21 December 2019

Saint Vincent - Fascinating!

Like many cruisers, we by-passed St. Vincent last spring on our southward journey to Grenada. Reports of security issues keep many away, especially charter boats. However as with many things in life, St. Vincent is complex; not all good or all bad of course. I am so happy we decided to park there for a bit and experience a little slice.

Captain Linda Perry Riera

Sailing from Bequia, Grenadines to St. Vincent

It was not straightforward to figure out when or where to go as the winds were up and with a northerly component making the sail from Bequia to St. Vincent more difficult than usual. And the popular Atlantic Rally to the Caribbean (ARC) was just arriving in the main harbor, Blue Lagoon, leaving no room. After investigating the handful of western harbor options, all with inconsistent reviews at best, we settled on Cumberland Bay. And oh what a find!

St. Vincent is similar in size and population to Grenada: about 130 square miles (almost 20 miles long) with a population of about 100,000. But its topography is more akin to Dominica with jagged, dramatic mountains (including the 4000 ft La Soufiere volcano), lush rain forests, rocky cliff-lined coasts, and scant sandy beaches.

Cumberland Bay is only about 20nm away from Bequia. But with 20+ kt E/NE winds forcasted, we weighed anchor at 0600 from Admiralty Bay, Bequia to get an early start before the winds and seas peaked. It was a short 6nm of exposed ocean and then the lee of St. Vincent quickly offered protection.

Approaching the dramatic coast of St. Vincent.

Morning sail with squalls in the open water north of Bequia, a bit south of St. Vincent.

Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent

A deep bay with shallow rocks reaching out from both the north and south sides of the entrance, a rapidly shallowing shelf, and a lush steep forest enclosure, Cumberland Bay is a unique oasis.

Cas, proprietor of the simple but welcoming beach restaurant Mojitos, greeted us as we approached to help with the tricky med moor style anchoring. We were instructed exactly where to drop the hook as the depths swiftly jumped from more than 100 to less than 10 feet. We then handed Cas about 100 feet of our line which he brought to shore and tied to a coconut tree to keep us from swinging in to the rocks.

Cas talked to us several times about his plan to organize and sponsor a Sailing Regatta around St Vincent in April 2020.  He seems very keen to do it and after sailing these waters, I can attest that it would be a pretty zesty ride! His facebook page may have more info as it approaches.

Argon remained comfortably nestled in Cumberland Bay during our two night stay despite the winds kicking up a party outside the bay. Our time in here felt like visiting someone's modest neighborhood where all their cousins gathered to hang out; completely non-touristy, everyone going about whatever they do normally leaving us to ourselves, but also making us feel welcome inviting us to join in if we wanted to.

Cas, proprietor of Mojitos, shows us exactly where and how to anchor as the deep bay quickly shallows along shore.

Enveloped in a very peaceful and beautiful anchorage. The winds were up a bit outside but one would not know it from in here.

There was usually only one or two other visiting sailboats in the entire bay.

Argon anchored in Cumberland Bay along side a couple of local fishing boats.

View from the bus ride to Chateaubelair.

Cas took us on a challenging hike through the land of his family - along a ridge with dramatic views and down a steep, muddy hillside.
Sweaty and muddy, we came upon Cas' dad, Evan, and one of his many brothers, Pie and stopped to chat for a bit. While there, we picked some sour sop from out back.

Along the hike, we gathered grapefruit, passion fruit, tangerines, lemons, sour sop, mango apples and basel.

Colorful, sturdy houses built in to the steep mountainsides.

View of Cumberland Bay from the roadside up the hill.

The fishing hut of Captain Guidi's (a colorful ex-pat from Italy). Captain Guidi is very passionate about his homemade lures. We bought a customized lure for trolling off Argon. Look forward to trying it out and bringing in a big one (or just any one).

Beach view and Mojitos restaurant.

Time to Move On

We enjoyed our final evening and prepared to depart before daybreak for a long sail to Martinique.

Impressive coconut tree climbing. We all stood back as the heavy coconuts came crashing down. What was best about this is that it is not for us, the lone tourists. It's just a few guys hanging out  wanting coconuts. And happy to share with visitors.

Venita, Rasta Joe and others all waiting for their serving of fresh coconut.

Kenny cuts open several coconuts for all of us.

First we drink the milk, then the entire coconut gets split open and we scoop out the soft layer of fresh coconut with a piece of the shell. Yum!

Nestled in Cumberland Bay for our final night. Prepare to depart at 0500 in the morning for the 12 hour sail to Martinique.

Passion fruit mojitos made by Venita at Mojitos beach restaurant. So happy we were able to experience this place briefly.

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