Deep Blue

Living The Dream

17 November 2016
15 November 2016
12 October 2016
12 October 2016
12 October 2016
12 October 2016
11 October 2016
31 July 2016
31 July 2016
01 July 2016
04 June 2016
11 May 2016
03 May 2016 | View of Admiralty Bay from Peggy's Rock
03 May 2016
02 May 2016 | At anchor off Princess Margaret beach, Admiralty Bay

Island Touring with Cuddy

17 November 2016
As our time in Grenada draws to a close, we decided to join some fellow cruisers on one of the best rated island tours run by Cuddy, who knows his island well.

The day-long trip started with grey clouds and rain but that didn’t spoil Cuddy’s enthusiasm or ours as he kept pulling up at the side of the road to point out, show us and let us taste the abundance of fruits and spices growing everywhere on the island – it’s not called the Spice Island for nothing and as Cuddy said, ‘There is no reason for anybody here to go to bed on an empty stomach’.

We learnt how the bark of the cinnamon tree curls as it dries into the cinnamon sticks that we are familiar with. We’d probably walked past loads of fresh ginger on our hikes but picked straight from the ground, we saw the whole plant for the first time. Golden apples are now in season, and they taste similar to a cross between an apple, pear and nectarine, and are delicious. Did you know that cocoa beans, fresh from the pod before they are fermented and dried, feel and taste like furry lemon sweets.

The day brightened up as we continued our tour across the island to the Annandale Falls and the Grand Etang National Park for a view of the Crater Lake. Our lunch-stop was at the St. Antoine Rum Distillery, where we had a delicious buffet lunch on a terrace overlooking the sugar cane fields before touring the distillery.

The afternoon saw us visiting The Grenada Chocolate Company before we toured the north of the island passing through the town of Sauteurs (French word meaning leapers), where in 1685 the Caribs leapt to their deaths from the cliff rather than be enslaved by the French, and then on to Petit Anse with great views north to Carriacou.

The sun was beginning to set as we drove down the west coast, stopping to admire centuries old petroglyphs (stone carvings) on the way. We certainly packed a lot into just one day but it will be a day that we shall remember for a long time to come.

Cuddy. Tel: 473 407 5133. Air-conditioned, comfy minibus. US$25 pp (based on 8 adults) + entrance fees approx.. EC$10 and lunch EC$35.

The Grenada Chocolate Company

16 November 2016
Grenadian trinitario cocoa beans are a major crop on the island and are the main ingredient in the Grenada Chocolate Company’s delicious range of organic chocolate.

Founded in 1999, the idea was to create an Organic Cocoa Farmers & Chocolate Makers Co-operative, making the first ‘Tree to Bar’ chocolate. Nestled in the lush cocoa groves, the factory is solar-powered and very small scale, so small that they had to create many of their own processing methods and manufacture small scale machinery. ‘Big Ron’ talked us through the process of how the cocoa beans are fermented, roasted and ground and how the cocoa butter is then squeezed out in presses before sugar is added to create the perfect bar. They are wrapped and packaged by two ladies who sit at a small table all day surrounded by chocolate. Only pure, dark chocolate is produced as no dairy product is added to obtain milk chocolate.

We left feeling as though we had just visited a real-life Willy Wonka chocolate factory but even Willy Wonka couldn’t have made a better bar of our favourite, Salty-Licious, Caribbean sea salt in 71% chocolate.

Grenada is also home to another chocolate factory – Jouvay Chocolate. If you ever get the chance, you must sample their 60% chocolate with nutmeg.

River Antoine Rum Distillery

15 November 2016
Since 1785, a giant water-wheel (the oldest working water wheel in the western hemisphere) has been turned by the waters of the River Antoine to provide the power needed to crush bundles of sugar cane in order to extract the all-important juice needed to make strong White Rivers Rum.

The juice is heated through a series of huge copper kettles before being left to ferment naturally prior to then being twice distilled. The distillery hasn’t changed much since 1785 and is very labour intensive but the authenticity of their product is very important to them. Their strongest rum, at 75% proof, is too potent to be transported by plane, which was lucky for us being on a boat!

After the tasting, at the end of tour, we also bought a bottle of their chocolate liqueur rum, delicious after dinner, cold from the fridge.

Racing weekend

12 October 2016
Our visit back proved to be the catalyst for a huge get together of our friends.

The day started with a rendezvous at Castle Combe racing circuit where Chris Cadman was racing his 1920's MG C-type. Chris and Paula had travelled down in their motorhome with the MG on a trailer behind. The day was mostly dry but when the rain did come, it was quite a sight to see the motorhome with 12 people inside it!

We spent the night at The George Inn in Norton St. Philip where we had dinner together and caught up on all our news. We did sleep in one of the haunted rooms but luckily did not get spooked!

It has been quite a while since we have all been together and we had a wonderful time. Thanks everyone for making the effort.

Family time

12 October 2016
Time spent with family is always special.

With sister Debra and boyfriend Joe, we travelled to Penzance to celebrate Debra's birthday weekend and visit our cousin Claire and her family, Billy & Grace. A visit to Lands End had to be included, as well as into Mousehole where Chris spent many a childhood holiday. We sampled plenty of Cornish pasties and ice-cream at the food festival in Truro.

Back in Surrey, we celebrated Debra's birthday with our nephews Callum, Nathan and Adam. Big birthday next year for Deb!!!!

Angie, Wayne & Caggy

12 October 2016
We were eager to see friends Angie and Wayne, not only because it had been a while since our last time together, but because they are the new owners of Caggy a historic canal tug, commissioned by Sir Winston Churchill for the war effort in the early 1940's. Very different from their previous sailing boat!

Our visit included a trip to the Black Country Living Museum, where Caggy is moored. What a fabulous place. The whole site has been developed to replicate a 1930's/40's town with motor museum, shops, houses, coal mine and even a vintage fish and chip shop where the fish and chips were cooked in beef dripping and were the best we've ever tasted.

Chris took a nostalgic drive past Longbridge where he did his engineering apprenticeship. How different it looks now with most of the buildings re-developed for housing and shops. We also found the cottage and farm where he lived during those learning years.

Yorkshire visit

12 October 2016
We started our time back in the UK by visiting sister Audra and brother-in-law Gavin who live near Bingley, Yorkshire.

The weather was great which made blackberry picking all the more pleasureable. We are looking forward to Gavin's blackberry whisky in due course. If his sloe gin is anything to go by, it will be good.

We visited wonderful Skipton Castle and the award-winning pie shop next door.

Pub dinners, walks along the canals and Audra and Gavin's delicious cooking, including Viennese Whirls as per the Great British Bake Off challenge, made for a great visit.

See you again soon!

Carnival in Grenada

11 October 2016
One of the highlights in the Grenadan calendar is Carnival; the culmination of months of steel band and music competitions that is celebrated by the entire island in 3 days of partying.

We were mezmerised during the steel band competition to see huge bands of up to 70 people of all ages bringing the National Stadium to life with their melodies. After each group, the whole set had to be wheeled off the stage so that the next group could set up. It resembled an enormous jigsaw puzzle getting everything in place.

The night Carnival showcased all the bands that would be taking part in the main Carnival event. Each band was headed by a lorry onto which was loaded massive speakers that blasted out with extra bass and from which plenty of rum was being distributed. This was followed by a procession of people waving colourful light sticks that lit up the night sky.

Pretty Carnival was the main event where participants of all shapes and sizes paraded down the road wearing costumes of feathers, beaded bikinis, gold fishnet tights and very bright colours. The main theme for the girls was very bright and very small. No matter what size, most seemed to be wearing a costume that was several sizes too small for them. It was great fun, everyone had a wonderful time and what impressed us the most was that whilst there were hundreds of people on the streets to watch, there was not one policeman to be seen, it wasn't necessary because everyone behaved properly, even those who had been making the most of the rum punches. A great example to everyone.

If you get the chance to go to Grenada, try to be there for Carnival and experience one of the happiest times of the year.

Click here for all the photos...

Hiking & Waterfalls

31 July 2016
At almost 12 degrees north of the equator, Grenada is a popular place for cruisers to be based during the hurricane season. Each morning at 7.30am there is a VHF radio Net that we can all listen to and participate in, and which covers subjects such as the weather forecast, security issues, sourcing parts/tradespeople, items for sale and arranging social activities and events. It was by listening in that we heard about a couple of hikes to some waterfalls that were being organised and we signed up.

Our first hike was to the famous Seven Sisters Waterfall, located in the Grand Etang National Park and proved to be so popular that when the minivan arrived to pick us up, it was already full but with a bit of breathing in all 21 of us got in to a van designed for 16, though I did have to sit on a guy's lap (and it wasn't Chris's!!).

Cruiser Steve led us through the lush rainforest where we clambered over rocks and trees, up and down steep and sticky mud inclines and waded through streams. We've made friends with fellow Brits, Ali & Stephen, who live on a catamaran called Manx Goose, and together our reward was to swim in the cooling waterfall before we climbed a little higher to Honeymoon Falls. The journey there was mostly through the falls themselves where we had to heave ourselves over rocks and through gullies as the water fell upon us. It was great.

I managed to get a seat on the way back and had a great view of the smoke coming off the brakes as they overheated due to the weight of us all as we headed down the mountains.

The following week we opted for two buses for our hike to Annandale Falls. In the bus were Pete, Anna and their son Sam, whom we had met in Marina di Ragusa several years ago. They had already travelled to the USA on their boat, something that we are planning too, so it was a good opportunity to catch up and pick their brains. The hike was much gentler than the previous one but nonetheless stunning as we passed areas of nutmeg, cocoa bean, avocado and mango trees. Colourful pink heliconia flowers hung from the trees near to the 30ft waterfalls, where we enjoyed a dip to cool off before the journey back.

Grenada has some beautiful rainforest and waterfalls and we are looking forward to exploring it more.

Turtle Watching

31 July 2016
Our time in Grenada has coincided with the annual leatherback turtle egg-laying season and so we joined a group of cruisers to make the journey across the island to Bathway Beach in the NE corner.

‘Shademan’ AKA Patrick, a local bus/taxi operator, provided the transport in a couple of his old minivans. We had been fore-warned that he was a bit of a ‘boy-racer’ driver and so opted for the van he wasn’t driving! The 2-hour journey took us through areas of lush rainforest, small towns, and plantations and provided a great insight into the island.

It was dark by the time we got there, around 8pm, and we listed to a short talk by our guide from the turtle sanctuary before heading down to the beach area. The turtles had stared laying back in March and, as we were now in July, it was coming to the end of the season which meant fewer turtles and therefore longer waiting around for one to arrive on the beach – you can’t hurry nature.

After a couple of hours, we got the call that we could make our way onto the beach as a turtle had arrived. In single file, behind our guide, we walked about 1 mile to the furthest point of the beach to be greeted by the sight of a leatherback turtle preparing her nesting spot. It was full moon during our visit which made visibility perfect as torchlight could have frightened her. We were amazed at how large the turtle was; around 2m long and over 1m wide. We can’t even guess at what she weighed but there she was carefully and delicately digging a deep hole behind her using her rear flippers just like hands. After an hour of digging she abandoned because she had come across a large rock under the sand. She simply moved around a little and started all over again. While this was going on, students from the turtle sanctuary were busy measuring and taking notes, and tagging the turtles if they needed it. As the turtle digs, she goes into a trance just before she lays, and at this point the students noticed that there was water in the bottom of the nest which meant that the eggs would not survive if left there. They took the decision to collect the eggs as they were laid and re-bury them in a better position on the beach. We were mesmerised as we stood right next to this huge turtle and watched the eggs appear and drop into the next. They were all white and very round, like golf balls and we were told that the shells are quite firm. Before she came out of her trance, we were able to touch her and her shell really did feel like thick, cool leather. She had no idea that the 50+ eggs that she had laid were not in the nest and we left her to cover and camouflage it as we made our way back down the beach.

We had to walk in single file behind the guide because some of the earlier turtle eggs were now hatching and we couldn’t afford to tread on one as a little hatchling was making its way to the sea. Our guide stopped walking and we waited in great anticipation as to the reason why. In front of her was a newly-hatched turtle taking its first steps seawards as fast as its little flippers could take it. She picked it up to show us and we were all able to hold it before releasing it onto the moonlit sand to continue its journey.

We felt very privileged to have seen both the eggs being laid and a new hatchling beginning its life-journey on the same night. If that turtle makes it, and it could travel as far as Canada and beyond, it will return to that same beach to lay its eggs and therefore continue the cycle in years to come.

It turned out to be a long night as we got back around 3am but it was a wonderful experience and one we shall remember forever.

Vessel Name: Deep Blue
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2
Hailing Port: Shotley, UK
Crew: Chris & Sandra Mennem
We have realised a long held dream to 'Sell Up & Sail'. Having sailed in the Mediterranean and Caribbean on holiday, we have taken the plunge, waved goodbye to corporate life and want to see where the wind blows us. [...]
Extra: Contact details:- Tel: 07937 061051 (from a UK landline) +44 7937 061051 (from a mobile)
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Who: Chris & Sandra Mennem
Port: Shotley, UK