Saturday, July 4, 2015

Getting below 12 degrees N Latitude!!

Moving South through the Grenadines we passed the imaginary line that separates the St Vincent Grenadines from the Grenada Grenadines. This line in the ocean falls between two small islands. Belonging to St Vincent is Petite St Vincent which is completely owned by a luxury resort that goes by the nickname for the island, PSV. Not even 1/2 mile to the South is Petite Martinique which belongs to Grenada. A little to the East of both is a reef  separating the Atlantic from the Caribbean. The blue water and white sand bottom make this a stunning anchorage, between the islands and behind the reef, WOW. Roy & I spent a couple of nights there before moving on to Carriacou (carry a coo), another of the Grenadine islands belonging to Grenada. We were basically dawdling around as we waited for Lindy. 

You don’t have to clear in to Grenada in order to visit Petite Martinique which was a nice touch. We cleared in at Hillsborough, the only real town on Carriacou then spent a couple of days snorkelling the reefs around Sandy Island before moving down for a week in Tyrrel Bay with all the other cruisers.

Boat Building
fishing Boats
Carriacou is what I imagine the entire Caribbean was like 20 years ago. There are no big hotels or marinas on the island. The locals understand and even cater to the cruisers but tourism hasn’t replaced local life, allowing island life to stay "real". They still build wooden boats on the beach in the area called Windward, because it is (windy and to windward). They still fish from sailing boats and it’s about as laid back an island as you can find. The big wonderful harbour in the Southern part of the island protects many cruisers as they get ready to complete their cruising season and head to Grenada, Trinidad or for the truly adventurous to the Aves and Roccas, off the coast of Venezuela. We found boats that will circumnavigate the Caribbean, stopping in the ABCs before venturing on, and boats that will head West from Panama through the Canal and on around the world! Everyone stops in Tyrrel Bay in Carriacou. 

Reef fish at Sandy Island

Sunset over Sandy Island

A tiny, tiny island off of Carriacou is one of the loveliest spots we’ve found. Sandy Island is a small spit of land on the Leeward (Caribbean) side of Carriacou. A lovely perfect curving white sand beach is on the Eastern side of the island, across narrow dunes topped with coconut palms and sea grape is the rocky coral edging of its Western shore.  Mounds of coral were pushed ashore as Hurricane Ivan plowed through the area. The North and South points are fringed with coral reefs. The North point is a great snorkelling spot with some of the clearest water we’ve seen. To make it better Carriacou has made this area a Marine Refuge. It has 12 moorings and is a no take zone, therefore protecting this bit of paradise. Included in the Marine protection zone, and located near Tyrrel bay, is one of the only mangrove swamps in the Windward Islands. We ate mangrove oysters! Delicious but it takes 3 or 4 to make up the same amount as a small Louisiana oyster. Still, we weren’t complaining. 

Her favorite spot!
Finally its was June 12 and we were excited to be welcoming Lindy aboard Wahoo. For so long we’ve tried to make this happen. Lindy hasn’t been back in the islands since the days she and my brother, Roger, ran the Island Fever as a charter yacht out of St. Thomas. She had lived on St. Thomas for 5 years. We were happy to have her back swimming in “blue” water! It’s a long long way from New Orleans to Grenada and with a fair number of obstacles she still made it down and brought with her 3 boxes of parts for Wahoo including our jib roller furler. Oh happy days, we’ll be a two sail, sailing boat again!! A huge thank you to her and to Grouper for helping gather and box everything that needed to get here.
Lindy pointing out a spotted Moray eel!

Once settled aboard we did the logical thing and headed back to Sandy Island. This little island was made for Lindy to fall in love with and she did. With a tropical wave moving over the Eastern Caribbean we opted to stay right there for 4 lazy days of sun, snorkelling and beaching. We did get to Carriacou by taking the dinghy to Paradise Beach for a bus trip to Hillsborough, and then around the island to Windward to see the hand built wooden boats and the fishing sailboats. It was a rainy day, so a good time for a bus trip.

Luxury at the PSV Resort

Our next stop was 5 miles NE to the anchorage between the twin islands of Petite St Vincent and Petite Martinique. We spent an evening at the PSV resort enjoying sunset and cocktails "off the boat". The next day we decided to go to the reef to snorkel and in our enthusiasm were soon in deep trouble. Lindy and I, avid snorkelers that we are, were over the side and swimming away as soon as the dinghy was moored. Thankfully Roy had more sense! The current was so strong. Before we were aware of it we were carried far from the dinghy and far apart. Try as we might neither of us could swim back to the dinghy. Roy immediately saw the danger and climbed back aboard. The rescue was swift and effective. I hate to think what could have happened if he hadn’t acted so quickly! 

For the rest of our stay here we only swam near Wahoo. I have to note that on our first day in the anchorage, as well as on Roy & I’s previous visit, we had never encountered a current that was moving so swiftly. I had spent a lot of time in the water in this anchorage with absolutely no problem. Just goes to show that caution is always necessary!

Happy Bar
Happy colours in Union Island
After the fun and games at PSV we decided on Union Island and the Happy Bar as our next island in the sun. A lumpy but quick couple of hours got us safely tucked in behind the reef that protects Union. I certainly wished for better weather for the visit but was grateful that the series of tropical waves were not too bad. Some gusty wind and higher than we’d like seas with a misting of rain now and then was the extent of it. But the Grenadines are not the Virgin Islands. The wind is higher and the only protection is reefs. So even a heavy boat like Wahoo moves around a bit. 

Union Island is a pretty place with a brightly coloured market and main street. The Happy Bar is built on the man made reef of conch shells and you never know whom you’ll meet. The wind surfers practise their jumps and turns in the harbour. All this made for a delightful spot to spend a couple of days. 

Our last night before heading to Grenada was spent at Sandy Island again. Lindy loved the spot and there was no real reason for Roy & I to go back into Tyrrel Bay. 

Building a rock sculpture on Sandy Island
Nice to have it appreciated!

part of the underwater sculpture park
On Sunday we headed 28 NM South to Grenada. It was a lovely day for a downwind run with the main sail hoisted. We passed Kick’em Jenny without a sign of the turbulence which is always a possibility from the underwater volcano. Our first night in Grenada was meant to be spent in Dragon’s Bay but the rolling was so bad we went around the corner to Molinere Bay. Dragon’s Bay is known for the underwater sculptures put there in 2013 to provide an artistic man made reef. Unfortunately one year later Hurricane Ivan did some damage and the day we were there was overcast and windy. Not the best conditions for snorkelling. 

After an hour of swimming around we decided our best bet was to move on to the South Coast of Grenada which was to be Wahoo's summer home.

A rough 15 NM passage brought us around the Southwest corner of Grenada to the 12 Bays that line the South coast. We bypassed True Blue as we knew that would require a marina stay, took a look at rolly Prickly Bay, central station for cruisers, but finally decided on anchoring in quieter Mt. Hartman Bay. This seemed like a good choice. Enough cruisers around for some company, Secret Harbor Marina for services and not as rolly as Prickly Bay. None of the Bays on the South coast are exceedingly deep and the swells roll around the headlands and find their way inside. At least Mt Hartman has a reef offering some protection.

Roy & I felt the thrill of having completed our journey through the Eastern Caribbean. Only 660NM but 18 countries and nearly every island. We’re finally at the magic number of 11.59* latitude N. (IE, below 12 degrees and now below the hurricane belt). While we haven’t conquered the Eastern Caribbean we have learned to live with its winds and high seas. There weren’t many days when the wind was under 25kts or the seas under 6 -7 feet. Our anchoring technique got better and the anchor has held us safely through 45kt winds. We don’t even blink when the forecast calls for weather that we would never have poked our nose into before. 

Cocoa Pods for chocolate, yummy!
Swimming in the water fall
Grenada is called the Spice Island and its main exports are nutmeg, mace, cinnamon and cacao. Of course there’s always a little rum. So for Lindy’s last two days we wanted to explore a bit of this spicy island. 

One day was spent at Grand Anse beach, 3 miles of soft white sand fronting the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Picture postcard stuff! The last day we went inland up the mountains of lovely Grenada to a waterfall and a Spice Farm where the paths where made from crushed nutmeg shells. Heavenly!!

 We were so sorry when the time with Lindy was over. We hated to see her go and will miss her here in sweet Grenada

Lindy at Grand Anse Beach, Grenada

The Iconic Island Drink  - A Painkiller

Not sure what pain you’re killing here in the islands, maybe the stings of a sunburn or sea urchin. 
Anyway, the Painkiller is the drink, your choice of 2 - 4 shots of rum.
Our favourite was from a beach bar in Nevis

For 1 Drink 
Multiply for a Partyyyyy!!!

2, 3, or 4 oz of rum (depending on your level of pain)
4 oz pineapple juice
1 oz orange juice
1 oz coconut cream
sprinkle liberally with nutmeg

serve over ice - umbrella optional