28 October 2017
Carriacou was not ready to let us go. We fueled Uproar at the Carriacou Marine Ltd in Tyrrel Bay. On our way in our 8 foot keel scraped bottom. On our way out, we plowed with full power for about 100 feet. But we made it. Tyrrel Bay did not want to let us go and we didn't want to leave either.
I describe Carriacou as our home port in the Caribbean. This island has a draw stronger than any other as a place comfortable and familiar to us. Our first time in T Bay was about 1 ½ years ago. The cruiser's net mentioned noodle-water aerobics on the beach that Monday morning. Lisa and I attended for a great workout and to meet new friends. By Thursday, there was a birthday party at Iguanas for Joanne on “Out of Africa.” Forty people attended and by the end of the evening we knew everyone's name. John from “Out of Africa” is the most gregarious person I know. You can't stand next to John without him introducing you to everyone within his loud, South African voice. We soon knew most of the cruisers in the bay. These friends have formed a core group of cruisers we meet throughout the Caribbean.
Our friends organized hikes, swims, snorkeling and the famous Miss Lucky's bar and grill Saturday nights. Carriacou is a small island, 12 square miles and 7,000 people. There is a useful and colorful bus system we used frequently (about $.80/ride). We really got to know this place. The geography of this island is amazingly diverse. It is not tall enough to have true rain forest but there are plenty of wooded areas. Beaches range from pink sand to black sand on the volcanic Atlantic shore. Cattle graze on several prairies with scrub trees and goats, sheep and chickens roam freely everywhere. There is even a herd of donkeys near the dump. We saw all of this on foot or bike.
Carriacou is my favorite biking island. When Lisa was visiting the US or Bahamas, I stayed on Carriacou to pull Uproar for bottom painting (twice). I rode my bike every day, all over the island. Roads are OK for biking and drivers are few and courteous. Mini-marts are just an open room in houses found in every neighborhood. I would often stop for a cold drink and chat. Views from the top ridge of Carriacou are spectacular. I got quite a workout climbing the highest hills, about 900 ft.
There is history here too. A dramatic documentary, “Vanishing Sail” chronicles the building of a Carriacou Sloop in Windward, a village on the Atlantic side of the island. Scottish fishermen settled there over 200 years ago and their descendants continue the boat building tradition. You can tell a Windward resident at sight. They are black with mischievous green eyes. They are pleased to show you their boat building projects and even share their bottle of rum. We were treated to watching six Carriacou Sloops race in a class of their own at Antigua Classics Week. These boats are deceptively fast!
The local people really tip the scales for Carriacou. They are the most welcoming and caring you will find everywhere. Everyone says “hello” or “good day” on the street but it seldom stops with just a greeting. Often a short conversation follows. They get to know you and you get to know them. I can't walk down the street or ride my bike without being greeted by someone I know. Strangely they don't know my name but call me Uproar. I love it!
We made a point of being on island for the Carriacou Regatta. There were activities everywhere, on and off the water. The highlight was the local boat racing. Some were traditional fishing boats under sail and some were extreme, open race boats with five crew on trapeze. We were able to race Uproar in the Cruising Fleet and won all three races, both years. That was fun! It was an opportunity to turn our home back into a race boat and press our cruising friends into a crack race team! After-race parties remain a blurrr.
This blog is a bit difficult for me to write. We will not return to Carriacou for many years, if at all. Our path now turns West toward the South Pacific. What is even more difficult was saying goodby to our cruising friends. Devin and Liz from “Moosetracks” are the cruising ambassadors of Tyrrel Bay. They run the cruiser's net in the mornings, noodle-water aerobics and organize hikes. Liz organizes the Saturday children's swimming lessons with Dianne from Lumbadive. Devin “I'm not a racer, I'm, a lover” declined to crew in our first Carriacou Regatta. He converted and became a valued crew during Antigua Race Week and brought a new “UP-ROAR” cheer to our team. The second Carriacou Regatta he was all in!
We make fast friends with other cruisers, sometimes deep friendships. Goodbyes are short and often wrenching. Somehow, somewhere we know our wakes will cross again.