In our first visit to the Grenadines, more than 15 years
ago, we did a crewed charter that started in St. Vincent. There is an interesting story at the start of
that trip. We had a few hours between
arriving at the airport and being picked up by our charter crew. We decided to take a taxi tour of the island,
and were extremely impressed by the scenery.
At one point, our driver stopped and we got out of the car to appreciate
an unusually beautiful view. We spent a
few minutes there, then returned to the car and drove to the harbor.
When we arrived, David discovered that he had only three of
the expected four passports in his pocket.
Luckily, the missing one was his, because if it had been Gretchen’s or
one of the kids', he’d have been in big
We guessed that the missing passport had fallen out of the
pocket when we stepped out of the car.
What to do? We didn’t know the
name of the taxi driver. Our charter
captain suggested we ask around at the cab stand to see if anyone could figure
out who he was, which we did. We then
went out to the boat to try and figure out what to do about the missing
passport. The nearest US consulate was
Some time later, we saw a water taxi approaching rapidly,
and our taxi driver was standing in the bow holding the passport high. What a relief! The driver had heard of our problem, and had
driven all the way back to the place where we stopped, and found the passport
on the ground there.
So, our first impression of St. Vincent was a very positive
one. But that was the last time we
visited the island until this year.
There have been some problems with cruising boats visiting
St. Vincent. First, the available
anchorages are quite difficult. Many are
very deep and you can’t really anchor but must take a long line to a tree
ashore. Second, there were large crowds
of very pushy men competing for the opportunity to take said line ashore (for a
handsome fee). Finally, for quite a few
years there was a spate of crime against cruisers, thefts and even muggings.
So, for the past several years, we have simply sailed right by
St. Vincent, going directly from Bequia to St. Lucia.
That is a very long (9-10 hour) trip. This year we decided we would take a chance
on stopping half-way up the coast of St. Vincent to break up the journey. The crime wave seems to have receded, the boat services folks have learned to be less pushy, and the
bay of Chateaubelair is described as having an ample shelf of moderately deep
water to anchor on.
Our arrival in Chateaubelair was great fun. School was already out for the Christmas
holiday, and the harbor was teeming with boys and young men. We were met by a pink powerboat with six or
eight young fellows in it, and they were certain that they knew the perfect
place for us to anchor. They proceeded
to lead us to the spot. In addition,
there were several surf boards paddled by one to three boys each, also eager to
As it turned out, the place they picked didn’t work. The seabed of the bay is covered with thick
seaweed, which makes it hard to get the anchor to penetrate. The spot they recommended was between two
other boats, and before we could get our anchor to catch, we had dragged back, far too close to the boat behind us.
No worries, this happens all the time when anchoring. We picked up our anchor, moved over a few
boatlengths, and tried again. The second
try we also dragged back 10 meters or more, but were finally able to get our
anchor to stick.
Well, the guys in the pink boat were very happy that we had
anchored successfully. It was time for a
little commercial activity. We were
offered grapefruit for purchase. Wanting
to help the local economy, we said we wanted three, and negotiated a fair price. We also gave a generous tip for the anchoring
A few minutes later, a quite young boy paddled out on his
surfboard and delivered the grapefruit.
We asked his name and he told us it was Jarvin. That’s quite a coincidence, because our
friend in St. Lucia, who we would see the very next day, is also named Jarvin. Our new friend Jarvin was a little confused,
because he assumed the other Jarvin must be a little boy like him, not a grown
We offered Jarvin some water to drink and a peanut butter
sandwich to munch on, which he appreciated.
The warm welcome from these young men made our stop on St.
Vincent pleasant and memorable.