Clearing out at Union Island

Our sail from Tobago Cays to Union Island can best be described as boisterous, – or maybe fast and furious – something like that anyways. Trade winds were howling at 25 knots, occasionally punching the 30 marker once we reached open water. We roared into the main channel, doused our sails, and circled for a couple minutes outside the inner harbor getting our bearings and checking out the lay of the land. Whether we anchored or picked up a mooring ball, either was going to be a challenge because boats are just packed in this harbor, holding is less than ideal, and though the water was flat, the wind was screaming in the rigging. As we pulled into the eastern side of the harbor, we saw a boat leaving a mooring; pulling closer, we realized it was Sapphire, and as they left, they told us the mooring seemed to be very strong as they had been on it for a few days without incident in all the strong wind. It was tucked up close to the reef and seemed a perfect place to spend the night.

Union Island Passages
Union Island Passages

There are two anchorages here at Union divided down the center by a shallow reef. There’s more room on the western half, but the channel there is exposed to constant wakes from ferry boats and commercial vessels as they come and go at all hours of the day and night. Though more crowded, as you see here in the photo to the right, the eastern side is calmer, has no big boat wakes, and you lie quietly all night long. A few of the boats dragged a bit while trying to set their anchors, and several reset the anchor more than once before they were comfortable with their position. I was not excited about paying for a mooring, but given the circumstances, it seemed a wise choice.
The Eastern Side of the Harbor at Union
The Eastern Side of the Harbor at Union

I don’t have a lot to say about Union Island or the town of Clifton. I don’t know if everyone I met was having a bad day, or if it just seemed that way to me. First I was screamed at for daring to tie my dinghy up to a dock at a restaurant. The dock was falling apart, literally. Then, once I quietly stated my reason for being there, I was allowed to stay. I walked to where the Customs house was supposed to be only to be gruffly told that it was “down the street – that way, not here”.
Downtown Clifton
Downtown Clifton

When I found the place, the officers were definitely not friendly, but I kept my mouth shut, stated my business, and cleared out in record time. We’ll have to talk to some other cruisers to determine if this is the norm, or if it was just “Be Rotten to Steve Day.” 

Sail South to Carriacou