leg 16: Grenada
We had a relaxed overnight sail to Grenada from Tobago with Denz hooking us a Dorado just as we came over the 100m depth line on our way in to anchor at Prickly Bay. Clearing customs and immigration was a breeze for a change as there was an office right on the dock at Prickly Bay. The marina was also brilliantly set up with power points and free wifi in the restaurant, an unheard of luxury for us!
We had a list of jobs we needed to get done on the boat and were confident it would be quick and easy to get it done on Grenada, but how wrong we were. Attempts to order spares fell on deaf ears and the general feeling we were left with is that if it’s not on the shelf then tough luck. We did manage to get a few minor jobs done but it was frustrating and eventually we decided a better bet might be to get all our parts ordered and sent to the Virgin Islands to await our arrival.
Angelica turned seven and we had a surprise Moanna themed party for her with some friends we made in the anchorage. She was thrilled and even though the weather wasn’t brilliant it was still a fun day.
After a week in Prickly Bay we decided a change of scenery would be good and we sailed around to St Georges on the leeward side of the island. We had our new friends on board with us and some of their friends too, so it was a full boat. The intention was to head out to the 100m line for some fishing before rounding the bottom tip of the island, but with a large swell running it wasn’t very pleasant and some of our guests were getting a bit green. We hightailed it around to the leeward side and went snorkelling at the underwater sculpture park instead. The statues were very pretty although the sea had made some adjustments to most of them. The kids were super excited to see the mermaid.
We arranged a tour of the island with local tour guide Cutty, and had a packed day of sightseeing starting with a visit to a nutmeg co-op. Grenada was the second largest producer of nutmeg in the world (behind Indonesia) before hurricane Ivan hit in 2004. They lost 90 percent of their nutmeg trees and estimate it will still take another 20 years to get back to full production if they have good weather. Where they had over 4000 farmers and 17 co-ops now only 6 co-ops are operating. Small scale farmers bring their nutmeg and mace to the co-op where it is sorted and weighed and they are paid out according to the quality. The mace is the red stringy bit surrounding the nutmeg, I bought a whole bag of it but not really sure what to cook with it now. We also bought a bag of nutmegs the size of which I think will last us a few years. Our tour guide stopped along the road every time he saw something interesting growing, we picked fresh cloves, shaved some cinnamon bark and ate fresh cacao seeds – you eat the jelly bit around the seeds and it tastes a bit like a lychee.
That brought us nicely to the next stop, the Grenada Chocolate Company, where we had a tour of the really tiny chocolate factory and then sampled the product. They make their chocolate from cacao grown on the island and are truly a ‘tree to bar’ chocolate producer. The kid’s favourite chocolate was the ‘nibilicious’ bar, which had nibs of roasted cacao beans mixed in for a bit of crunch. We bought a few slabs of dark chocolate as well as some decadent truffles made with 150 proof rum from the Rivers Rum distillery, which coincidentally was the next stop on our tour.
Rivers Rum was a highlight of the island for us. It was phenomenal to see the original waterwheel from 1785 still in operation, they use it to crush sugar cane to extract the juice that the rum is distilled from. As the juice comes out of the crusher it travels into smallish open vats which are heated to boil off the water content. The fire has to be kept low so that the sugar doesn’t crystallise so they burn the pulp from the cane together with cardboard and some wood to keep the temperature just right. The juice is ladled off by hand, because they can’t pump it whilst it’s hot, and then moves to the fermentation vats where it ferments for seven days using only natural yeast from the air. After that it can be distilled. Production is 600 bottles a day, which is apparently only enough for the island’s consumption so they do not export any. In any case export would be tricky as at 150 proof (75% alcohol content) it is considered too dangerous to fly with! The label says ‘slightly overproof’ which is rather an understatement. We sampled both the 150 proof and the slightly watered down 120 proof (which you are just able to take home on the plane with you) and we thought the stronger rum was incredibly smooth in fact. From raw sugar cane to bottle in 10 days, everything is still done by hand as it was 200 years ago. Incredible. Our final stop on the tour was a swim in a waterfall, which was just what we needed to clear the head after the rum sampling.
St Georges was a convenient anchorage for grocery shopping with a dinghy dock right outside the supermarket. Another dinghy dock outside the chandlery and a laundry facility at the yacht club. We could clear customs and immigration at the fancy marina too and had a final night’s burger supper in their restaurant with a sneaky swim in the private pool.