Sunday, November 11, 2012


Union Island
We arrived in Clifton Harbor, Union Island's main harbor after a lovely sail over from Carriacou. Palm Island, an island comprised of an upmarket resort stands just southeast of Union Island. To the east was a breakwater complete with a natural occurring island and another not so natural island called Janti's Home Built Happy Island. Janti's was built by a bar owner from Ashton, another town on Union Island, using conch shells. Terrific place for a sundowner or a snorkel.
We were soon reminded ( in John's case) of the location of the airport runway as well as the ferry terminal. Imagine being at anchor slowly waking up to the morning enjoying the gentle rolling of the boat, just thinking to yourself how nice a few more minutes of sleep was going to be. Then, totally unannounced or expected you're nearly bounced out of your bunk by multiple blasts of a GIANT air horn at 6:45 a.m. announcing the departure of the ferry. I swear he was just inches away from Elephant's Child! There was a striking resemblance to the incessant honking of taxi drivers on any of the islands where horn blowing is a primer for running a taxi. The airport was yet another source for a much gentler sort of entertainment given the perspective we had from the bay watching a plane land. It appears to take a wide bank coming back in just feet from the rooftops of the shopping area before it disappears behind some homes. This compact little airport has been a source of customers for the charter boats in Clifton. The center of the small town was brightly decorated with colorful benches and placards providing some historical background of the island. Just beyond the town square was a vegetable and fruit market that we made use of. Avocados, oranges, grapefruit, onions, and mangoes to name a few of our favorite things. Speed boats were a common sight in this part of the Caribbean as well. They would meet boats at the entrance to the harbor and offer moorings. John said that many of them would go to the Tobago Cays from Clifton on a daily basis to sell things to the yacht crowd.
They were brightly colored boats built of plywood in a very typical V-hull design usually with one motor.

The Yummy Bakery
Yes, we discovered a bakery that had three delightful things that we had multiple times: a coconut macaroon made from a real coconut, chocolate brownies that had a distinctive Grenada chocolate flavor and baguettes. Jan actually made some snacks to go with our sundowners a couple evenings using baguettes.

The Buccaneer Restaurant We looked at the menu for this new restaurant and as Jan is on a quest to find the best roti in the islands had lunch there the next day. The chicken roti was with bone as that is the way the locals like it we chose the mutton roti and very fine it was too. When the bill came the rational behind the name became clear, they were pirates. The rotis were charged at 25 $EC each. Now there was little chance of them getting away with this with a Scotsman in charge of the kitty. I had seen the menu showing the price as 10 $EC. I pointed this out to the waiter and the bill soon came back amended to match the menu.

Tobago Cays
We were enjoying our stay in Clifton but Jan had been promised turtles so we headed out to the Tobago Cays in search of a pretty pristine reef environment, great snorkeling, turtles, iguanas and the chance to see full size conch in shallow water. We were soon in the water and Jan was in turtle heaven. The rangers have cordoned off the areas the turtles frequent and we were soon following a good sized turtle who seemed quite happy posing for us, as the pics show.

Baradel Island Despite the threat of rain we went for a walk on this little island looking for iguana amongst other things. Now I was expecting to find some without any great effort but not a single one was seen despite the presence of considerable quantities of iguana poop. I wondered if the absence of iguanas was linked to the absence of full size conch in the turtle zone. Did some one finally succumb to temptation and go for the easy harvest and scooped up the conch and iguana for the pot or maybe resale?
After seeing big air plants hanging out in the branches we came across some that had fallen from their trees. Jan was soon busy looking for a suitable crotch to wedge them back into new living quarters.

Grackles and Cactus fruit.
In the absence of iguanas the grackles were certainly tucking into the big pink fruit on the cactus.

Tagging in Paradise I know that there is a human trait that likes to leave a little monument to their passing,
the cairns on mountaintops, the little marker piles of carefully balanced stone and unfortunately the painted names sprayed everywhere in urban environments. However I despair when I see graffiti carved into agave leaves and the realization that the urge to 'TAG' is present even in the sort of people who come here to enjoy this marine paradise. I hope you enjoyed leaving your names carved into the agave leaf Colin and Carlyn but unfortunately there were so many more.

Boat Boys Unlike the busy times around the turn of the year when there may be 200+ boats here there were only 11 last night and the usual raft of boat boys was not in full feeding frenzy mode. We were politely offered fresh bread, croissants, lobster etc and all from well fendered boats. But we had provisioned in Clifton so were OK.

We find iguanas!
After trekking across Baradel and Petit Bateau Islands peering into every bush and checking out every suitable tree limb we found them in the garbage pile next to the place where the food vendors set up. Yes we have garbage 'guanas.

Sunset special
The Lords and Ladies of the sunset fielded the A team for Jan's first night in the cays. We had thought it might be good as the sky was full of dramatic clouds but the explosion of colour that followed the departing day was something quite special even for the Caribbean.

Float Plan After a wonderful morning snorkel on the Horseshoe Reef that surrounded us complete with 296 new pictures we pulled up anchor and set sail for Clifton Bay on Union Island. The plan is to re-provision and sail to Ashton tomorrow. We'll anchor near Frigate Island, followed by Chatham Bay on Union Island, then moving to Salt Whistle Bay on Mayreau Island before sailing up to Bequia Island on Wednesday where we anticipate staying for a few days.

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