After finally leaving the Tobago Cays, we headed to Union Island to check out of the country. The customs and immigration office is in Clifton, but having not really loved that harbor the last time we visited Union Island, we decided to anchor around the corner at Frigate Island. On the way in, we passed by Palm Island, a private resort island with a pristine-looking beach. It occurred to us, looking at that empty beach, that the COVID era is giving us a really unusual take on the places we’re visiting. In an ordinary year, would there be tens or hundreds of people with beach chairs and umbrellas?
We rounded the bottom of Union Island, grabbed a free mooring ball, and settled in for a lovely sunset. (It’s a short trip, but we’d wanted to stay in the Cays as long as possible, so we left on the later side.) We were one of two boats in the field at that point, behind the second-best-named boat we’ve seen this trip, S/V Entropy. (The best is still Patronus.)
In the morning, we started the watermaker and took the dinghy around to Clifton to check out. This was maybe not our best decision. We’d been advised that it’s possible to follow the inside of the reef most of the way to Clifton. That’s mostly true, and there are even bridges to let you pass through the mangroves north of Frigate Island. But the path through is a little dicey, with plenty of coral heads, floating lines, and shallow areas; it’s definitely possible to get through but not a route to try if you’re in a hurry.
So we got in, tied up at the dock, and headed to the customs office to check out of the country, expecting a simple process with a goodbye and maybe some fees. Instead, we got the run-around, because the customs official refused to check us out (!) without an email from Tyrrel Bay assuring us that we would be allowed in there. She insisted that this was the normal procedure, that it was for our protection, lest we be turned around at the border and sent back. I had an email outlining the procedure, which I’d been sent after filling out the proper forms, but the official deemed this insufficient. When I suggested that maybe it was my responsibility to make sure I can get into the next country, she asked aggressively if I was telling her how to do her job. (I mean, I was, but I thought I was being reasonably polite about it…) So we went to get lunch, and a haircut, and to track down some kind of stronger confirmation from Carriacou. (And we saw this car – what does this even mean?)
Anyway, after about ten phone calls, I managed to connect to the Tyrrel Bay port authority, who assured me that I had done everything I needed to on the Grenada/Carriacou side, but agreed to send me an email just to reassure this official. (“I’ve never had to do this before, but if it’ll help, I can write something up.”) When I walked back into the office, email in hand, the official triumphantly told me that this was the email that everyone else checking out had brought in. Whatever; it was getting past time to get back to the boat, lest the water tanks overflow.
We didn’t run aground getting back, the water tank didn’t overflow, and we were treated to another lovely sunset.
In the morning we sailed down to Tyrrel Bay. It was mostly a nice comfortable sail, though right after we rounded the corner into the bay and dropped our sails, we found ourselves motoring through a short but heavy downpour; here’s me trying to steer with my clothes dry inside.
So we anchored in the quarantine zone, dealt with health checks and all the rest of the check-in process, and moved ourselves into the crowded main part of the anchorage in time for a very different-looking sunset.
Bonus picture: here’s Captain “helping” us sort out our paperwork.