Monday, 21 July 2014



the Editors

July 21 2014

Friday, 11 July 2014

Week 14; Carriacou and the Grenadines (Union and Mayreau Islands)

We have been  on a “Reconnaissance Mission” in the Grenadines this week , scoping things out before our guests arrive.....

The Grenadines, located between St Vincent and Grenada, are a small group of Islands with crystal clear waters and a multitude of reefs. We had been told that the water was SO clear here, that you could see the bottom even when anchored at 30 + feet... well.... we just had to go and check it out for ourselves.

Matthew the fish, swims with eyes wide open so does not need a mask !

We pulled anchor from our comfortable spot in St Georges, Grenada on Saturday July 5th, said:  " See you soon! " , to our friends and sailed North.  On our way, we sailed just to the West of “Kick’Em Jenny” a very active underwater active in fact , that there is a restriction “no sail” zone a couple of miles around it. I kept my eyes out for bubbles at the surface but...... no luck spotting it !

We stopped in at Carriacou island for our first night. We arrived in time for dinner and since we did not have to clear customs (because Carriacou is still part of Grenada) we decided to go on shore to eat. 

As we dinghied up to the jetty, we could hear some loud, happy sounds coming from the   road next to the beach. As we got closer we saw that there was some sort of street party going on. There was a man with a microphone acting as “Master of Ceremonies”, and a crowd of onlookers: a mixture of young and old, local and visitors, which were gathered around an area.....the MC was calling out : “Ok, now we need a white guy, are there any white guys who will volunteer?”....As we got closer we could see what all the commotion was about : at the centre of the crowd was a table and two chairs and an arm wrestling competition was on its way, between a “white guy” and a “local guy”. It was pretty funny to witness all the excitement this generated, as the “MC” egged them on.....The people were all cheering and enjoying themselves, as one would, during a hockey game in overtime.....After the arm wrestling game,a friendly tug of war  was quickly organized, where everyone was invited to join. Mark did his part of course as we watched and cheered. This, of course, was all happening in the middle of the street, as a few drivers of cars and trucks patiently waited for their turn to go... once the tug of war was over.

"White Guys" Side of Tug of War

Street Party, Carriacou
We then headed to the the back of a little building from which people were emerging with bowls of  tasty smelling “stew”....Mark got himself a serving and, just before walking away he asked : "So what is this made with ?".......  he was told  that the stew was made with none other than turtle meat (!).... so we only got the ONE bowl as neither Meghan or I would eat it ! (They are Meghan’s favourite animal !). Mark did tell us that in its sauce, Turtle tasted, surprisingly, like lamb...Huh.... who would of thought....?!.

Turtle Curry anyone ?

We enjoyed Carriacou and stayed for a couple of days. On the second day taking  Recess (the dinghy) on a VERY rough ride -my butt still hurts as I write this- to a great little island simply called “Sandy Island” which is one of those idyllic, pristine, tiny islands you imagine being marooned on, with nothing more than sand and a few palm trees. The reef just beside this island made for very good snorkelling. 

Our next stop was Union Island, were we were to clear into the Grenadines. When we arrived on land, on a Tuesday at 2 pm, we found everything closed, even the customs and immigrations office. We were directed to walk to the airport, which luckily was only 10 minutes away, so that we could “clear in” there. It turns out that it was “Carnival Tuesday”, a day of rest for everyone after two weeks of partying at Carnival....we understood completely: having lived in Calgary were The Stampede takes over the town for two weeks and work is put on the” back burner” for awhile.

So we missed Carnaval, but we know that we will have an opportunity to experience  one in Grenada in August...

When we entered the tight little anchorage at Clifton (Union Island) , all we could say was “WOW!” The colours of the water and the surrounding reefs were just breath-taking, and a photograph could, sadly, never do it justice.....still, we took a few shots nevertheless

Clifton Bay Area, Union Island

We had heard of a tiny “man-made island” whose base was made entirely from Conch Shells. This Island has been aptly christened “Happy Island” and we went to have a look  after dinner. Happy Island is, I am happy to report, indeed a very happy place ! It houses a small bar (complete with an enclosed disco dance floor), a tiny sandy beach , four palm trees and is the home of our very gracious host/bartender. We found out that, with reservations, one could also have dinner on Happy Island, and so we will plan for that on our next visit!
Happy Island on a Blustery Day

Beach on Happy Island

"Dance Floor" on Happy Island

The winds have been strong this week (averaging 25 knots), and so we decided to take shelter on the other side of Union Island, at the quiet and lovely Chatam Bay where we enjoyed serenity and beauty. It was a thrill to sit on deck and watch the turtles popping their heads out, all over ... I was trying to capture them on film with Meg’s help, but they are so darn fast..... it ended up sounding like this:  Oh .....there’s one! ” .....CLIC  "Oops, it went down"."Oh.. THERE !” ...CLIC  " Darn it..”.."Mom -over there !”....CLIC  "Oh that one is too far away".."Mark can you get me the zoom lens ?” ... “Oh there ! "  ...CLIC"Nope,....missed it !”...... Meghan made the comment that trying to get a photo of the turtles was like  a game of “WACK A MOLE”! Without any actual “wacking”  or stuffed animal prize at the end of course....

With Patience I did manage to “WACK”  a few in the end...Such beautiful creatures, so cute ....and NOT AT ALL  looking like dinner !  

What did end up being dinner, however,  was CONCH !  Locally known as “LAMBI”, we have had the pleasure to eat conch before, in the form of conch fritters:  A popular and delicious appetizer. We did enjoy being given a demonstration of how conch meat is extracted from the shell and how it is prepared to ensure no “rubberiness”:

It all started when Tim, the cook, arrived on the beach just after we had landed, and he threw four “freshly picked” conch shells right at our feet ....and then Tony “Bollhead”, the owner of the restaurant, was kind enough to do the demonstration for us right on the spot !  First he took his machete to cut the tip of the shell, he then stuck a knife into this newly made hole to “persuade” the large muscle to “let go”......he then reached in the front of the conch with his fingers to pull it as still pulsating when Tony  put it down on the sand....and he told us that it could stay alive until tomorrow, if needed. Tim, the cook, then took the time to explain to Mark how to “pound the meat until it becomes very thin” and to “NEVER add salt.!” ensure its tenderness. I have to tell you, Tim knows his stuff, because the lambi that he prepared for us was, by far, the most tender and tasty we have had !
Freshly Picked Conch

"Conch Removal " Demonstration
Two extracted Conch ready to prepare for cooking

Today we arrived in Mayreau Island, just "next door" to Union. We took shelter in Saline Bay as a storm was brewing. In between downpours, we decided to take a walk up to the village. During our walk we had the real pleasure of meeting some true gems of the Mayreau population. First there was the lovely owner of a restaurant who gave us shelter when the rain started again. We had a lovely chat about his island and had a drink.

Catholic Church, Mayreau Island
Next, while we were on a quest for bread we met John Roake. This well spoken, genuine man, who was taught by cambridge lecturers, used to be a teacher, and  is now the justice of the peace. He has also opened a preschool and gives help to students with special needs. John is also a peace promoting representative of the Grenadines to the world. He has received letters, awards and recognition for his work from many Presidents/Prime Ministers from around the world, from Queen ElizabethII and members of her family and the Pope too !  He was happy to speak to us, as he helped us buy bread from his father-in-law, as he spoke passionately about his quest for promotion of peace around the world, (recently his work has been with Chinese& Japanese governments opening communication with North Korea)….He gave us a brief history of his people on the island (from slavery to today)….He humbly asked if we had any books on history to share with him and we promised him that we would bring him some soon.

Very Cool Rasta Cafe- Where we met Robert
We then walked up to a cute little Catholic church (which was not only beautiful to see but also gave us shelter from the next rain storm). There we met Joseph who, like everyone else here, warmly welcomed us to his island before giving us some thoughtful words of wisdom about safety/theft prevention while we travel. Our last stop in the village happened as we walked by a very cool looking Rasta Cafe and met with Robert, the owner. Robert is clearly a  man who lives his life  with open arms, everyday, and he has so much love to give to all and any person he meets. He welcomed us in to his "Zion" where he and a few others were about to start a "jamin' session" with drums and guitar. We sat and listened for a while, had a drink, took in the eclectic collection of history all over the walls (kids learned about Martin Luther King) and when we left, Meghan gave Robert one of her bracelets with the "Liberation Colours" (Green, Yellow, Red)…and he was so over joyed and moved by her gesture that he gave her a big hug.

As we walked back to the dinghy, we were all smiles, slightly damp, but radiating happiness and optimistic energy from all of our positive encounters on this Island.  Just goes to show that it is not all about beautiful beaches and scenery, it is more about meeting wonderful people who so generously share their time and life stories with us…..

In next weeks blog we hope to tell you about the Tobago Cays, where we are headed next…

Until then, we are sending lots of love from the Grenadines,


Random Pictures Taken this week:
Beach in Chatam Bay- Union Island

Chatam Bay Fishermen, Union Island

Flying Fish

Clifton, Union Island

"Happy" on Happy Island

Chatam Bay, Union Island

Chatam Bay Swim

Clitfon, Union Island
Chatam Bay, Union Island



Mangrove, Carriacou

Heron, Mangrove Carriacou

Storm Brewing- Saline Bay-Mayreau Island

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Week 13 : Grenada

So what's cooking in Grenada ???  More like WHO is cooking…and the answer would be : 
Marie-Claude that's' who !

On Thursday Marie-Claude and Ingrid (fom Rafiki) decided to join in on a Grenadian "Cooking Class". It turned out to be more of a "cooking demonstration", fueled with plenty of rum punch and a chance to taste the finished product at the end. Our Hostesses/Cooks : Omega and Esther, had plenty of banter between them, like something from "Abbott and Costello"…and they kept us giggling while we  tried to keep up with the recipe. We left with a full tummy, a light head and a recipe to try at home !  They made Turmeric Chicken and Esther shared her "Special Seasoning", which can be used as a marinade. Try it if you dare !
Omega and Esther 

Esthers' Special Seasoning (Marinade)

These are the "Seasoning Peppers" they used.

A couple of weeks ago, while on tour with Cutty, we had a chance to see where Turmeric came from. It is the root of a plant which is dried and grated into a fine powder, to make one of my favourite spices!

Canada Day : 

Meanwhile, a few of us Canadians got together for a pot luck pic nic on the beach on Tuesday to celebrate Canada Day together. This lead into an impromptu soccer game which was witnessed by a few of the locals and, if nothing else, left no doubt as to why Canada did not make it to the World Cup !  The nice part about playing soccer on a beach is that at any given time any player could yell out “ Water Break” and within seconds all players were found floating in the sea, swapping cruising stories....until someone reminded us to get back in the game...

                                                                                                                Canada Day !

Canada Day Pic Nic on the Beach

St George :
We took a walk around the picturesque capital of St George with some friends. We visited the spice market as well as the fish and meat markets. The meat market especially had me raising my eyebrows....and breathing through my mouth. We then walked up to get a better view of the bay and walked through an interesting  cemetery. 

View of St George and Port Louis
Port Louis Marina

The Carenage - St George 

Crabs for sale

In St George's harbour, we also got to see the Windjammer "Mandalay". I found out later that Mandalay is truly a historic tall ship. It is a 236-foot barkentine built in 1923. It was used by Columbia University  and evidence gathered on her voyages confirmed the theory of the continental drift. It is now used for sailing tours around the Caribbean. Look up : Windjammer Sailing Adventures . They have a great reputation for legendary holidays.
St George with Mandalay in the forefront

Carenage- St George

Cemetaries offer an insight to local history

Excuse me... may I have some more please ???
(Things you see while walking in St George)

Sign outside Tunnel
 (Back in the early days it used to be for women only because of fears of attacks)

Sendall Tunnel 1894 , St Georges- Now used by both pedestrians and cars

Swimming with the Statues !

Another fun thing we found ot do was to snokel off Dragon Bay/Moliniere Point on the West Coast, where the Worlds' First Underwater Gallery is located. This is called the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park. It was so much fun to swim around and try to find all the statues which were displayed here. Although we did not manage to find them ALL, it was an exciting scavenger hunt just the same !  Some of the statues looked quite eerie as we came upon them in their silent underwater home….some had acquired marine growth which gave them an even more peculiar look !  

Underwater statues : "Sleeping"



Praying man

Joys of riding the bus

Taking the local bus has been a great eye opening experience for us. The  overcrowded minivans with loud music blaring, are quickly filled with laughter and comradery between the driver and the local passengers,inside jokes flying way over our heads which leave us smiling, wishing we were in the know....these buses are, in my humble opinion,...the very model of efficiency for public transport...buses drive by, every few minutes, they are very affordable and will stop where ever you are when you wave them down (who needs a bus stop?)....and  they are filled to capacity, passengers help the driver and are all on the lookout or potential passengers and give a gentle tap when they want off,  and ....just when you think buses have reached maximum capacity....folding seats and extra cushions are pulled out to fit “just a few more”. ...Canada and the rest of the “developped world” could learn a thing or two from Grenada..... I am not sure if people from Canada would be ready to give up their comfort and respect of their “personal space”...but  the entertainment alone would more than make up for it I am sure !

Mark chewing on a Sugar Cane- River Antoine Distillery
River Antoine Distillery : 

Meghan has asked me to tell you a little bit about the River Antoine Rum Distillery. This is the oldest running rum distillery in Grenada, since 1785 and it is still running as it was way back then  they even still use a water wheel to crush the sugar cane. It is a very intersting place to visit, but the rum is not everyone's cup of tea..They make a very strong, 70% proof rum which will temporarily stun your wonder it is not legal to fly with this stuff !   (Anyone who wishes to buy this needs to get the watered down version to be able to board their flight.)

Well…that is all for this week folks, but here are a few random pics I gathered before letting you go.

Bye for now


Cuban Relic Planes

Mark checking out the Relic Cuban Planes
Clear waters of Grande Anse Beach

Meg getting a braid done-Grande Anse Beach
Tubing with Friends
Windy day for  Hike in the Narional Park
Those Monkeys still crack me up !
Matthew having a go at the Tamborine with the Steel drum band- Fish Friday
Matthew on a Mooring
Marie-Claude Turns 45

Drums at Fish Friday

Meghan trying out a "Water-Lemon"….just like passion fruit.
                                                                                 Swimming with thousands of fish