Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Spice Island

January 10th 2013

Position 12° 00.423’ N
              61° 43.792’ W

Clarkes Court Bay, Grenada

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Although we did stop briefly in Grenada, as we were travelling south to Trinidad, we did not explore as we had to move on quickly for our rendezvous in Trinidad with Anthony our eldest son. This is the beauty of what we do, we can go wherever we please and stay, most of the time, for as long as we please, so we are back! We initially cruised into Prickly Bay after a fairly pleasant passage from Chaguaramas, Trinidad. The sea swells were close to 10ft from the east, on our starboard beam, but were spaced at about 9-10sec intervals which, with our stabilizers, was okay. There was a 4ft wind chop on top of the swell which gave us an occasional nudge from time to time, all in all though not bad. We both slept during our off watch times which is a good sign. The trip was a good one and with each passage we are building our confidence back, ‘Stonewall Jackson’ has not missed a beat since we installed our day tank back in Tyrrel Bay last July/August. We have now made a trip to Trinidad, then Tobago, there and back to Trinidad, and now this one to Grenada, a total, since leaving Carriacou, of 380 NM. All were 12 – 16 hour runs so were a good test. We seem to have ‘Partners’ running well now and, after the expense and troubles in 2013, are really hoping for a worry free cruising year in 2014…we think we deserve it! There is still one issue to address which is the new battery and inverter installation; I don’t think that the Victron inverter has been programmed correctly as it is not putting out the maximum amps it is capable of, whilst charging. It, therefore, takes longer to replenish our batteries than it should. It also does not seem to charge the engine start and bow thruster battery at as fast a rate as it should. To address these concerns we are going to ask our friend and electrical engineer Alan Reynolds to check everything over for us. He lives in Grenada and will visit us after the Holidays, probably the weekend of January 11th. 

Meanwhile, we enjoyed Christmas Day in Prickly Bay and ate Christmas Dinner at the Prickly Bay 

Prickly Bay Marina
Marina restaurant, it was very good…turkey, ham, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and lots of vegetables, roast potatoes and gravy. It was a very traditional English style Christmas Dinner. The main entrĂ©e was preceded by a choice of lobster bisque or prawn cocktail, we both had the prawn cocktail which consisted of a small salad garnish, three large juicy prawns and Marie Rose sauce, a real favourite of mine. For dessert HT had red velvet cake and cream, I had a banana split, we shared! All of this was washed down with a nice Pinot Grigio and finished off with coffee. This was the first Christmas Dinner in the 22 years HT and I have known each other that she hasn’t cooked Christmas Dinner! It was also the first Christmas that we did not have family around us which was a little sad. Something all of you planning a cruising retirement need to bear in mind. Many cruisers who retain a land based home return there for the Holidays we don’t have another home, ‘Partners’ is it so our options are limited. After we arrived on Christmas Eve morning we went ashore to explore and treat ourselves to some breakfast, guess what! As we were alighting our dinghy at the dinghy dock I saw a familiar face. “Dan", the person looked at me and didn’t immediately respond, “Is your name Dan?” I asked again. He then said “Yes it is”, “Remember me?” Dan was a friend from another life over 20 years ago when I lived on the East coast of Florida in a little town called Flagler Beach. Dan and I knew each other back then but since had gone in different directions. To cut a long story short we agreed to meet on board ‘Partners’ after Christmas Dinner and catch up. Catch up we did and had a fabulous time explaining how, by pure chance, we both arrived at a dinghy dock in a remote bay in Grenada, West Indies at the same time! Amazing. Dan and Barb’s boat is ‘Another Way’ a CSY 37’. We will see them both again before we leave the Island. 

On Boxing Day we decided that the rolling in Prickly Bay was too much so we upped anchor and proceeded to cruise to calmer waters and ended up in Clarkes Court Bay just a couple of miles east, it is still rolly but not quite as bad. We relaxed and enjoyed a quiet sunset and evening enjoying the cool breeze and a Blue Moon with the traditional slice of orange. After a great Mexican salad, it definitely had a ‘kick’, we retired early and slept with the cabin hatch open so we could rest feeling

 the wonderful Caribbean Trade Winds…

Moor Mega Yachts than any other boats! 

Lite up at night
Our first day in this large open bay started with a hearty breakfast omelette to set us up for a day of exploration. We wanted to dinghy around Clarkes Court Bay and ‘get our bearings’. We set off and first went to the head of the bay and located the small grocery store and a couple of bars. We also visited Clarkes Court Marina, a small facility with docks for about 25 boats and the requisite bar restaurant. Fortuitously, while we were there the shopping bus returned with about 8 cruisers on board. We spoke to Trevor the driver who clued us in on his shopping bus schedule which we now know runs on Fridays and Saturdays. He also advised us he does Island tours for a very reasonable price and I think we will do one next week. Our next visit was to Hog Island and the much protected anchorage there. Roger’s beach bar situated on Hog Island enjoys the only sandy beach there but unfortunately is a dump with bottles cans and garbage strewn all over the place. Some people would, I am sure, argue that this is the atmosphere of the place but we didn’t like it. We retreated back into Clarkes Court Bay having decided that the water and breeze was more favourable in Clarkes Court Bay. We motored in the dinghy over to the east side of the bay again and visited Whisper Cove Marina which had a good dinghy dock and a much more inviting bar and restaurant, this could be a haunt! Having pretty much done the circumnavigation of ‘our’ bay we just had to navigate through the cut between Calivigny Island and the mainland to investigate! After carefully following the marked channel we were exposed to the vista of Le Phare Bleu Marina and resort; wow this place is beautiful there is a genuine old lightship moored to the long dock which the European owners have turned into a fine restaurant. Part of the proceeds goes towards the upkeep of the historic ship. On the mainland there is another bar and restaurant which is reasonably priced...we enjoyed lunch here and had a margarita pizza and a Carib beer each for total of EC$56, which we thought was reasonable. The staff were friendly and polite and the service impeccable. The marina also has an Immigration and Customs office for checking in and out. It also has a canvas shop and mechanical repair facility plus other services including a chiropractor, very nice! 

Dec 28th. Today was a ‘jobs’ day. HT did laundry and then we both cleaned the oily slim which had attached itself to the waterline during our stay in the dirty waters of Chaguaramas. It was stubborn and took us forever. When we had finally finished the two of us decided to carry on and scrub the exhaust stains from the transom and clean the teak swim platform. In other words we had decided to give the exterior of ‘Partners’ a spring clean. In the afternoon I replaced some of the caulking on the foredeck teak deck and one teak screw plug which had popped out. ‘Partners’ is pretty again! The rest of the day we read and relaxed enjoying our surroundings, oh, I forgot we swam and cooled off at the back of the boat in the beautiful 82°F water! We had a Thai chicken stir fry with coconut rice for dinner and some Christmas cake and brandy butter for desert, my favourite! Life is good... 

After nearly a year of cruising these beautiful islands it is easy to take things for granted. Although we have been to quite a lot of the islands once, we are planning subsequent visits this year as we move up the island chain, the first visit really does little more than familiarize one with the basic geography, a second visit reunites one with some of the familiar faces and venues but stimulates much more curiosity and many more questions. The second visit picks up from the familiarity of the first and somehow provides comfort to be more inquisitive. It is the inquisition, not in an aggressive way though, but more of a friendly delving for more, kind of way, that revels the findings and information that provide the lasting memories. The faces seen previously seem friendlier and therefore provide license to ask for more information than during the first encounter; ones memory of the places visited is stimulated to seek and probe for a little more. The second visit makes the experience more indelible and provides a much deeper understanding of the islands culture, its people and history. We have found this when both talking to and listening to other cruisers. When either we or they tell stories about the island visits the words are full of life and are more meaningful and descriptive, often personal to the local people who one becomes friends with. We have, more and more, realized the privilege of our life style where we are able to embed ourselves into the society of an island, drink and breathe the life of the islanders, become part of their unique countries. It is hard to move on sometimes, in fact many cruisers ‘swallow the anchor’, as they say, and never leave, they have found their Shangri-La…  

January 7th. Today we sortied forth in search of some fresh eggs and bread; we have found that most islands have good bread and eggs. Until now we have not taken the trip into St. George’s and the supermarkets there. We still have supplies from Trinidad and just need a few basics. Where we are is somewhat remote although about a mile ride in the dinghy and a short walk finds us the nearest bus stop. Within the bay there are a couple of local stores with some ‘bare’ essentials. There is also a meat market located at the Whisper Cove Marina run by the marina owner and his lovely wife Mary. A French Canadian couple, he a butcher by trade thus the meat market. All the produce is organic, a little expensive, but highly reliable and very good. We tied up the dinghy at the marina dinghy dock, all the marinas have welcoming dinghy docks, and walked up the steep steps and pathway to find a tidy clean dining area and well stocked bar which overlooked the small very well protected marina. 
Our Cove. We swam from the back of 'Partner' ever
day in this beautiful water.
This was definitely our kind of place…Mary greeted us and immediately made a good impression, she was delightful and friendly, she told us how she and her husband arrived in Grenada and stumbled across this broken down establishment saw the potential and realizing a demand that was not being filled, they bought the place and have stayed ever since, that was four years ago! We entered the small market and ‘Oh my’ what we found was exciting, fresh bright red tomatoes and beautiful crisp lettuce, among other enticing produce and wares. Who would have thought we could get so excited and happy over two little things. Although we didn’t need them now we found that the shop stocked a very good selection of French, German and Italian cheeses, the meat selection was fabulous too. You see our values are different now, what we used to take for granted we are now a little surprised to find. Little things make us happy…we rushed home, sat down on our back porch and ate a lettuce, tomato and cheese sandwich then once finished jumped into the water, we swam in the warm water at the back of ‘Partners’ for a while...a beautiful day. 

We enjoyed a complete island tour last week which took us the length and breadth of the island and took in two rum factories, one the oldest in Grenada which was fascinating. It is still producing but using the same steam powered cane crushing machinery used back in the early 1800’s when the 
This is Clarkes Court Rum factory and dates
from 1935. The weigh platform is the
original one and is still in use today.

Lavinia with Hard Hat!

The pictures above show inside the factory
which is all powered by steam!

Grenadian roundabout.

Left over from the American invasion.

A mud bread oven.

This water wheel provides the power
for the cane crushers. It is the original
one for the 1700's!

The sugar cane after it has been crushed.
It is used for fueling the kilns where the
rum is reduced. 

Rum fermenting...looks awful doesn't it?

HT relaxing.

A beautiful church.


Shuffling in the cocoa beans on the
drying racks.

A view from our lunch stop...
factory began. The other, River Distillery, used a water wheel to power their crushers and has been in existence since the 1700's. We had plenty of samples too! Some of the rum we don’t care for, it is like ‘white lightning’, ‘moonshine’, very harsh and throat burning, the stuff that takes ones breath away, also ones equilibrium! As the tour continued what quickly became apparent was how mountainous the island is and also how green; everywhere there is foliage of some sort. We went to Grenada’s spice gardens which we found fascinating plus they explained the islands tag, the ‘Spice Island’. Throughout the day the group sampled some of the island food too and we finished off the tour at the Grenada Chocolate factory where we sampled just a little of their chocolate…all great fun! 

Jim and Tammy Ennd, cruising friends of ours, returned to Grenada after a 6 week hiatus back in the States for the Holidays. They re-launched their sailing boat ‘Sweet Chariot’ and anchored in Mount Hartman Bay, the next bay over from us. We dinghied over to the Sunday jumble sale at Secret Harbour Marina and saw ‘Sweet Chariot’, anchored in the bay. We hadn’t seen Jim and Tammy since leaving Grenada in late August when we left to cruise down to Trinidad. We approached and called out to them, in just a minute two heads appeared. They looked a little flustered and I could tell they were busy with preparation. Having had their boat on the hard for six weeks a lot has to be done to ready her again for passage, sails have to be rigged and set, all sorts of other things need checking and cleaning etc. We invited them over to ‘Partners’ when they we ready so we could catch up. They came the next day and we had a good time telling and hearing stories about both our experiences since the last time we had seen each other. We spent 4 hours talking non-stop; this life is far from a boring existence so a lot happens in four months!

173' long!
Pretty night from our aft deck.
There is always something going on here in Grenada, the southern part of the island very much caters to the cruising community. Every day the restaurants at the different bays compete for the cruiser custom. The result is fairly priced good food and usually a beer ‘come on’ deal i.e. 3 bottles for EC$10 about US$3.70. The other advantage is the choice. From where we are anchored there are four marinas and a couple of local establishments within easy dinghy distance. In the evenings more is available as most of the venues offer pick up and return transportation. Most also have music, either a group playing or a DJ. Talking of music, yesterday Le Phar Bleu Marina held a dinghy concert which was sponsored by Westerhall Rum Company and Island Water World, a marine supplier similar to West Marine. They have an old tug boat which has an open aft deck which is where the band play, alongside was a big steel barge where all the people who did not come in dinghies sat on benches. The rest of us cruisers who did come in their dinghies tied up to the floating barge and rafted back from there. Around 200 people came, the turnout was great, the weather was perfect and above all, the music performed by the group ‘Sabrina and the Navigators’ was outstanding. All this happened out in the middle of the bay. (See The Travels of Partners on Facebook for pictures) These are fun times for us, every day is a blessing we really are grateful for our good fortune of being able to enjoy these, the golden years. As I have said before you should all look forward to retirement, plan for it well, for it is the thing of the future, your time! 
The Minnie Tree!

Our perennial Santa!


 Our Christmas lights!



Happy New Year everyone!