After leaving our hurricane season cocoon, Prickly Bay, Grenada, on 15th November 2015, we headed for Carricou, where we arrived safe and sound after a rather long day in very lumpy seas and stronger than predicted winds. It was here where we said goodbye to TiSento (Agnes and Bas) until Christmas, where we planned to meet in Bequia. Our thanks go out to them for contributing to a great hurricane season, one of numerous laughs and plenty of fond memories to take with us, as well as looking after Paw Paw for us while we were in the UK. That said, Carricou will be remembered for the enormous lobster we enjoyed for dinner prior to our departure, but also, unfortunately, for the custom and immigration personnel, who were not only extremely rude to Elaine and other cruisers who were clearing out, but who also passed on an infection that resulted in Elaine having a relapse of her psittacosis pneumonia soon after our arrival in Martinique on 18th November 2015.
We did, however, enjoy an amazing day and overnight sail from Carricou to Martinique prior to falling ill. Besides a text book execution to predetermined coordinates supplied by our weather routing software, we had it all - Strong winds, no winds, flat seas, confused, heavy seas, large tankers, very large tankers, cruise ships, fishing boats, fishing pods, some moon, no moon, rain, no rain. It was, however, the brilliance of the stars in the pitch blackness, the whales that passed us to starboard as the sun set, the day breaking as we sailed into St Anne's anchorage, dropping the hook as the sun peered over the horizon and the grande cafe au lait et pain au chocolat which we enjoyed for an early morning breakfast after a hot shower, that made this passage memorable indeed and one that makes this lifestyle all worthwhile!
By 22nd November 2015, however, Elaine was “man down” and it was definitely no fun being sick in paradise. She was hoping her body could fight off the infection without any aid, but when her temperature hit 102.2F, it was time to take the antibiotics that we had on board. This was the price to pay for not being vigilant with the sick immigration officer and, in her annoyance after having words with him, forgot to wash her hands when she got back to Paw Paw. Lesson learnt – After all these years Elaine’s psittacosis pneumonia is not to be taken lightly! Unfortunately, whatever had triggered Elaine’s relapse, rendered Roy “man down” a few days later. The silver-lining was that we had both fallen ill in the beautiful, protected anchorage of St Anne’s with first world doctors and hospitals close at hand.
And so, on the 9th June 2015, our first sailing season as full-time cruisers came to an end with a champagne sail into Prickly Bay, Grenada - Our home for the next few months, having completed 2123NM. What a wonderful season it was, both on the water and off, although we certainly weren't short of tough sails which provided some great experience. It was, however, time for respite, recharging and spending time with family and friends in Ireland and England, as well as completing our final training course in Hamble, England. But not before we received the news, while out celebrating, that our son, Keenan, had passed his check ride and was officially an airline Captain. Of course, this called for a celebratory dinner - Bangers and Mash, accompanied by delicious Bordeaux. The icing on the cake was getting to see the Southern Cross that evening - the first time since leaving Bonaire. A perfect ending to a perfect day!
With another island came another reconnaissance. On our first day out we went in search of all the basic services sailors’ need - laundry, fuel, propane, groceries, chandleries, as well as those luxury items that make this lifestyle all worthwhile - beaches, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, entertainment, diving, snorkelling, etc. It didn't take us long to realise we had stumbled into Camp Grenada, a summer camp for sailors.
Entertainment included Mexican train domino and chess competitions, bingo nights with bizarre prizes ranging from money to rabbits, goats, sheep and even a cow; Trivia evenings, live music, including a Benefits Concert for Dominica after Hurricane Danny destroyed the island. Dancing under the stars to steel pan drums, movie nights, "2 for 1" and "½ price" pizza nights, yoga, tai chi, dinghy floats, island tours, "fish Friday", "bring and braai" dinners where we were able to reward ourselves with some "boerewors", purchased from "Le Burcher" in Prickly Bay - Who would have thought, considering we were unable to enjoy any during our latter years in Phoenix - No one was willing to share.
Our second reconnaissance took us on a hike to the various anchorages east of Prickly Bay - Worthwhile indeed as we concluded that we'd picked the better anchorage after all and rewarded our efforts with a delicious lunch at the Calabash Resort. One of our coolest experiences of the season was witnessing the leatherback turtles coming ashore, in the dead of night, to nest and lay their eggs, as well as getting to see some hatchlings.