8-15th October 2016
We LOVE having visitors on Syrena! Not only is it an absolute delight to see our friends, catch up on all the gossip from Blightly, and share with them a slice of our new lifestyle; it also forces us to engage more with whichever beautiful location we are in, plan and recce an interesting itinerary for the week, and really jam-pack the most into every single day.
Alison & Tall Alan arrived with Alan’s daughter, the lovely Emma, flying into Grenada to share a week with us aboard Syrena. Collecting them in a hire car, (which we had utilised to the full already to do our not insignificant amount of admin) we treated them & ourselves to a night in Port Louis Marina, St Georges. Relaxing by the tranquil pool, whilst indulging in the happy hour Presidente beer, the flight and dreary weather in England was soon forgotten!
Having broken them in gently, we started bright & early the next day with a blustery five-hour sail to the north. This took us past the top of Grenada and its sister island Carriacou, to a small uninhabited spit of land called, very accurately, Sandy Island. We sailed in company with our friends aboard s/v So What and on arrival discovered that our friends on another kid boat, s/v Seashell were already on a mooring buoy.
The next two days were spent swimming, snorkelling, sunbathing, and enjoying the company of the other boat crews. A few of the guys were kite surfers and it was fab to watch, and even better that they let the kids, and anyone else who wanted to, have a go at practicing to fly the kites. Chris participated and helped as a safety boat.
With a fairly constant wind the snorkelling wasn’t as clear as it could have been, but I headed off to the northern point of the island, where you can often see giant squid. This resulted in me scaring myself silly by coming nose to nose with a huge black ray which was at least as large as my outstretched arms – I therefore cancelled snorkelling for the rest of the day and made a hasty retreat to shore!
Basketweaving with palm leaves was also on the agenda, thanks to the talented Jonah, from Seashell, and although the fire starting practice (with Will’s Bear Grylls survival kit) wasn’t exactly a success, we had a lot of ‘nearly there’ moments, with everyone trying to get the tinder lit with the firestick. Eventually we had to use a more robust technology on the fairly damp tinder, and regressed to the use of a hexiblock (white fire-lighter block to those non-Army) and blowtorch. Sundowners relaxing & chatting by the fire with the kids running feral on the island was definitely a kodak moment.
A fairly calm sail back south was only interrupted by a couple of short squalls (yes it does rain – a LOT!) to Dragon’s Bay, Grenada allowed us to all snorkel at the famous underwater Sculpture Park. Just to the north of St Georges this small bay at Moliniere Point, is home to a diverse range of sculptures, created by Jason Decaires Taylor. The standing people in a circle are spectacular, although on this occasion the visibility wasn’t great so we searched fruitlessly for some of the statues we had seen previously, the Mermaid was one we didn’t find this time!
Next on our whistle-stop tour of Grenada was the beautiful Grand Anse Beach. A two mile stretch of white-gold sands proved a perfect spot to spend the day. By anchoring at the farthest end of St Georges anchorage it’s just a short dinghy ride, or, as Alison & Alan proved, a fairly easy swim, with the additional highlight of spotting an eagle spotted ray on the way! After exhausting the kids with a spot of wakeboarding just off the beach, courtesy of our lovely friends on So What, we retreated to the white sands to soak up some of the Grenadian sunshine.
Contributing again to the local economy, all the kids purchased coconut shell necklaces from the charismatic Alvin on the beach; Amelie had a few hair braids done in a futile attempt to tame the mop that she refuses to brush (we are thinking perhaps dreds might work?); and a cheap but tasty takeaway lunch of rice & fish – meant we really didn’t have to stray too far from the sunbathing spot. With a fairly large number of kid boats in the same anchorage, a plan developed to eat ashore together, so we hit the Coconut Beach restaurant with the crews from So What, Sandy Feet, and Seashell, it was great to chat and get to know all these guys a little better. I can report that the Planters Punch was one of the few in Grenada that doesn’t knock you out after just one; the shrimp was delicious; and if you sit on the front beach table you will get your feet wet!
Having seven people aboard our small 13m long yacht, may seem like a squash & a squeeze, but actually we don’t really spend that much time aboard, or below decks. The meals we take upstairs in the cockpit, which has plenty of space and a table large enough seat eight, and we can all fit in comfortably when sailing. Especially if some of the crew choose to sleep / sunbath on the foredeck! the galley runs along the whole of one side of the saloon, and provides a lot of workspace, and a fridge & cool box. I’d prefer more than just a two ring stove, with small oven but it gets us by and I can easily cater for everyone with some forethought & planning. There are two bathrooms with heads & showers, and surprisingly plenty of hot water each day to enable everyone to have a quick rinse. Moving out of two of the four cabins, to accommodate our friends, enables them to have plenty of wardrobe space (for their hopefully, minimal, quantity of holiday clothing), and privacy when required for us all.
Exploring Grenada by boat is exciting; it gives you beautiful vistas that you cannot see from land; enables you to move with your home and everything you need; and visit places inaccessible by car. But of course the opposite is also true. Exploring inland is something we try to do frequently on our travels and although taking a tour, or going with a local guide/taxi driver gives the best in education and local knowledge to enhance the experience, it is often also very costly. To this end we usually dig out the guide books and hire a car.
There is something very exciting about breaking out onto the open road, in an unknown place, usually with only a tourist picture map as a guide. We tend to use what my dad calls ‘nav-sat’ rather than Sat-nav, which is the navigator sat next to the driver reading the dodgy map & calling out directions – or not – in the case of our nav-sat in Grenada – Tall Alan. The jeep we hired was the perfect thing for all the hills, and we spent a really lovely day exploring a little bit of this wonderful island. Taking in the amazing views from Fort Frederick, overlooking St Georges, we learned a little more of the history of the island in the precess. A drive up to the Grand Etang park, allowed the kids to impart their knowledge from Boat School on the different parts of a rainforest, and the types of plants & animals we might see. Desperately keen to spot a Mona Monkey, alas they once again escaped out attention, (less for one poor animal we saw chained up by a waterfall tourist attraction) but we did encounter lots of amazing humming birds; walked down to the volcanic crater lake & enjoyed the view from the old colonial house.
The Grenada Chocolate Factory at the Belmont Estate, was also winner with the adults & kids alike. We had our own Willy Wonka in the form of our fantastic guide, Meesha, who talked us through the whole chocolate process, visiting the cocoa trees, explaining how they ripen, what happens to the beans, the fermentation, and drying processes, and then how the products – cocoa butter, powered & chocolate – are produced. There was even an incident with vast swarms of ants that had us abruptly leaving the cocoa plantation site, but happily we came away with all children intact and mostly uninjured! Poor Emma, currently on a restricted diet through illness, couldn’t sample any, but I think the rest of us made up for it at the final stop on the tour – the tasting session! The Grenada Chocolate Company no longer sells beans but produces its own chocolate which is much more lucrative. The products are now widely available in the UK in Waitrose, and even our little (and totally amazing) chocolate company in Winchester – Chococo – use their tasty dark chocolate!
One of our favourite hideaway’s since we’ve been in Grenada is the gorgeous Phare Bleu Marina, out by Calvigny Island on the South coast. It was the final stop before we had to wave a sad goodbye to Alison, Alan & Emma. This cosy marina is full of friendly cruisers and, with its small beach; stunning caribbean vistas; a gorgeous swimming pool; well established quality restaurant; and free use of the Hobbie Cats to sail around the bay – is somewhere we could settle down for a while! The Lighthouse Ship moored in the marina is home to showers & bathrooms facilities, a snug chill-out room & library, a restaurant, bar & live music at least once a week. Its also a great place for Boat School lessons as we discovered earlier in the month! Relaxing here, and enjoying the great company, happy hour priced beer and watching the kids all play with their cruising friends in the pool was a really lovely end to a great week. As we sadly left Phare Bleu behind, and, bereft of our lively friends, sailed – our now very spacious feeling yacht – around the corner, we even managed to wave off the British Airways flight as it roared off overhead. One day it will be our turn to make that trip, but before then we’ve a few thousand miles to travel, more sights to see & more people to meet on our mad family adventure.