Before leaving Grenada we had to get the wind generator fixed and say goodbye to the friends we have made.

Like all jobs on the boat, fixing on the new wind generator didn’t go smoothly. The plastic mount that goes inside the pole on the back of the boat was just too big to fit, so with the kind assistance of Mike from The Buzzard, Marcus and he set off in his small jeep to get the part milled down to size. Taking an 8ft pole to a machine shop, half way up a set of steps had its own problems and when they got there the machinist swore he had taken enough off and it would definitely fit when it was up!…….  ,so after we had fed all the electrics through the pole and connected the wires, we discovered he was wrong and we had to take it all to pieces again.

The next day Marcus made a return trip and we went through the whole process again. People are so generous with their time and help. Hugh just came over for a chat, but willingly mucked in with our neighbour, Anton and we had offers of help from Mike and Ian……. It’s either kindness or they think we’re incompetent! We like to think the former is the case.

Hugh, a couple of beer crates and our neighbour, Anton, helping with the wind gen.

Hugh, a couple of beer crates and our neighbour, Anton, helping with the wind gen.

With a haul on the halyard,  it's up!

With a haul on the halyard, it’s up!

I had the easy job of hauling on the halyard and documenting the event. Across from our antics, the local kids were using the jetty to jump in and cool off!

Swimming from the jetty next to the marina.

Swimming from the jetty next to the marina.

Every weekday morning, at 8.30,I have been doing aqua-robics with about 15 other men and women. It is not only great exercise,  but also a good way of meeting people. A couple of the group are keen painters, but hadn’t touched their brushes for months, so it was decided to have a painting session by the beach bar at 1100 on Friday.

There were seven of us and we all sat and had a communal session, each in our own little creative bubble. I haven’t done anything since leaving Jacarė in July and I’ve never sat in a group to draw or paint, but the tree stump didn’t feel too threatening and I actually found the all female communal experience supportive, rather than intimidating

'The Stump' ....... my inspiration at Friday morning's art session on Hog Island.

‘The Stump’ ……. my inspiration at Friday morning’s art session on Hog Island.

With the wind generator fixed and our month’s cruising permit about to run out, it was time to say goodbye to Grenada and to our new friends……….inspired by the art session and the help and  kindness we had received, I drew this as a thank you. Leaving new friends is the hardest thing about this cruising life.

Our 'thank-you'  card for Julie and Mike.

Our ‘thank-you’ card for Julie and Mike.

……..so we invited Julie and Mike onboard for a farewell dinner and decided to call Tick to join us. We met Tick a couple of Sundays ago and when we got talking, it turns out that he lived in Edenbridge!! Marcus and he know all the same people, but somehow our paths never crossed.

Marcus and Julie enjoying a cold beer.......

Marcus and Julie enjoying a cold beer…….

Tick, me and Mike enjoying a cold beer!

Tick, me and Mike enjoying a cold beer!

Tick now lives in a house that he has built himself and has gone from working with a formula 1 racing team, to growing vegetables and making ‘Tickles Pickles’  for sale in the local shop/bar and enjoying life.

Ticks house on the hill with boat house at the water' sedge.

Tick’s house on the hill with boat house at the water’ sedge.

Tick on his balcony surveying his domain!

Tick on his balcony surveying his domain!

On Tuesday morning, after a trip to Le Phare Bleu,  to check out and a quick call on Tick, we upped anchor and set off for Carriacou.

Contrary to the weather forecast, the winds were on the nose, so we arrived in Tyrrell Bay in the dark. Luckily our friends, Durita and Stamen, were anchored in the bay. We called them up on the radio and they guided us in with their torch! We narrowly missed a tug and two barges that are anchored in the approach, showing incorrect lights, so we were relieved to drop anchor in what we took to be a safe place. Half an hour after anchoring, Stamen arrived alongside and took us over to their boat for dinner. Fantastic!

With anchoring at night, the thing you never quite know until day light, is if you’ve got it right! I rather like the ‘reveal’ after arriving in the dark. It’s like opening a present in the morning, when you step into the cockpit and look around.

What the morning revealed.

What the morning revealed.

At lunchtime on Wednesday we went ashore and the laid back atmosphere on this island hit us immediately. We thought Grenada was chilled, but Carriacou is even better.

The Carriacou welcoming committee!

The Carriacou welcoming committee!

Sundowners bar and the man we were destined to meet in two days time.

Sundowners bar and the man we were destined to meet in two days time.

I took this photo, not realising we would meet this man again. He was a professional diver who, by his own admission, got too hungry for money and ignored the safety rules and ended up with the bends. At the time they said he would never walk again, but a year or so on, he has graduated from a wheelchair to two crutches and now just the one crutch. No longer able to dive, he has opened a drumming and music school, teaching drumming himself and employing other musicians to teach their instruments. He is a remarkable man.

Looking out towards our anchorage.

Looking out towards our anchorage.

This is near one of the dinghy docks we moor at when coming ashore.

Another place we come ashore is by the small boatyard at the Slipway restaurant and bar. On Saturday night, after a couple of practices with Stamen, I made my public debut playing the saxophone! It was a nervy moment, but Stamen is such a great accompanist, he smoothed over any mistakes and made me look competent!

My debut, with Stamen at the Slipway restaurant.

My debut, with Stamen at the Slipway restaurant.

On Monday we took a bus up to Windward.

Windward ferry terminal.

Windward ferry terminal.

Windward is one of the few places left where wooden boats are built on the beaches. It is a hamlet that time has left alone. Above is the ferry terminal with its home built shelter, immaculately clean and used twice a day when the ferry goes across to the the island of Petite Martinique.

Discard / stored conch shells on the ferry jetty.

Discarded / stored conch shells on the ferry jetty.

On the jetty is the customary pile of conch shells. It turns out that these piles are not rubbish, but storage piles. The old shells are burnt and pulverised and when combined with cement and sand, it makes a very strong building material. Meantime they have a certain artistic natural beauty.

The cemetery squeezed in between houses.

The cemetery squeezed in between houses.

Along the street from the jetty is the cemetery. There are very impressive tombstones in what looks like a front garden. They all have the names of the occupants with their ‘Sunrise’ date and their ‘Sunset’ date. There are a lot of Scottish names on the headstones because there were Scottish estate managers, who employed Scottish boatbuilders to carry goods down to Grenada and trade throughout the grenadines.

The names have been passed down through the years and so too have the wooden boat building skills. We went to see this yard, where they are building a 42 foot sailing boat.

The boat yard at Windward.

The boat yard at Windward.

All the work is done by hand and with minimal modern machinery. Each boat takes six months to complete and when it’s ready to launch, the whole community turns up to haul the boat into the water. There is a beach party with food and drink for all and people from all over the island turn up to ‘help’.

Under construction.

Under construction.

Under sail.

Under sail.

Under the deck.

Under the deck.

This was another boat, along the beach, that is being built by one of the guys we met at the boatyard. He said he was just a helper and not a shipwright, but this looks pretty professional to me. It made me realise just what a big job my brother, Chris, took on when he helped reintroduce boat building skills to the islands off west Africa.

Cactus growing on the aft deck of a boat that came to stay!

Cactus growing on the aft deck of a boat that came to stay!

Clearly the reefs, that give Carriacou it’s native name, are not always benign and this cargo ship must have come to grief years ago. It now makes a good home for cactus on the aft deck.

A home with a great view across to Petite Martinique

A home with a great view across to Petite Martinique

It is hard to believe that we are living in the 21st century.

I only hope we tourists can leave it as untouched as we find it.

The local lawnmowers.

The local lawnmowers.

Back to the hustle and bustle of the ‘big smoke’ that is Hillsborough!

There are loads of little shops like this, as well as a couple of small supermarkets. It is said that if you go to all of the shops you will find a bigger range of goods than can be found in the bigger towns on Grenada!

One f the High Street shops in Hillsborough.

One of the High Street shops in Hillsborough.

I don’t think many stores stock these anywhere north of Brazil!!

Haut couture in Carriacou.

Haut couture in Carriacou.

Time seems to be flying by.

We have been in Grenada for almost a month. During the last couple of weeks we have been doing a lot of socialising and getting on with jobs on the boat. We also lost three days as I had a very nasty bout of BPV ( benign positional vertigo). Actually there is nothing ‘benign’ about it! I was poleaxed for the first day, unable to move without feeling as though the boat was spinning and tumbling around and it was not much better on day two, but with the kindly administrations of nurse Marcus, I managed to complete the exercise that gets my middle ear rebooted and by the third day,I was sitting up in the cockpit reading.

Just as Marcus popped his head up to check on the patient, the big catamaran that was moored nearby, drifted gently past, heading slowly but surely towards the rocks. After a hasty call to Ian on Celtic Spray, Marcus was off in the dinghy to prevent the inevitable demise of the cat. Between them, the two little dinghies saved the day and when the cavalry arrived, in the shape of Mike and his 50hp rib, the ‘stray cat’ was secured to a new mooring buoy with no claims for salvage!

Marcus and Ian to the rescue.

Marcus and Ian to the rescue.

With my balance restored to normal, we set off to try and help the locals celebrate Independence Day, but to no avail! St George’s was deserted and there were no buses running out as far as Woburn Bay, so after hitching a lift into St George’s, we met up with Stamen and Durita and stayed the night on their boat in Prickly Bay. 

A back street bar in St George's on Independence Day.

A back street bar in St George’s on Independence Day.

Only a few bars were open and, apart from one truck with a pan band on it, there wasn’t a band or any loud music to be heard………..perhaps they didn’t really want independence!!?? The people who were strolling around all had the national colours on and Stamen wore a Grenadian flag as a bandana and got red, green and yellow beads braided into his hair.

Even the bus conductor was dressed for the day.

Even the bus conductor was dressed for the day.

Celebrating 41 years.

Celebrating 41 years.

On the Sunday morning after a rolly night on ‘Gaia’, we went to hear Stamen play at the Brunch at Whisper Cove and then ferried Durita and Stamen and their two friends from Norway, over to Hog Island to hear a local band that were playing that afternoon. So much for lazy Sundays! It seems to be the only day with a time schedule to keep to!

Ferrying  Stamen, Durita, Sven and Teresa to Hog Island.

Ferrying Stamen, Durita, Sven and Teresa to Hog Island.

The band we were off to listen to are the band we saw play a couple of Fridays ago – FLOM – For The Love of Music – has two brilliant girl singers, acoustic guitar, piano and drums. They set up on the beach bar’s stage, that doubles as the local fishermen’s fish and conch filleting platform during the week. There is no electricity on Hog Island, so the pianist sailed his yacht around from the next cove and moored just off the beach, off loaded all the equipment and ran a power line from his generator to the stage!!

With no Health and Safety to restrict, creative thinking abounds.

A magical afternoon listening to Tammy and Sabrina.

A magical afternoon listening to Tammy and Sabrina.

There was a real festival feel to the afternoon.

The stage in the water. Boat providing power in the background!

The stage in the water.The boat providing the power is behind the pianist!

The girls performing.

Sabrina performing with a great girl guitarist.

The Fishermen's conch shells serve as some support for the stage.

The fishermen’s conch shells serve as a breakwater and give some support for the stage.

Stamen and Durita enjoying the music.

Stamen and Durita enjoying the music.

As the music finished it was time to ferry Sven and Teresa back to catch their taxi. With them on board, a couple of women with a baby asked for a lift to Whisper Cove, so then we were 5.

As we set off from the beach we were hailed by our friend, Hugh. His dinghy motor was playing up, so we took him in tow and dropped him off at his boat on the way to the quay.

Rescuing Hugh.

Rescuing Hugh.

Having dropped the Norwegians off, the women decided they had made a mistake and it wasn’t Whisper Cove they wanted to go to, but Secret Harbour which was in completely the opposite direction!, so back we went into the wind and waves, trying not to splash the sleeping baby.

As it was getting dark by the time we got back to the beach bar, I got Marcus to take over. Secret Harbour lies around a headland with reefs marked by one stick with a garden solar light and a flag nailed to it. He has done the trip twice before in daylight and at night, so I was happy to relinquish the responsibility.

On Monday we decided to move into the marina, just around the corner from our anchorage, to fix on the D400 wind generator. We got Ian to help us as there was a pretty strong wind ready to push us too quickly onto the pontoon. The approach was tricky as you can see from the photo. If you look closely you will see two white buoys just off the land…..we had to come in between them as the boat on the end of the pontoon had two bow lines out under the water! It was a tricky manoeuvre, but we needed to be lying alongside so that we could lower the wind vane pole off the port quarter, to remove the old and replace with the new.

Lying alongside in Whisper Cove Marina.

Lying alongside in Whisper Cove Marina.

Being in the marina and attached to the land meant that we were able to do some stocking up shopping. With all the entertaining we have been doing, the bar was running low! The walk up the hill to the bus stop is a ‘work-out’ in itself, so the ‘noodling’ aqua-robics classes were paying off.

The view from the bus stop is reward enough for the effort.

View across to Hog Island from the bus stop above the marina.

View across to Hog Island from the bus stop above the marina.

Whilst we have been here, we have met some very genuine people who have stories to tell and reasons to be here. Two of these are Julie and Mike on the tug The Flying Buzzard. Julie runs the noodle exercise group every morning at 8.30. She has a Cambridge PHD and is married to Mike, who hales from Devon via Canada. They bought ‘The Buzzard’ from a maritime museum in Maryport, Northumberland, and spent four and a half years restoring it, removing the steam engine and replacing it with a huge Diesel engine and then setting off for Canada via Grenada!? They have been here for four or more years and are definitely PLUs! They have a website -www.flyingbuzzard.com- It’s worth a look to see how much they’ve done to have a working tug to live aboard.

The Flying Buzzard.

The Flying Buzzard.

One night we were passing by with Stamen and Durita in the dinghy when Mike swung his search light on us….. it serves as a ‘tractor beam’…..before we knew it we were onboard and being fed from a huge pot of ‘oil down’ THE local dish. Oil Down consists of a stew of bread fruit, fish or meat, vegetables, turmeric and callaloo, a local spinach type plant. The ‘oil down’ name comes from the coconut milk and coconut oil that the whole thing is cooked in. When the oil is absorbed by the breadfruit and it’s no longer floating on the surface, then the oil is ‘down’ and the meal is ready!
The food was delicious and the hospitality warm, so a good night was had by all.

When we arrive in any new place the first couple of days are spent in trying to get phone cards, sorting out internet access and finding out where to go for food shopping and laundry.
On Tuesday night we were back at the quirky beach bar to listen to Stamen playing with some other musicians. The stage at Roger’s, featured in my ‘first sunset’ photo, is built out of scrap wood and supported on old tree trunks over the sea. After the session finished we all sat around drinking and playing acoustically, so out came my trusty recorder!!

By Wednesday afternoon we were back up to speed and ready to prepare the boat for our first Caribbean visitors……..not a big deal, for any of you thinking of paying us a visit!! With the storm sails and cruising chutes tucked away in the crew cabin or on deck, the forepeak was ready for Louisa and Tim.
They arrived on Thursday and quickly slipped into the social life here with another live music evening at Nimrod’s.

On Friday we decide to put our new crew through their paces and headed up to St George’s Bay. We had a good sail and anchored behind John, one of Tuesday night’s musicians. He came over and before we had finished stowing all the lines, we were off to catch a bus up to Fish Friday. This is a must for anyone visiting Grenada. The small fishing town of Gouyava shuts down one of its streets every Friday and various local stallholders set up and serve traditional fish and vegetable dishes, drinks and put on entertainment.

One of the stalls.

One of the stalls.

Tim buying lobster at Fish Friday.

Tim buying lobster at Fish Friday.

On Saturday, we continued being tourists and took a trip with Cutty, who came highly recommended. We spent five hours with him and learnt just about all anyone could want to know about the flora, fauna and geology of the island as well as getting a potted history! We wanted to see the chocolate factory and the Rivers rum distillery. Both of these close on a Saturday afternoon, but Cutty phoned ahead and they stayed open just for us.

Cottage industry chocolate factory.

Cottage industry chocolate factory.

……neither were working, but we got to see the ‘factories’. The chocolate factory was in a house sized building, but they produce thousands of bars a day ……all dark chocolate from 60 to 100% cocoa some with chilli, some with salt and some with nibs of cocoa.

With the master chocolatier.

With the master chocolatier.

En route, Cutty would stop the bus and reach out to pick a leaf or fruit from the hedgerow and pass it back to us to try to detect what we were smelling or tasting. We identified cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, a cocoa pod and, the main cash crop of Grenada, nutmeg

Nutmeg with the red covering of mace.

Nutmeg with the red covering of mace.

Cutty told us that hurricane Ivan not only descimated the housing on Grenada, but also destroyed 90% of the nutmeg trees. 15 years on and the nutmeg is recovering.

From the chocolate factory, onwards and upwards to the rum distillery. Again the distillery wasn’t working, but we got to see one of the last places that uses water power to drive the antiquated machinery.

The mill race for the 18th century waterwheel.

The mill race for the 18th century waterwheel.

Good old British engineering!

Good old British engineering!

The conveyor for the sugar cane crusher.

The conveyor for the sugar cane crusher.

Rum still in the background with furnace and pressed sugar can for fuel.

Rum still in the background with furnace and pressed sugar cane for fuel.

Part of this living museum

Part of this living museum

It was a delight to do a tour with someone who is so enthusiastic, knowledgable and clearly loves his island.

On Sunday we upped anchor early in order to make it back to Woburn Bay in time for Sunday brunch at Whisper Cove marina. This marina is owned by French Canadians, who know how to bake bread!! All the bread we have tasted to date is rubbery and too sugary, so finding a proper loaf is something to write home about! Our friend, Stamen, was plying piano and a holiday maker, Patty Carpenter, sang. It turns out she’s a professional jazz singer……another real treat!!

Sunday Brunch at Whisper Cove.

Sunday Brunch at Whisper Cove.

After brunch, we headed over to Hog Island and the Bare Foot Beach Bar to give Louisa and Tim another treat……

Sundowners at Roger's Bare Foot Beach Bar.

Sundowners at Roger’s Bare Foot Beach Bar.

To round off the evening we had a small party for ‘night caps’ back on Island Kea. We got out the keyboard and saxophone and Stamen and Tim had a rather bleary jam session.

Stamen and Tim enjoying the moment.

Stamen and Tim enjoying the moment.

Monday was a very chilled day although Louisa, Tim and I did don snorkel gear and swam about to the coral atoll that lies about 200m astern of our mooring. Unfortunately the weather has been quite windy, so the visibility was too poor to see much.
After a tasty local lunch at Nimrod’s we spent a lazy afternoon until it was time to take Louisa and Tim ashore for their taxi to the airport. I believe a great time was had by all!!

This last week has been regatta week, with many true racing machines competing. Alongside the posh regatta is the Working Boats regatta. This is like no regatta we’ve ever seen. The crews ready their boats along the shore, waist deep in the water.

Lining up for the start.

Lining up for the start.

when the hooter goes they all leap aboard and quickly attach the rudder and centre board. We saw several boats leaving a crew member to swim after them and get hauled aboard.

.........and they're off!

………and they’re off!

The boats are true working boats used for fishing. They are built here and on Carriacou and their masts and booms are made of bamboo or in some cases, cobbled together bits from wrecked yachts or dinghies.
The race finishes back on the beach where they started and the aim is to get a crew member to the committee tent first!

Off to register their first position.

Off to register their first position.

There was a real festive feel to the whole thing with stalls and music on the beach and the local police were in attendance……more as a colourful addition than a deterrent!

Policing the beach or just chillin?

Policing the beach or just chillin?

So you can see we are loving Grenada. It’s definitely a place we will come back to on our second time round.