Sunday, 26 February 2012

Chilling out in Carriacou ….. February 2012

P2130025 08 – 14 February 2012
P2090011 We managed to dodge all the squalls around us while enroute from Clifton on Union Island to Hillsborough on Carriacou.   We anchored off the town and main dock in this big bay, there isn’t much of a headland to protect it from the swell but luck was finally with us and the winds were starting to abate, consequently the swells were dropping – at last!   We sat and waited out more downpours before making a run for it ashore in the dinghy, another island, another country, another check in!

After just coming from multi coloured Clifton, Hillsborough was looking somewhat on the drab and shabby side, most of the main street sure could do with a lick of paint to brighten things up but in fairness grey skies and drizzle never makes anywhere look its best.  It was clean though and the locals friendly. P2090015 We did the rounds of immigration, customs and harbour master to check in.  We almost didn’t do customs, at that point it was raining hard and very dark, the little customs booth had no lighting in it and Skipper didn’t actually see the customs lady sitting at her desk against the dark background and behind the glass window - whoops!!!

We stayed just the one night then moved over to Sandy Island just a mile or so offshore.  It’s a marine reserve and there are several moorings which appeared to be free.  We packed a picnic lunch and dinghied ashore.  P2090013It’s a tiny island with the most beautiful soft white sand, just a delight to squish your toes into and even when you sit down it doesn’t stick to you, lovely.  We snorkelled off the eastern point, the coral wasn’t great but it was the best we have seen so far in the Caribbean and there was plenty of fish around.  Unfortunately it was quite choppy so our snorkels kept filling with water, never a good thing.  We tried the other end of the island but it was worse, so sat and enjoyed our picnic lunch on our own little deserted Caribbean island, magic!

We had planned to stay the night but the wind was up to 20 knots again and coming out of the east so the closest protection was over a mile away, it was getting rather bumpy in there.  The protected anchorage of Tyrell Bay was only another couple of miles away so off we went to our next new home.  P2120021

Tyrell Bay is a popular spot as it has a “hurricane hole” an almost totally enclosed shallow lagoon surrounded by mangroves.  Although this area was thought to be outside the hurricane belt for many years, Hurricane Ivan dispelled that theory when he ripped through a few years ago, causing major damage to these southern Caribbean Islands, the two boats in the photo must have been causalities  There is not much ashore in Tyrell Bay, part of its beauty, there were no “boat boys” trying to sell us lobster, fish, bread, fruit and veges (at the regular twice market value price – hey but it is delivered!), no loud music at night, not even street lights so it was all starlight and birdsong – just wonderful.

P2130026 Irene and Chris on Cuttyhunk popped up again so we spent a day with them exploring.  We caught a local minibus into Hillsborough then squashed into another and headed for Windward, a village, not surprisingly on the windward side of the island.  Poor Irene had the pleasure of sitting next to the local nutter, there seems to be one on most of these buses, of course the rest of the locals just ignore them, Irene was way too polite for that and made herself a friend for life! 

Windward is known for its small wooden boat building industry, and I can confirm that there is little else there!  We could hear some hammering going on so asked a local if we could find a boat under construction and gained permission to enter through the Private Property fence and along the beach.  P2130022 There were 3 boats under construction and we were invited onboard one for a look around.  It is nearing completion and now really only needs the engine to be installed and final touches made.  The gentleman has been building it for the last 18 months in his spare time and will give it to his sons who will use it for tuna fishing, the tuna is sold to the American market, by product caught is sold to the local market.  He was amazed  and impressed that we had all sailed all the way here from New Zealand, don’t think he had received any kiwi visitors before. 

We caught another minibus back to Hillsborough, admiring the lush countryside enroute, as with most of these islands it all seems so green and fertile yet they grow very little produce, seems such a waste. P2130029 We sniffed out some excellent chicken rotis for lunch at a local cafe just by the town dock, did a little produce provisioning then made our way back to Tyrell Bay, it was a great excursion – the bus ride alone in all these islands has provided much entertainment!

We whiled away a few more days then left with Cuttyhunk to do the day sail south down to Prickly Bay in Grenada.  I was foolish enough to suggest a race, and wagered a bottle of rum, sadly their Farr 44 raceboat slipped through the water just a little quicker than beautiful Balvenie, Skipper always says it’s the two sewing machines we have onboard that slow us down, I say it's all the bottles of rum - they were 2.83 miles ahead at the finish line after 35 miles, a good effort and a great days sailing in relatively flat waters and azure seas – now do we have any of those little airline miniature rum bottles onboard???????

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