We tied up to the quarantine jetty at St George’s harbour in Grenada at midday on the 9th September 2020, where a nurse and an official were waiting for us. We were informed that because we have arrived from St Vincent and the Grenadines and had been there for more than two months after negative PCR testing for Covid-19, we didn’t require further testing. An hour later, the necessary health clearance, customs and immigration formalities had been done and we were free to go.
We motored past the more than five dozen boats from other countries tied up in quarantine in the anchorage and dropped our anchor at lovely Morne Rouge beach, a mile to the South west. We were anchored next to Craig and Zena from Melbourne, on their Hunter 49 “Adriana”. They gave us all the pointers for Grenada over sundowners, as they have been here a while.
Grenada is known as the spice island, due to the many spices that grow in this lush green island, foremost nutmeg which was first planted here in 1843. Today, Grenada produces one-third of the world’s nutmeg supply and is the largest single supplier. The nutmeg fruits, resembling apricots, encases the nutmeg seed and is in fact, the only object represented on the Grenada flag, besides seven stars, one for each of the country’s parishes.
The Spiceland Shopping Centre with a huge IGA supermarket was about 2 kms across the hill. We walked there and found some reasonably priced Californian Chardonnay and other essentials to take back to the boat. The following day, we took a minibus taxi into St George’s to shop for boating equipment at the Island Water World chandlery in St George’s. We bussed back and joined four other Aussies for sundowners at the Plywood Bar.
On Monday the 14th we motored south and then east along the south coast of Grenada to Prickly Bay to visit the Budget Marine chandlery and the Ace hardware store for some more parts we couldn’t find in town. On Tuesday it was a 4nm bouncy ride into the wind and swell to Woburn Bay where we anchored. We were joined for coffee by our young Aussie friends Matt and Kristina on “Yotty”, who we last saw in Martinique.
We agreed that a serious catch up over beers was required the same evening, so we headed to Whisper Cove Marina where the happy hour beers were cheap and the pizzas tasty. Recovery took a day and the next day we took a minibus taxi into St George’s. The minibus taxis run on predetermined routes and will hoot at all pedestrians to offer them a lift – they will stop anywhere and charge EC$2.50/person (AUD 1.30), regardless of distance. Despite the narrow winding roads, the drivers all aspire to a Formula 1 racing career – with white knuckled passengers (except for the driver’s offsider, who opens and closes the door and collects the fares).
The social life in Woburn Bay was quite busy, so the week that we waited to haul out our boat at Grenada Marine, slipped by quickly. There were things to do while we waited, so we had all our gas bottles filled with propane, took a minibus into St George’s twice to get boat parts and buy wine. We were delighted to find Hardy’s Chardonnay and Cab Sav from Australia, in 3l casks at AUD 30/cask – not cheap, but hey! Infinitely better than some of the rotgut on sale here.
Karen our daughter celebrated her 32nd birthday on the 21st September in Newcastle, NSW.
On the 22nd September, Esprit was hauled out and pressure cleaned at Grenada Marine. The hull was scraped and then sanded before application of three coats of anti fouling. Gelcoat repairs were done to the many scratches above the waterline, picked up over the last two years in the crowded Mediterranean harbours.
The topsides were then polished and while this was done the workshop extended our davits by 300 mm and fabricated a new s/s protective strip for the bow. The work progressed slowly because of intermittent heavy rain and “liming”. The southern windward islands lifestyle of “liming” means chilling, relaxing and chewing the fat. This cuts productivity by 30%, so that the expected 7 days on the hard, dragged to 10 days.
We have not seen an attractive boatyard in our more than four and a half years of travelling and Granada Marine wasn’t an exception. The up and down the ladder to go to the toilets and showers, the mud, the mozzies and the sandflies, (no-see-ums) and general chaos can be challenging and we were therefore relieved to launch Esprit back into the water on the 1st October 2020.
After re-launching, it was late afternoon, so we tied up to the dock for the night to leave the next morning in a freshening wind from the south. We motored 2 nm to Westerhall Bay, which is very sheltered from the southerlies, which by the evening, had increased to 25 knots and torrential rain. We decided to stay put until the two systems to the northwest of us, moved on to Mexico.
The stay in Westerhall also gave me the opportunity to unpack the main food cupboard to dismantle the shelving and linings, to remove the lentils from a torn packet, below the floor, before they started sprouting. I also fixed two shopping trolleys with broken wheels and serviced the anchor winch.
There was no rush to get back to Woburn Bay to the west, so we visited a few more bays on our way back. After Westerhall Bay for two days, we anchored in Calivigny Harbour, at the top of Chemin Bay, where we did a walk to the nearby SOG supermarket for provisions. The next anchorage was at Port Egmont (a very good bolt hole in case of a hurricane), before motoring to and anchoring back in Woburn Bay on the 6th October.
It happened to be Tuesday when we re-anchored at Woburn Bay, so we visited Whisper Cove Marina for happy hour and pizzas and to catch up with the regulars we have met there before.
A must do visit in Woburn Bay is Nimrod’s rum shack and adjoining kitchen/restaurant run by his mother. We ordered her tasty roti’s and a few beers.
We motored around Hog Island to Secret Harbour, where our Canadian friends, Jan and Jane were anchored. We had last seen these fellow Jeanneau sailors in St Martin in January.
We caught up over drinks with Jan and Jane, with dinner at the Secret Harbour Marina restaurant, followed by a Sunday brunch at the West Indies Beer Brewery.
The Saturday weather was fine, so we installed a third reef in our mainsail – something that we wished we had during our Atlantic crossing, but probably won’t need on our Pacific crossing, (according to Murphy). In the afternoon we motored to Hog Island for a walk around the island and to have beers at Roger’s Barefoot Beach Bar afterwards.
Monday the 12th October saw two significant events. Simon Clay, the local B&G agent came out to Esprit, to update the software on our electronics system, which I wasn’t able to do through the hotspot on my mobile phone. The VHF radio wouldn’t talk to the portable handset and the autopilot was playing up. Simon downloaded the latest software updates and took the handset to check it out.
The technology today is so different, compared to 1982 when we did our first South Transatlantic Race to South America – back then we had a sextant, compass, charts, shortwave radio and sometimes weather forecasts. Now you need to be an electronics wiz. Not easy for a 73 year old fart.
The other event was the arrival of a young man on an Air Canada flight with Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases, which was stable for 6 months, at 24 persons infected and no deaths, to 25. I must say, Grenada is an excellent example to the world of how to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mask wearing and social distancing is mandatory everywhere, as is contact tracing. On entering a business, you have to wear a mask, sanitise your hands and going into restaurants/bars your temperature is checked and your name and contact number recorded in a logbook. Surely, this is fake news Mr Tweety Trump?
The 14th October was another good day. John of Fast Manicou was back and delivered our beer, wine and bulk supplies in the morning. At midday we picked up the new Tohatsu 9.8hp outboard in Prickly Bay, which we had ordered from Budget Marine. Our trusty Suzuki 6hp outboard has always been a bit light for our 2.9 m Highfield dinghy. We celebrated at the music jam hosted on Wednesday nights at Secret Harbour Marina with a large group of cruisers.
On Friday evening there was another enjoyable music jam at Hog Island with the cruisers anchored in the bay. The wine was flowing copiously at the boerewors braai aboard Esprit afterwards, with the result that we are having a quiet Saturday today, with me taking the opportunity to post this update.
The end of October signals the “end” of the hurricane season in this region (who knows?), so we plan to then sail west to the ABC islands to the north of Venezuela – we will update you then with our progress.
Finally, two updates from our daughter Michelle in Papua New Guinea: A socially distanced photo of the UN Women’s team meeting in Port Moresby and her working visit to the Kumin people in the Southern Highlands of PNG.