APRIL---Carriacou to Grenada to Trinidad

Time to leave Carriacou---lifted anchor at COD (crack of dawn) on April 1 sailing to St. David's harbor on the south coast of Grenada. Ray and Irene on C-DRIFTERS left Carriacou with us. Fantastic sail---a broad reach with 15-18 knots of apparent wind down the windward side of  Grenada. Had two fishing lines out the entire time. Caught one barracuda and there was some discussion regarding the fate of the barracuda. Carl wanted to keep it but left the final decision to me---the barracuda went over board. Later, in discussions with other cruisers, we now know how to prepare barracuda!!. I guess it is safe to eat the smaller barracuda down here---more than likely you will get barracuda when you order fish and chips in the southeast Caribbean.

There wasn't much to see or do at St. David's harbor. Yes, it is well protected by reefs on both sides of the entrance. It is home to a good marina and the Bel Air Plantation which is a resort for land tourist with eleven Villas and Cottages.  Ended up anchoring twice--our first spot was great until low tides when we were almost touching bottom.  Our preference is to anchor is 12 feet of water but at St. David's I guess you have to anchor in deeper water. Anchoring in deeper water means putting out more chain.

The next anchorage---Clark's Court Bay which is only 6 nautical miles from St. David's. We anchored just east of Clark's Court Marina. Hopped in the dinghy, picked up Ray and Irene for site seeing. First stop---Clark's Court Marina which is one of the friendliest marinas that I have ever visited.  Next  to Hog Island. The anchorage on the west side of Hog Island is well protected and is considered a good Hurricane Hole by many long-term cruisers. As a result, boats are anchored here for long periods of time and have formed a small cruising community.  Unfortunately there are also several derelict boats in the anchorage---some of  them look like they have been abandoned---an eye sore in "Paradise".  On the beach is Roger's Beach Bar--a crude Tiki Bar/open shack where locals, cruisers and tourists on local catamarans hang out. Yes, this place is what I thought I'd see when I dreamed of cruising the Islands. The afternoon of our visit, Roger was doing an "Oil Down" while the locals were preparing a fish stew. First about the fish stew---the cooks would place fresh, live conch still in the shell on the hot coals. When the shells were blackened--they would carry the conch to the water to cool them off them pull the meat out. While the fish stew cooks were stoned and drunk, they seemed to be having a good time.

Now  what is Oil Down? Grenada's national dish is called "oil-down". It is popular at local "cook-ups" or barbecue parties on the beach. Oil-down is a hearty one-pot (big black cauldron) meal of salted meat (pig snout, pig tails, etc.), chicken, breadfruit, callaloo, ripe green bananas, pumpkin, carrots and other vegetables. . The whole thing is stewed in coconut milk, herbs and spices to add more flavor.  We had drinks in front of the bar so we could watch all the action . We did not stay to eat the fish stew or the Oil Down. As a note,  rumor has it that Hog Island has been purchased by a developer with plans to develop yet another piece of  "Paradise".

Yes, Clark's Court Bay is a beautiful spot. There is at least one downside that rears its ugly head at night when it is calm---a rotten fermented smell from the Rum Distillery. Forgive me but it smells like a backed up sewer. Pew, Pew, Pew.

From Clark's Court we traveled about 4.5 nautical miles to Prickly Bay.  Great to see HIGH STATES (Randy and Lynn) and BELLAGIO (Kerry and Kathy) at anchor when we pulled in. Met Randy, Lynn, Kerry and Kathy in Trinidad during the 2008-2009 Hurricane Season.  The six of us met up one night for pizza and conversation at Prickly Bay Marina---Davido, who runs the restaurant, is Italian. Davido makes a very good thin-crust pizza.  One Wednesday night, Lynn arranged for a maxi taxi to take 18 cruisers over to Clark's Court Marina for "Burger Night". You should have seen how we were packed into that van! There was no room to move and barely room to breathe. The driver's name--Bubbler was the size of Mr. T so he took up two thirds of the front while two regular sized cruisers shared the remaining third! Had a good time at Burger Night--pretty decent food and very good music. I am not a fan of  Pan (Steel Drums) but this guy was good. He added a synthesizer and sang tunes we cruisers were familiar with.

The first group of pictures were taken at Clark's Court Marina on Burger Night. The first picture is a line of Cruisers picking up buns, condiments and french fries. Randy in the red shirt and Lynn in the blue shirt are waiting in line at the grill for their hot burger.  Our entertainer for the night is shown in the third picture--he was really good. The last picture is some of our group sitting at the table listening to the music and visiting (Left to right is Kathy & Kerry from BELLAGIO, Carl, April & Alan from MOODY BLUE. (07, 08, 05, 06)

The  evening of Good Friday, Ray, Irene, Carl and I went into the Tiki Bar at Prickly Bay Marina for Happy Hour. I decided to have a rum punch. Well.....the rum was basically pure alcohol so the drinks were so strong. I didn't even finish my second one when the sweetness of the drink and the strength of the alcohol overwhelmed me. Wow, bad news. It was not a very Happy Hour for me. The next morning, Carl and I met up with Lynn, Randy, Kathy and Kerry for breakfast and a trip to the DVD movie store. The walk did me good! Had a great breakfast (quiche) at La Boulangerie and then we caught a maxi taxi into St. George's. Purchased several new DVD movies to watch on the boat and later exchange with cruisers for another movie.

Below is a picture of the dinghy dock at Spice Island Marina. Somehow, we always managed to find a parking space! (014)

Invited Ray and Irene for Easter Dinner. Did NOT do the traditional ham. I found some good local whole chickens to roast in the oven. Baked pumpkin bread and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Irene brought over vegetables (carrots, turnips and cabbage). I also made mashed potatoes. Plenty of good food to eat with good friends.

The two pictures below were taken before Easter Dinner was served. Ray and Irene (C-DRIFTERS) on the left with Carl in the picture to the right. (015, 016)

Ten F-15s and 125 personnel from the 33rd Fighter Wing out of Eglin AFB in Florida provided great entertainment for us while anchored in Prickly Bay.  They were in Grenada to provide aerial security support for Summit of the Americas conference in Trinidad (President Obama was there). This unit used the same runway at Point Salines Airport that the F-15 fighters used in 1983 during Urgent Fury. It was in 1983 that the US came to Grenada to restore peace after Maurice Bishop and some of this cabinet were executed by Coard's faction. I tried numerous times to get a picture of the F-15s when they blasted over Prickly Bay but the fighter jet is too fast and I am too slow (a terrible combination). The F-15s always flew in pairs. The first one would arouse us from whatever we were doing....we would make it to the cockpit by the time the second jet screamed over. When you are far from home and see our military in action it makes me proud to be an American. As a note, this cruise has made be appreciate my home country more than ever. We are not perfect but the USA is one great country. On one of our walks around the area, we went out to the airport where there is a monument recognizing the US effort back in 1983.

The next two pictures were taken on one of our walks. The first picture is a close up of a flower. There are so many beautiful flowers all over Grenada. The second picture was taken close to the airport. The plaque on the monument says" This plaque expresses the gratitude of the Grenadian People to the forces from the United States of American and the Caribbean. Especially those who sacrificed their lives in liberating Grenada on 25 October 1983. " It was dedicated by President Ronald Reagan on his visit to Grenada on 20 February 1986. (10, 12)

Found a great weather window and another boat (SUNBORNE with Horst and Shariffa) to make the passage to Trinidad with us.  Left Grenada shortly after midnight on Saturday, April 9. Winds were East at 18-22 knots with a northeast swell of 7 feet. I took the helm from midnight until 5 AM. The sailing was so easy and pleasant that I didn't ask Carl to take over for me.  Around 3 AM, a low flying plane circled us three times. When Carl took the helm, hel put the boat on autopilot and brought the cockpit cushion up for comfort while I slept for an hour. Around 11 AM, a Trinidad Coast Guard helicopter checked us out circling three times. Security near Trinidad was on high alert because the Summit of the Americas was underway.

The first picture is Carl excited about leaving Grenada. We had been in Prickly Bay long enough and a good weather window opened  and everything was ready for our midnight departure. He looks pretty relaxed and happy doesn't he!. The second picture is the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard helicopter that was checking us out. (020, 024)

Tied up at the Custom's Dock at 1:45 PM. Our average speed was 5.5 knots. After clearing into Trinidad, we headed to TTSA (Trinidad Tobago Sailing Association) where we dropped anchor and rested most of the day.  Monday, Carl was off running errands while I did five loads of laundry. In between loads, I would check on DISCOVERY's position in the anchorage because the wind had come up quite a bit since we left the boat. All of a sudden--- DISCOVERY was gone! She was dragging anchor and moving through the anchorage toward shore. Our dinghy was locked to the dinghy dock and I didn't have the key so I found a guy to give me a ride out to DISCOVERY. Had my Trinidad cell phone so I called Carl to let him know what was up and "urged" him to hurry back. Started the engine but I could not maneuver the boat and pull up the anchor at the same time. Seemed like I was losing ground. The Trinidad Coast Guard was circling me in their boat giving me some hand signals. I could not understand what they were trying to tell me and frustrated that  they didn't talk to me on the radio! I finally made a call on the radio "Can someone help me re-anchor"?  Afraid I sounded kind of panicky but then perhaps I was! No help arrived and I was feeling stupid and helpless. Have to say that Carl arrived sooner than I expected. Once he was on board,  the two of us had things under control within five minutes. As you can imagine....I was upset. Carl kept telling me all was fine. TTSA is a great place to stay but the holding sucks.

One afternoon while at TTSA, we lifted anchor and went over to Five Islands or Nelson Islands. These islands are Trinidad's Ellis Island----where all the indentured servants from India were processed.  The purpose of our little excursion was to get into cleaner water so we could run the watermaker one more time. When we were ready to head back to TTSA, Carl was on the bow ready to pull anchor when a helicopter came over....very, very low. The helicopter hovered near a small beach and dropped off two guys dressed in black from head to toe with serious looking weapons. The helicopter pilot left the guys and circled us a couple times. We waved at him....he waved back at us. What was going on?  My guess...they were looking for drug smugglers. Five Islands are a National Heritage Park less than 1/2 mile from another island that houses a prison! Doesn't seem like a good place to deal drugs but apparently it is. The western coast of Trinidad is so close to Venezuela (7 miles) so there is heavy drug trafficking. The drugs are dropped at night in Five Islands and picked up later for selling in Trinidad.

One day while sitting in the cockpit reading a book, I noticed patches of "boiling water". Small fishes were moving into the bay. The patches were approximately 100 feet in length and 20 feet in width. It was fascinating to watch. Oh, did the pelicans go wild diving into the patches and scooping up the fish. Also attended the regular Monday night TTSA Potluck where we were entertained by Tony on keyboard and bass and his friend who played guitar. They were very, very good. Additionally a young lady from South Africa "twirled fire buckets off chains" (I'm sure there is technical name for it).

The next six pictures were taken during our stay at TTSA. The first picture was taken to show the waves generated by southeast winds--the day DISCOVERY took a walk through the anchorage with no one on board. The second picture was taken at sunrise--a beautiful time of the day. The third picture  shows the boiling water--actually small fishes swarming into the anchorage. The picture four and five were taken at the Potluck--the crowd and our entertainment. Finally picture six is a squid that we found on deck in the morning. (26,29,31,40, 43, 44)

Moved over to Chaguaramus Bay on April 29 where we stayed on a mooring for two nights. The plan is to move to a dock on May 1 to start getting the boat ready for long term storage.

Here are some interesting tidbits (at least to me) that took place this month but don't fit in the write-up!. On Saturday 4th April, 2009 at 05:24 a.m. local time an earthquake occurred in southern Trinidad. The event was located at 10.23°N 61.29°W-- southern Trinidad. No damage was reported.

On April 13th---finally a sunspot after 18 consecutive spotless days! Learned about sunspots or the lack thereof while listening to the weather on SSB (single side band radio). We are currently in a deep solar minimum. In 2008 there were no sunspots 266 days of the year (73% spotless). To find a year with fewer sunspots you have to go all the way back to 1913 with 311 spotless days (85%). So far, 2009 looks like it will have even more spotless days than 1913. As of April sunspots for 78 days or 87% spotless.  Fascinating isn't it?

Another tidbit I heard about on the 6:30 AM SSB weather net ---the Apophis pre-anniversary. In twenty years, on April 13th, 2029, asteroid Apophis will pass by Earth only 18,300 miles above the planet's surface and well inside the belt of communications satellites. At closest approach, the 300-meter-wide asteroid will shine like a 3rd magnitude star, visible to the unaided eye from cities in Africa, Europe and Asia. There is a VERY small chance (1 in 45,000) that the 2029 encounter will bend the asteroid's orbit so that it returns to Earth and actually hits the planet on April 13th, 2036. While experts believe that future observations will probably rule out a collision, NASA and others are thinking about asteroid deflection strategies. I guess I won't be around to see how it plays out in 2036.

Next a Tsunami Statement was issued for countries within and bordering the Caribbean Sea except Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. An earthquake (magnitude 6.7) occurred on April 16 in the South Sandwich Island region (56°18'–59°27'S, 26°23'–28°08'W). This is a very remote area. The statement said a threat does not exist based on historical data. However, small possibility of a local tsunami that could affect coasts located usually no more than a hundred kilometers from the epicenter but authorities should be aware of the possibility. Who would of thought an earthquake between the southern tip of Argentina and Antarctica would remotely affect the Caribbean?? Wow!

Lastly, a humpback whale was killed by the whalers in Bequia on April 24. In Bequia they have a legitimate right to hunt whales under the Aboriginal Subsistence Scheme. The whaler use time-honored methods, such as hand-held harpoons and wooden boats – which at 25ft long are less than half the size of an average humpback for hunting. I realize whaling is a big part of Bequia's culture and tradition but I also hate the thought of whales being killed.

Submitted by:
Marilyn Thoreson
May 4, 2009