Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bequia to Grenada July 2006

Bequia was delightful, a large anchorage, much easier than it appears on the charts. Check in was very easy, 70 EC for 7 days. The small town is easy to walk, and has a selection of small stores, chandleries and restaurants.
One of our more interesting hikes was across the island to the Turtle Sanctuary. It was very interesting, the owner Mr. King has been trying to save the sea turtles from extinction for the past 11 years. He finds the baby turtles and raises them in pools, protected from predators for about 5 years and then releases them back into the ocean. He has released over 800 turtles. This is a long process, since turtles don't lay eggs until they are 25 years old. But this spring, he had not been able to get any baby turtles, so he is concerned.
This is carnival weekend in Bequia (June 25th) Since we are anchored right off the town, just north of the main channel, we can enjoy the music and parade right on RAFT. The music and parade started about 4 am and lasted until early morning. It wasn't really much of a parade, but the local Bequians were having a good time, dancing, shouting, and imbibing to their loud music. They call it "jump up"
In brisk 20-25 knot easterly winds we had a great sail to the Tobago Cays, anchoring behind the horseshoe reef by mid afternoon. The Cays were everything we expected, very beautiful, an incredible reef that protects the anchorage, allowing the winds but not the waves to sweep in from Africa. We also we fortunate that this late in the season we only had about six or eight boats to share the anchorage with. Bev did do some snorkeling, but with the brisk winds and accompanying big seas, didn't get to do the horseshoe reef.
As things were not expected to settle down, we decided to head to Salt Whistle Bay and duck into the lee of Mayreau Island. This is another gorgeous anchorage, with beaches on both the eastern and western side to explore. The local beach bar is unique, with circular booths whose construction technique is similar to a fieldstone fireplaces. Obviously built to withstand a hurricane!
And speaking of which, it is now July, and we are getting anxious to get further south. Although nothing yet is predicted, we checkout out of the Grenadines in Clinton, (couldn't anchor in harbour, too rough so picked up a mooring ball) Cost 64EC including 13EC for overtime charges Then we had a great sail down to Hillsborough, Carriacou where we anchored off the commercial dock to check in. Luckily for us there was a commercial ship in, so customs and immigration were available, cost 50EC for cruising permit and 40EC for overtime charges. Would have been better if we had travelled on a weekday. A quick tour around Hillsborough showed us nothing is open on a Sunday and everybody goes home. Fortunately the ATM was working so the trip to town was not a complete loss. We up anchored and sailed on to Tyrrell Bay where we found about 40 boats in this lovely anchorage.
We have been investigating Carriacou, as a possible place to spend the hurricane season. Carriacou is a small island, about 13 sq. miles, about 20 miles north of Grenada. There are about 1000 people living on the island, and it is not a tourist location. Most of the boats are with us in Tyrell Bay, on the south west corner of the island. We hadn't considered staying here, until we met some other boats who have, and will, and they kept singing the praises of the island. It does have a fantastic hurricane hole, and Ross got a tour of it, with one of the other boat skippers who was here for both Ivan and Emily and came through without any problems. All the boaters work together, when there is a warning, to get the boats into the "holes", and secured to the mangroves. We are certainly hoping we don't have to experience this, but it is good to know that there is quite a system in place here. It also is a very friendly and safe island. But there isn't a lot to do, you can easily walk from one side to the other, which we have been doing. There are lovely beaches and you can swim in the harbour where we are anchored. We are still investigating our options.
But from now on, the weather is our prime concern, and much of our day is spent getting, listening to, and discussing what is happening, and how it will or won't affect us. Its payback time for living in paradise. Our morning starts at 0630 listening to Eric out of Trinidad, then 0700 Chris Parker and then 730 we can get the weather from the Grenada Cruiser Net. After determining that there is no imminent or coming "bad stuff" we can get on with our day.
We are rediscovering what "living on a boat" as opposed to travelling is all about. We decided we wanted to meet some of the local people, and thought maybe we could do some volunteering. We visited the library, tourist information people, and the Ministry office, really wanted something with adults, literacy, environment ie clearing nature trails or (re)building homes. What was offered to us was helping at a Youth summer program. We went for 2 days, but it wasn't what we what to do, and certainly not every day. They have 120 kids aged 8-16 and are trying to run summer school in the morning and games in the afternoon. But they have no equipment, and no organization and the teachers (and it is run by professional teachers) spend most of their time lining the kids up, Ross calls it "queuing up", and trying to get the kids to be quiet. We will try again when we move down to Grenada and check out the "doing something" opportunities there, it is a larger island, 100,000 people.
We had a wonderful downwind sail from Carriacou to Grenada, wind and waves on the stern quarter pushing us along, no banging and splashing. Only when we turned the corner at the southwest end of Grenada, to head to the anchorage did we have to deal with the wind on the nose. But that was only for 3 miles and we put the motor on and hammered our way through. We maneuvered our way through the reefs that protect the entrance to the bay, called for assistance one, and then anchored RAFT beside Avalon V, George and Mary out of Trenton, whom we haven't seen since Luperon. It was the first passage in a long time, that the inside of RAFT did not look like a warzone.
Hogg Island is going to be our home for awhile. First impressions are good, a small bay, protected by reefs from the ocean swells, and mangroves around the outside. Mangroves provide fantastic surge control, not reflecting waves back, like you get from hard shores. Plus the mangrove plants are extremely strong, well anchored. If nasty weather should come, we would tie RAFT to the mangroves, which are better anchors than the ones we carry.
Immediately after we had anchored, George and Mary came over to welcome us, have a celebratory drink, and give us the "whats available and where to get it" info for Grenada. They have been here for over a month, but have also spent at least one other summer here. We put RAFT back in anchoring mode, put the foretent back up, put the fuel jugs back up on the deck, drop the dinghy and put the motor back on, and start exploring this new island.