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We have been at sea for 17 days, seen almost nothing but deep blue water, different kinds of clouds, many flying fish, a few dolphins, a beautiful Blue Marlin and each other. This was a very special experience which was mostly pleasant but I hear an infectious enthusiasm in French in his voice as he shouts: "Land in sight !!! I see islands, look!"
Union Island, here we are. We drop anchor in Clifton because this is the place to clear in the country of 'Saint Vincent and the Grenadines' (yes that's a country and that's what it's called!). The arrival in Clifton is quite exciting because it that moment there are quite a few boats and at the edges and in the middle of the bay there is a shallow reef that you do not want to end up on. A few boatboys arrive immediately but they are very polite and when we say that we do not need mooring because we are going to anchor, they go away neatly Anchoring is fine and as soon as we realize we are there, that we have successfully crossed an ocean, we get into a whore mood How cool to just hupsakee cross an ocean in your own small boat!
After jumping into the water to cool off and check anchor, we pull open a bottle of wine to celebrate arriving and we don't care that it's only morning in Union. The whole trip we had no wine and on top of that we often changed the clock during the trip so time has become quite a vague concept for us at the moment and we have to celebrate the crossing! Frans looks with twinkling eyes and I think I look back just as beaming. How nice to arrive after an ocean crossing! We enjoy the moment intensely and look around us and are happy with the clear turquoise water and the view of the green mountains. Two hours later we feel like we have to go to work; we have to go through customs and that is not possible late in the day. Blow up Dinghy, get your motorbike on and go, explore the country and search for Customs & Immigration.
When we moor the dinghy, a black man with a partially toothless mouth immediately comes up to us and laughs and takes over my rope and puts it around a frog. He asks where we are from and wishes us a very warm welcome when we say that we have just crossed the ocean. That is unique, he says, hardly anyone arrives on Union Island directly after an ocean crossing. His name is Herman and he says he is the friend we need here at Union. He can show us the way. We like it, he is a nice man and he is originally from Union and we find it very interesting to talk to residents because that way you get to know more about the country and the people very quickly. Herman is a bit of his apropos today because there were elections yesterday and things seemed to have gone wrong with that. It is ridiculous that there is no Prime Minister now, he says. After we have been out with him for a while and he has had a beer, he walks through the airport (we clear that up) and shouts "Meet the Prime Minister, I'm your new Prime Minister!" He doesn't seem to be very good at alcohol, but luckily he has a cheerful drink and the whole thing works on our laughing muscles. "Relax man! Take it easy!"
Herman walks with us from the airport to the center, he knows the way. Clifton is small and cozy. Everything here is relaxed, happy and easy. Even the currency here is called EC, which of course you pronounce as "easy". The houses are all painted in very cozy cheerful colors, much more than that already was the case in Mindelo. Everything exudes a relaxed, cheerful atmosphere and we feel completely delighted that we have chosen to sail an extra day after Barbados and that we are going ashore here. Barbados seems to be not very special and quite English in style and we wanted to get off in a place that exudes Caribbean vibes. That worked!
How beautiful it is here, we marvel at everything that looks so cozy and nice. It's pretty messy but in a very colorful, cheerful way. What a lot more fun than all the gray boring that the Netherlands (and many other countries) contains so much! Why does it all have to be sleek, in dull gray tones and without a sense of cheerfulness? The colors around you here in Union alone make you happy, not only the buildings but also the garments are executed in an explosion of splashing colors. The landscape is also really beautiful. Lots of palm trees with coconuts, lots of beautiful green grass, many beautiful trees and other green vegetation and beautiful flowers in between. There is enough rain here (we are here in the middle of the rainy season) but the rain is warm and it does not drizzle for weeks; just a big shower and then it's sunny again. Herman shows us his sister Jenny's tent. She has a very nice shop with a lot of fruit and vegetables. Yesss, there is a lot of choice of delicious fruit and vegetables and that makes us (especially me) very happy and I feel very rich the next day (when we do some shopping here). During the crossing we had fresh fruit and vegetables every day, but not as many as normal and the last few days it was, except for the onion, garlic and potatoes, unfortunately gone. I think it's funny to experience that I can feel so rich when I see our well-stocked fruit and vegetable cupboard in our boat :-) Herman is a fisherman and we promise to buy him fish the next day. Locally caught fish from a local resident seems to us to be an ecologically sound choice.
We will stay at Clifton for a total of 5 days. The wind is quite strong (20-25 kt) but that is nice because it is very hot (30-35 degrees). The anchorage is very good and we sleep wonderfully at night without worrying about breaking free. The second day after arrival we go on a dinghy expedition to Palm Island, snorkel there on the reef and I see my first shark! It swims about 10 meters in front of me and is about 1.80 meters long. The anchor of the dinghy didn't hold, so Frans is in the dinghy, we take turns snorkeling. Frans is quite a long way off with the dinghy so I'm nice on my own with my first shark. Fortunately, he or she is not very tall and has no interest in me at all, but I swim backwards anyway :-D
The next day (and the days after) we go to Happy Island, which is a tiny island where the entire island is covered by a tiny bar and the surrounding terrace, that's it; island full. And of course it is called "Happy Island", We are here in the Caribbean after all. Rastaman is the owner and plays nice music and serves delicious rum punches. Our first ever! Rum punch is a fruit mix with rum and grated fresh nutmeg on top. The nutmeg here tastes very different (much better) than that in the Silvo bags in the Netherlands. We think Union Island is very expensive and we are happy that we still have a boat full of stock! Vegetables, fruit and fish are affordable, but products flown in/in and out and terraces are expensive so that costs a lot of EC (East Caribbean dollar). It's nice to walk around in Clifton, except for the beautiful houses, signs, trees and flowers, there are a lot of people (always men by the way) who want to have a chat and that makes for entertaining conversations.
Actually we would really like to drop anchor at Frigate Island (which is adjacent to Union) and in Chatham bay on the east side of Union but unfortunately we have time to make choices and we choose to visit these beautiful places as well as Mayreau while cruising past it towards the Tobago Cays. This is a nature reserve consisting of uninhabited islands with white beaches, beautiful coral, many turtles, rays, swaying palm trees and turquoise water .... You get it, we really want to see if this is all true! And if so, we want to be able to stay long enough :-)
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