Grenada Hash

Yesterday we bushwhacked and slid our way around the Saturday Grenada Hash. It was great fun and a top muddy outing that included steep slopes, streams, beer, dancing and an opportunity to meet a few more boaty people and swap information and tales.

Dave last did a Hash in Grenada in 2005 with Nick and Lisa and still has the t-shirt which he proudly wore, holes and all. As we drove out as passengers in a minibus taxi, the rain was sheeting down in heavy five minute bursts. Grenada is very lush, green and hilly, so the trails for the Hash were getting a good preparatory dousing in rain water, making them deliciously muddy and slippy.

My guess is there were about 100 people who headed off up into the bush following small piles of shredded paper that marked the trail. Occasionally the trail would split, one specifically laid for runners, another for walkers, then they’d join back together. We did a mix of the two. Dave has had a lingering cough / chest infection for a while which has been difficult to shift. The Hash would be a good test of his recovery.

He was fine and spent a good chunk of the time helping other people up and down particularly slippy sections. An American lass from Chicago was most grateful he was there for a descent where a hand-line had been pre rigged as an aid. Ironically, the slower folk get a worse deal, as the majority of the Hashers will have passed though already so the terrain is more trodden, more cut up and therefore more slippery.

The last section brought us down though the bush towards a welcome stream and the pumping reggae music at the bar marking the end of the trail. After a quick wash to remove the worst of the mud, the chilled beers were calling.

Looking around there were a sea of smiling faces and tales being regaled of experiences had. An award ceremony, dancing, food and beers then ensued. It was gone 7 and dark by the time we clambered back into the minibus and headed back to the town of St George. Still time however for the driver to stop at a rum shop on the way home.

Hot

Grenada. It’s hot here. Not just a ‘take your jumper off’ kind of hot. It’s a ‘hide from the sun, wear a hat, drink lots of water, swim to cool off’ kind of hot. Being on the boat at anchor usually delivers us a bit of constant breeze. As soon as we come ashore the breeze seems to disappear. I did have a little dream about skiing last night. Blue sky sunny skiing, not blasting ‘in my eyes’ horizontal snow skiing. Maybe next year….

We had a champagne sail from Barbados to here. Lifted the anchor at 1pm. We motored around SY Little Coconut to say goodbyes then pointed Grace out to sea. Within 200m we had the sails up, engine off and a passage of about 150 miles ahead of us. Caught another big mahi mahi too so that was 4 meals taken care of.

Our last downwind passage for a while was a joy. We had our best 24hr stats, averaging  just a smidgein under 6 knots. Our friend Julian looked at the tracker and emailed us to say… 6.7knots. Have you run out of nutmeg? Very drole.

We decided to have a night in the marina at the Grenada Yacht club. Having access to power and a pontoon would be helpful for the jobs we had lined up. Dave spent about an hour up the mast the following morning as we retraced some halyards to try and solve a chaffage problem. We also took down the twin headsails on the fore stay and just put back the Yankee up. (A bit of sailing jargon there for you sailing types)

We’ve done some Unique Solutions work, talked about buying a hard bottom tender and decided that I will come back to the UK in June / July for 3 weeks to do a couple of weeks work with Nando’s and a catch up with friends and family. I’ll be in touch to book some b&b space the last week in June. Thanks in anticipation!

 

 

 

 

British Legacy

Being British is not always a good thing in my opinion. Independence came to Barbados in 1966 after three centuries of British influence. Some of this influence remains today, red post boxes for example but more irritatingly, the British love for bureaucracy still pervades officialdom.

On arrival we had to visit three separate offices to check in to the country. This necessitated filling in a different set of forms in each office, these being health, customs and immigration. We filled in pretty much the same information on each set of forms, name, passport number, last port of call etc as we moved between offices. Speedy it was not.

It’s been a while since either of us has used blue carbon paper which allowed copies to made in triplicate. The official who guided us through customs was hidden behind stacks of paperwork and the spare desk had several teetering piles. Bear in mind, in our two weeks in Barbados at least one cruise ship or occasionally four a day have been docked in Bridgetown, that’s an awful lot of paperwork.

Today we checked out in preparation for departing tomorrow. Once again we visited three offices. And once again we filled in at least two forms in each office with the same aforementioned blue carbon paper. Some of the forms were exactly the same as the ones we filled in when we arrived. I suggest somewhat hesitantly so I don’t appear to be a ‘shouty shouty know all’ that the system could possible be more streamlined.

Our other recent experience with officialdom was with the American Embassy. The form filling online was frustrating and long. (There were some shouty shouty moments during this experience). The actual interview and delivery of the passports was smooth and straightforward. Our passports now each sport a 10 year visitors visa. Our short to medium term plan (which was actually plan A when we left the UK) is to cruise the Caribbean for the rest of the winter and spring then head north to the States to avoid hurricane season.

Tomorrow we plan to pull up the anchor and head to Grenada. Should be about 24 hours to our planned destination. Barbados has been so so friendly, welcoming and relaxing. We’ve been blown away by the helpful gracious nature of the people. Unsurprisingly, we’ll miss seeing turtles swimming around the boat, the wreck to snorkel on in the bay just a few hundred metres away and the welcoming hospitality of the yacht club ashore.

The benchmark has been set for the rest of the Caribbean now.

Exploring the Island

 

Yesterday we hooked up with another English Couple, Polly and Andrew who are anchored next to us and headed off around the Island.

My impression is Barbados is an island of three parts. The East Atlantic Coast is wild and undeveloped. The day was particularly windy and rollers crashed continuously onto the beach.  No need to pay any money for a facial sand scrub on the beach here.

The interior of the island is green and lush. Unlike the rest of the Caribbean, Barbados is not volcanic. It’s also young in geological terms. A limestone ridge runs in the interior and it was here we went to visit Harrison’s Caves. We both thought it had potential to be a bit naff, especially with Dave’s caving experience, but actually it was very impressive and the formations were amazingly unspoilt.

The West Coast is completely set up for tourists with villas, shopping and hotels, especially around Holetown. Not really our natural environment but the beaches are beautiful and the sea lacking in rollers like the east coast.

Today we’re in the Yacht club printing out documentation as we have an appointment tomorrow at the US Embassy to apply for a tourist visa. Arriving by plane or cruise ship doesn’t require the same visa as arriving on your own boat. So hopefully we have everything needed now and the process is straightforward.

 

Wise Words

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View from the boat

Food stocks were pretty low on the boat. Not much fresh stuff left at all. And the excitement of getting here has meant we’ve eaten out quite a bit. As some point we needed to get back to cooking for ourselves…. Although the jerk chicken and flying fish sandwiches I can highly recommend.

After some research online (we’ve sneakily managed to log onto the Radisson hotel internet from the boat at anchor using our wifi booster) we found a supermarket about an hour’s walk away up the beach.

We shopped, bizarrely the store had a fine range of pricy Waitrose products, then decided to get a taxi back.

We all meet people, sometimes fleetingly, who leave their gentle footprint and a part of their goodness with us. Victor, our the taxi driver, was such a man. A true smily open Barbadian, he talked about being proud of his country, its values of welcoming visitors from wherever in the world and the importance of education in broadening an individual’s view of the world. In practical terms he brought us back from the supermarket. But he gave us so much more.

In ten minutes he spoke more sense than a bunch of politicians can in a lifetime. The line that resonated most…”Even though we’re a slave nation, we have no animosity in our hearts.” Good on ya Victor. I shook his hand when we got out and told him he was the best ambassador his country could possibly have.

Not sure it’s appropriate to write anything else after those wise words. But I wanted to say a special Barbadian ‘hello’ to the folk at Penrith Grammar School who have followed our journey across the Atlantic. Thanks for watching! It’s appreciated. If you have any questions just shout and we’ll get back to you.

The weekend approaches. We will be heading down to a local fishing village tonight where you can get fish and chips, Barbadian style. Red snapper, tuna, sword fish, mahi mahi to name a few. Tomorrow afternoon there is a hash. It’s an organised run / walk so we’re going along to that to see a different part of the island and meet some locals.

No rush to move on from here. No rush at all.

Barbados

We sailed an ocean to Barbados.

Here’s a few pics of the journey. And evidence of the fish!