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St. Lucia - Tobago 4 - 8 May

There were thick clouds below us for most of our flight from St. Lucia to Tobago, but we managed to get a shot of some of the Grenadine Islands in the clear.  Before we started descending for the approach to Crown Point airport, we overheard another pilot ask the controller what the latest cricket score was! 

We got the surprise of our lives on arrival in Tobago! We expected our aviator friend Yvon Gemmet to be there, but we had no idea what was in store for us.   Yvon and his wife Judy had told the Ministry of Tourism about our round-the-world trip and together they arranged a big welcome reception for us.   I stepped out of the plane to be greeted, not only by Yvon and Judy, but also by  Mr. Benjamin, Deputy Director of the Tourism Division,  Mr. Henry, Advisor to the Director of the Tourism Division, Mr. Nicholas Hardwicke, Proprietor of the Seahorse Inn and Mr. Chris James, proprietor of Toucan Inn and Bonkers Restaurant and two TV cameras!  Then we saw a steel band playing over by the terminal and asked if a VIP was due to arrive.  The answer was: 'You're the VIPs, of course!' ( In San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico, we were asked to move our plane to make way for the President of the Republic, so we'd assumed the band was there to welcome another President.)

The cameras whirred as we moved over to the terminal to be filmed next to the steel band.  Then we were escorted into the terminal where customs and immigration formalities were greatly facilitated by the officials.

Next there were welcome speeches by Mr. Benjamin and Mr. Henry.  They presented us with a special welcome gift on behalf of the Division of Tourism and then Flemming was asked to step up to the microphone and talk about our trip.  He was also interviewed by the Channel 5 crew before we were ushered over to the bar for drinks and canapés.  What a tough life it is to be a celebrity!!!

Yvon Gemmet is a Swiss aviator and flying instructor. He met Flemming about 24 years ago in Geneva when he checked him out for his upgrade to flying a Mooney just after Flemming bought the plane.  Then he was my flying instructor in 1988 when I took some lessons before flying to Kenya for our Honeymoon.  He has been living in Tobago now for 9 years with Judy (originally from Trinidad whom he met in Geneva) and their two sons.   Yvon still returns to Geneva for a couple of months a year to teach flying, but for most of the year he and Judy run the Bijou des Caraibes - four serviced holiday apartments on their property at Mount Irvine in southern Tobago, near the best sandy beaches.

Yvon and Judy kindly invited us to be their guests in one of the apartments, located just beneath their own part of the house and set in a lovely garden with a swimming pool.  A gourmet lunch awaited us on arrival and ever since, their hospitality has been tremendous, even lending us one of the jeeps that they normally rent out.

We drove the jeep to Speyside in the north-east of Tobago in order to dive and snorkel.  It's a 90-minute drive each way so we decided to stay one night there so as not to feel too rushed.  As soon as we had checked into our hotel, called Blue Waters Inn, the dive boat and the glass bottom boat were about to leave.   Flemming went diving while I took the glass bottom boat excursion which combined snorkelling near Goat Island with bird-watching on Little Tobago Island.  I found myself in the company of a group of bird watchers who were kind enough to lend me their binoculars to view the red-billed tropic birds, frigates, sooty terns, brown noddies and boobies.  We saw a nest of red-footed boobies, but unfortunately the feet were hidden from view.  We also saw the colourful motmot and I am proud to say I was the first to spot a humming bird.

The American bird watchers were travelling with a group leader called Edward.  Edward is originally from Trinidad, but now lives in California and works as an artist, specializing in birds.  Flemming and I chatted to him later at the hotel bar and he showed us some photos of his paintings.  He has an extraordinary talent and I would recommend him to any bird lover who would like to commission a painting.  In case you are interested, here is his e-mail address: edrooks@earthlink.net

The next morning we drove over to Charlotteville, a delightful little fishing village on the leeward side of the island.  It was a 15-minute walk from there to Pirate's Bay where there was some excellent snorkelling round some rocks near the shore that were populated with pelicans and noddies.  I saw several species of fish that were entirely new to me, including a large round one with black and yellow markings that I couldn't name.

After lunch at a simple restaurant in Charlotteville, we drove back to Mount Irvine via the Tobago Forest Reserve and the north coast.  Pity there was no time to stop at the reserve as there is a good chance of spotting parrots.  We'll have to come back again and do it next time.

We dined out that evening with Judy and Ivon and their friends from Trinidad, Nathan and Dorothy Hazel.   Nathan was Ambassador to Trinidad in several countries including Nigeria and Canada, and they lived in Geneva for a few years in the 1970s.  The restaurant called Seahorse Inn had a superb setting near the sea with swaying palm trees.  The food was excellent and we were entertained by a steel band.

The next day was a work day.  Flemming did some routine maintenance on the plane while I resisted the temptation to jump into the swimming pool and stayed inside to write up the logbook pages for Dominica and St. Lucia.  It really is a hard life, you know...  sometimes!

We were scheduled to leave this morning (8 May) for Venezuela, but Jeppesen had forgotten to send the charts that Flemming ordered some months ago.  He contacted Jeppesen soon after our arrival here and they shipped them off immediately by Federal Express - but they didn't arrive until this afternoon.  Flemming has just checked them and the charts for Senegal and Madeira are missing.  At least, we have what we need as far as Recife (Brazil) and can have the rest shipped to our friend Lena.

Tobago is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt islands in the Caribbean but with enough development to have a good choice of restaurants and hotels. The diving and snorkelling were some of the best we found in the Caribbean.   We'll be back!


Judy and Yvon Gemmet, The Tourism Division of Tobago


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Overflying the Grenadines

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We were welcomed by a steel band
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We were also welcomed by Mr. Henry of the Division of Tourism (far right)
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One of the musicians with Flemming
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Flemming was asked to talk about our trip
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The Blue Waters Inn's pet macaw
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View of Goat Island with Ian Fleming's house to the right
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Maintenance time
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Judy and Ivon with Flemming in the garden of  'Bijou des Caraïbes'
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