Give Carriacou a 2nd Chance – We are glad we did!

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December 28th 2011
Published: December 28th 2011
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Welcome in all languagesWelcome in all languagesWelcome in all languages

As the sign says in many languages, Welcome to Carriacou. It truly is a welcoming island.
When we were traveling south we moved quickly through many of the islands as we needed to get below 12 degrees latitude for the hurricane season. One of the islands we did stop at was Carriacou. This 13 square mile island with approximately 7,000 people is the southern-most island in the Grenadines. The Grenadines are a group of small islands found between St. Vincent and Grenada. The northern portion of the Grenadines are part of St. Vincent and the southern portion of the islands are part of Grenada. We had been told it was a good anchorage on the way south and it enabled us to check into Grenada so if we wanted to stop anywhere along the coast of Grenada we could legally. We took their advice – it was an easy check in process. When we walked around the towns of Hillsborough and the village located at the head of Tyrrel Bay everything was pretty dead. There were shops and restaurants but all of two were closed. Friends of ours were anchored in the bay and they invited us on a hike. We enjoy the hike and saw a great deal of the island but figured
A nice surpriseA nice surpriseA nice surprise

We were pleased to see a sign for recycling as it is quite rare to see in any of the islands. The school is quite active in educating everyone to the need to recycle.
there wasn't much going on so that on our return trip we could skip this island.

In comparing notes with other cruisers on places to see, Carriacou kept coming up high on everyone’s list. We didn’t understand why, but we were told there was lots to do, some nice places to eat and shop, excellent bus transportation and the people are great. Well, we took their advice and gave Carriacou another try. We were glad that we did!! We wound up staying 2 weeks on this very inviting island. Everyone was right about the people here. They are very friendly and easy going. Buses run all the time and are very inexpensive (3.50 EC = $1.31 US). The first bus ride we took was from Tyrrel Bay into Hillsborough to officially check into Grenada . Helena, the bus driver, was very helpful and gave us lots of pointers of places to see and what buses to use to get there. Her bus was named “Rush Hour” as she used to sell food at lunch time. She got out of that business as she said everyone wanted food on “credit” where with the bus everyone pays at the time of
Back to blue waterBack to blue waterBack to blue water

We really enjoy seeing that blue water again. This is the harbor at Hillsborough where you need to check into with Customs and Immigration.
the service. We stopped in at the tourist bureau to gather information on places to go and met Susan, an American that is now living permanently on Carriacou. She gave us lots of pointers on where to get our fresh veggies, where the deli was (this was a treat to have), and some good restaurants to try. She said that she’d see us around. We didn’t think we would, she was in Hillsborough and we were in Tyrrel Bay, but she knew better as we saw her 3-4 times, one of them while eating at one of the recommended restaurants, The Slipaway. Thanks Susan for all the great tips. You definitely picked a great island to move to.

Windward is a town on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island (or the windward side!) and is known for its boatbuilding. They have a proud heritage as seamen and shipbuilders past down from the Scottish ship builders who arrived here in the 19th century. They still use the traditional methods of building and are quality craftsmen. We could have taken a taxi ride with a dedicated driver, but decided the buses were a better value. We called that

Many of the buildings here are built with gingerbread trim.
right as we took the more scenic route past the hospital on the hill (with a spectacular view), and across the island to even greater views. One of the passengers saw we were trying to take photos and even told the driver to stop so we could get some shots. We walked around Windward to see if we could find any boats being built. We saw the ribs of a new boat just being started and that was all. One of the residents saw us looking at it and told us about another boat that was almost finished and gave us directions. We got a chance to talk to the builder of the 45 foot racing sloop. He started it 2 years ago and hopes to launch it this coming June so he can race her in the regatta in August. Come to find out, he worked as a school bus driver for 25 years in Westchester County, NY and returned home to Carriacou when he retired. He has helped with the building of other boats, but this is the first he has built himself. He still has some important construction to finish such getting enough ballast for the keel
Main StreetMain StreetMain Street

The main street in Harvey Vale which is the village at the head of Tyrrel Bay. You many times will see 2 cars stopped and visiting with each other blocking traffic, but no one minds.
and installing the rigging but just as important will be coming up with an appropriate name for the boat and deciding what color to paint her. He explained that the color is important for identifying her as his boat, especially when he races her. He seemed to enjoy talking about her and sharing his story with us. We wished him luck with the launching and more importantly the regatta next year! When we told the bus driver that we spoke to him, the driver said he has taken too long with the boat building – he has been very slow at building her as it shouldn’t take 2 years. We mentioned that this was his retirement plan and did not want to rush the building of his dream.

One of the things you notice here is that most of the vehicles have names and I don’t mean Ford and Chevy. People come up with names for their vehicles like "Rush Hour”, “Rude Boy” and "Iceman". The great thing we found was that it was common for 2 cars that meet on the road to stop and the drivers would have a chat with each other. This could
Ferries are an important linkFerries are an important linkFerries are an important link

As in most islands, the ferry is the major link to the outside and brings in supplies. This time of year there are many barrels shipped in from the US filled with “goodies” as each person can get two without paying duty. This ferry was filled with them for Christmas.
involve 2 bus drivers, a driver and a person standing on the side of the road, a passenger on the bus and someone standing on the side of the road, a passenger on one bus with a passenger on another bus (you get the point). None of the passengers complained about the delay – it is just the way it is. While on a bus ride from Hillsborough to Tyrrel we saw this in action – one passenger wanted the driver to stop at a shop to pick up some meat she had ordered. We stopped and while one of the other passengers got out to go to another shop, the driver picked up her meat. Janice got into the swing of it and jumped out to check the shop for papaya. It didn’t stop there – we then went around the block 2 times as one of the passengers was looking for someone. After these couple of stops we started on our way. We stopped a few other times to talk to others along the way. It is definitely a pleasant way to travel – it works fine here because it's obvious these people put much more value on
Steel Pan HereSteel Pan HereSteel Pan Here

The local bar, “Lambi Queen” has steel pan music every Friday as shown in the mural on the building. By the way lambi is actually a favorite food, conch.
social interaction than on getting some place on time. I'm not sure this is a bad thing.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that a couple living here had been Peace Corps Volunteers in Botswana a few years after us so of course we had to make contact. We had a couple of lovely visits with them as well as their daughter. It was fun catching up on the changes that had occurred since we left Botswana as well as the things that didn’t change. They are both working on their Doctorate degrees from U of Mass at Amherst. We wish them well on their completion as well as the job searches to follow.

We decided we could have moved some place else for Christmas, but why? This was a nice place to hang out, snorkel and hike. We even ran into a few friends that we had made in Trinidad so life was good. The only down side we could think of (and it wasn’t really that bad) was that we didn’t always have wi-fi on the boat. At times we needed to go to shore to a bar that had free
Peace Corps was herePeace Corps was herePeace Corps was here

We saw evidence that Peace Corps had its influence on Carriacou as noted by the symbol on the side of this school building.
WiFi, well as long as you were drinking it was free. Luckily coke counted as a drink!

Our Christmas was very low key, but we did take time for a nice hike on Christmas morning. It is good to stretch those legs after being on the boat for a few days. We had plans for a big dinner of turkey with stuffing and some of the trimmings, but we both decided that sounded like too much work (and more importantly heat on the boat) so made some nice salads and some Chinese noodles – this was a very different dinner from our one last year (thanks to Bumblebee in Stuart FL), but still a nice quiet one. For Boxing Day we enjoyed some snorkeling in the Bay – quite a bit of the coral was broken up, but did see quite a few sea urchins, trigger fish, barracuda, jackfish and others. It was a nice treat to be in the water in December. Sorry, we don’t mean to rub it in to those of you in the north!

The weather predictions were for better winds for sailing starting on Monday, December 26th at least
Tyrrel Bay SunsetTyrrel Bay SunsetTyrrel Bay Sunset

One of many sunsets we have had the privilege to see from the stern of our boat while anchored in Tyrrel Bay.
for a few days (until Friday). Monday was a holiday, Boxing Day, and as a result not much was open so wouldn’t be able to get a few things we needed such as fruits and veggies. We figured we could wait until Tuesday to leave which we did, but found out that this was also an official holiday. Guess when Christmas is on a Sunday, the official holiday lasts until Wednesday. Oh well, we paid our 40 EC ($15 US) in overtime charges and moved on to Union Island which is part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We heard from our friends on Artic Tern that anchoring behind Frigate Island near Union Island is nice so took their advice and moved here. Just as we got close to putting down the anchor, the skies opened up and we got drenched. As Bob said it was perfect timing as Tsamaya needed a fresh water rinse after getting all the salt spray from our sail across this morning. Always good to look on the bright side! The rain didn’t last too long and now I’m sitting out in the cockpit writing this blog with the sun producing lots of free energy
Flower Shop in townFlower Shop in townFlower Shop in town

A few of the shops located downtown in Hillsborough have almost an European look.
for us. That is good as we have been watching the show, The #1 Ladies Detective Agency which takes place in Botswana (thanks TeBheag) and we can see another installment tonight.

We aren’t sure how long we will stay here. We have a couple of items on our list for tomorrow. The two that need to get done are officially checking into the country and getting our propane tank filled. We have two propane tanks, but one has been empty since the Manamo River trip and we need to get it filled before our current one runs out. I’d like to bake some bread, but have been trying to be conservative with our propane usage until we get this tank filled. We heard this is possible on Union Island, sure hope that information is correct. We also have to find out what is wrong with our wi-fi antenna as we started having problems with it. Hopefully we can find a place tomorrow where we will be able to connect to call for some technical assistance. Sounds to me like we have quite a full day planned! Just getting to complete the check-in process will take some time
A view from the hospitalA view from the hospitalA view from the hospital

This is the view that get if you visit the local hospital which is located high on a hill on the island. We were only there as the bus route swings in to this location.
as we first have to dinghy to shore, then take a bus to the next town over, Clifton, before we can even start the process. As I said, this should turn into a full day process with carrying a propane tank and computer around with us. Just didn’t want you all to think that life is just made up of sitting on the boat watching sunsets, snorkeling and reading for pleasure!!

Just a quick update – we are now in Clifton. We are officially checked into the country, we found we can get the propane tank filled tomorrow, we bought our fresh veggies & fruit and we are sitting a very nice café connected to wi-fi eating a great baguette sandwich. Life is definitely good.

Hope everyone has a very Happy New Year and best wishes for the coming year!

Additional photos below
Photos: 46, Displayed: 30


Old Milwaukee?Old Milwaukee?
Old Milwaukee?

Who would have thought you could buy “Old Milwaukee” beer here ? We passed up the opportunity.
Sugar Mill RuinsSugar Mill Ruins
Sugar Mill Ruins

The remains of the sugar mill reminds you of the lucrative crop this once was in the islands.
Peace Corps was herePeace Corps was here
Peace Corps was here

The ribs of a new boat being built in Windward, the boat building area of the island.
The Atlantic SideThe Atlantic Side
The Atlantic Side

A view out to the Atlantic side of Carriacou.
Flower Shop in townFlower Shop in town
Flower Shop in town

This is one of many sailboats that have been built in Windward and raced in the regattas held here.
One of the cottagesOne of the cottages
One of the cottages

One of the homes in Windward, Carriacou complete with gingerbread trim and lace curtains and of course a fabulous ocean view.
Old Milwaukee?Old Milwaukee?
Old Milwaukee?

Windward builds motorboats as well as sailboats as seen by this beauty. We see many in use as fishing boats.
DSC00867 [1600x1200]DSC00867 [1600x1200]
DSC00867 [1600x1200]

It is obvious that a lot of care and time goes into the building of these boats. There was some nice detail seen on the stern of this one.
DSC00873 [1600x1200]DSC00873 [1600x1200]
DSC00873 [1600x1200]

The builder and owner was gracious in showing us his pride and joy which he hopes to launch this coming June so he can race her in August.
Tyrrel BayTyrrel Bay
Tyrrel Bay

You can see that Tyrrel Bay is quite popular this time of year with many sailboats. Many are liveaboards like us, but there are also charter boats that come through this area. This is good for the economy of the island.

31st December 2011

Fabulous pictures, what a great way to live! Thanks again for sharing. Love to all

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