The Thin Blue Line

An Unlikely Event

The heroines of this story
While docked in St George’s Marina, Grenada, two smart and clear-sighted young Swedish girls approached Ice Floe.  My first thought was they wanted to pet Duhkxy as this is a request we field many times each day.  As you know, he is the cutest dog on earth.  Settle down all you people with wonderful dogs you believe hold that title – we have objective evidence for this claim.
At last count, the number of adoring Grenadians who have testified that Duhkxy is the cutest dog in the world exceeds the tally of lies told by our incumbent president
But I digress, as Duhkxy plays no part in this story.
The younger of the two heroines in this story said “Do you know….” and pointed up to the sky.  I thought perhaps some interesting water birds were perching somewhere on the mast.  After taking a look, I was at a loss as to what they were trying to bring to our attention.  The older heroine chimed in that there was string – just as George spotted the thin blue line(s) of string that were attached to the top our mast.  It appeared that two lines of this string originated from the top of the mast of a catamaran on the opposite side of the dock from Ice Floe and then became tangled around the top of our mast.  
From our mast, these strings continued on all the way to the next dock.  Luckily they had not ensnared anything else. With the help of a gentleman on this dock, and another sailor with a dinghy in the water, this string was quickly retrieved and secured on Ice Floe.  We thanked the girls and others who had assisted us and retired for the evening, happy to know the instruments on the top of the mast were safe for the time being.
The string was thin, but made of nylon and extremely strong.  Any two boats attached to it would be in for a nasty surprise if one attempted to move away.
George on his way up the mast to untangle this thin blue line
An enlargement of the previous photo in case your eyesight is not quite as good as our two Swedish angels
George found the string to be extensively tangled around the wind instrument and it
took quite some time to  extricate it from this spiderweb. 

George was assisted in untangling the line by intermittent squalls of heavy rain and gusts of 20+ knots of wind.  This, in the protected marina.  The squalls and swell had kept us docked there for several more days than we had intended – turns out, that was fortunate indeed.  Unfortunately, one end of the thin blue line got loose and tied itself around still another mast, port side to the catamaran.  We alerted them to the problem, fortunately in time as they were leaving the following day.  The captain of this sailboat thanked us several times, remarking what a costly and inconvenient outcome would have resulted if he had not known.

The string was still tangled throughout the catamaran’s rigging.  This boat’s occupants had left a few days prior and would not be back for several months.  We left a note on their boat and alerted the marina staff.

A Happy Ending

We could not thank our heroines enough, but did our best over enormous portions of ice cream.  They turned a most certain disaster into a fun memory.

Petite Martinique

Grenada’s tiny island

Petite Martinique is the smallest of the three islands that constitute Grenada (Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique).  It has no affiliation with Martinique other than having been first inhabited by an individual originally from Martinique, who gave it its name.  This small island is a total of 486 acres and has one main road. It is unique, in more than its diminutive size.
As we approached our anchorage for Petite Martinique, beautifully maintained, brightly colored, professional fishing vessels filled the harbor.  There were no sailboats.  A few joined us over the days we spent there, but the island is decidedly not a cruiser’s destination.  The Grenadine islands affiliated with St. Vincent are very close by and highly preferred by cruisers.  Sadly, St. Vincent requires a several month quarantine for any visiting dogs.  We and Duhkxy will not be visiting anytime soon.

Fishing and boat building constitute the most significant industries in Petite Martinique and by our observations, the island appears to be thriving.

Petite Martinique is home to approximately 1000 human inhabitants, and notably, a large population of goats.

Homes are beautifully maintained and often landscaped, as well.

This inviting building, affiliated with the home shown above, is a bar, unfortunately not open when we passed by.

Educational facilities include pre-primary and one Roman Catholic secondary school.  Otherwise, children take a boat to school in the neighboring island, Carriacou.

A small strip of beach was home to a number of water birds, but unlike many of the islands we have visited, did not appear to be used by locals for socializing or bathing.  It was poorly maintained with respect to rubbish and litter affording a poor introduction to this otherwise charming island.

We walked the length of the island along its main road were rewarded with welcoming smiles and lovely views.

We were surprised to see the dogs in Petite Martinique to be both small, and diverse in breed.  On other islands we have visited, the dogs are often mid-size and uniformly handsome mutts.

Graveyards in Petite Martinique, as well as other nearby islands we have visited, are small, informal, and interspersed with other private properties.

Petite Martinique was lovely to visit and interesting in its many unexpected differences relative to its sister islands.

From Petite Martinique we have headed back to the main island of Grenada to see what we can see, see, see.

Caribbean Cooking Class at Patrick’s, St. George’s, Grenada

How do you cook these strange Caribbean vegetables?

A great way to begin introducing yourself to edible Caribbean plants is to sample each wonderful fruit in season.  You still may need to make inquiries about what constitutes “ripe” and what part of the fruit is edible, but for this you need only inquire of the vendor.  You taste it in all its glory and you either like it or not.  We have been living on bananas, guavas, mangoes, jackfruit, sour sop, passion fruit, papaya, paw paw, starfruit, citrus, et al.  We have fresh fruit with nearly every meal and we enjoy rum smoothies with fruit we freeze in season.

But what of the many “strange” vegetables?  Cook them wrong and you may conclude that they are terrible and you will never try them again.  A case in point – at my dining table as a child, there was a rule that we would eat what was put in front of us until our plates were empty.  My siblings and I remember a single big exception.  At one dinner, for the first time, my mother prepared okra.  We had all had okra in Campbell’s gumbo soup and liked those little wagon wheels.  As dinner began, our father tried his first mouthful of okra and immediately conceded that no one needed to eat it.  From that day forward, okra was only ingested by members of my family in a gumbo.

Patrick’s Restaurant

We have had some success preparing several new vegetables after we have enjoyed them in a restaurant, but this has hardly made a dent in those we have seen.  Most recently, we enjoyed a sampling of 20 to 30 (we lost count) small portions of a wide variety of vegetable and meat preparations at Patrick’s Restaurant in St. George’s, Grenada.  After finishing our last course, we commented to our server, Milton, that we needed to take some cooking lessons.  Much to our surprise, he said, “We can arrange that.”

Photo from Patrick’s website!
Photo from Patrick’s website!
The following day, we set up a 2 hour lesson.
Karen, a longstanding friend of Patrick’s, who now owns the restaurant, greeted us when we arrived.  I had a great cup of coffee while we waited for our lessons to begin.  Our teachers were Sandra and Lisa. 
Karen speaking with patrons on a local cuisine tasting tour
We would prepare a green banana salad, pumpkin, christophine (aka chayote) in a cheese sauce, and okra and tomatoes.  I thought “okra?” remembering my childhood experience, but with little concern as we had eaten it in the restaurant and it was delicious.  I asked Lisa and Sandra why the okra my mother prepared was so horribly slimy.  We learned that it must be cooked in the barest minimum of water (or battered and fried) to prevent this.  In addition, Sandra and Lisa answered questions about other vegetables and offered additional seasonings we should consider.

The preparation space was limited and we could only imagine what a challenge this would be when the restaurant was full.  Sandra and Lisa laughed and admitted it could get pretty chaotic.  They have two huge, many burner, stoves, but each dish we prepared was cooked in one pot.  This type of cooking is ideally suited to cooking on an average-sized sailing vessel.

All four dishes were cooked from scratch in not much more than an hour – just in time for lunch.  Included in the modest cost of our lesson ($25 US) were all the ingredients AND the four dishes we prepared.  We were also sent on our way with a bunch of green bananas to practice what we learned.

Left to right:  green banana salad, okra and tomatoes, christophine in a creamy cheese sauce, and pumpkin
We greatly enjoyed our time at Patrick’s having a wonderful dinner, taking cooking lessons, and meeting Milton, Karen, Sandra, and Lisa.  There will be a much greater variety of traditional Caribbean vegetables, prepared efficiently in our tiny boat kitchen, going forward.

Sandy Island, Carriacou, Grenada

New Year’s

We celebrated the coming of the New Year anchored off Sandy Island, a small uninhabited island with extraordinary beauty.  This island is east of Carriacou, one of the several islands that are part of Grenada.  Some time ago, vegetation on Sandy Island was killed by seawater.  Were it not for a hurricane (uncommon in Grenada) that threw coral up on the sand strip, the island would likely have vanished.  Locals planted trees and undergrowth that, in combination with the more substantial coral base, stabilized this idyllic island surrounded by healthy coral reefs.
Sandy Island (center) off coast of Paradise Beach (right), one of the most beautiful beaches on Carriacou.

While we were snorkeling, a pelican feeding frenzy started up devouring some of the enormous schools of small fish on the reef. The pelicans are quieted down here, with full bellies.

We have seen more pelicans in Grenada than any of the other islands we have visited
West end of Sandy Island – where we snorkeled
This island is part of a marine preserve (Sandy Island / Oyster Bay Marine Protected Area – SIOBMPA).  The waters are clear and shallow – a perfect snorkeling spot.  We spent many hours on the reef and the photos below are just a small sample of the beauty and diversity of fish, invertebrates, and vegetation there.

Duhkxy sits in George’s lap on most dinghy rides, but does get adventuresome at times.  When close to shore he will sometimes launch himself into the water unless we remember to tell him to stay.  He likes parading around the sides of the dinghy, but is quick to get back in George’s lap if he slips.

Best of all, he has learned to sit patiently in the dinghy when we snorkel.  Sometimes he needs one or two reminders.

We had a delicious New Year’s Eve dinner at Paradise Beach Club on Carriacou.  This restaurant offers water rides from and to your boat (and you don’t need to jump off the dinghy in waist deep water).  I had ribs and George had tuna.  Both came with salad, potatoes, sweet plantains and caribbean rice;  all very delicious.
Paradise Beach Club, Carriacou
We are currently anchored off a pretty fishing village on Petite Martinique.  George just finished the laundry and I just finished the dishes from our decadent lunch of lobster and salad.
Ahhh  Fresh Sheets
Need a bigger pot

We are hopping in the dinghy to take Duhkxy to shore – boy does he love the beach.
Happy New Year to all!!