07/13/2009, Levera Beach, North Coast of Grenada
It didn't take long before a huge family of cruisers started bonding! How easy it is when this common ground plays in our favor! Pepe and Big Bear, Lucie and Richard, Pat and Richard, Isabelle and Eric, Margarit, Bernard and Louic and many more, all agreed to take advantage of this time of year when the Leatherback Turtles migrate here to Grenada and to Trinidad to lay their eggs!
Fourteeen of us got together and organized the famous "Cutty" to take us at l0p to Levera National Park at the northeastern most corner of Grenada. Cutty organized and picked up a guide named Dora, near to our destination some two hours away up and over mountains, across valleys all in the dark of course so we had no idea where were were. We stopped just shy of the beach where Dora explained a little about the leatherback turtle species and shared one recorded marathon swim of l6,000 miles in one season. They gain sexual maturity somewhere between 15 and 30 years and their life expectancy is between 80 and 100 years old. On arrival we walked down the very dark beach until we met wardens Kester and Becks. Kester had worked for the last four years protecting his charges. Becks was on a one month stint awaiting the start of her law Degree course at Edinburgh University...How very cool to have this opportunity to study these levethians. Becks said the most she has seen in one night sharing nature's finest act was 27 ladies. Now the average is four this late in the season.
It wasn't long before we spotted our first lady and we had to wait a while for her to get settled in before we were allowed to approach her. We were only allowed to use red light torches so as not to put off any other 'moms' that might journey up the beach, nor do they want to interfere with any babies en route to the sea should we be lucky enough to see any hatchlings that would choose tonight for their epic struggle for life.
Our lady was called WC#5573 as her tag stated. Becks and Kester on midwife duty recorded her statistics, measuring 1.83m in shell length and l.l8m wide. Dora claimed she was not a big leatherback by any means. They saw our lady was digging too close to another nest so they began gently filling in as she was methodically digging her spot. This digging and filling finally inched our lady far enough away from the existing nest for her to begin laying her eggs. Once she began dropping her eggs, which were the size of tennis balls and very 'leathery', funny that, eh, Becks caught them and dropped them in the bucket. Our lady was now in a trance-like state and we were allowed to stroke her and touch her flippers if we choose. WE CHOSE! Very, very cool. Being so close to the mammoth gentle giants from the deep was truly the most remarkable and sensational event of this journey. We will never ever forget this special night.
While we watched our lady use her powerful flippers to fill the hole and neatly pat it down we watched other 'moms' approach. We all were crowding so close to the 'action' that we didn't mind the rain of sand she was 'splashing' in every direction. Sadly it was time to leave. We had to make our way gently back down the beach, not knowing where the nests were and we watched as Becks and Kester repostitioned her eggs in a new spot not far from the place she'd chosen initially. Kester and Becks had their work cut out because two more moms began their path up the beach as we were leaving and they had to begin their documentation and research on these two new arrivals. Just then someone spotted a wee tot climbing to the surface from it's nest, which obviously paved the way for it's siblings. Who knew we'd see both the laying of and hatching of baby leatherbacks in this one evening.. WOW. Kester was now rushing between us, the ladies and the babies, where we were allowed to guide these youngins to the sea with our red lamps. I was successful in turning a wee one in the right direction a couple of times until a wave finally reached him or her and off in the dark night for who knows what fate would lie ahead. Statistics are not good.
We got back to Altair at 0130, too excited to sleep. I immediately got on-line to research these amazing creatures.
WHAT AN AMAZING, SPECTACULAR AND REMARKABLE EXPERIENCE!
Love to All our Family! Dudley and Bec
07/09/2009, Carenage, The Wharf @ St. George's
We just can't wait to walk about the lagoon and feel our way around. It hasn't even been 24 hours since we tied up to the marina and we're already up early on day two to explore this beauiful place called St. Georges. We are hoping to beat the heat, but it doesn't matter, we're going anyway. With eyes bugged out eastward towards the lagoon, and then westward up the hill at the architecture, we soaked it all in. Whiplash seemed possible, but we forged ahead with delight. The fruit vendors, the fisherman, the local markets, the 'skin-ups' (a chinett, fruit that all the locals are munching on) and the most friendly people bustling about grinning like chesser cats. We've been told time and time again that the Grenandians were VERY nice, and darned if they aren't right. We seem to have endless energy when a new country or village is waiting to be checked out. This day it's both and our adrenelin is up, but it's July already and it's downright steamy. We're soaked, we're thrilled with the sites and the newness of it all and we're done for the day. My honey is amazing, even after walking all morning well into the afternoon oven, he keeps up with me and never stops. We decided to stop, for lunch at the Island Grill, looking out over the busy Carenage.
We are thrilled to be here in Grenada at last. We made it, a year later than planned, but isn't that what cruising is about! It's not about the destination, it's about the journey. And journey we did on foot this morning, returning by bus with laughing and squalking locals back to the marina. We are so obviously tourists and they don't mind a bit answering our questions or freely passing out info. . Check out the pics of our first glimpse of St. George's! Sweet. The Album is called Carenage/Wharf, St. Georges!
OOOOOOH LA LA, the smells...It's the Spice Island for sure!
Dudley and Bec
07/08/2009, Carriacou to Grenada Passage!
We are heading to our southernmost hurricane hidy place at last, but not before we give a wide berth to the active underwater volcano. We discussed it, read about it and even checked out www.uwiseismic.com to get the status of this volcano. Nothing blowing today nor since 1988 and again in 1989 respectively, but "Dudley Do Right" is taking no chances.
As we headed south from Tyrell Bay in the southwestern tip of Carriacou this morning for a short 20nm sail to Grenada, we had to consider the exclusion zone. An active volcano that lies a little west of Isle de Ronde called Kick'em Jenny reportedly will give you a bit KICK if you happen to be over it when it erupts. To prevent this the Grenada government has declared a l.5km exclusion zone at all times and increases to 5km when the volcano is rumbling. Yeiks!
So far the best sailing is when we clear the lee of these windward islands and get the blow! How spectacular! The speeds are not tremendous on a normal day, given our waterline, but the current southeast to northwest would surely enhance our arrival time if we were heading north instead of south.
Those islands far off in the distance with this little point and shoot (thank you Olga and Don), Ile de Ronde, Diamond Rock, the 200m monolith named Kick'em-Jenny, Ile de Ronde, Caille Island, Les Tantes and the Sisters...all in the future plan to explore by sloop or dink.
What a great day and great a milestone. Grenada at last. Just a year later than our goal in 2008. Yippee. Ooooh, the life of a cruiser.
07/07/2009, We WERE moored here, off the Lazy Turtle, Tyrell Bay, Carriacou
The cruising community is truly remarkable! Our neighbors Eloan, was a big family that we adored watching! They were so loving, helping their parents, playing, and being part of the big team. There were 4 boys and a girl that we would finally meet, but we really wanted to meet the amazing parents of this huge family.
It was about 6:30a when I got up to find us flying across the bay toward the reef. I got up to the bow to see the frayed and sawed mooring lines hanging off the bow, when I yelled to my Captain that we are in danger with that reef and the wind kicking up at a steady pace. Dudley and I both yelled to get the key in the ignition when two boys and the Dad from Eloan arrived in their dink to push us away from the reef! We learned later that the youngest rescuer actually saw us first and woke everybody on his boat to get help for us. They got us back on the mooring and a squall came thru that was timed so close to getting back on the mooring it was spooky.
I spent the day painting a thank you card depicting the little guy pulling on a line, the older boy helping and Dad driving their dink! They were so excited and we did get introduced to the whole gang!
07/06/2009, Tyrell Bay, a very sweet Carriacou harbor...
Dudley was going to town, via the "Yacht Club", but was taken by surprise when the dink concked out...I didn't hear him, but he was yelling for me from a mooring he managed to catch. He was hoping I could hear him and then swim some fins to him so we could both be powered up for the 'tow' back to Altair! Chris and Yannie, our friends since Dominica, just happened to sail by in their Walker Bay, for a perfect rescue with the timing and the better solution. Dudley helped by paddling, and the lemons we were dished turned into a sweet and tasty lemonade. Thanks Yannie and Chris.
07/03/2009, Tyrell Bay near the Lazy Turtle
We have a new found appreciation and love for Frenchies. They are smart and speak five languages, English being one of them. Isabelle, Eric and us at Lady "D"'s floating bar. We had dinner later on their boat, S/V Catleya, a giant capon baked in their oven (wheeeennnn, we'd love to have one, an oven that is), and laughter all evening continued. Gin and rum punches probably helped in the giggle department, ya think?