Haul out - Grenada - Grenadines
With the hurricane season coming to a close the temperature at long last started to cool. What bliss to only need the cabin fans during the day and, better still, we felt more inlcined to be active.
We decided to take a local bus up to one of the highest points on Grenada, Grand Etang, and walk back down on a track through the forest. The first mile was fine.
But then the track near enough disappeared; clearly not many people used the path. Wishing we had a machete, we pressed on. By the time we realised that this was going to be a bit more than a stroll, it was easier to keep going than climb back up. After 2 hours but only about a mile in distance, we broke out of the rain forest to find something more akin to a Scottish pine forest.
We arrived back at the boat tired but feeling good that we had exercised some different muscles.
Our next outing was a minibus tour of the island organized by other yachties. We normally prefer to get about using the local bus service but we had heard that the driver of this particular tour had an amazing knowledge of the plants on the island. We did the usual stuff of visiting nutmeg and cocoa factories and a rum distillery.
But by far the best part of the tour was indeed listening to Cutty, the driver, telling us all about the wide variety of plants.
As it was nearly a year since we last antifouled the boat, we decided to haul out Toots once again at Spice Island Marine before leaving Grenada.
The 5 days ashore were hard graft: antifouling, end-for-ending our ground tackle, greasing the Max prop, changing the anodes and a host of other tasks. Most mornings we were antifouling by 0630 hrs to beat the heat of the day; unsurprisingly, each evening we could hardly keep our eyes open by 2030 hrs.
We had planned to sail north to Carriacou as soon as we launched. However, Chris had news that 2 of her cousins (and a group of their family) were visiting Grenada on a cruise ship; we decided to stay to meet up. On the day, Chris rendezvoused with Jane and Jeanette at the Cruise Liner Terminal and brought the party to the bay we were anchored in by local bus. Two dinghy loads later and everybody was on board for an enjoyable day of catching-up on news from home and swimming off the boat.
We sailed north to Carriacou, only staying a few days before heading for Union Island and one of our favourite anchorages: Ashton Bay. Plans for a mellow Christmas Day at anchor in the the bay were scuppered by strong winds and squalls. Boxing Day saw us sailing to Tobago Cays. The last time we had been to the Cays was during the hurricane season when we had a fabulous time snorkelling with the turtles and rays. On entering the reef at Tobago Cays we were disappointed to find it very crowded; well over a hundred boats at anchor. We only stayed one night.
After a 2 night stay at Canouan we had a rough but enjoyable sail to Bequia. Sadly, on our first morning there, we heard on the VHF net that 3 boats had been boarded the previous night (by a swimmer) and valuables stolen. For the remainder of our stay we took extra security precautions against boarding.
For New Years Eve, we enjoyed the Bequia fireworks display and the extra hoots and flares of the other ships and super yachts in the anchorage.
Strong winds and a big swell kept us in Bequia 8 days longer than we planned. By about day 5, in addition to the 25+ knot winds and rolly conditions, we were getting a little tired of the frequent williwaws screaming down off the hills. At the first opportunity, we sailed for St Lucia.
We weighed anchor mid-afternoon and by night fall we were just approaching the north part of St Vincent. As expected, the conditions around the headland were decidedly uncomfortably. By 0200 hrs, the sea had flattened a bit but there was more north in the wind than forecasted which resulted in us being 15 miles to the west of St Lucia. With the wind dying, we started the engine and motored into the coast of St Lucia. Approaching Castries at 0400 hrs, Chris had a busy watch avoiding the numerous tankers and huge cruise liners that were also closing the land. At day break, I took over the watch as Chris crashed out to a much deserved sleep before we arrived at Rodney Bay.
Two days later we took the local bus down to Soufriere to meet up with Andy and Alison who were on holiday from the UK. I last saw Andy, a long-time skydiving friend, 10 years ago; a great way to catch-up again again after so long.
The following day they came up to Rodney Bay and spent the night on board. Chris and Alison were very patient in putting- up with our reminiscing; well, we did have quite a few stories to re-live of our adventures and escapades in our younger years.