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.
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
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
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!
(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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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