Sailing Itinerary in St Vincent and Grenadines

Most yacht charter crews planning a sailing itinerary in the Grenadines would fly into St Vincent's International Airport and take a short taxi ride to Blue Lagoon.  From here, they would sail South to Grenadines, starting with Island of Bequia most likely.

SAILING AROUND BEQUIA ISLAND:
Due to its specific location, one would expect to visit Bequia on your first day sailing South from St Vincent. As this is not the best route for novice or intermediate sailor we usually suggest stopping off here on your way back to St Vincent however. After visiting other parts of Grenadines or on a one way trip directly from Grenada, rather then the opposite, or as some say more logical way. If you do wish to stop here on your way from St Vincent please get a good advice from local base manager about continuing the journey to Mustique afterwards. Accessing the Bequia from St Vincent may not always be the best option as getting to Mayreau from Bequia is a difficult sailing, while getting to Mayreau directly from St Vincent is a much more pleasant experience. In any case, if you do wish to go to Bequia, here are some good pointers given that this is a great island where you wouldn’t get bored spending two or three days as it really offers a little bit of everything, ncluding lovely places to eat, great beaches, spectacular scenery, numerous snorkelling and even diving spots, reasonable shopping choice as well as the seclusion and space, the ultimate in modern luxury.



The best anchorage in Bequia is Princess Margaret Beach, the second golden sand beach to starboard as you head up towards Port Elizabeth. You can drop the anchor in about 4 meters of water in a sand bottom, and should find that a single anchor is fine. The water is clear for swimming, and there’s no road access to the beach which means that it’s usually deserted. But to get ashore, it’s just a minute’s dinghy ride around the bay’s northern headland and you will see dinghy docks along the waterfront footpath. This so called ‘’lungo mare’’ goes from the Plantation House hotel right the way up to the Frangipani, the popular Happy Hour meeting place for yacht charter holiday makers and cruisers alike. There are many great bars and bistros along the waterfront pathway.  For example, Mac’s Pizzeria is a great restaurant that makes nice pizzas, obviously, but also freshly baked breads, cakes and pastries which is not usual in some parts of Eastern Caribbean, Even though Port Elizabeth is well developed resort by Grenadines standards, it still retains a sleepy, old-world Caribbean charm. Most people still access Bequia by boat, and the island’s sea-faring traditions such as whaling, model boat-building and fishing, still remain popular.

For the lovers of hiking and walking, a deserted bay on the east coast called Hope Bay is a good locatio to head to.  Lined with a golden sand beach, coconut plantations sweeping down the hills almost to the water’s edge, this bay is ideal for a couple of hours hiking tour.  Alternatively, you can head to wind-swept Spring Bay which is also good for snorkelling and swimming and a visit to a small bar.  In both cases, plan to take snacks and drinks with you. Apart from this, Becquia invites you to visit other parts of the island, including the turtle sanctuary and the Old Fort, a charming hotel with stunning views, a freshwater pool and regular entertainment.

SAILING VACATION IN MUSTIQUE:
After checking out in Blue Lagoon on St Vincent and stocking up with plenty of water and other essentials, we recommend set sail to Mustique island. On the way you will inevitably pass the uninhabited islands of Battowia, Baliceaux and The Pillories.  On arrival in Mustique, you may want to seek berth at Britannia Bay which you will idealy approach from the North (avoiding clearly marked Montezuma shoals which lie about 800 yards offshore).  Britannia Bay is not an official marina but a picturesque location in the Grenadines where it is mandatory to pick up a mooring buoy. Here it is also good to enjoy some snorkelling and maybe even diving.  Plan to arrive before 2pm and seek the best location to moor just South of the small cargo ship dock (the anchorage can get a bit uncomfortable if there are swells out of the NE in which case it’s a good idea to set bow and stern anchors). There is no need to reserve a berth in advance as the service is provided on first come first-served basis. At some stage during your visit, an attendant will come out in a launch and will charge you between 30-50 US$'s for the mooring, normally allowing up to 3-days stay. The mooring office close to the dinghy dock is often closed, thus for any assistance keep your base manager's contact number close.



Please note that Mustique is a marine park and so fishing or removal of anything from the waters surrounding the island is illegal. The island is well known for its unique, stately villas and famous inhabitants and visitors from Royal family, but even more so for its beautiful beaches. Even though the who is who from the world's elite can be found here, the island is relatively peaceful throughout the year.  As a yacht charter holiday maker, you and your crew are likely to take a  leisurely 25-minute stroll South to Lagoon Bay.  Lagoon Bay is one of the finest beaches in Grenadines, with golden sand beach fringed with palm trees.  You will also find a couple of picnic areas with umbrellas and wooden tables, usually without any other crews or people or indeed signs of civilisation in sight.

Basil's Bar nearby is where the rich and famous hang out and it is just a minute's walk to the North. Spectacular surroundings with another white sand beach, sparkling blue seas and a wonderful ambience await you here. This is a great place to enjoy a luxury cocktail and a lunch.  Most people say that unless you are super rich or assumed to be, the service and food are unlikely to be up to the best standards. On Wednesday and Sunday nights, the "jump-up"at Basil's can be a lot of fun. If you are looking for a finer dining experience therefore, Firefly is a very nice restaurant.  It is  perched halfway up the hillside overlooking the anchorage, and is stunningly beautiful, built in what used to be one of the great private villas of Mustique.

YACHT CHARTER HOLIDAY AROUND MAYREAU
Another highligh during your sailing vacation in the Grenadines is likely to be visit to Island fo Mayreau.  Salt Whistle Bay on Mayreau is one of the loveliest anchorages in the whole of Eastern Caribbean. Many call the beach here a dream come true.  You can reach the bay within 4hours of sailing Mustique.  The usual yacht charter sailing route is to pass close under the lee of the Petit Canouan island, and then under the lee of Canouan itself, but not stay here as continuing to Mayreau should be straightforward from here.  As you pass under the lee of Canouan's Northern headland you'll probably lose the wind for a few minutes yet but if you've had reefs in the main, don't shake them out yet, as you head across Charlestown Bay, you may still be surprised by strong gusts of wind blowing over the island's central ridge. Passing close under the lee of Glossy Hill, you should set across the North Mayreau Channel towards Salt Whistle Bay. Baleine Rocks to the East, and Jondell Rock & Catholic Island to the West are clearly visible and leave you with an approach passage about a mile wide before entering the Salt Whistle Bay.
WARNING:!!
There are a couple of things to watch out for as you approach Canouan from the North. Firstly, be aware of strong currents on the Northern tip of the island. At times a noticeable swell can build up about around a mile offshore. Secondly, as you look to the South, you'll see Glossy Hill which is joined to the main island by a sea-level spit so it's initially going to look like a separate island. Many a sailor has mistaken it for Mayreau on occasion. As with Bequia, you can stop at Canouan when on the way North giving you a different itinerary on the way back however.  Finally, out of all islands in the Grenadines, Canouan is seen more as a stop of convenience than a recommended stopover.

Grenada charter base

Enter Salt Whistle Bay pretty well through the middle of the entrance, to avoid the reef and shallow area protruding from the Northern headland. Anchor at the head of the bay in 8-10ft of clear water. It's a sand bottom and reasonably good holding ground, though if it's busy or blowing hard you should consider a second bow anchor. Whatever you do, be careful about anchoring too close to the reef on the Southern shores - it's a popular reef to be hit by yachts.

There's good snorkelling on both reefs, and the white sand beach is pristine. The main resort nestles in the palmtrees on the beach, but don't be put off by the word resort - it consists of a dozen stone and wood cottages, and theresort's floor is the sand. The quaint beach bar is a popular meeting place for cruising yachties at Happy Hour, andthe restaurant, set under the palms, serves great food at reasonable prices, though the service can be painfully slowIce is available here, but not fuel or water.

If you feel like a bit of exercise, follow the dirt track (steep, full of potholes) from the dinghy dock, and you'll get to the"settlement" where 400 people, and about the same number of chickens, cows and goats live. The old stone church(built in 1929 by a Benedictine monk) is definitely worth a visit and from the windward side of the church you'll getspectacular views over all of the Grenadines. In the settlement itself, you'll find 4 great little bistros, all verywelcoming and serving good food. They accept credit cards and also have small minmarts adjacent to them. Dennis'Hideaway is favourite of many sailors - Dennis is the Grenadines' equivalent of "Foxy" on Jost van Dyke, except thathe doesn't play the guitar - but he's the island's Justice of the Peace, yachtsman, guest-house owner, restaurateurand raconteur. A word of warning - if you get stuck into Dennis's frozen Margaritas (which is easy to do), and it'safter sundown, remember that the pathway back to Salt Whistle Bay is unlit .... don't forget your flashlight!For those who love to party, it is worth beating in mind that numbers swell on Mayreau when a cruiseship comes by and passengers go ashore for a beach party on Saline Bay. Yachties like to stop atCasuarina Beach on Palm Island for some shore time R&R.

 

SAILING IN TOBAGO CAYS

Salt Whistle Bay is the natural stepping stone to the Tobago Cays, the high spot of the cruise for pretty welleveryone. It's an easy 45-minute passage, and best to motor or motor-sail as you'll be against current and on thewind. From the entrance of Salt Whistle Bay, turn to the North-North-East and point at Glossy Hill. When JondellRock is right on your port beam, turn to the South-East and you'll see the Tobago Cays right on your bow. You won'tbe able to see the passage between Petit Bateau and Petit Rameau, so they'll look like one island until you get to theentrance itself. You'll be heading down approximately 143 magnetic and what you're looking for are the two transitmarkers - latticed pylons with crosses on the top - which you can usually pick up about a mile away. Baleine Rocksare visible right up to the entrance to the Cays and your route takes you about halfway between Mayreau andBaleine Rocks. A word of warning, however - don't be surprised if you can see the bottom 30 or 40 feet down ... theseabed consists of rocks and coral, which always look closer than they are.The passage between Petit Bateau and Petit Rameau is the "front door' to the Cays. There's about 12 to 18 feet ofwater through the passage, so no depth constraints.



The best place to head for is South of Baradal - as you come through the passage, turn to the south east, cross thedeep patch (drops down to about 50 feet) and then edge up towards Horseshoe Reef. You'll be anchoring in about 8to 10 feet of water in a sand bottom with excellent holding ground.And when here, in the middle of the beautiful Cays, you should be aware that you're anchoring in the middle of theAtlantic – with virtually nothing between you and Africa except Horseshoe Reef. You should not worry though as notonly is it a safe overnight anchorage, but it's also a great place to anchor here if bad weather's coming through. Thesea apparently never breaks over the reef into the anchorage and, whilst it is always windy and fresh in the evening,it's usually pretty comfortable. But because you’re exposed (2,400 miles of open ocean in front of you), and if it’sblowing up, you might want to consider a second bow anchor - more for psychological reasons than for the quality ofthe holding. You will probably sleep better knowing that you’ve got that extra anchor holding you firm.

The Cays are a National Park and so all fishing and removing of anything from the water is prohibited. Althoughthey’re uninhabited, the price of progress means that you can get pretty well anything you need - the fishermen comeout daily from Clifton Harbour in Union Island, and vend from their open boats. You can find everything from freshfish, to lobster (in season, 01 September through 30 April), ice, jewellery, t-shirts, post-cards, soft drinks - and onefellow will even come round and take your orders for fresh baguettes directly from Union Island’s bakery fortomorrow’s breakfast. These fishermen are friendly, helpful and offer a great service - years ago one would have tosail down to Clifton to top up with essentials, but now you can have everything brought directly to you, and thus sit inthe Cays for as long as you want.Striking up a rapport with these people is easy and worthwhile. A cold drink will bring you a friend for life and, beforeyou know it, they’ll be offering to clean the fish for you and even to barbecue it on the beach.You’ll pay a bit of a premium for anything you buy at the Cays since obviously the fishermen need to cover their fuelcosts and earn a few dollars. For instance a bag of block ice can cost between $US 8 and $US 10 - but, on the otherhand, if your beers are getting warm, it’s worth it.

The snorkelling in the Cays is everywhere - right around the main Horseshoe Reef itself, one of the longest barrierreefs in the Western hemisphere, and close to the islands themselves. You can dinghy in and out of the coral heads,the seabed clearly visible, and drop your dinghy anchor in 5 feet of water, then jump out of the dinghy with your feetfirmly on the seabed. Be aware that the strong breezes create current throughout the Cays, so it’s usually best tosnorkel upwind of your dinghy and then drift back down onto it. There also are a few dinghy moorings scatteredalong Horseshoe Reef. It’s worth finding the dinghy pass which runs parallel to the northern end of Baradal - great snorkelling here, thoughmake sure you don’t get too close to the outside of the reef, as this area can break and there are also strong currentsrunning down the windward side of the reef. For those who dive, it’s worth calling Glenroy Adams at GrenadinesDive in Clifton Harbour (VHF 68) - he operates rendezvous dives through this region and there’s excellent diving atMayreau Gardens immediately east of Mayreau, and, if the weather conditions are right, at World’s End Reef.It’s also worth taking your dinghy over to the beach at Petit Bateau - this is a great spot for a lunch-time picnic orbarbecue, and there’s a scenic reef just a few yards from the beach, with a drop-off down to about 35 feet.Most people plan a half a day or so in the Cays, but end up spending most of their vacation there.

 

SAILING IN UNION ISLAND

By this stage in the trip, many people will be thinking about fresh water again, thus heading down to Clifton Harbourfor lunch, water, fuel and re-provisioning, and then further South to Petit St Vincent for overnight is usually on theschedule.You should exit the Cays the same way that you entered, i.e. through the North-western approach. You might seesome people dog-legging through the reefs to the South-West - don’t try it. That passage is narrow and unmarked,and requires perfect water clarity if it’s to be attempted. More importantly, remember that coral heads are growingand so charts are never 100% accurate when it comes to coral. For your own peace of mind - if not for the bottom ofthe boat - sail out through the main entrance and approach Union under the lee of Mayreau - about an hour and ahalf’s sail to Clifton Harbour.



When sailing under the lee of Mayreau, give an extra wide berth to the reef that protrudes about 200 yards off GrandCol point. Hurricane Lenny removed the marker in November 1999 and, although a temporary mooring buoy hasbeen laid in its place, it’s not likely that you will see the buoy until you’re fairly close. Before this reef was marked, itwas one of the most popular ones in the Grenadines to be hit by yachts - about once every 2 weeks (not the sameyacht). So - stay 400 yards clear of this headland.The almost vertical mountains of Union Island are visible 40 miles away on a clear day. You need to sail almost overto Palm Island before turning to the west and up into the main harbour at Clifton, the cross-roads of the Grenadineswhere you can obtain pretty well everything that you need.

The harbour is divided into a Western and an Eastern side, separated by a reef in the middle. The main harbour, tothe West, is lousy - deep, poor holding ground, and you’re on a lee shore so all the crud in the harbour accumulatesthere. Don’t anchor in here. If you're planning on a lunch-time stop, then head up to the North-Western corner of theharbour where you'll find Bougainvilla Marina and The Anchorage Yacht Club. Give them a call on the VHF (Channel68) to let them know that you'll be coming in. You can get fuel, ice and water at either of these places. Bougainvillahas a particularly good restaurant and is home to the excellent Erika's Marine Services run by Heather Grant. Erika'soffers a laundry service, telephone and the Internet, weather forecasts, digital photography, book exchange andbicycle rentals amongst other things.



The town of Clifton is just a short walk along the beach (don’t fall into the shark pool en route) and there are plenty ofsmall supermarkets in town. Clifton is a funky little place with friendly people, several supermarkets and stores, anda number of great little restaurants where you'll find excellent Caribbean fare at reasonable prices. If you plan onsleeping at Union, the best options are either to stay on the dock at Bougainvilla or The Anchorage Yacht Club,or to pick up a mooring, or to anchor in the eastern side of the harbour just behind Newland's Reef.A word of caution - there have been occasional reports of visitors being hassled by kids in boats. The majority ofpeople in Clifton are very friendly, but it’s also what some people would call a “town of hustlers” - everyone seems tobe trying to sell you something, and if they think they can make an extra dollar out of you, they’ll do their best to doso. If kids in boats tell you that the Yacht Club is closed, or that there’s no diesel or water available, don’t believethem - what they’re trying to do is to sell you their own moorings or to sell you someone else’s fuel and water atinflated prices. Always check that you know if prices are being quoted in EC Dollars or US Dollars. Don’t ordermeals in restaurants without being sure you know what the price is. All commonsense stuff, but there have beensome reports of visitors being ripped off, so keep your wits about you.