After our sons’ departure early Monday morning, we certainly felt their void onboard Kuhela.
Our time together as a family had been wonderful. We spent two more weeks in Grenada
enjoying this Caribbean country and its people. The Grenadians were delightful people, so
happy and welcoming. They displayed a genuine friendliness without prejudice, and so we felt
very comfortable among them. Of interest, in Grenada New Year’s Eve was called Old Year’s
Night, with the emphasis on reminiscing about the old year rather than welcoming in the new.
Friday, January 1, we took the cruiser bus up to Friday Fish Fry at Gouyave. Every Friday this
coastal fishing village sponsored this popular event, complete with entertainment. We had fun
trying some of the various ways the locals had cooked up a variety of seafood. Before leaving
Grenada, we also enjoyed some cruiser grocery trips plus a few more pan nights. The Saturday
before departing, Mary, along with 18 other cruisers, volunteered to help with the Mt. Airy
Young Readers’ Program, a Saturday program started by a Grenadian professional couple for
their small community up in the hill country.
Tuesday, January 12, we finally started heading north. It was suppose to have been an easy sail
to Carriacou, 42 nautical miles away, but instead ended up being a long day. Our plan was to
hug Grenada’s lee coast before sailing the 14 mile open stretch NE to the island of Carriacou.
The day’s forecast called for light easterlies, but instead we had NE winds with a north swell
and a westerly setting current. We dropped anchor in Tyrrel Bay in south Carriacou just before
dark. Thank goodness for our powerful engine; otherwise our day would have been much
Since it was difficult to sail NE with winds NE, we waited 6 days in Tyrrel Bay for more
favorable conditions. Finally, Monday, January 18, with a forecast of light ENE winds, we
decided to head the 12 nautical miles north to Union Island in the Grenadines. Before pulling
up the anchor we transferred fuel to the fuel tank from one of our 5 jerry cans. In November we
had brought back a transfer pump to help with this transfer process. Now with the use of our
electric drill to power the transfer pump, we shifted fuel easily from the jerry can to the fuel
tank, even while underway. So, with 30 extra gallons in jerry cans plus the limited 15 gallons
carried in the fuel tank before it started to leak, we had a range of about 250 miles, enough to
island hop our way home. On this sail, just like before, the ENE winds turned NE in the
channel, not making for a pleasant sail.
As we had enjoyed the Grenadines last year, we planned not to spend much time this season in
these islands. However, we had hoped to return to the Tobago Cays for a day before continuing
north. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate. On Wednesday we sailed directly from
Union Island to Bequia, a distance of 29 nautical miles. For the first time this season the
forecast held true, and we enjoyed a fantastic sail with E winds, 15-20 knots.
We spent two full days in Bequia, the northernmost island in the Grenadines, anchored in
Admiralty Bay. The small town of Port Elizabeth, just two blocks deep, fronted the bay.
Before departing Bequia, we visited by taxi the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary on the northeastern
coast of the island. Since 1995, Orton G. King, a retired skin-diving fisherman, has been trying
to increase the endangered hawksbill sea turtle population. As the survival rate for baby turtles
is extremely low, he collects the hawksbill hatchlings and then cares for them in his sanctuary
during their most vulnerable years. By keeping the turtles until they are 3 years old (about 14
inches long), he gives them a much better chance of survival. So far, he has released about 2000
3-year olds back into the waters of the Grenadines.
|Hatchlings - 6 days old,
3 inches long
"Hawksbill Sea Turtle"
Named for its tapered head
and hawk-like beak.
Saturday, January 23, we sailed 9 nautical miles across the channel to St. Vincent, taking
advantage of the last day of E winds before they turned again NE. We wanted to explore St.
Vincent before continuing north as we had not stopped at this island last year. Since there were
almost no protected anchorages along St. Vincent’s south coast, we took a buoy in Blue Lagoon.
We planned to stop for just a few days, but once again the weather decided differently. Instead,
we were stuck in St. Vincent Blue Lagoon for 9 days awaiting weather, all just part of the life of
a cruiser. Unlike the low Grenadines, St. Vincent was a beautiful, lush, mountainous volcanic
island with a large active volcano, La Soufriere, covering its northern third.
Wednesday we took the bus into Kingstown, the main town and capital of this Caribbean country
of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In Kingstown we visited the Botanical Gardens, the oldest
botanical garden in the Western Hemisphere, founded in 1795. As these gardens were first used
as a commercial breeding ground for plants brought from other parts of the world, it was here in
1793 that Captain Bligh onboard the H.M.S. Providence brought his small breadfruit trees to be
propagated and afterwards distributed as an inexpensive food source for the slaves. Originally
he had planned to bring these saplings from Tahiti in 1789 onboard the H.M.S. Bounty, before its
famous mutiny. In these gardens stood a descendent of one of the original breadfruit trees, plus
St. Vincent's national bird, the endangered San Vincent Parrot.
Original Breadfruit Tree
Thursday we visited the beautiful Montreal Gardens, located high up in the Mesopotamia Valley,
a valley often referred to as the “island’s breadbasket” due to its rich volcanic soil. Walking
through this small 7.5 acre garden estate was a delight to our senses. At almost every turn we
were greeted by a beautiful splash of colors that the owner, Timothy Vaughn, had created by
intermixing a variety of foliages.
Owner, Timothy Vaughn
Friday we took a safari tour adventure, hiking to the top of La Soufriere at 4000 feet, considered
by many to be the most spectacular volcano in the Caribbean. Its last eruption was in 1979. As
the trail head was located in the northeastern part of the island, our travels took us along St.
Vincent’s windward coast. Stanley was our driver and guide, and between his personality and
the ride in his jeep, just that in itself was a memorable experience.
The hike up took 2½ hours and down 2 hours, and a young American professional lady of St.
Vincent ancestry joined us in our adventure. As we climbed in altitude, the vegetation changed
from classic tropical rainforest to an almost ‘alpine-like’ elfin woodland near the top. Although
we experienced strong winds and much cloud cover upon our arrival at the caldera’s rim, it still
was quite exhilarating to look 700 feet below into the mile wide crater floor with its growing
volcanic dome. On the drive back we visited Black Point Tunnel, a 360 foot tunnel drilled in
1815 through hard volcanic rock to allow for quicker transportation of the sugar from the factory
in the north to the shipping wharf in the south. In its day, this tunnel was considered an
engineering achievement. Upon our arrival back at our boat we were exhausted, but what an
| La Soufriere Grass
"alpine-like" in appearance
At the Top .. Volcanic Dome
growing on right
Volcanic Dome growing on left
Finally, Monday, February 1, we received the break in the weather for which we had been
waiting all week. We left Blue Lagoon and headed 11 nautical miles up the leeward coast of St.
Vincent to picturesque Wallilabou Bay, the film location for Port Royal in the “Pirates of the
Caribbean.” A few of the stage sets still remained, including parts of the movie’s dock structure,
now used as a dinghy dock.
Black Point Tunnel
The following morning we continued sailing north to Rodney Bay in northern St. Lucia, a
distance of 56 nautical miles, enjoying E to SE winds 15-20 knots. As we had already visited
St. Lucia last season, we took advantage of the great sailing weather by continuing north
Thursday to the French island of Martinique, the most northern of the Windward Islands. With E
winds 15-20 knots and seas 1-3 feet, we had a lovely sail across the channel to Martinique, 24
nautical miles away. Our arrival in Martinique marked our last big push NE. From now on, our
track would take us more NW and W, allowing us a much better angle on the prevailing winds.