Carriacou, Grenada

Feb 17, 2019 - Sea Cloud

The sun rose over Mount Pleasant on Bequia at 6:27 a.m. We raised the anchor at 7:36 a.m. and began our journey to Carriacou. We were making 9 knots, despite a wind of 19 knots from our port bow. We were at 12.51 north latitude, just a tad over 700 miles from the equator. The sailors went to sail stations at 8:15 a.m. and shortly we were in the power of a 20-knot wind and we were making 7 knots in a south-southwesterly course.

Carriacou rose on the horizon by 12:30 p.m. I was excited to be back to this charmed and remote island. The entire island is only 13 square miles but after Grenada, is the largest island in the Grenadines. Americans may remember that President Reagan sent troops to Grenada to protect American medical students. The capital of Carriacou is Hillsborough. The island remains a member of the British Commonwealth. The entirety of the sea surrounding the entrance to Hillsborough has now been declared a national park and so we will be anchoring in the pristine and aquamarine waters of Tyrrel Bay. Although per capita incomes are quite low, we need quickly to add that these islands have very high literacy rates 85 to 90%, low infant mortality, long life expectancy, and good medical care.

The locals are expert boatbuilders and that along with tourism and subsistence fishing makes up the bulk of their economy. The boats are made with only hand tools and are in demand by collectors. The island is very arid but at one time there was a substantial sugar producer, limes, and cotton. Poor agrarian practices, however, damaged the soils and agriculture is now limited to small gardens.

We landed at the pier in Tyrell Bay and took a minibus to Paradise Beach and it was indeed a paradise—a glorious, soft, white-sand beach with palms and sea grapes in profusion. A real treat was the release of a mature 60-year-old hawksbill turtle, which had gotten trapped in a fisherman’s net. The local marine biologist first tagged the turtle and then he and some helpers brought it to the sea edge. We all waited expectantly to see if it could still swim With a mighty heave, it pushed off and a great shout of hurrah went up from all of us. High fives all around! The snorkeling at nearby Sandy Island was excellent; all sorts of fish were seen, and in great profusion. The reef at Sandy Island has recovered from the terrible effects of Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Nature, if given half a chance, is very resilient.

Tonight. we celebrated our chef de cuisine’s gala dinner and it was fabulous. On to St. Lucia and another wonderful adventure.

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About the Author

Tom Heffernan


Tom, a native of New York City, who has had a life-long passion for travel and exploration, is the Kenneth Curry Professor of Humanities at the University of Tennessee and the founding Director of the university’s Humanities Center. His areas of interest are anthropology of religions and historical linguistics.

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