Sunday, January 6, 2013

Christmas Week

Mary, our baker reminded us about the Aztec prophecy for the end of the world on the 21st of December, and joked that she would probably stop doing any work. I said that I did not care about the rest of the world, but if she did not fulfill my order, her world would definitely be over. So at 7:30 am sharp, she gave me the huge warm bag, which I had to cover with plastic to keep it from rain. I hurried back, cursing nature. It makes such a big difference on boat when it rains. Oh well, rain is never persistent in Grenada, it’ll pour and change in not time.

That morning Deniz and Zeynep got up some time later, and had to be rushed for breakfast, since we had to leave the marina and anchor just outside the harbour. In the afternoon we had a stroll around the Carenage bay, which is downtown St George’s. They were still tired, so we did not make any unrealistic plans for the day. But the next morning we were to head out to Carriacou and Petit Martinique, the other islands belonging to Grenada, located just north east of the main one. 

Around 9:00 am the engines were fired up, we took our places at the anchor and sails, and we started our journey. There was enough wind from the east, but the ocean swells from the north made the ride quite bumpy. Zeynep lied down for a while, then sat at the fore deck to overcome the queasiness. By the time I went to sit with her, we were almost out of the lee of the island, having reached the North West corner. The wind and the swells got stronger. While I was watching the waves coming towards us, and making our plunges deeper and deeper, a feeling of fright came over me. I asked Zeynep and Deniz separately if they would mind turning back, and I did not sense a great wish to carry on, for at least two more hours to reach Carriacou.

We had been to Carriacou on our way into Grenada, and I know that we would be stuck in Tyrrel Bay when the weather is not favorable. That bay provides protection from the east winds, but not much else. The water is quite dirty, since the bay is full of boats, and the best swimming spot at the Sandy Island is open to east winds. At the time of swells and high winds, there would be not much to do at Carriacou.

I made the executive decision, and asked Al to turn back. He was quite surprised; I don’t think we had ever turned back from a journey in mid-point, but he respects my instincts and fear. He made the turn, albeit reluctantly. I am sure Deniz was disappointed, since he enjoys sailing, and he does not mind a few waves; but said nothing.

Al asked me to check the book for a suitable lunch spot to anchor at the west coast. We debated about the small bays before and after the Moliniere Point. Those bays are major attractions of Grenada, where some underwater sculptures were made for the visiting divers/snorkelers. So we decided to stop at the south edge of the point, and spotted one free mooring ball from a distance. While we were approaching the ball, a mono-hull went over and caught it right before us. We did not know what to do, since there were only two of them, both taken now. We went a bit further into the small bay. We decided to anchor there for lunch. The water was pristine and free of the swells, just beckoning us. We dived into the sea and swam for a while, then prepared lunch. 

While we were busy with food, we saw a boat, full of divers approaching us. The driver asked if we knew that we were in a nature protected area. Well, no. He said that it was prohibited to anchor around there, but we could take a red mooring ball, usually reserved for divers, to stay for a few hours. We weighed anchor immediately, and headed towards a red ball in the next bay to the north of Moliniere. But it was smack in the swells, not being protected from north. Oh well, we could at least stay and have lunch. Or so we thought. Right in the middle of lunch another boat full of divers came and reminded us about their priority. Al asked if we could finish our lunch first, and he relented, idling about. We got away from there in no time, towards some more balls located at another bay to the north. Those were not very attractive it seemed, since they were far away from the sculptures. Apparently the sculptures were scattered around the middle bay, and they were swarming with divers at that moment. There were two cruise ships in town, and the tourists wanted to dive!

So did Zeynep. She decided to try her new snorkel and fin set, and asked me to join her. We swam a bit around the boat, but she wished to swim to the next bay to see the attractions. I was not up to it, but Deniz accompanied her, and they took off.

Al and I tidied the boat a bit, swam a bit, and sat down to wait for their return. We also watched the divers coming and going to the next bay. After seemingly a long time, we saw Zeynep swimming back, Deniz following slowly quite a distance apart. Then he stopped swimming and waved. Both Al and I took it as a distress signal; we rushed to the dinghy and lowered it in a jiffy. Al rode over immediately, but came back alone, while Deniz swam all the way. Apparently Deniz was waving to Zeynep to show where he was, since she could not see without her glasses. Oh well, Al made a dinghy ride instead of waiting at the boat.

It was almost 3:30 pm, and we had a long way to go. Deniz had complained about the swells rocking the boat at the St. George’s harbour, so we decided to stay at Prickly Bay during the raging winds. We motored all the way and reached Prickly around 5:30 pm, but it got unusually dark. Wouldn’t you know it, as I started to release the anchor, I got soaked to the bone with a sudden down-pour. I started to shiver, but kept up my post until Al called me inside, and took over anchoring. I was thankful to change into dry clothes. At last we were safe.

Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate at all. It rained at every crucial moment; as soon as we started breakfast, lunch or dinner, or anytime that we wished to ride in the dinghy. On the other hand, when we wanted to take a stroll on land, the sun glared with all its might. That was tiring for Zeynep, since the terrain is also quite hilly; she likes walking long distances on flat land, but climbing makes her out of breath. All in all, our stay of a few days until the end of Christmas holiday was almost write off; our mood got dampened with the weather.

We had lunch at the posh Calabash resort on Christmas Eve, which was good but expensive. Deniz wanted to check the Christmas day dinner, but apparently they were fully booked by 93 people. Some resort! The scale of Grenada tourism is quite smaller than many destinations. Here, instead of mass tourism for reasonable prices, they suck dry the few that drop here, with slow service and mediocre food. I am dumbfounded by the little return all the investment in Grenada seems to be getting. All the resorts are utilized at lower capacities, even at the peak of the season. Compared to Cuba, Mexico, Turkey, tourism in Grenada does not seem to exist. Whatever trickles from the cruise boats, in the form of drinks, land/water taxi rides, sale of spices could not be enough to claim it to be an industry. I suspect that most of the money brought in from outside is from the boaters spending time here, like us and a few mega yachts. I have to admit that, they seem to appreciate our contribution to their society, and make us feel utterly welcome, unlike some of the islands in the chain, who are deemed more civilized and prosperous.

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