Sailing & Watersports: Island Girl
RSR Reviewed in March 2005 by Jill Wooler
My friends Chris and Gill and I arrived at Mount Irvine Bay for an all-inclusive full day sailing and snorkelling trip along Tobago’s scenic Caribbean coast on Island Girl. This brand-new, custom-built, state of the art 43 foot catamaran is sister to the well-known Natural Mystic which, at present, is undergoing a refit in Trinidad.
The highly professional and friendly owner and operator, Scott Clarke, greeted us on the beach just before 9.30 a.m. where we were introduced to several other guests who had been brought to the departure point from their hotels and villas by mini-bus. We were all quickly and efficiently ferried out to the catamaran on an inflatable with outboard engine. Boarding Island Girl was easy as she is equipped with platforms down to water level and a ladder that lowers from the front of the boat, making for easy access on all sides.
Once on board, after a short safety briefing, Scott told us that we were heading for Cotton Bay where there is great snorkeling and an amazing gorge to swim through. Stunningly beautiful and unspoilt, Cotton Bay is only accessible by boat. As we set off, initially under engine as there was not even the slightest breeze, the first thing I noticed was how very spacious, comfortable and luxurious Island Girl is. Scott explained that although the catamaran is designed to carry 40 people, she sails with just 26 on her day charters. Consequently, there is plenty of deck space to move around on and masses of cushioned seating areas on which to relax and enjoy a drink. In addition she is extremely well equipped with four separate lounging areas, both shaded and un-shaded, including two tanning nets (trampolines). There are two large bathrooms with all facilities including fresh water showers and also a fresh water hose on the platforms for rinsing after swimming. A sudden tropical downpour is no problem as there is a dodger right around the shaded areas. Snorkeling equipment and flotation devices are also provided.
As we headed north-east towards the wilder and more rugged end of the island, we had the most stunning views of Tobago’s beautiful, sunlit coastline with its secluded, palm-fringed beaches. Rising up steeply from the rocky bays were the forest-clad hills and bluffs with tiny fishing villages nestling amongst them. It was a wonderful experience to be on board, looking out for whales or dolphins, enjoying drinks and refreshments - served by the deckhand, Danny, from the open bar - and listening to some mellow background music. Danny, who thoroughly pampered us throughout the day, told us that the musical rhythm can be ‘cranked up to party calypso tempo, and “bottle and spoon” times, aided and abetted by a professional but friendly crew who tell stories and jokes and serve rum punches with the best of them’.
As we rounded a rocky curve, Scott pointed out Cotton Bay in the distance and told us that we could now enjoy some sailing before anchoring in the bay for a barbeque buffet lunch lunch, snorkeling and exploring. Speedily and efficiently the crew hoisted the sails that were instantly filled by the freshening breeze. Island Girl headed effortlessly out to sea, sailing beautifully. It was truly exhilarating, moving at speed over the waves without a sound except for swishing of the waves and the wind in the rigging. Being a catamaran, Island Girl she sits well in the water with no leaning so it is very easy to move around on board without spilling your drink! After ‘coming about’ we sailed into Cotton Bay and dropped anchor close to shore.
Before we began our snorkeling and exploring, we enjoyed some more drinks from the open bar and some delicious hors d’oeuvres. The crew gave us very helpful advice about the best and safest areas in which to snorkel and enquired if we needed to borrow any equipment, i.e. snorkeling gear. I decided to snorkel first and then swim to the shore and explore the beautiful, wild and natural bay. It was very easy getting into the water as there are platforms right down to the water and also a ladder that lowers from the front of the boat. I saw many varieties of stunningly beautiful and colourful fish in the reefs – some varieties that I had never seen before. I didn’t see any turtles or stingrays but a couple of my friends were lucky enough to see them that day. It was an easy swim to the beach and I then walked all the way along, revelling in the beauty and the seclusion of such a paradise. Hunger then prevailed, and I made a gentle and leisurely swim back to Island Girl.
The barbeque buffet Lunch was absolutely delicious! It was SO GOOD that I could go as far as saying that it was the most delicious meal that I had eaten on Tobago since we had arrived, but that might upset a few people! There was grilled fish, grilled chicken, local stewed chicken, salads, tropical fruit, garlic bread, spice cake and coffee and tea – as much as you wanted. Island Girl also caters for special occasions – including Birthdays, Weddings, Anniversaries or corporate and incentive events. It is also possible to create a customised trip, i.e. a Romantic Sunset Cruise or a Moonlight Dinner Cruise.
Early in the afternoon, the wind was right for a wonderful sail back to Mount Irvine Bay. I was lucky enough to be lying out in one of the tanning nets (trampolines). The experience was absolutely unforgettable – the gentle rocking motion of the boat, the sunshine, the breeze and the salt spray, the good company and the beautiful, lush scenery all around. I would strongly recommend this all-inclusive day sail and snorkeling trip on Island Girl to anyone visiting Tobago. Next time I am in Tobago, the first thing that I will arrange is a repeat performance of this wonderful day.
General questions and reports about this service should be posted in our Tobago discussion forum. Please contact the firm direct for information about prices and availability.
Telephone: (868) 639-7245
Fax: (868) 639-7888