30th July - 26th August

The sail down from Carriacou to Grenada was wonderful, a comfortable broad reach.   We passed an area of volcanic activity around the "Kick 'em Jenny" volcano, not a thing we've had to deal with when sailing in the Bristol Channel!   No luck with the fishing despite the frenzied bird and dolphin activity around a massive shoal of fish.    When we got in the lee of Grenada we put the motor on as the wind dropped.   A short time later a squealing from the engine room alerted us to a problem with the alternator belt, so we pulled into Dragon Bay (specially requested by the PCO) and dropped our hook to tighten up the belt a little.    On investigation, however, we found that the bracket on which the alternator is mounted on the engine had snapped, so on went the generator, out came the drill to effect a temporary repair.   

This meant that we called into the capital of Grenada, St. Georges.   We hadn't been planning to anchor there but were glad we did.   It's a lovely, lively, bustling town.   We tracked down a machine shop to make a new bracket for us, after a long hot, uphill walk (why is everything uphill in the Caribbean?).   

Our unscheduled stop also gave us chance to track down the Venezuelan Embassy to get visas.    This was quite an adventure.    Although it looked close on the map, of course, it was a long way and all uphill again.   We finally arrived after going down several wrong roads and being sent in various different directions by people we asked on the way.   We were somewhat hot and sweaty.   Then we were told we needed passport photos (OK, we should have phoned first!) and had to go back to town to get some (luckily we found a bus).   Then we took the bus back up to the Embassy to fill in the forms.   "Now you have to pay in the fee to the bank in town".    "Aargh", we thought (and said), "why didn't you tell us that when we went to town for the photos?".   Apparently they had to check the forms first before giving us the bank form, perhaps to see if our handwriting was neat enough?  So, back to town on the bus, an hour in the bank, back to the Embassy on the bus to hand over the receipt.   "Come back tomorrow for the visas."    Another bus back to town, a 24 hour wait, another bus back to the Embassy and we finally had our visas......   


Carenage, St. Georges, Grenada.


We spent a few enjoyable days anchored at St. Georges, running errands and sightseeing.    The Carenage (see photo) is St. Georges' picturesque waterfront.   Unfortunately a couple of weeks before we arrived, a serious fire had destroyed a whole city block, including some historic buildings but the Fire Brigade managed to save the adjacent National Library, luckily.

We blew the budget during our stay due to the convenient chandleries and the novelty of having access to well-stocked supermarkets again.    We were even able to purchase "Tesco" products in one of them!   We also enjoyed the lively fish market on the sea front and the meat market, where the vendor, Sadam, asked if we were Americans.   We replied, "No, we're Welsh", to which he responded, "I'm sorry I don't understand"!   Hmmm.


In the interests of putting as much distance as possible between us and the shops, we decided to relocate to Mount Hartman Bay, a secluded and sheltered anchorage on the south coast of Grenada.   

After several attempts at anchoring there on arrival, we were thirsty and delighted when our neighbours came by in their dinghy to make sure we knew that "Happy Hour" started in five minutes.   On arriving at the bar, in world-record speed, we were introduced to the well established and friendly community of yachties from Mt Hartman Bay   Almost immediately our names were added to the list for the minibus island tour, organised for the following week.....


Spice Drying Trolleys at Dougalston Estate Spice Plantation.



Our island tour, together with nine other "yachties", John (bus driver), Darius (bus owner and tour guide, unfortunately blinded in an accident) and Glenroy (bus conductor) firstly took us to the somewhat under whelming "Concord Waterfalls".    Next stop was far more interesting, the quaint Dougalston Estate spice plantation, where the traditional methods are still used for processing spices.    Some are dried in the sun, on large rail mounted trolleys and the nutmeg is dried in the large attic, home to many roosting bats.   The heat given off by the nutmeg was incredible, it's a wonder the bats aren't roasted alive!

From the plantation we went on to the Nutmeg Farmer's Co-operatives' nutmeg processing plant in Gouyave, to see what happens next to the dried nutmeg (and how the bat droppings are removed!).   Grenada is the world's largest producer of nutmeg and the whole process of preparing the nutmeg ready for export is very time-consuming and labour intensive, despite recent modernisation.

Of course all this education worked up an appetite amongst the cruisers and Darius took us to the Mount Rodney Plantation House for a delicious local lunch in beautiful gardens with a fantastic view over to the smaller Grenadine islands.    The Plantation house was located close to Sauteurs, named in memory of the last remaining Carib Indians on the island, who hurled themselves into the sea and committed suicide, rather than be captured by the invading French!

Our tour guide at the Spice Plantation, showing her best photo pose!



After a short siesta on the veranda of the plantation house, relaxing in hammocks and comfy chairs, we were off again, this time to a rum distillery, where the traditional methods of rum production are still in use and the process has not been modernised, River Antoine Distillery.   Unfortunately repairs were being carried out with vast quantities of concrete (must add to the flavour!) and we weren't able to see the sugar cane being crushed using power from the large waterwheel but the whole distilling process was explained to us in detail.     The most amazing thing about the place was firstly that it worked at all, that the rum wasn't full of midge and mosquito corpses and that anybody would want to drink it!    We sampled the product and immediately felt like our mouths were turning inside-out, it was so strong!   A couple on the tour, who had a boat with an old paraffin stove told us that they bought some to light their stove as it smelled better than the lighter fluid!   The rum is popular on the island though, all the distillery's production is sold on Grenada and in some cases it is made even stronger and sold as "Under the Counter".   

Our next stop, "The Grenada Chocolate Factory" was a complete contrast to the distillery, a small but extremely modern, solar powered factory.   Sampling their delicious chocolate products at least soaked up some of the rum's effects!

View from Mount Rodney Plantation House (best view we've ever seen through a toilet window!)



At this point our tour become very strange as the bus owner and driver fell out over something and the bus driver quit on the spot, leaving us with a bus with a blind tour guide and a young bus conductor, Glenroy, who hadn't yet learned to drive.   Luckily, James, an American on the tour, volunteered to drive and did extremely well, despite his unfamiliarity with driving on the left in a right-hand drive bus, roundabouts and the Grenadian driving style worsened more by having twelve back-seat drivers.    Bye the time we were back at the dinghy dock, he drove like a local bus driver and had perfected the rules for when and where to toot the horn (mostly as often as possible, everywhere you can).   Thanks for getting us home James!

By now we were keen to get down to Venezuela and get the work done on the hull.   We decided to leave on Thursday night, however our determination was so strong that on the way back from Happy Hour on Wednesday night after running all necessary errands during the day ready to leave, including purchasing the anti-fouling paint to use after the sandblasting, we decided we were having too much fun in Mount Hartman Bay and decided to stay on another week to see the carnival in St. Georges and leave after Christine's birthday.   Somehow it seemed more appealing that the boat yard in Venezuela!


Who should we bump into (at Happy Hour of course!) but Gordon, our Welsh friend from Antigua and his new Columbian wife Eliana.   It was great to meet her after hearing so much about her and she was very patient with Christine's ropey Spanish.    They're heading back home to the island of Margarita, Venezuela, so we'll be able to meet up with them again there and pick Eliana's brain for local knowledge, great!


Luckily Christine's birthday was close to two other yachties' birthdays and a leaving party was also required for a departing guest.   Naturally a party had to be arranged at the nearby luxurious Secret Harbour Hotel.    A delicious barbecue and pool party was going swimmingly when Carolyn, a Canadian party-animal, apprehended a passing carnival band and dragged them back up to the hotel to join in the fun.   Couldn't have had a party like that back home.....

We had to pace ourselves as the next day was the outing to watch the carnival parade in St. Georges.   We had a great spot in the Tropicana restaurant in time for the procession start time.   Of course carnival parades have their own time zone, so we had a long wait but it was worth it.......

Birthday Party and a half!


Selection of views from Grenada Carnival Parade in St. Georges.

In the foreground, Frederica, who is more normally seen controlling the drunken hoards at Happy Hour in the Rum Squall Bar in Mount Hartman Bay.

Our plan to leave for Venezuela was delayed again, when our engine starter battery decided it's life was up.    As the majority of our domestic batteries were about 8 years old, we decided the time had come to replace them all.   The fact that they lasted so long was astounding to everyone we spoke to and a sign of how well Phil looks after them.    Anyway, we replaced the lot, which was not easy by dinghy at anchor.    All the new batteries had to be ferried over and winched aboard and the old ones taken ashore for removal by the Grenadian Waste Management Authority, who kindly came to collect them.   Luckily the new batteries managed to fit in the space from the old ones, with some only some slight adjustments.

So we decided to leave for Venezuela on Wednesday 21st August and headed over to nearby Prickly Bay to check the weather and clear out of Customs and Immigration.    On the walk back to Hartman Bay we noticed the unusual white horses out at sea and more or less decided not to leave, as this didn't seem to correspond to the weather information we had.    We headed back to Anju to have a closer look at the weather reports on our PC. 

No sooner had we switched the PC on than the wind swung around to the south west, a very exceptional direction for that part of the world.    This meant that waves were coming straight into the bay, which is normally very protected.  

Within minutes a small storm cell hit the bay, with winds gusting up to fifty five knots.    Bedlam ensued in the anchorage.   All the boats were anchored with easterly winds in mind and several began to drag and others to swing very close to their neighbours.    A powerboat next to Anju dragged and ended up across the bow of a sailing boat, losing their davits (dinghy hoist) in the process.     George the local boat minder came valiantly to the aid of the owners and helped them untangle themselves.    

A boat upwind of us dragged on to the boat directly in front of us and we were next in line!    Our engine was already on in case our anchor lost its grip and we needed to motor forward to take the pressure off and we watched anxiously as the people aboard and again the valiant George, fought to untangle the boats from one another and secure them again.   Unfortunately the first boat dislodged the other's anchor and for several minutes had to take it in tow, as nobody was aboard, whilst they re-anchored and re-secured the other one.   Several of our neighbours' dinghies flipped upside down, leaving the engines in the water and we struggled to add additional lines on to ours, which was tied to the stern of the boat.


Another sunny day in paradise?

As suddenly as the violent weather had started, after about an hour everything went quiet and calm.    Despite a bad gut feeling that this may only be the "eye" of the storm, we reheated last nights Spaghetti Bolognese for lunch.     We certainly should have gone with our instincts as, no sooner were we sitting in the cockpit eating off our laps than the stormy weather returned, even more ferociously than before.     There was spaghetti everywhere in the cockpit as we rushed to the back of the boat to try and save our bimini (sun shade), which was threatening to take off with all the stainless steel poles attached.    Eventually we were left with no option but to take a knife to the fabric to cut it free from the poles to prevent the whole thing flying down the bay.    What remained was a sad tangle of bent poles but we came off lightly compared to some others and counted ourselves lucky.    A boat anchored behind us ended up aground on mud when their anchor dragged and another in the mangroves at the edge of the bay.    It was heart-breaking to listen to the "Mayday" calls from a boat in Prickly Bay, calling for assistance from the coastguard as they were pounded on the rocks......

So, the next day we checked back in with all the authorities as the weather was still unsettled.     The upside to this was that we had a little longer to socialise with our neighbours before heading off from Grenada.    An evening of dinner and drinks with Philip and Sheila aboard "White Sands" culminated in a display of acrobatics by Phil when he somehow ended up upside down in our dinghy whilst climbing aboard.    He maintains of course that he slipped but other onlookers thought maybe the liquid hospitality aboard White Sands was partly responsible!    This, apparently is a regular occurrence aboard "White Sands" and Phil came off lightly as one of their previous dinner guests had an unscheduled swim at the end of the night.   One of the hazards of cruising!

We finally left Hartman Bay and all our friends there on Monday 26th August for an overnight passage to the "Los Testigos" islands, off the coast of Venezuela.

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