With heavy hearts we left Grenada on Thursday, knowing we are not likely to return for a few years. It is such a lovely island with friendly people, lots to do, plentiful services and a great cruising community.
Before we left, we met up with as many friends as we could, including John and Freda from the UK, with whom we sailed the BVIs in 2007, our first taste of Caribbean cruising. We had lunch in ‘Sails’ overlooking the Carenage and they brought Rob a Toblerone and some filter coffee to keep him going until our next friends fly in! It was great to see them again and to meet their friends Phil and Desna.
Rob caught 2 tuna off the back of the boat one evening in St George’s anchorage within 5 minutes of casting the hook, so they are in the freezer. We re-provisioned, had our beers delivered to the Yacht Club, wandered around town, visited the small but interesting museum and I had time to volunteer at Mount Airy’s Young Reader’s Programme for just 1 day, sadly. Jeanne had an early Christmas card delivered to the marina for us, as she noticed I was in the photo they have used on it this year!
Grenada has been busy some days with cruise ship passengers all over town. One day they had 4 ships in, 2 huge ones on the main dock, 1 smaller ship inside the Carenage and 1 clipper anchored in the bay. Good business for everyone and long may it continue. As the ‘Jewel Of The Sea’ left one evening we heard our old friend ‘Shademan’ call them on the radio to thank them for visiting their beautiful island and hope they would soon return. Good PR Patrick! Several cargo ships came and went, delivering all the foods we could hope to find, including frozen British smoked back bacon, perfect for bacon rolls on passages.
We also got the local bus for 63 pence each to Prickly Bay to see Kathy and Richard from ‘Mr Curly’, meeting at the totally rebuilt ‘Timbers’ bar and restaurant, on the site where ‘De Big Fish’ was. As we spent Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at ‘De Big Fish’ last year, we were keen to see all the work Darren had put in, especially as he had so much to do last July! Amazingly it is open and looks wonderful with a Beer Garden where they serve burgers and a more upmarket restaurant overlooking the bay.
The dinghy dock has been improved and it couldn’t be easier for the yachties to access. The décor is really airy and understated and the new washrooms are top class with Dyson hand driers to boot. As I used to work in Malmesbury, where Dyson is based, I always smile when I see them ☺
We certainly wish Darren all the best with his new venture and are sure it will be as successful as his Prickly Bay Marina venue, home of the half price pizzas, quiz and bingo nights and great entertainers.
Our weather window had arrived so we couldn’t linger. Nor did many others, initiating a mass exodus in all directions. Customs clearance was free but they are still not able to use the online system ‘SailClear’ in Port Louis, so I had to fill out the 1 page form for the 16th time. With some south-east winds expected, it was a good time to head north and we were glad to have a beautiful 2 day sail to Les Saintes, just south of Guadeloupe, a passage of 258 miles. We had calm seas, some lulls but also some stretches of making over 8 knots. Top speed was 9.1 but the seas were calm and we had a perfect sail. How different to last year!
The stars were incredible, as always and the phosphorescence was another sight to keep us awake during the long night watches. Flying fish kept us amused during the day. They are so tiny and skim the surface for huge distances. We didn’t fish as we had pre-cooked chilli to eat and a stash of chocolate and biscuits for the night. A private plane decided to liven up their journey and ours by buzzing us at low level but very high speed.
We headed almost due north (003) from Grenada to arrive at Les Saintes, so as we progressed we got further offshore from all the islands we have visited before, until we got to St Lucia and were 38 miles off Rodney Bay. After that the islands ‘bend’ to the NW and we got closer to them again, finally seeing the sun rise over Dominica, 7 miles away. We could ‘see’ some of the islands by day due to the clouds above them but at night, the lights of Dominica and Martinique showed up well, an orange glow with glittering lights over the hills. Dominica had far fewer lights, concentrated along the coast, as it is one of the most unspoilt islands.
Our route was pretty straight according to the plotter and in the screenshot you can see the cruise ships around us, waiting to get berthed in Roseau and Portsmouth, Dominica. They are the triangles. You can also see our red anchor symbols, places where we have found good anchoring spots in the different bays, for future reference. The crosses were waypoints for our trip to Bonaire last year.
We sailed straight into Les Iles Des Saintes, navigated around all the fish pots which were smack bang in the middle of the fairways (yes we are back in French waters) and picked up the compulsory mooring buoy just off the main town, on Terre De Haut. Clearance only cost 1 Euro for the paper I had to print the form off on but the mooring is 11 Euros a night for our boat’s length. Online, at the cyber café and laundry up the hill, you fill out a quick 1-page form with no request to see any papers, saving our passports another page full of stamps.
The town is as lovely as ever with all the boutiques and restaurants and there is plenty of space on the moorings, as high season hasn’t begun. There is a small Carrefour with lots of French cheeses, pates and wine, of course. If you need clothes, this is the place to come. The church bells ring out the hours, just like any French village and we need to get into a new time zone. Here the shops open at 1600 whereas in Grenada they shut then. Restaurants open at 1900 and people eat late but it’s the reverse in the rest of the Caribbean. The 30th November marks the end of hurricane season so we are now free to continue travelling north without worrying about our insurance. It is good to be back here and we are glad we made the decision to sail past our old favourite islands, as they are far too tempting. We’ll never get to see new places if we keep going back to our old haunts and we thought we’d regret that in the future. So we have a few days here, catch up with our friends on ‘Smart Move’ who are heading down from Puerto Rico, then a few more in Guadeloupe waiting for a good day to sail the 40 miles to Antigua for Christmas.