2021 Déjà Vu?

Back to Sandy Island

We returned to Sandy Island shortly after a new outbreak of Covid 19 cases were reported on the main island of Grenada. Overnight, Grenada went from being categorized as low risk, to high risk; the immediate consequence of which, was that restrictions put in place for visitors from Grenada, made travel between island nations no longer feasible. If the outbreak was not quickly controlled, travel restrictions between Grenada’s own islands (Grenada, Carriacou, Petite Martinique) could also be put in place. In the event we need to stay put for a prolonged period of time, Sandy Island off the coast of Carriacou is where we needed to be.

At first sight, we were reminded of the beauty of Carriacou, Sandy Island, and the waters between these two islands. These waters are part of a protected marine preserve (Sandy Island Oyster Bed Marine Park).

Moored off Sandy Island during Covid 19 lockdown (March-June, 2019)

Sandy Island and the Marine Park Have Much to Reveal

During our prior stay at Sandy Island (March through June, 2020) the skies were constantly full of seabirds. Initially, flocks of laughing gulls, shortly joined by Brown Boobies, Royal Terns, and small flocks of pelicans. Mixed groups fed upon enormous schools of young fish. These fish were continually assaulted from below the water, as well. Small groups of jacks would arrive like torpedos in formation attacking and gorging themselves on the young fish. Feathered predators would simultaneously attack the disorganized schools until, they too, had their fill.

Having now arrived at the end of December, we found large flocks of pelicans, no gulls, and, on occasion, small numbers of boobies and terns. The jacks and other fish predators are extremely active. We are entertained from sunup to sundown with what appears to be a small underwater explosion followed by a larger plume of the small fish launching themselves in the air.

In addition, individual jacks and occasional barracuda fly out of the water with such force they land 20-30 feet beyond. The most beautiful behavior we enjoy is when schools of small fish, presumably startled by a perceived threat, emerge in unison, fly a short distance, and upon re-entering the water, startle fish from the same school ahead of them who launch themselves, repeating what appears and sounds like small waterfalls over and over again. We have observed this behavior before, both here near Sandy Island and in other locals, but never as often, with schools of fish so large, and the repetitive waves.

Boobies are demonstrating a different fishing behavior. We have routinely seen them fly straight down, fold their wings, and like olympian divers, plunge into the water without disturbing the surface. Moments later they bob to the surface like a cork. We now see them skimming the surface of the water while retrieving a snack. On occasion, they sit upon the top of the water with their heads under water eating fish in conjunction with the assault of the fish from below.

Flora and Fauna on Sandy Island

The island’s hermit crabs that had almost entirely moved underground when we left Sandy Island last June, were now more apparent; but nowhere near the population seen previously. Duhkxy was delighted to find that the white ghost crabs that build burrows at the water’s edge remained plentiful.

Referred to as Ghost Crab – Aptly named as they are virtually invisible when remaining still on the sand.

He has become more persistent and accomplished in his pursuit of them. Guided by smell, he digs following the tunnel entrance until he unearths the crab. When he gets one out, he delights in chasing them. His play is invariably brief as they are amazingly fast and nearly invisible when they stop moving. In addition, they head for the water and can bury themselves in the sand within a second in wet sand. On occasion, one takes a stand, refusing to move. Duhkxy will bark and howl in dismay which translates to “Cmon, play with me.”

Duhkxy digging for a Ghost crab.
Duhkxy has startled this Lined Shore Crab (aka Striped Sea Crab) who decided to stand his ground.

The Sandy Island rats have not revealed themselves, thus far. Perhaps they have moved on (who knows where or how) or Duhkxy has been too busy terrorizing the crabs to hunt for rats and flush them out.

The island vegetation is lush as it is now nearing the end of the rainy season. We enjoy observing blooms and seed pods that were not here earlier.

While examining the sea grapes for hermit crab activity we spotted several beautiful spiders (Yellow and Black Garden Spiders) and what we believed to be egg casings.

Several days later our suspicians were confirmed as one of the egg casings had released hundreds of newborn spiders. The following day they had all dispersed.

Sandy Island itself, had also changed. The beaches are frequently transformed depending on storms, and are now wide and shallow in slope. We often observe many small fish in a line at the last reach of the waves, having been left to die on the beach to the delight of the ghost crabs.

We are sharing this idyllic spot with as many as 24 sailing vessels in comparison to the few (2-5) during the 3 month lockdown earlier in the year. Our coveted mooring that we learned some sailors refer to as Ice Floe’s mooring, is occupied. We find it desirable, as it is the closest to a beautiful shallow reef perfect for snorkeling, as well as to the beach for us to swim ashore without the need to launch our dinghy.

We are safe, our days are full, interesting, and pass all too quickly. We miss home and our family and friends and hope to return in April. 2020 has been a year bearing no resemblance to one we have known or might have imagined. The human suffering weighs heavily and our hopes for 2021, are for Americans like ourselves who have thus far been spared the worst of 2020, to open our eyes and take action to alleviate this suffering and to address its causes.

May this new year be the beginning of the best and most well spent year of our lives.

A Hike from Grenada Marine

My brother and sister and I spent a great deal of time over the many recent months in a three-way text chat. Margaret and I could vent, and Michael would regale us with his humor. We were in the middle of such a chat and I needed to break off. Our fresh fruit and vegetable stores were decidedly weak so I texted my brother and sister “Off on a Hike to find some fruit.” Margaret texted back “Are you two reduced to foraging for food again?” Michael responded “I don’t think she means traipsing through the jungle.” Well actually…..

Grenada Marine

Grenada Marine

Grenada Marine is a nice quiet marina that has recently made some significant improvements, but one of them is not, a decision to no longer permit some food vendors (mobile bakery and seafood, in particular) inside the gates. There is a very nice restaurant, but sailors are a stingy lot and eat relatively few meals out.

Cruiser’s Reef Restaurant

Our hike for Fresh Produce

George, my better half, recalled a fruit and vegetable stand that was only two mountains and a couple of miles away so off we went. Largely unbeknownst to me, as I have an exactly zero sense of direction, George strayed a bit here and there to take in a few other sites he was interested in checking out.

The yellow line is the track of the hike we embarked on to purchase food from “nearby” fruit stands

The hike was absolutely delightful. Along the way we got a look at the progress being made on the construction of the Six Senses Luxury Hotel Resort to the west of La Sagesse Bay while Duhkxy played hide and seek in the tall grass.

We also passed through a region of farmland that had sufficient water resources from a large stream to supply an irrigation system. There were thriving fields of “local spinach”, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and seasoning peppers (in order below).

As well as many fruit-bearing trees.

Key Lime

Soursop trees with maturing fruit, and buds.

Soursop fruit – opening buds, below

Trees bearing a local nut called almond. We purchased a bottle of these nuts at one of the fruit stands – they are less than a fifth the size of the almonds you are most likely familiar with and do taste quite a bit like an almond.

Local nut called almond.

A couple of cows and some beautiful flowers we have not seen before – a special plus for residing and cruising in Grenada during seasons we have not been here for previously.

Lastly, we stocked up on passion fruit, oranges, grapefruit, bananas, avocado, mangoes, coconuts, cucumbers, pumpkin, “almonds”, peppers, cabbage, ginger, and sorrel. It was a successful and thoroughly interesting day.

A Recent Sample of Michael’s humor for your entertainment (spoiler, not flattering with respect to our soon to be ex-President).

Trump reportedly considering sending Melania on an extended tour of campaign-like rallies, promoting hs current conspiracy theory of extensive voter fraud. Confidantes and advisors hint that this is part of a well laid plan that the President has outlined to reverse the election results in his favor. When asked for comment on these rumors, Melania replied “Well laid? Well, I guess there is always a first time.”

Grenada Hash

Grenada Hash

The Grenada Hash is not a local culinary dish or mood enhancer.  It stems from a long history of Hashes, first imagined and initiated by a group of British soldiers in Malaysia in 1938, who were looking for a fun way to stay fit without foregoing their penchant for beer.  The playful slogan for this Hash Club, and subsequent Hash Clubs is:

Some seasoned hashers sport tank tops featuring the sport’s slogan.

A trail is created by a club member referred to as a Hare and and the Hash is on. The Hares, in our experience, take devilish delight in creating trails through challenging terrain and incorporating false trails.  The concept took some time to catch on, with the interruption of World War II, but today there are almost 2000 chapters all over the world.  

The first Hash in Grenada was held in 1985, and with limited interruptions is held on each Saturday.  The Grenada Hash Club is purportedly one of the largest in the World with 150-300 regular participants http://grenadahash.com.  This season the Hashes, which ordinarily occur on each Saturday in Grenada, were interrupted for several months while restrictions on gatherings were in effect to stem the spread of Covid 19.  A handful of long devoted hashers were so despondent on Saturdays that they formed an interim Bird Watchers Club until the Hash started up again on September 26.

The Grenada Hash, garners a lot of participation.

Prior to the Hash beginning, members of the Hash Club circulate throughout the participants looking for those sporting new sneakers or running shoes.  These may be confiscated in the guise of testing their integrity for the rigorous trail. (SPOILER: The true reason is for a customary ceremony that entails the unsuspecting, unfortunate, owner drinking beer from the shoe.)

Separate Hash trails are laid out for Runners and Walkers.  Some Hashes include two walker trails – one easier and / or shorter than the other.  The trails are identified by periodic deposits of shredded paper (in Grenada) or flour.  You must be vigilant to ensure you keep track of these markings as there are false trails that can lead you astray. There are invariably some parts that are steep, some wet and muddy, and some bushwhacking. More often than not there are some remnants of shoes that fell apart.

George and I participated in our first Hash on Saturday, January 23rd, 2020.  It was Grenada Hash Number 1122 and was laid out by the Hash Hare “Sex Problem”.  As first-time Hashers we were referred to as Virgins.  Before each Hash begins, all Virgins are called to the front of the crowd for instructions (mostly lies and obfuscations).  You are also informed that at the end of the Hash Virgins will be reconvened for a short ceremony to commemorate your loss of your Virginity and receive your certificate. You will want to make sure you show up for this fun ceremony. One Hash in which we participated had an extra closing ceremony for a pair of Hashers who had just received their official nicknames and another for two dedicated Hashers who had announced their intent to get married.

Dogs are welcome and when the University is in session, many Vets in training bring theirs along. All the dogs must stay on a leash and are very well behaved.

Many doges participate, particularly when the Vet Students are on island.

The dogs are even better behaved at the end of the Hash (see below).

Of the eight Hashes we have participated in so far, my favorite brought us through an interior part of Grenada with large and small farms and homes with vegetable gardens and/or vegetable and fruit plants tucked in wherever there was a bit of room.

Each Hash is different and they are all fun. They offer you some great exercise while you are introduced to parts of Grenada you might not otherwise see and people you might not otherwise meet.

Celebrating Biden’s Victory in Grenada

If you could see it through others’ eyes

As the United States Presidential election approached, conversations in Grenada frequently strayed into opinions about the candidates, and speculation about who would prevail. We have not met many American cruisers who support Trump, although they do exist. When we spoke with a like-minded American, various outrages were voiced and then someone would suggest the unpleasant topic be dropped. The most interesting discussions were those with Grenadian citizens and people visiting from countries other than the US.

The electoral college was a frequent topic when speaking with non-Americans, and many people were incredulous that the presidential election would not be decided by the popular vote. My explanation was that the electoral college was intended to give a fair share of voice to each state. Many would concede that they could understand some value to the process, but still far preferred their country’s use of the popular vote as the sole determinant.

As to the candidates and who would win – the great majority of non-Americans thought Trump to be without morals and foolish. They were confounded by his continued popularity in the Unites States and judged the US harshly, as a result. A disappointing number of opinions shared were that Trump would win. Disappointing, in that the view expressed was a condemnation the intelligence and morality of Americans.

Ice Floe and we are back in the water

Ice Floe was returned to the water bright and early November 2nd and we spent most of the day stowing things we brought back from our apartment, and otherwise getting her ready to sail. To be truthful, George spent most of the day in this pursuit. I made contributions when I could tear myself away from the pre-election news and texting with my brother and sister.

George and I slept well on the boat on the eve of the election with near certainty that Biden would win. The following day and for the balance of the week I was consumed by the need to follow the frequent changes in who was ahead in key states, and fretful over how close the vote was turning out in key states.

Saturday – The Grenada Hash and a new president is elected.

George and I hopped on the bus taking us to the Grenada Hash (a rigorous run or walk through the hilly interior of Grenada) with light hearts as shortly before, the results in Pennsylvania had just been called for Biden, thereby securing his successful run for president. We completed the Hash, and if not for a very steep slope toward the end, we would, for once, not have come in last. George had tied Duhkxy’s leash to a stump at the top of the incline that helped getting down the embankment and those that followed were pleased to use it, as well.

We took the bus back to Whisper Cove for a lovely dinner to celebrate the outcome of the election. We could not help but notice a young woman (American), who we learned is a full-time cruiser, dressed in such a way as to leave no doubt to the joy she felt in Biden’s election.

The lovely, lively, delicious, restaurant at Whisper Cove Marina

As we shared our happiness at the outcome of the election I mentioned that I had told George we would not put up a new American flag at Ice Floe’s stern until we had a new president. The young woman said she had made the same pronouncement to her shipmate.

We saw no cheering crowds, no dancing in the street, fireworks, or other displays of celebrations. Just a quiet sigh of reiief, a joyous sense of hope, shared by a couple of Americans who found themselves in Grenada for this historic election, It was more than enough,

Leadership in Grenada – A Cruiser’s Perspective – Updated September 2, 2020

September 2, 2020 – (Update to March 31 post)

Five months since I first wrote this post, we are still in Grenada.  Ice Floe is on the hard in Clark’s Court Marina for hurricane season and we will resume sailing in November.  What began as the prolongation of our time in Grenada due to the airport closure, evolved into a decision to stay in a country where as George often comments “The Grenadian Prime Minister cares more about our health than our President does.”  We are living in a small apartment overlooking BBC Beach in Morne Rouge.

        The view of BBC beach from our apartment porch in Morne Rouge

To date, Grenada has confirmed a total of 24 cases and ably managed a limited outbreak of community spread infections through extensive contact tracing and quarantining.  There have been no deaths and are no known active cases.  Children are back to school, and most businesses are open and the amazingly efficient bus system is back in full service. Large gatherings are still prohibited and the Grenadian Carnival and Emancipation Holiday were canceled to reduce the chance of infractions.

Masks must be worn before entering businesses.  Upon entering, your temperature is often taken and hand sanitizer applied.  In restaurants, your name, phone number, and time arriving is recorded for contract tracing purposes.  International traffic to the island remains highly restricted.  We may hear some grumbling from time to time, but we have not witnessed a single instance of disrespectful behavior, let alone violence.  Adherence to these restrictions is very good – Grenada remains armed should Covid 19 return.

Sadly, in the United States, the pandemic rages on.  Our President applauds his success when the average daily number of deaths declines to 1000, and daily new infections drop to 40,000.  He continues to contradict the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases and the simple numbers a young child can understand.
Over six million people have been infected in the United States and 189,504 died from Covid 19 infections as of the instant I am writing these words https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/  .  Grave concerns about serious, long-standing, health issues in those who have survived the infection are continually being discovered. Our president offers, in an effort to minimize the tragic loss of life, “Half of the people who died were in nursing homes”, recommends less testing so we will have fewer confirmed infections, and threatens to take health insurance away from millions.

We plan to return to the United States in early spring of 2021.  At that time we expect to have President Biden shepherding our once great country through its recovery from the enormous damage wrought by the morally corrupt, deceitful, and self serving actions taken by Trump.

Until then, we remain grateful to Grenada leadership and Grenadians for the safe haven and hospitality they have afforded to us.

Original Post -March 31, 2020

Choosing to Quarantine in Grenada

As the inevitable invasion of Covid-19 infections reached the Caribbean islands, many cruisers raced to find a way to get back to their motherland.  My husband and I, having closely followed the news concerning Covidi-19 outbreaks in much of the world, elected to self-quarantine on our sailboat, anchored off a small, uninhabited, breathtakingly beautiful island in Grenada.  

We reasoned that a trip back to the US would require flying to JFK airport in New York and our coming in proximity with many hundreds of people from all over the world.  We would be putting ourselves at risk, as well as, potentially adding demand on already over-burdened health care professionals with insufficient resources

Can we save ourselves?

The magnitude of this tragedy today, is difficult to take in.  Near-term certainties of what lies ahead, should we fail to slow the progression of infections, will forever damn humanity for our short-sighted, selfish, and shallow priorities.
  
Tomorrow (April Fool’s Day), the number of deaths in the United States will exceed those in China.  Tomorrow, the deaths in Italy will exceed 12,000, with no hint of an inflection in the curve to suggest it will not continue to increase until exhausted by Italy’s vulnerable population.


And yet, leadership across much of the world, points fingers, debates, and seeks to secure some personal or political advantage; none more-so than in the United States.


What true leadership looks like

Presently, confined to our sailboat, in the relatively speaking tiny island nation of Grenada, we have had the opportunity to observe and remember how exemplary leadership can guide a nation through a crisis.  Grenada’s leaders have taken swift, decisive action, given unequivocal direction, spoken the truth, and conveyed empathy.

Before a single infection was confirmed in Grenada, increasingly more stringent directives, principally directed at reducing the immigration of potentially infected foreigners, were enacted.  The following are those relevant to cruisers, like ourselves.

18 – March. Ports of entry to Grenada reduced to two and health check and travel history taken prior to possibility of check in.
19 – March (12:00am). Foreign vessels checking into Grenada must fly a quarantine flag and all passengers be quarantined on their vessel for 14 days
20 – March. Persons on board foreign vessels in Grenada cannot set foot on land 
21 – March (11:59pm) Grenada closed to any foreign vessels not already cleared in
  • The first infection (an individual returning from the UK) tests positive.
22 – March. Grenada’s main airport, Maurice Bishop International Airport closed to commercial traffic

The announcement that those on foreign vessels could not set foot on land, was simultaneously accompanied by hand delivered details of how our need for resources (food, water, fuel, et al) would be met.  This service has been faithfully provided at no cost.  We feel much indebted to the Grenadian Prime Minister Dr. Right Honorable Keith Mitchell and Minister for Health Honorable Nickolas Steele and all Grenadians for continuing to provide us with safe haven and necessities.

Since the first individual in Grenada with a confirmed Covid-19 infection was identified on March 21, eight additional individuals are known to have been infected. All have ties to patient zero and we can only hope the infection has been contained.  In addition, a Limited State of Emergency was put in place, curfews were established and the need for social distancing, hand washing, not touching your face and remaining at home whenever possible was repeatedly emphasized.  

Grenada’s Leadership not afraid to take unpopular decisions

March 30th, a written announcement from Grenada’s Minister of Health, the Honorable Nickolas Steele included the following excerpts.

“Sadly, many have not heard us.  Many have ignored us.”

“In this regard, therefore, a mandatory curfew will be imposed beginning from 7:00 pm on Monday, March 30th, 2020, and ending 7:00 pm on the 6th day of April 2020.

During this period, every person shall remain confined to their place of residence (inclusive of their yard space), to avoid contact outside of their household; except as provided in the Regulations or as may be authorized in writing by the Commissioner of Police.”

Strict guidelines for the procurement of food were established.

“Shops which sell groceries, grocery stores and supermarkets in each Parish shall be open for business between 8am and 12 noon on select days specified by the Commissioner of Police.”

“One Person from each household shall be allowed to leave their residence once during a grocery day to attend shops which sell groceries…..in their own Parish”

All other places of business including restaurants and gas stations will be closed.

Strict guidelines for personal vehicles and busses were clearly spelled out.

Lastly, in my opinion, the most powerful and persuasive message issued from the Minister of Health, when addressing the nation live today was the following.

“Do not leave your house unless it is a food or medical emergency and you will have done your part to keep your household safe and your nation safe.”

Judging from the comments left by Grenadians following the publication of these directives, there is widespread support, despite the hardships imposed.

That is what True Leadership can accomplish!


Under Lockdown Moored off Sandy Island, Carriacou, Grenada

Our mooring off Sandy Island, Cariacou, Grenada has served as our home from the day we checked into Grenada on March 18th.  We could not have asked for a more ideal location to quarantine as the course of Covod-19 unfolds.

At any one time, we had as few as 3 other boats as neighbors, and as many as 7.  Some came and went and came back again.  There was no place we would prefer to quarantine so we remained.

We have been provided with a service to secure groceries, as we are not permitted on land in Cariacou.  We place our order with Alison, a proprieter of the Paradise Beach Club restaurant on Cariacou.  The restaurant is closed, but Alison oversees efforts to ensure cruisers are provisioned.  Cariacou receives its groceries from Grenada (the big island) and there is no way to know what will be available on a given day.  Alison stands in lines with people in masks keeping 6 feet apart, sometimes for hours.  She has invariably brought us as many of the items we requested as possible, and does a great job of substituting when necessary.  We eat well – never better than on the occasions a blue marlin has been caught.

Things to do while moored off Sandy Island – Underwater

You may think that remaining on a boat such a long time in one place would be tedious, but we are never bored.  There is a very lovely reef within swimming distance from Ice Floe and our snorkeling has rewarded us with views of frightening moray eels, a small yellow snake head peeking out of a hole, slipper and caribbean lobsters, two types of sting rays (yellow and southern) a spotted eagle ray, a host of vibrant corals and other sea invertebrates and many species of fish.  Every visit reveals something new and we never get tired of snorkeling on the reef and along the island shoreline.

We often catch glimpses of fish backed into a crevice like this one that is either a spotted burrfish or a porcupine fish.    They look a bit like ET with their big eyes and wide mouth.  When they are threatened they blow up into a big fat ball with spikes sticking out.  It is hard to get a photo because you need to dive down and they usually back further into their hole.
This fish is likely the same type as the one above, but not the same fish.  This was my third attempt to get a photo – very proud of myself.
Glasseye Snapper
This is the West Indian Sea Egg, a very common type of sea urchin.  They have the curious habit of collecting seagrass and small shells.  Sea urchins are part of the broader category of sea creatures Echinoderms.  Echinoderms include starfish, brittle stars and feather stars and sand dollars.
French grunt fish swimming near what I believe is Smooth Star Coral
Juvenile Mahoghany Snapper
Blue Tang
Identifying coral is difficult as their color may vary depending on what algae grow inside the coral polyp.  Relying more on shape of the total colony and the individual polyps, my best guess is that this is a Great Star Coral.  Those, in very shallow water, which this one is, tend to collect green symbiotic algae.
The blue dotted fish is a juvenile yellowtail damselfish.  The Yellowish tan coral in the background is a type of fire coral.  The red is likely a sponge.
School of French grunts
Trumpet fish
George
Southern Ray

Above the water

While sitting in our cockpit, we have been surrounded every day by the heartless slaughter of small and juvenile fish.  We see large fish as they decimate the huge schools of tiny and young fish.  We have observed a progression of the type of predators, as well as the seabirds who take advantage of the disorganized fish that come too close to the surface.

Underwater predators

Underwater predators we have observed include redfin needle fish, barracuda, and jacks.  It is common for the predators to launch themselves from the water, especially in the initial attack.  At times this is a single predator – they may fly straight up in a tight arc or cross an amazing distance.  Sometimes groups of predators come by in what looks like an underwater airplane configuration.  They will suddenly erupt just above the surface.  We believe all of these tactics help them disorganize their prey making them easier to catch.

School of horse eye jacks

Predators from above

Above water predators have included terns, laughing gulls, brown-footed boobies, and pelicans.  They continually keep a watch and when the fish strike, the birds are right behind them.

Royal Tern
Laughing gull
Brown footed Boobies
Pelican

 The prey

The innocent prey are generally schools of silversides or young fish.  The predators have varied over the weeks – most recently the horse eye jack, perhaps as some of the prey has grown from half inch to several inches.

A school of silversides just below the surface of the water
An enormous, dense, school of silversides we swam through while snorkeling

The play unfolds

Jacks, erupting at the surface of a school of prey
Several laughing gulls are next on the scene of carnage
Birds assail from above as jack (center bottom) attacks from below
This scene plays out dozens of times a day

Initially Duhkxy reacted to every loud splash from the attacking predators.  As he has grown accustomed to the behavior, he reserves his barking to instances when he becomes bored or the attack is particularly loud and close to the boat.

Duhkxy maintains vigil.

Watching the birds can reveal some behaviors you cannot imagine.  Have you ever seen a seagull stand on the head of a pelican?  WE HAVE, many times.  After a pelican catches a fish, it also takes in a large amount of seawater.  Before swallowing, the pelican allows the water to drain out of its pouch.  In this interval, gulls hang around and often stand on the pelican hoping they can snatch some of the catch.

We often watch laughing gulls stand on top of a pelican’s head immediately after the pelican catches a fish

Many larger birds of prey routinely steal fish right out of the mouths of others.  We have observed that here, with frigate birds taking fish from boobies.  In other locals, we have seen eagles and osprey do the same.  We wonder if this is the main way frigate birds satiate their hunger as we routinely see them soaring above but have only rarely seen them catch a fish.

Our neighbors entertain us with their water activities.  Some paddle board, some kite sail, some kayak, and once, we watched a cruiser successfully use his hammock as a sail for his kayak.  He had a little better luck than Marilla when she tried this in the Boundary Waters.

Marilla, in Boundary Waters (1989)

At the end of day, we sit in the cockpit and watch the sun go down.  No two sunsets are the same.  Each is a peaceful, end of day, experience.

Our loved ones and humanity as a whole are never far from our thoughts.  Stay well.

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.