Tobago Cays are a few small islands behind a coral reef in the middle of the Grenadines. We had heard that it would be nice here with good snorkeling on the reef. As in other popular places, there are many boats and we are lucky enough to get a buoy at the turtle reserve at Baradal.
In protected areas, they place buoys to moor at. This is done to protect the bottom vegetation from being damaged by the anchors. It is also possible to accommodate more boats as each boat does not need the same area to move with the wind. The buoy has a rope almost straight down to a large concrete block on the bottom. The anchor needs a chain that is about 3-5 times as long as the depth, which allows the boat to move more laterally as the wind changes direction and needs more empty space between the boats.
The disadvantage of buoys so tight is that it becomes very tight between the boats and some of the calm we seek with the sailing disappears, it becomes more like being in a marina. On the other hand, there is more income for boat boys so they can live on it.
Our buoy was right on the beach at Baradal, which is reserved for turtles, so there were many turtles in the water around the boat. You see them come up and catch air every now and then. As we snorkeled we saw how they grazed from the bottom. If you just lie still in the water and happen to be where they are going to get up and breathe, then they do not seem to be afraid and rise up close.
There are many Boat boys working here, they go around in their small open boats with the area around Union Island as a workplace. They help with the buoys, sell fish, bread, banana cake, fish, lobster, BBQ on the beach, pick up the garbage, and as a taxi boat. The people working in Tobago Cays were nice to us, of course, we got several visits daily but they went on to the next boat when we said we didn’t need what they were selling. If we knew we needed new baguettes the next morning, then it was only to tell Mr Quality Man the day before and he brought us fresh baguettes the next morning.
All boat boys have a nickname they painted on their boat, eg Mr Quality Man, Romeos, Makefriend, Desperado, Captain Nemo, Dr 8, and many more.
We took the dinghy to Jamesby, a small island with a fine sandy beach, and there we saw an iguana sitting and nodding in a tree and a small hermit crab running around in its borrowed favorite shell.
We also saw large piles of shells from the Conch seashell, in some places it looked like coiled stones. Conch is popular for serving in Caribbean restaurants. We’ve seen it on the menus and now we know what it is and what it looks like. To take out what you eat, you make a hole almost at the top of the shell. So all the Conch shells with this hole in have become food. We have seen these piles in many places, so there are large amounts of Conch eaten, however, we have not yet tasted it.
When we got here it didn’t blow much and it made the water clear with over 10 m visibility in most places. We had heard that there would be some buoys out on the reef where you can moor your dinghy while snorkeling. We found a buoy in a canal out through the reef. We had to swim a few hundred meters before we reached the end of the channel where it started to get deeper and you could see how the bottom disappeared down and the water turned dark blue. Here we met a small crowd of BIG barracudas and really look like you do not want to come close to them. We didn’t come any further than that … Unfortunately, large parts of the reef look pretty lifeless, so I suspect that most of them are more or less dead.
The first night we came here, we ate grilled lobster at the Sunshine Restaurant which is located on the island of Petit Bateau. We got a large grilled lobster which was served with typical accessories (rice with vegetables, grilled potatoes, grilled banana, and coleslaw salad). We brought the wine glasses and white wine from the boat.
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