Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Sat 21 Mar 2020 22:58
The situation in Grenada was looking less hopeful by the hour. Cruisers who had planned to get their boats hauled out and fly home were uncertain if they'd be allowed ashore for the haul out! A catamaran charter employee who needed to go ashore to catch the ferry to Grenada (to catch a flight home) was told he couldn't. Our local contacts suggested we try St Vincent and the Grenadines where they were apparently still accepting foreign nationals. Noonsite (the foremost cruising information website) showed this to be so, but based on our recent experience the rules could be expected to change without notice while we were en-route. Nevertheless we decided we should try. The nearest island in the Grenadines is only 12 miles north of Carriacou, albeit directly to windward.
At 10am as we were getting ready to leave, a Coastguard vessel approached us. The men on board were dressed in black and masked; one of them openly toting an assault rifle (Presumably not an AK47, but it did engender a frisson of deja-vu!). They demanded our papers and on hearing that we had not been allowed to check in insisted we leave immediately. They asked why had we not left sooner. When we said we had nowhere to go they told us to go back to Guadeloupe. If we didn't leave within an hour we would be fined! It seems that the yacht-friendly approach of Grenada had changed overnight.
So we made our way to Union Island, arriving in the early afternoon. The harbour at Clifton is normally busy with charter boats but is now very quiet except for a few kitesurfers. We were approached by a local boatman, Desde, and helped onto a mooring. He took us to the shore and pointed us to the nearby airport for check-in.
As we walked into the airport there was a handful of people waiting to leave on the small turbo-prop aircraft which serve the smaller islands. We were pointed to the Customs area, but the officials were unsure what to do and sat us down, perhaps while the higher ranks of Customs and Immigration discussed the situation. Then, having established that we are 'English' they agreed to let us enter, subject to 14 days quarantine on the boat, and asked us to complete health declarations. After a long wait a customs official, wearing mask and gloves (actually they only put those on to deal with the one incoming flight passenger), gave us the usual forms to fill in. Then became apparent the small problem of our lack of outward clearance from Guadeloupe, but reason prevailed and finally we were stamped in. They were all concerned to make sure we understood the quarantine conditions but by the end of the process we felt very welcome.
It's a relief to be official again, with no more decision making for at least two weeks. We can set aside the 'Flying Dutchman' stencils.