Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy 2010!

We are now totally into a relaxed cruising mode. We have been in the Grenadines and now Grenada for about a month and the living is very easy indeed. The Grenadines are a series of islands mostly in St Vincent and the Grenadines (natch!) with a few in Grenada. They are very beautiful with relatively few people but still have distinctive personalities. Before Grenada the two most outstanding spots were Tobago Keys and Mayreau. The first is a group of small islands that have no people and is a national park. The second has a few hundred people and some of it seems to be part of the park. The first picture is on a little island in the Tobago Keys and I could not resist including it since it looks so much like a travel brochure picture and I thought it might cheer up those in northern climes a bit (yah, right). Also our friend Jenny was with us for a few weeks so we actually have some pictures with the two of us in them. The actual colours are, if anything more striking than in the picture.

Tobago Keys also has some interesting wildlife. We saw several large sea turtles but they were reluctant photo models. We explored on one island and saw many large iguanas who seemed little-bothered by people. Most seemed to be in the 3 to 5 long range. This guy was about average size.

On Mayreau we had lunch at a locally-famous restaurant, 'Robert Righteous and da Youths Seafood Restaurant'. Here is June with RR who seems to be something of a local celebrity. Mayreau gets small cruise ships fairly often but not the day that we were there so Robert had time for a picture. He is a Rastafarian and the restaurant is decorated with pictures of Haile Selassie and Marcus Garvey, along with Obama and a selection of cruising stuff too.

Now we know where big palm trees come from ...

Another terrible beach in Paradise. This picture is actually to show our dinghy. The dinghy is absolutely critical since it is your link to shore when you live at anchor. I am locking the dinghy around the dock since you never know when there might be a problem - probably not in quiet Mayreau, but ... Thefts are common and insurance for dinghies is very high (we did not get it).

Thieves are most interested in the motors and ours is a little small to be of great interest (6 hp). Ones in the 10 to 25 hp range are at particular risk. I even heard about someone who bought new decals to put on his motor that indicated that the motor was smaller hp than it really was (you can't generally tell by looking whether a motor is a 6 or 8 or even 9.8).

On the way to Grenada, while we had Jenny on board, we passed an underseas volcano called 'Kick-em Jenny'. It erupts every few years and its summit is creeping inexorably toward the surface. When last surveyed it was about 500 feet down but is expected to reach above the surface some time this century. We thought it would be appropriate if it erupted while Jenny was with us but no luck.


Life in Grenada

We are now at almost exactly 12 degrees north. This is the latitude that is relatively safe from hurricanes (although Grenada did get nailed a few years ago). As a result, this island along with Trinidad and Venezuela are the prime locations for people to spend the summer. Trinidad has crime problems and the large bay where all the sailing activities are is quite industrial and not very clearn (water and air). At the same time, crime (and the perception of crime) has become a serious concern in Venezuela. The result has been that more and more boats are making the south coast of Grenada their home port. In fact, many people stay here in winter too or come from Trinidad or Venezuela to stay here. Those that leave seem not to travel too far and many are just starting to leave now. All this means that Grenada is a very busy and active spot.

Every morning, except Sunday, at 0730 the Grenada Cruisers' Net is on VHF Channel 68. They provide weather and information about activities that are happening on the island. You can also ask for help finding parts and services and, of course, there are "Treasures From the Bilge" for sale. Local marinas organize buses for various regular and special events. For example we went to a jazz club to hear a very good vocalist (Jenny J) and saxophonist. The bus was $10EC or about $4US return. Including everything (light dinner, cover charge, two drinks and bus) it was about $55US for the two of us - in relative terms an expensive evening.

The marina that we are anchored off has a weekly shopping bus for the same price that goes to an IGA store that has the best shopping we have seen since St Thomas (they even have Voortman's cookies from Canada). People are on a budget so pot-lucks are common. New Year's Eve was a bring an hors d'oeuvres plate and it was otherwise free except for your drinks - Carib beer, brewed here is a bit more than $2US and mixed drinks are a bit more.

In some ways this is like a maritime (youngish) seniors community - and I don't mean that in a disparaging way at all. Most people are in their late 50s to early 70s (there are exceptions at both ends) and very capable people or they would not be here in the first place. There are quite a few European boats and one American couple wanted a new boat and had it made in South Africa and then sailed it back - something over 5000 miles. One woman's husband died a couple of years ago and she loved the lifestyle here and did not want to move back ashore in Florida. Unfortunately her husband had done most of the technical work on board - but she decided she would just learn how to do everything on the boat and keep living here.

It is easy to see why people like it here. We get the offshore forecast over the cruisers' net and it goes to something like 22N. North of about 17 they have had one cold front after another with attendant rains and stronger winds. The weather here remains entirely constant. The five day forecast had no day with highs over 29C and no day with high below 27C. One day was going to be partly cloudy; the rest sunny. We have a device to catch rain (you have to buy drinking water) and June faithfully puts it up in each harbour but we have gotten little rain at all. The only variable is the wind. The strength is pretty steady at 15 knots +/- but the direction ranges from NE to a little S of E. Also we get swells from storms further north that curve all around the island and find their way into our south-facing bay.

1 comment:

Darvin/Marilyn said...

March 7 Where are you? Time to post again!!

Marilyn (Bread and Roses)