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:: 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 scheming Italians.

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).

Invading Tobago

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?

Booze Island

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..

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