Grenada (6 Nov 2017)
Between the months of July to November the Caribbean is famous for hurricane season, peaking in the months of September & October. Many cruisers flock to Grenada in their hundreds mainly for boat insurance purposes as it’s 12 degrees North latitude and so ‘technically’ outside of the hurricane belt, but still averages 1 hurricane every 50 years. As a result it has become quite the sailing social scene.
With just over 2 months before our visit back to the UK there was plenty of time to make friends and hopefully meet some other boat families. All the anchorages were full to bursting with all kinds of live a boards seeking refuge; families, couples, retirees, drunks, dog owners, ocean crossers, sun seekers, novices, young, old, rich, poor, Americans, Dutch, Swedish, Canadians, French, Germans, Russians, you get the gist.
Such a wide variety of people all with one thing in common; wanderlust, a need to escape, explore and be free on the ocean. Free from the pressures on land such as mortgages but more importantly free from a society dominated by media and materialism, and the belief that wealth and power are what make you successful. I mean what’s the point of a 4-bedroom detached house and expensive shinny car if you spend ALL your time working to pay for it. Each cruiser has different reasons why they have chosen this life but fundamentally it’s to break away from the Rat Race and live a simple but spiritually fulfilling existence (or if you’d prefer the less air fairy hippy version its to laze around in the sun doing whatever the fuck they like).
So many ‘drifting’ folk in one place for so long meant that Grenada was bursting with social events from Yoga and Thai Chi, to Dominoes, Poker and the weekly Ladies Luncheon. It didn’t take long to make friends, in fact we made so many friends it was hard trying to make time for everyone two months just wasn’t long enough!
From an ocean perspective I personally don’t find Grenada the most striking of the Caribbean islands, anchorages can often be uncomfortable (rolly!), the water isn’t as clear & blue so snorkelling isn’t great. Don’t get me wrong there are a few pretty nice white sandy beaches but when you’ve been spoilt with the crème de la crème of the West Indies coastline for the last 18 months even above average just isn’t going to cut it. However it’s the inner beauty that’s brought by the genuine warmth and friendliness of the people that really makes this place stand out. Known, as the ‘Isle of Spice’ for its produce of nutmeg and mace crops, inland there is so much to see and do amid mountains, rivers, fragrant rainforest and exotic flowers.
Adventuring out on the local buses with a small group of families became a weekly ritual usually to one of the different waterfalls. They involved taking short hikes together along trails through giant bamboo, flowering birds of paradise, banana & mango trees, sampling guava fruit and smelling nutmeg on the way. Finally stopping for a communal lunch and quick dip in the refreshing cool water.
Late afternoons were often spent digging holes in the sand and swimming on the local ‘Calabash’ beach with other boat kids. Some days we would walk down to the food container park near the American University treating ourselves to ice-cream from the take away joints serving out of shipping containers. It had a little piece of green perfect for throwing a stick for Scrumpy and giving Daisy a chance to practise her walking. It really was an amazing time in our sailing adventure, particularly after the previous struggles during the early days of adapting with a baby on board.
For the first time since becoming parents Simon and I went out as a couple, on what is referred to as ‘date night’. Another boat mum we’d met a few times offered to babysit and I got good vibes so was happy to entrust my child with her. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember her name, which was a little awkward as she was about to be responsible for our baby. If worse case scenario she decides to steal our daughter it’s not going to look good when we tell the police we have no idea who she is. Luckily after some investigation work on Facebook full name and contact details were established. To you landlubbers leaving your kid with someone you don’t know very well is probably quite a strange concept but in the cruising community normal rules just don’t apply. You often meet people on the dinghy dock and invite them for dinner despite hardly knowing them or your neighbours who anchored next to you that day ask you over for drinks only to leave the following morning possibly never to be seen again. That’s just how us cruisers roll if it wasn’t like that it would be a very desolate and lonely existence and you get to be a good judge of character living in such close confines.
So what better way to celebrate parental freedom than with Caribbean style bingo at the local bar! How does it differ from normal bingo, well first prize is a live pig or goat (yes that’s what I said ALIVE and still breathing) and you have to twerk on stage for your winnings. It must have been fate as we won the full house bagging us an £85 jackpot.
During our time in Grenada my brother came to visit for 12 days, watching him get to know his niece was heart melting but it also made for a pretty emotional goodbye. Knowing that it wouldn’t be long before the flights back to England was all that got me through it.
Daisy Bean celebrated her First Birthday, a massive parenting milestone for us. Being so far away from friends and family for this was difficult and meant we wanted to make it really special so we invited all our boat friends to the beach for a party. Simon lit a BBQ and everyone brought a dish of food, palm and almond tress were decorated with my hand made bunting and the obligatory birthday balloons. The kids had a wonderful time splashing around in the water using the balloons as floats and chasing bubbles up and down the sand. It was such a perfect and effortless day topped of by the most amazing birthday kindly made by Natalya on S/V Spirit of Freedom.
If I told you about all the wonderful things we experienced and interesting marvellous people we met it would go on forever. I have barely uncovered the tip of iceberg of fun social happenings we partook in. Grenada Hurricane season you did not disappoint and always positive to leave something on a high note. It’s just a real shame that while all this was going on 2 of the worse Hurricanes ever recorded were to hit the West Indies spreading havoc and devastation (see my previous post for more on the effects of Hurricane Irma). However now the Boat Hobos are saying goodbye to the Caribbean for the last time. Blightly is calling us for a well overdue visit home, then Simon will be returning alone in order to sail 1500 miles solo up to Miami, USA where the next chapter of our adventure is about to begin.
In this post we want to give special thanks to
Doug & Zuleika on S/V Zuleika for your company, sailing stories & chats about pooh
Morgan & Cherly on S/V Nomadica good luck with the baby you will make awesome parents
Chad, Julia, Dasha & Lucia on S/V Josephine for being such cool and chilled out parents we absolutely loved spending time with you guys
Natalya, John & Mario S/V Spirit of Freedom for the most amazing birthday cake & getting us out about to the waterfalls
Paul & Anna Marie S/V Rita Kathryn for spoiling us with lobsters & steak, encouraging/believing in my novel writing and for just being all round lovely
S/V Sea Monkey for fun days out & Gretel jumping in the water fall with me
John, Kathryn, Simon & Wavey on S/V Nahanni for Daisy’s lovely hand made present and for being genuine, nice, friendly people
Lynette for baby sitting for us
Helen & Rick on S/V Symmetry for a great time at the Hash & all you have done for us (the list is endless!)
& lastly the group of mums who invited me out on with them for my first drunken night out since having Daisy.