Grenada & Carriacou: November 20-December 9,  2007

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period


We finally pulled away from Trinidad on Nov. 19.  Staged the previous night at Scotland Bay, and left at 5:42 AM.  We could hear the howler monkeys in the nearby hills as we left.  Strange and eerie sound.  The usual strong current through the Boca was opposed by a fairly stiff wind, and so the first hour or so was a little bumpy -- after that things settled down and we had a very nice cruise up to Grenada, arriving at Prickly Bay at about 4:20 PM, a distance of some 79 miles.  Too late to check in to Customs, which closes at 3:30 PM after a long hard day at the office :-), so we cleared in the next morning before moving over to Hog Island.  Fairly crowded, but we found a spot and then watched maybe another dozen boats squeeze in later as well.  Our big boat makes sailors nervous, and so we generally have a goodly amount of elbow room around us, but sailboats continue to surprise us as to their ability to squeeze in next to another sailboat.  The new arrival will cruise around the anchorage, missing the anchor chains of other vessels by mere inches, circling, ever circling like a old female dog trying to get comfortable on a rug, and then suddenly, plop right in the middle where we would never dare to drop anchor for fear of giving our neighbors a stroke.  The irony is that from time to time one of these sailboats will drag, while we, however imposingly big and dangerous we appear, have never drug ever since we upgraded to our 110 lb. Bruce (and have learned just the right technique for setting it -- send in your name and email address on a $20 bill [US] and we will rush direct to you a detailed description of the technique.  Void where prohibited by law.)

How we do love Hog Island.  There have been some improvements since we were last in the vicinity.  Chris and Barb (Moonsail) are still at Clarke's Court Marina, but are now managing the place (with Bob -- the owner -- still hovering around in the background).  Their wi-fi signal now reaches out much further, thanks to an amplifier.  The Oasis has been spruced up, with flags and T-shirts and boat cards contributed by cruisers.  Chris and Barb host "burger night" -- with fries -- every Wednesday, preceded by an hour of happiness.  Saturday, Nov. 24, the Hash House Harriers used the marina as their start/stop point for the full-moon evening hash.  Bunches of us from the nearby anchorages participated, including Receta (Canada) and Shian (Scotland) and Ellinor (Sweden) and Dovekie (US) and Livin' the Dream (US).  Adventure Bound (US and Canada) was also in attendance, but they helped with the post-hash refreshments instead of running/walking.  The walkers' route was relatively easy, as befits a walk in the moonlight.  But the runners' route was nasty, with one section crossing a putrid stagnant tidal creek that was knee deep, and another section crossing right through the middle of a large tidal slough that had ankle-deep mud covered with an inch or so of salt water.  Chuck's shoes will never be the same.  But what really makes him sometimes wonder about his sanity is running down (or up) a steep narrow winding cow path that is choked along the sides by tall grass and/or prickly bushes and is strewn with rocks that would be just perfect for causing a turned ankle or an interesting tripped-up tumble.  So why doesn't he just take the easier walking path and be with Barb, instead of trying to keep up with all of the young folks on the runner's route?  The answer is very simple:  trying to stay young and  healthy.  As some wit once observed, if you stay fit, you are much healthier when you die. 

Other news from the area:  Anykine Marine is closed -- the owner snuck out in the middle of the night, still owing a substantial amount of money to a number of local backers.  Luke and his wife, both charming French speakers who sometimes have to struggle a bit with English, have opened Whisper Cove Marina a bit south of the fishing docks along the eastern shore of Clark's Court Bay, essentially across from Clarke's Court Marina.  Luke makes a cheeseburger that is to die for.  At night he makes surprisingly elegant French-style dishes for dinner.  They have a nice dinghy dock and free wi-fi, so they are very popular with the cruisers during the day.  They would be even more so if they could find a way to control the vicious mosquitoes that have set up residence under their tables.

With the full moon hash out of the way, the Harriers resumed their regular schedule and hosted another afternoon hash the following weekend, Dec. 1.  A number of us engaged a taxi to take us to the distant site of Florida, a small settlement just up in the hills from the more famous village of Gouyave (the fishing capital of Grenada), about which we have written earlier.  Once again Chuck managed to return without any major cuts or bruises but with extremely muddy shoes.  The hosting establishment was a local rum shop, and so the post-hash refreshments reverted from hamburgers to the much more typical "oil down".  The best way to describe an oil down is to say it is a lot like a low country boil (from Georgia or South Carolina), only totally different.  :-)  "Like", because there is one cooking pot for many different ingredients, all cooked together,  "Different", because the only ingredient they have in common is the potato.  Oil down is made with coconut oil instead of water.  There are many other ingredients, including dense dumplings, chunks of fish, chicken, dasheen, and others whose names I never seem to  be able to remember.  Washed down with bottle after bottle of the local "Carib" beer, bottled in Trinidad, the oil down is quite good.  Quite filling.  Without doubt, not the best diet for those attempting to stay "young and healthy".  :-)

Ann (Receta) described quite poignantly in her book, "An Embarrassment of Mangoes", going ashore at Hog Island to buy vegetables and fruits from Mr. Butters, a squatter on the mainland who was being evicted so that the Grenada Dove Preserve could be raped by a resort development.  (The development has since been stalled in the courts, but we understand that judgment in favor of the developers has recently been rendered, and so the pristine environs of Hog Island will soon be lost forever.  The minister of environment is said to have remarked that the rare and endangered doves could find somewhere else to live.  But I digress.)  Ann got word from locals that remnants of Mr. Butters' fruits and vegetables were still available along the foothills overlooking the Hog Island anchorage, and so Ann and Chuck and Barb went exploring one day.  We were especially keen to find the cherries that were rumored to be ripe.  Alas, we encountered a local cutting through the preserve on his way home after a spear-fishing expedition who said that we were too late -- the cherries had been plentiful and delicious, but had been exhausted a good two weeks earlier.  We did find an interesting fruit however, and Ann took back a sample to show her local friends.  Turned out to be sapodilla, good for making jellies, tarts, etc.  So the next day we went back and harvested a few.  We ended up giving our share to Ann, who intended on making a tart.

We had an outrageously long stretch of good weather while we were at Hog Island.  We were in no hurry to leave, but lots of our anchorage-mates left on Nov. 28 and 29 when the calm weather began to head north.  Pity, because Tusen Takk II hosted a pot-luck/cocktail party in honor of Barbara's birthday on Nov. 29.  (But we very much enjoyed hosting those who did come.)  As if to make the day especially memorable, mother nature delivered up a 7.3 earthquake under the sea north of Martinique at about 3 PM that afternoon.  Barb and Ann (Receta) were inside The Oasis at Clarke's Court Marina when it hit, and were sufficiently alarmed by the shaking that they ran outside as soon as they realized what was causing the glasses to rattle, the ceiling to heave, and the small Xmas tree to dance across the bar.  Chuck noted during a toast that evening that he always strived to make Barb feel that the earth had moved, but had not realized before that it was as easy as sending her ashore with Ann.

(*) Photo by Steve (Receta)

Moonlight HHH defrocked virgins (Nov. 24)

Dovekie has just been initiated after their first Hash

Ann with her certificate

Chuck helping Shian celebrate

The daylight (Dec. 1) Hash is beginning

Here comes Ann

Janie & Paul (Shian) finishing up the Hash

Paul's shoe after the Hash

Chuck finishing up the Hash

We all made it and are relaxing with a beer while admiring Chuck's shoes

Chuck's shoes after the Hash

*Oil Down cooking pot

Steve & Chuck enjoying some Oil Down (and Carib)

Ann (Receta), Anders and Catherine (Elinor) enjoying the Oil Down

*Local at Hash pushing hot sauce and home-brewed wine


On Dec. 3 we stopped briefly at Prickly Bay so Barb could catch a taxi to the nearest ATM and Chuck could take his SCUBA regulator to a dive shop to get the low pressure hose repaired or replaced.  Turned out to be just an O-ring, which Scuba Tech replaced for no charge.  By 10 AM we had left the Bay and were on our way to Carriacou. 

(Faithful readers will recall that Carriacou is geographically part of the Grenadine chain but politically the same country as Grenada, so we didn't need to check out on our departure from Prickly Bay nor check in on our arrival at Tyrrel Bay.  Carriacou has a population of about 5000 people, and is about seven miles long and four miles wide at its broadest point.  The island has one gas station and over 100 rum shops -- more about the rum in a later section.)

 Ann and John (Livin' the Dream) hailed us even before we had our anchor set, and we soon had an invitation for sundowner cocktails. 

The locals here are perhaps even friendlier than those on Grenada.  Chuck has been running on most mornings, and we have had some enjoyable walks with Ann and John, including an especially challenging trek up to the top of Chapeau Carre, either the tallest or second-tallest peak (depending upon which guide book you consult) on the island. 

Snorkeling in Tyrrel Bay

A floating workshop in Tyrrel Bay

A floating bar in Tyrrel Bay

Post Office in nearby Belmont

Delightful restaurant in Belaire

Restaurant is called "Cowfoot"

Schoolgirls outside a school at the foot of Chapeau Carre

John and Ann at the very top of the peak (Hillsborough Bay in the background)

Chuck and Barb made it to the top too!

A view of Tyrrel Bay from half-way up

Tyrrel Bay from a little higher

Tyrrel Bay from the top

Mangrove Oysters

 Before we arrived at Tyrrel Bay, Ann and John (Livin' the Dream) had purchased some mangrove oysters from a local, Robert, who on most late afternoons laboriously oars out on a peddling mission among the anchored vessels.  The oysters sounded delicious, and so we commissioned Robert to get another batch for the four of us.  Clever man, he requested that instead of his slowly oaring to the mangroves, that we accompany him with our dinghy, and give him a tow.  Which we eagerly agreed to do, since that would give us a chance to see where and how he does the harvesting.  Turns out the oysters are in flat shells, unlike those in Georgia.  And once one gets them open, much much smaller.  But oh so yummy.  In case you are wondering, John and Chuck ate them raw.  Barb stuck hers under the broiler for a minute or two.  Ann just watched.  :-)

On the way to the oyster beds

Robert enjoying his leisurely tow to the beds

Getting situated among the mangoves

Gathering is easy -- no muss or fuss

Clusters grow right on the mangrove roots

We've just begun heading back and Robert is already at work shucking the oysters

Busy as we return

When we arrived back at Tusen Takk II, here is what we looked down upon

Closer look at his on-the-move handy work

Chuck and John enjoy the fruits of Robert's labors

Look at how thin the shells are

Mangrove entrance lies at the right-hand base of the rainbow!

Tourist Villa

Ann and Steve were also on the island and we joined them one night for dinner at a fabulous restaurant near Hillsborough Bay. We have enjoyed many an interesting meal at restaurants in the Wndwards, in venues ranging from tumbledown shacks to neat and clean but relatively plain establishments, but nothing has compared to the surprising sophistication of ambiance and food of that evening.  When not out exploring, Steve and Ann were headquartered in a fabulous villa.  Really spectacular digs, and a gorgeous view of the neighboring islands and the nearby Paradise Beach.

Infinity pool at the villa

Famous Paradise Beach as seen from the villa

Major theme of the villa: turtles

This guy is for cleaning off shoes

This guy lives on one of the bathroom walls

Statue in the courtyard of the villa

Prayer behind the statue

Portion of external wall of the garage

More of the fabulous wall

... and more

Enjoying dinner

Villa (red roof) as seen from the ferry to Petite Martinique (cf next section)

Petite Martinique

The next day we rejoined Steve and Ann and we all took the fast ferry over to Petite Martinique, the third (and smallest by far) of the three main islands that comprise the nation of Grenada.  Here we found the friendliest island of all we have visited so far.  We spent some of our time looking for a particular young boatbuilder who had been commissioned to make a wooden boat for one of Steve and Ann's local friends on Grenada.  While we were out looking for him and/or his working area, we passed on the street a number of preschoolers, apparently accompanied by a young man.  I snapped a picture, and only later realized that the young man was just passing by, and not associated with the tots.  The children's teachers were bringing them to the town dock so that they could sing Christmas carols in exchange for donations to fund a Christmas party for the children.  After they sang for us (and we had taken our pictures and given our donations), we asked if they knew "Clyde, the young boatbuilder."  "Oh yes, he just now passed by!", was the reply.  So we returned to the dock area and soon enough were approached by young Clyde, a handsome, congenial, taciturn fellow, who had already learned from the highly efficient local grapevine that we were looking for him.  Clyde had a killer smile that soon left Ann and Barb apparently short of breath.  Why else would they be breathing so hard?  Clyde took us back up the road to his work area, and we visited with him for a while and took some pictures. 

We returned to the dock area and had a nice lunch at the island's only restaurant, and then resumed our explorations along the beach.  Passed an extremely friendly young man who directed our attention to his palm tree which was festooned with the tails of marlin fish.  "See the big tail up there," he said.  "That fish weighed almost 700 pounds.  Took three and one-half hours to land it."  Sounds like the lead-in to a hard sell about taking us out fishing, right?  Nope.  No such mention.  He was just friendly, and was just proud.  Steve, an experienced photographer, knew just what to say in order to get the young man to pose under his palm tree.  I took the opportunity to capture them both -- see photo below.

Then we passed a group of people gathered around a small fire which was heating a steaming half-barrel (split lengthwise) of water.  By now we had lost any residual shyness -- these locals are friendly.  So we detoured up to speak with the group, and discovered that young Clyde was there, eating lobster.  Turned out the locals were boiling lobster heads and then stripping the meat out for on-the-spot eating.  We learned the tails are ripped off, flash frozen, and shipped to locations as far away as Canada.  The heads, which we had always assumed contained nothing edible, were given for free to the locals, who boil them up and -- as we could see for ourselves -- find an enormous amount of meat inside, including in the legs and the antennae.  (Tropical lobsters do not have large claws like the lobsters of northeastern North America.)

When we returned to Hillsborough we popped into a rum shack for another interesting experience.  "Iron Jack" is the name of a certain rum that is shipped in barrels at extra high strength in order to minimize the weight.  It is intended that it be blended down before being sold and/or consumed.  But Carriacou has is own tradition, and that is to serve it up "raw" in quantities known as "eighths".  We are not sure what unit of measure an eighth is one-eighth of -- but if one orders an eighth one will get a soda bottle or some other like-sized container that is about half full of a just-poured but carefully-measured amount of the more-than-full-strength rum.  The standard way of drinking it is either straight, perhaps in a small cup of ice with a piece of lime, or mixed with a grapefruit-based soft drink known as "Ting".  So the four of us got one eighth and one bottle of Ting and four small cups of ice.  Very tasty indeed!

Shelter for ferry passengers -- Petite Martinique

Wooden boat being constructed right next to the ferry landing. Note the red flag on the bow: maljou. Used to ward off evil spirits and/or bad luck

Another view of the boat under construction

Two more locally-constructed boats -- one finished and the other in progress

A stretch of the road around the east end of P.M.

Young Clyde (see text) passing kindergarten tots.

The childred (and mostly the teachers) sing Xmas carols.

Isn't she precious?

Sign outside the post office

Barb just got stamps for our bound-to-be-late Xmas cards

Young Clyde visits with Steve and Ann

...and poses with one of his projects

Another angle

Ceder, pine, and marine grade plywood, covered with epoxy -- those are the materials. Oh, no printed plans or schematics.

Lunch at THE restaurant on the island

Steve capturing the proud marlin fisherman. (Note tails affixed to the palm tree.)

Boiling lobster heads.

Boiling pot

Stripping out the meat

The ferry dock back at Hillsborough Bay, Carriacou