2003-01-24 :: Island Hopping
Ahh.. Today is Friday, and since Tim and Cambria don't have to
teach classes this afternoon, we decided to splurge a bit and
catch a sailboat cruise around some of the neighboring islands.
The cruise we signed up for was with Capt. Yannis- an all day,
all-you-can-eat/drink cruise on a 60' Catamaran. Yeah.. that's a big
boat. Tim says that they can take over fifty people, but usually they
don't get more than twenty people (probably because there aren't that
many tourists on Union, and many of those tourists came by yacht
anyways). We showed up at around nine, ate some fresh croissants from
the French gourmet store across the street, and hoped that there
wouldn't be too many people joining us on our boat ride.
Getting on board
Fortunately, we picked a good day to go for a boat ride. When
we boarded the boat, there was only one other tourist joining us
for the trip. She was a friendly UK lady down here on holiday,
looking to make the most of the all-you-can-drink clause in the
cruise contract. We soon learned that there were also four
Italians that would be joining us, but they were running a bit
late and wouldn't arrive for another hour. This turned out to be
a good thing for us, because Capt. Yannis and his crew decided
that he would take us to a bonus island rather than wait at the
dock all morning. Cool.. While we motored away from Union,
the crew brought out some breakfast food that we busily devoured
(mm.. cheese and onion sandwiches and fruity bread). Tim
set the pace for the rest of the day by ordering a rum punch to
go with breakfast. While the cruise wasn't all that expensive, the
conversion from US to EC dollars made us feel like we had
to eat and drink our money's worth before we picked up those
Morpion Island. Home of.. the bottle-opener.
Our first (and bonus) Island was Morpion Island. You may have heard of
this famous "island" because... it's about 50' long and has only one
structure on it- a thatch umbrella with a bottle opener attached to it.
Cool.. We picked out some snorkeling gear from the sailboat, hopped
into a little dingy, and motored over to the island. After a few minutes
of surveying the entire island (yep, there's a bottle opener), we
trounced into the water to look at the fishies. The snorkeling wasn't
bad, although it was a bit choppy on the ocean side. The island is
encircled by a coral reef about 30 feet off the beach, which looked
really cool underwater. It was kind of like this massive, rock hedge
just a foot or so beneath the surface of the water (which made me
glad I wasn't in charge of steering the boats). Anyways, our
one of the ship's crew-members came back in the dingy to pick us up
after a while. Amy and I were the last ones to the dingy, so we
had to hop into the raft like Navy Seals. Well.. it was more like
flop into the boat like actual seals. When we got back to the Catamaran,
the captain turned the boat around and zipped us back to Union to
pick up the late folks.
After issuing the hellos and confirming that we didn't speak the
same language as the late people, we got underway to our next set
of islands- the Tobago Cays. We were really looking forward to these
islands because Tim and Cambria had had good snorkeling experiences
in this area (I might add that the free rum punches were starting
to kick in as well). When we reached the island, the captain ran the
boat to about 3 feet of water and had the crew drop a ladder-plank
from the front of the boat for us to storm the beach. Like little
drunken soldiers we took the beach and crossed the island (where the
snorkeling was said to be better).
The snorkeling on this side of the island was in
fact great. The water got deep fast, making it easy to swim
to the coral. Right off the bat, Cambria spotted and pointed out
a small number of medium sized squid. They hung out in a line,
undulating, as they watched us watch them. We saw lots of other
cool looking fish in the area (including a few trumpet fish that
were different colors). The only annoying thing about the swim
was that we noticed that one of the yachters in the area had
decided to anchor the back of his boat by tying it to the coral.
If only we were Navy Seals.. with rope cutting knives.
When we got back to the boat it was lunchtime. While the Captain
set sail for the next island, the crew started working on
preparing lunch. We, on the other hand, got back to work on those
rum punches. After about a half hour, the captain pulled the boat
into Saltwhistle Bay at Mayreau island. Lunch was brought out as
a buffet of different Caribbean dishes- saltfish (the national
dish?), fired fish, chicken wings, lentils, rice, some vegetarian
stuff.. It was all very tasty.
Saltwhistle Bay at Mayreau
After lunch we were set loose on the island. Being that we were
a bit tipsy (and Tim and Cambria didn't think the snorkeling was
that great on this island), we decided to hang out in the water and
toss the football around. We walked around the island a bit, crossing
over to the other side to walk in the ocean (it's the water in the
distance of the above picture). Back on the Caribbean side, we swam
back out to the boat to place some more drink orders.. The crew also
let us take a few dives off the side of the Catamaran.
A girl and her football
The last island on our trip was Palm Island. The ride over to
this island was the most interesting sailing of the day. There
was strong (ocean?) wind to move us along, and we bounced around
a bit on the waves (sometimes, the boat would hit a wave just
right and you'd get splashed if you were sitting on the trampoline
canvas up front). Palm Island was.. kind of silly. It's pretty much
owned by an expensive resort, but they still let people come
and use part of its beaches (perhaps there's a law). There were
signs every so often reminding you that the resort had rules,
but we were a bit drunk and surly by this point, so we didn't
notice so much. We tossed the football around in the water some
more. While we were standing in the water, Amy decided to stop
drinking her rum punch after someone noticed that the half empty
glass was suddenly almost full again. Whoops. Gotta watch out for
rogue waves. The folks from
the boat kind of bonded together over being drunk and obnoxious
on someone else's private beach. It was kind of cool.
On our way back to Union, Tim started talking with the Captain to
see if it would be possible to be dropped off at Janti's (sp?) bar.
So... Janti is a guy from Union Island that decided to build a bar.
Well, more to the point, he decided to build himself a
tiny island and then build a bar on top of it. Janti's Island
is about half a mile off the coast of Union in fairly shallow water.
He gets a lot of business from yachters that come over to his place
in their dinghies for a nightcap. Pretty cool, huh?
Capt. Yannis said it wasn't a problem to be dropped off on the island
(although it was up to us to find a ride back). Being that leaving
the island was an issue we could address later, we happily dropped
into the water and waded over to the island after the Captain
pulled up rather close to the island. Janti quickly recognized Tim and
Cambria, and brought us our first round of drinks (probably a bit
relieved that our huge Catamaran hadn't beached itself on his
handmade island). We found ourselves a spot on a bench in the hut
of the island, and sipped down a few rum spiked tropical drinks.
Somehow, I managed to trick Cambria into believing that it was
really only Tim and Amy that were drunk.
Funny..All those yachters, but nobody wanted to sit with us..
We hung out on the island (with a bunch of goofy yachters) and watched
the sun set. One by one we watched the yachters hop in their dinghies
and motor off (with them probably making cackling popeye noises). At
this point we (well, I at least) started worrying about how we were
going to get home. Yeah, we could maybe swim, but, not with our
backpacks, and not in the dark. However, like a good bartender, Janti
saw our dilemma, talked to some folks, and found us someone who was willing
to take us back to the island for free. The wooden boat was a bit shaky
with all of us drunk people in it, but we stayed dry. I remember
looking up and watching all the stars in the night sky, which seemed to
go on forever.
The Peace Corps life is starting to sound pretty good..
When we reached the dock, we tiptoed by the pools of
sharks and lobsters, trying not to disturb their rugby planning
efforts. Somehow we caught a van back to Tim and Cambria's place.
Wait, there was a visit to a bank in there somewhere.. with
a hen and its chick in the parking lot. In any case, we made it
home ok, fixed and devoured some Mac and Cheese, and then
slept pretty soundly. Wow.. quite the day..