February 20, 2006

Carriacou
Tyrell Bay (Carriacou), Grenada

After an enjoyable day-sail from Dragon Bay, the Odessa anchored in Tyrrel Bay, at the mellow island of Carriacou.

Sailing is a lot of work—hoisting this, trimming that, wrenching the other… but I must admit, when the engine is off and the boat is silently gilding though the sea, it's really quite an enjoyable experience. The stars are an amazing thing to stare up at from the cockpit of a gently rocking yacht.

This is not backpacking, it's far from it. I would say it's more along the lines of car-camping, or tooling around in an RV. The similarities between the two have become overwhelmingly obvious to me now.

I'm really enjoying the hassle free entry into new countries as well. Traditionally, I would fly into an airport, move through immigration officials, find affordable transport to the city, search for places to sleep, and so on. As a crew member on a boat, you arrive calmly and drop anchor, casually inquiring about where the sleepy little customs and immigration office is. The captain does call the paperwork, leaving you to ask locals and other yachties about cheap transportation and the surrounding area. It's a liberating experience when you get to walk around in a country for the first time without a pack on your back.

Sailing with Luca and Laura has been an enjoyable experience thus far. Perhaps it's the presence of a woman, but the two compliment the Odessa well. Dare I say that aside from needing my own dinghy and a hot freshwater shower (which I haven't had since January), life aboard is actually rather palatable.

We're pushing hard to keep the captain from anchoring and fixing the boat for days on end (before he does his crew exchange in less than a week). For entertainments sake, we've come up with a list of the captain's daily priorities:

  1. Cigarettes
  2. Rum
  3. Boat
  4. Coffee
  5. Food/sleep
  6. Socializing/women

Island Thoughts

As islands come, Carriacou is a pretty laid-back and friendly place. I've never received so many uninitiated "hello's" walking down the street before. The landscape is much drier here, with goats roaming the countryside freely. The buildings lack the vibrant colors of other Caribbean locations, opting instead to leave their homes concrete gray, or to let the paint fade and chip, giving everything a "just passed through a hurricane" feel.

A local dive shop owner tells me the locals are selling off their land here to make ends meet. I was having fun with a minibus driver this evening, joking that I was going to move here and drive a bus. He says the average person on the island makes about $200 USD a month (the dive shop guy says it's three times this amount). I guess it costs about $3,000 to buy a minibus here, with no special permit or license needed to operate it. Maybe I should start driving one!

All I know is that the guesthouses here are very plentiful, but expensive ass hell. With prices pushing upwards of $50 a night for the cheap rooms (easily sitting at $100+ for others), these proprietors are definitely above the poverty line. The local yacht club does, however, have single beds for $35 a night.

I fear I've ended up doing what so many have done with this island before me; visiting it for a long weekend and then moving on or going home. I like it here, and even enjoyed a great run this morning along the beach and into the countryside. Trust me, it's absolutely fantastic to jump into clear blue Caribbean waters after a nice long jogging session.

Now that I've got my immigration stamp, I'm waiting for a short sail to Union Island tomorrow. I hear there's a nice private island called Palm Island on the way to St. Vincent, where the cheapest room is just shy of $500 a night. There's a small beach that the yachties have been given access to there, that is rumored to be really nice. I wonder if I'll get a chance to see it or if we'll be delayed (typical for the Odessa) and have to push north without seeing anything.

Comments:

Bill Bryan

April 20th, 2006

Craig - enjoyed your blog on Carriacou…I visited there in 1998 about the Star Clipper Cruise ship and really liked the place (laid back - cheap to live…considered moving there and making T-shirts (as I do now with a heat press method) to pick up the couple hundred $ a month I would need to live there…ended up getting a divorce (after 35 years) which should have pushed me TO Carriacou, but ended up getting married again (alas)…so now all is a dream…I am a 64 year old retired Navy Chief Petty Officer living in Virginia…. my blog spots are navycareer.blogspot.com and patrolsquadron.blogspot.com if interested….enjoy your travels…

Mexico

Craig | travelvice.com

April 20th, 2006

Wow, thanks for the comment Bill, very interesting!

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