Provisioning Pit Stop in Clifton, Union Island

There comes a time when the tanks are running low, beer is in short supply, there’s no more ice and more batteries need charging than our 12v converter can handle. That’s when a marina really comes in handy, and there are very few in the islands around the Cays. On Navily, (a good app similar to TripAdvisor for anchorages and marinas) I saw a single review for the Anchorage Yacht Club, and we decided to give it a try.

It’s a pocket-sized “marina”, with just one dock. We’d never docked in this particular way before: you drop anchor as you back towards the dock, and then attach the boat by the stern. We had to take a couple stabs at it and got help from Denzil, the harbor master, but next time we’ll know.

The dock was pretty old and in need of repair, but water and electricity were available. Peter did not like it, particularly the poor condition of the dock and the boatload of depressed-looking Swedes that docked next to us in a 51 foot charter yacht. They looked like extras from an Ingmar Bergman film, trapped in a tropical time warp. Peter spoke to the young charter skippers and suggested a few ways to liven up the mood of the stoic holiday-makers. The skippers got a good laugh out of that.

There are a couple of good things about Clifton, in particular, the ease of provisioning. Ice and cases of bottled water and beer can be had at the dock (same price as in town), there are a couple of grocers, and a large fruit and veg market open everyday. The best of these is the Island Grown Veggie Shop, which sells very fresh locally grown produce, including specialty items like arugula, which I’d been missing. Next time I go back, I’ll call ahead and request a coriander plant for our on-board herb garden!

The other great find was the Captain Gourmet shop, run by Linda and her hubby. Upstairs in the attic, there’s a very cool California-style cafe serving breakfast and lunch, that doubles as a yoga studio three times a week. You can eat indoors, or on the terraces overlooking the town or the sea. (Updated to add that we went back for some delicious sandwiches at lunch time: 2 thumbs up!)

Downstairs there’s a bakery that turns out some yummy breads, and a small, reasonably priced shop with gourmet dry goods, wines, cheese and eggs, homemade yogurts, and a marvelous little selection of locally-made samosa (fish, conch and chicken) and stuffed crab, as well as frozen meats. The truly amazing thing is that it’s not outrageously expensive. In fact, it’s quite reasonable, which is kind of a mind-bender!

Linda also sells a small selection of hip swimwear, hats and books, local artisanal items, and jewelry. We bought a couple of gifts made from Larimar, a light blue, semi-precious stone found only in Dominica. I wonder who those are for!?

On our second trip through,we made our way to Happy Island, a man made bar-island that was built when the town had a surplus of conch shells. A dude proposed to take them, if the town would let him turn them into a small island, and he could occupy it. Tons of ciment and conch shells later, Happy Island was born!

We had a terrific rum punch and enjoyed watching a kite surf extravaganza

There is a gas station in the town for diesel and petrol. Immigration and customs procedures can be done at the little local airport and also in town, just a 5 minute walk away. And, there’s a pretty “official” looking marine workshop called Marine Tech SEV. We saw the guys at work, and they seem pretty serious.

We had supper at the Barracuda restaurant. Their pizzas, wholesome as they are, don’t come even close to those of our favorite pizzeria Grazie Mille back home.

We left Clifton after less than 24 hours, but we already know we’ll be through there again before heading to Tobago next week!

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