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Enjoying Piton beer
Salt Whistle Bay
Along the coast
St. George's outer harbor
St. George's Lagoon on left
cont'd. (including St. Lucia, Bequia, Mayreau, Grenada, Carriacou,
Tobago Cays) JULY 9 - AUGUST 22, 2003:
We left Rodney Bay,
St. Lucia, and headed south, staying
one night at The Pitons, St. Lucia. The Pitons are 2 steep and
rather pointed mountains, thus the name, with a small, luscious bay nestled in between
them. It's an absolutely beautiful anchorage, and we plan on returning
next year and doing some land exploration at that time. It is a marine park
and whether you anchor or pick up a mooring ball, there is a sizeable park
fee for a 2 night stay, thus discouraging boats from overstaying their
visit. The pictures I took do not do it any justice.
Incidentally, for the beer
aficionados, the local beer here is called Piton.
We had a sporting sail past St. Vincent. St.
Vincent is a very pretty, desirable island. Unfortunately, it has the
reputation among cruisers as a country of high theft and assaults, so few
cruisers venture there; those that do go in groups.
Next stop for a few days was Admiralty Bay,
(pronounced beck-way) in the Grenadines. Having been there many years
before, we along with Sunrise had to hit Mac's Pizzeria for a
fantastic pizza with a view. It seems that pizza is a popular
eating-out item, and we have had quite a few excellent pizzas along the way
- good enough to rival even Star Pizza in Houston. As we leave Bequia,
we pass Moonhole which is a "housing development". An American
architect built houses out of the natural rock with big arches and patios,
no straight lines, no glass windows, no electricity. His original
house was built under a natural arch known as Moonhole. It was
abandoned when a huge boulder fell from the ceiling and crushed the bed.
Next we head to Salt Whistle Bay,
Mayreau. Having visited here many years ago
by charter boat we have very fond memories. This beautiful bay has a
sweeping half moon beach, with a low lying section that gives an
unobstructed view out to sea.
Ashore, you expect to see the Mad Hatter running around this
whimsical-looking woodlands. The dining area is set out among the
trees and each table is built of stone with a thatched roof.
Unfortunately, as we pulled into the crowded anchorage, there were a few
Puerto Rican type boats partying with loud music and a bunch of kids.
Thankfully, it subsided at dusk.
We make an afternoon stop at Union Island to clear
out of the Grenadines, and then head to Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou (we
will return in a few weeks for the Carriacou Regatta Week) for a night. Carriacou island
is part of Grenada.
We then head to Grenada. On the way, we divert our
course around Kick 'em Jenny, the world's most active and studied submarine
volcano. It has erupted 12 times since 1939, most recently in 1988 and
1989. Even during times of inactivity, it is required (not enforced)
that all boats give it a clearance of 1.5 km. This is because
submarine volcanoes release large quantities of gas bubbles into the water,
even in quiet times between eruptions. This can lower the density of
the seawater above the vent. This is very dangerous to
shipping/boating traffic, because boats entering a zone of lowered water
density will lose buoyancy and may sink!!!
We arrive at St. George's, Grenada and anchor in
the Lagoon. We have
made our destination with several days to spare before Jana's arrival!
We have traveled over 3,000 miles in 4 1/2 months! We straighten up
the boat, buy groceries, do laundry and clear out the aft cabin for her.
Q: So where do we now put the many cases of beer and several cases of wine
that we bought cheap and have in reserve? A: In the salon under/next
to the table.
Jana arrives in Grenada after 18 hours of travel.
There are many nice bays on the south side of Grenada that are big cruiser
hangouts during hurricane season. We are at True Blue Bay (few
cruisers, great bar & restaurant) initially, move to Mt. Hartman Bay, then
to Clarkes Court Bay and back to True Blue Bay for her departure. We meet
many cruisers that we have subsequently met up with again. Jana has
written her guest commentary while traveling aboard ARGO - it follows:
Charter party schooner outside St. George's
The beach walk
Buying vegetables from street vendor
Moonhole rock house
Flamboyant trees are everywhere
True Blue Bay, ARGO
Mt. Hartman /Secret Harbor,
ARGO in center
Mt. Hartman; cool 3-story house built into
side of hill
Jana's Guest Commentary while traveling aboard ARGO in
Grenada, July 2003:
I loved being the first guest aboard
ARGO! I had such a fabulous time exploring Grenada with my Dad & Deborah.
It took me almost no time to adjust to the cruiser’s way of life. I
actually survived life without my watch, cell phone, or car! (Luckily, a
local internet café was available so I could keep in touch via email—I
didn’t say I could do without ALL common luxuries!) The island was
beautiful, and the most enjoyable day we had on Grenada was the 12-hour tour
of the island. I am quite positive that we visited every inch of the island
that day with our guide, Dexter. Another couple, Jeff & Wendy, joined us
for the adventure. We saw most everything that the island had to offer: the
rainforest, the waterfalls, the spice plantation, the nutmeg processing
plant, and more. Dexter filled us in on the island’s history, which was
quite interesting. (If his gig as tour guide doesn’t work out for him, I
suspect he’d be a pretty good history teacher.) We also did local cruiser
things, like the Sunday BBQ at Hog Island and, most importantly, dominoes!
(I might just add in here that I am still the undefeated champion of
dominoes. I welcome any challengers!) We had some great meals too, both
out at local restaurants and onboard ARGO. Chef Steven could have his own
show on the Food Network! Overall, I had a wonderful time and was very sad
to see it end. Every now and then while I am at work, I glance at the clock
on my computer and think, jealously, “I wonder what ARGO is up to right
now”. The best part of it, though, is that I have a small glimpse into Dad
& Deborah’s life as cruisers and can appreciate the love of it. I’m not
sure I could ever commit my life to cruising, but I sure could commit myself
to a nice vacation every year! I hope all of you can make it to a beautiful
part of the world to meet up with ARGO very soon. I know I am counting the
days until I can visit again!
Hundreds of drying racks for
Nutmegs sorted by hand
Nutmeg & mace*, cocoa, vanilla,
Concord Falls, Carib beer in
* Did you know?
Nutmeg grows like a pecan on a tree. The outer soft shell is used in
jams and jellies. The next layer is a red, vein-looking, plastic-like
cover which is the spice mace. Under that is a hard shell which is
used on walkways
as an alternative to bark or gravel. Inside this shell is the actual
nutmeg. Both nutmegs and mace are sorted as to quality, dried and then
sold whole or ground. We grate nutmeg over rum drinks, vegetables,
soups, sauces, etc. Try it for that "secret" ingredient sometime.
St. George's inner harbor
Lunch at Nutmeg's, St. George's inner
View from Fort George
View of inner harbor from Fort George
Lover Boy, a Mona monkey, eating a
mango (cute!) in Grand Etang rainforest
Jana doing her laundry in the Wonder
Wash (doubles as a salad spinner or party drink mixer - only kidding)
Wood work boats
Bob (Sunrise) with Regatta
Our fantastic anchorage. Note all
the reefs close by for snorkeling
Sunrise (Bob & Susan on deck) flying
spinnaker en route to Grenada
Continuing with Jana's description of
our 12-hour tour, I'd like to add that our tour also included: Sliding
down a mud slide to see another waterfall; an "old world" rum factory (the
putrid-looking sludge they skimmed off was enough to turn your stomach and
the totally clear by-product
was something you didn't want to smoke around!); racing down the old airport runway (the driver turns onto
the tarmac and hits the pedal to the metal for the full length - yee-haa, I
almost peed in my pants); meeting Dexter's (our guide) dad; going by
Dexter's mom's house but
didn't meet her because Wheel of Fortune was on and it's her favorite show;
and then went to the "bar" in Dexter's neighborhood which actually was the front
room of his friend's house and happens also to be The Kite Store where we
hung out with his friends and drank beer and watched Wheel of Fortune and
Jeopardy (islanders love these game shows!). Had a "private" lunch
at a wonderful restaurant, Helvellyn, on north coast high up overlooking other islands
and got a very close up look at a Mona monkey eating a mango in the
Helvellyn for lunch; looking north at Carriacou
After Jana's departure, we headed back up
north to Tyrrel Bay,
Carriacou, for the big Carriacou Regatta Week. There we
rendezvoused with Sunrise (Bob & Susan), met up with many boats we
had previously met, and met a whole bunch of new boats we had heard of
through others or on the radio (like Parrothead and Rumrunner
- aren't these great boat names!!!). It started off with a big BBQ
party, with name tags/boat cards pinned to shirt - hey, this is a good
thing. The focal races are the local "work boats" - colorfully
painted wood sailboats used by locals to fish - and race. The
smaller boats start from the beach; larger ones from anchors. Sand
bags are used for ballast, and dumped overboard on the last leg. Race
starts are not for the weak of heart here: Premature crossing of the
"start line" that would have had us crying foul back home; guys hanging on
the stern trying to climb on after pushing the boat off the beach at the
start; numerous near collisions requiring fending off (no cussing heard as
they take it all in stride); dodging water taxis, stupid-ass charter boats (
I can say that now) and miscellaneous boats lollygagging in the middle of the race course (come on
people, don't you know there is a race on?!); a few near misses of the
trapeze guys hanging off the side almost getting smashed into the committee
boat at the finish line, etc. It was quite comical at times.
Big festival day included the greasy pole contest - watching them "position"
the big telephone pole and grease it up on the dock was quite entertaining
in itself - boys run out on a horizontal greased pole and attempt to nab the
two "prizes" hanging from the end of it. Most don't
make it even to the end - in the drink
they go. Harder than you think. Cruisers also have their own
races, but we preferred to watch the local activities instead of racing.
Not that we would ever race our home, but I'm sure we would win. Oh yeh, we had wonderful pizza several times at the Turtle Dove (now run by 2
Italian women) - hey TASS, remember LeRoy?.
Work boats preparing for beach start
... and they're off ...
... oops, "Watch out!" "Fend off!"
Having missed the
Tobago Cays [back to
July 2004] on the way down, we
next head over (north) there with Sunrise. Tobago Cays is a
cruiser's dream: Anchor in clear, shallow turquoise water just inside
of huge Horseshoe Reef providing protection, so as you look out from your
boat, all you see is water. A few small, but tall, islands
(uninhabited, so you must be totally self-sufficient here) with lovely white beaches for exploring, playing and picture
taking. The snorkeling here is excellent with shallow reefs all around
with lots of pretty fish and corals, and so we snorkeled for a few hours
each day. With a group, I reluctantly snorkeled the "Shark Pit",
being told that the nurse sharks usually sleep on the bottom under coral at
mid day. We saw one nurse shark (friendly) swimming past and that was
it. Whew! Another day we saw a big huge sting ray, that was
totally obsessed with feeding on something on the bottom, even when one
brave sole in the group disturbed him, he returned to his exact previous
location. Having had a large
salt water aquarium in Houston, we see so many fish and invertebrates that
we have known and loved ... and owned. It really gets me how they are
in such large abundance here ... and to think how much we paid for them back
Tobago Cays is the very first stop
for many of the stupid-ass charter boats coming out of Canouan.
Typical cruiser response as a bareboat charter boat prepares to drop his
anchor on top of your anchor is: 1) go on deck, "survey" situation and
put hands on hips in disapproval, 2) get on the VHF radio (ch. 16) and
complain to other cruisers hoping the offending boat will hear you and get
the hint, 3) yell out "you're too close, you're too close" and wave
them away, 4) try the "universal" hand signal that your mother doesn't
like you using, 5) get in your dinghy and pay them a visit. If
it's a French boat, you're screwed - they pretend not to know English.
Tobago Cays gave us a chance to use
our custom swim/bathing platform that "brother" Kent designed specially for
Deborah. It attaches to our regular boat ladder and allows for easy
access to the water, and provides a platform for snorkeling items and
bathing. I love it - thanks Kent!
Hemisphere Dancer, Jimmy
Buffett's blue seaplane ("flying boat") with a palm tree painted on the
tail, flew over the Tobago Cays several days. Deborah and Susan (Sunrise)
were mulling over the idea of flashing Jimmy to entice him to land, but
decided the beach next to us with all the topless French and Italian girls made it
pointless. He had also flown over Carriacou during Regatta and has
made appearances in the past, but not this time.
After about a week in Tobago Cays, we head south once
again, stopping for a night in Carriacou (pizza at Turtle Dove a
must), then Grenada to St. George's Lagoon, True Blue and now
Prickly Bay. It's nice going back to a place we've been before as
we're already familiar with the navigation and anchoring issues and don't
have to pour over the Cruising Guide and charts as thoroughly. We will
stay in Grenada for a few weeks, then head down to Venezuela and/or it's
offshore islands (e.g., Margarita) and/or Trinidad and/or Tobago.
With "guide" through the mudslide to
waterfall; holding up fallen nutmegs
Little Dipper restaurant at Clarkes
Court Bay (only 4 tables, with view of ARGO)
New form of boat propulsion
Inside of above boat; note joints are
natural tree branches
Sunrise (center with blue awning), ARGO (to right behind
Shampooing on Kent's invention
Jimmy Buffett's Hemisphere Dancer
transportation around the islands in the beginning was by taxi, which
can be relatively expensive. While in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia we had our
first experience using public transportation - the bus. We took a bus
to Castries, the "city" to check out the market. Since then, we have
used buses extensively in Carriacou and Grenada. The bus is basically
what you would think of back home as the family van, a bit longer though.
It has five rows of seats and has a capacity limit (not enforced) of 18
people. OK, try five rows times 4 per row and you get 20 people.
We've been there done that. Had a friend who said they packed 24 in
the bus - they were literally sitting on peoples' laps. Mind you,
these rows are packed in tighter than an airplane, with 3 tiny "jump" seats,
and some of the ladies down here are substantially sized. Imagine a
cartoon where the jammed-in bus occupants are hanging out the window as the
bus careens around a corner on 2 wheels. That's it!
Buses are made up of a driver, and a
conductor who is a guy riding "shotgun"
style. The latter solicits riders while under way, opens/closes the
door, herds people to the way back of the bus, and collects money. The
driver drives. And does he ever. In all islands, they drive very
fast, and by U.S. standards would be considered reckless and unsafe.
It's like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disney Land on these hilly islands, and I
swear side view mirrors miss each other by millimeters. You don't dare
stick your arm, or worse yet, your head, out the window for the very real
fear of losing it. I've even seen signs telling you not to do that -
duh. But we have never seen an accident, fender bender or injury ...
nor been hit, but it's been close a thousand times. In fact, the
vehicles (buses, taxis and private) don't have scrapes or dents and are in
great shape on the outside. (The inside of the buses may be decorated
with mod vinyl wallpaper and show more wear.) All taxis and buses have
names which are written in 6 inch letters at the top of the windshield.
They have names like Instructor, King Elvis, Perseverance, Defender,
Wild Ride, Just T'n T - kind of like boat
names, you wonder where they come up with some of them. You must be
very careful walking along streets and roads, keeping in mind that they are
driving on the "wrong", i.e. left, side of the road, and zoom by you very
closely. Watch those toes.
Buses are cheap and provide the primary transportation as
most locals do not own cars. We have paid anywhere from approx.
US$0.60 to $1.00 per person one way. They pick you up walking down the
street, and will drop off pretty much wherever you want. And yes, you
are riding with the locals *, which in itself is quite an experience. But you can't beat it for these reasons.
* On most
islands, even English-speaking islands, the locals have their own language,
some of it
kind of a French patois or Creole, that you cannot understand at all.
The Market - each city or town has their own.
The market is typically huge, with both indoor and outdoor crude booths, or vendor
stands. They sell all sorts of local fresh fruits and vegetables,
clothing, flowers and particularly in Grenada, "the Spice Island", a large
variety of local spices ... and watch batteries (yep, finally was able to
get one replaced after much searching up island). There usually is a
section selling fresh fish that they cut up on the spot. What is
interesting is that there are maybe a hundred vendors selling the exact
same stuff. With that much competition within a few blocks, how in the
world can anybody make a living. In that case I'd say location
location location has a lot to do with it. We generally buy fruits and
vegetables at these markets ... and the watch battery ... and laundry bags
used by locals.
cont'd., AUGUST 23 - OCTOBER 4: Not much new. We are still in Grenada,
spending most of our time so far anchored at Prickly Bay. Prickly Bay
offers an open air restaurant and Tiki Bar with live music (big cruiser
hangout), good marine store, nice internet lounge, mini-market, laundry
service, within easy walking distance to other bays and bars, etc., and it
has the easiest access into town via local bus. We have been doing
(but not overdoing) boat projects, took a tour of St. George's University
and Medical School (very impressive facilities, not to mention the
unbelievable view out over 2 bays and the sea), assisting with the HAM
license exam for 30 prospective hamsters, participating in a sailboat race
around SW Grenada (on a friend's boat), doing happy hours on boats or bars,
and doing several interesting hikes with a fellow cruiser (Polyphonic) who always guarantees an
We also became members of the Grenada Hash House Harriers, doing the Hash runs/walks through the countryside. All over the world there are chapters of Hash House Harriers. The
motto is "drinkers with a running problem". Every other Saturday they
gather at some different/secret place that the Hash Master has laid out with
a trail to follow through the woods. He drops confetti to mark the
trail and some false trails. You have to keep looking for the correct route
otherwise you could be lost in the woods. We walk it in about 2 hours
and the finish is always at a different local bar where you drink beer and
initiate the newcomers. Check out
We most recently traveled the entire island (again) by local buses (picture
top right). We toured
the Grenada Chocolate Company factory - the only small scale chocolate
factory in the world that grows their own cocoa
beans (soon to be certified
organic) and does everything themselves.
At left, Edmund with the cocoa bean crusher. The factory is 100% solar powered, and
hand-made machinery runs on 24-volt power, while 2 ladies, lower right, wrap all
chocolates by hand. No, not like Lucy and Ethyl in the candy factory -
this is very low production at island speed! It was founded/owned/run
by a cruiser who lives in the rain forest, had a desire to help the local
economy, and who used his engineering skills to "make" the machinery.
This fine dark chocolate rivals that of European chocolates.
Chocoholics might want to check out
www.grenadachocolate.com. They ship in the U.S.
taken the camera along much lately so don't have too many new pictures, other than
the 377 ft. mega yacht
that anchored in Prickly Bay -
our new best friends. We told them everyone in the anchorage had
already hosted a happy hour so it was their turn. Those Brits don't have much of a sense
of humor. Incidentally, the transom folds down to reveal dual ramps
for unloading their tenders and a dual dinghy dock.
Down here, there are many Brits (they
have big sailboats), Germans and Belgiums (both easy to identify 'cuz they
don't like to wear clothes onboard). Some French (can spot them
because most have aluminum boats), but not as many as we had been seeing up
island. Americans are not as numerous down here, but still a good
constituency. And, we have met a surprising number of Canadians along
We are sailing to Los Testigos sometime next week along with Sunrise and
Merlin (Tim). This is a remote island off Venezuela where there are no
stores and only about 150 people who fish. May stay there about a week
and then to Margarita to provision before heading to Blanquilla.
May not go to the mainland of Venezuela this year.
Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau, The Grenadines
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