St Vincent and the Pirates of the Caribbean

St Vincent and Grenadines. Photo: Unsplash
I was originally heading straight for Bequia - but passing St Vincent, I decided to make a short stop there. The charts showed a protected bay, to which I headed - and it turned out to be exactly same bay where most of the Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed!

Remember the opening scene of that Disney movie, with Johnny Depp as Cpt Sparrow entering a harbor on the mast of a sinking ship? Yes, that very mast was there, that very dock too (though already half-destroyed by the hurricanes). There was a small POTC museum, and there are a few bars in the vicinity of the bay that picked up the pirates’ theme and deliver a splendid atmosphere. There were rough winds expected, so I stayed in the bay for a couple days and enjoyed the tranquility and beauty of the island, while also doing some necessary work. By that time, I started writing for a couple of sailing magazines, and had articles on the way.

The island of St Vincent is home to Black Caribs, whose story is probably even more exciting than the Pirates of the Caribbean. At the time when Columbus was discovering the islands and all the Christened world was going for grabs and making colonies there, the islands of West Indies (it's called West Indies because Columbus thought he was sailing to West India... yes, there were no GPS charts back then) were inhabited by feared locals, that Columbus called "Caribs" - which means "cannibals". Yes, they were cannibals; they also tortured their victims, by for instance ripping off their arm or leg and eating it in front of them while the victim was still alive. The women were the cruelest. As you remember, the cannibals were present in the POTC movie too - where Captain Jack Sparrow became their leader and also was going to be eaten up, so now you have an idea. All of these Caribs are gone now, except for a tiny reserve in a village called Fancy, in Dominica. The Caribs did not stand a chance to the Spanish, English and French, and many were brutally murdered, but on the island of St Vincent they still lived and thrived while the rest of the islands were colonized. The Europeans used African slaves to run the plantations and basically do all the rest of the work, so many ships with captured Africans arrived to the Caribbean (many locals here are descendants of these slaves). One of these ships got wrecked on St Vincent, and the Caribs captured the Africans and decided to make them their own slaves.

That didn't work out so well. These people turned out to be aggressive and war-like. Caribs were having a great deal of trouble with them and failed to make them obey. After a while, they decided to put an end to this by killing all the boys, so to prevent the war-like genes from spreading. When the Africans heard it, they did not get too happy. They rebelled, and ran to the mountains, taking some Carib women with them. They became a feared clan called Black Caribs. I would love to see Disney making a movie about that...

A resort off St Vincent. Photo: Unsplash
My boat was moored in Wallilabou Bay. On the other side of the bay, there was an even higher cliff, which was used as a punishment (according to the words of my source, mostly for infidelity). The anchorage is tricky (the island is steep-to), so moorings are to be used. A lot of boat boys would come and help out with mooring, but are only interested in getting payed - so they manage to moor boats in potentially dangerous places! I said no to them, saving money and getting securely moored on my own, but a multihull beside me almost went crushing into my boat during to their bad mooring technique.

All in all, a great stop on the way. By this time, it really felt like the magical sailing I had dreamed of.