Soufriere and Marigot Bay
15 March 2018 | Marigot Bay
It was Sunday when we awoke and our first visitor was a very polite local man who offered fresh fruit and vegetables at very reasonable prices. He had 2 young boys with him and they were just the cutest! We chose a hand of bananas, tomatoes, paw paw and lemons and we gave the boys a biscuit each, which put an even bigger smile on their faces.
Sunday in the islands is very much family day and a day of rest unless you are a government employee. We needed to visit the Customs Office before it closed, but being Sunday, the girls decided to make a brunch dish, which was a gourmet version of baked eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. If there had been chilled champagne available, that would have definitely been consumed also! It was a lovely morning, the wind still making its presence felt, the scene around us quite lively, as the local families got together. Our eager snorkellers decided to check out a dive site on the headland but they reported a reasonable swell, strong wind and a fair bit of current which made things a bit tough. Those who remained on board enjoyed a quiet time, time to just indulge one’s own self. Believe it or not, that does not often happen in the cruising lifestyle!
By early afternoon, the paperwork had been completed for the electronic customs check in, and we all piled into the tender for a shore excursion, with frigate birds aloft and seagulls perched on every possible foothold on various yacht’s rigging. From the mix of modest cottages along the shoreline came sounds of both laughter and argument, and young boys peddled their rusty bikes up a rocky road towards the headland, where we had seen goats in the early morning.
The dinghy dock was quite substantial and the inevitably some men were there to offer assistance up the steep ladder, tie off the dinghy and watch over it....for a fee! Once the guys were happy that the dinghy would be still there on our return, the skipper headed to the Customs Office and the rest of us found our way to an ice cream shop.
Soufriere was abuzz with the locals all in relax mode. The town was once a film set for Water, starring Michael Caine and it has many charming old Creole buildings with balconies and gingerbread. More recently, much has been done to upgrade the town and the waterfront and it was fun wandering the streets, soaking up the atmosphere. We saw the usual vendors of bead and shell necklaces, but also some quality pandanus reed basket ware; an old Ute filled with coconuts which with a slash of the machete and an added straw produced a refreshing au naturalle drink; small colourful bars where the local men gathered; old people chatting amiably on their verandahs; and mothers with young children catching up while the children played. Thrown into this mix was loud blaring music and the odd hotted up car blowing off smoke. The guys had a chat with a delightful local man called Pascale, who having discovered we were Australians, mentioned ‘ah, the land of the kangaroo’. He claimed to have once lived in a cave, but now he lived in his parents old house. He was kind, not on the take, and when the guys offered to buy him a beer, he reached into his pocket for the money, not expecting for a minute to be given it. On their wander through town, the men were offered fresh tuna for sale and after we had all regrouped for a cool drink, it was decided to buy the tuna for a sashimi treat. Buying the fish was a most interesting experience! Bushman lead us through the maze of houses, following a narrow and rough dirt track to finally enter a little enclave outside a fisherman’s cottage. The fisherman appeared cuddling his young granddaughter and he assured us the fish, which was in a large chest freezer, had been caught that morning. The 5lb fish was weighed on an old set of scales and then we followed Bushman back to the beach, where he cleaned and gutted it. Bushman was another stand out character....wearing his shorts slung as low as possible, revealing much more of his underpants and tight buttocks than necessary, along with his tight six pack shirtless torso. He was kind and polite and true to his namesake, after the fish was cleaned, he took off to the jungle to tend his vegetable garden. Although there was a bit of a wild feeling about Soufriere, the place was vibrant and provided a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment and an opportunity to sense the genuine Caribbean lifestyle.
With fresh fish for our booty, it was time to head back to Trilogy for a swim and a sashimi treat. Marinated in lime juice, garlic with pepper and salt, it was delicious. We tried to book a couple of different nice restaurants up on the ridge so that we could have a superb sunset drink or two gazing at the Pitons. Alas, both Boucan Restaurant and Jade Mountain Club were fully booked, so our choice for dinner was at Humming Bird at the far end of Soufriere beach. In the dark we had trouble finding the restaurant jetty and went back to the main dinghy dock so we could walk there. That was an interesting walk which lead past the cemetery, a blaring disco club following a narrow pot holed road that cars and people sometimes frighteningly shared, to a pleasant little restaurant attached to the Humming Bird Beach Resort.
Next morning there was a swim for everyone and then Trilogy released the mooring lines and headed out of the bay and motored 9NMs north along the east coast to Marigot Bay, a completely sheltered, mangrove lined bay, famous as a hurricane harbour. We anchored in between a few yachts in a space that had plenty of swing room, but the French yacht astern made sure the skipper was aware that he suspected we had laid over his anchor chain and that as he was departing at 06:00 in the morning, we needed to be ready to assist! The skipper duly set his alarm for 06:00 to save any embarrassment. As it turned out, there was no problem whatsoever!
Marigot is picturesque, surrounded by folding hills and we happily took the tender ashore for a wander before sunset, and then gathered at Chateau Mygo bar for a perfect sunset drink...or two. A meal followed at the adjacent Mygo restaurant, which promised the freshest of ingredients from the fertile mountains. It was a lovely meal and such a pleasant setting.
The girls were up for more shore time next morning and we usurped the tender to indulge our desire. Breakfast at one of the waterfront restaurants was a delicious treat and the ambience created by the large super yachts sparkling nearby us all added to the scene. There was some pleasant retail shops to check out and a beautiful conch shell to be purchased. Back on board Trilogy, the boys recommended a snorkel to the adjacent shore. It was a forest of multi coloured fan coral and so captivating to observe, all the fronds waving gracefully in the ‘breeze’.
Next stop, Rodney Bay, a further 9 NMs up the east coast!
Crossing St Vincent’s Passage
11 March 2018 | Anse de Pitons
The sky was quite dramatic next morning, not that this is unusual around these islands! Certainly being on a yacht makes the surrounding sky - cloud formations, sun angles, moon shine, star positions feature more significantly in your awareness....what a wonderful world!
We agreed o go with a guide to the local waterfall ‘10 minutes walk....no track!” Once ashore we walked with our guide up a long road that wound its way through the village and followed the stream that would eventually be a waterfall. It was nice to be discovering on foot, noticing the women washing clothes in the stream, a small clothing shop with steel sculptures in the front garden, local produce - sorrel, nutmeg, peas, paw paws, passion fruit, livestock- cows and sheep and both wild and cultivated flowers. The waterfall was unfortunately inundated by a steady flow of cruise ship tourist vans, but we found a short gap in the flow and got into the pool of very refreshing water and moved across to the water fall for a pummelling. The setting was very beautiful and we all relaxed as it was so cooling. We finished the morning with lunch at a nice little local restaurant that served fresh and delicious local food. As it was adjacent to the remains of the Pirates set, many bits of memorabilia hung from the rafters and a life size plaster pirate climbed aloft.
Once on board, we made our way just 1 NM further north to Cumberland Bay. The pilot description was lyrical ‘this deep and enchanting bay is part of an estate in the heart of St Vincent’s wildest and richest land’.....who could resist a visit! We again did a stern to mooring and various vendors visited. We bought some fresh fruit but no necklaces. Some went snorkelling out on the point but did not report any thing too special. Swimming off the back of Trilogy was the other option and that was very pleasant. The lure of sunset drinkies ashore was too much for some and while that was happening, a vegetable curry was conjured up in the galley. It wasn’t too long before the dinghy returned with an offer to have BBQ lobsters delivered to Trilogy...that seemed like a lovely combination....and it was. The final visit for the day was the resident Rastaman, a gentle soul, who wanted to let us know he was a qualified tour guide and was happy to offer us his services. His dreadlocks were monumental and his pandanus hat had an open crown so that the locks could sprout forth and wander down his back. The toothless smile was endearing but told a story.
Next morning was a 07:00 departure, as we needed to clear customs 5NMs north at Chateaubelair before making our way to the island of St Lucia. Chateaubelair lies at the southern foot of Soufriere, St Vincent’s volcano. In 1971 there was an effusive eruption, which formed an island in a lake prior to an eruption in 1979, when a dome formed in the lake within 48 hours of first signs of activity. It is still very much considered an active volcano. This is therefore a dramatic and rugged coastline and the volcano is a full day’s hike away, but that would have to wait for another day. The customs clearance was done in more or less quick time and when the skipper returned, it was time for the 42NMs sail to St Lucia.
Our lovely pilot informed us that ‘the northbound passage between St Vincent and St Lucia can be hard on the wind and hard on the body’.....and so it came to pass! With the full force of the easterly Trade Winds, we were quickly into 25-30 knots of wind. It is not unusual to have gusts of 30-40 knots in the acceleration zone on the northern end of St Vincent and with 3 reefs in the mainsail and motor purring away the close haul sail was quite uncomfortable but we managed 5 knots. It seemed to take forever for St Vincent to diminish in size! Having battled the conditions in the first 15 NMs, the route was changed so that we were on a beam reach, the staysail unfurled, motor off and headed for Anse de Pitons. There was greater comfort with less strain on Trilogy and we picked up several knots of speed.
After 6 hours of sailing, we approached the Pitons, two majestic conical shaped peaks, Gros Piton (2619’) and Petit Piton (2460’) separated by Anse de Pitons. The wind and current are issues in this picturesque bay and thankfully decent moorings are in place to hang onto, as the frequent bullets of wind, some as much as 40 knots, strike the water. When this is combined with a rapid current on the change of tide, the yachts are flung in all directions.
We planned to eat ashore after our solid day, and the men did a trip in the dinghy to see what the docking facilities were like, as we had made a reservation at the Sugar Beach Resort restaurant. They felt that the dock was only just acceptable as you had to scramble up a high wooden pier and we were also likely to get wet on the trip across. On the return trip they noticed an Aussie flag fluttering from an adjacent catamaran and dropped by for a chat. They were a middle-aged Sydney couple who were sailing the world!
When they got back on board Trilogy, the wind was rocketing around the bay and second thoughts emerged about dining on shore. The skipper reluctantly made the call that it was not safe to be going ashore. So, a quick rethink and our on-board gourmet cooks created a delicious Mexican Taco sauce with all the trimmings and we feasted on board. All tired after the big day, it was time to rest, even though there was an after dinner push for Euchre!
Blue Lagoon, Kingston, Petit Byahaut and Wallilabou Bay
11 March 2018 | Wallilabou Bay
We were on the go a little earlier than usual to prepare Trilogy for the arrival of our daughter Kat, who resides in Brooklyn, USA. She was arriving on an overnight flight, changing planes in Barbados in order to arrive at Argyle International Airport, St Vincent. This is a new international airport, and in 2016 when we last were here, there was only a very large brown scar on the land which was an abandoned project. Many said the project would never get completed due to lack of funding, but thankfully the new government pushed money in that direction and now the island boasts a 9000ft runway. Additionally, there is an expansive apron area and aircraft as large as 747s can land. The airport was constructed to accommodate 1.2 visitors a year as well as a cargo terminal for imports and exports. Thank goodness this progressive and significant infrastructure has been completed and the island’s economy should surely benefit.
Kat arrived at 10:30 and we took a taxi to the airport to greet her. Her friend Aussie girlfriend Stephanie was also joining us but flying in from Mexico City via Trinidad, arriving at 16:30. The day went very quickly, as catching up with family always does, and Stephanie settled quickly to her holiday home. The girls were taking photographs of the sunset when a sleek fishing boat arrived on the opposite side of the pontoon. It turned out that it was owned by Kellie, the owner of the Blue Lagoon marina, a New Zealander who has been in St Vincent for 30 years. He noticed the girls and their accent, offered them a rum punch from the fishing esky, which they accepted cheerfully and the next thing they knew, there was a good size fish handed to them. Their holiday was off to a very good start!
To celebrate the joining of our new crew we went to the marina’s Loft Restaurant. Several more rum punches later (well, we had to use up our free rum punch vouchers), the evening was very animated and filled with great conversation. The girls did not hesitate to have lobster for dinner and as both are gourmet in their food preferences, we were expecting some interesting meals onboard. The girls were here to ‘shake up the party’.
Next morning we did a trip into Kingston, the capital of St Vincent. It is a bustling, intense sort of place, the pavements very uneven, the traffic unpredictable and the street vendors all struggling to make a living. The girls peeled off while the rest of us checked out a few things in a hardware store before heading for the Basil’s, in the Cobblestone Inn, for a rooftop drink and snack. It was hot and steamy and the large ceiling fans made us feel really in the tropics. Before our taxi arrived at 13:00, we did some fruit and veg shopping at the market stalls. There were beggars in this neck of the woods, something we haven’t seen before on this trip. The fresh supplies arrive on the island on Friday and Saturday, so our Tuesday visit was just the local suppliers. Bananas, paw paws, mangoes, passion fruit in abundance! The girls stocked up on spices, fresh herbs and special treats.
Back on board, we were all focused on casting off at 14:00 to coincide with the rising tide and exit through the narrow entry of the lagoon. We had organised a pilot again but we had a tight space to turn Trilogy around in the marina before the pilot came on board. He was very capable and deftly steered Trilogy through the channel, to the open water. We were all pleased that this had been an incident free exercise. Once in open water, the headsail was unfurled and we motored north along the coast 7NMs to Petit Byahaut. This bay is small and beautiful and we anchored fair in the middle, so that no one else could be tempted to join us! It is only accessible from the sea, but there are remnants of buildings that hint of a former small hotel. The snorkelling was better than anything else we have experienced in the Windward Islands and a walk ashore revealed some interesting plant life and an overhanging cave at the southern end of the beach. As the sun set, the gifted fish was lovingly prepared for baking by our resident cooks, with numerous fresh herbs and spices rubbed into the flesh. Baked potatoes and beetroot accompanied, along with a delicious mango salsa. It tasted absolutely beautiful!
The local fisherman were in bay at first light, using large nets to herd the surface fish into their boats. This happened a couple of times over the next few hours and we were entertained by the technique and procedure. Certainly the last team had a yelling style, head honcho yelling loud enough to scare any fish! Two guys with snorkel gear were inside the net as it was laid out their main role was to prevent fish escaping before the ends were brought together. They seemed to get a decent haul and presumably the fish were all treated humanely.
An excursion was mounted to find the ‘Bat Cave’, on an adjacent headland. There was a swell of at least a metre surging up and down the rock face of the cliffs and our pilot advised to anchor the dinghy in about 3 feet of water at the cave entrance. Before doing that, Stephen was in the water exploring what we believed to be the cave entrance, but he was concerned by the amount of surge and uncertain if it was definitely the correct cave. The description was that the cave was dark and inside it were bats that cling to the cave walls, along with crabs climbing up among the bats. A tunnel lead off to the left, which was around 30 feet long and4 feet wide. You rise and fall on the swells and if the swell is large, it can be dangerous. The tunnel leads to a fissure, through which you exit, which is 30 foot high and 40 foot deep. Fish and coral abound in the fissure and the water is azure blue. This all sounded wonderful but challenging if you got it wrong! Try as we might, we could not identify an entrance or an exit and we could only conclude that the cave may have had a significant rock fall. That decision did not happen lightly and many determined efforts by the guys were made to swim into any possible gaps in the cliff face! There was however the opportunity to do some good snorkelling at designated dive sites along this coastal stretch, and everyone felt well satisfied, even if disappointed.
Next stop was 4NMs to Wallilabou Bay, made famous by Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies. This is quite a tight little bay and with many yachties visiting, the locals suggest stern to mooring, which means attaching stern lines to trees on shore. There are plenty of helpers in the bay and $20EC for shore line tying assistance is paid. Before we could settle Trilogy, several local vendors had glued themselves to Trilogy’s hull and were quite insistent that we view their ‘Jack Sparrow’ necklace and bangle offerings. We politely listened to their well rehearsed patter( my mother made this, this is whale bone/ mahogany/ volcanic rock) and each of us felt compelled to purchase something as an offering to the local economy.
The day finished with some of us going ashore for piña coladas (guess who?) and then back to Trilogy for a Beouf Bourguignon dinner, which was delicious. To finish the day, there was a challenge put out for a round or two of Euchre. It was a sharp learning curve for some, but a great time was had by all.
Moving further north
06 March 2018 | Blue Lagoon, St Vincent
A strong current was ripping through the cut next morning and as more swimming was not wise, we decided to set a course for Saline Bay on Mayreau Island, a distance of only 3NMs. Saline Bay has a lovely long beach and the usual reefs surrounded both headlands. There was a cluster of houses on the northern headland and a large power station down the slope overlooking the bay. It is hard to imagine why the electricity plant got prime real estate!
There were only a small number of yachts in the bay and we were able to anchor 300 metres from shore. After a quick lunch we were all in the water, keen to cool off and explore the beach and reef on the southern headland. The Silver Sea cruise ship Silver Wind was anchored well out of the bay, but this was clearly a destination that Southern Caribbean cruise ships frequented. The tail end of today’s guests were being life rafted back to their floating palace as we got to the beach. We enjoyed a long walk to the other end of the beach, noting two jetties at the northern end, a small and very noisy bar, a cafe called ‘Combination’, multiple small colourful craft pulled above the high water mark, and a stall holder packing up the T shirts embellished with Live Slow and Sail Fast slogans, beach towels and sarongs to tempt the cruise ship guests. There were also high stacks of plush beach lounges, a bar and toilet block to support the cruise shippers. At the southern end of the beach, a chatty American couple who were escaping the harsh winter of Minnesota were relaxing in the shade of the headland rocks and they asked many questions of the skipper about Trilogy and the journey we are on.
Back on board, we had some down time, but were startled when a very persistent loud horn was blasted around 17:30. It turned out that a car ferry was steaming into the jetty and a smallish motor cruiser was loitering in the clearly marked channel. The ferry master took no mercy on the cruiser and there was a flurry of engine revs as the cruiser dodged the much bigger vessel. One little green car was off-loaded, forklifts plied back and forth for half an hour and then the ferry was on its way...and fast!
Meanwhile we settled ourselves for the evening, noting that Ace, the super yacht we’d seen in Port Louis had anchored well off shore. We were in excellent company, especially as the Silver Wind had steamed off into the sunset. A chicken and capsicum dinner by the light of the special little Trilogy lamp, finished the day. The only negative for this beautiful bay was that the salt pan occasionally wafted odourous smells on the light breeze.
We awoke to see another cruise ship sitting off the bay. It was their turn to go through the same routine for their guests. As we walked the beach before the multitude arrived, all the chairs were perfectly lined up, the red carpet was rolled out along the jetty, the bar was stocked with ample supplies and tables were set with napkins and glassware, for a beach ‘picnic’. Several stall holders were hastily setting up at the end of the jetty and while the life rafts were milling around the cruise ship, the advance party of staff were putting the finishing touches together. Another well oiled event to entertain the tourists, but give me the locals version any day!
We didn’t hang around too much longer for obvious reasons and with a course plotted for Charlestown Bay, Canouan Island, we had no sooner got on course than the skipper took a strong liking to a sweeping half moon beach and a bay filled with yachts that he’d spied. After a short chat, we all agreed to investigate. Named Salt Whistle Bay, it was on the northern tip of Mayreau island. There are reefs on both the north and south sides, the south reef considered dangerous because both wind and swells will drive boats onto it, and later as we snorkelled, several large chunks of boats were seen wedged into the reef. We also noted a pile of old concrete mooring blocks that must have all been dragged onto the reef! The whole scene on shore was colourful but the number of charter catamarans trying to squeeze into the bay, made
for some tense and interesting moments and overall, a less than desirable anchorage. On the southern end of the beach shacks offered seafood meals, with Richard’s Last Bar Before the Jungle, taking the prize for best name. We opted for dinner on board, enjoying a pork dish with a bottle of vino in the pleasantly cool saloon.
By the time we awoke next morning and took a look around the bay, many of the cats had left, which was a good thing! The weather was looking a bit threatening and there was a decent surge coming around the headland and creating some roll into the bay. We understand that there is a significant storm off the east coast of the USA and that it is responsible for the current northerly winds we have been experiencing.
We also decided to leave an hour ahead of our plan, and once the anchor was up, we headed further north to St Vincent Island, a distance of 33 NMs. The seas were very flat and almost glassy and with the mainsail hoisted, we motor sailed at an easy 8 knots. The fishing rod was deployed but alas, no success. As we approached the coast of St Vincent we arranged for a pilot to navigate a narrow, variable depth channel on high tide into Blue Lagoon, a pleasant reef enclosed bay. We came alongside at the Blue Lagoon Marina and after tidying everything on deck, we headed ashore to the upstairs Loft marina cafe for some thirst quenching Hairouns and a late light lunch. Recharged, we headed back to Trilogy to get some below deck work done, thankfully in air conditioned comfort as we were feeling the humidity. As we were expecting guests the next day, the port cabin needed to be cleared of the spare part boxes. However, all the spare parts needed to be catalogued before the boxes were put away. It seems that there is never a dull moment in the running of the good ship! Needless to say, Trilogy is performing very well after all the TLC.
Full Moon and Lobsters!
03 March 2018 | Tobago Cays
We were finally departing the marina and we all felt very good about the prospect of going into cruising mode. Before clearing the port we topped up the fuel and the water tanks and headed out to sea, ready to hoist the main. Due to all the rain, the sail bag was full of water, so after that gush of water was delivered, everything went smoothly. Before long the skipper called for a reef as the breeze had stiffened. Trilogy motor sailed along the jungle laden west coast of Grenada and then beyond, slipping around the 1.5kms exclusion zone of the active volcano, Kick ’em Jenny. The last eruptions were in 1988 and 1989, not all that long ago!
Trilogy’s heading was for Carriacou Island, with fishing line trailing and 36NMs we dropped anchor in Tyrrell Bay, a huge and well protected bay. Alas, no fish on the crossing, but it was good practice getting all the gear assembled for the big catch. We swam ashore but as it was getting late, we did not have time for a beach walk. We ate at Slipway restaurant, tucked up in the southern end of the bay. The meal was excellent and ambience perfect.
Next morning, after a swim we returned to the same dinghy dock, this time to check out of Grenada at the Customs office, which was in an adjacent building to the restaurant. Trilogy soon got underway with a heading for Chatham Bay, Union Island. On the lee side of Union, Chatham Bay is a large and magnificent bay fringed by dense vegetation with a long stretch of golden sand. There were only a handful of yachts in the bay, making it a very pleasant anchorage. The locals were keen to let us know about various services on offer and we did order a short list of fruit for the morrow. We dined onboard enjoying a delicious fish curry and by the light of the almost full moon, chatted over an Amazin’ Chocolate Liqueur, a souvenir from Grenada.
Next morning the fruit was delivered at greatly inflated prices and later we motored to the east side of Union to Clifton, the Customs port of entry for the Grenadines. Compared with the sleepy, shanty village on Chatham Bay, Clifton was a bustling small township with lots of colour in the foreshore area. Steven was feeling lucky in the fishing department and sure enough a lovely bonito tuna jumped on the line just before entering the port. There are several fringing reefs at the entrance to the bay and the outer edge of these reefs offer spectacular kite surfing for anyone brave enough. Good new moorings are positioned along the length of the reef and Trilogy settled in nicely, with a stiff breeze cooling below decks beautifully. We went ashore to check in with customs and to check out the local vibe. This customs office was very laid back and with ease we had our stamped passports.
After wandering the Main Street, buying some oven fresh banana bread and a bag of juicy island lemons, we decided to eat lunch at the Waterfront Restaurant, right beside the dinghy dock. After enjoying curried lambi (conch shell flesh) and/or hamburger, we made our way to the dinghy. A couple of islander guys were having a loud shouting match nearby which we gathered was related to one guy poaching the other guy’s business. It is the law of the jungle when it comes to survival in these islands, and if your income comes from offering services to incoming yachts, it must surely follow some sort of protocols. Mostly it works, but today, it definitely had not. A couple of local women who had witnessed the conflict just smiled at us and shrugged their shoulders, as if to say, ‘they are crazy’!
Back on board we relaxed, slept, ate banana bread and swam the afternoon away and ultimately ate a simple pasta dish before settling for the night, a full moon, no less! A full moon beach party was underway on shore and the music was deafeningly loud even out on the bay. The noise continued well past midnight, and the brilliant moon rose to its zenith in honour of the occasion.
Approaching squalls were again evident in the sky next morning but by the time we released the mooring, the sky had cleared to blue and even bluer. It was only a 5 NM hop in a 5-10 knot breeze to our next anchorage. There is a narrow channel only 3 metres deep to access a very popular cut between Petit Ramesh and Petit Bateau islands in the Tobago Cays. Tobago Cays are a small group of uninhabited islands and are a designated national park. It is a magnificent park, with the water and reef colours a kaleidoscope of gold, brown, blue, turquoise and green. There is a turtle watching area around the sandy spit called Baradel, but more turtles are outside the restricted area than within, which says something about the wisdom of turtles!
The biggest draw card by far though is the lobster barbecues available for dinner every night. The local boatmen will approach soon after anchoring to ask you if you wish to partake...indeed we did! Taffa was our man, and at 18:30 he arrived along side Trilogy in his powerful motor boat to deliver us ashore in a flash. There were many tables of guests already assembled and some were already tucking into loads of lobster. It is a well oiled machine this outdoor cafe. The food preparation and cooking are done at one end of the set-up while all the colourful wooden tables and bench seats are scattered under strings of party lights, just metres from the lapping water. We were assigned our table, which was adorned with a Christmas themed plastic tablecloth, and our Hairoun beers arrived shortly afterwards. It was a bring your own cutlery affair but plastic dinner plates arrived at the same time as the food. In no time we had our own stack of whole lobsters, up to about 2kgs each, which were served along with sides of plantain, mixed vegetables and a local rice dish at a cost $110 EC per serving ($55AUD). It was delicious, unique and memorable! There were many tables of French speakers around us, which is apparently because very cheap airfares are on offer from Paris to the Caribbean. Our barman Dennis came up for a brief chat at the end of the meal and between the lines we discerned that he felt trapped in a situation of having to earn his living by doing this night after night in the season. All the workers live on Union Island and so, when all the guests are returned safely to their yachts, they make their way across the open ocean in small craft and in pitch darkness, if the moon is not shining forth. That’s a hard way to make a living!
Yanmar is purring again!
28 February 2018 | Port Louis, Grenada
The weekend came and went in the blink of an eye! Saturday was very rainy, with almost continuous squalls rolling through. Even our umbrellas got a work out! The guys did a lot of planning and prioritising of issues in the marina cafe and then we all spent the afternoon below decks in air conditioned comfort. Every time the rain eased, one of us would poke our head up to read the sky and see what was happening around us. On one of these occasions a guy had returned to the marina with two very big tunas that were caught in the Grenadian waters that day. He said there were a lot of tuna just off the coast, which could make for very interesting fishing from Trilogy. The fisherman sold us a huge chunk of tuna for $40EC and with surgical precision we carved the flesh into ten beautiful steaks. We instantly had a dinner plan! Crispy potatoes, steamed zucchini and pan fried tuna with a salsa, to complete the dish. We opened a gorgeous bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio which completed the perfect meal.
Sunday dawned with clear blue skies but large puddles everywhere told the overnight story. We had a slow start but with sunshine to soak up, we decided to have lunch at Beaches, a nice lively venue on Grande Anse beach, which could double as a swimming venue for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Beaches was doing a roaring trade as people wandered to and from the beach for food and beverages....read rum punches! We whiled away an hour or so shaded by the restaurant umbrellas and then we walked along the beach and took a refreshing swim. Both walking and swimming are excellent at Grande Anse, a long sandy arc of golden sand fringing deep clear water. The beach was quite crowded, with locals of all ages, tourists and medical students all in the mix. We were definitely in bikini land! As the sun was getting low, we headed back to Trilogy for GNTs and baked beans on toast. The Great Gatsby was screened as a finale to a beautiful day.
Monday was upon us and we were expecting Kevin, our specialist mechanic to arrive...and he did, around 9:00. Island time has many pros and cons, and when someone turns up early and ready to work, it is somewhat surprising. Not only was Kevin prompt, he was right onto the problem. After listening and observing the engine being revved in neutral and noting the large amounts of white smoke coming from the exhaust, he thought it was a fuel deprivation issue. The tell tale sign was the plunger handle being sucked down by the priming pump. He rigged up a bypass for the pre filter and suddenly the engine was behaving beautifully. No more smoke and the revs just climbed effortlessly to over 3400. The culprit was a dirty pre-filter. It had been assumed that this was replaced at time of service, but apparently not. Kevin took the filter to the chandlery and as luck would have it, a replacement filter was in stock. In only 1.5 hours, the job was done and we couldn't thank Kevin enough! At last Trilogy was well again and not only had we avoided a significant engine overhaul, we were able to commence cruising!
The rest of the day was spent topping up on stores and clean clothing. The boys went for a swim at the marina pool and had a conversation with the captain of a super yacht who was happy to answer some questions about the Schengen Agreement. We had spoken to the ship's engineer the day before and he indicated that there is possibly a way for a ships' crew to overcome the 90 day restriction in the Eurozone. The discussion was helpful and we will certainly be looking further into it.
As we have spent a full month in Grenada, we've had a good opportunity to absorb the flavour of this colourful island. Certainly the weather has been unseasonably wet but life goes on, mostly without umbrellas. The puddles accentuate the poor quality of the roads, especially any road off the main road around the island, and even that has only two lanes, which causes lots of issues. Some of the vehicles are very large for the narrow twisting roads. The local custom of beeping and tooting another driver if you know them is incessant and the local buses toot any tourist walking along, eternally hoping for another customer. The supermarket shelves fluctuate in content according to the arrival of stores on Fridays, and as plenty of island produce is grown, it appears and disappears according to availability. It seems you need to be very flexible with eating habits living in Grenada, because nothing is definitely available, be it tonic water or lemons... but there is always straight gin, I suppose!
As we prepare to leave this lush and mountainous island, just a word about the Independence flag not only of Grenada, but Carriacou and Petite Martinique, the Windward Island group. The national colours of gold, red and green are not only used in the nation's flag, but are prominently seen in clothing and external building decoration. For much of its modern history, Granada was a colony of France and The United Kingdom and thus their expression of identity used those nation's symbols. On 3 March 1967, Grenada first flew its Associated Statehood Flag and on 7 February 1974, flew its Independence Flag, the familiar flag seen everywhere today. Red represents the courage, fervour and vitality of the people, green the vegetation and agriculture, and gold the sunshine and warmth. The nutmeg symbol represents the country's valued agricultural export and reaffirms its namesake, the Isle of Spice. The seven gold stars represent the seven parishes or districts. I'm glad to see that nutmeg got a special mention. It is Grenada's 'gold' and is the lifeblood of the nation!