Fathom and Sturmschwalbe departed St Lucia on the afternoon of the 29th, bound for the island of Bequia, an overnight sail to the south. St Vincent is not so safe with many crimes reported against visiting yachts, so we had decided to sail on past. As the sun set we were close to the Pitons on the south of St Lucia which looked dramatic in the fading light. Conditions became quite lively later as the wind was accelerated between St Lucia and St Vincent and the sea became rough and uncomfortable. I took 10-15 minute naps and Jan and Jule kept an eye out. The next day Jan told me that during the night off St Vincent they had heard voices in the dark and a torchlight shining towards them so had turned off their navigation lights and AIS just in case. I was half a mile away and saw nothing.
We arrived in the anchorage at Admiral Bay, Bequia just before 10 am. A pretty but crowded bay with several small waterside bars and restaurants. Refreshing to go ashore and not worry about walking around with a camera visible. A very nice little village with friendly locals and a feeling that we had arrived in paradise at last. On New Years Eve we decided to head south to Union Island where there were friends on a couple of Norwegian boats, Harry Z and Careka. An almost perfect sail in 15 to 17 knots of wind on the beam. Fathom in her element flying along at 6 knots. We anchored in Chatham Bay and were surprised to see only about 10 other boats in the anchorage. The celebrations started with a nice bbq aboard Sturmschwalbe with Jan & Jule, progressed to drinks ashore at the beach bar with the Norwegians and ended around 5am (I can’t remember exactly!) after rum punches onboard Fathom. A very memorable NYE. 2016 had been quite a year. Fathom and I clocked up 5,632 nautical miles since leaving Yarmouth in May.
On New Years day Jan and I hiked up to the hill overlooking the anchorage and then halfway across Union Island to the small village of Ashton. A good way to cure a fuzzy head. The next day Sturmschwalbe and Fathom sailed back north for a few miles to a collection of several small islands and reefs known as Tobago Keys. It was the first real upwind sailing in months and felt strange after thousands of miles sailing downhill. On arrival we chose an anchorage just inside the reef and alongside an island known for its turtles. Tobabgo Keys is a stunning location and probably the highlight of my Caribbean experience so far, despite being rather crowded with charter boats. We spent the next couple of days relaxing, swimming with Turtles and exploring the reef. I took the opportunity to climb the mast for a check and to take some photos overlooking the anchorage. Sadly, after many weeks and thousands of sea miles, it was then time to say goodbye to Jan and Jule. Sturmschwalbe is headed north up the island chain and then west to Cuba before heading back across the Atlantic in May. I will miss them but look forward to a reunion in the not too distant future.
I headed back to Union Island on the 4th, but this time to the small village of Clifton on the east side so I could check out of the Grenadines. Time to head on south to Carriacou and Grenada.