The Island of St. Vincent
is No Longer a Mystery to Us
by JoAnne & Bill Harris
For the last couple of years, we have always sailed past the mysterious main island of St. Vincent and made the straight run from Admiralty Bay, Bequia to either Soufriere or Rodney Bay in St. Lucia. We had heard many bad stories about the leeward side of St. Vincent and have cruiser friends who have had security issues there. Recently, we decided to take a cruise through the anchorages of Blue Lagoon and Young Island. We had made up our minds: this time was different. We were going to stay in the beautiful bay of Wallilabou. This is the site where “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” was filmed.
While still a few miles far offshore, an open boat approached and we were politely greeted by Winston and his crewmember, Kenwin. Unfortunately, we were both ill with food poisoning that had just kicked in. Unbeknownst to Winston, Bill was in the head throwing up and JoAnne had just done so several times over the starboard rail. We were definitely in no shape to be talking. JoAnne quickly told Winston that we would think about his offer to help us get tied up when we reached the bay. After finally getting over whatever the heck had we had gotten, we made our way towards the bay. Winston and his Mate were patiently waiting there for us. They welcomed us to their beautiful island of St. Vincent and said that if we would like to pick up a good mooring in their bay, they would be happy to help us.
We made our way into the bay, while being escorted by Winston’s longboat. The bay is extremely deep, so you either have to anchor and tie up stern to a palm tree onshore, or you pick up a mooring ball and tie the stern to the dock. Winston helped us with a great mooring ball and was very professional. He gave us plenty of time to get our lines organized and then without a hitch, we tied our lines to the mooring and then he securely tied us to the dock and then back to the Ultra. Also, so you do not have to launch your dink, the boatmen can shuttle you back and forth to shore.
We were then pleasantly greeted by Kennon, (the produce guy), Sylvester (the jewelry guy) and Davis (the mooring guy). We do not normally buy souvenir items onshore or from boatmen, because of our tight budget and limited space aboard, however this time was different. We explained to them that we were not charter boaters on holiday, but full-time cruisers with no income coming in from a job. We told them we could not spend a lot of money, and they were happy to negotiate very reasonable prices. The economy of this bay is hurting and these men want to work and to make a living for their families. They are very proud, and not beggars by any means. We are always in need of fresh produce and also purchased some beautiful and extremely well priced beaded jewelry for family gifts. We paid Davis EC $20 (about US$7.40) for the mooring ball and were told that if we had a meal at the Wallilabou Restaurant and Hotel, that our mooring fee would be free. Since 99.9 percent of the time we eat aboard, we chose to have dinner and drinks aboard with friends from the boat next to us.
We know that clothes and other items are very expensive here in St. Vincent, so we took out a giant Ziploc bag of some nice T-shirts and offered the men a T-shirt each. They were extremely appreciative and stated that they always want to have a proper appearance when greeting guests that come to their bay. We and the men each had a beer and we paid Winston and Kenwin a tip for tying us up.
The boatmen were eager to tell us to not worry about a thing: they would watch our boat to be sure it was secure. After we settled in, Winston took us for a lovely hike to the Wallilabou Waterfalls and Gardens. Yes, we definitely had to take a photo under the magnificent tree that has grown over the dam, as you see here. The waterfalls were fantastic and we quenched our thirst with an ice-cold Hairoun beer from the snack bar before heading off to hike some more. Also, while on the hike we told Winston what had happened to us with the vicious attack of a stomach bug, when we had first met him earlier offshore. He said he had wondered why we had acted so strangely. He thought maybe we were not so friendly and that we were trying to avoid him. We apologized and told him that we were so happy to have had this wonderful opportunity to visit his beautiful island. We then were off to tour the spectacular old set of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl”, as well as the movie artifacts that were in the Wallilabou Restaurant.
It is a shame that security issues can quickly ruin the economy of these many beautiful bays. We had a great experience here! Not to sound negative by any means, but we all know how bad news travels faster and seems to linger more than good news. So next time you hear of an incident happening in one of these beautiful islands, be sure to ask, “When did it occur?” Sometimes you will find that it happened five years ago or more. However, we all need to be diligent about our security and not to leave things out on deck and lock up all items that could be a temptation.
Oh yeah, and it must have been good luck to go to St. Vincent. In the wicked channel between St. Vincent and St. Lucia, we caught our first sailfish — it weighed at least 500 pounds! We have seen these giants in the market and they were at least that big or bigger. The line ran forever and of course all sails were up. These channels always make us feel as if we are in a washing machine! Now we had this enormous fish and we definitely did not want it. JoAnne struggled to reel it in, while Bill started the engine and put the boat in reverse. Meanwhile, this amazing fish was leaping and leaping out of the water like something out of National Geographic. No time to get the camera in all of this chaos. We definitely put our rod and reel to the test, and thank goodness the line broke halfway to the boat. We feel terrible about the lure being still in the fish, but we were so happy that we did not have to bring that giant onboard our boat to remove it.
We sincerely hope that you visit the spectacular island of St. Vincent and definitely beautiful Wallilabou Bay — and please say “hi” to our friends there!
Captains Bill and JoAnne of S/V Ultra are from Kemah, Texas and have been cruising for four years. They will be headed to Panama this year. Check out their blog at www.jandbyachtultraadventure.blogspot.com and sign up to follow their adventures, or look for them on Facebook.
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