Work and Fun in Grenada
20 July 2013 | Port Louis Marina Grenada
Bert - Partly Clouded 17 kn East Trade Wind
We are now 3 weeks in Grenada and we have enjoyed every day of it. We used our time with working on the boat, exploring the island and meeting the wonderful people. To be honest we also spent some time in the pool or in the cockpit doing nothing besides reading our kindle books. We visit fellow cruisers or they come to visit us on our boat. These interactions are very good for the use of languages we used to speak but lost over time. Just on our pier in the marina we are surrounded by people from: The Netherlands, England, Germany, Switzerland, France, USA and even Japan. But you can see the difference between people who still have a home in their home country and those who don’t. People with access to their home left to spend most of the time the entire hurricane season at home and return in November. The people who do not have a home stay here in Grenada and fly back for a short visit only like we will do in August. It is quiet in the marina as the majority of the boats is empty but we are very happy to be here and it seems that the days are flying by and every night we go early to bed with a very satisfied feeling of having spent another day in paradise.
We want to make sure that ‘non-boat users’ understand that a boat that has been sailing for 7 months needs a lot of cleaning and maintenance. During the trip we had many issues that needed to be addressed and we took care of the general maintenance of the boat. But now that we are in a marina many things need to be done. The varnish on the teak was in a very bad condition. For the past 2 years I spent in the summer many nights after work sanding, sanding, sanding and applying new coats of varnish, but it was evident that this is not my forte and that one day an expert was needed. And we found such an expert in Grenada. His name is Sean and he is an expert as is evident from the work he has done on other boats. He has been working on our boat for 7 days and if it had not rained he could have finished the work. When I say 7 days, I mean 7 full days, from 8 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon including Saturday and Sunday. He is a very hard worker, but at the same time a very nice guy with a great sense of humor and great knowledge about many things and subjects. Since we had to be most of the time available to him and helped him with the taping and removing of the tape, we spent a lot of time with him and we learned a lot from him about the island, the history, and the culture including my favorite subjects: Music and carnival. Since he worked on many boats here in the marina he is a very well-known fellow and many people come to see him, which allowed us to get acquainted with many people. Although I will never be an expert in varnishing I learned a lot from him and hope to be able to use these skills in the future. The part of the boat that is completed looks beautiful and the varnish is so smooth you can use it as a mirror.
We cleaned out the boat, took a full inventory of all the materials and food on the boat and found many things we were missing. Our entire inventory is set up in a spreadsheet and if we had kept this spreadsheet properly updated we should be able to find everything, but we made mistakes, forgot to save changes made, etc. so it was time to do a good update. At the same time we needed a list of all the things we need to buy for the continuation of our trip after the end of the hurricane season.
Before we left we had a list of all the things we needed for the boat and gave it a priority rating of need to have, nice to have or may be later. An awning for the boat to protect the deck from direct sunlight during anchoring or mooring was rated on the list as may be later due to cost and our budget and that was a mistake. When the deck is exposed to the sun during the day it becomes extremely hot inside and in many cases it does not cool down sufficiently to have a good sleeping temperature at night. To address this problem we purchased a tarp and put it over the boom during anchoring and mooring and although it did not cover the entire deck it made a big difference. But as everyone knows tarp is not very wind resistance and we have wind every day. So a more permanent solution was needed and we ordered a very nice awning covering the entire deck and hope that it will be installed next week.
We use our bikes for trips around the bay where the roads are flat, this way we can visit the capital city of Grenada St. George’s, the Carenage, stores we need and a few very nice restaurants. Together with our friends Bryan, Barbara and Scott we visited the River Rum Distillery & Estate. This is the oldest working rum distillery in the Caribbean where traditional methods are still used for making rum, including a working waterwheel used to crush the sugarcane to extract juices to make rum. The result is very strong rum with an alcohol percentage of 75% that cannot be exported to the USA, as this kind of high alcohol percentage can be used for terrorist activities. They have a reduced product of only 69% alcohol and we purchased a few bottles. At the end of the tour you can taste both products and I believe I was the only one who tasted these products mixed with water. After this we drove again to Belmont Estate and had a great lunch in an open restaurant on the top floor of the building with a great view of the area and the cool trade wind. This time we did the official tour and saw how the cocoa beans are prepared for the organic chocolate production and tasted the best chocolate I have ever had. As an extra we got a tour of the 400 acres estate with the field supervisor Rawlins Smit. This gentleman is a retired field inspector for the Agricultural Department and has an unlimited knowledge of the plants, trees, spices and fruits in Grenada. His face and stories showed his deep love for the work he is doing and was very happy to share his knowledge. Dorothy who knows most of the plants, trees, spices and fruits from Indonesia had a great time to share the use of the fruit and spices with him. Although a lot of cruisers stay in the hurricane season in Grenada, Grenada had a devastating hurricane in 2004 that destroyed big parts of the island including the tropical forest and most of the fruit and nutmeg trees. The nutmeg industry was nearly completely destroyed and it takes about 7 years before these trees are producing fruits and Belmont Estate survived by diverging and started producing cocoa for the chocolate production.
We visited with Barbara and Scott all the bays and marinas on the south and south/east side of the island including Grand Anse. Grand Anse is what most people have in mind when they think about the Caribbean: a generous, two-mile sweep of white-gold sand backed by shady palm and almond trees (Chris Doyle Windward Island Pilot book). In between Grand Anse and True Blue Bay is the Maurice Bishop International Airport and St. George University. The campus of the university was to my surprise very large with a lot of new buildings and together with the location it is a beautiful site. Our next stop was True Blue Bay with a resort with the same name. The bay, although roily, is very colorful and clean. The resort is very nice with a small marina and nice restaurant with serving a blend of Mexican and Caribbean food. The next bay we visited was Prickly Bay which is thanks to the many marine facilities the most popular. A lot of our friends we met have their boat stored in the Spice Island Boat Yard and while walking around this marina we recognized many boats. And the list of very nice bays and coves goes on with Mt. Hartman Bay with a nice little marina called Secret Harbor Marina with a very nice and good restaurant. I really liked Clarks Courts Bay with Hog Island. Phare Blue Bay has a nice marina with alongside one of their docks an old Swedish Lightship that is now used a restaurant. The most beautiful bay I found is Petit Bacaye and Westerhall Point which has a beautiful housing development with mansion type of homes with beautiful yards with all the typical tropical plants and flowers. The last bay we visited was St. David’s Harbour with the Grenada Marina where again we saw boats we sailed up together over the past months.
From August 8 to 13 it is carnival here in Grenada and this is the time we are in the US. Bad planning as this is a great event and we are seeing and hearing all the preparations already with the calypso and soka music competitions. In our next blog we will report about a few more visits we made on the island and our visits with our family and friends in the USA.