The waters within Union Island’s Clifton Harbor were a little choppier than I had expected, and I spent most of the night rocking around inside my tiny berth. The sun peeked over the horizon shortly after 0530, and brilliant pink clouds moved throughout the sky, easily visibly out the port window above my head. I fell back asleep until just after 7, and dined on a bowl of corn flakes, staple meal for me on this trip. José and Jimmy went into Clifton to shower and drop off the bags of garbage our daily lives had collected on the boat, and upon their return in the dinghy Rory, Chris, and I went to explore the harbor’s shoreline where there was an unfathomably large pile of emptied conch shells. Having been shucked by local fisherman for the variety of dinners and soups conch meat provides, the scrap shells are simply tossed into a pile that stood some 8 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The brilliant pink shells on top gave way to sun faded shells underneath, and darkened moldy ones on the bottom where the daily high tide soaked them in seaweed and other marine life. It was quite the sight to see.
We raised Mango’s anchor around 1045hrs, and after motoring out of the moorings turned into the wind to raise her mainsail. The route for the day had been charted out before our departure, and it was easy to see that we were getting much better at measuring and coordinating our routes via the large-print charts that sprawled across the dining table in the boat’s saloon. The route for the day was quick, a half-mile port tack before we brought the bow through the wind and headed off towards the small island of Mayreau. Halfway between Union and our next island we came across two young kids in an inflatable dinghy floating in the tide while they attempted to get their 9.8hp outboard engine restarted. We convinced Jimmy to “rescue” them and Chris took the helm and navigated us around to pick up the boys. After tying their vessel off to the stern of Mango, the remainder of the trip took only an hour before we pulled into an unbelievably picturesque Salt Whistle Bay (ironically the boy’s intended destination) where we would spend the night.
We had dropped the sails and were motoring in when a 50-foot catamaran went flying past us in a rush to make it to one of the permanent moorings just a few hundred feet from the white-sand beach. As we approached to their starboard side with the intention of using the mooring next to the cat, the local guy in a dinghy yelled to Jimmy that the mooring we aimed towards had been “reserved” by the captain of the speeding catamaran for his “friend’s boat”. It took only a few seconds for the situation to become verbally hostile as Jimmy and the French cat’s captain to be yelling back and forth from the cockpits of each boat, the local dinghy operator yelling at both captains to no avail. We eventually backed off and dropped our anchor as Jimmy muttered under his breath; I turned away to tie off our anchor to the bow, but smiled having seen Jimmy get so defensive on our behalf. In the end our anchoring worked out perfectly and we had an ideal parking spot less than a hundred feet from the shoreline.
First order of business was swimming in the immaculate water, glowing turquoise in the midday sun. After a quick dip as we began thinking about lunch, José and Rory prepared something similar to a cobb salad with grilled chicken, fresh lettuce, diced tomatoes, black olives, bits of cheese, and little slivers of sweet avocado. We sat on the top deck of Mango and slowly ate lunch washed down with cold water and serenaded with some Rasta music from one of Rory’s Pandora playlists. The highlight of the day occurred as a stray dog swam up to the back of the boat and tread water off the stern as we talked to it. Chris, a veterinarian, eventually dove in to swim with the dog and coerce him back to shore, but not before the dog actually attempted to climb the swim ladder off the boat’s rear deck… quite the sight to see, and one I’m glad to have gotten a photo of. She guided the pup back to shore through the clear water and we later laughed for a long while about the unique visitor we had.
Torrential downpours interrupted a long afternoon nap as a singular dark cloud moved over Mayreau, prompting our quick response to close the hatches and ports to keep the interior of the boat dry. Chris, Rory, and I took the dinghy for a ride out around the island in choppy waters with hopes of finding a fish for dinner, but we returned to the boat empty handed as another storm cloud moved into the bay. After the second round of showers passed overhead the four of us piled back into the dinghy, leaving Jimmy aboard the yacht, and headed to the shore to explore the island. Perusing the beachside shops we turned our sights to the top of the island’s steep hill to the location of an old church that looked out over the entire Windward Island chain. The road was paved, but measured in at a 12% grade to the top where a 150+ year old Catholic church sat on a small parcel of land looking out over each island we’d sailed to, more that we hadn’t, and blue ocean filling every inch of space between them. The colorful homes sprawled over the island of Mayreau in our foreground made for a vibrant scene, and we played with more stray island puppies before hiking back down the narrow road to Salt Whistle Bay below.
We celebrated Chris’ birthday and her 25th wedding anniversary to Rory at a small bar on the outskirts of the beach as the sun dipped below the horizon in an anticlimactic and unsaturated manner. Fruity island drinks were poured while we ordered from a somewhat limited menu of expensive entrees. We sat on a painted picnic bench surrounded in flags, signs, license plates, and other decor of a million different colors talking for hours about life, work, and sailing. As the sky grew dark and wine bottles drained the Milky Way again crept up overhead causing me to go out and attempt to photograph it to the best of my ability given the lack of tripod. When it came time to pay our experience took a turn for the worst; our server had overcharged us by $15 over menu price for each of the three grilled fish entrees we had ordered. When I brought this to their attention the girl argued that the menu had “old pricing” and that the new cost was $65 EC. There was zero way on this earth I intended to pay more than what the menu I had ordered from said, and José took the matter close to heart as he argued with the owner of the establishment over the same matter. Much to the offense of the staff and management, we paid the $50 EC the menu had stated, and left in an awkward manner. I fully believe we were right in arguing the unannounced price hike.
We got back to the boat to find Jimmy listening to some lounge-type electronic music, rocking in the tide. Another half hour of easy conversation topside led us to parting ways, leaving Chris and Rory in the cockpit to have some time together on their anniversary. Though the day was not filled with thrilling amounts of sailing, the relaxing afternoon and adventuring around the small island was a nice change of pace. My plan is to wake early in the morning and take the dinghy over to photograph sunrise with the palm trees… fingers crossed for some kind of exciting color in the clouds, but given the way the sun sets around here I’m not sure I’ll take any photos worth writing home about.
Tomorrow we’ll do our final review of the next textbook’s material before taking the ASA104 written exam. Hard to believe only two days and just over 30 miles of sailing left before this journey comes to an end.