We left Union Island at lunchtime on the 13th of Feb and had a fabulous, short, fast sail to the next country. The island of Grenada is the southernmost island in the Windward group. North of it are two smaller islands; Carriacou and Petit Martinique which along with the larger island , make up the country of Grenada. There are also numerous other smaller islands and rocks off lying these, but those three are the main inhabited ones.
We arrived in Hillsborough on the west coast of Carriacou at 4 pm (10 NM from Union) . The dramatic peaked skyline of Union was still prominent in view to the North. We went ashore to clear customs and immigrations but they were now closed and we were to come back first thing tomorrow morning. One Pina Colada later we headed back out to Hestur.
There was a Norwegian boat in the bay which we thought we had seen in The Gambia back in November. We rowed over and it indeed it was ‘Magic Mari’ which belongs to a couple we had met at Lamin Lodge near Banjul : Mari and Jorgen who live near Trondheim in Norway. It was lovely to see them again and a real coincidence in this quiet bay. They invited us to stay for dinner. Jorgen cooked a very delicious soup made from peaches and Blue Marlin which they had caught mid Atlantic, and preserved in glass jars, by boiling them in the pressure cooker.
On February 14th ( valentines day don’t you know ) we rowed ashore early to clear customs and treat ourselves to particularly good breakfast at a beach cafe overlooking the bay. We then sailed a couple of miles along the coast to ‘Sandy Island’ a tiny tropical desert island strip of a beach – a line of sand fringed by a line of palm trees. We anchored off and rowed ashore to marvel in it. There is a reef extending round the island and to the two ends of it- brilliant corral reefs for snorkelling. I have never seen anything quite like it. The quantity and variety of colourful fish and sculptural corral was astounding. It was other worldly. Some of the corrals looked like objects which might appear in a ceramics degree show. We have a book onboard: ‘Fishes of the Caribbean Reefs’ which is John Saunders’s (Dan’s Grandad) He has had since he sailed here and did a similar route in the late 70’s. It has colour plates and descriptions of the various fish. I had been reading it and so was able to recognise quite a few creatures we were encountering. Dan took some brilliant photos and I, a few blurry flashes.
Ashore on Sandy Island we saw life too. There were lots of palm crabs scurrying about under the palm trees. These are land based hermit crabs which make use of (fairly heavy looking) marine shells.
After the fantastical island we set off again in the afternoon, down the coast of Carriacou and sailed into Tyrell Bay. It was busy in here but from the first glimpse we could see that there was an above average percentage of interesting boats. We anchored near a black, yellow and red painted ‘Wylo’ ( a 35 foot steel boat, which is not dissimilar in design to Hestur with raised topsides, it predates the Benford Dory). As we rowed past we saw her name and recognised the boat: Iron Bark owned by Trevor Robertson. We are in the same cruising club and he had coincidently been in touch with Dan recently by email re. info about the island of Jan Mayen, but we had never met. Trevor had us aboard for a drink and a look at his boat. Trevor who built his boat in Australia, lives aboard and the world is his oyster, he commutes regularly between Greenland and the Caribbean, he has overwintered in both the Arctic and the Antarctic, the globe is his back-yard, literally. It was fascinating to meet him and was exciting to talk about high latitude sailing whilst here in the tropics. After a drink and inspiring conversation, as we had planned we headed ashore for some food (14 Feb after all). We rowed up to a turquoise beach shack nestled in the trees fringing the beach, and light by fairy lights. There was a fire burning on the white sand and a full moon. It was a tiny little establishment with one gas burner, which produced delicious food, we sat on benches built into the trees.
We spent a few days in Tyrell Bay. The next day we got the bikes out , first time in a while, and had a super cycle. We went over to the north of the island to a hamlet called Windward where they make Carriacou Sloops, big timber boats. We saw the backbone and frames of one under construction, but work had ceased on it, for that day anyway. We then cycled to the north point of the island and back by a dirt track high up through the trees- Bromptons off-roading again!
While we were anchored in the sheltered Tyrell bay Dan did a few improvements on the anchor windless which he had been wanting to do. Trevor donated some stainless steel off cuts he had and Dan strengthened and made guides for a couple of aspects of the chain feed.
I went ashore with a rucksack of paints and pencils. I thought that this would be a good opportunity while we were staying still for a day or two. (Some Caribbean drawings just posted on my ‘sketchbook’ page by the way). However my activities drew the attention of various passers by and my productivity was less than expected. I had a group of 4 siblings who joined me for the morning and enthusiastically joined in, I had coloured pencils and watercolour paints with me and quite a lot of paper so we had a happy hour or so drawing/ painting together. They had a tortoise they had found . They had a barcode from something stuck to its tummy to identify it. When I quit the idea that it had been bought from a supermarket for dinner, I redeveloped an attitude of welfare for the thing. It was a beautiful animal and very interesting to see it close up. I inquired if they had had one before? yes, lots. What had happened to the others? They had all escaped. So there was hope for this one….? It made a bid for freedom when we were all busy drawing. I suggested looking under the road bridge for it ( the other direction from which it had been facing) but Zora the older girl looked the other way and found it under a tree. It had made it about 20 meters. When I left the kids I impressed the notion of letting it go free, I feel for the poor thing. They were very sweet kids, but perhaps not natural tortoise handlers by the looks of things.
Further down the road later that morning, as I was painting under the shade of a tree at a big turquoise picnic table by the pier, a couple of guys came up and started chatting. Then another guy.
He said “your an artists, will you do some lettering for a boat name?”
” Amelia IV “
He said to do the letters about 5 inches, so I laid it out on the bit of card I was given, by now the big table was surrounded by guys all watching the job. I cut out the letters with the scalpel I was given and inquired which boat was Amelia IV, expecting to be shown one of the dinghies on the shore. I was told it was “the red and white one there”.
I looked but couldn’t see a red and white one
“where, which one?”
” there look, there at the pier”
Well then I saw it, it was one of the fleet of big steel ferry/ workboats, 500 odd tonnes of boat.
“Wow you should have said”
Now my little letters, which I was so carefully cutting out seemed rather puny for the job.
Requirements stipulated that she needed a name painting on as she was sailing to Trinidad the following day, and was currently title-less.
I later saw the application of these letters to the scruffy vessel. The stern lettering went on fine, then it came to the bows. The stencil was applied to the fresh red sticky paint which scrubbed out the old name, and it stuck. That was the end of that. The next day I saw the bows with hand painted white letters. She set off that afternoon, no doubt still a bit sticky.
While in Tyrell Bay we met another acquaintance, someone we knew by boat but had never met- Shirley on her junk rigged, Laurence Giles, Virtue. Shirley has also lived aboard for many years and has done many many thousands of miles in ‘Speedwell’. She visited us one day and invited us, and Trevor, over for sundowners ( its what we do nowadays). These drinks turned to dinner and she cooked a superb mushroom and fish risotto for us. Delish. Her boat is beautiful, she has a new little black kitten aboard called Sparky . He is a joy. After dinner we had some Grenadian chocolate ( extremely good) and some 70% rum, which was melt-in-the-mouth (or was it melt the mouth?) a very nice evening.
We left Tyrell Bay in the afternoon on Tues 18th after a superb ( and inexpensive) lunch in the extremely beautiful and tastefully designed Slipway Restaurant at the boat yard in Carriacou. We sailed south 11 NM to Ronde Island between Carriacou and Grenada. We sailed between Ronde Island and the steep and wooded Diamond Island ( also known as Kick ’em Jenny Rock). We anchored in the bay on the west of Ronde. The island is wild, the book said that 20 people live there, these are fishermen who camp out on it. There were no buildings to be seen on the north or west of the island , only thick vegetation. There were a few small open fishing boats on moorings out in the bay, some guys were sorting fishing gear on a makeshift pontoon raft. They gave us big waves as they left in their little boats, and buzzed south with their speedy outboards. Then we were completely alone and couldn’t see sign of another sole, anywhere. Who says the Caribbean is over crowded with boats these days? The pilot book does say that this is a rolly anchorage and that it could be used as a lunch stop at a pinch. We found it flat calm, even though we had just come in from a big swell on other side of the island.
We swam in the deep water. There were huge grey pelicans sitting on the sea and on the beach, quite a sight. As it got dark the sounds of the land grew. The insects were loud above the noise of the breaking waves on the sand. The dark, densely wooded hillside with the silhouettes of the wind blown trees, the warmth in the air, the sounds of the insects and the full moon illuminating the water made me think that I really, actually was a character from ‘Treasure Island’.
We went down below and drank rum.
The next morning set sail for Grenada where we are now ….