Grenada 12:03.00N 61:44.00W
Well, the last few hundred miles of this passage flew by as we continued our relentless downwind pace with, typically 20 knots of wind behind us. We never had a good sunrise or sunset the whole passage as the sky was mostly overcast. Our arrival off Grenada continued the unsettled theme: I took over the watch from Morag at 7am on the 7th; she had watched the island appear – mostly street and the airport lights although there is small light house on the SW corner which we had to round in order to make the final five miles up the west coast to the capital, Saint George’s. When I came up the first tinge of dawn was lightening the sky and the black silhouette of the island was plain as were the lights. Within minutes the heavens opened, the island disappeared from sight and the wind shot up to 30 plus knots. I put the headsail away before taking over the helm and Morag, sensibly, went below. We had about eight miles to run to the waypoint off the SW corner of the island and I steered by compass, the rain never let up. Forty minutes later Brian and Morag, navigating from the saloon, suggested we needed to gybe away from the coast and all hands turned out for the evolution. I thought, because of the strength of wind, that we should tack around, rather than gybe conventionally but, without a headsail, she wouldn’t go through the wind leaving me ‘in irons’ or, as we say in plain English, ‘stopped’. We started the engine and got the main sail down – maybe my sailing brain was not functioning as well as it should (OK, I was tired) – but some complete circles with no visual references was very disorientating and I had to speak sternly to myself to trust the steering compass as it was too wet to have the tablet running the navigation software in the cockpit. After a while, Brian took over the helm and we made slow progress up the west coast against the wind, now heading us somewhat. The light had improved and so did the visibility, but the rain and wind didn’t abate. And hour and a half later we were approaching the amazing natural harbour of Saint George’s and all three of us were wet through. The wind died away as we entered the lee of the harbour, but we had to stooge around in the dock basin for what seemed ages communicating with the berthing master (who was under an enormous umbrella – and peeved about being out in the rain) by voice (read shouting) because our hand-held radio, it seemed, was not readable by them.
So, we tied up in the rain by about 11:30 and dived below to change into dry togs leaving piles of wet gear on cabin floors for the time-being. High fives all round and the champagne and orange juice that was bought with Christmas morning in mind but no one felt like at the time, was opened. I don’t remember if we had anything more substantial for breakfast. We had sailed 2137 miles by the trip log, probably slightly further ‘over the ground’ as we had some current with us in the first week or so. The passage was slightly under 15 days from door to door.
Afterwards, we went to the immigration office conveniently next to the marina office and got passports stamped and a cruising permit for Grenada and the Grenadines. Having signed in with the marina for three days, we could access showers and wifi. Morag’s husband, Robert, arrived; Brian and I retired to the marina bar for a large beer and Robert bought a round of rum punches. The next couple days can only be described as recuperation; Morag and Robert went back to his accommodation; Brian and I ate and drank at the marina and I recall sleeping for twelve hours straight for two nights running. In between we tidied up and dried the boat.
You can probably tell from the above that the weather conditions rather dominated our arrival; however, as we started to take in our surroundings, it became clear that the amphitheatre of jungle-clad hills around the harbour are dotted with brightly coloured buildings, mostly with red rooves, and a lot of them with balconies and colonial style architecture. The harbour split naturally into three sections: a shallow bay in the north called The Careenage surrounded by waterfront buildings and warehouses and used by local boats. A middle section which is the commercial shipping and ferry dock backed by stacks of containers, and a southern bay called The Lagoon which is where the yachting facilities were located. The Grenada YC had some pontoons but we couldn’t raise them on the radio so we made for Port Louis Marina which turned out to be a good move. The humidity with the heat and rain was ‘physical’. The marina facilities were great: showers with individual wet rooms, a laundry service, taxis on stand-by, shops and a restaurant, but the grounds were amazing – manicured jungle with palms of all sorts, verdant greenery everywhere interspersed with colorful flowers and buildings. There is an exuberant cockerel that wanders around the open air restaurant and there are supposed to be iguanas in the gardens.
On Sunday morning, the 8th, Brian and I walked around the bay to the ‘town centre’ of Saint George’s and we probably didn’t see it at it’s best because everywhere was shut. We walked back to the yacht club for some lunch where we were also able to watch Man City drub Chelsea.
By Monday we were beginning to feel rested and did a bit of maintenance and filled the water tanks. It was slightly galling to pump out one tank of 350 litres, which we had bought in Mindelo, but which the pilot book recommended ‘not drinking’- and rather ‘spooked’ us into getting rid of it. We probably should have kept it for washing and cooking especially as we were drinking bottled water. Three of us had only used 300 litres of the the other 350 litre tank coming over.
On Tuesday afternoon Brian and I are heading to Prickly Bay , an inlet on the south of the island, to anchor and make enquiries about getting a lift out and pressure wash and underwater inspection at Spice Island Marine and I also need a water pump from the Budget Marine chandlery.
Tony and Brian.
All best, Tony and Brian.