Grenada – The Spice Island – has 75 miles of coastline with lovely sandy beaches, and an interior of lush tropical mountainous rainforest, and different spice trees which give it it’s name as the ‘Isle of Spice’. It really is a pretty place. We are now in the southern most Island of the Windward group. The Windward Islands extend southwards from the Leeward Islands. Grenada is the southern most, and Martinique the northern most of the group. They are all of volcanic origin.
We drop anchor in Prickly Bay at the southern end of Grenada at 10.00am after an 80nm run up from Trinidad. It was a rather ‘lumpy’ crossing sailing on a close reach with winds between 18-28kts. We also had a 2kt current pushing us to the east, then it would swing to the west, then back again, for most of the crossing. This is the first time in ages that I did not feel like dinner, so Alec only got eggs, as I did not want to stay inside for very long !! Also it was humid. The only positive thing about the trip was that we had a nearly full moon. That always makes for nice night passages. Twenty five miles north of Trinidad we passed an oil platform all lit up like a Christmas Tree.
Prickly Bay is a pretty spot and a favourite with yachties. The Bay is surrounded with well to do homes with some lovely gardens. The top end of the Bay branches in two, one with the ‘Spice Island’ boat yard, and the other has a small Marina. Most yachts anchor out as the holding is excellent and the shelter is also. One great thing about the Caribbean so far is that dinghy docks are provided free in most bays.
Our first stop was the boat yard as there is also a decent size chandlery full of boat bits, and batteries are top of the list. We were in luck. Around the walls of the shop there were at least half a dozen different brands of batteries. Alec found the AGM ones he wanted. The brand is Lifeline, so we were able to get three new house batteries and a new start battery. Great, now we should be back in business power wise. As it was a Friday when he purchased them, we had to wait till Monday to have them fitted. We moved SHAMAL right inside the Bay so we were sitting only a short distance from the yard.
On the other side of the Bay at the marina was a great Bar and Restaurant with a great free WiFi. We spent quite a lot of time here catching up with the outside world on the internet, meeting new friends, meals, and here we got to see the steel pan live music. That was another great evening. The Rum Punches were good, but the Beer only comes in 250ml bottles, and, the coffee was poor.
Come Monday morning the new batteries were fitted by Oscar from the boat yard. Oh what a difference. The old start battery still has enough life left in it for it to be used with our power snorkel, so Alec keeps that one – now to find a place to store that !!
It was time to do some site seeing. So with an American couple on a yacht anchored next to us, Steven and Linda off “MOONDANCER”, we set off in a mini van to see the Island for the day. We started off driving around some of the southern bays passing one of the holiday homes which belong to Oprah Winfrey. Then it was on to visit a Herb and Spice garden. Next on to Fort Frederick which has a panoramic view over St George’s, the capital of the Island. Our guide was ‘Alice In Wonderland’, that is what she called herself. The fort was built by the French in 1779, but soon taken over by the British who used it to defend against the French. For two decades control of the land shifted back and forth between Britain and France. Eventually the French ceded Grenada to the British. Alice also gave us the history of the two hurricanes which hit Grenada with full force in 2004-2005, within 10 months of each other. Hurricane Ivan was the first, destroying much of the rainforest – which has now rejuvenated, but more tragically, wiping out or damaging 90% of the homes and buildings on the Island. The prison was damage to such an extent that the majority of prisoners were able to escape, if only temporally.
We then drove up through the Grand Etang Forest Reserve visiting a lake which is St George’s water supply. The forest has the huge giant bamboo growing as well as other tropical rainforest trees and plants. It is very lush. We arrived over on the west (Atlantic) coast at Grenville for lunch. Then it was on to Pearls Airport which is no longer used, but during the 1979 – 1983 Revolution, when some communists were trying to escape in two Russian planes, the Americans demobilised the aircraft, and today they are overgrown with weeds and shrubs, but interesting relics with an interesting past. The Revolution occurred when Gairy, the prime minister, was overseas and a group of rebels took over. Being communist backed, America was not happy of having another Cuba on its doorstep, and sent down 12,000 US marines to restore the Island back to a democracy. The majority of the Islanders were happy to have their Island back hailing the Americans as heroes.
From there it was on to visit The Belmont Chocolate Estate. This estate is set in the picturesque countryside where it is impossible to see where the rainforest ends and the cocoa trees start. The best part was the sampling at the end. We were given the most delicious cup of cocoa infused with local spices, then tasty treats of chocolate – the 71 and 82 percent bars. Just melt in your mouth stuff !!
Next we visited a Rum Factory – the River Antoine Estate. Not one of the better known brands, but one still using incredibly old technology.. A water wheel drives the mechanics that work the cane crusher to extract the juice. From there the fermentation process begins and lastly the distillery process. The end result was too potent for any of us to really appreciate. You weren’t left with a warm glow, but a very hot one. And that was just from the sampling cup. We then all opted for the punch sample which was diluted with mango and passionfruit juice.
Our last stop for the day was for a swim at the Royal Mt Carmel Waterfalls which really leaves you feeling wonderfully refreshed. We then drove back through the villages and along the coast stopping to buy some fruit and vegetables. All in all a very good day.
We also took the local mini bus into St George’s. It is built around two well protected bays, one the Careenage, and the other the Lagoon. The bright colours of the bougainvillea and other tropical flowers, and green foliage, drip from the hillsides among the homes which gives the town that gorgeous tropical look. It is clean and well cared for, and a stop off for cruise ships which were visiting at the time. We climbed the hill to Fort George which was again built by the French. It is Grenada’s oldest fort built in 1705. Today it is the police headquarters.
Lloyd arrived up from Trinidad about a week after us. For us it was time to move on, so once again we say bye to him and sail around to St George’s for a night stop. As we sail out around the point we pass St George’s University and Medical school which looks like a town. Here about 1% of America’s new doctors are trained. Once anchored off St George’s we take the tender ashore to visit the town once more and pick up some supplies. Alec was looking in the meat department of the supermarket and found American Beef Tenderloin at NZ$75 per kg. No thank you very much !!! We then move just a short distance up the coast to a bay called Grand Mal where we pick up a mooring. It is just around the corner from here at Moliniere Point that we want to snorkel over Grenada’s underwater sculpture park. Sorry no photos as I don’t have an underwater camera, but this is really interesting with number of sculptures lying or standing on the seabed. Some are becoming encrusted with corals and other marine life. There is one in particular which I liked which was a group of children holding hands in a circle. Apparently they had been cast from local children. They are the works of Jason de Caires, and were made famous when the National Geographic did an article on them.
Our next leg is a short sail, 28nm and, again in rather lumpy sea. We were heading north to the Island of Carriacou. As we reach the end of Grenada we notice a black fin swimming by !!! Yes this is the first time in ages that we have actually seen a shark. Lets just hope he stays in Grenada as we have plenty more swimming to do !!!! Also on our sail up we passed a small group of Islands, one being an active underwater volcano. There is a 1.5Km exclusion zone marked on the charts – in other words give this area a wide berth !! We just happened to pass through the edge of it due to the current, but “ Kick Em Jenny” as it is called, stayed dormant for us.
As we sail into Tyrrel Bay there ahead of us is anchored another Seawind 1160. The first one we have seen in the northern hemisphere. We did know they would be arriving about the same time as us, as Alec had been in contact with the American owners – Jim and Liz Hanson on “IMAGINE”. Alec had been in contact with them via emails. Also Steven and Linda on “MOONDANCER” were anchored in the bay as they too have come up from Grenada. Jim and Liz come over to to say hello and to see through SHAMAL, then take us back to compare it with “IMAGINE”. Then its ashore for drinks and dinner.
Carriacou is the second of the three Islands that make up Grenada. Petit Martinique is the third, which is tiny, and we did not visit. Carriacou is off the general tourist route, but a popular stop off for yachties. There are no big resorts or souvenir shops, and cruise ships don’t stop here which give it its appeal. Small bars and restaurants can be found along the water front with the odd fruit vendor and market for basic stores. Its largest town, Hillsborough, which we walked over the hill to with Jim and Liz, is a sleepy town spread along a beach front. On the walk to Hillsborough we passed Paradise Beach which is aptly named. A superb white sandy beach bordered by palms with calm turquoise waters stretching out to Sandy Island – a picture perfect place. That evening we had Jim and Liz and Steven and Linda over for the evening.
Next day “IMAGINE” up anchor and head south. We spend a couple more days here. We buy a crayfish from one of the local fishermen which is devoured over a couple of nights. Just yummy. We are still having rain showers nearly every day so “SHAMAL” is nice and clean top side. We have read up that in nearly all the Islands the world’s most dangerous tree grows. The manchineel tree. They seem to grow close to the water and their sap is highly toxic producing a horrid rash, along with their little yellow green apples which if eaten will cause blisters from stem to stern. It can even be dangerous to shelter under them when it rains, and, a fire made with its branches produces toxic smoke. We are still to make a positive ID of this tree, but think we know which one !!!!!!Then its time for us to keep heading north, so after collecting some diesel and checking out of Grenada here, we up anchor with “MOONDANCER” for the next leg.
We will sign out for now
The Admiral and The Commander