WE MAKE IT! Carriacou and Grenada

Posted from Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada

June 16.  We got up early, went into Clifton, Union Island, and checked out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  Shortly after noon we were weaving our way out of the harbor and heading south for Carriacou.  We would be passing behind Palm Island, Petit Martinique, and Petit Nevis, so we expected the waves to be small and the wind good for sailing.  At first we were not disappointed – the waves were pretty easy and the wind quite managable.  But as we approached Carriacou we saw squalls heading for us from the east.  We were already reefed down, so that wasn’t a problem.

Hillsborough

A squall finally hit us as we reached Carriacou.  Lots of rain, but not too much wind.  We changed our heading away from Carriacou and waited for the squall to blow through.  It didn’t take very long, but it took most of the wind with it.  We turned on the motor to help the sails and worked our way into Hillsborough Bay.  We headed for Sandy Island at the south end of the bay.  We were going to anchor there and dinghy back to Hillsborough, but it looked like a long, wet dinghy ride back, so we motored back up the bay to Hillsborough.

The anchorage had lots of room and the holding was good.  We dinghied into town, checked in, walked around a little, and returned to the boat.  Once back aboard, we had a minor celebration.  The big picture sailing plan was to leave Maryland, head south, and spend hurricane season in Grenada.  Carriacou is part of Grenada, so we celebrated as we hoisted our Grenada courtesy flag.  We don’t have to check in again until after hurricane season.

It took over seven months, but we can now raise the Grenada flag!

Sail our boat to Grenada? Might as well try to sail it to the moon!

Sandy Island

The Hillsborough anchorage was exposed to the ocean and we rolled all night, so the next morning we eased down the bay and found a spot to anchor behind Sandy Island.  It is a very small, low island with very little vegetation.  The few trees were planted in an effort to help keep the island from eroding away.

There is a reef at each end of the island.  We walked the beach and snorkled the reef at our end of the island.  There were five or six other boats there, but everyone was pretty quiet.  We had expected to share the anchorage with a couple boats we know, but they skipped past and went around the corner to Tyrrel Bay.

We found this cowfish exoskeleton on Sandy Island

Tyrrel Bay

June 18  We spent a couple days at Sandy Island and then motored around the corner to Tyrrel Bay.  We found a nice spot to anchor near the beach at the north end of the bay, not too far from the commercial dock.  Tyrrel Bay is one of those places we have been looking forward to seeing because we know a couple who were based there for the five years they were cruising.  They are Roland and Kathleen on M’Lady Kathleen.  They decided to head home this year, but we did get to see them in Culebra as we passed by each other.

Tyrrel Bay has a street that runs along the waterfront.  There are a couple small stores and a few bar/restaurants.  There are also produce stands that are open some of the time and the occassional person selling freshly caught fish.  It’s a sleepy little place most of the time, but Friday night the Lambi Queen Restaurant hosts a really good steel drum band.  In addition there is the Halaluja bar, which is an old power boat anchored in the harbor.  Happy hour featured three beers for $10 EC – not a bad deal, indeed!

We found we could walk about a quarter mile to L’Esterre where there is a small bakery.  Just beyond that is Paradise Beach which is just across from Sandy Island, our previous anchorage.  We could also catch a bus to Hillsborough if we needed to do any serious provisioning.  They have a good fish market there and a nice museum.

Is there any other kind?

View of Sandy Island from Paradise Beach

The buses in Carriacou as in most of the Carribean, are minivans.  They run on routes that are common knowledge to the natives, but not published anywhere I have seen.  The drivers will pick you up or drop you off almost anywhere and the price is typically very reasonable.  Some of the drivers seem to have failed kamakazi school, because no matter how hard they try, they don’t seem to crash.  One afternoon we caught a bus that was full of school children.  It was pretty entertaining.

Typical view from the back of the bus

There was the typical boat boy selling fruit, but in addition there was one selling wine by the bottle or box, another selling oysters from the mangrove lagoon, and yet another (actually a boat girl) selling some delicious smoked fish.

Simon, the fellow who sold wine also offered tours of the island.  We took him up on it. Simon is a nice guy and knows quite a bit, but you have to ask questions to keep him talking.  We visited the eastern (windward) side of the island.  That coast is constantly beaten by waves and erodes away.  He made a couple stops in the town of Windward.  The town is known for building traditional Carriacou wooden boats.  We saw one that is nearly done and scheduled to be launched on July 11.  We also saw a boat that was just the keel and ribs – essentially the skeleton of the boat.  It’s quite interesting to see them under construction.

Simon, wine salesman and tour guide, looks at the windward coast

Carriacou sloop, about a month to launch day

June 28.  We stayed in Carriacou a bit longer than we intended, but finally got a day of weather that we liked, so we set off for Grenada.  The wind was fairly steady on the beam and we had a very pleasant sail.  We were only about an hour out when I caught a nice size blackfin tuna. About halfway to Grenada you pass Kick ’em Jenny, an underwater volcano.  There is a website where you can check on the volcano’s activity.  Luckily it was minimal, so there was only a 1.5 kilometer exclusion zone.  We passed pretty close by, but didn’t see any signs of activity.

Just as we reached the north end of Grenada the fishing reel buzzed and in short order we had another blackfin tuna on board.  Jackie predicted I would catch something because she had filled the freezer with her “catch” from the Hillsborough fishmarket, but neither of us dreamed we would catch more than one fish during the trip.

Making room for the freshly caught tunas

Mt. Hartman Bay, Grenada

By the time we cleared the south end of Grenada both fish were cleaned and stowed.  Good thing, because we were dead into the wind.  We rolled the jib and began motoring into the wind and bumpy seas.  Then the motor stopped.  We rolled the jib back out and Jackie started sailing the boat while I checked below.  I changed the fuel filter and got us going again.  There are a lot of bays on Grenada’s south side, but we picked Mt. Hartman Bay because it was close to us, close to town, and didn’t have a reputation for being rolly.  We motored in and dropped the hook.

It has taken us over seven months, but we are now as far south as we plan to go.

Next: Life in Grenada

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