Passing back Through Carriacou

[Standard disclaimer: at the time of these adventures, there was effectively no COVID in Grenada.]

We jumped at the chance for a calm northbound sail, and made it most of the way to Carriacou before the wind shifted north and we had to motor.

We had intended to go straight to the islands on the southern side, but as we were arriving late and expecting some wind, we figured we’d drop anchor in Tyrell Bay rather than weaving our way into an unknown, shallow anchorage in the dark. And we were glad we had, because that night, we got a nice big squall with 30 knot winds gusting to 40. We had maybe not done the best job anchoring, since we’d arrived right at sunset and been swarmed by mosquitoes. Even so, we were a bit surprised when we started to drag for the first time in two years.

Jazz had just gone to bed, but she popped right back up when I said the word “dragging”. We started the engine and held ourselves off the boat formerly far and now close behind us, while we waited for the wind to die down. After what felt like days but was probably more like half an hour, it settled to a more reasonable 15-20 knots. And we pulled up the anchor, looped around, and dropped at the back of the anchorage. We would later hear that several other boats had dragged, and one boat had even dragged (but not broken) their mooring ball.

The weather continued to be rainy and gross, so we delayed our island trip, opting instead to catch up on blog posts and send our laundry out.

Near us at the back of the anchorage were a cluster of fish traps. We were pretty disappointed to watch the local fishermen collect a couple of parrot fish out of the trap nearest to us. You’re not supposed to eat these fish, as they’re super beneficial to the health of the reef. Doubly so when they’re small. I know people have to eat, but, sigh.

We eventually headed over to Saline Bay as a day trip, and we were not disappointed. It’s a lovely area, which means Dear Reader gets drone shots.

Probably the highlight of the trip was snorkeling the reef you see in that last drone photo. There’s a good bit of current, and we took the guidebook’s advice and brought our dinghy along for a drift-snorkel. When we first got to the reef, we found dead coral, and we worried that that would be the story of the trip. But as we drifted, we started to see more fish, and then eventually, some live coral.

We had a pleasant motor-sail back around the corner to Tyrell, passing the aptly named Mushroom Island.

We picked up our laundry, and were disappointed to find much of it wet and smellier than we’d dropped it off. And with new stains, to boot! As with every boat task, if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself…

At least it was folded?

In the evening, we met up with some cruisers we’d met in Luperon, Brian and Regina from Island Pursuit. The periscope shot is me trying to find their boat; Jazz was amused that I don’t have to leave the boat for this. We went out for “open mic and curry night” at Barakena, which turned out to mean there was a reggae cover band and the local food had a bit of an Indian flair. It was a good time, despite the white guy with dreadlocks singing Bob Marley’s greatest hits.

After another day of rain, we motored around the island to Hillsborough to celebrate Halloween. Pumpkins were not available, so we carved potatoes and lemons while eating entirely too much candy and watching the traditional Halloween movies.

In the evening, we threw on our costumes, despite there being no evidence that anyone else would be celebrating. Snagg’s, which had promised live music, also yielded a full moon and some new South African friends. And we chatted until it was time to dance, and then danced until it was time to work our way back to the dinghy dock.

November 1st was rainy, and we acted accordingly.

The next day the sun came out again, and we hopped on a bus for Windward to walk off some of our mounting pre-election anxiety. The nominal tourist draw to the town is the traditional boat-building, but that didn’t seem to be happening. In fact, not much was happening at all, but we still enjoyed a walk along the one street. In the last photos, note the bottle attached to these plants. Why? It made us miss the efficient bottle returns in St Vincent.

Back in Hillsborough, we stopped into a beach-adjacent local place for lunch. The menu, as is typical, consisted of a wide range of options printed on the board outside, and then the proprietor saying “I have chicken, lamb, and lambi” (the last being the local name for conch). I think this plate nicely typifies local cuisine: bone-in chicken, three kinds of carb, a green salad, and stewed calaloo. Also, is Christmas early or very very late?

We walked back to town along the beach.

The walk includes a pass through a churchyard, as a rock wall blocks the beach, and a nice gent leaned out of the window to give us directions unprompted. Once back in town, we stopped to get me a haircut. Of note: all the TVs in this country still have the stickers on; we don’t know why.

For election day, we retreated to the aptly named Sandy Island. This strip of sand apparently used to have foliage, it all got destroyed in a hurricane, and then locals replanted the palm trees you see now. It’s tiny, but pleasant. The snorkeling is supposed to be good, but there was too much wind and chop when we were there for that to be pleasant.

Then we got back to the boat and had this lovely interaction with one of the guys we’d met on halloween. We’d stopped by their boat the previous day to buy some moonshine, feeling a little pressured about it but figuring it was a gesture of friendship and wouldn’t it be cool to be able to share “made-aboard moonshine” with future friends. We definitely had not talked about them visiting our boat.

In my defense, these people do charters, and I thought I was doing them a favor in specifically telling them how they’d made me unhappy. And maybe I was a little harsh… but this kind of contempt for young people is super prevalent down here, where almost everyone we meet is retired. It’s almost refreshing to see it out in the open, but it still kind of hurts.

Wednesday, we took a final look at the wind forecast, and brought the boat back to Tyrell Bay to get COVID tests. Carriacou only tests on Monday and Wednesday, and it takes “3 days” to get results. Meanwhile, St Lucia requires tests be no more than 7 days old, and the trip there takes us two days. So picking a test date means gambling that the wind window will hold.

With our noses freshly swabbed, we went out to dinner with our friends from Island Pursuit, who introduced us to two other boats of lovely people. With our ears still ringing from that previous interaction, it was nice to be reminded that there are good, kind people in the world.

Our wind gamble looked to be paying out, so had a last lunch overlooking Tyrell bay, said goodbye to some new friends on Millennial Falcon, and checked out of the country. On our way to Customs we got a nice reminder of why we don’t swim in crowded bays.

For our last night, we sailed up the coast to Anse La Roche. This is a lovely little bay, and we had a great time walking on the beach…

..and taking a quick snorkel. Highlights: a big porcupine fish, huge schools of tiny fish, and some sea urchins. Less nice, while there was some live coral, there was also a lot of bleaching and algae takeover, as well as piles of discarded conch shells. As we went back to the boat, we were surprised by a pair of what were either Manta or Devil rays. Either way, our first time seeing them, so we were excited and you’ll have to forgive our bigfoot-quality pictures.

To cap it off, we had our last meal at Tim’s Barbecue, with a view out to the sunset over our boat. Lovely.