Ship's Log


October 18th, 2011 - Woburn, Grenada PART III*:

After our gift of an evening between the Pitons, things just got better.  With St. Lucia behind us, we were actually able to use the wind to help us along.  It was still south of east, but we were headed more directly south, giving us a useable angle.  For the first time in ages and ages (years, maybe?), SARABANDE's bow sliced through the waves at 5-7 knots all day, purely under the power of her sails!  



The hardest part is behind us now!


We breezed past St. Vincent and had the best sail of our lives winding through the little island gems of the Grenadines, reveling in the 18 knots of wind on our beam and smooth, turquoise seas.  The boat performed as never before, and all three of us cheered when we overtook another sailboat, probably about forty years younger than SARABANDE, and with fancy, space-age racing sails up.  Perhaps their engine was on and stuck hard in reverse, or maybe they were towing submerged tractor tires, but whatever the case, it felt good to serve up a little bit of wake from our classy old lady and breeze on by!



The gorgeous water in Admiralty Bay, Bequia




This collection of dwellings is known as "Moonhole".  They're living quarters built in the psychedelic '60s and '70s
that incorporate whale bones, rock, wood, and the land features around them.  Groovitude!




Just off Palm Island, approaching a local wooden sloop.



We had full sail up, but it still took quite a while to overtake them.  
That little boat was fast, fast, fast!


By the time we were sailing along the lee of Carriacou, the (relatively) big island of Grenada was finally in sight and we relaxed more and more.  The hard, nagging questions that echoed through our minds in the beginning of the trip had been answered by now:  could we make this trip safely with a baby?  Would we be hit by a storm on our way down?  Was our boat up to the task?  We watched the sun go down from Tyrell Bay and marveled at the luck we'd been blessed with on our trip down island.  Little James is a born sailor, the weather had gone from crappy to fabulous, and our boat had maintained her sterling record of keeping us safe, snug and moving.  



A handmade Carriacou ketch in Tyrell Bay.



Almost there!  Laying eyes on Grenada at last.

The next day seemed endless; we had a lot of distance to cover, and the powerful currents that swirl and eddy through the stretch of water between Carriacou and Grenada are legendary.  The wind was steady but our speed was erratic as SARABANDE fought her way through, and though the scenery was really quite interesting at first, after several hours of looking at the same giant rocks, our enthusiasm was waning.  A ferocious west-setting current put us a little too close for comfort to the underwater volcano known as Kick 'Em Jenny, which lurks around 450 feet below the surface just to the north of Grenada.  Kick 'Em Jenny occasionally burps out giant, boat-swallowing bubbles of volcanic gas, and in 1939 she spewed house-sized boulders over 1000 feet above sea level.  Did we only imagine the smell of sulphur in the air when we realized the current had pulled us almost right over the volcano?  We don't know, and prefer not to think about it too much.  Anyone planning to follow our tracks and sail to Grenada:  leave yourself way more room than you think you'll need when you get close to Kick 'Em Jenny!  

After the suspense of sailing over a volcano, the relief of finally nosing into the gentle lee of Grenada at last was enough to make us sing and dance around a little bit.   We oohed and ahhed over the green beauty of the island's rainforested mountains, passed the bustle of St. George's waterfront, and motored around the island's southwest corner just as dusk was falling, plunking our anchor down in Prickly Bay.  The process of backing down on our anchor, cutting the engine and turning off the navigational instruments felt like flopping back into a huge, puffy Lay-Z-Boy recliner and popping our feet up.  No more go, go, go all day long!  No more Q-flag living, confined to our boat!  We'd arrived!  The next day, we'd check in with customs and explore, buy fresh food, and meet new friends!  There was more dancing, although the style was much slower, as we were all pretty exhausted.  



Our first Grenadian sunset.


Within only a few days, Grenada really began to feel like home.  For one thing, there are hundreds of cruising boats anchored here, and we know a bunch of them.   We're so happy to have reconnected with Fred of DREAM, another neighbor from our New Jersey marina who fled the bubble life, who also happens to be one of the sweetest fellas you can hope to meet.  The huge yellow hull of ESSENTIAL PART, a familiar sight since the Bahamas, was also here to greet us.  Jerry and his toy poodles on POCO LOCO, another boat we know from way back, has set up shop in Clark's Court Bay.  We were delighted to spot ISLAND TIME and SANCTUARY, both had been friendly neighbors of ours in the mooring field back in St. Thomas.  And it wasn't long before we came across Jen and Ryan of SANDY DREAMS, whom we'd met briefly back on Water Island, and now have had the pleasure of getting to know a little better.  Turns out they're Brian's fellow Okies, and they may be headed back to St. Thomas in the fall like we are.

We've also been lucky enough to meet a cool crusing couple with whom we had a lot in common, Scott and Brittany of RASMUS.   Brittany had emailed us out of the blue just before we left St. Thomas, professing to be a longtime reader of our site since she and Scott considered a Pearson Countess when they were shopping for cruising boats.  They had long since purchased a cruising boat (a beautiful Halberg-Rassy) and left Chicago to go cruising, and they're hanging out in Grenada for the hurricane season, and we made plans to hang out when we arrived.  As we hopped our way down, we emailed back and forth a little more, and Brittany told us that she and Scott were expecting!  Well, now we had a whole lot to talk about!  We dropped anchor and hung out with the RASMUS crew soon afterwards, and they are as cool as we'd hoped they'd be.  It's always such a treat to meet cruisers close to our own age to play with, and Scott and Brittany are especially fun since we all have the same goofy sense of humor.  Early this spring, there'll be one more crazy boat kid in the Caribbean, and another set of cruising parents for us to compare notes with - hooray!  They've definitely got the chutzpah it takes to sail with an infant.  Cheers, RASMUS!  Check out their fabulous blog at www.windtraveler.net.



Incredible Grand Anse beach near St. George's in Grenada.  A short bus ride from our anchorage!


As is usually the case where hundreds of cruisers convene, the sense of community amoung the boaters is strong here on the south side of Grenada.  The 7 AM morning net on the VHF usually runs for the better part of an hour, packed with announcements for group sightseeing tours, theme nights at the waterfront bars, weather warnings, and the occasional bickering and gossip that's par for the course wherever people gather themselves.  Movie nights, cooking classes, volleyball, Mexican Train dominoes, yoga classes, pizza parties, sightseeing tours - if group activities are your bag, you need never have an idle hour anchored in Grenada.  We usually prefer to do our own thing, but it's nice to know those things are out there if we wanted to take part.  




On the hash.  A little damp, but not yet defeated.  

In fact, shortly after we arrived, we did make an attempt to do a "hash", which is equal parts community nature hike, strenous workout, and rum party.  Hot off the success of sailing down island with an infant, we thought that with our trusty Ergo baby carrier, we could at least keep up with the tail end of the pack.  

"People bring infants all the time!  You guys will have a blast," assured Lynn of SILVER HEELS III, the cruiser's hash agent.  Well, we did end up having a blast, but the hash was a bust for us!  Heavy rains had made the seriously steep, rocky course slick with oozy mud, and lacking soccer cleats, it was clear after the first mile that it was going to be all too easy to slip and fall while wearing James in the carrier.  As Brittany and the pack powered forward, it started to rain again, and we sheepishly turned around and began retracing our steps downhill.  A little ways down the path, we met an older Italian couple who had also decided to turn around, and, in broken English peppered with a lot of sign language, we all struck up a lively, pleasant conversation.  On we walked and talked, through gorgeous, barely-tamed Grenadian farmland.  


Mama and James in the banana grove, only slightly lost.

Between the shoulders of two low mountains, we passed through a tropical orchard of bananas, papayas, carambola (aka star fruit), avocado and, of course, nutmeg.  Nutmeg trees are all over the place in Grenada - it's the second largest exporter of the world's nutmeg - and the fruit is quite pretty.  Huge tropical flowers perfumed the air, goats hidden in the undergrowth bleated away, a stream trickled gently along our path, and between the scenery and the conversation, we were soon lost!  A hash trail is normally marked, but heavy rains and the trampling of the crowd had dissolved a lot of the shredded paper that had been strewn to show the way.  With James happily riding on Brian's shoulders, the five of us retraced our steps, found a road, and with the amused help of some locals, circled around to the rum shack that marked the finish line.  We rejoined our group and headed back down the mountain in the tour bus, salving our pride by telling the other hashers of the peacefulness and beauty we'd seen on the more scenic route we'd taken!  On our next hash, we'll come with the right shoes and a kid who doesn't need to be carried!



"You know where you are?!  You're in the jungle, baby!"


James loved Grenada right away.  For starters, there's the bus system.  Here's a popular joke amoung visitors to Grenada that helps illustrate what riding the bus is like:

A Grenadian bus driver and a reverend both die and meet St. Peter at the pearly gates of heaven.  The bus driver gets a warm welcome and a handshake from St. Peter.  "Welcome to heaven," St. Peter says to the driver with a big smile, and sends the him through the gates with a clap on the back.  The reverend watches this and gears himself up for an even more enthusiastic greeting from St. Peter, having devoted a good chunk of his life to the church.  

With a fading smile, St. Peter turns to the reverend.  "Oh, hi.  Come on in, I guess," says St. Peter disinterestedly, indicating the pearly gates with his thumb.   

The revered is insulted.  He whines, "Hey!  What's the deal?  I'm a reverend!  Why were you so nice to the bus driver and not to me?"   (we on SARABANDE imagine the reverend looking sort of like Jerry Seinfeld)

St. Peter sighs and answers, "In church, most people slept through your sermons.  You only got a few of them to pray.  But day in and day out, that bus driver had every single one of his passengers praying."

That about sums it up!  Grenadian buses are boxy vans about the size of a Volkswagon Bus.  There are literally hundreds of these things bouncing all over the roads.  They're all privately owned, and on the most popular route, competition between buses is fierce.  Each bus usually has a "conductor", an agile, hustling young man whose job is to peer down side streets for potential passengers and pack as many human beings as possible into the bus.  The bus driver's job is to manuever around the curvy mountain roads at the highest possible speed, mashing the gas pedal to the floor while blasting reggae or soca music.  Each bus is decorated with a name or slogans by it's owner:  "Deliverance", "D Dude", "Take it Easy", "Betty Deluxe", and one bus had scripture written all over it, verses and verses in tiny lettering.

Add it all up, and the total Grenadian bus package has all the essential components of a great time for James:  speed, music, lots of interesting scenery flying by, and usually, the close proximity of several good-looking Grenadian women.  While his parents pray, James has a grand old time flirting with ladies, pointing at livestock on the roadside, and yelling at people out the window!  



This is a relatively uncrowded bus, giving James a good opportunity to
make googly eyes at yet another Grenadian hottie.  Quite the ladies' man.


If the public transportation in Grenada is colorful, cheap and plentiful, so is the fresh produce.  Oh, the produce!  Most Fridays (the best day to go) we pile into a Number 2 bus from our anchorage in Clark's Court Bay and head to the downtown market in the center of town in St. George.  For the equivalent of a few US dollars, we come back with heaping bags full of beautiful, spankin' fresh fruits and veggies.  Passionfruit, starfruit, wonderful little bananas that taste like strawberries ("rock figs"), papayas, guavas, all kinds of citrus fruits, incredible watermelons, foot-long green beans, cucumbers, cabbages, pumpkins, taro root, kallaloo, and a good deal more.  Across the way, the fish market ladies sell just-caught tuna, wahoo, and swordfish steaks for about three dollars a pound, chopping off each portion from the fish with a sharply-honed machete.  



A typical haul from the downtown veggie market.  Sweet potatoes (very unlike what we call sweet potatoes in the States), bole beans, papaya, cukes, starfruit, mango, grapefruit, melon, passionfruits and lettuce.  Oh, and free-range, organic eggs!

The IGA grocery store in Grand Anse carries several varieties of addictive, super healthy whole-grain breads, baked with love by a rastafari baker ("De Bread Mon"), still warm from the oven and steaming up their bags.  And back at our anchorage, the French-Canadian couple who run the Whisper Cove Marina have an incredible butcher shop, turning the organic, free-range rastafarian cows, sheep, goats and chickens, raised on mineral-rich mountain grass, into the most amazing steaks and handmade sausages (16 different kinds) we have ever had the pleasure of eating!  Humanely-raised organic meat, expertly butchered is one luxury we never thought we'd find deep in the Caribbean.  In short, the fresh food in Grenada is enough to make a person swoon!  We eat very, very well here, and there's nothing like the peace of mind that comes from feeding your child food as fresh and wholesome as this.



Kiddo picks out a snack.  That football-shaped thing is a cocoa pod.  Grenadian chocolate is the bomb.




Behold!  Try following up a steak from Whisper Cove
with one of these guys.  You're welcome!


  
We've also got great things to report about the veterinary school here, St. George's University!  Near the end of August, Louie had his ACL repaired by a hot-shot orthopedic specialist, with another board-certified surgeon assisting, and a dozen or so students observing.  The students took photos and subsequently wrote papers on the renovation of Tannenbaum's bum leg!  Prior to surgery, the staff took several x-rays and ran lots of bloodwork, and the follow-up care he recieved from the clinic was absolutely outstanding.  



Louie and Alicia nervously wait for Louie to be taken back to surgery.  Alicia's worried about the success of the operation,
and Louie's been around the block enough times to know that whatever's coming isn't going to be fun.
James is having a blast tearing up brochures.



Three days post-surgery, out on deck getting some air.  His activity was
severely restricted for about a week, then gradually increased until we were doing regular walks
and controlled swimming.  He was a model patient.  We think he understood his leg was finally getting repaired.


Within a couple of weeks, Louie was walking on the leg again and now it's regaining a lot of the muscle that it had lost while he favored it for so long, which is so, so good to see after all this time.  All signs point to the procedure being a complete success!  The icing on the cake?  For what would've cost about thirty five hundred dollars at your average veterinary clinic in the States (for which you can expect about a 50% success rate), we paid the equivalent of  270 dollars for top-notch, state-of-the-art surgeons and care.  This is the sort of repair that depends so much on the skill of the surgeon, and it's incredible that it was within our means to get Louie's leg back!  We're so glad that we chose to take him to SGU.  Now Louie is well on his way to being able to run on the beach with us again; seems like our prayers have been answered.  We love you, Louie!



Louis Quincy Tannenbaum:  an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast on the mend at last.

So, what do we spend our time doing down here in Grenada, while tropical storms swirl up north?  

Well, having such a young child definitely has had an impact on our cruising style.  Eating out, formerly one of our great pleasures in life, has been all but eradicated - it's just no fun when you have to bolt down your food while you keep an active baby entertained.  And as we learned from the Hash, he's simply too little (and we're too paranoid) right now for a lot of the more active things we did when it was just the two of us.  And then there are the naps to contend with: one mid-morning, and another in the afternoon.  Plus, there's the fussiness that precedes each nap.  And then, of course, between the morning and the afternoon naps, it's the middle of the day, and the sun is at it's brightest and hottest - not the best time of day to go adventuring with a baby, and the local women are very vocal about this.  Harrumph.  Babies sure know how to eat up a day!  Early mornings or late afternoons are left as our prime times to go to the beach, visit friends, take a walk, shop, or go gunkholing.  Narrow windows of time, but we try to make the most of them.  During the heat of the day, we hide onboard and amuse ourselves with intellectual pursuits.   "Such as what?" you may ask.  Well....



Ukelele shredding, for one.  First you've got to tune up.....




Strum a few bars to get the song flowing....



....then slay your audience with some tasty hot licks!  A little ham and eggs comin' at you....



We also sometimes stage artsy photo shoots.



Then there are Alicia's onboard farming experiments.  Here's an improvised sprouting tray made from a paper plate holder.





Plus, the boat's always got something that needs prettying up....




....or repairing!  Here's an exhaust elbow from the generator that packed it in and fell apart (left, just in case you can't tell).  
The new part (right) had to be shipped in from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands via LIAT,
 the Carribean's inter-island fleet of small planes.  Our part got lost under a seat and took a side trip to
Trinidad before finally clearing customs.
 It's boring, but it's a part of our lives.

We're anchored within an easy dinghy ride of Calvingny Island, privately owned by one of the richest men in France.  For something like ten thousand dollars a day, you can rent out the whole island, and it certainly is pretty, if a little contrived.   It's Grenadian law that all beaches are public property, so a lot of time in the late afternoons we head over to enjoy the beach with impunity.  That's our life down here again:  champagne living on a beer budget. 




Calvigny Island.  Nice, right?  This is a publicity photo of the north-facing man-made beach.  The sand was imported all the way from French Guyana, because apparently Grenadian sand just isn't posh enough!



Quality afternoon Naked Time.  On an exclusive, multi-million dollar designer beach.



A nice cooling dip with Pop at the end of a hot day.

We've had two visitors while in Grenada, two visitors we can always count on to be the most even-keeled, adaptable, perfect boat guests:  Alicia's Dad and our lovely, world-traveling friend Kate!  

Kate came ready for adventure, and we took an especially insane bus ride high up into the mountains and trekked a few miles straight up a mountain and into the rainforest to visit Concord Falls.  The bus dropped us off at the bottom of a very steep, roughly paved road, and strapping  James into our trusty Ergo carrier, we began our ascent.

 

2011 Family Portrait, with a huge tree standing in for the dog.

As we walked higher and higher up the hill, the air became deliciously cool, and the views were breathtaking.  Tropical flowers and fruit trees crowded and spilled over into the road, scenting the misty air.  It seemed as though you could taste them on the back of your tongue!  



Brian?  Being goofy?  Never!




Cocoa fresh from the source!

Up and up and up we walked, finally reaching the little tourist stand at the foot of the lower falls.  Although we'd come prepared to swim, the clouds sitting on the peak blocked the hot sun and made us content to wade in the chilly mountain water and eat our simple little picnic of rock figs (Kate's first!), croissants, and water with a pleasant tiredness in our bones from our uphill hike.  The trip back down the mountain took half the time of our walk up, and we were almost sad when it was time to climb back on the number four bus.  Concord Falls was lovely, but it was the trek to them that was the most stunning thing of all!



Kate and Alicia refuse to stick to the rivers and the lakes that they're used to.

Being as big a food nerd as Alicia is, Kate, bless her, was also game for checking out the Laura Herb & Spice Garden, which landed us on another bouncy, scenic Grenadian bus route out to the southeast corner of the island.  It was a sleepy, peaceful place, with winding paths paved with the glossy brown husks of millions of nutmegs, the fruits long ago processed and shipped across the world.  



One great-smelling garden.



Lady feet crunchin' along.

The ladies in our party were thrilled to meet cinnamon and allspice trees, a rare vanilla vine (almost all of Grenada's vanilla was wiped out by hurricanes Ivan and Emily, and the crop still hasn't recovered), ginger plants, and about an acre's worth of fragrant medicinal and culinary herb plants!  Kate cleaned up in the gift shop, and we went home with a pockets full of wonderful-smelling leaves and a greater understanding of some of our favorite flavors.



Ginger plants!




This is a vanilla vine growing on a cocoa tree.  
Apparently, vanilla is a real pain in the ass to grow, hence the price of whole beans.

Alicia's dad was only able to steal away for a couple of days, and so for his visit, we kept things much simpler.  The seas were a little rough, and staying on a boat with a baby is enough of a hardship for a guest, so we hauled up our anchor and headed over to Clark's Court Bay Marina - our first marina stay since Turks and Caicos in 2009.  Shore power!  Fresh water from a tap right at our slip!  Not having to care much what the wind was doing because we were tied to solid ground!  It was such luxury!  Dad mingled with the other cruisiers at Open Mike Night in the marina's cute little bar, and we grilled steaks on SARABANDE.  Our favorite taxi driver, Patrick (aka "Shade Man") took us all on a great tour of the island the next day, and that night, we all tooled across the bay in our dinghy for an amazing lobster dinner at Whisper Cove Marina.  It was a short trip, but we got to spend a lot of time chatting and catching up and eating.  Thanks, Dad!




Shade Man showed us some great look-outs.  That's downtown St. George.



Chillin' with G-Pop.


It's hard to believe our time in Grenada is almost over.  There are still so many things we haven't seen or done yet, and there are so many things that are going to make it hard to leave.  We're savoring the last couple of weeks here before it's time to pack it in, and we know that this is only the first of many visits we'll make here.  Grenada's safety drew us in, but the incredible beauty of the countryside and the sweetness of the people have made us want to stay.  

A big thank you to Kate for supplying the pictures of our trek to Concord Falls!  You're a lifesaver, girl.

Love,
Alicia & Brian



*The purpose of this site is to not only keep our friends and families up to speed on our doings, but also for our own use as a keepsake to enjoy later, after we’ve (possibly) returned to a “normal” life on land (whatever that may mean).  For the latter reason especially, we went into a lot of detail so we’ll remember as much as we can.  For this reason, the account of the trip will be broken into three chunks.  Please indulge us; it’s been a long time since we’ve gone sailing like this!





                                    


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