Thursday, April 17, 2014


After more than a week, the winds subsided and we set sail for Canuan. It is quite near to Bequia, so we reached it before lunch and anchored close to Tamarind Bay Hotel, the famous five star luxury resort.

Canouan is a small and flat island, but shaped really different from all the others; like a crab with flailing tail.  It has a big bay on its leeward side, and small bays and reefs on the windward. North half of it is owned by somebody (?) And closed off, southern half is inhabited by islanders, who appear to be working on the several resorts along the Tamarind. It is a sleepy but pleasent tourist village, and despite being an attraction for many a chartered sailboat, the only dinghy dock (is it not essential?) Is provided at the Tamarind. The ferry dock is very high and cumbersome.

On the other hand, we saw enterprising people in pirouges, coming over to sell all kinds of goods, from fruits and bread to water and diesel. Two teenagers, who were helping with the mooring balls, approached us to be of some kind of service, and we gave them our garbage for 5 EC. Having read Doyle, I asked them what they were going to do with the garbage, and one of the guys laughed and assured me that he was going to take it to garbage bin at the dock. Then we remembered that  we did not have any bread, and asked them to bring a pack, and they agreed. Al gave them 20 EC up front (again Doyle cautions against it), and he promised to come back later in the afternoon.  We saw them going around for a while, then they vanished. At around 3:00 pm, I saw his  boat approaching while I was swimming, and he shouted that fresh bread was coming out at 5:00, "you understand?" What's there not to understand, we can wait.

I had a sinking feeling when 5:00 pm come and went. Were we taken for a fool? But no, I was so very happy to see that he came right before it got dark, and delivered two packs of bread instead of the one we asked. I am glad that the people realize the negative publicity hurts them in the long run!

Next morning was clearing out day, and I wanted to have breakfast at the Tamarind before going to the customs office at 8:00 am. We enjoy having breakfast at the resorts, the coffee, bread and the ambiance are always good an the prices nominally can never break the bank, whatever they are comperatively. As opposed to a dinner for example.

I remeber having dinner at the Tamarind, the very first time we had been to Canouan aboard our first chartered boat with our friends. The Skipper then, Deniz invited us on account of his son's (Mehmet) birthday. It was the third week of February, and the dining room was deserted that night save the seven of us. Since they have a dress code (for guys), the males wore long pants and shirts. It was a nice dinner, but I had wondered if it was worth the expense for Deniz.

When we settled at the same dining area around 7:00 am, there were several servers and only us. During the hour that we spent there, enjoying the food that we love best (coffee/bread), only another couple strolled in. How do the owners, whoever they are, afford to keep these resorts is a mystery to me. I guess we always see them at their low times.

Al and I reminisced about the old times, chatted with the nice maitre d'hotel and got directions for the government office, only ten minutes away on foot from the resort.
We reached the office complex exactly at 8:00 am but saw that it was still locked. While looking around, a young sailor walked in and started to wait alongside Al. I left the two chatting, and took a stroll on the main road. There were some stores and bars that were getting slowly ready to open up. Going all the way up and back did not take more than fifteen minutes. On my way back, I entered a small grocery store (a large vegetable stall really) to check the prices. A little more than Bequia, but understandable. However, the atmosphere was unbearable; some guy was smoking weed at that ungodly hour! St Vincent is the worst among all the islands when it comes to drugs. The wretched people everywhere, just smoke or drink. Is it a conspiracy or what?

When I got back, I saw Al in deep conversation with the sailor; a baby faced young French guy, laughing and talking in broken English. Apparently he was the hired skipper on a chartered boat, and he was taking his charges back to St Anne.
A young islander lady glided in and unlocked the door for immigration room, and settled in her desk. That did not help us, since we had to release the boats from customs. I thought the customs person must be a guy, being so late to show up for work on a Monday. True to my word, he (a giant of a young guy) came along, an let Al and I in to his room. When we showed him our papers, he gave us a form to be filled. The sailor, on the other hand, had his forms ready, so he got precedence with his eight people to be cleared at immigration. When Al gets impatient, I have to remind him that we have no plane to catch yet. The trip from Canouan to Tyrrell Bay, Grenada would take four hours at most (with the light winds that we had that day).

When the customs lady looked at our passports, she could not undestand why we had an entrance stamp on November, 2013 but no exit (which should have been the two days after). We had to explain that we could not see an immigration officer in Wallillabou, St Vincent on our way to Martinique, which was the reason for Ruyam II being cleared out, but not us. She got the telephone and started talking with somebody. We gathered that she had contacted the immigration officer in Bequia, who had cleared us in. She spoke with that undecipherable jargon wich passes as English among themselves. The only thing we understood was her last response "glasses". I gathered that the other lady remembered us (since she had to manually change the printed boat papers after the customs guy unsuccessfully tried to use the computerized clear in)  and verified our story. I am not sure if she had realized that we never had an exit stamp from St Vincent on our current passports, having had the same difficulty the first year around in Union Island. Why do not they learn from Dominica, and reduce the red tape by giving entrance and exit at the same time is beyond me. Do they really have a wisdom?

All in all, Canouan as a customs clearence destination is excellent! I recommend it to everybody.

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