Quarantined in Paradise Lost

March 22, 2020

The sun set over Sandy Island as cruisers like ourselves enjoyed their last few minutes on land.

Foreign vessel restrictions in Grenada due to Covid 19 Coronavirus

Efforts in Grenada to keep the island free of the Covid 19 Coronavirus have become more stringent by the day since our arrival March 18.

  • March 19, 12:00am – any foreign vessel checking into Grenada must fly a quarantine flag and be quarantined on their boat for 14 days
  • March 20 – Foreign vessels in Grenada or Grenadian waters cannot set foot in Grenada
  • March 21 – At end of day, Grenada closed to any new foreign vessels
  • March 22 – Grenada’s main airport, Maurice Bishop International Airport closed to commercial traffic
We applaud the precautions the Grenadians are taking, but how I cried when the restriction was put in place that we could not touch land.  Poor Duhkxy lives for the time we take him to Sandy Island, often sitting wistfully gazing at the beach.
In an effort to establish a new routine for play we put out a ramp for Duhkxy off the swim platform.  Once we jumped in he was happy to join us but he headed immediately for shore, took a poop, and then swam back to the boat.
We were visited later in the day by Grenadian immigrations, customs, and coastguard.  They checked our papers to ensure we were checked in.  I asked if the land restriction included Sandy Island and was told we could go there. What a relief and how kind.
We have been assured that we will have assistance in obtaining provisions, water, and fuel as needed and have already been visited by gentlemen who will provide this service.  Our personal situation is not a hardship and we feel extremely grateful to be so fortunate.
My anxieties concerning the magnitude of this growing tragedy erupt without warning – concern for my loved ones at home, friends who are trying to get home, cruisers who have not found a home, the health care providers who risk their lives while not even being provided the most basic of protective apparel, the many hundreds of thousands of lives that could be cut short, the inexcusable delays in preparing for and managing the spread of this virus, businesses ruined and repercussions that we cannot even imagine.
In an effort to form my own conclusions regarding what we may expect from this pandemic, I have been tracking the number of deaths from the virus in several countries that have had the best to least success in managing the spread of the virus.  Death is the only way to compare countries as the rigor of testing is so varied.  At present, the United States appears to be on a trajectory similar to China.  Even if the most “draconian” measures implemented in China were adopted now, we will likely see several more thousand susceptible people die.  If unchecked, we can only hope the virus peters out.
Stay safe – stay isolated to the fullest extent you can, stay well.  Understand that each person who contracts the virus passes it on to others – some who will inevitably succumb to the disease.

Self-Quarantined in Paradise

Sandy Island, Carriacou, Grenada

We celebrated the 2020 New Year while anchored off Sandy Island (Blogpost Sandy Island, Carriacou, Grenada).  The island and its surroundings are a treasure; rescued at one time from obliteration, it offers a quiet, protected and uncrowded anchorage, unspoiled beauty, a lovely beach with a back-drop of coconut palms, and a vibrant, shallow, reef to snorkel.  The water is a deep turquoise that reflects onto the undersides of the beautiful white terns that fly above us.  We knew we would visit again and again.
We arrived again on March 18th, under circumstances we could not have imagined.  The first confirmed case of the coronavirus infection (Covid-9) in the Caribbean Islands was reported March 1st, and by March 16th 90 cases were confirmed (https://buzz-caribbean.com/article/coronavirus-update-in-the-caribbean).
In the interim 2 weeks a swift series of actions were taken.  First, some islands turned away cruise ships with passengers who had recently been in countries reporting a high incidence of infection.  There was an uproar and strikes in Martinique when St. Lucia turned a cruise ship away that was subsequently accepted in Martinique.
Within days an increasing number of islands had instituted bans for all cruise ships.  By March 17th many islands had reduced the number of points of entry and instituted health checks and quarantines.  St. Lucia, Martinique, and the Trinidad and Tobago went further, banning all foreign cruising vessels.
We recognized that if we stayed in St. Lucia any longer we could wind up there indefinitely.  We had space reserved in Clarks Court Marina in Grenada for Ice Floe to be hauled for the summer months.  In Grenada we would have options.  We left St. Lucia mid-day on the 17th sailing through directly to Grenada, arriving March 18th late morning.  We learned that at midnight a 14 day quarantine would go into effect in Grenada – we dodged that small bullet.
We are checked into Grenada.  The process took several hours and before we were through the number of boats that had arrived to check in was over 50.  A Grenadian pulled his T-shirt over his mouth and nose as he passed the line.  We brought this here.
Everyone checking in had a story.  Some were desperate to get home before flights in and out of the islands were cancelled.  Families and friends who had chartered boats were being forced to cut their cruises short – a sad and costly end to a dream vacation.  Cruisers on their own boats were struggling with the choice between getting home and staying for the perceived safety of isolating themselves here on their boats.
Our lives have been turned upside down – not just ours – the whole of humanity.  By self-quarantining ourselves on our boat, we have chosen to relieve the islands and the United States of two “elderly” retirees who might otherwise add to the burden of dealing with the enormity of this tragedy.  We have been granted the gift of options and of idle time.  How often have I wished for more time with a smaller list of things to do.  How difficult it is to conceive of how I might find enjoyment in this twisted granting of this wish.
No Covid-9 infections have been confirmed in Grenada as of this writing.

Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, St. Lucia with Family

Vacationing in Marigot Bay

Allison, Michael, Riley and Tristan joined us in St. Lucia on February 12th and turned our lives upside down in the most pleasurable ways possible.  They arrived with a list of experiences and adventures they planned to have and no time to waste.

Marigot Bay Resort and Marina
Sadly, their flight was delayed and the pool was closed by the time we got to our temporary home at Marigot Bay Resort and Marina.

The pools figured heavily in everyone’s plans for keeping the children and adults happy.  They would have to wait for the morning.

Upper story pool, Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, St. Lucia
Yes indeed, the pool features a swim up bar / restaurant.  Many a refreshing
rum punch and chocolate milkshake was enjoyed here.
We rushed off to dinner at “Doolittles”, a casual, waterfront restaurant just a short ferry ride across the bay from the marina.  The flight delays resulted in our being late for our reservation, which, in turn, delayed our being seated and fed.  The very kind restaurant manager noted how fast Tristan was fading and did his utmost to to speed dinner up, but travel weary and past caring about eating, Allison took the ride back and put the kids to bed.  The rest of us joined her shortly afterward with her dinner and we enjoyed the balance of the evening in our cockpit.
Doolittle’s offers an informal setting with a varied menu that should satisfy most, a Happy Hour (for beer, wine, and select cocktails) that starts at 5:00pm and lasts until closing.

The Itinerary

Our white board quickly became filled with plans for each day.

Allison, Mike, Riley and Tristan had plans!!  We sketched out this itinerary to make sure we got to all of them.
Day 2 was slated for R&R out of respect for the preceding, arduous, day of travel.  We spent much of the day swimming, planning, and strolling through the resort.  The winding paths are bordered by well-maintained flowering shrubs, water features, and trees including mango, starfruit, coconuts.  

George gave Riley and Tristan a homework assignment to choose a bird and a plant and then find out their names.

Tristan took little time in choosing the ever present bananaquit as his bird.  We hear the bananaquit’s characteristic high pitched chirp constantly.  However, I find it difficult to pick them out despite the bright yellow plumage on their breasts.  I was surprised Tristan had spotted one so quickly.

Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) – feeds on fruit and nectar
Tristan captured the Bananaquit’s distinguishing features very well in the drawing he made below.
Tristan’s drawing of a bananaquit – St. Lucia
Riley took a bit more time to settle on her choice of bird.  The two of us enjoyed a long walk during which we explored every inch of the resort.  We followed our friend Beverly’s advice and were rewarded with many glimpses of hummingbirds sipping nectar and sometimes even taking a rest.
Riley chose the Antillean Crested Hummingbird.
Antilean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus crostatas)
Mike captured this amazing photo of the beautiful Green Throated Carib Hummingbird (Eulampis holoseiceus)

For lunch we enjoyed grilled pastrami sandwiches courtesy of Mike and Allison who gifted us with a giant homemade pastrami they had cooked on their Egg.  The whole process of curing, smoking and cooking takes about 2 weeks.  It is so worth it!!  We plan to apprentice with them when we get back to the US – both are excellent cooks and the Egg figures heavily into their cooking repertoire.

We took the ferry over to the small beach near Doolittle’s and spent the afternoon swimming, shelling, and playing with Duhkxy.  This beach is shared by several resorts and has lounge chairs designated for guests of the Marigot Bay Resort / Marina.  You can peruse tabletop displays of shells and other memorabilia and there are a number of informal shops that sell souvenirs, beverages, and snacks.  For something more substantial, Doolitle’s is just a 2 minute walk away.

We had dinner back on the resort side of the ferry at Chateau Mygo.  Adults may have overindulged in rum punch, that in this establishment, certainly comes with a punch (they have a really nice passion fruit daiquiri, too).

Chateau Mygo with its fanciful decorations and great food
Chateau Mygo rum punch – be especially careful of Happy Hour when they are two for one.
BTW – Happy Hour is from 5:00 until closing!

It was time for early to bed as we would head out first thing in the morning for the market in Castries.

Market Day in Castries

The following day we were off to the market in Castries.  Fridays are reputed to be the best day for the market and early is always better as items in scarce quantities sell out quickly.

Castries is the Capital and largest city in the island nation of St. Lucia.  The market we have frequented in Castries is currently located in a temporary, makeshift, space.  A major undertaking to redesign and complete remodeling of the previous space is underway.  The following two views are renditions of what the new market will look like.  It will certainly be a magnet for the tourists disembarking from the cruise ships in the Castries harbor.

As described by Castries mayor Peterson D. Francis, the new market “will provide comfort and cater to all provisions market vendors in a uniformed and structured manner. No longer will the vendors require umbrellas or tents, as the entire provisions market facility will be covered.”

The other aspects of the Castries Market Redevelopment Project will include a state of the art food court, high-end air conditioned restaurants, a craft market, a box park, a viewing tower, an entertainment area, meat and fish depots, and duty-free shopping boutiques (per http://www.stluciabusinessonline.com/news/media-release-castries-market-redevelopment-underway/

Progress marches on and it does look lovely.  I just hope the provisions market vendors won’t be priced out of the space.

The current market that we visited had separate sections for fruit / vegetables and souvenirs / clothing / et al.  The produce vendors displayed virtually every edible plant in season.  As we observed in other Caribbean islands, as well as in Europe, produce was exclusively local.  People eat primarily in season here, although we do find imported produce like raspberries, apples, and pears in the larger supermarkets.

The season was right for a large assortment of produce.  We purchased, soursop, passion fruit, breadfruit, green onions, pumpkin, mangoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, ginger, lettuce, cashew apple, and eggplant, string beans, sweet bell peppers, and a bag of greens they call spinach (it is not spinach, but when cooked it tastes amazingly like spinach).  There are many types of root vegetables high in carbohydrates that I have never prepared myself.  They are generally referred to as “provision”, a staple in the Caribbean diet, but as long as breadfruit is available, I will be sticking with it as my “potato-like” vegetable.  Citrus is in season now and the grapefruit are delicious – they do have about 5 or 6 seeds per section.  I do sometimes feel we have sacrificed some qualities for the convenience of no seeds, or longer shelf-life…..

The previous week the market had a great deal of sorrel and basil.  There was none to be found this week.  Such is the way it goes.

Front to back – ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, limes.  The next table is full of mangoes.
Both the green and yellow banana-like fruit are different types of plantains.  There are bags of oranges and in the back there is root-provision, a bagged section of a Caribbean pumpkin, and finally cabbages.
Hands of plantains still attached to the stem


Tristan had a wish list of things he wanted to do in St. Lucia.  One was to drink from a coconut. He got his chance at the Castries market.  His Dad (below) shows him how!

Tristan did some shopping at the market and got both the snazzy outfit he is wearing below AND a sword.  Don’t know what his Mom and Dad were thinking.

That’s all for now – Lots more on our family visit in Blogs to come