The Christmas winds are piping up on Saturday, creating bouncy conditions for our short one hour motorsail to Prickly Bay. Six days from today, Cutter Loose has an appointment with the Spice Island Marine travelift in this harbor. In the interim, we will remain at anchor in the Bay, provisioning the galley, keeping a watchful eye on boat systems and exploring our environs ashore.
Upon arrival in Prickly Bay, friends Cary and Tom aboard Dragon’s Toy greet us and extend an invitation to this evening’s Christmas concert at St. George’s Botannical Gardens. An intrepid group of nine cruisers pack into Shademan’s taxi for the short ride to this event. It is midnight by the time we return to Cutter Loose…way past the normal 9 PM retirement hour for sailors, but a pleasant evening ashore nonetheless.
The pace has slowed significantly since we departed La Phare Bleu Marina. The long, hot days of repairs, maintenance, scrubbing, polishing and waxing are behind us now, at least temporarily. It feels good to be living a more leisurely life on the hook in Prickly Bay. Laziness has already begun to set in. On Sunday, our primary activity of the day is a 45 minute hike from the dinghy dock to the grocery store at Grande Anse and a much faster return via the dollar bus. Thereafter, the day is devoted to reading, relaxing and lounging in the cockpit. Now this is more like it!
Prickly Bay is a popular spot for cruisers. Over a hundred sailboats are anchored in this harbor. The diversity of international flags flying from these vessels gives the appearance of a United Nations diplomatic event. From the dinghy dock at De Big Fish restaurant at the head of the harbor, one can gain access to all parts of the island either by walking or taking a bus or taxi. On the east side of the Bay is Prickly Bay Marina with its tiki hut bar and restaurant. Several apartments near the marina are rented by St. George’s University students and as a result, the bar and the restaurant are normally lively, except for Christmas week when most of the students return home for the holidays.
Each morning, channel 66 on the VHF radio crackles to life precisely at 7:30 AM with the local cruiser’s net. This is the news and information program for boaters. It features weather information, announcements of goods for sale, dinner specials at the restaurants and social activities for cruisers. Today’s activities include yoga at 9 AM followed by taxi rides to the grocery store at 11 AM, a game of Mexican train dominoes at 2 PM, volleyball from 3 PM to 5 PM, happy hour from 5 PM to 6 PM and the 2 for 1 pizza special at Prickly Bay Marina beginning at 6 PM.
Every day, there are new and different activities. It has been said that the south coast of Grenada is the equivalent of summer camp for cruisers. These activities provide an opportunity to become familiar with Grenada while connecting with other cruisers. It is little wonder that many sailors choose to remain on the south coast of Grenada for the entire winter/spring sailing season. Similar to Simpson Bay Lagoon on the island of Saint Martin, there is a semi-permanent community of cruisers who call this place home.
Steve and Donna aboard Summer Love invite us to join them for Christmas Eve dinner at Whisper Cove Marina in Woburn Bay. A free shuttle van from Whisper Cove meets us at our local dinghy dock and transports us to the marina. At 8 PM, the open air restaurant is packed with cruisers, anxious to sample the buffet of ham, roast turkey, mashed potatoes, pasta and the usual assortment of soups, salad and dessert. The evening’s musical entertainment is provided by a trio of excellent musicians. The singer/guitarist is known as Barracuda and his style is similar to that of Andrea Bocelli. At midnight, Christmas greetings are exchanged between cruisers before we are transported back to our dinghy dock. Shortly after boarding the dinghy for the return to Cutter Loose, the skies erupt with an intense rainstorm. Somehow, we manage to find our way back to the boat in pelting rain and total darkness. Thunder, lightning and a steady downpour continues until daybreak.
Cloudy skies and moderate rain showers persist throughout the day on Christmas. The generator is working overtime today since the solar panels and wind generator are making no meaningful contribution towards offsetting our power consumption. This is our third consecutive Christmas aboard Cutter Loose and it hasn’t become any easier being away from family and friends at this time of year. In light of today’s weather, the day is spent on board listening to Christmas music, recalling memories of holidays past, playing board games and preparing dinner. Judging from the number of dinghies dangling from the sterns of other vessels in the harbor, many other cruisers have adopted a similar stay-at-home game plan for Christmas Day.
Boxing Day (December 26th) is a national holiday in Grenada and most businesses are closed. The weather today has improved significantly and there is pent up demand to get outside and go ashore. A Boxing Day cruiser’s pot luck lunch at De Big Fish has been promoted on the morning cruiser’s net for the past week. About 75 people attend this event. Each participant brings a side dish to share while De Big Fish sells rotisserie chicken for $30 EC or about $10 US. After lunch, amateur musicians from the cruising community sing and play instruments. Crew members from four Island Packets are amongst those in attendance at today’s event, including IP 27 Merengue, IP 37 Starshine, IP 37 Dragon’s Toy and IP 460 Cutter Loose.
On Friday at 9 AM, Cutter Loose is in the Travelift sling for the second time in as many weeks. Today’s task is to replace the depth transducer which is located below the water line. In order to accomplish this task, the boat must be hauled out of the water. For one hour, she remains in the sling while Simon removes the old transducer and installs the new transducer. Back in the water, the depth sounder instantly returns from the dead. We can now move about freely with knowledge of the depth of water under the keel. While he is on board, Simon installs the new VHF radio, which seems to transmit and receive flawlessly. This completes the final two tasks on the re-commissioning checklist.
Completion of these final projects is cause for celebration. Friday night is concert night at Prickly Bay Marina, just a short dinghy ride from Cutter Loose. The party begins with a steel drum band and ends with two sets by a rock/reggae band. This is a popular event and most of the tables are filled with dinner guests.
After 24 days in Grenada, the re-commissioning and provisioning of Cutter Loose is now complete. While this process required more time and patience than anticipated, we have successfully adjusted to “island time”, made new friends and learned a great deal about the Spice Island. Despite the hard work and challenges, we have enjoyed our time here in Grenada. Sadly, we have had little time to tour the inland area of this island. We look forward to returning here in April to resume our discovery of this enchanting island.
On Sunday, we will depart Prickly Bay and begin our journey north. Our first overnight stop will be the island of Carriacou. From there, we will explore the Grenadines before moving further north to St. Lucia. Let the voyage of Cutter Loose begin!
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