As I wrote in my last post, after dropping off our friends Allen and Rachel at Port Louis Marina, and picking up our cruising companion Ken, we did a 180 and headed back up island to Carriacou. Although the conditions weren’t great, we made it there safe and sound on the Orient Pearl, and in time to join the festivities.
The Saturday hash, our reason for traveling to Carriacou, was a complete blast. The people on the island are so chilled, and the atmosphere so festive, that we always have a great time at this annual event. The hashing trail, just under 7 km, was challenging, and very hot, but it left everyone with smiles and a sense of accomplishment. Later that evening, after liming with friends by the beach, we even found our way to a crowded disco, something that I didn’t even know existed on Carriacou!
Note: The disco was NOT five minutes away as was suggested!
1.5 hours, with a beer stop along the way.
Having weathered less-than-ideal conditions on our trip north, the three of us were anxious to have a better journey back to Grenada. The weather forecast showed that we’d have next to no wind on Monday, and so for this reason alone, we decided to skip the Sunday-morning live hash on Petite Martinique so that we could begin our return sail early. As it turned out, it was a good thing that we did!
Windward or Leeward?
Traveling to and from Grenada, sailors are faced with a choice: travel on the windward side of the island, where there is more wind, or the leeward side, where it is virtually guaranteed that you’ll have to motor for an hour or more. If heading to or from St. Georges, it only makes sense to take the leeward side, as it’s located part way down that coast. When heading from Carriacou to Grenada’s south coast though, a windward trip presents a sailor with a downwind course to the southern bays, as opposed to a nasty bash east after rounding Point Salines.
Such a route, for us at least, is reserved only for nice-weather days though. The windward side of Grenada has virtually no bail out points, except for possibly Grenville, which itself might be sketchy for a boat with our draft. Additionally, the course has you traversing a long a lee shore, with wind and waves always pushing you towards some nasty boat-eating rocks. Like I said, settled weather only!
We had a beautiful sail to the top of the island.
Presented with such settled conditions, and wind from a favorable direction, we decided that it might be a great day for sailing the windward coast. And we enjoyed a beautiful sail, albeit a relatively slow one, all the way to the top of the Grenada. Unfortunately, the wind was even less than expected, and with so little breeze to propel the boat, not only were we making very slow time, we were continually being set into the island. We do have a way to cheat though, our diesel engine, and when faced with the thought of an after-dark arrival, it was a no brainer for us to fire up the iron genny to give us that much-needed extra push. The remainder of the sail, with just that little bit of help, was pleasant. We arrived back to our normal anchoring spot at Secret Harbor just as the sun was thinking about setting, with cheeks sore from so much smiling and laughter, and minds full of positive memories.
There are times, like the past few days, when we are spending quality time with friends, sailing or just enjoying life, that posting on the blog seems to take a back burner. I’m sure you can understand, and leaving my post about Pizza Pi front and center for a few extra days is not really a bad thing.
We had a great sail up island with Allen and Rachel, stopping off at Sandy Island (see pics), Petite Martinique, Ronde Island, and the always popular Grenada Snorkel Park. Aside from a bit of a squall as we left Grenada, we had pretty much ideal weather for our travels. On their last night with us, we were also blessed with one of the most fantastic sunsets that I can recall. Each of us very clearly saw a green flash as the sun dipped below the horizon, something that Rebecca and I have long been skeptics about. Following that event, the four of us sat mesmerized, watching the sky shift from pink to purple to fireball red. It was spectacular!
As they say though, all good things must come to an end, and I guess that includes Caribbean vacations too. We were scheduled to drop Allen and Rachel off yesterday morning so that they could begin their journey home. After their departure, we had plans to turn right around and head back up island for the annual Carriacou Hash. To make that transition happen efficiently, we arranged to do a touch-and-go on the dock so that our friends could jump off, and our buddy Ken could join us. I’m happy to say that that all worked out perfectly!
Unfortunately, our trip back to Carriacou wasn’t quite as pleasant as the sailing that we had earlier in the week. I guess Allen and Rachel were good luck! Rebecca, Ken and I weathered a pretty significant squall close to Kick Em Jenny. With gusts just over 37 knots, I was very happy to have preemptively reefed our main and genoa! Once the squall abated, it left us with a huge header, requiring us to motor sail the remainder of the way to Hillsborough (we wanted to arrive before dark). Oh well, we ultimately got there, safe and sound, and with a whole 5 minutes to spare before the hasher’s pub crawl was scheduled to begin. That’s what’s important, right?
When we ran charters in the Virgin Islands, we were always on the lookout for unique experiences to share with our guests. As it turned out, almost all the noteworthy spots, the ones that guests read about prior to their arrival, and looked forward to experiencing, were located in the British Virgin Islands. This meant that even though we picked up our guests in the USVI, and dropped them back off at the same location, they wanted to spend the majority of their time in the BVI. And what they wanted, is what we did.
There was one exception to this, a unique USVI business that guests actually did look forward to visiting. It was called Pizza Pi, a sailing boat in Christmas Cove where first-rate pizza could be ordered from a dinghy-up window. Cool, eh? It was such a special experience that we’d make a regular stop there on the day before our guests would fly home, and it always met with rave reviews.
The bureaucrats want to put an end to Christmas!
Sadly, as often happens with great ideas, the young couple who started this business have recently met with some bureaucratic struggles. Their permit to operate in Christmas Cove, their original location, has not been renewed, and they have been forced to move to a much less desirable location. Even though the pizza is still just as good, neither term charter boats, nor day boats, are likely to visit them there. And without this attraction to draw these boats back to the USVI, the fact is that they are more than likely to just spend their remaining time, and money, at one of the BVI hotspots.
You can help!
Pizza Pi’s owners are not giving up without a fight though, nor are their many fans. A petition has been started to demonstrate to the powers that be that having this positive attraction in Christmas Cove is desirable for everyone, visitors and locals alike. We have signed the petition ourselves, and are hoping that readers might take a few seconds to do the same. Will it help? I don’t know, but making our thoughts known can’t hurt. Even though we’re not presently there to enjoy the pizza ourselves, I’ll take pleasure in knowing that, if we succeed, they’ll once again be able to create some positive memories for tourists, and our friends in the charter industry. Thanks for helping!
There are a couple ways of dealing with anchorages that have been rendered uncomfortable by an offending swell. You can simply suck it up, which may be the best thing to do if the swell begins after dark. You could also set a stern anchor, or a swell bridle, to position your boat into the waves. Or, if other anchoring options exist, you could simply move your boat, either to a more protected section of the bay, or to a new bay altogether. That is what we did yesterday, and plan to do again today.
Our friends Allen and Rachel arrived on Saturday, and after repositioning the boat from Port Louis Marina, where we picked them up, back out to the anchorage, we quickly departed to catch the bus to the hash. What better way to indoctrinate people into Grenadian culture than to send them into the jungle with a couple hundred other crazy masochists, right?
On the mega yacht dock at Port Louis Marina.
Heading to the hash! Photo from s/v Brilliant.
The customary clean pre-hash photo.
As it turned out, by the time we arrived back from the hash, well after dark, an unusual west wind had built, making even boarding the boat from the dinghy a challenge. Our friend Carrie, anchored beside us, said that the night which followed was the rolliest that she had experienced in 11 years of cruising! I’d say that it was definitely in the top five, without question. While Rebecca and I can deal with that exaggerated motion, we were still not happy with it, and our guests were even less so! When we woke up, before any thought of making breakfast, we raised anchor and began the slow trip around to the south end of the island where I was confident that the conditions would be better.
Preparing to drop anchor. Photo courtesy of our friends on Liberty Blue.
After that rolly night in St. Georges, our friends on Brilliant raised anchor right behind us.
Mt. Hartman Bay was indeed much more calm, but the west wind was affecting the boats even there, causing them to all point in the wrong (opposite to normal) direction. This makes anchoring a bit more challenging, because we knew that the boats would ultimately swing back around. We’re pretty confident with our Mantus anchor’s ability to reset though, if necessary. True to form, the normal easterly trade winds did fill back in, at some point last night, and our bow is once again pointing in the familiar easterly direction. Unfortunately, the breeze, now actually SE, has turned this anchor spot from glass calm to choppy. So, in the interest of happy guests, and new adventures, I think we’ll go find a new, more protected spot to hang out today.