Thursday, September 11, 2008


Having a cool one at the Grenada Yacht Club before heading out into the heat for Carnival.

Dancin' in the Street!
Grenada, West Indies

We are in Grenada! In fact we’ve been here for 6 weeks now and are loving it. This morning at 10:30 the air is 32 degrees Celsius, the water is 28 degrees and the wind is light. We worked outside until we got got too drippy, dove in for a cooling drift under the boat (between the hulls) where we discussed what we needed to do today on our last day in Grenada – we’re leaving at midnight tonight for Bonaire via the Venezuelan offshore islands.

Our sail down from the Tobago Cays was brilliant. Fine weather, good breezes and moderate seas of 4ish feet. First stop was Petit Martinique, (not related to the well known French island of Martinique) – must have been a low inspiration day in this area of many repeated names. It is a tiny island surrounded by open reefs and sandy beaches to anchor behind. We found a modest selection of decent rum, wine and beer at quite low prices and loaded up with 2 cases of Chilean wine, much Heineken and a big jug of Mount Gay. Later wished we had bought even more! (Not because we drink a lot – just because it was so much cheaper than Grenada). A walk around turned up just the usual little rum shops on the first floor of people’s homes, one or two with big banks of speakers facing the dirt road, and no resorts or businesses except for the friendly grocery/wine store. The islanders were building a traditional wooden schooner of about 70’on the beach and we stopped for a while to watch.

Sailing from the north, the check in for the new country of Grenada is on the pleasant island of Carriacou, where we enjoyed the smart little town of Hillsborough (well, smarter than it was when we last visited 12 years ago…). The second town is Tyrrell Bay where preparations were in full swing for the Carriacou Regatta the following week. One race course is for the local fishing boats and the other is for cruising yachts. The last of the local boats were being painted and polished while several of the others were practising by sailing through the bay using the anchored cruisers as a slalom course. It was a little nerve wracking until we realized that they were in full control despite the volunteer crews off visiting boats.

Idyll Island made a splendid spinnaker run from Carriacou to Prickly Bay at the south end of Grenada. The 15 knot wind from astern pushed us joyously along at 8-10 knots for the entire 5 hour trip. We passed several smaller islands noted for their spectacular geography and scooted along the verdant Eastern coast of Grenada. We reclined in the shade of the spinnaker on the trampolines and ‘steered’ by the remote controller. Just doesn’t get any better! Actually, catching a fish would be even better, and just before arriving, Derek did, though is was just another baracuda. We released it but later found out that there is no real danger of ciguetterra poisoning in this area, particularly with fish under 2’. And barracuda are reputed to be particularly tasty. The next one won’t be gettin’ away!

Grenada is a lush, mountainous island with extreme greenery everywhere, friendly people, wild bus rides and at least a few of the amenities that we were hoping to find. With a population of nearly 100,000 tropical souls, it is a little modern and a little not.

There is much to do and see and the cruisers here are very sociable. We have hiked into several waterfalls including the Seven Sisters, where after a hand over root climb up to the top we jumped, dove, back flopped down each of the falls as appropriate to depth and location of the safe, relatively rock free spot to aim for. The final jump was over 30 ft –gulp, but we all made it with only a few bruises and scratches.

Grenada’s boisterous Carnival exploded onto the streets shortly after we arrived and it was great fun to be involved in the festivities – the “fancy mas” (for mascarade), or dress parade, featured different teams of wildly dressed dancers and VERY LOUD music. Each group had a theme and a story told by an announcer on a large truck mounted with massive speakers three layers high. We were near the judge’s platform and luckily got the full performance (and volume). Our hearing recovered hours later – more or less. “Panorama”, a contest between the seven best pan, or steel drum, bands in the area was held in the outdoor stadium. It was an amazing spectacle of 85 – 120 costumed musicians on stage playing their hearts out and we enjoyed it immencely. We gave the “dirty mas” a pass as it started in the middle of the night and is a raucous party where crank case oil and paint are smeared and poured over the participants. You are supposed to oil (veg oil) yourself down before arriving so that you have some hope of eventually removing the other oils. A note, something that is scheduled to start at time X should be translated into GMT (Grenada Maybe Time) by adding 2 to 3 hours.

Informal or somewhat organized events often take place amongst the ad hoc cruising community here. A few days ago we had a dinghy drift - a version of Sundowners where we tied the boats together, drank margaritas, passed appies and met newcomers as we floated around the bay. The Friday night fish fry at the fishing village of Gouyave, about an hour’s drive north, is a great local event. A group of about 25 cruisers from Prickly Bay and surrounds, piled into two taxi vans for the winding, sunset drive up the west coast to the 'Fishing Capital of Grenada' It was a hoot, with several streets blocked off and many stalls set up serving fried, steamed and bbq'd fish to all takers. The second time we went, lobster season was open - they were huge and fabulous. Clark’s Court distillery has a free, unlimited rum tasting bar and of course there is lots of music. Derek was a happy man (well until the following morning). They even managed to sauté some lovely shrimp w/o garlic or onion for Cathy. Fun to be part of the local scene.

Cathy joined some of the other boaters in tutoring Saturday morning remedial reading sessions for kids from 5 to14 years. Wonderful, lively, respectful kids; a treat to be able to help. We are finding the people to be very friendly and make our way around using the frantic little bus vans, hot and crowded (we’ve counted up to 19 passengers in a mini van), but cheap. We are on a cruisers budget now. We joined the 'Hash House Harriers' for a full moon walk/run through highland forest paths and streams, headlamps on, passing the occasional dazed goat and tiny hillside house with waving kids cheering us on. What they thought of 150 crazy locals and visitors striding (or stumbling) through the night I can only imagine. True to their motto 'a drinking club with a running problem' we ended up at a rum bar with a nearby ice cream stand. Derek reports that both the beer and the nutmeg ice cream were wonderful. Cathy even had a beer and it tasted pretty good!

We have found the Innova inflatable kayaks we had shipped in from Taiga Sports skim along at a very good speed and are manouverable and a lot of fun. Derek has discovered the sport of kayak surfing and just paddles over to the nearby point when the breakers are right – good rides, Dude.

We’ve now cleared customs, bought the last groceries and boat bits and tonight we sail for the Venezuelan islands of Los Testigos. Sad to be leaving Grenada and the cruiser friends we have shared it with – ‘Amaryllis’, ‘Bodacious’, ‘Gypsy Days’, ‘Merengue’,Cheeta II’, ‘Verna Breeze’, ‘Wildcat’, and many others Also, the many islanders who helped us including; Mike at Palm Tree Marine, who sorted out our engines; Dr. Sharon Sage, who sorted out our backs; and Cuddie the cheerful, reliable taxi man who showed us so many cool places.

With a bit of luck our next post will be from Bonaire in about a month. 'Til then, cheers,

Derek and Cathy