Sail from Eastern Caribbean to the ABC’s (Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao)

Its not a bit like flying

The wind speed and direction, current strength and direction, wave patterns and, in this instance, areas known for piracy, all contribute to when we sail and our direction of sail.

The red line shows the area we have been traveling for the past several years. The yellow line indicates where we were going. The red star marks approximately where we were starting our sail (Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines) and the yellow star marks Bonaire, our destination
The turquoise blue lines mark our actual sail path. First sail ~30 hrs St. Vincent to Guadeloupe. Second sail ~90 hrs Guadeloupe to Bonaire

The course we chose

We started with a short hop from Bequia to St. Vincent for the last of a series of dental appointments (another story) and then proceeded on our sail to Bonaire. Our trip was broken into two sections. The first was an approximate 30 hour sail from St. Vincent to Guadeloupe.

Day break passing Dominica

We stayed in Guadeloupe for 5 days until we got a health check for Duhkxy (required by Bonaire) and the winds and waves calmed down. The second leg, from Guadeloupe to Bonaire, took three and a half days. This was, to date, the longest uninterrupted open water sail we have made.

I imagine some will wonder why our heading was not more direct from St. Vincent to Bonaire. This is certainly possible, and cruising friends did just that a short while after we made our trip.

Wind – The Trade Winds come consistently from the east +/- slight deviations north or south. For our sail, the wind speed was low to mid-20s. A direct route would require that we sail with the Trade Winds behind us for the entire trip. Sailing speed is entirely based on the wind pushing the boat. Having the sails angled to the wind is optimal as the wind passing by the sail provides “lift” and greatly improves speed. In order to get far enough west to achieve an optimal angle, the beginning of our sail was with the wind directly behind us. Ice Floe moved right around 5 knots, even as the wind was blowing in the 20s.

Day 1 – Ice Floe sailed with butterflied jibs downwind at approximately 5 knots

Day 2 brought a welcome shift in the wind direction slightly to the south, allowing us to readjust the sails and set a path directly to Bonaire earlier than planned. Wind speed remained the same, but Ice Floe sailed for the balance of our trip at 7 to 8 knots, her top speed; arriving at our destination in 2 and a half more days. We had planned for a 4-5 day continuous sail and finished in 3 and a half days. We did motor sail for a part of the last day to ensure we came in before dark as our destination was new to us.

Based on recommendations from cruising friends we took approximate 6 hour shifts during the night and each caught up on lost sleep with a nap during the daylight hours.

Waves -the forecast called for 4-5 foot waves. We had 5-8 foot waves and a confused sea on our second leg of our trip. Confused seas are when waves are coming from multiple directions. When they intersect you get a larger wave like the 8 foot waves we experienced on an occasional basis. Dependent on where they have formed and how they hit Ice Floe, they often give a wash over the bow, or stern. A side or stern spray can give us an unwelcome bath in the cockpit. it was not optimal, it was also tiring, but it was not ever dangerous.

Pirates – There have been periodic reports of Pirates from Venezuela assailing cruising vessels and the course we set minimized our time close to the Venezuela islands and coastline.

Bonaire first impression

The first question we have been asked by almost everyone we meet in Bonaire is “Do you dive?”. We answer “Once upon a time, now we snorkel.” Bonaire is almost entirely a marine park and is renowned for its vibrant sea life. The themooring field is set along the drop off from shallow to 800 foot deep water with a spectacular underwater wall teeming with brightly colored corals..

The 800 ft precipitous drop-off is where the turquoise blue water (shallow with sandy bottom) meets the ledge of the drop-off and you see the deep dark blue water

We spent a wonderful day snorkeling and look forward to many more.

A Whirlwind of Change, Challenges, Despair and Hope

Go With The Floe is not intended to be a political blog. I write it for Family and Friends who follow our sailing adventures. I write it for George and myself, to read down the road and help us relive these adventures. That said, there are times when situations in the World are so impactful, so momentous, so seemingly impossible, that I cannot help but put into words my emotional reaction. The last several years have delivered realities that each, and collectively were not even faintly on my radar. To steal a phrase from the iconic “Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”, “Who turned on the Improbability Drive?” Whoever it was, Please turn it off.

The 2016 Election

Donald Trump’s election in 2020 rocked my world. I could not imagine a more unlikely choice given the popularity of our prior President, and, in my opinion, how ill-suited the Nation’s choice was, both in experience, and character. But so it was. Even more outside of my expectations was the fact that Donald Trump’s popularity did not dissolve under his presidency, and his policies were not checked by members of the Republican legislative branch. It revealed, and fueled divisions in opinions and beliefs I never could have imagined were so prevalent in our society.

November 10, 2020 – Divided Nation

A Worldwide Pandemic

Covid 19 spread rapidly to all corners of the earth. Every aspect of our lives was disrupted and many millions of lives have been lost and continue to be lost. Our Medical and Scientific communities’ were unimaginably swift in discovering the ways this new coronavirus simultaneously attacked multiple vital organ systems. This knowledge rapidly improved approaches to treatment. The development of several of the most specifically-targeted, efficacious, and safe vaccines ever seen before is an accomplishment that cannot be over-rated.

On November 11, 2020 concerns that dominated my thoughts were lifted. My sentiments then were summarized in https://Celebrating Biden’s Victory. Even my unease from seeing the anticipated third wave of Covid 19 take off was assuaged. I felt hope that with medical-science-based direction and vaccines on the horizon Covid would be vanquished.

November, 11, 2020 – Hope for our Democracy

Hopes for the New Year were sullied early on with the Jan 6th effort to negate the election results. The New Year had delivered a process whereby some of the safest and most effective vaccines ever made could be quickly administered, but the embrace of ludicrous conspiracy theories deprived a great fraction of our citizenry of their protection. The prevalence of misinformation continued with never-ending reasons for sadness and unease – hate crimes, police brutality, vigilanteism, bigotry, each in my mind, evidence of the failure of our educational system. 2021 ended and 2022 started with no discernible abatement from my perspective.

And now, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine. So often we try to see two sides to a situation. No clear right or wrong. Not this time. I see evil self interest with disregard for human suffering. However, our country, our President, and much of the world is faced with concerns that this mad man’s actions could not only lead to a Third World War, but a World War with nuclear weapons. So no White Knight, no happy ending, and no justice. It is hard for me to see the light.

Today – Disappearing Democratic Way of Life

Mayreau Rocks! – St Vincent and the Grenadines

A short aside on Provisioning

Not all islands within St Vincent and the Grenadines are well equipped for provisioning. As such we filled our larder well in Bequia before visiting the Tobago Cays, where, outside of their famous Beach Barbecue, there are no restaurants or food for sale. After our five days in the Tobago Cays we moved to Mayreau. We were still in pretty good shape, but after spending a wonderful week there, we were falling short on fresh vegetables and fruit. Mayreau is a beautiful island, with many, many attributes that I will describe in a blog devoted to the island, but a rich source for provisioning, it is not. It’s a short hop from Mayreau to Union Island, which we had not yet visited, so we decided to set sail.

A Welcome Surprise

Before going we took Duhkxy to a small beach to do his business. The cliff face behind this beach surprised us with its beauty. It is comprised of an amalgamation of many type of rocks with extraordinary range in color, and texture. One type is often separated from another very different type by thin veins of still another type.

Earlier, on a hike around Mayreau, an overlook drew our attention to a shore line of beautifully colored and smoothed stones. The shape of the beach provided a hamlet for continuous wave action to tumble the rocks that had been dislodged from the cliff face. We spent an hour or two assembling a representative collection for our memory and to share with you.

There are so many delights in life and in Nature and we encourage all to take pause to see them, appreciate them, and be thankful for them.

The Tobago Cays, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

We arrived in the Tobago Cays (pronounced Tobago Keys) on February 27th and have been here 6 days as I am writing. The Tobago Cays are a cluster of 5 small, uninhabited, islands that lie within a protected marine park. People who work in the Tobago Cays typically live on the nearby islands, Union Island and Mayreau.

St Vincent and the Grenadines are an Island Nation comprised of the large island of Saint Vincent and 32 islands within the Grenadines. Grenada’s sister islands, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, while part of the iIsland nation of Grenada, are also two of the Grenadine Islands.

The Tobago Cays are bordered on the east by World’s End Reef and Horseshoe Reef. These reefs calm the waters between the Cays, providing anchorages for the many yachts and tour boats attracted to the beautiful waters. During our visit, when high tide combined with strong winds, our anchorage was often unsettling.

Turtles

Snorkeling among the many Green Turtles was, in and of itself, worth our visit. Green turtles are the only herbivorous species of sea turtle. Their diet consists mainly of seagrasses and algae, though they may also forage on sponges, invertebrates, and discarded fish. The density of Green Turtles in this area is due to the wealth of one of these primary food source, the thin blades of seagrass growing on the sandy bottom, along with nearby nesting grounds.

Green Turtle starting its ascent to surface for breath.

The seagrass beds are sparse in areas and can easily be mistaken for an ideal sandy bottom for anchoring. We made this mistake ourselves, only discovering it when we snorkeled. There are moorings available, but not a fraction of the number needed to meet demand. Anchoring in the grass beds is extremely damaging and the area that is cordoned off covers only a fraction of the grass beds the turtles feed upon. More moorings and a much larger cordoned off area is needed to protect this precious resource.

The waters in the Tobago Cays are crystal clear and reflect impossibly, gorgeous, hues of deep blue through turquoise.

Snorkeling Horseshoe Reef

We were saddened to find Horseshoe reef severely injured. Skeletons of massive, now dead, corals were made colorful with a variety of encrusting corals, sponges, and other invertebrates. There were also many small varieties of fish. It is worth a peak, but do so at a slack tide as the current is strong and swift.

The Island Fauna

Island wildlife (also protected) that we observed included large white and black iguanas and other lizards. Possum and tortoises also inhabit the islands.

Beaches

Every island has a stretch of meticulously, maintained, white sand beach.

Beach Barbecue

A very well-attended barbecue is offered every mid-day and evening. You will be invited and we would recommend you accept. We enjoyed a massive dinner of lobster, pork ribs, potatoes, rice, plantains and salad. A bar is available but you are welcome to bring your own liquid refreshments.

Our visit was cut short as winds picked up significantly and our anchor snubber broke in the middle of the night waking us with a very large bang as the anchor jerked tight and pulled more chain from the windlass. At first light we made a hasty retreat to a more protected anchorage in Mayreau at first light. Trying to replace the snuffer in winds of 20+ knots and a significant surge was futile.

Back Home and Gone Again (Part 1)

We returned to our home on May 7th, 2021; 1 year, 5 months, and 2 days after we left. Our lengthy stay in Grenada afforded us haven from Covid. During our stay Grenada saw very little of the disease, and none in Carriacou, one of their smaller islands, where we spent almost the entirety of our time. Despite a few bouts of homesickness, it was pure pleasure to get to know the island, its citizens, and make new sailing friends.

Back to Gardening

When we arrived home, our great friend and house sitter, Diana, had already planted half of our vegetable garden. I was longing to get my hands in the dirt and there was still plenty to do. I so very much enjoyed gardening again and the bounty of fresh vegetables every day. Late in October, as we were beginning to put the garden away, a great blue heron paid us a visit.

Gotta see the kids – Upper Peninsula, MI.

We got our first vaccination two days after arriving home Once we were fully vaccinated we headed off for a vacation in the Upper Peninsula (UP), Michigan with our daughters, son-in-laws and grandchildren. We all took a dip in the frigid waters of Lake Superior, none as brave as those who jumped from a clifftop.

Our granddaughter Riley planned this entire vacation; location, VRBO, restaurants, and excursions. We hiked, watched Marilla, Mitch, Riley and Tristan climb, toured a copper mine, ate our fill of pasties and ice cream, cooked and ate great meals and exhausted our dogs. The UP is a unique and very beautiful part of America.

Riley and Tristan joined us at home in August for two weeks of “Grandma’s” Summer Camp. This year, PD, their sweet yellow lab came along. For the first few days all Tristan wanted to do was play in the pool. PD cannot resist any water and joined in the fun. Margaret and Burt (my sister and brother-in-law) joined us with their lab Ana. Ana, decidedly, does not like the pool.

We visited Blue Marsh Lake to provide Riley and Tristan lessons on rowing a small boat. They mastered rowing in circles almost immediately and slowly made their way across the lake in this circuitous manner. They subsequently made great strides in rowing more efficiently.

We made bird houses from bottle gourds, and creations from my shell collections.

We spent a day at Longwood Gardens, fulfilling a promise we made at a previous Summer Camp.

No summer camp is complete without a trip to the Oley Dairy for ice cream and to visit their petting zoo.

As summer camp neared its end we hit the road to take Riley and Tristan home. Riley became suspicious as to why we were leaving a day ahead. She and Tristan peppered us with questions until they got enough clues to conclude that somewhere along the way, we were meeting their Mom and Dad. Riley then solved the mystery of where we were going. Based on the route we were taking and her long-held wish she announced we were going to visit the Columbus, Ohio Zoo.

It was now nearly September and we had past the midway of our 6 month stay in the US. The time flew by but our joy in visiting with our children lasts forever.

Counting Down to Homeward Bound

My spirit is soaring between the sweet anticipation of going home and the bittersweet enjoyment of an incredible experience coming to an end.  We have been in the Caribbean since December 5th, 2019 – initially trapped by Covid, and subsequently waiting for a relatively safe time to fly home.

Our sailing has been constrained to Grenada for the past year when the travel between Caribbean islands became too restrictive and/or expensive to temp us.  This change of events provided us with a previously rare experience to connect more fully with fellow sailors and Grenadians. 

Serenaded by Grenadian on the Shimmy Shack porch
Our great friend and lockdown companion, Herbert on a hike to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls
Lea and Roland on a group hike to the sinking graves organized by Peter and Sally
Michele and Glen on our first dinghy drift

We experienced the changing seasons accompanied by the coming and going of birds, flowering plants, weather, seasonal fruit and vegetables and island traditions and holidays.

Laughing gulls were nowhere to be seen in Carriacou from late December, 2020 until arriving in droves on March 11, 2021

We watched a lovely gesture started by Allison at Paradise Beach Club in creating a row of signs depicting boat names for her dedicated customers during lockdown, expand subsequently into a decorative wall documenting the many boats passing through. Sailors are invited on Wednesdays for Allison’s trademark “Sip and Paint”. Allison supplies the wood and the paint.

Wall of artwork documenting visiting sailboats and tourists at Paradise Beach Club

We have hiked many of the well-worn trails and some less traveled by; the two below, detailed in earlier posts.

Hiking Carriacou – Paradise Beach Club Route

A Hike from Grenada Marine

One of the best consequences of living here for more than a year has been our growing friendship with a French Canadian couple, Sophie and Richard. They introduced us to Train Dominoes and we play with them and many other devotees as much as possible. It combines the elements of chance and skill such that even a novice may sometimes do well.

The beginning “trains” of seven players. On this occasion, George was in last place half way through and wound up winning. When more than seven come to play, additional tables are set up and the highest and lowest scoring players switch tables at specified rounds of the games.

We recently booked flights home May 7th.  While counting the days until we can see our loved ones again, we are packing in as much fun as possible.  We recently sailed from Carriacou to Grenada and have been bay-hopping between St. David’s, Prickly Bay, Woburn Bay (aka Clark’s Ct. Bay), and now Port Louis. Each bay/marina is distinctly different and, in each, it was fun reconnecting with friends who were likewise moving from time to time.

The sails between these bays are short hops and sometimes we make a day of it by sailing way out into the 1000+ feet deep water while fishing.  Other than quite a few barracuda earlier in our stay, I haven’t been enjoying much luck. I never get completely discourage; One of my frequent statements is “You can’t catch a fish if you are not fishing”.

Fishing has been a challenge recently as the sargassum is getting prevalent. On our trip from St.David’s to Prickly Bay we sailed way out and spent a great deal,of time pulling in lines that had snagged huge burdens of weed.  With the boat sailing at 7 knots and rolling over 6 foot waves, it is hard work to bring the lines in.  I persevered and was rewarded.

While pulling in a line I suspected had weed on it, two large mahi jumped out of the water and landed 10 or more feet away, each in an arch from the opposite directions toward the middle of the stern.  At the instant they re-entered the water, one hit the line i was bringing in.  As we troll unmanned lines, this is an infrequent thrill.  I reeled her in and she was a lively acrobat; jumping and diving in her attempts to throw the hook.  We got her in and subdued with vodka and only then discovered we had a second mahi on our other line.  Both were a nice size (~ 30 inches).  It just doesn’t get any better than that!!

A monster
Mahi are beautiful fish
Mahi Sashimi with toasted sesame seeds, and a drizzle of sauce composed of soy sauce, toasted sesame seed oil and wasbi – YUM

We are down to the last two fillets that we will enjoy blackened one evening with the blackening seasoning my brother Michael introduced us to. I already have my hopes set on our sail in the next couple of days to Carriacou. I am certain I’ll have luck on this 6 hour passage.

Sailing in Retirement

Our post-retirement choice to spend much of each year sailing has to be one of the best decisions we have ever made.  We love to travel while learning about the culture, cuisine, lifestyles, flora & fauna and history of our destinations.

Our daughter, Marilla, says we look like we photo-shopped ourselves into this scene. NOT TRUE!!!

We treasure the opportunities to meet new people who appreciate events from uniquely different perspectives than ours.  This takes time.  Bringing our second home along affords us endless destinations and our own timeline.

Duhkxy attracts a great deal of attention

We also love being under sail – the quiet, wind-powered, motion of sailing on tranquil days and the challenges afforded on blustery days and high seas.  Neither of us get seasick (knock on wood).

Be advised, boat maintenance is part of the package.

In addition to endless cleaning and polishing, boat malfunctions and repairs are as much a part of the experience as the excitement and leisure.  Get together with other cruisers and the conversation will invariably touch upon each other’s current boat problems and often great stories of past mishaps and near disasters.

Once again, our refrigerator, on its coldest setting, is struggling to keep the temperature near 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Centigrade).  This after having the refrigerator on three occasions found to be low on coolant, re-charged, and checked for leaks (none found). We also installed a new compressor and ventilation.  A funny thing about this is that two cruisers we have become friends with are meeting with the same refrigerator serviceman after us on consecutive days for exactly the same recurrent problem.  A third sailing couple we have befriended managed this same recurrent problem for two years by recharging the fridge themselves until the leak became large enough to be found and repaired.

Best to know your way around electronics and computer technology

Our plans this morning were to sail beyond Petite Martinique into the great depths of the Atlantic Ocean and catch some mahi mahi, tuna, or what have you.  We are approaching the end of our monthly WiFi data allotment so George decided to “quickly” install a couple of updates to our navigational software (wind, speed, direction…).

1.  Find thumb drive and move data to other device

2.  Download software updates – Monitors do not recognize data 

3.  Troubleshoot – solution, must use Foxfire to download

4.  Download Foxfire and software updates.

Here is where it gets interesting

5. B&G monitors in the cockpit are glued in.  Access requires disassembling ceiling in head; invariably this type of work disrupts most areas within the cabin.

6. Install updates – One USB port did not have enough space for thumb drive.

7. Download to smaller thumb drive (thanks Herbert) and complete data installation – Success!!

8. Instruments show no data – Troubleshoot – on phone with B&G technicians – 3 in total – success!!!

Decide to replace ceiling clamps broken by over zealous workmen who installed traveler

Discover ceiling clamps are glued in. Replace with alternate type of clamp and put ceiling back in place.

3:30 pm – We will go fishing tomorrow.

It is sometimes frustrating, but for the most part it is all part of the “adventure”.

The refrigerator is still not working properly.

Trigger Fish and Fishing Bats

Trigger Fish

After spending a fun-filled week in Tyrell Bay we returned to Sandy Island and were astonished to find that our most favorite, as well as everyone else’s favorite, mooring was open. Life is good.

Getting ready to swim to shore I was dangling my feet off our swim platform and felt a very painful stab on my ankle. I caught a glimpse of the culprit – a trigger fish darting to the underside of Ice Floe. As many times as I put my hand or foot into the water, the fish darted out in attack-mode. I took a couple of photos from above the water.

My attempts to get a shot under water were met with immediate and swift attacks and many failed shots save these below that I managed to get before he/she banged headlong into the camera.

Silly triggerfish

There are 40 varieties of triggerfish and most are strikingly beautiful.

George and I have observed many over the years, but this is the first time we observed the characteristic aggressive behavior they are known for. Generally, it is felt to be associated with their defense of a breeding territory. This territory is conical from the bottom to the top so it is advised that if being attacked you move horizontally, rather than vertically.

Fishing Bats

One evening George was lifting our dinghy for the night. It had gotten quite dark and he had his headlamp on. As the light shined over the water he caught a glimpse of something large flying over the surface of the water. He called me to the bow and we both watched as several darted back and forth presumably scooping up the many small fry that frequently jump from the water. At the time we knew of no night fishing birds, and the flight pattern was typically bat-like so we immediately Googled “fishing bats”

It was a challenge getting a photo of the nasty triggerfish, but it was impossible to get my own of the Greater Bulldog Fishing Bat we observed that night – so I borrowed one from the internet.

They are decidedly not cute and if that is not enough, they are a very large bat. Their bodies are just shy 5 inches in length and they have a wingspan that can exceed 2 feet. They use echolocation to detect water ripples made by the fish and use the pouch between their legs to scoop the fish up and their sharp claws to catch and cling to it. They are found from Mexico to Northern Argentina and also most Caribbean islands.

We have been living in Grenada since December 5th, 2019 and rarely a day goes by that we do not observe or learn something new.

Hiking Carriacou – Paradise Beach Loop

George and I just finished a lovely lunch of lambi (conch) fritters and salad at Paradise Beach Club and are hanging out here for the balance of the day. George is reading and working on reconciling our credit card bills, Duhkxy is harassing crabs, and I am attempting to write this post.

Once Duhkxy hits a beach, he is digging up and chasing ghost crabs. They are nearly invisible on the sand if they remain still. After unearthing them, he LOVES to chase them and he will bark and prance around them if they don’t run.

They are called ghost crabs because, if they remain still, it is difficult to see them.

In the absence of Hashes on Carriacou, we decided to make it a tradition to take a mid-morning hike each Sunday. We start out and end at Paradise Beach Club in time for a delicious late brunch.

We were recently introduced to an app (wikiloc, for wiki location) that allows you to input routes you take and to insert photos taken along the way. Your route is then visible on the app for anyone else using it and you have access to any others that have been put in the app.

This is the trail we loaded https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/paradise-beach-loop-64152484
A trail that has been created in the app can be used by others. You can click on any location along a trail to see where you are, post or view photos of points along the trail (flags), and see elevations and distance.

The trail shown above is the one we created in wikiloc from our first Sunday hike. We actually started and ended at the red point with a black square (we forgot to activate the app until we reached the green triangle point). Starting at the Red Point (Paradise Beach Club) we turned left on the road to Hillsboro. This road is fairly busy and certainly not a highlight of this loop trail. It is almost flat and passes quickly. At the blue dot, we turned on to a quiet road for a short distance until we reached the intersection, Six Roads. From Six Roads the trail becomes a dirt road where we encountered roaming goats, new vegetation, trees with giant oval calabash-like fruit a very large immature soursop orchard, a hillside covered in Caribbean pumpkin patch, a beautiful bird we had not seen before, and the shell of a large turtle. We often observe new wildlife on our walks and do our best to identify them when back on the boat.

One with, one without tether. Neither secured to anything. Goats are pervasive, requiring any home or garden or farm be fenced.
Most likely Bitter Gourd (aka Balsam Pear and Bitter Melon), renowned for medicinal purposes. The Chinese type is lighter green, with bumpy, smooth skin (although still quite bumpy compared to a cucumber), while the Indian variety is darker green, much rougher in texture (even somewhat spiky) and with pronounced tapering ends. 

These large oval or round “fruits” grow from the trunks or larger stems of Calabash trees. When they dry, they are brown and hollow and often used to make pretty bowls.

This massive Soursop orchard is young and not yet producing many fruits. Soursop is a heavenly tasting fruit that lives up to its description of having combined flavors of banana, apple, and pineapple. It makes a wonderful juice, jam, and smoothy (personal experience)

Pumpkins (or very large squashes) are a staple in the Caribbean diet. There are many varieties. Patches are often, like this one, rambling vines on a hillside requiring little maintainance. They are delicious!!

Mangrove cuckoo
Shell of a Caribbean Land Turtle aka Red-Footed Tortoise

The Red-Footed tortoise is indigenous to South America and was introduced (or re-introduced?) to Grenada and a couple of nearby islands after hurricane Ivan.

By Bjoertvedt – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23889050
Graveyard we encountered along the way
The most papayas we have seen on one tree by 100 fold.

After a short gentle climb an overlook facing north provides a Glimpse of Hillsboro with Union Island (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) in the background. Travel restrictions due to Covid 19 have thwarted our plans to travel there. We plan to head there soon after we return next year.

Union Island is frequently the first destination for sailors leaving Grenada for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

As we continued the ridge there are views of the southern waters of Carriacou.

The hike continues west along the backside of the hill, views of the southern side of Carriacou Island overlooking Tyrell Bay emerge.

Property with beautiful overlook and a giant Ceiba Tree
Another property looking towards Harvey Vale and Tyrell Bay.
Overlook of Tyrell Bay, a very much used anchorage in Carriacou.

Continuing and descending northern views are of L’Esterre Bay (including the Marine Preserve and Sandy Island).

Sandy Island off Carriacou, Grenada
Homes above Paradise Beach overlooking L’Esterre Bay and Sandy Island

The loop ends at Paradise Beach Club, where we began.

Don’t miss your chance to visit Paradise Beach Club where you can “Put your toes in the sand, and a drink in your hand” to quote Allison, the restaurant’s proprietor. On Wednesday’s join “Sip and Paint” to add the name of your sailing vessel to the wall (Allison provides paint, brushes, and wood).
Sunsetting behind “The Sisters”

Sea Birds in Grenada

Duhkxyland – Jan-2021

We visited Duhkxyland for the first time since 2019, when this destination served as Duhkxy’s imaginary personal beach. As dogs often do, he perked up as we approached and gleefully swam ashore to re-acquaint himself. While visiting, I caught a glimpse of bright red and immediately recognized a pair of the distinctive American Oystercatchers.

We first became acquainted with this interesting seabird while traveling down the Inter-Coastal Waterway (ICW) on the east coast of the United States on our way to the Bahamas. We have since seen them on several locations in Grenada. On the ICW we saw small groups, but in Grenada, we have only observed solitary pairs.

Their massive beaks are known to be powerful enough to open large molluscs such as clams and oysters.

Our observations of this beautiful bird led to the answer for a question we had been pondering for some time. What was eating chitons and leaving large numbers of their carcasses around the saltwater ponds on Sandy Island?

Chiton adhere to rocks in tidal zones with amazing tenacity

Their protective shell is composed of eight articulated sections that facilitates their movement and their ability to curl up like an armadillo when under threat.

Chiton carcasses
American oystercatcher caught “red-handed” with a chiton in its beak. The chiton has curled up in an effort to protect its vulnerable soft underside.

As noted previously the seabirds we are observing now (January) are quite different from those that entertained us during March though May last year. As of today, (January 25, 2021), the laughing gulls have not yet appeared and the numbers of terns and boobies are quite low. There are many more pelicans, however, and we have seen several shorebirds we did not see during our visit last year.

Pelican
Wilson’s Plover
Sanderling (Sandpiper)
Yellow-crowned night heron (this photo taken near runoff ditches in Grenada)

The rainy season is coming to an end with rarely more than a few short sprinkles a day. Air temperature has been a bit on the cooler side – may even drop below 80 degrees on occasion. We are enjoying the dryer, cooler weather, and the constant breeze – It was a hot, still, and humid summer.

On January 23rd, 8 new cases of Covid 19 were identified, bringing the total to 147, sadly, with one fatality. There have been no infections found, to date, on Carriacou, the Grenadian island that includes Sandy Island. Thorough contact tracing and quarantines have kept the spread to a minimum and few restrictions other than the requirements of wearing a mask before entering a store and a 10:00pm curfew are in effect.

We love the texts and photos we get from family members and friends – keep them coming. We will be home this spring.