Trip on Indian Summer starting 2013-01-12 in BSAMar13

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jan29 - Feb 12 2013 – report by Sue Fowle.

Bernard Smyth and I joined friends for 9 days sailing in this area. John Hartland was due to come too but had to cancel 48 hours before departure because of back pain.

For 3 days Bernard and I stayed in a local guesthouse and travelled around the island on minibuses - about 25p a trip in a van packed with people and shopping with a youngster riding shotgun, shouting out the destination. Fast, cheap and friendly but I was pretty sure my insurance company would have considered it a 'dangerous pastime'!

'Indian Summer' was a 10yr old Beneteau 47 formerly a Moorings boat but now chartered from Barefoot. Despite her sagging sails she was a well balanced boat but as always there was a long list of niggles. The accommodation was roomy - 2 smallish forepeaks cabins, 2 large aft ones and 2 heads. With some TLC she would be a nice boat. Barefoot seems a rather casual company - email address ‘barebum’! - but Sunsail are also based at Blue Lagoon though they charge higher rates - you pays your money.....

We covered about 100nm, cruising south from St. Vincent Mapto Mustique - no, we did not see Kate and Wills - Canouan, Tobago Cays, Union, Mayreau and Bequia before returning to St V. Last year we travelled north from Grenada to Mayreau but this necessitated a long day’s sail at each end of the holiday. This year there were shorter passages but with steady winds from an easterly quarter, F5/6 gusting ?F7, and accompanied by 2m high quartering seas, the open water crossings demanded concentrated helming on exhilarating beam/broad reaches.

We spent our nights at anchor or on mooring bouys with 2 particularly rolly nights. Those crew petite enough to sleep across the cabin could avoid any unanticipated intimacy. We ate on board a few times as victualing was easy with a large choice of fresh fruit and local vegetables supplemented by fish bought from the boat boys - not a cheap option though. Local beer was plentiful and named Hairoun, Land of the Blessed, but it is advisable not to send the non-beer drinking crew member to order 4 Heroin! This is the Caribbean after all and we had been warned about drugs!

At Basil's Bar on Mustique we had a delicious meal of a starter large enough and expensive enough to satisfy our appetites but we had arrived when their Blues Festival was in full swing so in the end our £18 paid for food, drinks and entertainment, some of it from musicians seen on Jools Holland's shows.

All the islands are very individual, some lush and tropical like Mayreau with idyllic white sand and swaying palms to the more barren Tobago Cays where iguanas bask in photographic attention.

St Vincent , a very steep, volcanic island is particularly vibrant with colourful houses set on rich agricultural hillsides. Bequia seems more 'touristy' in a low key way but had some of the best snorkeling- the corals are still recovering from Hurricane Ivan. Here we had our only drama. On a dark and stormy night( !) we headed for our bunks to be woken suddenly as a local charter skipper drove his dingy at full speed in the heavy rain, landing on top of ours . None of us was quick enough to take a photo but it was agreed there was no apparent damage and we would check it in the morning. Lester from Voodoo Child arrived early, full of contrition and all was settled amicably. However on our return from shopping in a heavily laden dingy we nudged up to Indian Summer's stern. She then slipped forward, bow anchor at the ready to grab Voodoo Child's toerail! Ooops, our turn to be contrite with the owners but all passed off with no serious damage and skipper's credit card remained intact! Later I read of a lone sailor on a quieter mooring in the off season who was boarded and shot in the leg! A lesson perhaps on the inadvisability of going on deck alone and in the dark. All is not necessarily well in an apparent Paradise....

However apart from one occasion everybody we met was helpful, friendly and welcoming and we were very impressed by their pride in their country and culture. We would not have been surprised if one 12 year old boy who paddled out to sell us jewelry was not already a graduate of Harvard Business School! His aim is to be a business man. He will go far.

We finished our holiday in style - the only yacht in a cove which serendipitously Bernard and I had found at the end of a nightmare bus ride earlier on. At the tiny restaurant we had a delicious meal, with linen napkins and wine, prepared and served just for us on the edge of the bay, to the sound of the waves and the sight of Indian Summer‘s mast swaying like a metronome! The restaurant owner, Orlando, obviously found the cooking far too strenuous as we had to step over him, fast asleep, on the steps outside the loo!

With a quick peek into Wallilabou Bay, where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed, we had a pleasant sail back to Blue Lagoon and bade farewell to Indian Summer. Another adventure safely completed.

That is until our skipper's bag was dumped by LIAT Airways - locally known as Luggage In Another Terminal. Happily it turned up at his door two days later.

As the locals say – Live your dream!

St. Vincent  13.1496,-61.2247