Friday 16th March - The Other Two Grenadian Islands
16th March 2012 – Tyrrel’s Bay, Carriacou
It was a pleasant 30 mile passage with the wind just forward of the beam to a delightful bay on the south coast of Carriacou, which means “land of reefs”, so a lot of eyeball navigation is required as you come around the promontories into the little bays. Carriacou and Petite Martinique are both part of Grenada; confusingly the Grenadines are part of St Vincent (of which more later). Almost before we had put the snubbing line on the anchor in Tyrell’s bay and made the chain up on the cleat, a local “boat boy” arrived – amongst other things he was selling mangrove oysters and as we’d heard they were rather good we took a couple of dozen off him. Included in the price was the opening of said oysters but we had to provide the plates and a knife – apparently some yachtsmen insist on their knives being used (‘elf’n’safety, y’know) so the boat boys have learned to ask to use their customers’ knives. Anyway, with fresh lime juice, they were delicious as a starter before the more mundane bubble and squeak which accompanied the last of sausages bought in Las Palmas.
Carriacou is a quite a small island so the next morning (15th March) saw us complete the by now obligatory island tour. The roads are pretty horrendous which explained the state of our “taxi” – an extremely beaten up old Suzuki 4x4. Our driver, Simon, at one point was concerned that a cow was getting rather too close and might dent the bodywork – though how one could have spotted another dent is anybody’s guess! It later transpired that he wasn’t an official tour guide. We gleaned this from the operator of a much smarter minibus who was a bit discombobulated that we hadn’t used him. However, his vehicle was far too smart and driven with far too much care to have taken us to some of the places we visited.
There used to be a thriving lime growing industry but intensive productions methods elsewhere meant that Carriacou couldn’t compete. One of the sights on the tour was the now derelict processing plant. However, one traditional craft that still remains on the island is boat building. This is quite astonishing. Small boats are built locally all over the Caribbean (normally from white cedar) and are generally designed to be hitched to a sizeable outboard engine and driven at warp factor 9 by boat boys or fishermen. The stuff in Carriacou is of a quite different order – as the photo below illustrates. Boats like this one (a 40 foot sailing yacht) are built in an entirely traditional fashion using convenient cedar branches with the appropriate sort of bend necessary to create the ribs. The branches are fashioned to size and shape with an adze. Not a drawing, machine tool, jig or anything else in sight. Not one of the ribs you see in the photo below has a single joint in it and the trick is to get the grain to run as straight as possible along its curved length using your trusty adze and a great deal of craftsman’s eye. The skin of the boat is made of one inch thick cedar planking plain-butted to each other and caulked in a way Nelson would have understood.
Back garden boat building – another 6 months and it will be complete
We were up with the sparrows the next day (16th March), to make sure of a mooring off Petite Martinique (nowhere near Martinique – it’s only the other side of Carriacou). We had arranged to meet up with ARC friends, Geoff and Ann who were making their way south on Nyda. As planned we lunched at the Palm Beach restaurant. It was great to see them again – we’d been keeping in touch on the ARC radio net which a few stalwarts in the Caribbean have been keeping going. We exchanged experiences of various anchorages and equipment problems. We are not the only ones to have had to cope with gremlins – and ours have been relatively tame compared with some!
After a heartfelt farewell – we aren’t likely to meet again until we are back in Cowes in a couple of year’s time - we went our separate ways into grey, lowering skies. We were headed for Union Island and then the fabled Tobago Cays