Before we left, we heard a lot of rumours about life out here but the most negative have turned out to be completely untrue. We worried about filling our gas bottles but can get it nearly everywhere and it is much cheaper than in the UK. Water can be obtained in most places, although you have to pay every time. Someone told us the daily rate for work on the boat was a crazy price, 600 GBP or more but it is 35 GBP an hour in Trinidad, for skilled labour.
We were told it was difficult to get parts here, or prohibitively expensive to ship them in but we have found several suppliers who will get products at a cheaper price than the chandleries, ship and clear them in for us. The local chandleries are well stocked with the main products, such as Lewmar hatches, Jabasco parts and all the usual blocks and ropes. Specialist items are also easy to source and we have obtained watermaker filters, blades for the Duogen wind generator and Volvo engine spares without leaving the confines of the anchorages. Budget Marine is next door to the yard and we can actually see it from the boat!
Security and customs have been fine, paperwork easy and only laborious in Trinidad. We can get almost any food we want, such as butter, cranberry jelly for Christmas, Waitrose bourbon biscuits and Patak’s curry paste. Fresh milk is the main difficulty but available in Grenada on Friday (IGA) and Trinidad everyday (Hi-Lo) and sometimes in St Lucia.
Trinidad has many of the foods at a lower price than further north, so it is a good place to stock up. Fuel is also much cheaper and if you arrive in normal office hours there are no customs fees, just a small cruising charge, which was about 7 GBP. There are no boat boys here but those in St Lucia, Union Island and Carriacou were the most active but never intimidating. The biggest surprise was Dominica, as it turned out to be one of our favourite islands with lovely people and dramatic scenery. It no longer deserves its earlier reputation for aggressive boat boys and theft.
People everywhere have been friendly and welcoming, both locals and cruisers but it has been busier in the bays with many more boats than we imagined. It is rare to be alone in an anchorage, in fact just twice since we arrived. If you want to socialise, Grenada is a particularly good place to be as the cruiser’s net is very active and you can join in with countless activities.
As for the Hurricane Season, we have been fortunate not to encounter any high winds and June and July were very quiet. Since August began we have noticed a lot more Tropical Waves being generated off West Africa and heading our way but so far all have moved north and dissipated with the exception of Tropical Storm Issac, which cost lives in Haiti and then became a Hurricane over the US.
There are still 3 months to go but we are ashore until the end of October, intentionally. We found 2 lovely hurricane holes in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou and Port Egmont, Grenada but actually being in one during a hurricane is still not a happy prospect. Better than being at sea though!
Rob and I have both been giving thought to what we would say is the most important aspect of cruising as a couple long term. We both believe that it is crucial to be happy spending a huge amount of time with one another. Imagine being at anchor, staying on the boat for say 10 days without doing anything other than swimming, cooking, and chilling out together. Would that work for you? For some it doesn’t and for many couples we met, the social life in Grenada gave them a break from one another. The cookery classes were mostly attended by women and there was even a ‘women only domino group’ or as the net controller called it ‘the last bastion of sexual discrimination’! Also consider being at sea for a 4 day passage. Can both of you sail the boat alone in tough conditions, using the radar and AIS, for example; work as a team, communicate effectively even when you are tired and cope in an emergency? It needs to be a good partnership, in life and in sailing.