St. Lucia to Grenada, Velista Cruise
Mention a Caribbean cruise and most people usually do not think of the Southern Caribbean which includes St. Vincent and the Grenadines. However, that is starting to change, take a cruise to the southern caribbean.
“The Caribbean is the most beautiful place in the world” said one of the guests cruising aboard the Motor Yacht Velista, “and the islands of the Grenadines are so spectacular that there is no way to describe this with photos or words – you literally have to see it to believe it!’
Couple this beauty with the economics of $2.60 EC to $1.00 US and fuel that in some places costs less than $1 per gallon and you have the makings of a great yachting destination. Add to that great motor yacht like Velista and you have an incredible charter experience waiting for you.
Velista’s new owners, Antonia Philip and Wilfred Espinet had invited a few lucky people to cruise with them as they took the 70’ Maiora Motor Yacht Velista – from Fort Lauderdale to her new home in Trinidad.
Day One: I joined the trip in St. Lucia and had been sailing for less than an hour when we cruised by two of what have to be the most photographed scenes in the Caribbean; Marigot Bay and the Pitons. Thank goodness for digital cameras and a laptop – I had taken more than forty photos in the first two hours of our trip!
Fortified with the best Bloody Caesars on the planet, just one of Antonia’s specialties, we settled in for our crossing to St. Vincent, about four hours from St. Lucia, where we would begin our journey through the Grenadines.
As we approached St. Vincent I was in awe of the incredible lushness of the Mesopotamia hillsides. It had rained the night before and every plant was showing its richest and deepest color. There was only one basic color, green, but there were no less than a hundred shades of that color on the palate Mother Nature had painted on this lush island landscape.
We chose an anchorage between St. Vincent and Young Island which was literally a living picture post card. A small boat ferried guests from the mainland out to Young Island, a 35 acre island which has a hotel where the white sand beach has chaise lounges for sunbathers, hammocks hung under thatched roofs, perfect for reading a book or taking a nap, tennis courts, a lovely pool and of course the water of the Caribbean. I loved our anchorage and prefer it to the Blue Lagoon just around the corner. Both, however, are quite lovely.
As we witnessed the first of many spectacular sunsets, lights began to dot the hillsides around us and we sat on the upper deck doing our best to take it all in before it vanished. We were sure that a setting this perfect couldn’t be real.
The shoreline offered several exceptional restaurants and we went to shore that evening to enjoy a fabulous dinner on the beach.
Day Two: We awoke this morning to the same idyllic setting. Nothing had vanished during the night – it was the same beautiful harbor that had been there the night before confirming that this wasn’t a dream – but rather – St. Vincent and the Grenadines! We spent the day visiting friends who lived on the hillside overlooking the harbors, the yacht club and beautiful Caribbean water and thoroughly enjoyed life on St. Vincent.
It didn’t take long to realize the intense passion of the islanders. They are very dynamic and emotional people – especially when it comes to cricket! The World Cup Games will be held in the islands in 2007 and people are already vying for tickets to the games, hotel rooms and transportation. (If you would like to attend, you might want to start making plans now!) Much of our afternoon was spent in heated discussions regarding the best teams, the best players and how best to see the games. The M/Y Velista is already getting inquiries from people wanting to charter her for the entire tournament. A yacht will be the perfect way to see the games as it will provide both hotel room AND transportation to the games which will be on various islands throughout the Caribbean. Just settle in to your stateroom – and enjoy the games. No packing and unpacking or fighting security hassles at the airports – just luxury and relaxation!
Day Three: The morning started with a special West Indies style breakfast complete with home made “bakes” and salted cod. After breakfast we headed to Bequia (pronounced BEK-way) just a short cruise from St., Vincent. As we pulled into peaceful Admiralty Bay – we were met by one of the locals who meet all the yachts that pull into the harbor and lead them to an anchorage that will hold them securely for the evening. These locals – shown here making a delivery – will bring you supplies if you wish and offer an assortment of fresh seafood, including lobster and conch (called lamby). They also offer taxi service to those without a dinghy.
Their colorful boats are a trademark of Bequia and play an integral role in her history. Bequia is a whaling island and even today – on rare occasions stringently policed by international regulations – the entire island gets involved in the capture of a whale. Their boats – while small – are incredibly well built and in no way lack in seaworthiness. Their bright Caribbean colors add to the island atmosphere and are typical of the spirit of the people in these wonderful islands.
Once you are secure – it’s time to take the dinghy and zip into town. There are several little shops, a fresh fruit and vegetable market, lots of vendors selling models of the famous Bequia boats and of course – be sure to get to Frangipani in time for Happy Hour. This is a great place to meet the locals as well as other yachties and sample some of the great Caribbean rums and beers.
Day Four: This morning we pulled up anchor and headed to Mustique. If you can imagine: an entire island of picture perfect cottages; rainbow colored fishing boats; a story book school house; not just well manicured lawns – but an entirely manicured island; magnificent island estates that are home to people such as Mick Jagger – who hosts a beach party every year to fund the school, Tommy Hilfiger – who sponsors the soccer team, Brian Adams, Phil Collins and more, then perhaps you have tiniest glimpse of what it’s like to be on Mustique.
As you approach the island you realize even from a distance that this is not your typical Caribbean island. Even the beach looks as if it has been staged for a movie set with perfectly placed coconut palms, colorful fishing boats on the shore and the flags of Basil’s, the infamous Mustique bar and restaurant, welcoming you to the island. The island is one of extreme contrasts; fishing boats to megayachts and quaint cottages to mansions with guests houses that would rival most homes. And it is all picture perfect..
If you want to venture beyond Basil’s and the beach and check out the rest of the island, you can call Michael who will pick you up in his covered jitney and take you around the island showing you the best beaches, the magnificent Cotton House Hotel, the airport (flying the flags of the countries of property owners on the island) and of course – the island homes of some of the famous residents.
If you like Blues – a good time to visit is in January or February when they have their two week “Blues Festival”. Money raised during the event is used to send children of St. Vincent to secondary school. You can learn more about this event by going to www.basils-mustique.com or www.dana-gillespie.com .
Our next stop was Canouan, home of the Raffles Resort and Trump Real Estate Development. This 1,200 acre resort offers lovely hillside villas, a luxurious spa and an 18 hole Par 72 golf course. This is the perfect stop for those golfers who don’t want to take a cruise because there is no golf course! Canouan offers a quiet anchorage for the yacht and guests can get up as early as they like and head to the golf course. For those guests that might not have golf at the top of their list of things to do – how about a day in one of the spa huts receiving a host of spa services? A spa hut is yours for the day – some like the huts in Bali – out over the water – and spa services are given in your hut: massages, manicures, pedicures, facials and more. After a day on the island – head back to the yacht and enjoy another magnificent Caribbean sunset.
Day Five: Today we headed to the Tobago Cays, a beautiful archipelago running down to Grenada. You can almost walk from one island to the next. The water is so intensely blue that the most beautiful aquamarines would pale by comparison. There is very little in terms of development on these islands so you should come prepared with anything you may need such as food, water, ice and supplies. However, the local entrepreneurs with their fast boats seem ready and very capable, of bringing fresh lobsters and even making quick runs to nearby Union Island – the largest island in the area – for supplies including things like fresh baked bread. We spent out first night in Mayreau in a quiet lagoon with a beautiful beach called Saltwhistle Bay. We met some people from France who have visited this area four to five times a year for the past fifteen years!! Ashore there is a small hotel with five cottages (eight rooms), a beach bar and restaurant. For more info on this resort go to: www.saltwhistlebay.com.
Day Six: Today we continued winding down through the Cays – stopping for lunch and a leisurely swim on one of the many white sand beaches. You can even arrange with one of the locals to prepare lunch of grilled lobster, fresh fish and local side dishes for you and have it waiting for you on the beach when you arrive.
We ended our day at Union Island, the largest island in the Cays and anchored in Clifton Anchorage. The water is a myriad of shades of blue caused by the sand bars and reefs. Beautiful to look at but something you probably don’t want to navigate after dark. Arrive early and head to Happy Island, a restaurant and bar on a tiny little spot in the middle of harbor owned and operated by Janti, a most delightful host. There are tables and chairs on the beach, hammocks and more tables and chairs under the thatched roof. With just four hours notice he’ll prepare an island BBQ for you and your guests on the island – a fun way to spend the evening ashore on your own private island. Janti monitors VHF channel 16 and can be reached at email@example.com .
Happy Island was the perfect place to end our cruise through the St. Vincent Grenadines. Tomorrow we would cross the channel to Carriacou – the Grenadan Grenadines.
Day Seven: Carriacou is a pretty, well developed island. Nice houses dot the hillside and the town of Hillsborough offers all the conveniences you might need when pulling into a port.
We stayed in Tyrell Bay where Johnny Walker – the man, not the scotch – is building a new marina / yacht club that will accommodate the largest of yachts and offer the finest in yachting facilities. Tyrell Bay is one of the best sheltered anchorages in the Grenadines and the marina will be a perfect place for yachties. The approach is easy and there will be great facilities. The marina portion should be complete by the start of the 2005 / 2006 winter season. There will also be approximately 30 very upscale residences built when the marina is complete. We will be staying in touch with the developer so you may contact our office for current updates – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Day Eight: Our last stop before Trinidad is Grenada. Known as a safe haven during hurricanes, Ivan in 2004 caused major damage to this beautiful island. This was the first hurricane to hit in the area is more than fifty years. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the island is back to normal and that most of the damage has been repaired or is being repaired. The economy is booming and this is a great stop on your island tour and the perfect place to begin or end your cruise of the Grenadines. Grenada offers wonderful facilities for yachts – we stayed at the Grenada Yacht Club – and has wonderful stores for stocking up with anything you might need. Of course there is also the local marketplace – a colorful place with lots of fresh local vegetables and spices. Here we see Wilfred and Antonia selecting fresh veggies for this evening’s dinner. Don’t forget, Grenada is known as the “Spice Island”, so this is also a great place to stock up with the freshest of spices.
During the afternoon we visited Grand Anse Beach, one of the most beautiful in the islands, then toured St. George’s University, a sprawling modern campus offering a myriad of degrees to students from all over the world. www.sgu.edu What started as a Medical School has grown to include degrees in many different fields.
The evening brought us back to the Grenada Yacht Club. We were joined by friends from Grenada for drinks on the upper deck and enjoyed the refreshing sweet breezes of “spice” island. The day – and our exploration of the Grenadines – was over. Tomorrow Velista would go home, to Trinidad, and we would say goodbye – until the next time . . .