Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Grenadines to Grenada

Our first landfall in the Grenadines was the island of Bequia. Much of it's population is of Scottish descent, perhaps even some of my ancestors as Wallace was my great, great grandfather's name and it's a common name on this island. There's a strong tradition of boat building here. We visited one of the workshops where they build model boats and the craftsmenship was beautiful. Some owners of their work include Queen Elizabeth and Mick Jagger. It was funny listening to one of the men describe the day Mick came in. Apparently he was flying around the workshop and this man thought he was a bit much. Mick needed to chill!
Model boats under construction and the finished product.

Two of the hand-crafted sailboats on the beach.

We ended up skipping Mustique, the island of the rich and famous. We didn't have good wind direction to sail there and we're concerned that with the weather that was predicted, we might get stuck there. We joked that they might not let us ashore anyway. It's a private island and homeowners include Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Rachel Welch, Paul Newman, Tommy Hilfiger and Princess Margaret. So we headed to Saltwhistle Bay on the island of Mayreau. Mayreau (pronounced My-row) is only about 1.5 square miles and home to less than 300 people. It was a beautiful spot with a "Tahiti-like" beach.

Watching the storm approach.

Merengue at anchor in Saltwhistle Bay.

Jim "limin" at Saltwhistle Bay.

The view from Saltwhistle Bay across a narrow strip of land to the Atlantic side beach.

The beach at Saltwhistle Bay.

We hiked up over the hill to the village of Station Hill. This is the view back towards Saltwhistle Bay with Merengue at anchor.
As we walked through the village, we were greeted by two island dogs, the generic breed you see all through the islands. Most of the time the dogs are indifferent but these two decided to walk around town with us. When we stopped at the Robert Righteous Rasta Bar for a cold drink, they laid at our feet. When we headed back out of town, they came along. They were incredibly well behaved (except for one little goat chasing incident) and the male in particular walked right next to us, stopping when we did. When we arrived at the dinghy dock, the male sat there and watched us board and then stood in the shallow water watching us leave. As we headed across the bay, we glanced back and saw that he was swimming after us. Our boat was easily 300 yards away and this dog was determined to come with us! We didn't know what to do. If we pulled him into our dinghy and took him back to shore he would probably just swim out again. We decided that we had to give him some tough-love. We jumped in the cockpit and sat down where the dog couldn't see us. We watched him swim all the way to the boat, go back and forth across the stern and along the side looking for us before he gave up and swam back to shore. It's probably not the first time he has done this but it broke our heart. He really seemed to want to go with us!

Here's the potential stowaway swimming to our boat.
The good news is that 5 minutes after he was back on shore he was running and playing with his girlfriend. I'm sure we were quickly forgotten.

The next stop was the Tobago Cays a group of small islands in the Grenadines that is a National Marine Park. The water here is crystal clear and looks much like the Bahamas. This is a favorite spot for cruisers, charters and day-trippers and it is crowded. But the snorkling makes it worth being with the crowds. At anchor off the island of Baradal, we swam with the sea turtles seeing as many as 6 on one trip. They are fairly unafraid of humans here so we were able to observe them up close. They were beautiful. Then we spotted a large school of squid, the first time we'd seen that. On the way back to the boat, we noticed some movement and when we turned to investigate there were a whole school of stingrays! Not 3 or 4 but more than 20! What a beautiful sight to see them moving through the water. Sorry we didn't have a camera for that one.

Boats at anchor in the Tobago Cays.
Our next stop was for lunch at Palm Island. We were here on a day trip to the Grenadines 20 years ago and we couldn't help wonder if this was still a little piece of paradise. The 135 acre island has more homes then it did then but it still looks beautiful. The Palm Island Beach Club still looks like a wonderful spot if you're looking for an out-of-the-way island vacation.

The beach at the Palm Island Beach Club.

After luch, we motored across the channel to Union Island where we picked up a mooring from "Herman the Germon". Herman took us ashore, introduced us to his sister who sold fruits and vegetables and later, after we had walked around town and done our shopping, he met us for a beer. What fun sitting in a bar with the locals just watching the world go by in downtown Clifton. Herman is quite a fan of "Larry King Live" and CNN so he brought us up to date on what's going on in the world. He along with other people we've met are very interested in the presidential campaign in the U.S. and are anxious to see the outcome. What goes on in the U.S. affects them all eventually.
From Union Island we sailed to Carriacou, which is a territory of Grenada. We cleared customs in Hillsborough and them moved down to Tyrrel Bay for a few days before heading on to Grenada.

Our course to Grenada took us very close to an active, underwater volcano called Kick 'em Jenny. I say close because Jim wanted to sail right over her but I thought we should obey the exclusion zone. We find out later that gas from the volcano can cause bubbles that reduce the density of the water causing a boat to sink! The summit of this volcano has been rising steadily over the years and researchers have estimated that Kick 'em Jenny could emerge above the sea level in the early part of this century. Cool, a new island! There's a very small island for sale nearby for about 100 million dollars but if you decide to buy it, be prepared for a very noisey neighbor.

We're finally in Grenada!!!
We have been looking forward to this landfall for years! We arrived on July 7th and anchored in the Lagoon off of the town of St. Georges. We wanted to explore the town a little before heading to one of the anchorages on the southern coast. Grenada (pronounced Gre-nay-da) is an island 133 square miles in size with about 90,000 people. About 30,000 people live in St. Georges. We visited the fort, the fruit and fish markets and walked around the town. The next day was election day and by early evening it was clear that Grenada had a new Prime Minister. Cars, trucks and bicycles were driving along the Lagoon Road honking horns, blowing whistles and blaring music. The celebration went on all night and needless to say, we didn't get any sleep. We were only anchored about a hundred feet from the shore. Then the new Prime Minister declared that Wednesday would be a holiday so businesses stayed closed and the partying continued. Only in the Caribbean!

The view of St. Georges from the fort.

The view south from the fort toward Grand Anse Beach.
Hard to picture U.S. Navy ships anchored here instead of these yachts but this is where they were located in 1983 when President Regan sent U.S. troops to Grenada. The fort sustained damage from bombs during that invasion.

While we were anchored in the Lagoon, Jim climbed the mast to retreave the staysail halyard that had come loose and gone up the mast. Here's the view looking up.......

...and the view looking down.

We're are now anchored in Prickly Bay on the south coast. We finally caught up with Renee on Jacumba. Renee and Mike left the Dominican Republic 6 weeks before us last fall so we haven't seen them in 9 months. We anchored right next to Jacumba and dinghyed over for rum and tonics and to catch up. Mike is working on a resort development project in Mexico and Renee is here taking care of the boat, a 37 ft. catamaran. Mike and Renee took a 2 year break, bought a boat and sailed the Caribbean. Now Jacumba is for sail and Mike and Renee are planning the next phase of their lives. Renee has been showing us around and the other night we cooked dinner on Jacumba. You can see pictures of that evening and of their beautiful boat on their blog
Hey sailors, the boat is already here in the Caribbean just waiting for you to take possession and go sailing!

We are definitely in the rainy season! I think it's rained everyday. It seems like all we do is open the hatches, close the hatches, open the portholes, close the portholes. The good part is that we are catching lots of rainwater. It's free and we don't have to lug it from shore!

We'll get out and take pictures between showers. More soon!