At last the great day arrived and Sheila and Jim stepped off the plane after a long flight from the UK. We went with them to their hotel, the Blue Horizons Garden Resort just behind the Grand Anse beach, and it was perfect for them. Self catering cottages and apartments surrounded by nicely laid out gardens. Sheila is definitely not a ‘boat type’ person and feels nauseous just sitting in harbour so there was no way they’d be staying on board with us. El Lobo is a bit on the small side for receiving guests in any case, although Margaret and John have stayed with us and Barbara is more used to ‘roughing it’ from her Girl Guiding days!
We spent a wonderful 7 days exploring Grenada and just swimming in the beautiful turquoise sea or the inviting pool at the hotel. Pat even got a bit sunburned as we try to keep out of the sun as much as possible normally! We took the local bus up to Gouyave on the west coast on the Friday night to sample ‘Fish Friday’. This is a small fishing village where, every Friday night, 2 streets are cordoned off and vendors set up stalls cooking many different fish dishes. We also took an all day tour of the island using ‘Cutty’s Tours’, run by a gently spoken local, Cutty, (short for Cuthbert), who went out of his way to show us everything of interest on his island. Tel. no: (1473) 407 5153. For such a small island there is plenty to see, including the world’s oldest rum distillery at the River Antoine Estate. This distillery has been in production since 1785 and the original water wheel still crushes the sugar cane on it’s journey to become 69% proof white rum. Of course we had to sample some before we left the distillery! Very palatable as long as you drown it in coke! We also visited a nutmeg processing plant where we saw the nutmeg separated from the mace, dried and graded, also a cocoa plant. Grenada manufactures some chocolate but the majority of the beans are exported to Europe and North America.
We actually managed to get Sheila onto the boat for a barbecue one evening. We had taken a slip for the week at the Grenada Yacht club so she was able to step onto the boat from the dockside. We certainly wouldn’t have got her into the dinghy if we had been out at anchor!
We also had a visit from Margaret Jefferson and her husband Jeff from Hartlepool, who were on a cruise liner on the way to traversing the Panama canal. It was great to see Margaret again and they came bearing gifts of Fray Bentos Steak and Kidney pies and home made marmalade! Whoopee!
It was Grenada’s Independence Day on the 7th, 36 years of being an independent country, and the six of us visited the National Stadium to view the Military parades and demonstrations. It was lovely to see the populace in their national colours celebrating their nation. We all wore the colours too and Pat and Sheila even had their hair braided in them as well! It was, incidentally, Sheila’s 60th birthday the same day so we felt she really celebrated well!.
The week went by too quickly and we sadly waved goodbye as they left for home on the 11th. It won’t be long before we are together again as Pat intends to go home for a couple of months later in the year.
The day after Sheila and Jim left we set out for our next destination, Carriacou. This is a journey of about 30 miles and we made it in just over 6 hours, dropping anchor in Tyrrel Bay. We saw that Horizons, owned by our friends Jack and Laurie from Connecticut, was at anchor nearby so we went over to find out what was happening on Carriacou that weekend. The Carnival proper was due to begin on the Monday although there had been preliminary events during the week. After studying the weather and the charts for the area, we decided that we really should leave on the Tuesday so were going to miss the second day. We really had to be in Saint Lucia for the 20th as Barbara was arriving then. The sailing north in the Windward islands is sometimes tough as you are beating into the trade winds and current and we wanted to get there in plenty of time, especially as we had missed seeing her in Grenada.
We still enjoyed the parade of bands on Carriacou on the Monday. For such a small population the locals put on a grand display.
We headed north on the 16th, flying the Saint Vincent flag together with the yellow ‘quarantine’ flag, as we didn’t intend to clear in to either Bequia, part of the Grenadines, or Saint Vincent proper, just anchoring off both overnight. We anchored in Admiralty Bay, Bequia, one night then in Chateaubelair Bay on Saint Vincent the following night. We eventually reached Saint Lucia on the 18th and moved up to Rodney Bay marina on the 19th. Barbara duly arrived at the local airport on the 20th from Barbados after finishing her Caribbean cruise. For the first few days in the marina we were able to turn on our electric fans but after that Barbara learned how the other half lives! No more air-conditioned comfort, showers on tap, etc. when we went out to anchor!
Saint Lucia is another island which has changed hands between the French and British many times over the centuries. In 1722 Admiral George Rodney led the English fleet from Pigeon Island in the north in an epic assault on the French Navy on its way to attack Jamaica. The island was finally ceded to Britain in 1814 by the Treaty of Paris. In 1855 Saint Lucia was chosen as a British coaling station, selling Welsh coal to passing freighters, and at one time the capital, Castries, was the 14th most important port in the world in terms of tonnage handled. In the 20th century the rise of oil brought decline to the coal trade. The main farming crop has always been bananas but that industry is also declining now and tourism has become the main form of income. Although English is the official language the majority of the population speak Creole, a French based patois, and 70% are Roman Catholic. The architecture is French provincial style and most place names are French. The island is strikingly beautiful, especially around Soufriere on the south west coast, where two volcanic ‘plugs’ rise sheer out of the sea to a height of 2,619 and 2,461 feet respectively. These are the famous ‘Pitons’ and are not to be missed. Saint Lucia is slightly bigger than Grenada with an area of 238 square miles.
We stayed in the Rodney Bay area for the first few days and explored Pigeon Island which is a National Trust site. We also took a tour around the island with a lovely young man, Sheldon, who promised that his wife would make us a meal of crab and dumplings if we came back to Saint Lucia for the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup in May! Tel. No: +1758 716 7276. All of this time Pat was suffering from some kind of bug which made her feel nauseous and tired all the time. It wasn’t a cold and it wasn’t heat exhaustion but it was something in between! We have been away for nearly three years now and this is the first ailment Pat has gone down with. Mike has had a few sniffles and tummy upsets but Pat was fireproof - she thought! Never mind. It eventually cleared up and Pat was able to eat a few meals again. She was hoping she might have lost half a stone during the week she wasn’t eating but no such luck! We just hope it didn’t spoil Barbara’s holiday too much but she didn’t complain.
We travelled down to Soufriere again and anchored between the Pitons and Barbara was suitably impressed by the scenery. We did have a minor crisis when we got the anchor buoy rope wrapped around our propeller and Mike had to repeatedly dive down to cut it off. He managed to get most of it off and was helped the next morning to remove the last of it by some kindly neighbouring cruisers. We don’t know your names but thanks to Magic. We then sailed up the coast again and anchored for one night in the pretty little Marigot Bay (where a scene from Dr Dolittle was filmed in 1967) and in Castries Harbour for Barbara’s last night. It was convenient to get a taxi from there up to Vigie airport on the 1st March.
Barbara left that morning and we have since heard from her that she had a pleasant trip home and is now back in the cold and rain. That will teach her to complain about the heat! Mind, it was exceptionally hot while she was with us. The trouble is that when you anchor close to shore on the west coast, the easterly winds which blow most of the time here are somewhat blocked, and we suffered for a few nights. We are now anchored out in Rodney Bay itself and there is a fresh breeze blowing most of the time, thank goodness.
So there you have us. All visitors gone. We are just recharging our batteries and then we are off to firstly Martinique for a couple of days, then north to Dominica, where we are meeting Narwhal with Arnd and Bente and little Siri and new baby Lars. We can’t wait to see them again. We last saw them in Santa Cruz in Tenerife in November 2008. Siri will probably not remember us.
See you next month.