On Monday, an early morning shower gives way to partly sunny skies. A colorful double rainbow provides the backdrop for this morning’s departure from Prickly Bay. The anchor is up at 7:30 AM for today’s 43 mile journey to Tyrrel Bay on the island of Carriacou. Our course takes us west alongside the international airport to Point Saline, then north, hugging the west coast of Grenada to minimize the set of the current. Once north of the capital city of St. Georges, the coast is dotted with small seaside towns including Halifax Harbor, Gouyave and Victoria.
The wind today is out of the northeast. Since our destination is also to the northeast, the diesel engine will be doing the lion’s share of the work today. Blanketed in the lee of Grenada, the wind is light and the ride is comfortable in two to three foot waves. Once north of Grenada, however, the full force of Atlantic exposure is felt in the form of 20 knot trade winds, six foot seas and a whopping 2.5 knot current that sets Cutter Loose consistently to the west. Throughout the day, a series of squalls produce brief periods of light rain together with enhanced winds.
Along our route, an active underwater volcano requires a slight change in course to avoid the 1.5 kilometer exclusion zone. This volcano last erupted in 1989 and is carefully monitored. The seas in this area are notoriously nasty, as the trades weave their way around and through a group of small islands, including Isle de Ronde and Kick ‘em Jenny. Large waves are now crashing on the foredeck and spraying into the cockpit, which sends us scampering to lower the enclosure panels on the windward side of the boat.
The wave pattern is extremely confused in this 14 mile stretch from the northern tip of Grenada to Carriacou. To be certain, the wind-driven waves are dominant but without a steady rhythm. There are waves from other directions as well, colliding with the wind-driven waves from the northeast. At their point of intersection, the frothy sea state bubbles and churns, reducing boat speed and causing Cutter Loose to simultaneously pitch and roll.
Entering Tyrrel Bay, the engine begins to surge and struggles to maintain RPMs. Upon further inspection, the fuel in the Racor filter is discolored and filled with suspended particles of algae, a signal that sedimentation in the fuel tank has been agitated as a result of today’s bouncy conditions. This is yet another chapter in the re-entry process. When a boat remains in the yard for seven months, small amounts of moisture in the fuel tank spawn algae. Diesel engines have a strong preference for clean, algae-free fuel. After anchoring, task #1 involves cleaning the Racor bowl and changing the fuel filter. Hopefully, this measure will keep the engine running until the fuel can be polished by a professional, presumably in St. Lucia.
On Monday, it is off to the nearby boat yard via dinghy to clear Customs and Immigration before our departure from Grenada on Tuesday morning. Tyrrel is a well-protected semi-circular bay. It is surrounded by lush green hillsides dotted with homes. Despite the fact that this is a working harbor with barges, commercial docks and fuel storage tanks, the water here is crystal clear. Ashore, a handful of restaurants and small shops front on the town’s single street that parallels the beach. Traffic is not an issue in Tyrrel Bay.
Lunch today is at the The Lazy Turtle, a bayside restaurant and Internet hotspot. The new owners are from the U.K. and are quite anxious to please. When I inquire about the specials, the owner/waitress explains that whilst the specials are intended for dinner, they would be happy to “knock us up” any of tonight’s specials for our midday meal. This is an offer that is impossible to resist. The tasty Ricard-flambe tiger shrimp over penne pasta is quite astonishing considering that this small Internet cafe is located within the tiny village of Tyrrel Bay on the remote island of Carriacou.
Tomorrow, Cutter Loose will move north to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.