Moving fast to Grenada
28 June 2013 | Port Louis Marina Grenada
Bert - Partly Cloudy 17 kn North/East Trade Wind
We arrived on June 26, 2013 in Port Louis Marina in St. George’s, Grenada. This will be our location for the Hurricane Season for this year. After the very heavy weather due to a Tropical Wave in Carriacou in the bay in front of Hillsborough with wind of 45 miles and very heavy rain we knew it was time to go in. Over the past month our trip was heavily influenced by waiting for weather windows and most of the cruisers we met agreed that it was a good thing to be in before July 1, 2013. In our last blog we posted in St. Lucia we said that we had to wait for a weather window a week away for the day we posted this blog and that we would do a lot of fun things during that time. It did not completely work out like we planned.
In St. Lucia we anchored in Soufriere Bay just under the volcano and next to The Pitons. We had daily rain showers from weather coming over the mountains and the rain contained a lot of sulfur particles from the volcano and the surface of Island Girl shows this very well. Instead of being rinsed off by the rain it was covered with a thin layer of mud. I developed a very nasty rash all over my body and lost most of the vision in my eye with the corneal transplant and I was afraid I had a rejection. The local doctor we visited even advised me to fly back to The States but that was in view of the location in Soufriere not possible. He gave me lots of medicine and after a few days the rash disappeared and I slowly regained my vision. Due to this we did not do the things we planned but we still had a good time.
We met a Dutch couple Ans and Harry with their boat Lion King sailing for 2 years in the Caribbean after arriving from The Netherlands via the north route. They visited England, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland and Canada and along the US east coast to the Caribbean. We shared some nice evenings together that we continued in our next destination in Bequia, The Grenadines.
The local boat people cleaned the bottom of Island Girl swimming from shore with only snorkel equipment and did the job in 2 hours without a rest. They were very disappointed and almost angry that I did not come in the water to check their work. Later in Bequia when I felt safe again to go into the water I noticed that they did one of the best cleaning jobs since we own Island Girl.
We used the dinghy to visit the coast along The Pitons and realized that it was a real pity that I was not to able to go into the water for some snorkeling or using our Brownie surface supplied air diving system. The water is beautiful and the other cruisers, people coming to this location from the cruise ships and resorts all over St. Lucia were telling great stories. So St. Lucia is definitely on our list to visit more extensively next season. Yes, we changed our plans; we will not go to the West Caribbean next season but will sail another year in the East Caribbean and we are planning to visit all the places we have skipped and spend more time on other nice places.
A lot of cruises were waiting in St. Lucia and Martinique to move south and the magic day was Friday June 21, 2013. The Tropical Wave moved out, the seas calmed down, but also the wind. An armada of boats left and started sailing south. We left first at 5:15 AM and as soon as we were out of the bay we saw boats everywhere. It also seemed that all agreed to do the same thing, skip St. Vincent and sail to Bequia in The Grenadines. The wind was light and under normal conditions it would have been a nice broad reach sail. However, the current was very strong; we had on average 2.5 kn. against us and I have experienced locations with even more. During the crossing from St. Lucia to St. Vincent a very heavy squall hit the armada and we had a gust of 32kn with full sails out and the UV protection of our head sail came loose and we had to furl this sail to avoid further damage. With a distance of 56 miles to cover we could not let the speed go down too much so our engine had to help us once in a while specifically in the lee of St. Vincent. We sailed close to the coast of St. Vincent and had an opportunity to see from a distance this beautiful island that again is on our list to visit next season.
We arrived in Bequia Admiralty Bay and anchored in front of the Princess Margaret Beach. This beach was original called Tony Gibson Beach but renamed after the late princess took a dip in the water during her visit to Bequia. Then a miracle happed: The sun start shining and suddenly we experienced the Caribbean like it used to be. We had blue sky with some nice white cumulous clouds, a lot of sun and a nice trade wind breeze with only at the end of the afternoon a rain shower. We swam, snorkeled, took long beach walks and just spent time in the sun on the beach. The water is pristine; the beaches are nice and clean with reefs with an abundant amount of fish. It was the Caribbean we had not seen since we arrived in the rain in Guadeloupe 2 months ago. Port Elizabeth is a very nice town with a very nice narrow boardwalk along the coast with nice restaurants and places just to sit and enjoy the view. We had coffee in the Gingerbread Restaurant and Hotel after we delivered our sail to the sail loft for repair and I had trouble to leave this place. We spent long evenings with our friends sharing stories and had a great time.
We decided to use the next weather window after our sail was repaired to sail to Carriacou the most northern island that is part of Grenada and skip the rest of The Grenadines and save it for next season. It was a very nice sail with some more wind so we could overcome the very strong current most of the time. Hillsborough is a port of entry for Grenada and most people move after the custom and immigration clearance to Sandy Island or Tyrrell Bay. Since we planned to leave the next morning early to Grenada we stayed in the bay in front of Hillsborough. At night when the Tropical Wave passed by with wind up to 45 miles I needed to watch the anchor for close to 5 hours and with the enormous amount of rain that was not easy to do. The bay turned out to be very exposed and I was happy when the storm calmed down around one in the morning. Due to this we departed later then we normally do and that was a good thing. This gave the Tropical Wave the chance to move out of our sailing area and we left at 8:00 AM for Grenada.
The trip from Carriacou to Grenada brings you over an active underwater volcano with a 1.5 mile mandatory exclusion zone. In case of volcanic activity the exclusion zone is extended to 5 miles. This area close to the Isle de Ronde is known for very strong currents and we saw already from far away high breaking waves in between Isle de Ronde and the Volcano Exclusion zone. Although we changed heading we had for about one hour the highest breaking following seas since we started sailing. It is a game of very fast slowing down and acceleration completely beyond your control. Needless to say that it was a big relief when we came in the lee of Grenada. We entered the Port Louis Marina at 3:00 PM and we got a nice slip with a finger pier, but only 220 V power. We went to town and purchased a transformer with all the other parts needed and installed this on Island Girl and now we have nice shore power.
We started to take down a lot of outside equipment in preparation for our 3 week trip to The States in August and we will continue to do this next week. We will finally give Island Girl a much needed cleaning. Despite all the rain she is very dirty and many metal part show corrosion.
The marina is very nice with good facilities, access to the beach and a nice swimming pool. After all the work is done we hope to spend some good times on the island and hope to report about that in our next blog.