The Turtle, the Fish, the Pelly and me!

The Grenadines have been a naturalists paradise . Offshore we have seen the elegant Tropic Birds , and as we move closer in it has been fun to watch Boobies and Terns feed on flying fish which in some ways are even more fascinating aerodynamically . Along the shore the Frigate birds bank , soar and chase after anything else that has caught a fish as it seems they cannot swim ,and at best can only pull tiny fish from the surface without actually landing themselves. The reef fish , corals , fans, worms and sea slugs are endlessly watchable and of course swimming along with Green Backed turtles as they bimble along endlessly chewing away at sea grass was a great privilege. On the island of Bequia one of the locals has set up a turtle sanctuary where they obtain hatchling Hawksbill turtles , grow them on in tanks and then release them from the windward beaches in an attempt to re-introduce this species which has disappeared locally . I am not sure if the numbers add up but if nothing else it is doing a great job in showing that the Hawksbill is a fine tourist attraction and has a financial value that is worth protecting rather than utilising as a horribly finite meal ticket.

From whale and peli hunting

Our favourite animal however is the superficially ungainly Pelican. On the water it looks like a disreputable swan , but with a cutlass instead of a beak. In flight it resembles a Sunderland flying boat ; short and squat , but as you watch you realise what a miracle of aerodynamic precision it is . The highly cambered low aspect ratio wings have more slots than a 747 whilst 5 large wing tip feathers spread out to make mince meat of the wing tip vortices. It is the perfect low speed flying machine and I had the great pleasure of a front row seat as one soared up and down on the lift from a leeward beach , absolutely decimating the local fish. How he managed to take off at the end of that session with such a full stomach I will never know.

From More Yoles

Mike and Louise are now back home and we did the 120 miles back up to Martinique overnight where we are reprovisioning and enjoying all the advantages of being in France but with MUCH better weather. We are anchored off the beach in Marin and it being Sunday , one of the local Yoles is training not 100 metres away. Incredibly , she is sporting two sprit sails – the foresail being about 50 % smaller , but the total area of this rig is now even more humungous and there have been plenty of spills. I am entranced and if anyone was foolish enough to show interest could bore for Britain ( or presumably Martinique! ) on the subtleties of handling these marvellous craft. Be warned , photos will follow!

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