Saturday, May 16, 2009

New Nation....Grenada

Anchored Tyrell Bay, Island of Carriacou
Nation of Grenada
12 27'.41N 061 20'.22W

I left the Tobago Cays a couple of days ago and made the surprisingly rough 4 mile trip to Union Island which is the last island in the nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
I arrived and took a mooring in Cliffton Harbor that is notorious for its poor holding. The mooring looked very suspect, maintenance not looking to be a high probability. I didn't want to pay for a mooring for any length of time and besides I just did not have a good vibe about Union Island. It started with the haggling for the mooring fee from the boat boys. After I got situated and lashed to the dingy dock a bunch of locals hanging out at the dock drinking beer started hassling me to pay them a "tax." I asked what for? And they said so they can go and buy more beer. It would be comical if they were not serious and persistent, but they were. I did not pay them said tax. In any event, I'm over this type of behavior and decided at that moment I would spend as little time as possible on Union. I went directly to Customs and checked out of St Vincent and the Grenadines. I'm sure the vast number of people on Union are friendly, but they don't seem to regulate the very few who offend. No one really gets a warm feeling coming ashore at 11 am with a gang of young men smoking weed and drinking beer and then have them demand money. I spent a windy day and night aboard Christa and left for Carriacou, an Island that belongs to Grenada just 6 miles to the south of Union. Attitude wise, its seems, a world away from Union.

For starters no boat boys come racing out to the boat to help or hassle and second the first grocery store I went into had paper coffee filters. I felt very welcome indeed. Further more I've left the charter boat world behind as I think having them check in and out of Customs is a drag on their chartering time, so they simply stay within the St Vincent administered islands.

So in the 24 hours I've spent here on Carriacou I can say with my limited experience it is a place I could spend a great deal of time in. The Carriacou Yacht Clud, where I type to you from has all the amenities for a reasonable price that overlooks Christa and Tyrell Bay. I had a great pizza last night and met a 70 year old German cruiser who may be one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He bought his boat in Yugoslavia during the war and sailed "Magic Carpet Ride" under Serbian artillery fire out of the marina after the survey. He then sailed through a Naval blockade. Very cool stuff. Now the picture above was taken from just above the Yacht Club overlooking Tyrell Bay. You can see the weather is stormy and it is very humid. H-season is nearly upon us and the weather reflects that.

I pulled the above graphic off the Internet. Carricou is highlighted in green and the big island of Grenada is just to the south. I likely will spend at least a couple of weeks here before sailing down the eastern side of Grenada to St. Davids on the south coast. Notice all the finger like bays that are speckled along the south and east side of Grenada. One of those deep bays is St Davids and Grenada Marine where I will haul Christa out for the season.

Please take the time and check out My Google Photo Album. I've uploaded all the pictures from my time in the Tobago Cays and they are beautiful.

Capt Chris

Don't forget you can double click on any images and they should expand out for max viewing

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

South From Bequia

Anchored Tobago Cays National Park
St Vincent and the Grenadines
12 38'.11N 061 21'.71W

Hope this finds you all well as I'm posting this via my Iridium Sat
Phone. I left Bequia on Mother's Day around mid morning bound for
Myreau, 23 miles due south. I spent more than 3 weeks in Bequia. I
really am plush with time as my schedule is to haul Christa in July in
Grenada just 25 or 30 miles to my south, so no real rush. But as is my
habit I just waited for good weather to maximize enjoyment and limit
the amount of strain on Captain and Christa. I enjoyed my stay on
Bequia even though the entire island is without paper coffee filters.
It is the strangest thing, but I hit every store and hotel asking for
coffee filters. All hands were confused about this lack of what I
would consider essential gear. I've been using Bounty paper towels for
nearly a month now to brew my coffee and really have grown used to the
Bounty operation. So other than the fact I got nipped by a dog during
one of my runs, Bequia was just fine, somewhat mellow and unique. So
after hauling the anchor I set sail on a standard delightful trade
wind sail. Winds 15 to 20 from the east with a pretty gentle sea.
From here on down to Grenada, there are so many reefs and small
islands they serve to knock down the sea. Similar to but less than
running on the leeward side of the Exuma Island chain in the Bahamas.
Christa averaged 5.5 knots, passing by the Islands of Mustique and
Canuan before making landfall in Salt Whistle Bay on the north coast
of Myreau. I could swear I'm in the south pacific. The water is
crystal clear and the beaches are pure as sugar with Palms everywhere.
Although I continue to have issues with Charter boats. For
clarification most of the problems are with so called professional
captains that are running these 50 to 60 foot cats and not Mom and Pop
chartering a boat for the first time. Most newbies are exceedingly
cautious (not all though) and give folks space. But here is the deal.
The beach in Salt Whistle is so picturesque and beautiful the charter
companies want to give the best experience to their customers which
means the front row no matter what. In the morning I found myself the
only one in the whole bay! But between the hours of 2pm and well after
dark these bozos come piling in, plop their anchor down up wind of
Christa, pay out chain till they are 25 feet off my bow, shut down and
immediatly abandon ship to go ashore. It's like arriving to the movies
early to chose your seat only to have someone with an enormous head
roll on in late and sit right in front of you. Further more last night
they lit off the barby and nearly drove me out of my quarters with the
smoke and flames that were billowing down my hatch. As Tom Larson
would say, "dude your livin the dream." It is hard sometimes to
maintain my anger because the people are having such a good time. The
charter guests really have no concept and besides they are to busy
snapping pictures.

I did take a jaunt down the only road on the island. The island has
600 permanent residence and as usual is very poor. But I have found it
interesting that since I arrived in St Vincent and the Grenadines I've
noticed the amount of goats running around is significant. In Puerto
Rico it was the chickens but not down here. As some of you may know I
am an animal lover. I like them all and even though I had that recent
altercation with the dog I still stop and see if I can pet the stray
animals. Most are scared but crave attention. Anyway on my trek around
Myreau I started to hear a substantial amount of goat noises coming
from somewhere in the bush. Upon investigation I came upon the island
cemetery and as with everything on the island it was in a state of
despair and disrepair. But there were a bunch of goats that had been
tethered to grave stones and little shrubs presumably to graze.
However they were all wound around trees and headstones right up to
their poor necks and couldn't move. Some were just babies. So I spent
an hour in the blazing sun unwinding these animal while they bleated
incessantly. I think they appreciated it though So onward I journeyed
and came upon a small Catholic Church situated on the highest point on
the island overlooking the Tobago Cays. The view was incredible. Just
as I was breathing in the view I hear another baby goat making a
ruckus. Upon investigation I found the little guy inside the church on
the Alter right next to the black Jesus. I shoed him away and told him
to have a little respect, it's an alter for christ sake.

So this morning I had to wait for the charter cat to roll as my anchor
was beneath the behemoth. I took the opportunity to change the
transmission fluid and inspect the engine room for any kind of
mischief. I had the anchor up prior to noon for the two mile trip to
the Tobago Cays National Park. Now this place is a true gem. When I
get to an internet connection in a few days I'll post the pictures and
just let them tell the story. Of note is the sand, here it is the best
I've seen since the Bahamas. I dropped the hook in 15 feet of
beautiful water. I did my usual dive on the hook. The sand is so deep
I was able to bury both arms up to my elbows. I can't even see the
anchor as it is totally buried. We could with stand quite a blow
without the anchor moving. So life is good, I'm really enjoying nature
and all that it offers. I plan on staying in the park for a couple of
days before I move onto Union Island which will be my last stop in St
Vincent and the Grenadines. Can't believe it is just over two weeks
before the official start of hurricane season!

Capt Chris