Showing posts with label St Lucia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St Lucia. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Turtles of Tobago Cays

During our recent vacation, some of the most fun we had was snorkeling

with the turtles in Tobago Cays. Tobago Cays is a collection of small islands at the southern end of the St Vincent Grenadines. It is a marine park and accessible only via watercraft. Wikipedia has a good description of the islands and the park.

The most enjoyable thing we did was to snorkel with the turtles. The turtles generally do not mind having people around them--as long as we are just watching. They, like most other wild animals, do not like to be touched or bothered. They seem to have a live and let live policy.

As a result, I got some pretty good images of the turtles as they grazed on the grasses and did their thing. I have been doing some color correction on the images from my underwater camera--and some of the best images are provided to help document our experience.

I hope they will continue to remind me of a great vacation for a longtime to come.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunsets of St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines

One of the things we enjoyed the most during the vacation were the sunsets.

Almost every evening we enjoyed the sunset usually involving the Caribbean Sea and boats or birds.

And so, here are my favorite images and memories of the sunsets we enjoyed.

Marigot Bay, the second night, July 10, sitting on the dock down the hill from our villa.

3rd night--from the the dock in front of a restaurant in Marigot Bay, Cafe Margot on Monday evening July 11th

Sunset from Julietta's on the hill above Marigot Bay on Friday evening July 15th.

Also from Julietta's that same evening, just a bit later.

Fire in the sky, our second night at sea, July 17th, between St Vincent and Bequia

Third night at sea approaching Tobago Cays July 18th. This is of the clouds reflecting the sunset which is behind the camera.

Our last night at sea July 20, our next to last night of vacation provided a couple interesting sunset shots. We are in Cumberland Bay, St Vincent and the boat is anchored and tied to a tree.

also from July 20 in Cumberland Bay.

The final sunset image of our vacation, July 20 from Cumberland Bay, is appropriately birds flying away in front of a setting sun. Much as the sun was setting on our vacation and our sailing adventure and we were about to begin winging our way back to our home.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lessons from St Lucia - A Postscript

During the course of the vacation, we learned some things that we want to remember for the future. Some of them are funny--and some, not so.

We heard phrases and we talked to so many people who left lasting impressions on us--two that come to mind are Albert our taxi driver and Marek our skipper. But then there was George the water taxi man who was there to help us board the Javelot when it was looking very bleak late on that Saturday afternoon after we had been sitting on the dock all day since about 10am.

Things we learned include:

Island Time -- a phrase we used when things took longer than expected or didn't happen when we expected them to happen.

"It is not a competition" -- a phrase that our skipper Marek used to describe his fishing (and in truth it really means he wants to win!)

"It is an obligation" or "It is not an obligation" -- translates to a requirement or not a requirement, again a phrase used by Marek.

We learned to wait -- There was lots of waiting. Waiting for water taxis, waiting for boats, waiting in lines, and waiting to get someplace.

The journey can be as important as the destination -- Whether driving or sailing, or walking sometimes we need to realize that the destination is sometimes just a means to help us appreciate the journey.

TSA has no sense of humor when it comes to liquids and aerosols.

Banana trees only grow one bunch of bananas in their life.

Bananas are matured in big blue bags right on the trees.

Life is too short to move too fast (and you get really sweaty when you do)

A good day for navigation (sailing) may be a bad day to be a passenger!

We learned all about how cashews grow.

"It's perfect" -- Marek's response to how things were going.

Important information can be lost in translation--like I was trying to find out how far away we were from something and I learned how tall it was.

Happiness is not found in possessions, but rather it is a state of mind. We saw abjectly poor people who seemed incredibly happy.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Rainy Departure - Day 14

We arrived at the airport a bit early, but better early than too late.

It is raining, almost as if it is the tears of the island crying because we are leaving.

We are all a bit melancholy at the imminent departure from the paradise we have grown to know called St Lucia.

Our favorite taxi driver, Albert, delivered us safely once again to our destination.

It was a bit sad to say goodbye to him.

As it is sad to say goodbye to our vacation.

Sailing to Tobago Cays - Day 10 continued

Once we departed Bequia, we headed for Mustique--plan was for lunch in Basil's on the beach and possible a short walk around and then snorkeling in the pristine waters of the bay.

Lunch was really expensive and we realized we were paying for the novelty of being on Mustique and the 15 percent tax on top of the 10 percent service charge really added to the total bill. The scene outside the restaurant was nothing short of interesting with birds, a working port, and fantastic colors and sunshine.

But it was fun--and a good break in the middle of another day of sailing.

After the snorkeling and the fun it was back onto the boat to continue to our destination of Tobago Cays. There certainly is a lot of ocean/sea and the boat can really heel around at times making it impossible to read or even think. The captain caught a mackerel which will become dinner tomorrow.

Another nighttime arrival and so the surprise of the morning should be really awesome--I counted 17 other boats moored in the harbor as we were laying on the deck of the boat looking at the stars after dinner. The stars were beautiful and bright before the moon rose and added light to the scene.

The scenery from the boat continues to amaze and inspire. I never knew the Caribbean islands were so rugged and beautiful. Maybe I have been spending too much time in too flat Florida.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back in Marigot Bay - Day 13

We sailed into Marigot Bay after a hard 8 hour sail through rough open sea. It was a hard sail and for most of the trip all we could do was hold on and trust our captain to get us through.

In the end we arrived safely and happily back in one of our favorite spots and checked into a luxury hotel for our last evening on vacation. Tomorrow we must face the hastle of flying, customs, and TSA.

Tonight though, we enjoyed a quiet dinner, shared some sea stories with our captain before he had to depart, and reminisced about a fantastic vacation.

The suitcases are packed and repacked ready to be returned to the USA.

Cumberland Bay, St Vincent - Day 12 continued

We arrived in Cumberland Bay fairly early in the afternoon and had an enjoyable next to last day at sea.

Cumberland Bay on St Vincent is an interesting stop--and it is frequented by a few vessels, but it is only a collection of bars and clubs (like 5) along a stretch of black sandy beach. One of the clubs/bars is done up in a truly amazing Pirates of the Caribbean motif, and we went there to enjoy one drink and marvel at the collection of movie memorabilia.

The club was interesting, but as we were really headed off to the steel drum band club--which interestingly has no electricity and was lit only by candlelight. We enjoyed the steel drum band and some dancing--I had a couple dances with a local girl (she was nine and I was carrying her) while Chris had a couple dances with a local guy who was putting the moves on her--humorously enough.

Earlier in the day, we of course snorkeled, but the fuel in the bay made visibility difficult and the odor in and close to the water really detracted from the ambiance of the spot.

Even so, we did see some really interesting sights along the shoreline to include an octopus and a wall of fish in the water.

And of course we were treated to another fabulous sunset--and a group picture courtesy of the captain.

Sleeping on the boat proved to be tough--the smell of fuel plus rain making us close the cabin made for a very hot, close night. But as it was to be our sat night at sea, we were still saddened by the impending end to not only our sailing adventure, but our vacation as well.

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Return to Bequia - Day 12

We awakened again in Admiralty Bay, Bequia after a night of successive rainstorms. When the boat is closed up--as it needs to be during rainstorms it becomes quite hot and sticky--for those used to air conditioned comfort, as we are, it can be somewhat challenging to sleep. It was closed up most of the night because the main ventilation is directly above the bed, where the rain was falling, and the secondary portholes were also delivering spray and rain onto the bed.

By morning, the rain had passed and we were again treated to the picturesque Admiralty Bay. Today though, we actually decided onto to snorkel and decided to dinghy in and walk the streets of Port Elizabeth.

We were able to do some shopping and Scott and I took a taxi up to Fort Hamilton which commands a strategic position over the harbor. I hd wondered which admiral the fort was named for and could not remember an admiral named Hamilton--but as it turns out the fort is named for our own Alexander Hamilton who, as I remembered from reading a recent biography, grew up in the West Indies and was born on the island of Nevis, which I believe is the name of the main island of Bequia.

After some wandering the streets it was time to return to our boat and begin making our way to our next stop, a short 16 miles away on the island of St Vincent.

As we were beginning to get underway, our captain discovered that one of our propellers was missing--so that saga becomes interesting. Thankfully, this is a sailing vessel first and foremost and a motorized vessel for navigating harbors second.

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Tobago Cays - Day 11

The adventure never seems to end. Another morning and another new port to view and explore. Today is a chance to really enjoy a destination.
the island in the image is of the island used during the filming of the second Pirates of the Caribbean where Captain Jack Sparrow was stranded.

Let me say it right now--I have never seen in person water the color of the water in Tobago Cays--rich turquoise against a blue sky is a picture post card memory.

We were snorkeling by 8AM, again, with turtles. We walked a small island looking for tortoises and iguanas, we found iguanas, everywhere, and some were not too happy to see us. One wanted to keep me off the path, but he heeded to reason when confronted with my diving flipper to make me seem larger than I am.

Snorkeling with the turtles was truly a highlight of the trip. At one point, I had 8 turtles in sight and s long as they are not approached too closely, they do not seem to mind the company. We spent a lot of time with the turtles and even came back after lunch for one last time with them.

But from turtles, we headed off to Horseshoe Reef for additional snorkeling both on the Caribbean side and then the Atlantic side of the reef. The snorkeling in the reef was also fabulous. The park--as it is of St Vincent and the Grenadines is accessible only by boat and is tricky to navigate into and out of. Once in Tobago Cays thought, everything is accessible by dinghy.

I learned how to get my snorkeling gear on in a dinghy with four other people and get out and then back into the dinghy at sea. It is humorous and hard. We tied the dinghy off at buoys in both spots.

The snorkeling was awesome and on the Ocean side we could see the deep blue drop off into the abyss.

We had lunch as a barbecue place which provided a sumptuous outdoor fish barbecue on the beach to enjoy. It was in my opinion the best meal of the entire vacation both in terms of variety and portions, and it all tasted real good too.

After swimming with the turtles again, it was time to begin the return trip to St Lucia--and about 3pm we headed off for Admiralty Bay, Bequia on an anticipated 4-8 hour sail, depending upon the winds. As I am writing this, we are making good speed of 8 knots so a 4 hour sail is looking good.

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Morning - Day 10

I cannot believe it is Day 10 already and sadly our adventure is drawing to a close so quickly. But there is still so much ahead to enjoy.

When I awoke this morning and spied Admiralty Bay for the first time, I was awed by its beauty and also the clarity of the water. There are some long sandy beaches that we spent some tie on while the the captain cleared customs and immigration into St Vincent and the Grenadines for us.

The bay is surrounded by low hills and filled with boats. The harbor mouth is wide and looks out onto the sea.

So what were you doing at 8:30 this morning? I was snorkeling Admiralty Bay in Bequia having the first adventure of the day. The finds of the day were multitudes of trumpet fish, a flounder, an octopus, and a sand diver.

There is adventure ahead today--I can feel it already.

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The Sail to Bequia - Day 9 Continued

We had a beautiful sail of 10 hours when the story we all told. We arrived in Admiralty Bay about 8pm and Pennie and Chris had a great dinner ready as soon as the boat was secured at anchor for the night. It is very different sailing into a dark harbor not knowing what is in store or what is really there except for the lights of the other boats also taking refuge in the harbor for the night.

As we sailed past the island of St Vincent we were treated to fantastic scenery and even the location where the opening sequence of Pirates od the Caribbean was filmed. The sights, once the open water crossing was completed, kept our interest for the remainder of the trip.

We experienced another awesome sunset enroute to Bequia. We were sailing near Kingston, St Vincent at the time. It was awesome.

During the last part of the trip we were finally able to transition the boat from a motorized craft to a true sail boat as the wind finally came alive and we were truly sailing.

It was exciting and quiet to speed across the Caribbean under the power of wind--much like the sailors centuries ago did.

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