Friday, March 24, 2006

St Vincent Diving

We spent nearly a week in the bay at Petit Byahaut and in the unnamed bay close by. Each day we would go by dinghy to one of the nearby dive sites, most of which were conveniently provided with small boat moorings.

Visibility was excellent and the sites had lots of fish. The topology typically had a steep rocky shore that went vertically to 30-40 feet and then a fairly steep coral slope went on down.

Shortly after we arrived at Petit Byahaut a group of fishermen fished the bay by enclosing it in a net that they slowly brought to their boats. We were in the net and had to raise one of our anchors for them. They made a fine catch of jacks and tuna.

A few days later we were in another bay and the same bunch turned up again! This time we had to raise both our anchors and re-anchor once we were outside the net! Later, at Chateau-Belair another group of fishermen turned up and we had to move altogether!

Happily, we were on our way to clear out of St Vincent anyway.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

St Vincent

Following Carnival in Trinidad we sailed for St Vincent and The Grenadines with our friend Larry as additional crew. After stops in the Tobago Cays and Bequia, we saw him off to the airport in St Vincent.

We were then ready to relax for a while. We spent a few days at the southern end of St Vincent in the Blue Lagoon while we rented a car to see the island. We spent a day driving up the leeward (west) coast making stops at the Botanical Gardens and the Vermont Nature Trail. The highlight of the Botanical Gardens (the oldest one in the western hemisphere) was a descendant of a breadfruit tree brought by Captain Bligh of HMS Bounty, and the native trail gave us a glimpse of the endangered St Vincent parrot.

We lunched at Wallilabou whose claim to fame is as a set for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The early scenes where Johnny Depp arrives in ‘Port Royal’, and the chase scene where he swings on a derrick were filmed at Wallilabou.

On a separate trip we visited Montreal Gardens on the east side of St Vincent. This is a private garden that specializes in a profusion of flowers.

Having “done” St Vincent by land we started sailing up the leeward coast for some diving.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Carnival in Trinidad

We came back to Trinidad to experience Carnival. When we stayed here over the Summer were were repeatedly told that you can't come to Trinidad without experiencing Carnival!

We visited some Mas Camps and some Panyards but we skipped many events such as the Kiddies Carnival and the heats and semis of the various Carnival-related contests.

The first event we attended was the National Panorama Finals on Saturday February 25th. This is a competition for steel orchestras, pan bands of maybe 100 players. The sound from a band of this size is simply amazing! We watched and heard maybe eight bands over the course of an evening in the Queens Park Savannah grandstand.

On Sunday 26th we were back in the grandstand for Dimanche Gras. First on the program was the final of the Calypso King competition. There were 12 finalists singing - but unfortunately we could make out very little of the lyrics! Next were the finals of the Carnival Kings and Queens competition. These Mas 'costumes' are giant presentations (generally on wheels) with a person at the center! They are themed to suit the theme of the Mas Band they represent. For example, the winning King presented "The Power of Rome" as part of the Trini Revellers Mas "Rome: The Empire".

We got back to the boat at midnight but were picked up at 2:30am Monday to play J'Ouvert. Dressed in our simple costumes ("What D Sailors Want") we covered ourselves with paint and mud and shuffled through the streets to the sound of loud Soca music!

On Tuesday we were back in the grandstand all day to watch the Parade of the Bands. Each Mas Band parades over the stage in its 'Sections'. For example, Trini Revellers (who won) had sections of 'Gladiators', 'Senators', 'Scribes', 'Roman Generals', etc. each section comprised several hundred masqueraders in similar costumes.

We sat back and watched the Mas Bands. Our guests, Matt and Panteha, bought costumes and danced in the street with oue of the bands.

It was great to partake of this unique cultural event but now we're looking forward to a rest!