We have definitely been on the move since my last post. We continued north to explore the islands of Guadeloupe and then turned southward to return to Grenada and finish up this year’s cruising season. Since we arrived on Grenada in January and launched Delphinus we have visited 12 different islands, many of them more than once.
Iles des Saintes
Iles des Saintes (or The Saints) is a small island just south of the main island of Guadeloupe. Guadeloupe and its island group are a department of France. We visited this island last year and enjoyed it immensely, so were glad to return.
One day we hiked up to an abandoned fort overlooking the harbor. In addition to the beautiful views, we were greeted by this very friendly goat. In the back of Pete’s backpack is fresh-baked baguette we had picked up in town. I think the goat may have smelled it and was hoping for a treat.
The town is very quaint and the streets are lined with boutiques and restaurants and we took full advantage of them. We enjoyed several wonderful meals and snacks along the way. Pictured below (along with the beer) is a dish of “accras.” Accras are on almost every menu in the French islands. They are deep-fried fritters, usually with salt fish in them. We discovered along the way that every chef puts a different spin on their accras and enjoyed trying out as many different ones as we could.
We also crossed paths with our new friends from s/v Cinderella and shared a very nice meal in town with them.
Another afternoon while we were enjoying a gelato with our friends from s/v Nancy Lu and Sea Frog when we heard the church bells ringing loudly and continuously so we walked up the hill to investigate. We got there just in time to see the bridge and groom emerge from their wedding in the town’s church.
Our next stop was the main island of Guadeloupe, which is actually two islands joined by a bridge – Basse Terre and Grande Terre. We treated ourselves to several days in a marina. While there we rented a car for a couple of days to more thoroughly explore the islands. On the first day we drove around Basse Terre, armed with a map of various hiking trails. Basse Terre is the more mountainous island with lots of the area being a rainforest, with waterfalls, lush foliage and brilliant flowers.
The next day we drove around Grande Terre which has a flatter terrain, much of which is used for farming. Our drive took us along the Atlantic coast, with beautiful beaches, to the northernmost point of the island with its rocky cliffs.
On our way south again we made a quick overnight stop in Dominica before leaving for Martinique.
Next we spent a couple of days in Les Anse d’Alets, a small town on the western coast of Martinique. Like so many of these small towns in the French islands the church is a focal point of the town. We did manage to score a fresh baguette and a chocolate eclair from the local bakery.
We make our final stop in Martinique in La Marin for our final provisioning in a French Island. We stocked up on wine, foods and baked goods. On our way out of the harbour we found ourselves in the middle of a race among local boats called Yoles. They have large colorful square sails and long poles that extend over one side. As the boat sails the crew climb out on the poles to balance the boat, sometimes even dangling over the water from the ends of the poles.
On our way north we only made a quick overnight stop in Bequia in our haste to get to St. Lucia and our new dinghy. This time we spent a relaxing few days anchored in Admirality Bay.
Bequia is one of many islands in the island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The waterfront is lined with many restaurants, shops and produce vendors.
The vendors in the produce market were all anxious to sell their wares. As we picked out a Caribbean pumpkin from one stand, a man in the next stand told me to cook it with curry and saffron (which of course he was selling). He threw in a fresh nutmeg as a gift. We tried his suggestion and it was very good!
We have never visited Mustique before and decided to stop there on this trip. Mustique is a privately owned island. It was initially developed to sell homes to the very well off people who wanted privacy. As more homes were developed, the owners decided they wanted to control development and formed The Mustique Company. Today The Mustique Company manages the entire island. Visiting boats are welcome but are asked to respect the privacy of those in residence. The time we were there felt like we had the island to ourselves.
A big part of the mission of The Mustique Company is conservation of the natural resources and ecosystems of the island. They’ve developed nicely marked hiking trails which follow the coast and then turn inland to a lagoon which also serves as a bird n.
Our next stop was Canouan. It is a small island that is a study in contrasts. Most of the island resembles other Caribbean islands with narrow roads, modest homes and small businesses. The northern part of the island is a gated (and guarded) community of exclusive homes.
We rented a golf cart for a full day and toured the entire part of the island we had access to in about two hours. The Atlantic coast of the island had spectacular views. When we reached the gates of the private community we received a friendly greeting but were not allowed any further.
Shortly before leaving for Union Island we bought a lobster from a local fisherman, which we planned to grill that night.
Union Island – Chatham Bay
Soon after dropping anchor in Chatham Bay we were greeted by Vanessa who runs a small beach side grill. As she tried to convince us to come have dinner on shore we explained that we already had a lobster to cook. Being the great sales woman that she is, she suggested we bring our lobster, she would cook it for us along with a variety of side dishes and rum punch. It was an offer we couldn’t refuse! We had a delightful dinner and met an interesting French family who were there on a charter boat for the week.
Back to Grenada
On our way back to Grenada we have to sail by an area with an active underwater volcano, Kick-em Jenny, which is clearly marked on the nautical charts. Mariners are advised to stay clear of the 1.5 nautical mile exclusion zone. If the volcano erupts, the gases rising to the surface of the water can actually cause you boat to lose buoyancy and sink. We have always given the area a wide berth when passing through. The day after we passed Kick-em Jenny this time she had an eruption, with people in the northern end of Grenada feeling the tremors. I’m glad we missed that event.
We arrived back in Grenada, first anchoring in St. George’s bay and then a few days in Port Louise marina to get some work done.
On Sunday afternoon we went into the town of St. George’s which was deserted, with all the businesses closed on Sunday. We climbed up the hill to the old Fort George, which was originally built by the French and then claimed by the English. Parts of it are still in use today as police headquarters and a training facility. The church tower below is what remains of the Anglican church after Hurricane Ivan blew through in 2004.
After moving to Prickly Bay we arranged for a day long tour with Cutty, who is known as one of the best tour guides on the island. He will pull over his bus when he sees something worth sharing with us, pick it and pass it around for everyone to smell or taste. Below is a cocoa pod full of cocoa beans and a nutmeg.
Along the way we visited a nutmeg processing facility and an organic chocolate factory. It was amazing how much of the work in both is done by hand, the way it has been done for decades. Hurricane Ivan, in 2004, destroyed about 80% of Grenada’s nutmeg crop, but Cutty pointed how the crop is beginning to make a come back. Of course we got to taste the chocolates and enjoyed every bit of it.
Another stop was for a tour of the River Rum Company, which makes rum the same way it was done 100 years ago. It was maybe not the best tasting rum, but still impressive seeing how they crush the sugar cane using the power of a water wheel, boil it down, ferment, distill and bottle it. Much of the rum distilling today is done with already processed molasses and aged quite a bit longer than River Rum.
In the central area of Grenada there is the Grand Etang Lake, which is a crater lake in an extinct volcano. The lake and surrounding areas are part of a national park. Living within the surrounding rain forest are Mona monkeys, some of which will come out and interact with people if they think there might be some fruit available. They have come to know Cutty’s van and that he usually has fruit for them, so a few of them came out to say Hi.
Pete’s New Friend
After enjoying much of what Grenada has to offer, it was time to get serious about preparing Delphinus for her summer hiatus. One of the major concerns with leaving a boat in the hot, humid climate here is mold. To minimize that we wash down every surface inside the boat with vinegar and water and store all of our clothes and linens in vacuum sealed bags.
Our next step was to have Delphinus hauled out and stored “on the hard” in Grenada Marine. We have about a week here to do the final preparations that need to be done out of the water. Pete is doing most of this work because I don’t tolerate the sun and heat of the yard very well.
The very nice part of this is that we are staying at La Sagesse, a small boutique hotel in the next bay over. As I write this final blog of the season I’m sitting on our balcony with this view. It’s a tough life but someone’s got to do it!
I know this was a long entry, so if you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. We’re looking forward to getting back home, catching up with family and friends, and enjoying the amenities of land based life. We are planning to return to Grenada in November to do it all over again.
Stay tuned and stay in touch!