September 18, 2019

Life Lately: Adventures in Grenada

We've been staying busy in Grenada while waiting out hurricane season by exploring the island, making new friends, tackling boat projects, and planning for our next cruising season.

Despite only one major hurricane this season (Dorian), it’s been an active weather season
We decided to rent a scooter from fellow cruiser turned expat, Fast Manacou, which gives us the opportunity to provision easier and adventure out further to explore this spectacularly beautiful island. After some extensive research, we put together a list of must-see-and-do island activities and have been dutifully checking things off our list.

Here's a great list of fun activities for anyone looking to visit the island: https://www.goatsontheroad.com/61-things-do-grenada/


Here's a quick update on all the fun we've been having this summer and how we’ve been spending our time:

Island tours

To get the lay of the land, last month we joined a group of cruisers on a smelling, tasting and sightseeing tour of Grenada with local guide Cuthbert Mc Meo, aka Cutty. Grenada is known as the "Isle of Spice" and is one of the worlds largest exporters of nutmeg and mace (which come from the same fruit). More than 90 percent of Grenada's nutmeg crops were destroyed in Hurricane Ivan in 2004, but the trees are finally starting to come back.

Grenada is also a major exporter of bananas and plantains, cocoa, mango, papaya and breadfruit (grows on trees and has a starchy taste like a potato). We had an incredible day learning about Grenada's rich history, visiting landmarks, and sampling the many fruits, vegetables and spices we found near the roadside along the way.


Tour guide Cutty cracking open a cacao fruit pod

Cutty shaves off the bark of a cinnamon tree, which dries and curls into a cinnamon stick
A ripe nutmeg: mace is made from the reddish membrane and the dark brown inner seed is cracked open to reveal the nutmeg pit

Nick smelling cloves, turmeric and the leaves of a grapefruit tree

Chocolate Factory Tour

During our tour we also visited Grenada Chocolate Factory, where they process cocoa beans using solar power and vintage machinery and produce six varieties of dark chocolate (our favorite was the Nib-a-licious, made with pieces - or nibs - of roasted cocoa beans). Jouvey and Belmont Estate are two other chocolate factories on the island.

Sara “stirring” the drying cocoa seeds



River Antoine Rum Distillery

The River Antoine Rum Distillery was another stop on our tour, where they make a very strong white rum the same way as they have since the mid-1800s. In fact, it's the oldest functioning water-powered distillery in the Caribbean. A giant water wheel crushes locally grown sugar came to extract the juices, the dry stalks are then burned to heat the sugars, and large wooden ladles are used to manually move the liquid from one big cast iron vat to the next as it gets hotter. Finally, it moves through a river-cooled still and on to hand bottling. The distillery's 150-proof Rivers rum is so strong that it's not allowed on airplanes, so they produce a less potent 138-proof Royale rum.





Forts George, Frederick and Matthew

Like many Caribbean Islands, control of Grenada shifted between the French and British. Grenada's three forts offer history, landscape and some incredible sea views. Unfortunately, little remains of the forts, which were heavily damaged from bombing by the USA during the 1983 invasion to end communist occupancy. Grenada's forts are among only a few known to have never fired a cannon in anger.

Fort George is Grenada's oldest fort, built in 1705, and offers a stunning view of Grenada's downtown St. George's and harbor. The fort is home today to the island's Royal police force.



Forts Frederick and Matthew sit together atop Richmond Hill. Unlike most other forts, Fort Frederick was built by the French with its cannons facing inland, rather than out to sea, since the French had taken over the island from the British in a surprise attack from land rather than the anticipated naval attack. Fort Matthew is the largest fort on the island and built in the late 1700s. With a series of bat-filled tunnels underneath, the fort was used as an insane asylum in the late 1800s and earlier this century housed a bar and restaurant.





Molinere Point Sculpture Park

We spent a day snorkeling Grenada's world famous underwater sculpture park, where dozens of concrete sculptures from British artist Jason deCaires Taylor were installed in the early 2000s following reef damage from Hurricane Ivan. The sculptures help attract tourists to explore Grenada's underwater environment and also help protect coral and marine life by creating a new environment for them to thrive.

A moray eel showing us his razor sharp teeth


And of course we've been crashing marina pools and sunbathing, snorkeling and swimming in Grenada's many white sandy beaches with friends.





Container Park & Options

Grenadian cuisine is diverse and delicious, and we've been eating our way through Grenada's top street food, but two of our favorite places for a quick bite or a meet up with friends are the Container Park and Options; both are a series of popular small shacks (less than a block apart) near the Saint George's University and Medical School campus that sell drinks and food, from sushi to Thai to Cuban.

Grilled corn, jerk chicken and roti are among Grenada’s top street food

West Indies Beer Company

This brewery and restaurant has become a favorite of ours! The brewery produces a range of draft beers, serves very good and well priced food, has a great open air beer garden, and offers some of the fastest free wifi we've found since the States.



Volleyball

While we haven't played much volleyball since high school gym class, we've enjoyed meeting up with fellow cruisers twice a week at Secret Harbor Marina to play beach volleyball, where the game's rules are only loosely interpreted and the drinks freely flow.


Varnishing and other boat work

Lest anyone think we've only been having fun this summer, rest assured we've been staying plenty busy with boat maintenance and planning for our winter cruising season.

One of the last items on our pre-cruising to-do list last year was varnishing our very worn down and tired looking companionway. Since we focused our efforts last fall on safety and other critical, higher-priority projects, varnishing fell to the bottom of our list, but a year later we'd run out of excuses.

We spent the past few weeks scraping, sanding, and painting and are so pleased with the finished result!
Borealis’ companionway in desperate need of a revarnishing



The end result of several weeks of work
We've also been spending lots of time with fellow cruisers, including James, Mayla and Connor on S/V Blacksheep, who were our dock neighbors for several years back at our marina in Maryland. They have their catamaran on the hard at Spice Island Marine - where we hauled out Borealis earlier this summer - and are keeping busy with a major refit of their boat.

Cruisers helping cruisers get it done

Until next time, you can find us right here living the good life and enjoying Grenada’s beautiful sunsets...

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