Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Exploring Grenada by Sea

September is coming to an end and with that the hot and steamy weather hopefully will as well. Time to crank up our energy, motivation and wanderlust level. Compared to our hurricane season from last year, however, we can’t complain. At least, this year, we can jump into the clear waters of Grenada when needed; something that was impossible in the Luperon Lagoon (DR). Why did they call that place Pooperon again?

Five consecutive days of heavy rain made our lives a bit cooler and work focused, since there was not much else to do. For Darwin this came at a good time as well, since he started biting his tail again. As a result of that wound, he was not allowed to swim (read: cool off in the water). Fortunately it looked healed again just when the sun resumed her strong self. The only negative about the timing of these rain storms was that we just started our two week vacation! Yes, we decided to actually sail a bit and explore the anchorages around Grenada…

On September 12th we left the safe, secure and social scene of southern Grenada to round the western “bend”. Impressive sunsets, with a colorful fire ball disappearing behind a watery horizon, even after a rainy day accompanied cocktail time again. The surrounding clouds were impressive. Funny how the sky “way out there” was always bluer than over the mainland, those days. It must have to do with the mountains.

There are quite a few protected anchorages along the western shore. We’ve always wanted to check Morne Rouge Bay, just south of Grand Anse, Grenada’s most popular beach where anchoring is prohibited. The beach at Morne Rouge is pretty as well, but more deserted and low key. The water is clear and the snorkeling good near the southern point. We tried to find dinner in the form of conch or lobster (yes, lobster season is open again), but all the ones we found appeared too small. For three nights, Irie was the only boat present. Other sailors are put off by the charts of the area. They show a four foot depth. Sometime

s it’s good to have a catamaran! Definitely a place to go back.

In the capital, St. George’s, we stocked up on some groceries and three pounds of fresh fish. We had to, because all our own fishing expeditions and trials in the deep Grenadian waters failed miserably so far. Our big excitement in the anchorage outside of the lagoon (inside they are expanding the Fort Louis marina and anchoring is becoming “unwanted”), was that our anchor caught from the first try. The holding here is not the best and luck was on our side this time, even though we couldn’t see the bottom with the rain and clouds. It almost made up for our three hour endeavor the previous time we anchored here.

Our next stop was 2.5 miles north of St. George’s, in a bay called Dragon Bay. We entered and approached the shore for more protection, when a group of fishermen on the beach started yelling. “Don’t anchor there, use the moorings!” It took a while before we understood what they were getting at. Two pink mooring buoys are located near the entrance of the bay. We turned Irie around and carefully investigated this area close to the rocks. There appeared to be no painters on the buoys and fishing nets and floats were attached to them. Mark jumped in the dinghy to talk to the guys on the beach to confirm what they wanted. They needed the bay to fish with their big net. After a few tries we finally managed to attach ourselves to one of the mooring balls. After a look around with our snorkel mask, the mooring seemed to be in decent shape and the big nets contained lots of bait fish. Our keels rubbed against them once in a while and the fishing float banged against our hull. The swell was also more uncomfortable than deeper in the bay, but other than that, the night was uneventful. By next morning, the fishermen still hadn’t started their fishing. It is their bay, of course, which is why we followed their wishes, but to us it appears as if they simply don’t want boats to anchor in Dragon Bay anymore.

The reason one checks out the Dragon Bay area is the underwater statue garden. Mark and I snorkeled around Moliniѐre Point, but more than a few women’s statues lying on the ocean’s floor, we didn’t find. Next time, we bring a statue detector or underwater museum expert.

The winds were enormously light, so we decided to motor sail to our next destination, just like a few other boats. It had been a while, so we justified it to be able to continue our trip. When we arrived at Ronde Island, one of the islands between Grenada and Carriacou, we were surprised about the relatively calm waters. People had warned us about the swell here and depending on that we would just have lunch here or stay for the night. We anchored off the beach in some of the clearest water we’ve been in. This comes close to the Turks and Caicos and Bahamas!

With a visit to the beach we decided to stay and enjoy an afternoon of relaxing and snorkeling. It felt like being part of an aquarium. The visibility was awesome and the fish were plentiful and quite unique. During the night, the notorious swell arrived and the current and gusty wind played funny games with Irie, keeping us from spending another peaceful day here. Next time, we will have to put out a second anchor.

When we first arrived in Carriacou, now almost two months ago, we ran out of time because we wanted to attend carnival on the “mainland”. Now, we’re back to be part of the Tyrell Bay community for a few days. There are still a lot of boats, but it is quiet enough and the atmosphere on shore is different than Grenada. We find the people more friendly, the area quite laid back and the mingling with the locals interesting. Next on the agenda: Petite Martinique and Petite St. Vincent, after stopping in the Hillsborough area.

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