3rd March 2012 – St Georges, Grenada
Just before heading south from St Lucia, we had a small
shopping expedition to make to collect our new dinghy from Le Marin in
Martinique. It took us 5 hours
sailing closehauled to get to Martinique to anchor at dusk off St Anne. We moved into the main anchorage in
Marin in the morning and dinghied ashore in the Avon dinghy. Carol managed a bit of shopping for
French cheese, coffee and other foodstuffs more difficult to come by in other
parts of the Caribbean whilst Jon sorted out delivery of the Zodiac dinghy to
the dinghy dock. Having deflated
the Avon and got it the groceries and ourselves into the Zodiac we went back to
Arnamentia before going ashore in Marin to do some other bits and pieces. We tried to do the decent thing and
clear in through Customs but the office was closed and we were bidden to go to
Fort de France to do so. We
declined, did the stuff we needed to do and sailed back to St Lucia to anchor in
Rodney Bay on Friday evening. We
managed to meet up with John and Mikaela from Chiscos for a final dinner
together in the wonderfully relaxed Captain’s Mike’s Bar which you reach by
pulling yourself across on a floating pontoon within the marina – a more
swept-up version of the one at the Elephant Boatyard in the Hamble.
We had a fixed deadline to meet as Bob Raley was arriving
in Grenada on Sunday evening so it was to be another overnight passage with a
strong following wind. By late
afternoon, we had reached the south of St Lucia and passed the iconic landmarks
most closely associated with the island – the Pitons. The picture below is probably not the
photographer’s finest but the boat was bouncing around a lot! St Vincent and the myriad of islands on
the way to Grenada were passed in the dark – they will be visited in what we
hope will be a relaxed fashion over the next couple of weeks.
To minimise the risk of getting to St Georges in Grenada
whilst it was still dark, we set off after lunch with two reefs in the mainsail.
That was a good plan since the wind
reached well over 35 knots at times and we barrelled along at around 8
knots. We had booked in to the
Grenada Yacht Club marina which is in a very sheltered part of St George’s
harbour. The yacht club is
delightful, situated on a small hill overlooking the harbour – the cooling
breezes and excellent, very reasonably prized food made it a great place to
We were in plenty of time to meet Bob
at the airport – he was bringing out with him two cases of spares including a
replacement Hydrovane rudder and shaft tube. It was the Hydrovane equipment that
raised eyebrows with the airport Customs.
They wanted to charge duty on it but we had no paperwork showing its
value. Fortunately the Customs
officer missed the section on the Hydrovane website showing the normal retail
value and we departed saying that we’d come back with an invoice, even though
the rudder was being supplied free of charge. Hydrovane obliged with a commercial
invoice (at, obviously a significantly lower price than retail) and the much
more helpful Customs people at Port St Louis in St Georges explained that with a
C14 form certifying the goods as ship’s stores for a vessel in transit, which
they instantly provided, we would pay only 2.5% of the value instead of around
90%. No contest really. The best bit of the whole incident was
undoubtedly the bus ride Jon took to the airport. As ever, all that was necessary to get
aboard one of these was to wander down the road in the vague direction in which
you needed to go. The sound of
blaring Caribbean music accompanied by toots on the horn and someone shouting
“Need a bus, man” signals the arrival of transport. You know perfectly well that the No 1
bus route ends well before the airport.
You also know that if you ask to be taken there the response will be
“Yeah, we take you dere man”. The
driver was young, convinced of his own immortality and distinctly
multi-taskable. He could drive the
bus, use his mobile phone, use the track-changer on the CD player, overtake on
blind corners, compete with all other traffic on the road, wave at everyone he
knew (that’d be most people, obviously) shout at other drivers and do a host of
other things all at the same time.
However, his right foot was less flexible. Whether engaged with the accelerator or
brake pedal, it understood only one position – pedal to metal. We were still doing around 80mph about
20 yards from the airport arrivals door.
Next day, Frank and Bernd, two German friends of Bob’s, flew in from Barbados for the
day. They were on a tightish
schedule so we contented ourselves with a quick motor around to the beautiful
Grande Anse bay. Bob and Bernd got
into Iron Man mode and swam ashore before briskly walking to Jenny’s Place for a
delicious lunch. The rest of us
tried out the new dinghy which definitely rides better but is clearly in need of
a little more horse power.
By this time we’d discovered that the shaft tube sent out
by Hydrovane was longer by about 10” than the shaft it was supposed to
take. A conversation with Hydrovane
resulted in a decision to stick with the longer tube and go for a longer shaft
to match. So, rather more hanging
around Grenada was called for whilst that arrived. But, we wanted to move on from St
Georges so sorted out the C14 paperwork with Customs there and then to free us
up. We did some sightseeing in St
Georges and took a taxi tour of the island. We also acquired a new outboard engine
with a few more horses in it than our original. It’s a bit heavier so we now use a handy
billy pulley arrangement to hoist it on and off the boat into and out of the
dinghy but it all works well. It also has a decent sized separate fuel tank
which means less faffing about with fuel and fewer opportunities for exciting
ridicule when we run out of petrol.
And with our new outboard with have
more “Legs” too – the harbour in St George’s
The Anglican church open to the elements after Hurricane Ivan in
Our day out had been postponed due to torrential rain –
far more than the normal tropical squalls that we’ve become used to - and even
on the day we did venture out it was rather grey and gloomy. Nevertheless we enjoyed our whistle stop
tour of the main sights on the island.
First off were the Annandale Falls where we jostled with cruise ship
passengers to see local lads plunge 50 foot into the pool below the falls – all
for the princely photographic fee of $1US – unfortunately Carol and her camera
aren’t too brilliant at action shots.
However, she was more successful at the rain forest museum stop and now
has a new best friend.
Allandale Falls -
Jumping for Dollars
A Cheeky Chappy
The Caribbean is littered with rum
factories and so far we hadn’t visited one. Since the Antoine Rivers distillery has
hardly changed since it opened a century or so ago we thought a visit there
would more interesting than most.
And indeed it was – a Health and Safety inspector would have had a field
day – machinery (including a wonderfully dangerous-looking waterwheel cane
masher made in Derby) with no covers, liquid cane pulp travelling in open drains
from one building to another, open mashing tanks. However, everything works and the end
product is pretty amazing – the 82% (164 proof) rum is so potentially
inflammable that it can’t be taken on aircraft. And, ice cubes sink in it.
Slurry Tanks? No, just
fermenting sugar cane!
We’d asked our driver to take us to a local place for
lunch – we didn’t want anything fancy and he came up trumps. Helena’s has a delightful balcony and we
were presented with a fantastic array of creole food, which for some unknown
reason always includes macaroni cheese!
We were not very far from Carib’s Leap, right at the north of the island,
where the indigenous tribe leapt to their death rather than become slaves to the
invading French in 1651.
Having taken our time over lunch and with Matthew our
driver having to go slowly around the numerous landslides, we were rather late
at our last stop, the chocolate factory, and couldn’t tag onto the end of a
cruise ship tour. Needless to say,
the free samples in the factory shop went down very well. We’re hoping to see a bit more of the
island – it would be good to walk in the forest to a more remote waterfall. Carol had been looking forward to
picking up the odd nutmeg or two from the forest floor – which she had done last
time she was here nearly twenty years ago.
Sadly, Hurricane Ivan destroyed the majority of the trees. Very few have been re-planted and they
take 20 or so years to mature.