Candid Cruising: Union Island
Union Island is a beautiful piece of real estate with astonishing, sculpted hillsides, wind twisted trees, stunning views and miserable people. Of course, one can't see into the human mind, but when one defines himself as unjustly impoverished and surrounded by rich white people who owe him something if he can just extract it from them, that's a working definition of misery, or a flavor of it anyway.
There were exceptions of course. Jerry, in Chatham Bay, was a local who engaged us as real people without an agenda, and we had several pleasant peer-to-peer conversations.
Lessons Learned & Anchorages
Skip Clifton Entirely. Unless you are a kite boarder, Clifton is miserable. The wind howls, the anchorage is small and crammed with boats, there are unmarked mooring tangles in key navigation or anchoring areas, power boats buzz incessantly close enough to reach out and touch and the town is not worth seeing, but does have basic and some elegant provisions if needed. Rain water is available for purchase, but bring something to filter out the extra pieces. Instead, anchor in Frigate Bay, dink to the dock and take the bus to town for $3EC to check in. Google Maps
Chatham Bay is a mixed bag. It sports a really nice sand beach, but suffers from charter boat inundation, noisy parties, beach thumping "music" and a decent side roll if the swell has much northerly component. On the plus side, there is a fantastic hike up the hills to the north that open out into steep and rolling meadows, sprinkled with goats and spiced with incredible views. Google Maps
Frigate Bay is outstanding. This is Union Island's most redeeming feature. Shallow, clear water, great snorkeling at the head of the bay, good holding and sweeping, surreal views torn straight from the pages of a Tolkien novel. We didn't have a chance to hike Frigate Rock, but it looks challenging. Google Maps
Frigate Rock, the only anchorage worth stopping at in Union Island
What to Buy
The prices in Union are, for the most part, outlandish. Except for bread in Ashton at $1.25EC a loaf, but go early or order the day before. Water from a local's hose is negotiable, but at your own risk. Your best bet is to live off of stocks and buy selectively as needed and as little as possible. The chicken's stop laying if you are within 3 days of a holiday or if your skin is the wrong color. Go figure.