Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hiking in Carriacou - Hashing in Grenada!

We’ve been in Carriacou for a month now, and we have had much fun and relaxation away from our fuel delivery problems!

The two reasons for this carefree attitude are:

1- Dominic and Gus are in the process of building and installing our Day Tank!    

2- We have met many cruisers and have enjoyed get-togethers and much camaraderie!

….And we played while we wait for our Day Tank to be completed!

We went shopping in Carriacou for food. We found a little stand with fresh fruits and vegetables. They also did a barbeque on the weekend for $4!

We went snorkeling with Les – our friend on S/V “Golightly”. We went to a beautiful cove with a white sandy beach and even some shade. It was the perfect snorkeling area for me because it was shallow and I didn’t get “creeped out” because I could stand. And I got brave enough to go to about 15 foot depths – the deeper out the more you see – but I’m not as adventurous as many other snorkelers! I like the baby steps! And all in all, it was a wonderful day of snorkeling. We returned many times during our stay here.
We met a really nice couple Jen & John from S/V Aeeshia. Living in Bermuda – they too, decided to go for the dream of cruising in retirement, and they are having a ball. While here in Carriacou, they had their two grandchildren with them, Ethan (14) and his sister Rhianna (10).  They were so polite and well mannered, and such a pleasure to meet. We had an evening of “sundowners” on their boat and it was a glorious sunset.

We enjoyed a Thai Curry with Les one evening. It was delicious! Les is a professional chef who has run quite a few restaurants prior to casting off the lines to cruise indefinitely.  It has been a pleasure to get to know him, and because he was ex-merchant navy, he and Cap have much in common.
There is a lot of snorkeling here and we’ve since been to some other areas exploring too. The weather has been great and the wind keeps things cool aboard. “When we get hot we just dive off the back of our swim platform and enjoy a dip in the 83 degree crystal clear water! Ahhh!
We learned of a local cruiser net on VHF ch 66i – well it’s actually for Grenada – but covers Carriacou too and we listen at 7:30 most mornings to find out the latest cruiser information. Then, as in many ports, VHF 68 is what the cruisers use to talk to each other and organize plans for the next day or so. I overheard (yes – many people listen in on conversations!) some recently arrived sailboaters talking about taking a 3 hour trek to one of the nearby mountain peaks.  I wanted to join them, because I knew Cap wouldn’t want to go – but I did.  And so Doug from S/V Banjo called me back to say he’d be glad to have me join the group and he would be by before 9 am to pick me up. Yeah! ….My first big trek!
Chris Doyle - who writes cruising guides for the area - had a map and directions to this hilltop peak called Chapeau Carre. It was the second highest peak on the island – 945 feet! I prepared by looking on my friends blogs to see what they all wore for this type of trek! Shorts and tank tops with sneaks, Tevas or Keen shoes seemed to be the normal hiking attire.
I packed a backpack with a towel, insect repellent, sunscreen, antiseptic lotion packets, bandaids, Swiss Army Knife, flashlight, antibacterial hand wash, two bottles of frozen water, money, one energy bar and one pack of cheese crackers, an linen hankie, chapstick and of course a copy of the map and directions.
My friend with my backpack!
I think my backpack weighted 20 lbs!
I’d never done this before – but I was prepared!
No one else brought a backpack!
I thought when Chris Doyle had said the trail took 2-3 hours – that he meant one way – but I found out that was total time! Cap was enjoying the idea of an entire day to himself…..haha
I donned my hat and climbed aboard Banjo’s dinghy and off we went to town and the start of the trek. It was already 85 degrees and as we left the water and went inland, the wind started to die down.  Hot!

I stayed with the cow!
There were about 12 of us walking together. We walked along the flat roadway and made a couple of turns and in no time we were climbing upwards as the road inclined.

That hike was sheer torture for me! – did I tell you I don’t normally exercise? For some reason I thought it would be easy. Ha! I started huffing and puffing after the first turn – and that was on the street! Then the road totally disappeared and a rock road continued for a short way. By this time I was starting to sweat and getting short of breath! I was constantly wiping my face and neck with my hankie (is that hiking gear?!).  I was at the end of the pack – the last walker! Then the rocky road turned to just a dirt path and grass. We passed some goats in the field and then some cows tied to a tree on a long line. The group was kind enough to wait up for me as I continued to lag behind. Then I’d catch up – they had all had their rest – so we continued on without me getting a break… Oh well – I’ve got to die somehow! One of the women in the group took pity on me and offered to carry my backpack. I think she was 20 – whatever – but I wasn’t quitting!  
View of Tyrrel Bay from our walk

There were incredible views at every turn and so much nature to experience. Once we neared the trees of the heavily wooded part – the mosquitoes were horrendous. “I brought bug spay – if anyone wants any”, I panted.  Well- I was now everybody’s best friend!  So sppph- sppph and everyone was covered and ready for the last part of the climb to the top. – Except me- I knew my limits. My face was purple, my clothes were soaked and I was gasping like a three-pack-a day smoker- despite the fact that I’ve never smoked!  So I didn’t do the entire hill – I got to about 750ft and that seemed good enough! I waited in the field with the cows until the group made it to the top and back down again.

 I joined the group every day as they organized different hikes through the island. That first one was the worst – but I did find that any time I had a long climb up a steep hill, I would gasp for breath and have to rest several times. The group was very kind to me and kept encouraging me that with time and repeated hikes my body would get used to it and I would improve my stamina.

Our day tank project dragged out and it seemed it would never get competed. Gus was a popular mechanic and had several jobs going at the same time. We felt lucky to have him return daily to spend a few minutes here and there.  But time was running out for us.  Our son Anthony had tickets to fly into Trinidad on August 30th and that date was swiftly approaching! So what did we do?

We commissioned more projects! We met Alan – an electrical engineer who was glad to help us install two huge solar panels on our pilot house roof.  This was a terrific way to cut our generator time down. Those panels are terrific and he installed them in 2 days!  One successful project completed!
Sheep roam the boatyard!
Then we decided to have the boat hauled out and get her bottom re-painted the special ablative paint that prevents barnacles and sea crap (my term) from eating away at the fiberglass. We stayed in a small cottage at the marina and for 7 days we went back and forth to the boat to check on things and make sure all was well.

We attended all the events for the Carriacou Regatta – which was so much fun. They were raising money for the Carriacou Childrens Fund – which helps with school supplies and needs for children. They had a garage sale and auction one night, and an awards party at the end. The sailing races were each day over a four day weekend.  Many of our sailing boat friends joined the race. On the Saturday we all headed up to the big town of Hillsborough to see the sloops race and join all the festivities. There was music blasting out and lots of food and drink and dancing – “Liming” they call it.
It was great fun!
We also had great fortune to meet professional cruisers Paul and Sheryl Shard who are sailing S/V Distant Shores II. They have been role models for us for many years as they produce a terrific travel television show called – yes – “Distant Shores”. It airs on Wealth TV and The Travel Channel in certain areas, and I highly recommend it for anyone with the travel bug! Cap and I watched that show faithfully for years to keep our dream of cruising alive. Paul and Sheryl have been sailing internationally since 1989 - with 5 ocean crossings and over 90,000nm under their belts! I was so honored when they accepted a dinner invitation aboard “Partners” and we had a wonderful evening, including our other British friends from S/V Greta Mae – Dave and Jane. The six of us had a fabulous evening and I did a great Chicken Curry and a Vegetable Curry and a fresh made Key Lime Pie! Ahhh…The boating life is grand!
Cap & I with Paul of "Distant Shores"

We also had diners at many local places and especially loved going to Lucky’s for her Saturday barbeque. Gus came to the marina to finish the last of the day tank project and then we took him and his lovely girlfriend Jo out to dinner at a local pizza place they knew in Windward– way on the other side of the island! It was a fun evening and we look forward to returning to Carriacou and visiting them again in the future.

Islands on the way to Petite Martiinque
With our boat hull freshly painted and back in the water, and all our friends moved on to Grenada, we knew it was time for us to leave too. It was hard to leave – we’d been there six weeks and really felt a part of the community. But we needed to get to Trini and we wanted to test our boat out and see how it ran with the Racor valves fixed now and a new tank made for day trips. So we cast off and went north to Petite Martiniqe for fuel and then returned to Carriacou for the night with plans to leave for Grenada the next morning.
Calm seas - Grenada in the distance

The weather was perfect! Seas were calm and wind was at five knots! We had a beautiful smooth trip the entire way and it was wonderful! We arrived in Prickly Bay and anchored right behind S/V Out of Africa.  John immediately got in his dingy after we anchored to welcome us and invite us over for drinks on his boat and then to the marina for a dinner! All our Carriacou friends were there and we had a fabulous evening – so good that no one wanted to leave and go to dinner – there were plenty of appetizers and we just kept talking late into the evening.
The next day was an excursion to the large IGA supermarket. Our friends Tammy and Jim from S/V Sweet Chariot went with us on a bus and off we went.  It was so exciting to be in a big supermarket after 6 weeks of a small convenience store and a little wooden vegetable stand! It took me a while to get over the excitement and focus on what to buy! There was also a mall attached that we scoped out before the market.  Then we flagged a bus down and headed back to the boat with all our loot!
A pleasant start...
Shredded paper to mark the trail
Saturday was the Hash! It was time to hike again! In Grenada they have a chapter of the “Hash House Harriers” which they say is “a running group with a drinking problem or a drinking group with a running problem!” What it means is there’s fun to be had.  How it works is there is a person called the “Hare” who marks a trail a few days ahead with piles of shredded paper placed every 10 feet or so to keep you on the trail. Then to make it spicy, they can make “false trails” that lead off and then stop with a big “X”. Then you have to turn back and get on the right trail. You can ask the people ahead of you if you’re going the right way. There’s lingo they speak to communicate. At the end of the trail everybody parties with food and drink and talking – and if you’re at the beach – swimming.  Its all great fun and camaraderie. But once again I got the trail that just kept going UP and UP! Then down – then back UP again! I thought the 5 miles was mostly uphill and very hard for me – I could never seem to catch my breath.  In fact – this one nearly broke me, and made me wonder if I had exercise induced asthma, because I was wheezing to beat the band! I had to sit down and rest. I’d already lost all my friends way ahead of me and found myself walking with a local guy who was walking his dog and some college kids who had stopped for a beer along the way! When the college kids saw me red faced and gasping, they got worried –well I am 63 and probably old enough to be their grandmother! So they treated me with respect and kindness and vowed to stay with me and help me get through. They were Angels and so friendly and kind! I did make it to the end – but it damn near killed me again! Still – I’m going to keep at it until I can do it with ease someday!

When the students and I arrived at the beach starting/ending point, Jim was waiting for me and handed me a beer and guided me over to Tammy and John and Jo, who were relaxing on the beach after arriving back a half hour before me! It was nice to be able to relax and be able to breathe normally again. I had a bathing suit with me and I was so hot from all the hiking that I wanted to get wet badly – but I didn’t think I had the strength to pull on that bathing suit over my sweaty, sticky body!  So I just hung out with the cruisers and unwound! Sadly, we left Grenada the next day and headed for Trinidad – where they don’t have a Hasher Group – too bad……..I’ll just have to lounge in the pool instead!
Another hill!
Feeling hot and old!
The ending spot!
These were my Angels!

A beautiful vista



  1. Hi Venie! I admire you guys soooo much...doing something on your bucket lists ,when you could have made up so many excuses not to cruise! And you both hung in there ,under much stress! Rich and I are enjoying both blogs and we love the photos.....it's really cool to see all these places that we may ,sadly, never see in person. The trash you photographed is SAD, too bad not much can be done to change things. Keep up the great blogging.....stay safe and if you keep getting winded while hiking, see the clinic for a check-up....Love you guys, Robyn

    1. Thanks so much Robyn for being such a loyal follower! It really energizes me and is so rewarding to have people sign up as members and comment! I hope you're both well and enjoying YOUR retirement too!