Carriacou & Grenada

Posts for June, July and November 2012, March 2013 plus June and November 2014 provide more detail and photos.

Our first port of call was the smaller island, Carriacou, which is north of Grenada. The port of entry is Hillsborough, a large bay with plenty of anchoring room around the commercial pier. Customs and Port Authority are just at the end of the pier and the Immigration is in the Police building over the road.

There are some small supermarkets, good bars and shops in Hillsborough and our favourites were Patty’s Deli and the Juice Bar overlooking the bay. Patty has frozen smoked fish and the best bread we encountered in the Caribbean. She stocks many meats and cheeses and unusual foods you can’t seem to find elsewhere.

We then moved on to Tyrrel Bay, past Sandy Island, a little strip of white sand with moorings beside it. We plan to stop another time to enjoy the snorkelling and idyllic scenery. Tyrrel Bay is a huge, sheltered bay where many cruisers spend their entire lives it seems. There are sandy patches and clear water to enable you to anchor safely and there was always room. The bay has a few restaurants, small supermarkets and lots of bars. There is a great launderette using hot water! Our favourite restaurant was the Slipway, near the Boatyard and the food there is not too expensive but very good. The Wednesday night band was good too. Lambi Queen does chips! They also have steel pan nights.

We explored the mangrove lagoons in case we needed to get Beyzano tied up in one and although the inner one is huge, our draft wouldn’t allow us to get over the sill so we would have had to use the outer one instead. We heard from friends, that it all gets a bit busy and tempers fray when it is necessary for everyone to move into the mangroves but that also goes for Port Egmont in Grenada.

The only thing to be wary of in Tyrrel Bay is one of the boat boys who can become rude and threatened friends of ours. He also failed to return a big wrench other friends lent him.

You can drag the dinghy onto the beach all along the bay, near the larger supermarket and launderette for instance but you can also tie and lock to the northern side of the commercial dock by the steps. A couple of restaurants, including the Slipway, have their own docks.

Tyrrel Bay is the kind of place where you feel at home and stay! WiFi throughout the bay for a charitable donation is available, or you can get a better signal by paying for the Cruiser’s WiFi. We were lucky to meet some lovely people the day after we arrived and have kept in touch with many of them.

If you have time, a couple of bus rides take you to Windward where they build stunning wooden boats on the beach and if there is one under construction it is fascinating to see.

Between Carriacou and Grenada is a lovely island, Isle de Ronde and despite it being deemed a lunch stop only by Doyle’s, we stayed 3 nights. Lovely quiet bay with great snorkelling but check your anchor is holding as we took a couple of attempts.

During hurricane season 2012 we spent weeks in Grenada and enjoyed the active cruiser’s community and local welcome. We would recommend staying in Grenada to anyone, as it is safe and friendly, walking around at night between the southern bays is not a problem and you can also dinghy between the reefs to reach different bays.

We were already cleared in but you can find customs in St George’s, Prickly Bay, Phare Bleu and sometimes St David’s. We anchored in St George’s but the holding isn’t great. On our second visit we used the moorings and that was fine.

As the capital, St George’s has a huge range of markets, shops, services and lovely restaurants. We attended a jazz concert in the Museum, another must. The cruiser’s net on VHF 68 every morning, is the best in the area as local businesses have a slot and you find out there are several events on in different bays each evening. Port Louis marina is swish, with a pool and nice facilities including a Dyson hand dryer in the restrooms! The Merry Baker nearby has fantastic Chelsea buns and pasties to which we became addicted on every Saturday market bus run. They also froze 40 pasties and 4 delicious ready meals for me.

Island Water World has a large branch in St Georges and a smaller one in St David’s. There is also a great supermarket in the lagoon with its own dinghy dock and you can get a very wide variety of items there and they will help you with the bags into your dinghy.

Shademan and George are the main taxi drivers who take cruisers shopping all over the city, to the fish Friday, on tours and to any social event. Some bars lay on free buses from the other bays to their bay as well.

We looked into almost every bay on the southern coast, starting with True Blue on the western end. I don’t think we sailed at all, being into swell and wind going east. Next time we will go down the windward side of Grenada so we start at St David’s as we did on our return from Trinidad. Much easier than bashing into the swell. True Blue has moorings, a dive school and a small marina plus a great restaurant where they run cookery classes every Thursday using local produce. Lots of cruisers go to the classes so it’s a good place to meet people too.

The next bay is very popular for some reason, perhaps the Budget Marine chandlery in the NW corner and De Big Fish and Tiki Bars but it can be horribly rolly and we only stayed one night before moving to the next bay. The Customs office is good though, quiet and efficient with a brilliant view over the bay.

Motoring around the corner but well out to avoid the reefs, the navigation buoys were accurate and in place. We were so relieved that the next bay, Mount Hartman, was calm, we stayed there for about 3 weeks. You can’t see the bottom but the anchor dug in well and came up eventually covered in gloopy mud. We did a 180 degree turn during a squall and held fine. Some boats in there were happy to tell us they’d been in the same position for well over a year! There is a small marina, which we used for a couple of nights and their bar has fast WiFi but you need to buy a drink. You can pay to dump rubbish and use their showers.

As with the other bars, different themed nights and special offers seem to occur nightly and are announced on the morning net. The shopping bus leaves on 3 days a week and the bay is within a 15 minute walk of Prickly Bay and all their bars. You can also dinghy around to Hog Island, home of the famous Sunday BBQ and Clarke’s Court. Even at night it is safe to dinghy as there are a couple of marker lights.

If you want a special night out, we can recommend the Cave Hotel at Mount Hartman. It is a stunning building with excellent service and food. Photos on our blog of March 2013. They also do a Sunday brunch and you can spend the afternoon by their infinity pool overlooking your boat!

Next we stayed in Clarke’s Court, once again the approach is well marked. We anchored near the marina but that was a mistake as the rum factory pollutes the water with a brown stain, which was impossible to get off our stern paint. I was glad we were coming out of the water in Trinidad but wouldn’t anchor up there again. The marina staff are lovely and the bar is friendly with cable Internet which you need to pay for even if you are having a drink. They did a great burger and chips night, cinema night and sports events. They also have a book swop.

The bay is huge and you can anchor in cleaner water further south. A dinghy pass through the reefs take you into Phare Bleu, the next bay east. Whisper Cove marina is tiny but with a lovely restaurant and small laundry. A Sunday afternoon jam session takes place there and they do special food nights.

Phare Bleu has a very posh marina and hotel complex, with pool attached. Their lightship houses a restaurant and lovely decks. Well worth a visit. There are a few moorings but the bay can suffer from swell making the boat roll all night.

After one night there we moved on to Port Egmont, the best hurricane hole in the area. It is long and thin, with a 90 degree bend west at the end, taking you into an inner bay which is again, quite large and long. Apart from another local yacht moored to the shore, we had the place to ourselves. Bliss! We spent 4 nights there on our own but had Shademan pick us up to take us to Clarke’s Court bar to see the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.

We then motored to St David’s where Grenada Marine are based. Our friends hauled out there and we needed to check their boat for them. It is a beautiful spot, with clear water, a few moorings and a sweet little bar on the beach. You need to walk a fair distance to the main road for the buses into town but if you leave early, it isn’t too hot. They have a launderette and a small chandlery but no shop. Customs didn’t appear in the days we were there!

All in all, we loved Grenada for the variety of activities and provisions. The competition for business keeps the bars busy and meals cheap. Music features highly, with professional guitar recitals, jazz and steel pan. You can take guitar or yoga classes, hike inland and visit the waterfalls and chocolate or nutmeg factories. You can buy almost anything, with hardware shops and supermarkets along the highway to the airport. Medical care is also said to be good.

During hurricane season there is a strong sense of community and you get to know like-minded sailors quickly whilst on the shopping bus run or at the many social events. Boat jumbles and daily ‘treasures of the bilge’ slots on the radio are opportunities to pick up or get rid of boat items too.

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