Sailing to the Spice Island
Slipping our lines from our mooring at Sandy Island on a breezy Tuesday morning, we motored clear of the other boats, let half our sail out, and pointed Lady Jane towards Grenada. At a distance of 33 nautical miles, this was our longest sail since Barbados to Mustique. The wind was on the port beam all the way to the top of Grenada. And it was fantastic sailing despite the odd rain squall. Lady Jane sped along.
Approaching the northern tip Grenada, a pod of porpoises joined us for a few minutes to play in the bow wave of the boat. And of course, as soon as the camera came out – they disappeared.
As expected, the wind dropped in the lee of Grenada, so we let out the rest of the sail for the remainder of the journey. And by 4 pm we arrived at St George’s.
St George’s Carenage
Port Louis Marina
The marina here in St Georges is stuffed full of boats. Grenada sailing week is arriving soon, and a massive fishing competition starts next week at the yacht club across the bay. Fortunately, we managed to get a berth for a week. “But only a week and not a day more – only seven and not eight.” The marina staff couldn’t have been any clearer. We got the message.
The marina guys told us to come into the berth stern-to, between a pontoon and another boat. This brought a collective roll of the eyes to the crew of Lady Jane because, although we can reverse the boat into a tight space, it isn’t easy and it isn’t pretty. With the wind on the beam, as it was, it’s even more comedic. To add to the fun, our propellor is just as efficient in reverse as it is going forward, so it’s terrifying for the folks waiting to catch the lines. Even with the engine in tick-over, we are moving faster than anyone would prefer. I heard the cries of “Slow down!” long before I did. I had no choice. If there’s no propulsion we lose steering, so I carried on despite the effect it was having on their blood pressure. We managed to get Lady Jane into the berth without hurt or damage, but it is tight. We are fender to fender with the boat next door and are pressed hard against the pontoon.
It’s great having the convenience of a marina. We can just step off the rear of the boat onto land. There’s electricity and water to the boat. And you can place a deposit on a wifi router and a cable and have wifi wired straight to the boat. It’s a bit 1990’s, but it works very well. The bathrooms here are better than some found in 5-star hotels. And there are a couple of restaurants on site.
Snatching defeat from the bar of Victory
After working on the boat for most of the day, we decided to eat out at the Victory restaurant. The experience started well enough in that got a table quickly. But it went rapidly downhill from there. Here’s how things unfolded: We ordered drinks, they didn’t arrive, so we asked again and they didn’t arrive. A waitress came to take our food order, we reminded her about the drinks, but they didn’t arrive. The waitress came back, without drinks, and said that there are no burgers left, but you can have fish burgers. We said leave it with us. Another guy came along and asked if we would like any drinks. And on it went like a 3 Stooges act. Eventually, we got the drinks, but only after Maria made her opinion known to the last waiter. We decided to stick with the starter and move on. Getting the bill was just as challenging, especially as we found ourselves in competition with other customers with hands up like primary school kids trying to get attention. But eventually, we managed to stump up and leave. We went next door.
Despite being part of the same company, our Yolo sushi restaurant experience couldn’t have been more different. Admittedly the bar was now set very low, but it was friendly and efficient, and they had food. I ordered wine not listed on the menu and this presented no problem to the staff, our order came quickly, the food was really good, and the bill wasn’t a shocker.
The Grand Tour
Henry Safari Yacht Services & Tours Ltd are into everything. If you want laundry doing, they will do it for you at the marina (we did – twice, and it was excellent), gas filled? No problem. And as the name of the company implies, if you want a tour, Mr Henry is your man. So, the next day at 0930, we jumped on a minibus jammed with a gang of holidaying Canadians, staying at the south of the island, for one of Henry’s full island tours. Squeezing in at the back of the bus, off we went for what proved to be a thoroughly entertaining day thanks to the itinerary – and the knowledge of our guide, Dexter,
Right from the off, Dexter explained about the architecture of St Georges, its flora and fauna, Grenada’s history (especially the events of 1983), the people, politics and religion. The man is non-stop and so full of enthusiasm that it’s infectious. It could take a week or more to visit the places we saw that day. Here are some of the highlights:
Concord Falls is a beautiful natural waterfall, where we swam in the freshwater pool just below.
Nutmeg processing factory
This is an incredible place. Tonnes of nutmeg are prepared, graded, and shipped worldwide from here. The women who grade the nutmeg are on piece work, and they are incredibly fast. There isn’t much chance of automation taking over here.
Our Nutmeg Tour Guide
Shipping all over the world
Diamond Chocolate factory:
Owned by the people who farm the cocoa, Diamond produces chocolate from tree to final product all in one place. Consequently, more cash is realised by the people who graft for it. And after stuffing our fat faces with samples of the end result, we bought a few bars to take back to the boat – and to help the cooperative, of course.
Fallen off the tree
We know who you are!
River Antoine Rum Distillery
From sugar cane to 84% alcohol rum using traditional methods, including a usually-functioning water wheel, this is a sight to behold. Unfortunately, though, someone had buggered up the water wheel the day before, so the engine was in bits to be repaired. Allegedly the guy feeding the sugar cane into the machine wasn’t paying much attention, which may be something to do with the rum, and it overloaded the machine. It happens now and again apparently.
Everything else was in good shape though. The stills were working, the rum was being produced, and Elon – our tour guide in the factory – kept us entertained. He wants a career in politics, and I think he would be pretty good. He explained that none of the product goes to waste. When the used sugar cane is rotted down, it is used as fertiliser on the fields for another crop of sugar cane. Some of the used cane is used to fire the furnace. And they have a programme in place to chop down unwanted trees for the locals, free of charge, which can also be used to drive the furnaces for the stills.
The rum here is naturally fermented ‘no yeast or fertilisers’ and as a result leaves you hangover-free the next morning. So we bought a bottle to put it to the test at some point.
Neither Maria nor I can remember where we stopped for lunch, but wherever it was, the food was excellent.
An interesting piece of history is Pearls Airport. This is where the American military landed in 1983 to help ‘liberate’ Grenada. All that is left of the Cuban presence here is a couple of Antonov planes that are rotting away to one side of the runway. The airfield is no longer used by planes of course, but the cows and sheep are more than happy here.
Rainforest and crater lake and the search for monkeys
Our last stop on the tour. The road to Grand Etang lake weaves through one of Grenada’s lush rainforests. As the name suggests, the lake has formed in the crater of a now-dormant volcano, serving as home for many a happy fish enjoying the protection of the lake’s national park status. The monkeys must have had a day off.
There’s a swimming pool here at the marina. So, given that it’s been a long time since we have been near water, off we went with beach towels under arm hunting for the sunbeds. We eventually grabbed a couple, just in time for the heavens to open and the rain to crash down. So there was only one thing to do… we went to the bar instead.
I know this might sound that I am very much in touch with my feminine side, but I have started liking Pina Colada cocktails at the Victory Bar. Their restaurant service might be muddled, but the bar staff know how to make your legs go wobbly – the cocktails here are exceptional. Two drinks are enough though, so we retired back to the boat, but I can’t remember what we did for some reason.
Opposite Lady Jane is another boat from the UK: Petronella of Wight, and on it are Martin and Tina. We joined them one evening for drinks on board their lovely boat. It was a very entertaining evening, and they helped with our thinking on the route to take to get to the USA. They have also offered to sponsor us for membership of the Ocean Cruising Club – very kind. And if you are reading this, Tina and Martin, thank you very much indeed.
As it will be a little while before we are plugged into services again, we spent our last day making sure that our water tanks were full, downloads completed, and everything was charged up. I returned the 1990’s router to the office, paid for the electricity and water, then off we went to Carriacou.