After a very unsuccessful free dive off the Tobago Cays swimming into 2 knots of current, we lifted our anchor, navigated the reefs, and set off on the short sail to Union, Chathum Bay. We had considered stopping off at palm island, and island off the east coast of Union, however due to the swell it looked pretty uncomfortable, so we continued around the south coast of the island and dropped anchor in 5 meters of water at Chathum Bay.
This bay is very picturesque with plenty of room to anchor, especially towards the end of the season. After our failed free diving attempt, we were super keen to head back in in some more sheltered waters. On the charts it looked like off the northern headland there was some potential for some good drop offs. Again, due to having no outboard, we were resorted to swimming the 500m distance out to the headland. We were however rewarded with clear waters and some nice drop offs with a wealth of marine life from some large barracuda to loads of squid. On our way back, we even found a small abandoned Bruce (anchor!). Result!
There are several small bars scattered along the shoreline topped off by a fancy resort to the south of the bay. We spent a lot of time chatting, drinking and eating with two friendly bar owners, Bald Head and Shark Attack. Although they knew we were on a tight budget and had no money on us (having just been on a hike), they continued to offer us drinks and food throughout our stay for little to no cost. We spent many hours sat with them chatting about island life, the politics on the beach (which is a surprising amount!), and the key to happiness. One advantage with cruising these islands later in the season is that the locals are starting to unwind and relax some more (if that’s even possible!), meaning they have time to chill out with people like us!
After looking at the weather we made plans to leave early Tuesday morning for a short stop at Petit St. Vincent before heading onto Carriacou. As you can’t check out in Petit St. Vincent (it’s a private resort) we decided we’d walk into Clifton to clear out with customs. This was a much longer walk than we had first thought. On the way we were joined the majority of the time by a dog who decided he wanted the company, much to the disapproval of every other dog we walked past which caused quite the scene… and there are a lot of dogs on Union!
Checking out was an easy process, unlike the walk there and back! On the way back, we were once again joined by two more dogs. However, the slightly confusing thing was that these were not your two standard stray dogs, they were two pure bred golden retrievers which were very well trained, from understanding the command ‘sit’ and ‘stay’, to ‘paw’. These two dogs ended up taking following us to the extreme… they made the 200-meter swim out to our boat, swam around for a bit, and then swam back to shore when we went back to have a drink. According to the locals, these dogs are owned by two rich business men and they spend their days following yachts men to their boats before wondering off home at the end of the day. Not a bad life!
The sun is just rising above the horizon and with coffee in hand, we’re pretty much ready to go. Next stop, Petit St. Vincent.
Chathum Bay Summary – Union Island
Chathum bay is well sheltered, especially in the northern part, with loads of room to anchor in 3 – 6 meters over sand. There’s the occasional gravely patch so it’s well worth the dive on your anchor to check it’s in a good patch of sand, although with thewater being so clear this isn’t so hard! There tends to be some strong gusts that come down the hills so making sure you’ve got a good bit of space is always a good idea as boats tend to swing a lot. In our opinion, Chathum is a more pleasurable anchoragethan Clifton which is much less sheltered and rolly.
There is little in the way of provisioning here. Your best bet is to get a taxi or make the walk into town (about 30-45 mins) where you’ll find small supermarkets where you can buy the basics. There are however several reasonably priced bars and restaurants along the shoreline – our favourite being the two most northern ones.
We absolutely loved our time in Chathum, with really friendly locals, plenty of room, some good freediving, and super friendly dogs! The only downside being that if you are to check in or out of the St. Vincent Grenadines it’s a bit of a hike into Clifton – however if you’re not on such a tight budget, the most northern bar / restaurant is able to organise a taxi to take you there and back.