These blog entries often follow a theme and some relate to experiences along the way while others simply chronicle the voyage and connect the dots. This is a “dot” entry. Our insurance company requires us to be in Grenada from 01 June to 01 November to minimize the risk of hurricanes and this has driven our schedule since we left Florida. We plan to return to do the Windward and Leeward islands justice in the Fall but to date we have pushed when weather and serviceability allowed. As I have noted before, the trade winds have taken their pound of flesh and I have often been convinced our wind indicator is broken because the wind seems to always be on the nose, regardless of heading.
Since turning West after Guadeloupe we have had the proverbial howling winds and following seas which has meant that we were able to shake out the sails and actually turn off the engines. Didn’t the sun come out, and trumpets from heaven fill the air! We were comfortable doing 50nm to 60nm a day which had the unfortunate result that I was forced to spend an hour or two each day in the various customs, immigration, tourism, extortion (was that my outie voice?) office clearing into each new country. Some were better than others, some cost less money, some were more automated but it all left a strange sensation of Groundhog Day.
The French islands were charming. Taking Pumba ashore in St Pierre at 0600 for Pain au Chocolat, still warm from the oven, was a special moment. They have a great selection of both wine, cheese and bread and the signs and villages were comfortingly familiar. The English islands have not retained the same colonial influence as their European neighbours, and are more Caribbean in flavour, but the French islands really do have a French feel.
We have been using an electronic guide which advises us on security issues and because of recent attacks on cruisers we skipped most of St Lucia and St Vincent. Defensive measures and the Kracken aside, we generally avoid areas where there is increased risk to boat or crew. Perhaps with more experience and other boats in company we may revisit these islands on the way home.
We are close enough to Grenada so that if there is a threat of a storm we could run there within 24 hours, so we have decided to slow down here and explore the area during the off season without the hassle of the returning crowds in November. This is the area where they filmed the Pirates of the Caribbean, an obvious draw for you two.
The Tobago Cays, where we anchored behind the reef and swam with sea turtles and sting rays is really quite beautiful. This is a picturesque archipelago comprising five small uninhabited islands in the Grenadines. We were here in June which is the low season and we are conscious that when we return after the hurricane season, it may be a zoo. Once we arrived in St Martin the national composition of the cruisers changed. We are seeing mainly Europeans with a smattering of Canadians and Americans but it is significantly different than the Bahamas to BVIs crowd. Used to smaller spaces in Europe, we often have boats try to anchor much closer to us than we are comfortable with, and they often seem uninterested in our concerns. Our ability to speak French has been an advantage….