Bumpy Ride from Chatham
6th February 2018
The trip from Union Island to Mayreau was short but vicious. Again, the wind and swell came from straight ahead, which made the journey frustratingly bumpy.
Our goal this time was to reach Saline Bay on the south west of the island. This part of Mayreau offers more protection from the wind than its counterpart further north; there is more space to anchor and less compulsion to pick up a mooring ball.
The last time we came to Mayreau we sweated our way from Salt Whistle bay over to Saline Bay where we met a local guy, Jomo. He explained that he works with a local fisherman, Papa San, who arranges barbecues on the beach. Beach barbecues are, of course, familiar turf to the crew of Lady Jane and we are well-drilled in the art of the deal on lobster and fish dinners. But we went along with his pitch, eventually agreeing to send him a WhatsApp message to announce our arrival in a few weeks time, and Maria took his number.
In retrospect, that was something of a mistake. Since then the messages we received are the WhatsApp equivalent of a hallway landing full of junk mail. The messages started a few days after leaving Mayreau. The question asked, in a variety of roundabout ways, was always about when we are coming back (we had only just arrived in Grenada). He said he would help us get the best anchoring spot; the best dinner; introduce us to Papa San etc. And now it was time for him to put up. So, Maria sent him a text to say we are about to arrive and…. nothing, nada, no show in the harbour.
But as we arrived in Saline Bay, a couple of local guys came alongside and said they would show us a good place to anchor. By now, we have a very open mind to this. For the most part, these guys really do want to help. Of course, they appreciate something in return, but it doesn’t have to be much. And in this case, they weren’t going to get much because we had spent too much cash in Chatham Bay and were down to the moths in our cash reserves. True to their word, they found us an excellent spot to anchor on a lonely patch of sand close to the shore. I explained that we were short of money and offered them a can of beer each. They were delighted with this and stayed around for a while to pass the time.
Jomo eventually made an appearance with Papa San, and we agreed to his beach barbecue the next day but only after renegotiating the price, which had inflated by 50% since we last spoke to him.
Saline Bay is exceptionally quiet. There’s a long expanse of beach with a jetty and a couple of buildings acting as bars and restaurants, but not much else. The only time the area springs to life is when a cruise ship arrives, then the sunbeds come out and the place transforms into the Caribbean equivalent of Benidorm. We spent our first day idling around, snorkelling around the boat, and meeting the local personalities who come along to sell fish and lobster or a beach barbecue. Being short of cash we couldn’t have bought anything from the fishermen even if we had wanted to.
7th February 2018
The next evening we couldn’t start the outboard motor, so I had to row us over to dinner the next night. Fortunately, it wasn’t far, so not really a problem.
Before going for dinner, we hacked up the hill to Robert Righteous’s bar to say hello to Bob. We had set aside some money to have a drink there, so we had no intention of staying long. But just as we were about to leave, Bob bought us a drink on his bill. Of course, we couldn’t turn down that sort of generosity, so we stayed a little while longer before heading down the hill for dinner.
Papa San’s beach barbecue was well underway when we arrived back at the beach. The barbecue coals were glowing and the lobsters were on the flames. Maria and I were shown to our table, a picnic bench set for two, and waited for the food to arrive. One of the many mistakes a budding restauranteur can make is to over-set expectations. Mr San told us that this would be the best fish and lobster we would ever have because of his special sauce – that statement alone makes me feel a bit wary. The food arrived, we opened the bottle of wine we had brought with us, tasted the food, and were severely disappointed. The lobster was overcooked so much that I had to wrestle it out of the shell, and Maria’s fish and that special sauce seemed a bit dodgy. Our wine was good though.
The next couple of days confirmed how dodgy it was.
8th February 2018
Thursday’s mission was to fix the outboard. Fortunately, our old 2-stroke Mariner is as simple as they come, so it’s relatively easy to take it to bits. And this is where a misspent youth messing about with cars comes in handy. I checked that the spark plug was sparking (it was) and that the fuel was flowing (it was) and eventually traced the problem to water in the fuel. How it got there I have no idea, but after cleaning out the tank and the carburettor and replacing the fuel, all is working fine.
All this recent walking up hills must have made us fitter. On Thursday night we even overtook a few 70-year-olds going up the hill to the Catholic Church. On the way back down the hill, we called into Bob’s bar to present him with a couple of gifts: our well worn British ensign for him to hang up in his bar, and a new marker pen. He wanted to make us dinner, but the kitchen lights weren’t working, so we just had a drink and spent a little time with his growing family. Then, just before sunset, we trekked back down the hill to the dinghy and back to Lady Jane for dinner on the boat.