Saturday, December 5, 2009

Grenada with Visitors

Mark and I have been very busy lately and the arrival of visitors would mean we HAD to relax and do some fun stuff, at least while they were in Grenada. Irie got put back in the water right in time for the arrival of my cousin Griet and her husband Wim. The preparations were made for a nice, easy vacation and my plans included lots of sightseeing, relaxation on beautiful beaches, anchoring in deserted bays, swimming in the clearest of waters, watching millions of sparkling stars and snorkeling with tropical sea life. Why do I always have high expectations? When will I learn that making plans is impossible while living on a boat? Well, making plans is the easy part; it’s the execution of those well planned activities that require a little more than luck and agreeable weather gods…

For a little bit of extra money, the bus driver dropped me off at Grenada’s airport on Thursday, November 12th. Mark stayed with Darwin. He can’t be left alone these days and we needed the room in the dinghy for the luggage anyway. Griet and Wim arrived from Belgium a bit tired, but in a good mood and ready to take part in our sailing life. The first evening we had a lot of talking and catching up to do. The cocktails added to a wonderful evening.

The first few days we stayed in Prickly Bay. It’s easy to take a bus from there into the capital St. George’s, which is exactly what Griet, Wim and I did on Friday. Mark had a lot of online stuff to do for The Wirie, since that got neglected a bit in the boat yard, where we needed to focus on Irie. I led my family around Fort George with its nice views of the town and The Carenage (the inner harbor) and we explored one of the many churches, the center and the local market. At night we all went out to the Tiki Bar for tasty drinks and the best pizza in the Caribbean.

On Saturday, we planned to rent a car for the day to visit Grenada’s interior. Darwin, however, decided to start ruining our plans. He had gotten into his tail again the previous evening and needed to be taken to the vet. This would be the fourth time! We still hoped to combine the morning vet visit and the island tour, but when Darwin-left alone in the vet office by the doctor for a few minutes- bit his tail until it bled, he and his disappointed daddy went back to Irie. Griet, Wim and I set off inland. Wim did a great job navigating the narrow roads, avoiding the crazy drivers and staying on the left side. I focused on suggesting the correct turns and keeping him from falling off the edge of the road. A high level of concentration was needed!

We had a great day visiting Annandale Falls, avoiding cruise ship passengers, laughing at the absurd tourist traps, enjoying peaceful Grand Etang, observing a couple of monkeys, having a yummy sandwich in a local establishment, driving around the countryside and exploring the Seven Sister Falls, our highlight. After following a narrow, bumpy dirt track, we arrived at the muddy trail to the falls. For about half an hour, we walked and slid through the mud down a hill to two pools at the bottom of nice waterfalls. After some quiet time and a dip in the water, we splashed back to the car.

Our last day in Prickly Bay was spent on a beach with many of our cruising friends. Over drinks and a BBQ, we shared stories and said our goodbyes for the time being or for longer, since all of us have different plans for the winter season.

Then, it was finally time to leave the South Coast of Grenada. Irie and her crew spent two days in Morne Rouge for some snorkeling, beach time and relaxation. Darwin behaved, but only because he wasn’t left alone. Mark and I decided against more tests for now and took the dog to the vet one more time in St. George’s to obtain a health certificate for the trip north. We also went shopping for the last time in a decent grocery store. That day, Griet and Wim did a few more sights in the capital and treated us to a fancy and tasty dinner.

The day before our planned crossing to Carriacou, a part of our outboard engine broke. With a lot of effort, Mark brought the four of us to shore. Our guests went of by themselves again to see their last points of interests on the island of Grenada, while I ran errands in town and Mark tried to locate the engine part for the dinghy. Our dinghy is as important as a car on shore, or even worse, since we can’t get anywhere without it. Having to take a dog to shore at least twice a day makes the dinghy invaluable for us. Darwin stayed home with a huge cone on his head. When Mark and I came back after a couple of hours, he had managed to reach his tail and bite more fur and skin off it! Needless to say, our moods were pretty foul… Mark spent the rest of the day fixing the engine in the beaming sun. He succeeded and I was very proud of him!

Once we left for Cariacou, the sky cleared up, figuratively anyway, because it actually did start to rain a bit more… Our group had lunch and a wonderful snorkel experience in Ronde Island, before continuing on to Tyrrel Bay, where we spent two comfortable nights. We all walked to Paradise Beach, one of the nicest beaches in Grenada and soaked ourselves into the local, relaxed culture of the island.

The following two nights, we anchored at peaceful Sandy Island for some snorkeling and rest. We also hopped over to Hillsborough, Carriacou’s “capital” to run a few errands and book a flight back to Grenada for Griet and Wim.

Next, Irie brought us to Anse La Roche, a cruiser’s secret of a harbor. We were the only boat there and the nice, undeveloped beach, clear water and snorkeling spots belonged to us for the day! Before we headed back to Tyrrel Bay, the next day, we took Griet and Wim out sailing for one last time. The hope was to catch some fish, but we failed. We nevertheless had a wonderful sail and a nice dinner on shore that evening.

All in all, we had a great time together and all of us enjoyed the experiences. Mark and I are very appreciative of Griet and Wim’s attitude on the boat. They were very easy and flexible guests, “taking it as it comes”, making all the things that go wrong less stressful for us. We are happy we could share our “usual” life on Irie with them. Their relaxed and positive moods rubbed off on us, while we have picked up our cruising life once more. Now I just have to get used to doing those dishes myself again!

(For many more pictures, look at

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