SHH (Secret Harbour Hike)

Every day we pinch ourselves at how lucky we are! We are loving our new lifestyle, what’s not to love, and are amazed at the diversity of people we meet and the friendships we have made in a very short time.

On Saturday we joined 13 cruisers and 1 dog (Brody) in a 2-hour hike from Secret Harbour, aka Hartmann Bay, through a bird sanctuary, up hills,  down dales, through a Radisson Resort and along Grand Anse Beach to the popular bar/restaurant, Umbrellas. Our intrepid leaders, Dalynn and Glenn, had spent many hours of preparation to make the hike truly fun!

Inaugural Secret Harbour Hike Group
Inaugural Secret Harbour Hike Group (note flour signage)

The hike “rules” were spelt out: follow the dabs of white flour along the track, make a directional choice when confronted with a circle of flour, turn back if a flour cross appeared on the track, and, wait for the group, tell a joke and take a photo when faced with a smiley face enclosed within a square.

After one hour, and at a peak overlooking Secret Harbour, Dalynn and Glenn produced icy-cold cans of Stag (local beer) which they had carried in their backpacks! Boy, did they taste good! Then they pointed to several “walking sticks” they had previously gathered earlier in the day as we were about to face some steep, muddy descents and I quickly selected my trusty aid. Mal didn’t see the need.

He took the lead and was off. Little did I realise that whilst I had my head down carefully picking my way through the mud, roots and slippery bits, he was just trying to keep upright and was accelerating at a speed a tad faster than he would have liked, albeit silently. Where the hell is a walking stick when you need one? I had to do the old Aussie bush call, coo-ee, to work out where he was as he had disappeared. Dave and Alex from s/v Banyan were right behind me and we came across a flour arrow directing us down a different path. Mal responded to my coo-ee so we knew he had taken that path. I then witnessed a side to Dave I was unaware of: he’s a devil! He quickly erased the arrow so others would miss the turnoff and then waited in the undergrowth to see them pass by, all the while chuckling to himself. He then called out enquiring why they weren’t following the track? Very funny Dave, almost as good as your tupperware joke. On the walk we witnessed lots of termite nests in trees and nasty black millipedes curled up on tree trunks. They were quite big and I wanted to take a closer look but was quickly informed that they have been known to blind people by spitting venom. Sue, step away from the tree! And we thought Australia had the market cornered on dangerous fauna!

Extremely dangerous fauna
Extremely dangerous fauna

After a short time we walked out of the sanctuary into a neighbourhood street and couldn’t believe our eyes: an ice-cream van! Gosh Dalynn is a great organiser! On a 30C degree day and after 1.5 hrs of serious hiking, there was nothing more pleasing to the eye, and palette! Coconut ice-cream all round and at 2.50EC ($1AU), it was pure bliss. Dalynn quickly confessed that this was definitely accidental and not planned. Synchronicity I say! After stopping to help a local family push their mini-moke up a hill, turn it round and roll it back down again, we continued our walk, purchased some hard-to-find tomatoes from a road-side vendor and made our way across St George’s main street.

The easiest way to get to Grand Anse beach, and a much-needed swim, was through The Radisson Resort so we confidently walked past the guard house signed “guests only” with Brody in-tow, across the beautifully manicured gardens, through the beach gate and on to the very popular Grenadian beach. It is long, white and very clean and locals and tourists spend many hours bathing in its’ tranquil waters. We waded through the shallows until we neared Umbrellas, where we dumped our gear and just fell in the water. It was fantastic and very hard to get out. We then walked to the restaurant, rinsed off in their outdoor shower, changed and sat down to a fantastic meal and well-earned gin and tonic, or two! Our taxi driver, George, picked us up and dropped us off at our dinghies ready for our “drive” home. We fell into bed and were asleep before our heads hit the pillow!

Enjoying the water after 2-hr hike!
Enjoying the water after our 2-hr hike!

What a great day. Thanks to Dalynn and Glenn for all their thought and preparation. We can’t wait until the next one 🙂

Love, Sue and Mal xx

Grenada Carnival

Welcome to our new blog, we hope you like it.

WOW! Mal and I have had a fantastic time over the past weekend as it was Carnival time in Grenada! This means shops are shut for a few days and everyone celebrates this annual event.

Asteeldrum
Typical Steelpan drum
Starlift1017
Band members from a 2010 Panorama

Saturday night started out with Panorama: the final National judging of the Steelpan bands. Historically, the sound from Steelpan bands is the basis for Calypso music. During the French Revolution (1789) many French planters in Martinique and their slaves emigrated to Trinidad including a number of West Africans and French Creoles from Saint Vincent, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Dominica. Carnival arrived with the French, but the slaves could not take part so they formed their own parallel celebration called canboulay. In the 1880s the percussion music of canboulay was banned but after many years, in 1937, it reappeared in the form of an orchestra made from frying pans, dustbin lids and oil barrels. They are built using sheet metal with a thickness between 0.8 mm and 1.5 mm. Traditionally, steelpans have been built from used oil barrels. The note’s size corresponds to the pitch – the larger the oval the lower the tone. Drums vary in size and in how many notes have been incorporated into the drum. Some of the bands have up to 125 members and they can really rock the stadium! We had a great night.

Sunday was a slow, quiet day, other than volleyball. The night however wasn’t so quiet. In the early hours of Monday morning we had a mass of lightning, thunder and rain. We were glad we hadn’t committed to getting up at 4am for J’Ouvert. Traditionally Jab-Jab or Devil-Mas bands celebrate before dawn dabbing oil, body-paint and/or chocolate onto locals, and tourists if willing, and dance through the streets to the rhythms of accompanying drums, steel bands and calypsos from huge DJ trucks.

In the afternoon we made our way over to St George’s to watch Pageant Mas: a parade through the streets of different regional groups dressed in amazing costumes and again, accompanied, by huge DJ trucks playing very loud calypso music. This was fantastic, we had such a great time. From the very young to the old, no matter your size or shape, everyone can participate. There are no problems with body-image in Grenada. Vendors on the side of the street sell beer, rum punch, water, ice cream, chicken wings, popcorn, etc. It is full of happiness and fun with no violence or bad behaviour. In the evening there is yet another parade and the final celebration is the big parade on the Monday afternoon. Very similar to the previous day but this is where the judging occurs for the best performances (dancing and costumes) so it’s really full-on. A characteristic of the Grenada parade seems to be the “twerking” – I tell you, Miley Cyrus has nothing on these girls and guys. Other cruisers who have attended Carnivals in other countries say it seems to be unique to the Grenada Carnival.

Now Carnival has ended, everyone is chilling out. People are getting back to their normal lives whether it be doing boat maintenance, cooking, reading, swimming, volleyball, river tubing, yoga, dominoes, cooking classes, beading, hashing, geocaching or just catching up on sleep. Our American and Canadian friends call it “Camp Grenada”. Personally, I’ve been buying some interesting fruit, experimenting with cooking, finishing book 3 of Game of Thrones and expanding my beading expertise to include anklets. The waterlemon is interesting: it’s pulp is like a passionfruit but it has a delicate perfume to it. Bergamot is alot like a lime but way stronger. The bananas are to die for and we have mangoes aplenty! A description will appear if you hover the mouse over the photos or just click for larger images.

So, from Camp Grenada, bye from Sue & Mal. xx

PS: Some info and photos were obtained from Wikipedia and spicemasgrenada.com.

A little trip to Carriacou is what we needed!

We need to pull up anchor and go for a sail!

Approximately 10 days ago we had a night from hell, or so it seemed in the middle of the night. We awoke to howling winds, rain and lightning. Mal got up and immediately yelled “get dressed” in a very urgent voice! By the time I got on deck the wind was worse than howling, the rain was coming in horizontally, lightening was cracking and Kool Kat was in Mal-speak, “all over the shop”. By the time we could identify landmarks, we realised we’d dragged half-way across Prickly Bay and were dangerously close to another boat which was acting like a magnet. Mal was fantastic; he immediately put the engines on and tried to keep her into the wind whilst calmly issuing me instructions. We were edging forward but of course the anchor was now under the boat so it was tough going. The rain prevented us from seeing anything clearly, not to mention that some vessels don’t use anchor lights or other forms of lighting, so we were creeping forward whilst trying to avoid any danger. Eventually the rain ceased and the winds lightened. The lightening continued which was a multi-edged sword; we didn’t want it to strike the mast and knock out all our electronics but it lit up the bay so we could identify other boats. We finally anchored back where we’d been earlier and needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep for the rest of the night. The next day we purchased a Rocna 40 kg anchor and haven’t lost a wink of sleep since. The squalls that night were registered at 40-50+ knots so we think we’ve had a miniscule glimpse of what it must be like in a hurricane!

Sailing to Carriacou.

We decided to make a trip to Carriacou to practice our sailing and anchoring and to get some canvas work done on our dinghy cover.

Enjoying a quiet one post-snorkelling.

We headed off last Tuesday and after 4 hours of beautiful sailing stopped at Ile de Ronde. It is a pretty little anchorage on one of the small islands between Grenada and Carriacou inhabited by approximately 30 people. It was so gorgeous that we jumped straight in for a snorkel and a swim and decided to stay the night. There were 3 other cats in the anchorage so it was very peaceful. It’s very tricky at this time of year as we constantly need to monitor the weather. At the moment there is a storm in the Atlantic that is due to pass through the northern Caribbean and should miss us but each day we have to check on it’s status.

The next morning we headed off with only an hour’s sail to our destination of Tyrrel Bay. The bay is more crowded than usual with vessels arriving for the Carriacou Sailing Regatta from 1-4 August. Volleyball mates Dave and Alex on Banyan and Dalynn and Glenn on Amoray also came up along with lots of other vessels from Grenada.

She’s a beaut!

Kool Kat’s previous owners, John and Linda, had purchased a new dinghy which was slightly different to the previous one so the cover had holes for handles, etc in different places. Plus there was some wear and tear to the fabric so we took it to Ully at Andy’s Sails and Canvas and asked her to rejuvenate it. We gave her carte blanche and suggested she let her creativity go wild! As you can see from the photo, we now have a Picasso-like very unique dinghy. We love it thanks Ully!

The winds are playing strange tricks at the moment. When we anchored we were facing east. During the night boats moved to a more north-easterly position and by morning we were facing due north and nudging a mooring ball! By the afternoon everyone was facing west – very unusual in Tyrrel Bay, but by the time we got back from dinner at The Lazy Turtle, we were back to our original easterly aspect. With so much movement, some boats are putting out fenders just in case the boat next door swings around! The storm in the Atlantic was upgraded to Tropical Storm status and given a name, Bertha, but it’s forecasted to pass north of us with a path through Martinique and Puerto Rico. Even so, I’m a little anxious but Mal assures me we are only a 5-hr sail away from Grenada.

Glenn at start of 1st race.

Dave and Alex decided to enter Banyan into the Regatta and invited Glenn and Dalynn and us to join them as crew. The first race was only a two-handed one so they did that alone. It was a circumnavigation of the island and they had gusts of up to 30 knots and down to no wind at all, where the current was actually dragging them backwards! But, they won in their class so the pressure is now on for the crew to perform well in the other races. Unfortunately, with the unpredictably of the winds and Banyan being a monohull, I decided not to race so my crew responsibility is taxi; I pick up and drop off crew to Banyan.

Glenn at the bar, I mean barber!
2-yr old, Andre.
3 Police on shore after firing guns and approaching boat.
Cop with shotgun, other police in background

Whilst Dave and Alex were racing, Glenn, Dalynn, Mal and I walked to L’Esterre beach. We found a little bar called Off The Hook which also doubles as a Barber Shop, naturally! So Glenn got a haircut and then we had lunch a little further along the beach at Sunset Bar. It was a regular sort of day; whilst we were there, two joists split underneath us so we moved tables, I got some cute shots of a gorgeous little boy and then three undercover cops ran past us along the beach firing shots into the air at a boat! Just a regular day in paradise! Dalynn grabbed my arm and tried to get under the table. I stood up and took photos with my iPhone stating it was either a joke or some sort of filming. We then turned around and saw heaps of police; one carrying a shotgun, one wearing rubber gloves, and so on and then realised it was legit! Unfortunately, my photos are a long way away but I’ll include them anyway. The one with Mal and Glenn looking over their shoulders shows police down by a boat and if you look closely, you can see the shotgun the guy with the red top has down his left side. If you look even closer, to the left of the policeman’s head you can see a local in a hammock, just chillin! After a few minutes, the boat was allowed to leave and they really made a show of it; laughing and jeering at the police. None of the locals could really tell us what was going on but one suggested the police had been given a bogus tip-off. Interestingly we saw the same boat later with lots of people on board driving crazily through Tyrrel Bay.

Update: the 2nd race has now occurred and Banyan did very well. Mal loved it. The results haven’t been finalised with handicaps still to be taken into account but they had a great sail. For those of you wondering what I did with my time whilst they raced I tried a new sugar-free recipe (bliss balls), made a batch of yoghurt, cleaned some windows, swept the floor, wrote this blog and read a few more chapters in book 3 or Game of Thrones. Today, Sunday, is a rest day so the six of us are heading to Paradise Beach for some rest and relaxation. The 3rd and final race is Monday, tomorrow, with winds due to be lighter but with rain expected. I’m considering participating but as I’d probably be rail-bait and it looks like rain, I’ll leave my decision until Monday morning. I’ve got my serious drugs ready just in case!

Until next time, lots of love, Sue & Mal. xx