You can’t say all the Caribbean is the same; there’s a subtle difference between all the islands and it’s not just the geography.
Although Carriacou is but a stone’s throw away from Union Island, it couldn’t be more different. In stark contrast to Clifton Harbour, the hassle factor in Tyrell Bay is non-existent. And the town is a sleepy old place with a few low-key restaurants dotted along the waterfront. It’s also very well sheltered from the wind and the swell – almost like being in a marina. We anchored here in the sand, amongst the growing numbers of mooring balls, and that remained our base for a few days.
There are mangroves on the northern side of the bay, which can be used by yachts to provide shelter during tropical storms. Otherwise, there’s no anchoring in the mangroves as part of an effort to preserve wildlife, which needs preserving because there isn’t any there at the moment. We didn’t see a thing in the trees or the water. Similarly, although the water in Tyrell bay is gin-clear, there isn’t much underneath apart from the occasional beer bottle and broken mooring. It’s odd, but it will hopefully improve.
Tyrell Bay is the most northern part of Grenada where it’s possible to clear in using the Sailclear system. This system allows you to give advance notice of arrival and it facilitates clearing in when you do arrive – provided that the customs and immigration folks have internet connectivity. Luckily, we chose a day when the internet was working. And with no forms to fill in, it made it almost worth the wait for the customs officer to return from lunch one hour late. But people need to eat, right? So let’s give the guy a break – even an extended one.
While waiting for the customs and immigration office to open, I sat listening to some of my fellow sailors also waiting for the office to open. One was giving a monologue to two girls on the reasons not to go to Mustique but to go somewhere else instead to see Mick Jagger on a bike. And another, with a head like Captain Jack Sparrow and clothes like Albert Steptoe, was lecturing a disinterested crowd on the San Blas islands. Between them, these guys could blow away any contestant on ‘Just a Minute’ if the repetition rule were thrown out. I suspect both these fellas hadn’t spoken to anyone for a while.
Eventually, after what seemed like three hours, but in actuality was 40 minutes, the customs officer returned, and a disorderly queue formed. Clearance was easy. One officer acted as representative for all the agencies and cleared the backlog in no time at all. I even got a recommendation on where to spend Friday night. Excellent.
That night we had dinner at the Lazy Turtle Restaurant & Pizzeria. It’s a great place, right on the waterfront and complete with its little dinghy dock. The pizzas were fabulous and the wine not bad either.
Paradise Beach and Sandy Island
The next day we walked around to Paradise Beach where we had lunch at the Off the Hook Bar and Grill right on the beach. This place is a great relaxed environment to hang around for the afternoon and is well worth the trek from Tyrell Bay to get there. Across the water from Paradise Beach is Sandy Island which, like Paradise Bay, is part of a protected marine zone. It looks stunningly beautiful, so we decided to go there a couple of days later.
By way of yet another coincidence, we found our French friends on Punch Coco already at Sandy Island. They had arrived just that morning. And unknown to either of us, they had also been in the same anchorage as us for the previous two days. We found a mooring buoy close to them, said bonjour, checked the mooring buoy, and headed off to the beach with snorkels at the ready.
One of the great things about Sandy Island is the wildlife. The snorkelling on the northern part of the bay is fabulous. The colour of the coral is returning after hurricane damage, and this area is full of fish. Outside of the water, the pelicans provide entertainment through their displays of inelegance. They fall into the water rather than dive and give the appearance of a heavily-laden transport aircraft when taking off.
The owner of Off the Hook has the monopoly on the taxi service from Paradise Beach, whizzing people over to and from Sandy Island. He also sells fish and lobster to folks on their boats and holds a beach fire and barbecue once a week. Maybe next time.
We’re off to Grenada next.