After deciding not to stick around in St. Lucia for a variety of reasons we had an early start leaving at 3am to set sail for St. Vincent. We were both excited and a bit apprehensive about what to expect in St. Vincent after reading very mixed reviews online(although taking advise from online sources can be a dangerous thing to do!).
The sail from St. Lucia to St. Vincent was very relaxed with a consistent force 4 on our beam with a fairly calm sea. Cups of tea, sleeping, and a very drawn out lunch was the order of the day. Our plan was to arrive in Chateaubelair, an anchorage on the north west coast, where according to our pilotage book we would be able to check in. As we were entering the bay we were approached by one of the boat boys. He was very friendly and helpful, very different to what we experienced in St. Lucia. We ended up anchoring close to the beach near the town dock in 10 meters of water. The beach shelves off very quickly, so if you’re staying overnight it’s best to anchor in the north of the bay where there’s shallower water.
Once we had dropped the hook and checked we weren’t dragging we headed ashore in search of customs. We were approached by lots of locals who were all keen to sell us their fresh fruit or show us their islands. They were all friendly and nice to chat to. We eventually found customs to the right of the dock as you go ashore, however unfortunately there was only immigration present, this meant that in order to fully check in we needed to head an hour or so south to Wallilabou Bay (one of the settings for Pirates of the Caribbean!).
After a very scenic motor down the coast, we saw the entrance to Wallilabou and was quickly approached by Nigel, one of the boats boys for the bay. He explained to us how we would set our anchor and take a line ashore to secure the stern. We were a little nervous about this as Sampanena is not a fan of going astern, going in which ever direction she pleases. However, Nigel was very helpful and used his dinghy to guide Sampanena into a snug spot. This was our first time going stern to, it was a weird feeling dropping the anchor at 25 meters and falling back into 2.5 meters!
After a couple of days snorkelling, visiting waterfalls, and having some beers with some friends who joined us the day after our arrival, we pulled anchor and set sail south. We noticed on the chart that there was a potential short stay anchorage about 5 miles south near a bat cave with some promising free driving… it would’ve been rude not to check it out. The anchorage was very tight as you have to tuck in close to the cliff in the little indent just south of the bat cave due to the swell and depth, we ended up anchoring with our stern about 10 meters off the cliff. We could’ve used a stern line to a tree on the cliff, however as it was only a short stop we decided not to.
Both the cave and the free diving off the point there were amazing, some of the best we’ve experienced in the Caribbean. It’s defiantly worth the stop if you have the time. You can swim right through the cave in a deep gulley with bats screeching overhead… truly an amazing experience.
We’re now hugging the coast of St. Vincent to try and get as far East before being exposed to the stronger winds and swell on our way to Bequia. It feels good to have our furling genoa back in action!
Wallilabou Anchorage Summary
The anchorage is very picturesque with a palm lined beach and lush green mountains. The beach shelves very steeply close to the shore, so the only way to anchor is by using a stern line to a tree. A boat boy is sure to help you with this, but they will expect 20 EC in return for their help. This anchorage is one of the only anchorage in the Caribbean where there has been little to no wind, a god sent when anchoring (especially with Sampanena), but the lack of wind can be right pain at night when there is no breeze to cool you down!
Provisioning / Facilities
There’s little in the way of provisioning / facilities, however this adds to the charm of the place. Boat boys will come around selling fresh fruit, veg, and fish as well as handmade craft etc. Due to the lack of facilities, the boat boys are often very grateful for any spare boating bits you may have that can help them maintain their own boats. Ashore there is a restaurant / bar with free wifi and hot showers, which is a huge bonus!
We’d heard very mixed reviews about St. Vincent, however we found the place to be friendly, welcoming and safe. There is clearly and issue of ‘ganga farms’ on the island that seem to be ignored slightly by the police, however we didn’t feel unsafe at any pointduring our visit. The locals were friendly, the free diving was epic, and the quite tranquillity of the place was refreshing compared to a lot of other Caribbean anchorages.