Getting Dirty at Carnival, Grenada Style

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You may be wondering why this group of sailors is covered in motor oil and paint, drinking beer at 7AM.

Ordinarily, you wouldn’t catch us up before sunrise, drinking and getting covered in goop. But for J’ouvert (a celebration of the 1838 emancipation of slaves and inclusion of former slaves in Carnival festivities),the first big party of Carnival, we made an exception. With our alarm clock set for 3AM and our worst outfits laid ready, we slept lightly, buzzed with anticipation.

The alarm proved unnecessary – the bump of the soca music blasting from the street was all we needed to let us know that the party was about to begin. Out in the dark streets, we bought ice cold Caribs from a guy on the side of the road, and stood back to take it all in.

What we saw – Jab Jabs (J’ouvert participants) dancing in the streets, covered in motor oil (and once the sun came up, paint). Lots of costumes, men dragging lengths of chain and around, women wearing short shorts and cropped tops. Some polite political demonstrations. Packs of people dancing all around big trucks blasting soca music and distributing paint from big vats, roving slowly through the streets, painting other participants.

The conspicuous absence of law enforcement was quite a shock to us Americans – there were literally thousands of people drinking and partying for hours in the streets – but no police presence and everything was remarkably peaceful. Even when they’re partying, Grenadians are just totally chill. An event like this simply could never be in the United States.

We’d gone out without the camera (we’d been warned not to bring it)and missed tons of great shots. I ran back and grabbed it to capture just a sliver of the action as the party was wining down at around 9AM.

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The marina set up a scrubbing station to prevent us all from gunking up the bathrooms and the docks with paint and oil.

 

Fresh Fish

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You have to get up pretty early to get some of the freshest catch in Grenada.

Which is why Brian prodded me out of bed and onto the #1 bus at 7:30AM last Saturday, bound for the Fish Market in St. George’s, even though it was pouring rain.

We’ve grown used to the sudden, ten minute bursts of rain that happen frequently this time of year, but on this particular Saturday it went on for hours, and shoppers out and about in St. George’s gathered behind the gates of the fish market to take shelter. This turned out to be good for business for the fishmongers peddling tuna, mahi mahi, and red snapper, and provided us with some fun people watching; customers negotiating the price of fish, kids making up games to entertain themselves, and fishmongers scaling and gutting fish faster than I’ve seen anybody do it before.

Given our pathetic fishing skills (and the fact that we’re bound to a marina for the foreseeable future), we’re glad to have the market here for access to fresh fish on demand.

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Waiting for the rain to stop

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Ready…Set…Mango!

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Our mango obsession is only growing stronger in Grenada

Have I mentioned how much we love mangoes? We’ve arrived here at the height of mango season, and we just can’t get enough tree-ripened, freshly picked, juicy mangoes. We’ve made a hobby of sampling all of the different kinds, rating them by flavor, texture, and aroma to decide which we like best (Brian likes the electric orange Ceylons, I prefer the floral, slightly stringy Julies) So, when we heard that the Grenadian agricultural organization gets up an annual fete celebrating all things mango, we were excited to join in on the fun!

At the festival, there were vendors selling all kinds of mango-based products – from soap to wine – all made by local artisans. New friends not yet acquainted with Brian’s eating habits were impressed/horrified by the sheer amount of mango-enhanced foods cooked by locals that he was able to put away in a single hour.

For me, the highlight of the festival was cheering on the kids in the mango sucking competition. Kids line up for their chance to eat two whole mangoes in one minute, and the winning title is given to the kid who does the best job cleaning every bit of pulp and juice from the remaining pits and skin. It was all flying elbows and orange pulp – a joyful thing to witness.

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The educational/welcome table

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Examples of all the different kinds of mangoes grown in Grenada. There were over 20 varietals represented on the table, each with it’s own flavor and texture.

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The mango mascot was quite a babe magnet. Pictured here with Noi.

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…and Debbie

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… and me! It was at least 90 degrees with 90% humidity – maybe that suit is stuffed with ice?

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Brian tucking into the very messy and super delicious sandwich known in the West Indies as a “double”. It’s an addictive chickpea curry (made with mangoes for the festival) sandwiched between two pancake thin pieces of roti-like bread.

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Homemade mango ice cream

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Brian vs. mango bread

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The mango sucking contest was the highlight of the event. Local children are given a minute to eat two whole mangoes. When the minute is up, the child who has cleaned the most fruit from the skin and pit is declared the winner. Boys and girls were split into separate rounds.

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Wash buckets were provided for the competitors

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This little dude was a fan favorite. He stretched and warmed up the crowd while we waited for the round to begin.

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He must have practiced prior to the event, he blew the other kids away

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Kaylee from s/v Aqua Vida didn’t feel like competing, but she smiled for a photo with her mom Danielle and Noi and Scott of s/v Symbiosis instead.

Standing Still

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Nightingale Tune in her slip. We’ve tented much of the boat to shield ourselves from the brutal sun.

We decided to kick off hurricane season with a little break from being at anchor. A slip at the beautiful Port Louis Marina in St. George’s is just what the doctor ordered.

So, far, we’re loving the manicured grounds, convenient services (wash and fold laundry!), and most of all, THE POOL. I’m especially enjoying my newfound freedom to step off the boat whenever I wish, without having to deal with the dinghy. We’ve got a new routine – getting back in shape with early morning jogs, working on boat projects, reuniting with old friends and making new ones, and exploring Grenada by land.

Here are a few snapshots of the our new home (for now, at least)!

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Most of the slips here are Mediterranean mooring style, which means the boat is tied to the dock at the stern, and anchored at the bow to hold the boat in place. The boats are very close together because they do not have docks between them, as we had in our marina in New York.

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Marina services are a short walk down the dock from Nightingale Tune.

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There’s a little market that sells beer, wine, bread, and a selection of fruits and veggies. They also refill soda stream canisters – which was great news for us (we were carrying five empty tanks and this is the first place we’ve found outside the US that refills them).

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The swimming pool provides daily relief from the crazy heat and humidity

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A private dining area for the on-site sushi restaurant

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There are two restaurants – a bistro serving local and American foods and a sushi restaurant.

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Some the the boats here are much bigger and more fancy than ours. This one has a hot tub and two 20 foot speed boats on deck.

Toasting Grenada

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We’ve arrived in Grenada! It’s a milestone worthy of bubbles – the good stuff.

Cheers to 3,500 nautical miles under our keel!

Cheers to the new people we’ve met and the lessons we’ve learned!

Cheers to our old girl Nightingale Tune for getting us here safe and sound!

Cheers to friends and family for your love and support along the way!

For the next three months (until November 1) we’ll be in Grenada (except for a short trip back to the States) waiting out hurricane season and working on Nightingale Tune. After being on the move for what feels like forever, putting down roots here feels a little strange. Luckily, we’re not alone. Grenada is south of the hurricane belt and far less likely to see major storm action – knock wood a thousand times – and lots of other cruisers are with us, doing the exact same thing.

So, cheers to new routines and a beautiful new island to explore!

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A generous pour for Nightingale Tune and Poseidon – the bottle was shaken up good in the fridge during our sail over! #boatproblems

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3,500 nautical miles – NYC > Grenada

 

Strolling Bequia, the First Island of the Grenadines

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Our first morning in Bequia (pronounced beck-way) we’d hoped to sleep in, but the locals had other plans for us. A friendly knock on the hull sent us scrambling for clothes, pretending that we’d been awake all along. One after another, vendors came knocking – first the bread guy with baguettes, then the photo guy with photo proofs of our boat coming into the harbor (he’d shot them from his dinghy the day before), and a lady to pick up the laundry. Nobody was pushy, and we got bread and crossed laundry off the to-do list, all without leaving our boat. Based on these services, the waterfront walkway, and the awesome restaurants, it is evident that Bequia understands hospitality.

At anchor in Port Elizabeth, we’re surrounded by tons of other boats, flying flags from around the globe. Finally, we’ve caught up with a big pocket of cruisers here in Bequia, one of 32 islands that make up the country known as St. Vincent and The Grenadines.

Port Elizabeth in Bequia is adorable and fun. The local government has invested heavily in the construction of a narrow, cement boardwalk that follows the waterfront, giving pedestrians easy access to restaurants, cafes, and beaches, and a picturesque place to stroll. On our first day, we walked this path from end to end. There are lots of appealing places to enjoy the views and socialize with a cold drink or a meal, and we smiled that we were finally in a fun place filled with other sailors. We thought that, come sunset, these joints would be hopping, but for some reason, the cruisers mostly stayed on their boats.

We were disappointed that people were not out and about like we’d hoped, but it turned out not to matter, because the very next day my nose mysteriously swelled up like a balloon. It came with all of the symptoms of a bad sinus infection (unfortunately, I get those often), so I assumed that was the problem. Brian amused himself with a couple days of sewing projects, while I confined myself to  the aft berth to convalesce and sweat.

We’re just 75 nautical miles from Grenada, our final destination for the season. As we enjoy one of the last milestone stops on our way, I’m struggling to wrap my head around the idea of staying put for the next three months, after being on the move for so long.

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Photo proof by Kenmore, the man who takes photos of the boats as they arrive in the harbor. We would have bought this print if we’d had all our sails fully unfurled instead of just our mizzen and a reefed headsail. (There was a ton of wind, so we didn’t need a lot of sail area that day).

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No. #1 Bread Man in his dinghy

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The walking path in Bequia. This part goes by all the waterfront restaurants, boutique hotels, and bars.

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Many of the restaurants also had nice dinghy docks for those who preferred to arrive by water.

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Brian, in front of the popular and unfortunately named Whaleboner restaurant and bar.

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The path was immaculately clean, and there were a lot of signs reminding people not to throw their trash along the path.

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Some parts of the path take you alongside boulders, suspended 20 feet in the air

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Gingerbread cafe makes their own ice cream

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We had a really lovely lunch on the porch at Mac’s

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Children playing on one of the beaches

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A little girl was holding this starfish, but she was shy and didn’t want to be in the photo. She placed it on the boardwalk for me to photograph.

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The brick fired pizza bar at Plantation Guest Cottages

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taxi

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Breakfast at Plantation

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Port Elizabeth town center.

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There are lots of local dogs out and about in Bequia. It’s a rabies-free country and they have very strict rules for cruisers brining in pets – the sign in the Custom’s office warns that undocumented dogs (those who have not undergone veterinary testing and permitting) may be shot on sight.

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We’ve seen a lot of unusual combo businesses in our travels, but this one was especially strange – a shop where you can buy some CDs while refilling your propane tank.

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Mind the road at Mom’s – the food pickup window is just inches from the street.

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boys bathing a dog in the ocean

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We took our tattered main sail in to the loft at Grenadine Sails for an evaluation. The good news is that the canvas is in decent shape. The bad news is that all of the stitching has come undone from UV exposure and the edges are tattered. We hired them give it a good once over restoration and hope that we won’t have any more issues for a while.

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Jerry cans before Brian’s sewing project

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Jerry cans with Sunbrella covers. We love how they protect the cans from UV exposure and make the boat look less cluttered.

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s/v Friendship Rose in the harbor

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Brian eating soursop, a new favorite fruit that tastes something like a pineapple crossed with a pear. The seeds are poisonous, and it sure lives up to its name for being messy to eat!

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia – A Sunny Place for Shady People*

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Our search for a dinghy engine brought us to Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, where we found the last Yamaha 8hp 2-stroke for sale in all of Eastern Caribbean. Ironically, if it were not for needing to replace our stolen engine, we would have skipped this port completely, given its reputation for being a hotbed of boat crime.

We’d only set foot on St. Lucian soil for one minute when a local man (drinking a beer, 9AM) approached us on our way to the Customs office. He’d noticed that we’d rowed in, and he wanted to sell us an engine. We played along and told him what we wanted. He said it would take him a little time, but he could find us one “used but like new”. Perhaps we’d see our engine again after all! I wonder how many sailors willingly participate in this black market, knowing full well that the engines they purchase are stolen from fellow cruisers.

After clearing customs and purchasing our new (legit) engine from the dealership, we decided to spend the rest of the day avoiding the scorching heat swimming in the pool at the Rodney Bay Marina, followed by glorious showers with hot water, the first we’ve had since our marina stay in Puerto Rico back in May (Pro tip for sailors – pick up a mooring ball in the lagoon and use of the marina facilities is included for a very reasonable price). On our mooring ball, we took full advantage of daily visits from Gregory the fruit guy, wrestled with our very damaged mainsail, and took the dinghy into town to provision and chow down on chicken roti and other West Indian delights.

Maybe it’s our newfound paranoia or the fact that we continued to have random, sketchy encounters in well-lit areas all around town, but we just didn’t like the vibe in St. Lucia. We decided to skip some very beautiful anchorages to avoid harassment from the infamous “boat boys” further down island and the headache of worrying about security.  A 2AM departure made for a very long, zesty sail to Bequia, our first stop in The Grenadines. At least we had some beautiful views along the way.

*Our friend Justin used to say this about his home state of Florida.

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Gregory paid us daily visits to sell fruit and veg. He made a special visit out to bring me passion fruit (my favorite tropical fruit so far), after being sold out for two days.

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Breakfast, thanks Gregory!

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Our main has seen better days. We noticed that another seam let go last time we used the sail, but rolling it up made the problem worse, and it got stuck inside the mast. I hoisted Brian up to release it.

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Dawn breaking over the Peyton Mountains in St. Lucia, as seen from sea

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