By Clive Peterson
The Lat Long co-ordinates for Scarborough the main port in Tobago is 11 degrees 12 Minutes North and 60 degrees 44 minutes West. There are two main ports of entry into Tobago, Scarborough to the south side of the Island and Charlotteville north east of the Island.
Tobago is a very pretty Island twenty seven miles long and seven miles wide with lots of bays to anchor in to discover all parts of the Island.
Approaching Tobago can be done from all points of the compass but the popular approaches are from the north Grenada, from the east an Atlantic crossing from Cape Verdi, from the south, Brazil, Venezuela, or its sister Island Trinidad, and from the west it is more difficult for sailing yachts due to the prevailing easterly trade winds.
There are no marinas in Tobago as yet but there are plans that may materialise in the future. The main anchorages are to the Caribbean side, North Coast of the Island and three to the south side, I will list the Caribbean side first as it being more popular.
Milford Bay (known locally as Store Bay)
11 degrees 9.5 minutes North - 60 degrees 5.5 minutes West.
A very popular anchorage which can accommodate up to probably 60 yachts, there are mooring buoys but, unfortunately they cannot be trusted so it is advisable to go to anchor instead. The only marine facilities on the island are Store Bay Marine Services, located in store bay where you can get, repairs, fuel and water, an internet cafe with wifi plus laundry services. Bars and restaurants with takeout food are in this area. Buying provisions are a short walk or small cab ride away. Places to visit are Pigeon Point very popular tourist beach facility with fantastic views over the turquoise sea to the Buccoo Reef, a glass bottom boat trip to the reef and the nylon pool is recommended and great for snorkelling.
Located to the east of the reef is a small shallow anchorage normally used by local fisherman, it has a small jetty for off loading there catch.
Mt Irvine Bay.
Located to the north of Buccoo Bay also known as Little Courland Bay is a good anchorage in around 6 metres of water, there are good beach facilities, a hotel and main road access.
Stone Haven Bay.
A not too popular anchorage with 6 metres of water, you need to tuck in to the north point which helps in a northerly swell. There are two hotels and a beach bar facility and probably the best restaurant on the Island, The Sea Horse Inn.
Great Courland Bay
Located to the north of Mt Irvine Bay, Plymouth town is to the north of the bay and has a jetty, shops and small bars and restaurants nearby. Anchor just round Courland Point but watch out for the shallows running south of the point.
Running north of Plymouth are a series of small bays for day anchoring, snorkelling and swimming, Arnos Vale Bay, Anse Fromager, Culloden Bay, Washerwomen’s Bay, King Peter Bay, Gordan Bay, and Celery Bay,
Now halfway up the Island and having a back drop of the mountains of the rain forest this is a very pretty bay with lots of facilities, shops, bars, restaurants, hotels and apartments should you want a land break! In this anchorage you need to get tucked into the north point and close in as it is a deep anchorage.
11 degrees 17.5 minutes North – 60 degrees 40.5 minutes West
This is one of my favourite anchorages for its views and rain forest access. It is a very deep anchorage with around 14 metres of water the east shore being a little shallower for anchoring. On shore there is a beach restaurant and bar palm trees, bamboo, river inlet and good exciting bathing and snorkelling!
Another local fisher mans with a small jetty and 13 metres of water. There is a bar and restaurant a bit of a hike up the hill on the main road, overlooking the bay for good photographs.
This bay is fed by the Bloody River and close in is fairly shallow with rocks and drying areas, there are no beach facilities but it does have main road access.
Man of War Bay (Charlotteville) Port of Entry
One of the biggest and deepest bays on the Island, the smaller cruise ships sometime use this bay. The mid depth contour line runs at 50 metres and there is restricted anchorages shown on the chart, the best location for anchoring is adjacent to Pirates bay to the east but you will be in 15 metres of water. Charlotteville town is a port on entry with customs and immigration facilities, shops, restaurants and bars; it has a jetty and a dingy dock which is a bit of a luxury in Tobago. Again the back drop of the rain forest at 500 metres makes this a popular favourite anchorage. Off the boat you can do some great fishing here and i would recommend you visit this bay, this is paradise, fabulous.
Brissant & Tyrrel’s Bays
Having left Man of War Bay we are now going around the north of the Island and sailing between Tobago main land and Saint Giles Island to the Atlantic side of the Island.
As you head towards Brissant Bay you will see Goat Island & Little Tobago, there are five anchorages in this area, two to Little Tobago, two to Goat Island and one to the main land with a jetty. This is a bird watchers paradise in fact the other name for Little Tobago is Bird of Paradise Island, Goat Island is famous for the bond films author Ian Fleming being a recluse there for many years before his death.
To the main land there are hotels, shops and not too far away one of the best sea food restaurants on the Island Jemma’s Kitchen in Speyside, worth a visit for fresh lobster!
Pointing due south, this bay is good shelter in a northerly swell, some beach facilities and main road access. A deep anchorage at between 15 to 20 metres and is fed by a river.
Scarborough (Port of Entry)
This is the main port of entry in Tobago having a passenger terminal for sea cat ferries and cruise liners, custom and immigration, and RoRo facilities. The anchorage is to the starboard side of the terminal on entering and the entry can be busy. Scarborough is a typical capital city with all that has to offer, shops taxi’s, buses, and local restaurants and bars. This is the place to provision up with water and diesel being available but you need to get permission to come along side the jetty!
This is a fantastic place to visit for a yachtsman and a great place to explore some of the best anchorages in the world with the prettiest of backdrops, very friendly and helpful locals who are great people to, as they say “lime with” and enjoy the day.
Whereas this article has some detailed information it should not be used for any navigational purposes, it is a guide only. A caution on the charts states that anchorages along the north coast of Tobago should be avoided during winter ground swell season November to April.
I hope this article has given you some inspiration of Tobago and its sailing ground and we look forward to welcoming you to this Paradise Island.
For more information on sailing and Tobago, please visit my web and blog sites:
Thank you and great sailing
Author of “The Complete Guide to Learning How to Sail”
Stay and sail Tobago