Shocker in Sandy Island

You’d think a clear statement from the Grenadian authorities that nudism is frowned upon, would give a hint to the most ardent knuckle dragger that it isn’t prudent to get your willy out in public. But there, on a mooring ball outside Sandy Island, stood a bloke in his knickers urinating from the side of his boat. And not satisfied with that display, he then proceeded to tug at his tiny todger like a frustrated teenager. You couldn’t make this stuff up – it’s too weird.

Maybe it’s the heat that’s to blame. A milder event occurred when coming into the Sandy Island moorings. To protect the coral, the park authorities are trying to discourage anchoring outside Sandy Island, so they have laid several good-quality mooring balls on which to tie your boat. Good on ‘em I say. But they do allow anchoring to the south – away from the mooring balls – in sand.

By the time we got to Sandy Island it was dark, so we had to use a flashlight to search for a mooring. All the park mooring balls are white with a luminous blue stripe , so they glow when you shine a light on them. And we struck lucky when we saw an empty one glowing at us on the south of the moorings. As we got closer, I could see a boat at anchor near the mooring ball. He’s a bit close, I thought. By this time Maria had the boat hook in hand ready to grab the ball, when we heard a voice saying “That isn’t a mooring ball, it’s my anchor ball.” Really. Why anyone would choose to put a tripping line on their anchor, marked by a ball that looks the same as all the mooring balls, I have no idea. Actually, I have no idea why anyone would put a tripping line on their anchor here – there’s nothing but sand.

So, we carried on northwards, weaving our way past the other occupied buoys, and spotted the last real mooring ball available. Maria grabbed it, we tied on with ropes on each side of the bow and didn’t move for three nights. All we did was go to the beach and snorkel on the reef to see the fish. And watch the above ground entertainment provided by the seabirds, the boats coming and going, and the display from Mr Mini-winkle.

Beach Bum

The trip from Grenada to Sandy Island wasn’t great. The wind seems to be stuck in the north east at the moment, so we had to motor-sail all the way – over six hours. With the wind and waves from ahead, this made for a bumpy old ride with the occasional wave breaking over the bow.

The screaming noise coming from the fishing reel, just off the coast of Grenada, alerted us that we had caught a fish. And judging by the rate at which the line was coming off the spool, it was a big un. I suspect it was a large tuna, but it jumped out of the water and snapped the line. I know the one that got away doesn’t usually come with photographic evidence, but we have video proof:

On Friday we left Sandy Island to hide out in Tyrell Bay on Carriacou. Strong winds are forecast, so this is a good place to shelter. We will be clearing out of here before we head towards Union Island and back to St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Party night in Carriacou

Just before 8 PM, we dinghied on down to the dock for party night at the Lambi Queen bar and restaurant. As we arrived, a jam session was in play made up of an eclectic bunch of local and visiting musicians armed with an equally eclectic assortment of instruments. The instruments played included drums, an accordion, a violin, a saxophone, a conch shell, and a box. The lead guy was the very-talented drummer. And the music got better and better the longer they played. This was nothing to do with alcohol-induced altered perception – they learned how to play better together as time went on.

We ate some traditional food here, Lambi (conch) and rice for me, and chicken and chips for Maria – and drank Carib beer. The drinks service here is a kind of self-service. The first round gets delivered then you go to the bar to get your own. It’s easy. If you walk in the bar with two empty beer bottles, the barman/waiter swaps them for two new ones. Perfect. And no dialogue required.

The impromptu band was replaced just after 9 PM with the real one. They kicked off their repertoire with a series of Lionel Ritchie songs. Hope this isn’t going on All Night Long, we thought. Fortunately, they did mix it up, got better, and kept going long after we left at 1130 PM.

Party Night at the Lambi Queen

On the Buses to Hillsborough

There are no bus inspectors here to hassle the bus drivers, checking up on their uniforms or measuring KPIs. There are no uniforms, and I guess not many KPIs either. And the buses have names as well as numbers. Ours was Bad Boy.

You get on the number 10 bus to Hillsborough by merely waving to the bus driver as he approaches. The bus minder flings open the sliding door, steps out of the bus, and welcomes you to your seat with a cheery ‘good morning/afternoon’ as you settle down with the rest of your fellow passengers to enjoy the ride. It’s a great way to travel. And at only $3.50 EC a ride (about £1) – it’s cheap too.

Weaving our way along the roads past Paradise Bay and up to the hospital at the highest point of the island, we glimpsed a magnificent view of the west of the island before descending into Hillsborough town and the bus terminal – actually just a street with some buses on it.

Whatever you want – it’s here

The Church

Hillsborough Beach

Beautification

Compared with Tyrell Bay, Hillsborough is a lively place. There’s hardly a gap between shop, restaurant, bar, or places to get things fixed. There’s even a bar in the beach where you can get your hair cut while sipping your Pina Colada.

Neither of us wanted a haircut, so we walked the length of the town, came back along the beach, and found a bar at the far end of the beach where we each had a Ting. Never heard of them, but they are good. It’s a non-alcoholic grapefruit-based drink, made on licence from a company in Ireland to be sure. The food menu here didn’t do much for us, so we took to Tripadvisor for guidance. The advice was to walk to the Kayak cafe in town, so we did. The Kayak cafe is a lovely place. The food menu is extensive enough for any picky eater, but not too overwhelming for the indecisive. There’s a range of excellent nutrition-packed smoothies too. The dessert menu was also pretty good, but as we couldn’t squeeze anything else into our gluttonous chops, we took the lime pie and chocolate cookie home. And if you fancy running a cafe on a Caribbean island, this place might be for you – it’s for sale.

La Playa

Ting!

I haven’t seen these in Tesco

After a quick raid on the local supermarket, we hopped on the bus and asked Bad Boy to drop us off the bus at Alexis Supermarket in Tyrell Bay, where we picked up some other essentials – like bacon. Across the road from Alexis is a small fruit and veg stall owned by a charming Grenadian woman from who we bought tomatoes and cucumbers. The technique for getting value here is not to negotiate on price, but simple to ask what you can have for $10 EC. You’ll be surprised.

By the time we got back to Lady Jane and sorted everything out, it was late afternoon. So we settled in the cockpit to watch the sun go down.

Victor Meldrew Wouldn’t Believe It

We are near the front of the anchorage, so most of the boats are behind us, which is both a blessing and a curse. In a strong wind, we are better sheltered by the land and have less risk of a boat being blown on to us. On the other hand, we have a prime view of the occupants.

As the wind changes in strength and direction, Lady Jane gently swings, so our view of the bay continually alternates from one side of the bay to the other. We don’t even need to turn our heads. During one of these changes of direction, Lady Jane stayed fixed in a place I wish she hadn’t because there are some things that once seen, you can’t obliterate from memory. Glaring back at me from directly ahead, I found myself assaulted by an image of a pair of pink buttocks, bent over in a pose best described as a great place to park your bike. This guy was shameless. A discrete shower in the cockpit this was not. I won’t go into more detail, but suffice to say – mooning at sunset is not in the Grenadian rulebook. I think he must be a relative of the guy at Sandy Island.

Sunday was local election rally day, so we stayed well clear of the town. The prime minister was due to drop by later that evening, so the excitement was high. Or at least I think it was. The volume of the music blasting out from the speakers from late morning until late evening was undoubtedly high. And when evening arrived, we could hear every word of the speeches from 300 metres away.

Just before sunset, we were visited by a local guy who wanted to either sell us limes or take our rubbish. We did the latter and gave him some money, although he wasn’t bothered about the cash; he just wanted to help. We had a bit of a chat about Geoff Boycott and Yorkshire cricket, something that he knows far more about than I, then he left to listen to the politicians.

That night, the wind arrived in spades. Despite being in a protected position, it was howling with wind and rain, and the motion of the boat made for a sleepless night. The hammering wind and rain continued to batter down on the anchorage throughout the next day, so Maria and I stayed on board and just read. The good news, however, was that the weather deterred the flashers and nudists.

On Tuesday, the weather had calmed down, so we emptied the rain from the dinghy, climbed in and headed to the customs and immigration office to clear out. This time the Sailclear system wasn’t working because the internet wasn’t working in the customs and immigration office. Odd that. The cafe next door was serving wireless internet fast enough for customers to downloaded films. So it was a blast back to the past to the land of triplicate forms, followed by a long wait in the queue. One of my fellow sailors made the mistake of asking a direct question to the immigration officer. That was a big mistake. She then proceeded to guide him through the etiquette of starting the conversation with ‘good afternoon’ and ‘how are you today’. Fortunately, he took it in good spirit. It could have turned ugly for him.

Two hours and half a book later, I emerged complete with clearance papers and updated iPhone apps, courtesy of the WiFi next door. Maria and I then dinghied back to Lady Jane for a quiet evening onboard and left the next day for Union Island to clear back into St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Outside the Customs and Immigration office