Soufrière and the Pitons

Soufrière

Soufrière is first and foremost a lovely town nestled in a valley just north of the Pitons on the west coast of St. Lucia.  The town name is derived from the French word sufre which translates to sulfur in english, reference to the proximity of an active volcano and associated hot sulfur springs.  The Soufrière volcano is considered to be dormant – its last eruption of magna occurring in the late 18th century, however steam continues to be emitted.  The volcano and opportunity to bathe in hot springs and mud baths draws many tourists to the area.

Soufrière viewed from the northern rim of the valley with the prominent Pitons behind

The Pitons

The Pitons, Gros Piton and Petit Peton, were formed from magna that hardened in volcanic vents.  This type of landform is referred to as a volcanic plug.  In some instances, pressure builds up below the plug and may result in a violent eruption.  The hardened volcanic material that forms the basis of the Pitons was only revealed when the landmass surrounding them eroded away.

We visited this beautiful region with our daughter Allison and her family when they joined us in February.  Our sail from Marigot Bay could have benefitted from a bit more wind but afforded a nice opportunity for the kids to rest up from their previous exhausting day.

We moored in a bay between the Gros and Petit Pitons and spent an afternoon snorkeling the reefs on either side of the bay.  Sadly, I left my camera on Ice Floe when we snorkeled the south side.  The water was nice and clear and the reef was a colorful garden of sea fans and sponges such as we have not seen in many years.  The pictures below are from our snorkel on the north side.  At first impression I was disappointed as the water was not as clear and the most interesting part of this reef appeared to be in deeper waters.

However, I was directed to check out an area initially obscured by rocks.  Behind the rock wall was a veritable garden of colorful coral, tube worms, sponges, anemones, and plants.  
My best guess for what you are looking at:  The peachy pink masses – a cluster of nocturnal anemones.  In the evening, tentacles that catch food emerge and I bet it is absolutely beautiful.  The green and yellow animals are sponges.  The pale blue protrusion to the right of the green sponge is a Christmas tree worm (not in focus – better shot below) 
Glassy sweepers, often found in caves or hideaways like this one.
A collage of sponges, anemones, and sea urchins
The large yellow sphere is a brain coral.  The flat orange mat that looks like it has two eyes is a red boring sponge that, as its name implies, establishes its home by boring into the coral.  A beautiful orange christmas tree worm is displaying towards the top right and there is a white Christmas tree worm with tentacles out, as well as several other recoiled white Christmas tree worms below.
An elongated vase sponge.  Bottom spikey spheres are long spined sea urchins 
Smooth trunkfish.  Allison spotted this one and I took a wild shot and was lucky.
Again, best guess.  The blue and turquoise branched organism is a variant of the similarly-shaped white branched  organisms that look like “white tangled bryozoan”  Look closely and let me know if you see anything else?  Did you spot the fish in the upper left quarter of the photo.  I admit, I didn’t until I enlarged a portion of the original photo.  This fish is likely one of several types of fish that are usually resting, very still, on the sea floor or another solid surface.  They are generally well camouflaged and catch your eye when they dart from one spot to another
After lunch, George blew up our giant tube to tow Tristan and Riley.  George also offered rides to the two Angels who I wrote about in The Thin Blue Line .   We met them during a stay in Port St. Louis and as happens from time to time, we recognized their boat at the Pitons.  They declined, having spent an exhausting time swimming and snorkeling all day, but it was a pleasure to see them again.
As George was getting started the tube got caught behind some shallow rocks.  Allison’s attempts to free it resulted in her stepping on a sea urchin.  Let me tell you from my personal experience that this is very painful.  Allison had more than a dozen fairly deeply embedded spines.  Many had broken off or did so in the initial attempts to extract them.  There are always some tiny bits you cannot get out.  Allison reported that the last spine was expelled on April 25th, just about 2 months after she stepped on the urchin.
We scored a giant lobster and some fresh fruit from a local boatman.  We kept the lobster for the following day to have with lunch.
That evening was one we will remember as the second, roughest night we spent on a mooring or at anchor.  The craziest rocking experience happened many years ago when we rented a houseboat in Exuma, Bahamas.  Some day (maybe) I will find the time to tell that story in a Blog as it was the beginning of our road to cruising.  Allison and Mike made a Shutterfly book of the vacation that beautifully captures the fun we had with three generations on board – but I do digress.  
Back to the night at the Pitons – Ice Floe was in constant motion due to a significant swell, and seemingly, out of nowhere a katabatic gust of wind coming down between the Pitons would hit her and she would heel and swing like crazy.  At times we could see the wind hit the water and the water would splash straight up.  We turned on the navigation system to monitor the wind speed and clocked one crazy gust at just under 40 knots.

Day 2

We enjoyed a lazy breakfast and spent the balance of the morning snorkeling in a few more spots.

Lunch was the giant lobster along with a big salad.  George had to chop the lobster’s antenna off to get it to fit in our pot (IT WAS REALLY BIG!).  Delicious!!

We were cleaning up after lunch and making plans to stay another day to visit the Chocolate Hotel and/or a Botanical Garden.  Both were very close to Soufrière and quite a distance from Marigot Bay.  George emptied the giant lobster pot of steaming water off the swim platform and as he turned to step back up another giant wind struck Ice Floe and took her out from under his feet.

George landed hard and couldn’t even speak for a short while.  Those who know George know he is as sure on his feet as a mountain goat and stoic to an extreme.  He was really hurting.  Plans to stay another day to visit Hotel Chocolat and nearby Botanical Gardens were abandoned and we motored back to Marigot Bay.

George had broken his 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th ribs on his right side and had an approximate 500mL pool of blood between the diaphragm and lung, partially constricting his lung.  In addition, he injured his shoulder, a knee, and broke a toe.  I am happy to report, the diagnosis and care he received at Tapion Hospital (Castries) was outstanding and a tiny fraction of what it would have cost in the US.  He recovered in record time and has very few limitations, mostly pertaining to his shoulder and range of motion for his right arm.  He has been characteristically disciplined in doing a series of stretching and strengthening exercises and, no doubt, will be good as new soon.

Hotel Chocolat, Soufrère, St. Lucia

Our guest author, Riley (age 12)
Our guest author, Riley (age 12), brother Tristan, and her mother and father, Allison and Mike

The chocolate tour

Hotel Chocolat is a hotel on a cocoa tree plantation in St. Lucia. There are no kids allowed but we got lucky and we went on the two chocolate tours. They were Tree to Bean and the other tour was Bean to Bar.

We got to Hotel Chocolat a few minutes early so we took some pictures, here are some: 
One of the Pitons viewed from Hotel Chocolat

Tree to Bean

A cocoa pod
We also grafted a cocoa tree. Below is me and my brother, Tristan grafting the cocoa tree and me and my family with the tree we named Shenberger.   

Bean to Bar

The second tour was Bean to Bar what that means was we made a chocolate bar out of a cocoa bean. Each of us made our own chocolate bar. (this was not easy it was 45 minutes of crushing, smashing, and stirring). First we had to crush nibs (small pieces of crushed cacao beans) in a Mortar and smashed it with a pestle. Then we had to add cocoa butter (also called theobroma oil, is a pale-yellow, edible fat extracted from the cocoa bean). After the cocoa butter we added the sugar. We got to add as much sugar as we wanted. Then we added the nibs, cocoa butter, and sugar in a mold to harden. After that you would have a  chocolate bar! 
  
Me, making my chocolate bar

After we did the two tours we ate lunch at Hotel Chocolat. I think dessert was the best part because it is a chocolate hotel and they make chocolate and its the best. I had a salad for lunch and a chocolate  piton for dessert. 
Me, eating some bread while waiting for lunch
Me, eating my chocolate Piton


A bird that joined us at lunch

St.Lucia with Family – Rodney Bay

Happy Happy Times

I recently read that future generations may adopt a new use of the calendar reference to BC and AC. The new definition would of course be Before Coronavirus and After Coronavirus.  We all need a break from the current nightmare and lovely contributions from my grandchildren Riley and Tristan gave me just the opportunity.
A lifetime ago, mid-February – BC, our daughter Allison and her husband Mike, along with their delightful and brilliant children Riley and Tristan visited us in St. Lucia.  Our home base was Marigot Bay Resort and Marina, but we set off on adventures to Rodney Bay and the Pitons, as well (I am saving the trip to the Pitons for another day)

Rodney Bay – Jet-Skiing

We enjoyed a beautiful sail from Marigot Bay to Rodney Bay and anchored for the day.  Our guests immediately took off in the dinghy to rent some jet-skis.  Tristan was given a jet-ski adventure for Christmas and it was time to collect.

Tristan (8yo) is guest author for this summary of the fun they had.

We rented a jet-ski at Rodney Bay in St. Lucia. The jet-ski was yellow and was really fast. Mommy and I drove off into the bay. We were waiting for Daddy and Riley because their jet-ski wasn’t working but we didn’t know this though. I was siting in the front and Mommy was siting in the back. I was tricking Mommy by pushing the throttle over and over when she least expected it. When daddy and Riley came out Mommy and I were seeing how fast we could go. We went 39 miles an hour it was crazy the wind was so strong in my face I could not see at all! We went toward a in-caved part of the bay. It was a fogy day and it started to rain it felt like needles when we where going fast we drove back to the beach and asked the guy if we had more time he said we had 15 more minutes we drove back out and looked at these bungalows  that we saw. Then I started to get cold we tried to go fast again we went 45 miles an hour after that we went to Mimi and Gpa’s boat because we were dropping me off because I was cold. On accident I fell of the jet-ski and I had to swim to the boat the water was actually warm when Mommy, Riley and Daddy came back to the boat we ate lunch that was the end of our fun day of jet-skiing.


Rodney Bay – The Bouncy Water Park

After a quick break for lunch, they were off again to play on an inflated water playground near the shore.  For this adventure, Gpa (aka George) joined in.  I remained on the boat as I felt the need to get a bit ahead on cooking.  I had a feeling Riley and Tristan would be starving and tired when they returned and I wanted to make sure I had something ready.

I think they spent most of their time on a feature where one person (in this case Tristan or Riley) stood on a designated spot and another person (the bigger the better) jumped down from the top of the gym displacing air that launched the other.

The kids flew more than their own height into the air – all kinds of topsy turvy.  Of course they asked for this over and over which meant the adults had to climb up and jump off over and over.  One thing for sure was I guessed correctly that some very tired people would return from this fun.

Rodney Bay

While sailing back to Marigot Bay I made a couple of simple pizzas for Riley and Tristan (sausage and cheese and margarita) and they headed to bed.  Having a little more time, the adults got some salad and mushrooms added to their pizzas.

From Riley’s bed we heard a plaintiff “I like mushrooms” and “You guys got salad?”  We promised to save her some salad for breakfast and, without hesitation, she ate it the following morning.  Riley is a big salad eater;  she is quite a foodie, as well, often ordering a salad as her entree when we eat out and then sampling some of everything others ordered.

That’s all for now folks!

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

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 http://patrickslocalgrenada.wix.com/eat#!
Photo from Patrick’s website http://patrickslocalgrenada.wix.com/eat#!
  
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. 
Sandra
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!!