We finally got the weather window we were hoping for, and on December 3, we left our mooring on the south side of Grenada in Prickly Bay. We motored up to St. George’s on the west coast of Grenada and took a mooring outside of the harbor. We wanted to stage there for the next day’s trip to Carriacou, and even though we did a lot of rocking with the overnight swell, it was a good decision. It felt kind of weird, as the new mooring field was put in where the COVID quarantine anchorage was in 2020. So two and a half years later, there we were again. The last time we were in that spot, we were certainly in a much different frame of mind.
The next day we left at first light at 6AM and motorsailed to Carriacou. That can be a bumpy ride, but the Captain stuck close to the Grenada coast and took advantage of the calmer seas. There is an underwater volcano between Grenada and Carriacou called Kick ‘Em Jenny, and there is a large navigational exclusion zone around it to protect mariners from eruptions. We didn’t see any bubbles, so all was well.
When we arrived in Carriacou, we took a mooring in Tyrell Bay. That can be a fraught exercise because there isn’t really a “mooring field” per se, and boats are anchored haphazardly amongst the mooring balls. Then once you spot a ball, many times it won’t have a pennant (a floating rope with an eye for your mooring lines) to grab and feed the mooring lines through. Instead, I have to grab the bare metal ring on the top of the mooring ball with the boathook, and the Captain steers Kestrel alongside the ball. I walk down the side of the boat, hanging onto the mooring ball with the boathook and the mooring line in the other hand, then drop to my belly and feed the mooring line through the ring. No pressure!
As soon as we were hooked up and secure, we dinghied to shore and checked out of Grenada with Customs and Immigration. Since it was Sunday, they closed at 2PM, so we had to hurry. The checkout process was totally painless and inexpensive (35 EC or $19 US departure tax per person), which was a relief. Even though everything was closed in town, we took a walk through Harvey Vale to see what had changed since we were there last year. The answer is not much, other than another grocery store has opened.
Monday, December 5, we left at 6:50 AM to motorsail to Union Island, St. Vincent and Grenadines (SVG). It was a short journey of only two hours, and the seas were extremely calm. As we approached the harbor at Clifton, one of the ubiquitous “boat boys” came out to greet us in his motor boat. “Boat boys,” as they are known throughout the Caribbean, are the local men who ply the harbours in their brightly-painted motorboats selling fruit/vegetables/lobsters/fish/baked goods, hawking moorings, offering boat taxi rides, delivering ice, and generally hustling to do whatever a paying customer wants.
Having been warned about the questionable quality of some of the privately-owned moorings, I specified that we wanted one of the Tobago Cays Marine Park mooring balls. We followed him over to one of the balls lining the reef along Clifton Harbour, and he affably helped me hook the mooring lines. The pennant comes from the bottom of the ball, so it would be extremely difficult to grab without help from someone at the water.
Once we were hooked up, he gave me a laminated card to give to the Park Rangers; he gets a cut of the mooring ball fee (60 EC or $23 US per night) for helping us moor, which seems completely fair to me. The Park Rangers came by in a boat not long after that, and I gave them the card and paid them the mooring fee. It’s a terrific system.
Then it was rinse and repeat: drop the dinghy and motor into Clifton to find Customs and Immigration. The building was unmarked but not hard to find, and our check in process as very simple as I had done most of it online the night before on SailClear.com. SailClear is used by many Caribbean islands to streamline the customs and immigration process, and I have to admit, I much prefer putting the information in a database once rather than filling out carbon paper forms every time we go to a new island. SVG has a reasonable approach: you get 6 months from Immigration for free, and you get one month cruising permit from Customs for 35 EC or $18 USD per person.
We strolled through Clifton, which was quite a small town. It is primarily restaurants, convenience stores, and fruit and vegetable sellers.
The beaches along Clifton Harbour are a kite surfing mecca, and there are at least two kite surfing schools in town. We walked down to the kite surfing beach to see if anyone was out, but no one was.
It was still a lovely walk, and it was interesting to see how the topography has changed from Grenada’s towering, jagged, rainforested mountains to the more arid, sandy, flatter SVG islands. It is noticeably less humid to us, to which I give a hearty two thumbs up!
We were in Grenada for two years, 6 months, and 5 days. It was bittersweet leaving, but we are thrilled to have put some miles under the keel and to have started a new journey. Next stop: Bequia, SVG.
The boring details:
Prickly Bay to St. George’s, Grenada: 6.66 nm, 1.5 hours
St. George’s to Carriacou, Grenada: 31 nm, 5.75 hours
Carriacou, Grenada, to Clifton, Union Island, SVG: 10.5 nm, 2 hours