Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Grenada in June 2006 and June 2007

We had visited St. Georges, Grenada twice previously on Windjammer cruises in the 1980s; once prior to the US "invasion" during the Reagan administration and once afterward. To have called this an invasion was sheer stupidity on the part of journalists. We know because we talked to the residents of Grenada face-to-face shortly afterwards. This was very definitely a rescue by the US, not an invasion. It was not just Cubans on the ground in Grenada trying to take over the country; there were actually Russians (or USSR to be more precise for the times) that were taking over Grenada. We met Grenadians who had to surrender their homes to Russian military to use as residences and command centers. There were USSR military transports and trucks overturned down the mountainsides. Grenada was very thankful for the USA saving them from the USSR.

We docked at Clarke's Court Bay Marina in Grenada and stayed there for the full month of June 2006. Bill had to fly back to Houston for his final business obligation for his previous employer. He did not feel comfortable leaving me alone on the boat at anchor in a strange place, so we opted to stay in the marina. This was a good decision and we enjoyed staying there. There were a couple of pot luck dinners and dancing and it was a very nice time. Met lots more cruisers; some of whom we continue to touch base with every few months.

I did a ladies-day-out with about 20 other cruiser women. I am not usually one for this type thing because men are usually more interesting than a bunch of gossipy women, but this turned out to be a fun day. There was a short tour and I saw parts of the main city of St. Georges that I would never have explored on my own or with Bill -- like the tee-shirt factory. The batik shop that employs only deaf women was particularly interesting. The lunch with margaritas was more my idea of fun as I am not really a clothes shopper.

When it was time to depart the marina, we found that our prop was so badly fouled that the blades would not turn at all. We hired a diver to clean the prop and were soon headed off to Trinidad for the hurricane season. We found out later that there was a rum factory at the foot of the bay, so the shallow waters were unusually nutrient rich from the sugar cane residues discharged from the rum factory. That was what caused such heavy barnacle growth on our prop. It was a good learning experience for us. Now we never assume the prop is going to work after sitting a long time. We always test the operation of the prop before attempting to leave a marina slip. Consider it part of the learner's curve of owning a new boat.

Our next stop in Grenada was June 2007. We hauled out at Spice Island Boat Yard for a standard anti-foul bottom job and were very pleased with their work. We will use them again in the future. This time we also took several tours of Grenada. One was a standard island tour. Grenada is a very large mountainous island so this was an all-day tour. We saw waterfalls, exotic trees and flowers, a rum factory, remains of forts, an organic chocolate farm and factory, and I don't remember what all else. Definitely recommend doing a tour of Grenada if you visit there.

Another excursion was a turtle watching tour. This takes place at night at a location on the northeast corner of the island. It was a very long drive out there and we didn't return to our boat until after 2 a.m. We saw the huge leatherback turtles walk out of the sea and wander along the beach until they would find the perfect sport to lay their eggs. Then she would dig a very deep hole and deposit the eggs. Then she covered the eggs again before going back to the sea. These turtles are protected as endangered species and there were lots of regulations of what we could do while the turtles were laying their eggs. Flashlights could only be used if they were red because bright white lights disturb the turtles. Red lights didn't bother them at all. The particular female that we watched the longest had lost most of one of her flippers; probably either to a fishing hook or a shark. She had a very difficult time digging the deep hole using this badly damaged flipper, but eventually she was successful. This entire process was very interesting and Bill was glad that I dragged him out to watch these huge turtles.

We decided not to return to Trinidad for hurricane season this year. Iinstead we would go west to Bonaire and Curacao. Hurricanes rarely reach that far southwest area of the Caribbean. In late June we departed Grenada accompanied by a little flotilla of about a 10 boats. We opted not to stop in Los Testigos and all sailed straight to Porlamar, Isla Margarita of Venezuela.

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