11 March 2009

Prickly Bay, Grenada

Prickley Bay
Caribbean Sea
368 miles from SV Christa

Grenada Wrap Up.

After a very successful five day haul-out last week we put the 'Piper back in the water late Friday afternoon and motored a quarter mile to anchor just off Prickly Bay Marina.

For the last six months the outboard for our dinghy has given us much grief seemingly to fail at the worst possible moments. We have brought it in to two different mechanics, one in Malta and another in Bequia who both charged us a fat fee and never fixed what was really the problem. We finally figured out for ourselves that the outboard's coil that makes the spark for the engine was shorting out. Finally! This has completely failed leaving us to paddle everywhere we go. Because of this, when we enter an anchorage we look for the dinghy dock and then see how close we can anchor to it. We are hoping that we could get this coil for the outboard motor in Grenada. But as luck would have it, there are no Suzuki parts on the island.

We are anchored just a mere 100 feet from the marina in an anchorage with at least 40 other cruisers. Sitting here at anchor after her short haul out, the 'Piper is looking quite shiny with her new paint and buffed out sides. One last project was to get the pilothouse painted. So Saturday morning while at anchor we rolled out a new coat of blue, making her paint job complete. One downside to the new paint as anything that we did not paint stands out in contrast to the new paint. So we will just have to keep on painting and varnishing till everything looks brand new.

Prickly Bay Marina has just a tiny dock that holds about 8 boats. They have a large dinghy dock that about half the boats in the anchorage use. The other dinghies tie up in front of the boatyard that we were in last week. At the marina there is a small grocery store, customs office, restaurant and bar. The bar has a happy hour where they ring a large bell at 5pm and cruisers come racing in on their dinghies for cheap drinks. Since the bar is right next to the customs office, it is also a second stop for cruisers that have just arrived and checked in.

One thing about cruising and being in a salty sailor bar is no matter what kind of boat you have, or how much money your boat is worth, everyone is hanging out together. From low budget cruisers to millionaires all hanging out together having a great time.

I saw one gentlemen that looked quite familuar but couldent place where I had seen him. He looked at me from across the bar and said “Hey! We tied up down from you in Almeria, Spain hiding from that nasty storm that had sprung upon us." He is from France and took on paying crew of 4 with him from the Canaries to the Caribbean, 1000 Euro’s each!! Why didn’t we think of that? We could have slept the whole way across while having everyone else do our work and pay us to do it. Smart Frenchman!

Just outside of Prickly Bay there is a large American medical school. Some of their students trickle down for happy hour. This is the school that in 1983 Ronald Reagan used as a justification for the U.S. invasion of Grenada with 12,000 Marines. Ronnie cited the risk to the safety of the students when a leftist coup, backed by Cuba and Russia, had taken over the government and then decided execute their current leader by firing squad.

Since we have been here in Grenada we have been anchored in 3 different bays. The south end of the island has a large assortment of great anchorages and some boats stay here at anchor for years. Grenada is technically out of the hurricane belt, so many boats anchor in the assorted bays to wait out hurricane season. In September 2004 hurricane Ivan slammed into Grenada, catching many people unaware with 120 mph winds ripping off roofs, downing trees, and leaving the whole island without electricity for months. Many boats were lost or damaged. The boat yards hauled out as many boats as they could, but the stands the boats were put on were not up to the task and many boats just fell against their neighbors, knocking them down like dominoes. As a result both the boat yards located in Grenada now have four point tie downs and stronger stands incase there is a ‘next time’.

When we have had a chance we have done as much inland exploring as possible. Several weeks ago, along with friends from S/V Luludu, we rented a car and did a lap of the island. Grenada is quite mountainous with very narrow curvy roads and lots of trees between villages. All along the mountaintops we could see the damage Ivan did to all the trees that still have not recovered. On the north side of the island we saw several venders next to a graveyard selling cold beers. So we made a mandatory stop for a cold one. I asked what was going on. All the locals were standing around on the side of the road, drinking beer, and dressed quite formally. The beer lady pointed at the grave yard and said “Funeral Mon.”

Sandpiper is currently waiting for the northerly winds to veer to the east so we can make a 160 nm passage to the island of St Lucia where we will be meeting up with Amy’s mom Pat and boyfriend Dr. Bob who are coming for a visit. They are also bringing with them much needed boats parts, the coil for the dinghies outboard so we will not have to paddle anymore, and a new gear drive for the autopilot. The winds look like they will go east on Saturday or  Sunday and we are hoping we can sail this passage so we can let Haywire (wind vane) steer. But it is more likely we are going to have to hand steer for this passage. Yuk….

More, hopefully soon from the north of Grenada!!
Tom and Amy

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