The Bible for sailors in the Windward Islands (Martinique to Grenada) is the “2011-2012 Sailors Guide to the Windward Islands” by Chris Doyle. It’s 5-star rated and about $20 on Amazon.com. Don’t leave your anchor without reading it for essential local area knowledge.
Secondly, you can find an exceptionally well written chart briefing by Philip Bernard at Barefoot Yacht Charters http://www.barefootyachts.com/html/chart_briefing.html He’s a world-class sailor; heed all his navigation advice!
Now we’re getting into God’s rock garden for sailors. Mayreau is blessed with two bays which are perfect postcards of the Caribbean with their palm trees and sweeping half-moon beaches. Both Salt Whistle Bay (on the north) and Saline Bay (on the south) deserve a day or more.
Nav note Salt Whistle Bay: Study your chart, and read the guide book. Navigate this area carefully and precisely with planned compass headings. Like most bays it must be entered in the center and only when you can see the entire opening. Reefs are great for diving, and not so great for scraping barnacles off the keel. Anchor at the head of the bay in 8 to 10 feet of clear water. It’s a sand bottom and reasonably good holding ground, but in spite of doing everything right and holding for 11 hours, we dragged anchor in the middle of the night in 30 knot winds. My advice? Lots of scope AND a second anchor and dive them.
The beach and the snorkeling and walking the narrow spit with the palm trees are well… close to heaven on earth. Around sunset remember to turn on your anchor light to find your way home, and wander in to the quaint beach to meet other cruising yachties. Since there is only one shanty of a beach bar you can’t miss it. Stay for dinner (but don’t say “we’re not in a hurry”, or they will take you at your word). Chill out and have another rum punch, since the reward is great food at reasonable prices.
Take time to visit the old stone church (built in 1929 by a Benedictine monk).
Start at the dinghy dock and stay straight on the the paved road, After a steep 25-minute walk you’ll get to the “settlement” on top of the hill, where 400 people, and about the same number of chickens, cows and goats live. The windward side of the church’s “back yard”has spectacular sea views dotted with islands.
Nav note Saline Bay: Stay well clear of Dry Shingle and Grand Col Point. Continue southbound until you can see the entire opening of Saline Bay. Then turn northeast and remain in the center of the bay.
Saline Bay is worth an extra day, even though it’s occasionally temporarily cursed with cruise ships. The highlights of visiting there are sun and sand during the day and drinks and dinner at Dennis’s Hideaway at sunset. It’s a short hike up a steep hill. Make reservations because no meals are served unless Dennis is personally there as chef. Both the food and the ambiance are memorable.
After dinner have a drink with Dennis, and you will be well laughing all the way home.
He’s a retired charter captain, Justice of the Peace, entrepreneur, chef and bon vivant who lives to entertain.
Note that there is a road connecting Salt Whistle Bay and Saline Bay, so you could reach there by a pleasant walk from Salt Whistle Bay. But could you find your way home when the late show is over?
[sail on to Tobago Cays]