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Date: 24 Aug 2008 23:19:35
Title: Ou sommes nous? Carriacou!


Position 12:27.40N 61:29.12W


Is it really August already? Oops, looks like we’ve let the old blog slide a bit…So where were we when we last left you in March(!), ah yes, we were in Carriacou and about to go south to Grenada because Sarah & Trevor (Tracy’s sister and her husband) were about to come a-visiting. By a strange coincidence we are now in…Carriacou again.


Anyway, Sarah & Trevor arrived and we took up residence in Prickly Bay, Grenada, for the week that they were here. Something you should know about Sarah & Trevor is what has become known as “The Curse Of Crawley” (Crawley being their surname). To wit, whenever or wherever they go on their well-earned holiday, the weather will be unseasonably inclement, or to put it another way, crap. Well the curse was working overtime as usual and for the week that they were with us it rained and rained and rained. No surprises there then. Having blithely mentioned this to other yachties at the bar one night it spread around the anchorage like wildfire, and we were regularly asked when they would be leaving so people could continue with their cruising plans after the bad weather had finished. Something else you should know about Sarah is that she is somewhat prone to seasickness, apparently she gets a bit queasy in the bath. Here they are in a rare moment of sunshine with Trevor gripping Sarah so she can’t throw herself over the side – note Trevors’ translucent legs, it’s just as well it wasn’t too sunny as he may have gone up in flames:



Despite the weather we did of course have a great time. The day after they left the sun came out again and the yachting community relaxed again…


Well after all that excitement we needed a rest so headed back up to Carriacou again. Now I may have mentioned this in the past but Carriacou really is a gem of a place. It’s part of the nation of Grenada, Carriacou & Petit Martinique, and lies about 15 miles north of Grenada, and just south of Union Island and west of Petit St Vincent, the most southerly islands of the group that makes up St Vincent & The Grenadines. Now you know. Carriacou is not a big place, about 5 miles by 3 or so but is I suppose your archetypal Caribbean island; white sand beaches, palm trees, turquoise water, lush green forest in the centre – you get the picture. It also has a perfect anchorage called Tyrell Bay, which has a nice sandy bottom so the anchor stays where it should and there’s plenty of room. In fact on reflection it would have been a better place for Sarah & Trevor to come to but it involves too much travelling for just a one week stay (no direct flights from Europe) and besides even here’s not so great when it rains continually!


The picture at the top of the page is a panoramic view looking south towards Grenada, over Saline Island, White Island and others. Carriacou apparently means “land of many reefs” or some such, and quite right too, the south and east sides particularly are surrounded by reefs and very attractive they are; this is looking north, Union Island in the background:



Since we were hanging around up here it seemed an opportune time for the long delayed visit from Simon, my friend from Trinidad (well, Worcester really but you know what I mean). He came up for a long weekend away from the hustle and bustle of building steel things down in Trini, and a fine time was had by all despite his travel agent cocking up every single aspect of the journey, only in a minor way like booking the flights for the wrong days. Still, he got here in the end. We took Adonde round to Petit St Vincent which from your earlier geography lesson you will recall lies just to the east of the north of Carriacou. It’s a private island, which is essentially a swanky resort where the likes of Tiger Woods go to get away from it all, and no we didn’t go ashore for dinner since we wanted to be able to eat for the rest of the month too. Of interest to those that sail will be the fact that on our way to PSV we tacked for the first time since…2005, sailing from Fowey to Falmouth! Since then we’ve only ever been sailing downwind, more or less, so we’ve gybed plenty of times, sometimes even on purpose(!), but not tacked upwind since Cornwall. Bizarre but true. Here’s the man himself hard at it (Simon, not Tiger Woods):



Just across the way from Petit St Vincent is Petit Martinique, which is close enough to take the dinghy over to. Here as well as on the east side of Carriacou they are still building boats in the traditional way (Carriacou sloops are a well known sailing boat in this part of the world) and they feature in the Carriacou Regatta of which more later.



Apparently the original builders of these boats were immigrants from Scotland way back when, and these origins are still apparent in some of the locals on the windward side, they have much lighter skin and even red(dish) hair in some instances which all looks a bit odd. Not that I’d tell them you understand, in case they’d inherited more of their ancestors traits and I ended up with a Glasgow kiss.


After a little more of the exciting Carriacou life, including lots of walking up in the hills and so on, it was time to head south back to Grenada. We’re getting to know this stretch of sea pretty well by now, even the fish wave as we go by. I’d be happier if they’d oblige us by swallowing one of the lures we drag behind us everywhere but I think they must recognise them by now. The reason for this trip south was, gulp, a trip back to Blighty. We wanted to leave the boat safely tied up somewhere so that meant the Grenada Yacht Club, a small but friendly and pleasant place in the lagoon in St Georges. We got there a few days early to do some boat tidying jobs and then it was back to London. The main reason for the trip back was for my Mum’s birthday, I won’t say which one but it’s got a zero on the end. My sister and family had very cleverly organised a surprise lunch party for her on the day after we got back (we weren’t a surprise) which all went splendidly with lots of friends in attendance. The rest of our time there was spent seeing friends etc, apologies to those we didn’t get in touch with but as usual time was against us. I came back to Grenada a week before Tracy who was spending some extra time with her parents, so I had plenty of time to get everything looking lovely for her return. I spent the time doing other things, obviously.


And so, where to next…the plan was, and still is, to head west to Bonaire taking in Los Roques and maybe Blanquilla (Venezuelan Islands) on the way. But before that, in early August, there was the Carriacou Regatta. Since we hadn’t been to Carriacou for, oh, weeks, we thought we’d better have a look. Well we’ve never seen Tyrrell Bay so busy. Always room for a few more though. The regatta proper started on Friday with races for cruisers (that’s bums like us) and continued over the weekend into Monday with more local boats racing and more cruisers racing. We contemplated taking part for a nanosecond but there was little point since the bottom of the boat was filthy, we’re overloaded as usual, (both of which make the boat slow) and we don’t really like sailing so we just watched. Actually it looked like a bit of fun and if there’s a next time we might make more of an effort. That’s assuming we can understand the rules, which to my ignorant eye make cricket look intelligible. There was a real party atmosphere in Hillsborough (the capital), a bit of a mini-carnival really, with lots of drinking and dancing going on between and indeed during the races.



One of the events that occurs during the regatta is a charity auction for the Carriacou Children’s Education Fund which is organised by some American yachties and locals. The fund was set up a few years ago to provide assistance to the less well off local kids (alongside the swanky houses etc there’s a lot of poverty here) in the form of school equipment, lunches for the kids, that sort of thing. We went along, and brought a few bits and pieces to donate for the auction. I managed to pick up a fishing rod and reel at the viewing the night before the auction, both broken. Come the auction proper I secured another rod and reel, both broken, along with a 12V searchlight (to go with the new one we’d bought the week before, bugger!) and Tracy got an Aloe plant to replace the cactus that came all the way from Jersey and has been dying a slow and lingering death ever since.  This one is allegedly unkillable…we shall see. I went searching for more broken rods and reels the following day but alas there were no more to be had. On the plus side it was all in a good cause, and what’s more I even managed to fix one of the reels (a Penn 9/0) at the cost of only some relatively minor lacerations and a lot of naughty words of the kind that I try not to say in front of my Mother. The amount raised this year, culminating in the auction which is the biggest fundraiser, was over EC$17,000 (US$6300) which goes a long way here. We even got in the picture for the papers.


So since then we’ve been thinking about moving on, but you know how it is…I’ve done a bit of diving, which is also very good here, and been playing with my new underwater camera; here’s what I think is called an Azure Vase Sponge – they really look like this, it’s not the flash or any clever effects:



To give some idea of scale, this Hawksbill turtle was about 2 feet long:


This Moray eel looks threatening but he’s only got his mouth open to breathe. So I’m told. His head’s around an inch wide:


This is a brain coral with the head of a fish called a Blenny (the size of a pea) sticking out of the middle:




And here’s Olly the octopus. Yum:


For those that are interested, the camera is a Canon Ixus 75 in a Canon waterproof (to 40 metres) housing, very small, not particularly expensive, and I’m very pleased with it!


We’re really considering quite seriously moving on now, we may even leave tomorrow for Grenada to do some shopping before heading west as planned. But then…it is so nice here. Generally the weather has been pretty good in the last month or so, but we are quite nicely into the hurricane season so that may not last – just yesterday a tropical wave passed over which caused a couple of hours of strong winds and lots of rain. I was stranded ashore at the time, having gone for a walk with my usual impeccable timing, Tracy had the dinghy and couldn’t come and get me until the weather calmed down a bit. She saw 46 knots on the windy gauge at one point, and although our anchor held perfectly – it’s probably fossilized into the seabed by now – a couple of other boats dragged their anchors and had to move around and try again.



So perhaps we’ll be off soon!


Mind you, it’s been lovely today – a short bus ride to Paradise Beach, a nice lunch at a beach bar then a beautiful walk back through the forest along the hills.


Decisions decisions…







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