A Break From Tyrell Bay

28 May 2018    Tyrell Bay, Carriacou
After ten days of slaving away on the boat, we decided to have a few days’ holiday.   We popped ashore to buy some food and then motored around the corner to Sandy Island.  It’s a pretty little island, which is part of the Marine Park, so you have to pay $25EC per day to anchor or use a mooring.  However, it was blowing a hooley in the anchorage with 2 foot wind waves, so we decided to carry on and find somewhere a little more protected.

We stopped at Sparrow Bay, which is a couple of miles further north and we anchored at 12°30.11N 061°27.18W in 5 metres of water.  I dived down to look at the anchor, which was well buried in a mixture of sand and coral rubble.   We’re about 100 metres from a beach where there is a good restaurant called Bogles.  It’s a very nice spot and there’s no one around us - I’m amazed that we haven’t anchored here before.

Anse La Roche, Carriacou

29 May 2018    Sparrow Bay to Petite Martinique
The anchorage is a bit exposed to the swell hooking around the north of Carriacou, so when the wind died over night, we rolled a little bit, but nothing too bad.  However, we decided to move on and pulled up our anchor after breakfast.

We motored a mile north and stopped off at Anse La Roche, anchoring at 12°31.12N 061°26.90W in 5 metres over sand.  It’s a stunning place, with a white sand beach and an impressive large rock at the south end of the small bay.  Again, this is a place that we’ve never been before, despite the fact that we’ve sailed along this coast dozens of time over the past 25 years.

We went snorkelling for a couple of hours.  The rocky headland to the south of the anchorage is very good, with an interesting rocky reef having lots of small walls and crevices to explore.  Glenys found three Lionfish lurking in a cave - we’ve been told that the invasive species is multiplying rapidly and is becoming a big problem because of lack of predators.  The diving centres kill them on sight and hold Lionfish barbeque nights.  I also found a nice Bearded Fire Worm.

After lunch, we motor-sailed upwind to Petite Martinique passing close to the tiny island of Mopian, which still has a single beach umbrella.  The harbour at Petite Martinique is covered with moorings for local fishing and tourist boats, so it’s hard to find a spot to anchor.  

Petite Martinique

There are some gaps to the north of the fuel dock, but it was exposed to the strong NNE winds, so we tried to find somewhere in the lee of the island.  We dropped the anchor at 12°31.42N 061°23.50W, which looked like a sandy patch, but we dragged on coral rubble.  

Instead of trying to anchor again, we picked up an orange mooring at 12°31.53N 061°23.31W, which belongs to the Palm Beach restaurant and then we booked a table for dinner.  The meal was quaint, sat outside on wooden tables.  We had a Lobster Bisque, which was very tasty and then shared a Caribbean Platter, which had a mixture of lobster, fish, lambi and squid - it was OK.

30 May 2018    Petite Martinique to Tyrell Bay
After an early-ish breakfast, we went for a walk on the island.  After tying up our dinghy to the main dock, we headed north.  We love Petite Martinique, it’s a very small community with traditional wooden houses and a very relaxed way of life.  The small children were heading off to the primary school all dressed in their smart school uniforms and politely greeting us good morning.

Harvesting Queen Conch

We came across three guys harvesting Queen Conch to extract the Lambi.  I chatted to them for ten minutes and found out that they get the conch from beyond the reef to the windward side of the island.  The conch are only found at depths over 60 feet, so they have to use scuba gear.  They also dive for Lobster when it is in season.

They’ve constructed a Tidal Pool where they store the live Queen Conch.  When I met them, one guy was getting the Conch from the tidal pool; one was using a hammer to create a small slot on the third whorl; and the third guy was using a sharp thin knife to slit the retaining muscle of the conch, so that he could pull the creature from the shell.  The Lambi was tossed into a bucket filled with sea water and then dumped on a huge pile of Lambi.  They told me that they’re paid $7 EC per kilo for the processed Lambi.

We strolled south and visited a couple of the tiny supermarkets - one was closed because the owner had wandered off somewhere and we bought a couple of bottles of booze from the other one.  The island used to be renowned for cheap alcohol and wine, which the locals used to smuggle in.  The rum and gin that we bought seemed to be a little cheaper than other places, but not drastically so.

A little further along the road, we found a traditional wooden boat being built in someone’s back garden.  After asking permission, we went in and chatted to the craftsmen.  There were four guys working on the 80 foot long fishing boat and they had nearly finished the frame work of the hull after four months of labour.  They reckon that they have another four months’ work to complete the boat.

Traditional Boat Building

The framework is made from a wood called Silver Bali, which is a hard wood from Guyana and is highly resistant to rot and marine/insect attack.  The grain is fine and straight, which enables the boat builders to easily bend the 4” by 1” framing planks to the shape of the hull.  It’s an impressive piece of work, but unfortunately, the number of boats being built in this traditional way is rapidly declining.  

Back on Alba, we dropped the mooring and headed south around the windward side of Carriacou, heading back to Tyrell Bay.  We poked our bow into the narrow channel past Cassada Rocks and had a quick look at the shallow bay on Saline Island.  It’s amazingly sheltered from the easterly swell, but shallows rapidly from 15 metres to less than three metres - I didn’t find out how shallow because I was hard in reverse…

We could have anchored on the sandy drop-off in 6-8 metres, but there was a nasty looking cloud system coming towards us and we were worried that the wind might shift and put us onto the shallows.  We did the prudent thing and ran away.  It was only a few miles to Tyrell Bay, where we anchored in more or less the same spot we left a few days ago, dropping the anchor onto a clear patch of sand in 5 metres of water - a nice little holiday.