Sailing to Carriacou and Paradise Bay

Feb 26, 2020 - Sea Cloud

This morning the sun rose over the blue-green Caribbean at 6:35 a.m. The sailors went to sail stations and by 9:30 a.m., we were under sail, including the massive spanker jib, and making five knots. Mounting the spanker sail is a complex task and there were about a dozen sailors working to make it happen.

At 10:00 a.m. Tom Heffernan gave a talk on the creole languages of the Caribbean, singling out the musical and expressive English creoles. We were sailing ever southward on our journey to the Grenadines. When we arrived at Carriacou, we were just a tad over 700 miles from the equator, as far south as we shall travel and not far from South America. Shortly after noon, with permission from our first officer John Svendsen, some of the guests joined the crew in hauling down the sails. They soon found out how very difficult this task is.

I first spied Carriacou at 11:45 a.m. off the horizon on the port beam. The island is part of Grenada and the Grenadines and not to be confused with the Grenadines that belong to St. Vincent. Like Bequia for example, which lies 30 miles to the north.

Carriacou is only 13 square miles but is the largest island in the Grenadines after Grenada. Some may recall that President Reagan sent troops to Grenada to protect American medical students and to thwart what he saw as a revolutionary communist regime from taking power. The island remains a member of the British Commonwealth. Although per capita incomes are quite low, we need quickly to add that these islands have very high literacy rates of 85-90 percent, low infant mortality, long life expectancy, and good medical care–perhaps a simple diet, lack of processed foods, and physically demanding work contribute to these encouraging numbers.

The main city of Carriacou is the tiny hamlet of Hillsborough. The entirety of the sea surrounding the entrance to Hillsborough has now been declared a national park, so we will be anchoring in the pristine and aquamarine waters of Tyrell Bay, a little town with 750 inhabitants.

At 3:00 p.m. we boarded tenders for Tyrell Bay and then boarded minivans for the five-minute ride to Paradise Bay–one of the prettiest white sand beaches in the Caribbean. Some of us went snorkeling near Sandy Island, while the rest of us had a scenic drive around the island as well as a walking tour of Hillsborough, ending at the Mermaid Beach Hotel where we were treated to a cold drink. The snorkeling was excellent, and all sorts of fish were seen in great profusion. The reef at Sandy Island has recovered from the terrible hurricane of some years ago. Nature if given half a chance is very resilient.

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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.

About the Photographer

Alex Krowiak

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

A childhood surrounded by the woods and streams of Pennsylvania initially sparked Alex’s curiosity about nature. That curiosity eventually led him to pursue degrees in biology and environmental studies at Boston College. During his time there he conducted research on carnivorous plants in Iceland and kelp forests in South Africa. Together these diverse experiences provided him with the background and passion to become a teacher. 

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