At last the time came for us to leave C Dock and we went out to anchor in Chaguaramas Bay. We were still tidying up and finishing jobs and Pat took the opportunity to go on another ‘hash’ run, this time in Arima in the north of the island. A few cruisers hired a maxi taxi for the evening and a great time was had by all. If you check on-line wherever you live in the world you may find a Hash House Harriers group locally. They are really friendly people and make everyone welcome. It is a good way to explore more of your local environment as well as get a bit of exercise into the bargain. Mind, the drinking afterwards undoes all the good work!
The last few days in Trinidad were not without a few traumas, as Mike will explain on his page this month. We have grown very fond of Trinidad in our time there and will be returning for next hurricane season (but not for such a long time on the hard, hopefully!).There is so much bad press about the country with the crime rate and also the threat of Venezuelan piracy but we have met some wonderful people there, both cruisers and, more importantly, local people. We never once felt threatened on our forays out and about, even down in lively St James’s on a Saturday night! There are many spectacular sites of interest and we haven’t visited them all yet. There is a visit to the Angostura’s distillery to look forward to on our next visit, also a visit to a pan yard to see the wonderful steel drums being made into pans, each note being beaten into shape. Most important of all, we have promised ourselves that we cannot miss Carnival next year. The Trinidad Carnival is now recognised as the best in the world and we want to take part in the next one, hopefully. The timing just hasn’t worked out this year.
Finally the time came to leave and we set sail for Grenada, 80 miles north, on the 12th January. We travelled overnight and reached the anchorage in Prickly Bay on the south west corner the next afternoon. It was great to see some different scenery, and Grenada is beautiful. It is a lot smaller than Trinidad, only 21 miles long and 12 miles wide, with a population of less than 100,000 people in all of the islands.
Grenada (the country) includes the large island of Grenada, and a few islands on the southern edge of the Grenadines, with Carriacou and Petit Martinique the most significant. The whole country is only 133 square miles in total. Volcanic in origin, Grenada is dominated by a central ridge of mountains, all covered with lush rain forests. The island has numerous bays and harbours, and some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. It is known as the Spice Island due to the many spices grown, mainly mace and nutmeg, although tourism is growing.
It lies at the very south of the hurricane belt and has only been hit three times in 50 years. The most recent storms to hit have been Hurricane Ivan in September 2004 causing severe damage and thirty-nine deaths, and Hurricane Emily in July 2005, causing serious damage in Carriacou and in the north of Grenada. Grenada has recovered with remarkable speed. By December 2005, nearly all hotel rooms were reopened for business and were upgraded in facilities and strengthened to an improved building code. Agriculture, in particular the nutmeg industry suffered serious losses, but that event has begun changes in crop management and it is hoped that as new nutmeg trees gradually mature, the industry will return to its pre-Ivan position as a major supplier to the western world.
A little history - On his third voyage to the New World in 1498, Columbus sailed by Grenada and named it Concepcion. The British attempted a small settlement in 1609, but it was the French that successfully battled the native Carib Indians, finally driving them off the island in 1651. The colony was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris. A century later, in 1877, Grenada was made a Crown Colony, with Grenada finally becoming an independent country in 1974. It is part of the British Commonwealth and Queen Elizabeth 11 is still Head of State.
Since independence the country has had a turbulent political history, including the Grenada Invasion in 1983, when America intervened after a Marxist take-over of the popular left wing government of Maurice Bishop, who had himself taken over in a coup in 1979. Bishop and his cabinet were all murdered by the Communists and the invading forces captured the ringleaders who were tried and given life sentences. Free elections were reinstituted the following year. Since then the country has been pretty stable and is now a democracy.
We have spent the last couple of weeks getting to know the place but still doing boat maintenance. We have had to buy a new outboard motor here, also our old Canon printer finally gave up the ghost, and it looks as though we may have to invest in some new batteries. The good charge we are now getting from the wind generator and solar panels is not holding as it should. Boats! Who’d have them? Check Mike’s page to see the list of ongoing jobs.
We haven’t done much exploring yet because the great news is that Sheila and Jim are coming out for a week at the beginning of February and we are saving travelling about the island until they get here. Pat can’t wait to see sis again.
We have been into St George’s a couple of times and it is really pretty, although there are still some buildings awaiting repair after Ivan, especially some churches and government buildings which are standing without roofs. We went to a small jazz club one night and also saw a pan band at the local marina in Prickly Bay. Mike spent this Saturday morning on the boats electrics so Pat went with some other cruisers to a small village nearby where local children attend for tutoring in the basic three ‘R’s. It was a great thing to do and we felt we were giving something back to the island.
Well, that’s about it for this month. We are so looking forward to our family being here in February. Also, Barbara from Chester Le Street will be visiting later in the month. It will be good to catch up. We will probably be further north by then. You’ll find out where next update. Movies and photos below as usual. Bye for now.