossing

Snorkeling back to the boat after crossing

As we all waddle across the beach in the mask, fins, snorkels, and yellow vests, some poor woman who previously had the beach to herself for topless sunbathing looks aghast as the minions waddle across with our snorkels, goggles, and fins and head back into the water on the other side.

And, as we get back on the Sky Flirt, we spot a turtle.

Turtle!

The crew then treats us to rum punch, while the captain raises the sails and does a loop around the islands, before heading back to our ship.

 Serving rum punch while the Captain sails

Captain sails, crew checks email (modern times)

The islands in this area are all beautiful, although most boats seem to anchor at the reef where we were snorkeling

 Beautiful, uninhabited, islands and beaches

Boats at anchor near the Tobago Cays Marine Park and reef

 Even a small storm passes by as we sail.


 We sail between more beautiful islands

Storm passing

But, now it is time to return to the mother ship and end another great day and a new adventure.

 Coming back to the Wind Star

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

A Day in Grenada

We spend a day at sea to get to get to Grenada, waking up at a wharf in St. George's, Granada, in the charming freight port (not the big cruise boat terminal).


Tied up at the wharf in St. George's

We decide to go tubing on the Balthazar River, but unfortunately don't have any pictures -- we leave all the cameras and phones behind as we each put on our life vest and helmet and hop into a tube to shoot through the rapids.  It has been raining for several days and the river is flowing fast so we experience fast water, bounce off rocks, and get stuck in quiet coves where the staff wade over and push us back out.  They make this a real adventure, guiding each tube through the best part of the rapids and we have a lot of fun!  Our only complaint is that it's too short.  We could continue down the river for hours.

Afterwards, we wander through St George's, the capital of Grenada, which was founded by the French in 1650, passed to the British in 1763, and became independent in 1974.  In 1983, the U.S. invaded Grenada, as one local explained, "to prevent Cuba and the Russians from taking over."

St. George's has around 5,000 people of the 34,000 or so on the island and is divided by a large hill.  We take the easiest path through (rather than over) the hill to get to the spice market, sharing the one-lane, 340-foot Sendall Tunnel with cars and other folks crossing through.

 The Sendall Tunnel

On the other side of the tunnel is the main [large] cruise boat terminal, but we head the other way, to the right a few blocks to the market square, packed with spice stands.  Granada grows and exports nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.  The smells are great and we stroll through the stands and eventually buy some nutmeg to take home (but not in the stands, rather, in the supermarket on the wharf, which has the spices at good prices for local cooking).  Grenada is the second largest nutmeg exporter in the world, after Indonesia.

Spice stands in market square

We walk back through the tunnel and pop into a gallery on the harbor.  We buy some fun local art, charming metal metal fish that catch our eye, just missing the artist by a few minutes.

Metal fish in the gallery

Then, the sun sets on our day in Grenada and we settle in for a relaxing dinner.

 Looking out from St. George's as the sun sets

 
Looking back at St George's at night

And,highlight our favorite Granada sign.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Pigeon Island, Saint Lucia

We stop for a day at Pigeon Island National Park, St. Lucia.  Our cruise ship, the Wind Star, anchors in the middle of the bay and we go ashore to the beautiful island, now connected to the rest of St. Lucia by a causeway.  One side of the island has calm, sandy beaches, while the other side has high surf and wind.

At anchor in the bay

Both sides of the island, calm bay on the right, surf on the left

 Views of the high-surf side

Before we swim, we walk to the closest town, Gros Islet, about 3 km (1.9 miles) away from the island and pass some great island signs.

Road into Gros Islet

Dump and graze your animals elsewhere!

Repair your mermaid here

At the end of Pigeon Island stand several tall hills that provided strategic lookout points for the British to monitor traffic in the area and guard the bay, particularly watching out for the French coming over from Martinique, 81.5km (51 miles) away, in their contest for the control of St. Lucia.  The ownership of the island changed between the French and British around a dozen times between the late1600s and 1814, when the British took permanent ownership.  In 1979, St. Lucia achieved full independence.

After returning from Gros Islet, we hike up to the lookout points and enjoy the panoramic view of St. Lucia's northwest coast, without having to watch out for the French.

 Hiking up to the lookout points

 Panoramic views of St. Lucia

We head down to the beach on the bay, swim for a while, then stop at a beach shack for a local Piton beer.  What a great, relaxing day.  As the ship leaves Pigeon Island, we head down the western coast of St. Lucia past the Pitons (probably named after the beer),  a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005, consisting of two mountainous volcanic spires, 771m (2530 feet) and 743m (2438 feet) high.


 Along the coast, past the Pitons

After passing the Pitons, it's open water and time to relax.

Moving on