We were running out of time to get to Grenada from Martinique before Kimberly’s eleven-year-old godchild, Tesoro, arrived by plane to visit during her break from school, but we could not bring ourselves to sail past St. Lucia without stopping in the land of the pitons. We arrived in Rodney Bay right before sunset, and knew the next few days would be a whirlwind tour to try to see the island before we had to move on.
Despite the lack of time, we managed to squeeze in a land tour with our friends from s/v Dos Libras. We enjoyed lunch under the famous pitons, a rum distillery, a carnival museum, and quite a bit of the island. It seems like a blur now, so a longer visit to St. Lucia is definitely on the schedule for next season.
On our last full day on the island, we moved ¡Pura Vida! to a mooring right between the majestic pitons that are the iconic symbols of St. Lucia. They are even more impressive when you are at sea level looking up at these gigantic pillars on either side of your boat. This location was not just scenic, but provided us a more southern departure point for the next day’s sail to Bequia.
We did not plan to visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines on our way south; but a quick, overnight stop at one of the islands would break up the long sail to Grenada into two day passages instead of a long overnight one. We completely ruled out stopping in the island of St. Vincent because of the escalating violent crime against boaters there, and the local officials’ lack of proper prosecution of repeat offenders.
The most logical stopping point to break up the sail south is the whaling community on the island of Bequia. You read that right! Bequia is the only island in the Caribbean that actively hunts whales, as well as other marine mammals. A recent whale watching tour on the island got a macabre spectacle of this “tradition” as a local whaling boat herded and killed two Orcas right in front of them. While every cruiser we know raves about the beauty of this island, we choose to not support their economy until they stop whaling.
Fortunately, there is a way to stop overnight without having to clear in or pay any fees to the local authorities or merchants. We anchored in Bequia in the afternoon and remained under quarantine with our yellow “Q” flag flying. This flag indicates that you have not cleared into the country, and nobody aboard is allowed to go ashore. Most countries allow you to anchor overnight under quarantine if you are just passing through. By sunrise the next morning, we were on our way south again.
We arrived in Carriacou, one of the three major islands that make up the country of Grenada, in the early afternoon. We cleared in with customs and immigration, and started searching for a place to eat and have our traditional celebratory drink at the end of a passage – even small passages deserve a toast! We walked down a tiny dirt path between buildings and reached the Playa Bar. This seaside shack was exactly what we wanted, and a great way to celebrate arriving at our summer home.
For so many cruisers, Grenada is the end of the line. It is a milestone, and a location to relax and spend the summer months relatively safe from hurricanes before heading back north along the Windward Islands or west along the northern coast of South America. We had arrived!
Now there were only a couple of things left to do, sail a little bit further south to Grenada proper, and pick up Tesoro at the airport. Only two obstacles stood in our way: an active underwater volcano named Kick ‘em Jenny and Tropical Storm Don, which was expecting to arrive in Grenada at almost exactly the same time as Tesoro’s flight. Once again, nature was forcing us to change our plans.
Kick ‘em Jenny normally has a 1.5 kilometer safety zone that should be avoided by mariners because the volcano is currently active. At the time we sailed by, however, the safety zone had been broadened to 5 kilometers because Jenny was being a bit more rambunctious than normal. The danger to a boat from an underwater volcano is not just from an eruption. Even a small pocket of gas escaping the volcano can suck a boat below the water in a split second, leaving no trace that you were ever there. No time to deploy a life raft, no time to take evasive maneuvers. Just POOF! You are gone. Needless to say, we stayed well outside the danger zone.
The next obstacle was a bit trickier to avoid as Tropical Storm Don was aiming directly at Grenada. We were not overly concerned for our safety since Don was not predicted to be a major event, but we were not keen on introducing a child to the boating life by riding a dinghy to a boat at anchor in tropical storm winds and waves. We called a local marina and secured a slip reservation for the morning of her arrival. We secured ¡Pura Vida! to the dock with plenty of extra lines and fenders, and took off for the airport to pick up our arriving passenger.
By nightfall, we were a “kid boat” with a tropical storm approaching, but that’s a story for the next blog…