It was only a two hour sail from Charlotteville around the headland to Bloody Bay. If one looks at the peaceful bay, it is hard to believe that it derived its name from pirate activity in the early 1700’s. It is a small bay with facilities only for day visitors.
Exploring Bloody Bay
We set out one morning early to hike to one of the trails in the Main Ridge Rain Forest Reserve. We walked along the quiet twisty tar road and marvelled at the grazing sheep and cattle that are tethered next to the road, keeping the growth on the verges short and neat.
After being largely boat bound we felt the 8km uphill slog, gratefully pausing at roadside bird feeders to watch humming birds. These tiny, brightly coloured creatures, not much longer than a match box, allowed us to approach within a metre as they hovered, perfectly stationary, sipping sugar water.
The trail in the rain forest was spectacular if wet and slippery underfoot, undulating from the ridge line down to several streams. Whilst the trees towered skyward, there were few of larger girth, we assume as a result of Tobago’s only hurricane in 1965 when, apparently, all the leaves were burnt black by the ferocious wind.
Seeing fishermen casting their nets one day, we swam ashore to lend a hand. The closer the net got to the beach the easier the hauling became, until a final effort brought up the finer meshed purse section. All the while the birds had a field day diving for a free lunch!
Thanks to the Sahara dust blowing from across the ocean, Tobago offers the most beautiful sunsets and on a few occasions we were lucky enough to see the fabled green flash which is caused by light refraction in the split second before the sun dips below the horizon.
Charming Englishman’s Bay
Moving on to Englishman’s Bay, we found this to be the most scenic and charming of all and, as in Bloody Bay, we were the only cruisers.
Here the water was not as clear for snorkelling, due to some heavy rainfall which turned the bay a muddy brown until the incoming tide washed it out, so we went for several walks instead and enjoyed watching the sea birds. One of our walks took us up a forest track where we discovered two large mango trees on which the green Tobagan parrots were feasting. With enough mangoes for all, we used the husk of a palm tree leaf to carry the fruit home.
Needing to be in Store Bay the next day for customs purposes we set off early with a pleasant breeze from behind. Fishing proved fruitless as the lines were constantly fouled with Sargassum weed, so we enjoyed the sailing, romping along in ten knots of wind.
Touristy Store Bay
As we rounded the famous Buccoo Reef we began to hear the thumping bass of disco beat coming both from ashore and from the passing local glass bottom boats. With kite surfers, wind surfers, jet skis and big crowds in the water it was clear that this is Tobago’s primary tourist spot.
Anchoring in this ostensibly spacious area was complicated by the presence of reefs and the four 30 000 volt undersea power cables, from Trinidad. They were clearly marked on the chart so we carefully chose a spot between them and the other yachts that wasn’t too deep, but provided enough swing room.
Up at first light most mornings we trailed lures behind the dinghy and were rewarded by catching several good sized King Mackerel of which some went to stock the freezer for when similar fish would not be safe to eat further north because of accumulated reef toxins.
We met up again with the family on Falcor, whom we had met in Charlotteville. As they expressed an interest in purchasing a catamaran, we took them out for a day in the lee of Tobago in champagne sailing conditions. Moondust coasted along at between 6-8 knots and we were delighted to catch another King Mackerel. That evening Sherrie cooked us the most delicious fish curry on board Moondust!
Needing a change, we decided to move a short distance and anchor off Buccoo Reef, famously proclaimed by Jacques Cousteau as the third best diving and snorkelling reef in the world. Getting there proved challenging as we couldn’t raise the anchor and I realised, to my horror, that we were hooked under one of the electricity supply cables. Manoeuvring Moondust proved fruitless so I dived with flippers and snorkel and managed to lift the anchor over the cable, where after we could raise it. Later the all too familiar disco beat wafted in from ashore with the evening lights, confirming that we hadn’t damaged the cable.
We found the reef rather disappointing, for, whilst the water was reasonably clear and there were extensive coral formations, these were a monochromatic brown and sadly damaged in places, with few fish. Maybe we were just spoilt with the amazing snorkelling in Charlotteville. We were sad to say goodbye to tremendous Tobago…
We are currently in Trinidad for our annual maintenance haul-out and are looking forward to our next Caribbean stop, Grenada, where Frank and Marijke from Holland will be joining us.