Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Growing Roots in Carriacou?

The initial disappointment of not being able to sail to Tobago (unfavorable wind and current) is slowly ebbing away, while Mark and I are spending more and more time in laid-back Carriacou. This island has always been one of our favorite stops, but we never managed to stay “until we got bored” because of other “obligations” in Grenada, like carnival in St. George’s or conducting business in Prickly Bay, or because of the urge to get to St. Maarten to sell Wiries during the high season. So now, Tyrrel Bay finds Irie in its protected harbor, with tons of other boats over the Carriacou Regatta week.

Actually, that event just finished and –even though we didn’t race or crewed on somebody else’s boat this year- we were a little bit involved in some of the activities. While the regatta is in process, the Carriacou Children’s Education Fund organizes a whole bunch of activities to collect money for its good cause. Mark and I went to the annual BBQ and potluck and met up with old friends and new friends while savoring a variety of delicious dishes. The youngsters (that’s us and our German friends) hung out until midnight that day and even the electricity outage couldn’t chase us off. Hurrah for the flashlight that lives in my pocket every night to help us find our way back to Irie, a mandatory habit form the St. Martin days…

The auction, where donated items are up for bit, was also a great success, with record sums being gathered this year. We donated a Wirie, just like last year, and now there is yet one more of those decorating a cruising boat in the Caribbean. It was a very hot day, with little shade around, and all the organizers and volunteers did a fantastic job. Also, for the first time in my life, I joined a yoga session organized by one of the cruisers in return for a donation. The air was hot and humid and sweat kept running down my face, but I truly enjoyed the experience and already feel more at peace… Keeping it up is another (non-existing) story. It might sound like I am promoting the CCEF events a bit too much, but that is because I have been deeply immerged in all the activities. I was appointed to write articles about the CCEF gatherings and they will appear in the September issue of Caribbean Compass and the October issue of All At Sea (also available at the Annapolis boat show).

Last Sunday the racing cruising yachts had a day off and the whole Tyrrel Bay crowd moved to Hillsborough by local buses to watch the events taking place there. The local work boats took off from the beach for several races and many activities with funny names took place in the streets and on a stage, while loud music boomed through massive speakers. The local bars were flooded with islanders and tourists alike and the atmosphere was festive. Drinks were very affordable and the streets filled with party goers. As always is the case with island events, time schedules were way off and finding/watching some of the games and competitions proved impossible. Mark and I did manage to observe the “balloon shaving” competition, but missed out on the donkey races, which would take place the following day. We did purchase a T-shirt to support the “We CARE-organization” (Carriacou Animal Rescue Effort) in hopes that one day they will be successful in spaying and neutering all the stray dogs and cats and in making sure all pets receive love and a good home.

The big differences between sitting in Simpson Bay Lagoon (St. Martin) for a while and in Tyrrel Bay are the pace of life ashore (and onboard), the shorter distance to shore (we’re not going through 5 gallons of fuel a week anymore) and the fact that we manage to take (most of) our weekends off. [Another big difference is that most food items are hard to come by, but we manage and spend less money in the process.] The advantage of those weekends off is that we are actually devoting some time together, the two of us, that we succeed to relax a bit and that we explore new places, like two weekends ago. Mark and I motored into current and wind for a good hour and a half, to reach Saline Island, where we rested, read, enjoyed the scenery, marveled at and into the clear water and snorkeled amongst the pretty and colorful coral. (See full story on It was nice and we’re hoping to do something similar the coming weekend. The goal is to find a healthy balance between work and fun and I think we might actually be on our way to achieving that!

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