Grenada gets a Do Over

Written by Mia:

So, as I said we didn’t give Grenada a fair chance… and then the stars aligned or refused to and we found ourselves waiting instead of sailing away right after relaunching after the haul out. We are sorry that we will miss the chance to buddy boat with new friends, but there are a few things to take care of first. Spice Island boat yard had to haul us out a second time to fix the bow prop which was broken during the antifouling process. And UPS could not locate one of the two parcels of our order and then they was the after they make the pick up process so convoluted that it took many days to finally get our stuff. In fact, we are now pretty sure it was here the whole time everyone has been searching for it, maybe it was a foot rest or a coffee table?

The details of the why we are still in Grenada don’t matter as much as the lovely treats we got in exchange. We got to spend lots more time with the fun kids boats here, and that is one of our favorite things to do. This included a magical evening on Trismic, catching the tail end of the dinghy regatta, a sail around the harbour for Teo with the big boys and giggles as the kids zoomed by on the new water toys Pierina bought. Plus, Itchy Foot got a 20th birthday present. The lovely, generous family on Nahanni toiled and helped us sew hatch covers, a wind scoop and a table cover. We have had the fabric to do this job for just over a year and it is amazing to have it finished and everywhere I look I admire how fancy Itchy Foot is looking!

The Itchy Foot crew went on an island adventure. We ended up taking five locals buses each with its own flavor to explore the northern part of the island. The buses of Grenada deserve a chapter of their own. The vehicles themselves are like mini-buses and it looks like the drivers own them as they usually have special decoration to show their personality. There are a handful of lines they follow to cover the island, and usually there is a conductor that will take money for tickets and make sure everyone has a place to sit and that the driver knows when to stop to drop off or pick up passengers. Even though the lines are somewhat laid out, the buses will stop anywhere along the way and the drivers are usually happy to divert a bit to pick someone up or drop them off nearby. There seems to be a democracy of sorts going on as the other passengers on the bus are usually consulted if they agree to the diversion. Our trip the northern part of the island gave us quite a different view of this place than we have had in the anchorages we have frequented. There is national pride everywhere you look in the form of everything including curbs, trees bridges, rocks and walls painted red green and gold to match the flag. Also, the billboard advertisements are hand painted and along the way we saw some men painting new ones, with narrow brushes a very careful lettering. The jungle scenes were breath taking and the colorful bustling centers we caught glimpses of from the bus windows gave us more of sense of Grenada than the rest of our time here. The locals loved chatting with Teo along the way and gave us lots of Grenada tips.

The first destination we had in mind was the Rivers rum distillery on the river Antoine. They have been making rum there since 1776 and they are still using much of the same equipment. Winfield gave us a wonderful tour starting with a fabulous view of the wheel that crushes the sugar cane and then it was going through a process of evaporation to make the sugar water more concentrated and then fermented and finally it goes through a heat exchanger to finish the process, bottled when it is stronger than 70 proof. Most of the distilleries have equipment like this but it is kept around only as a museum. This place was still using it and we learned that sourcing replacement parts is one of their biggest difficulties. The tour gave us a great insight into the history of rum and it was lovely to hear the questions Teo had along the way.

Next stop was the Belmont Estate and we were here to see the process to make chocolate! Kelly was our guide here and he was very energetic and enthusiastic. He used to play basketball for the Grenada national team. He took us first through the gardens and we got to smell and taste the herbs and fruit. In their fields all the trees grow together and it is gorgeous to observe. After we had a look at the resources, we saw where they ferment the cocoa beans for six days, one batch at a time, they are turned every four hours. Next we visited the green houses and where they dry the beans for another six days. Then they are roasted and the smallest beans are used to make a drink with cinnamon and mace. The last stop on the tour is where the chocolate is mixed with cocoa butter (oil from the beans) and sugar/milk if desired. Finally it is put to rest for three months, minimum. Not a quick process!

Our trip back took us up and over the volcano which was misty from a torrential rain storm. It was a wonderful way to round off our day of adventure. It was a full day and great treat. And we chatted about our day as we drank lemongrass tea from our herbs after dinner when we were back on Itchy Foot in the evening.

Another treat of our extra time in Grenada has been a few lovely days in the lap of luxury. We made some new friends on a boat called Somewhere when they graciously offered to store our frozen food during our haul out. They introduced us to the University Club which is a slice of paradise in our paradise! It has a gorgeous pool with a shady area and it is a perfect way to spend the day, and by chance they also do yummy lunch and drinks. We have really enjoyed a few afternoons hanging out and chatting and floating with our boats bobbing in the sparkling water beyond.

As it turns out, I got to celebrate my birthday with these lovely people too. In the morning I was spoiled with bagels for breakfast and presents and cards. Sta Vast left a package for me way back in March! And so many friends made an effort to come around and anchor near us. Drakkar even came back from Carriacou and fished on the way so they brought us tuna they caught. We had a beach party with sushi and rum punch and brownies and cake. I love the hand made cards and gifts like loom band bracelets and yarn dream catchers that this lifestyle brings with it! The evening brought half price pizza and ladies night dancing at the brewery. It was a fabulous day!

And then we caught a glimpse of the “Camp Grenada” we have heard so much about. First, all five families were anchored in Prickly Bay and we spent another lovely social evening aboard Trismic before they went home to Canada for a bit. And one afternoon as we were paddling around and had a swing on the spinnaker pole, we were joined by another family boat called Mahia, a great Australian family with three boys. Everyone had a close eye on Irma and in her wake we had different weather in Prickly Bay and it got bouncy so we all moved around to anchor off Hog Island. With all the boats anchored in swimming distance we fell into a lovely rhythm. The kids I’d some boat school in the morning and had the afternoons to themselves. They explored the island all on their own and came back exhilarated, chattering of their base and all the excitement that comes with real freedom. The older kids always look after Teo and he comes back to the boat right before dark with tons of stories to tell us. They have a row boat and handheld radio and show such responsibility. We have become really close to these families with the ladies walking most mornings and hosting various social afternoons. The crew of Itchy Foot were quite touched by the lovely cards and gifts for Teo as we prepared to leave for Bonaire. We will carry these friends with us in our hearts and hope to see them again soon!

Bonaire trip – day two.

Written by Jon:

Everyone was a bit sleepy today. Teo woke early as he was hungry for staying up too late, and then couldn’t get back to sleep. And Mia and I aren’t into a new sleep pattern yet, I suspect we’ll just get into a rhythm when we arrive, as is the way with short passages like this.

Other news, the sailing has been good today, enough wind and a nice downwind run for most of the last 24 hours. The only squall was earlier this morning and wasn’t much more than 20 knots of wind and some rain. We all had a lazy kind of day today, I tried a little fishing without luck, Mia was fixing clothes with needle and thread and Teo watched a bit of educational TV and listened to an audio book.

Just after dinner the wind died and we had to start e engine, so currently buzzing along on a calmish sea. We’ll see how long the wind is down for, according to one forecast it could be most of the night unfortunately.

Looking over my shoulder I can see the green starboard light of our buddy boat, also motoring tonight. Other than spotting the odd oil tanker on AIS some 40 miles away we’ve not seen any other boats. Which, given the neighborhood, we’re ok with.

That’s all for now.

Grenada to Bonaire – day one.

Written by Jon:

It was only a coupe of weeks ago that we realized this would be the longest passage we’ve done as a family of three. Everything to do with crossing the Atlantic we had at least one extra adult as crew. But we felt good about it and we’re looking forward to the three day trip.

Grenada to Bonaire is about 400 miles, and if you draw a straight line you end up passing right through the middle of some Venezuelan island – Los Roques. Having heard how lovely these island are we were very tempted to stop for a few days on the way to Bonaire. From the cruisers we know who have visited, despite Venezuela falling into dictatorship, these quiet little island far from the mainland are safe and welcoming. Then in the last few weeks I spoke to a cruiser friend who was stuck on the islands for a day or two as the navy wouldn’t grating them permission to leave. It would seem that all pleasure boat travel has been banned in the country and these cruisers were stuck in the confusion. They were allowed to leave I the end and no harm was done, but it left us feeling that we had missed our opportunity and should skip it for now.

Once we were more or less ready to leave we were lucky enough to find a buddy boat going the same way, a nice couple on a boat named Slowdown. And with a good weather window open until Saturday we decided to rush preparations and leave Tuesday noon. And after dealing with immigration and filling up with fuel we managed to leave more or less on time.

The wind was a little light until we got out of the shadow of Grenada but just before the sun set the conditions became good for sailing and are still nice as I write this shortly after midnight. The moon just came up, the sea is fairly flat and we have 10-12 knots of wind sailing dead downwind with a poled out genoa. This gives us and easy if slightly wobbly way. Mia is sleeping and Teo crawled into bed with her a couple of hours ago, he tries to keep pappa company but I managed to pursued him to go get cuddles from mamma.

I’ll wake Mia around 3am to rake over as I sleep until hopefully 8 or 9 in the morning, on sofa as it is very comfortable and within shouting distance if Mia wants help. At which point Mia will have a bite to eat then go crash out for a coupe of hours. I’ll usually get a coupe of hours nap in the afternoon too. And so it goes for the next three days!

No photos of share as we are sending this via Satellite phone. Sorry!