August 1, 2019

Winding down in Grenada

After a wonderfully lazy two weeks in Bequia, St Vincent, on June 2 we sailed 37 nm south to Carriacou, Grenada, where we checked into our eighth country on this trip!

We had a nice sail in calm seas and 15-18 knots of wind off the beam. While we weren't fast enough with the camera, we were lucky enough to spot a humpback whale about 35 feet off our port side as we sailed.

Carriacou is part of the Grenada island chain, along with Petite Martinique and mainland Grenada. Carriacou is home to about 8,000 people and is one of the friendliest islands we've visited so far. We sailed our way into Tyrrel Bay, a huge and well protected harbor that is popular with cruisers. On the north side of the bay is a marine park lined by mangroves, which we rode through on the dinghy one afternoon.

Carriacou has a few small restaurants and shops and wonderful market, Alexis, with air conditioning and a nice selection of items, where we stopped each afternoon for a popsicle - a real treat on a hot day for two salty sailors with only a mini freezer aboard!

The closest thing we’ve seen to an American grocery store in awhile
We also enjoyed a great view of the bay and anchorage from our hike up to Chapeau Carre, the second highest peak on the island. The path to the top started fairly easily, through gravel roads and goat pastures, but got quite steep near the summit.

While in Carriacou, we also took the bus to Hillsborough, or "town" as the locals call it, which is the only large settlement on the island and where we found several restaurants, groceries and chandleries. The currency in Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the Eastern Caribbean dollar; one EC equals $0.37 US dollars. The buses, which are privately run minibuses, cost less than a dollar and run frequently between Tyrrel Bay and Hillsborough.

After a few days of exploring, on June 6, we sailed a few miles south to Sandy Island, Carriacou, which is an oyster marine park with a beautiful strip of white sandy beach; no anchoring is allowed and moorings cost $31 EC nightly (about $12 USD) with a snorkeling permit. A shallow coral reef along the northern shore of the island is popular for snorkeling and teaming with turtles and tropical fish.

After a night at Sandy Island, we sailed 37 nm south to St George's on mainland Grenada. We made 6-7 knots on our sail south in 15-24 knots of wind off the beam. We mistakenly sailed a little too close (only a few miles offshore) along Grenada's west coast, which meant we battled inconsistent land breezes coming off the island that gusted between 6 and 20 knots, which meant we had to hand steer the final hours to avoid the boat rounding up into the wind in the strong gusts.

Our first destination on the island was St George, which is a busy harbor with commercial and cruise ship traffic and a colorful and bustling little town filled with two marinas, several supermarkets, lots of shops and restaurants, and the lovely Grand Anse beach. Compared to some of our recent destinations, Grenada feels like a booming metropolis.

We spent an afternoon touring Fort George, a historic 18th-century fortress built by the French and overlooking the city and harbor, which is reached by a steep climb from shore. The fort now serves as the headquarters of the Royal Grenada Police force.

After a few calm days in the anchorage, a northerly swell kicked up, which rocked the boat from side to side as much as 15-20 degrees - and was especially bad at night - making it difficult and dangerous to move about the boat. After two days of constant rocking, we'd had enough and decided to sail to the south side of Grenada and made our way into Clarkes Court Bay, a large and sheltered bay, on June 12.

On our second day in the bay, we had trouble starting our dinghy outboard motor and had to row the dinghy quite a way back to the boat. Nick took the outboard's carburetor apart and got it working again (despite losing a pail overboard following a gust of wind and diving in fully clothed to save it).

Unfortunately, the next day the engine quit again, and after some calls to local shops, we found out parts for our 3.5 hp four stroke were available only by order from the U.S., which could take up to a month. Since we were flying back to the States in only a few days, we decided to head to the next bay over, Prickly Bay, where we could take a mooring close to shore from Prickly Bay Marina. The marina has limited amenities but hot showers and a nice, reasonably priced tiki bar that hosts cruiser events several nights a week.

We spent the next few days rowing the dinghy ashore to run our errands and getting the boat ready for haul out, including taking down our head sail (a requirement for hauling), deflating and storing the dinghy, and emptying out the fridge.

On Monday, June 17, we headed toward Prickly Bay Marina to fill our diesel tanks, and then at 1 pm motored Borealis into the haul out well at Spice Island Marine. Next up, we spend a few days sweating it out in the boatyard tackling projects before we head back to the states for a month.

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