Well this is our second year to spend hurricane season in Grenada, which consists of the islands of Grenada and Carriacou, as well as various other uninhabited islands. It’s also known as the “Spice Island” and the variety of spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables is endless. “Nobody goes hungry in Grenada” is a common mantra. There are chocolate factories, rum distilleries, craft breweries, and the food and drinks are top notch as a result.
Grenada is located at the southern end of the eastern Caribbean chain, and has had only 3 hurricanes in the last 50 years. The odds are low that a hurricane will strike this area; hence, the insurance companies have what they call “in the box” vs. “out of the box” clauses which can drive the cost of insuring a yacht down if you are “out of the box”, or out of the hurricane risk area. Grenada is “out of the box”. As a result, it is a major gathering place of cruisers during hurricane season. Down in Grenada, hurricane season resembles high season compared to the other islands in the Caribbean chain.
It also sports an active underwater volcano, called Kick ‘Em Jenny, which presents the largest threat of a tsunami to the area should it decide to blow. Kick ‘Em Jenny is located just 8 kilometers north of the island of Grenada, and advisories are issued from time to time based upon the amount of seismic activity the volcano is stirring up. There is an exclusion zone that must be sailed around at all times, normally about 1.5 kilometers from the center of the volcano, and this zone becomes larger during times of increased activity. The exclusion zone is identified as a result of the volcano releasing bubbles of volcanic gases that can lower water density, causing ships to lose buoyancy and sink. During periods of high activity, this area is increased to 5 km.
The distance between the Virgin Islands and Grenada is approximately 500 miles. Most cruisers either haul out and return to being dirt dwellers during hurricane season, or opt to spend the season in Grenada in the water. I remember the first time we sailed into Grenada as being quite exciting – we were going to stop and take a break after a fair amount of moving from island to island. With that came some apprehension – will we like it? Will the food be good, the people nice, and so on. Spending three months in virtually a small area runs counter to the rest of the year just moving the boat around on a whim – “let’s just move if we don’t like the neighborhood”. Last year we spent in Prickly Bay, with a move to Trinidad for a week or so while Hurricane Matthew, at the time a tropical storm, began to form and was headed to Grenada. Matthew ended up turning north at the last minute, but did take out some dinghy docks and some other structures on the west side of the islands.
This year we have promised ourselves we will move around more frequently. It is possible to change your neighborhood by moving around the various anchorages in the area, including the beautiful white sand beach of Grand Anse as well as near St. Georges, the lovely capitol of the island with it’s historic buildings. It’s also only a day sail to Carriacou, still a part of Grenada, and let’s not forget Trinidad and Tobago which are less than a day away.
So many cruisers gather here that they have a term for it – “Camp Grenada”. With the multitude of shopping buses that cater to the cruisers, activities geared towards cruisers, including yoga, trivia night, movie night, half price pizza night, jam sessions at various places in the area including a rum shop and a brewery, and so on, it’s no wonder the area is coined Camp Grenada. Bingo prizes include cash, and live pigs and goats.
There is also a large medical university near the cruiser hangouts whose major draw is students from afar, so it is actually a combination of cruisers and medical students all congregating together. As a result, it is a highly international, vibrant area with a huge variety of different types of restaurants, including Chinese, Lebanese, Greek, Italian, Caribbean, and so forth. There is an IGA supermarket which will make you think you are still in the states. Of course there are plenty of local alternatives, including fish, vegetable and fruit, and spice markets.
The locals are super friendly. A smile is all you need to open doors to the welcoming arms of the Grenadian people. The motto of the country is “Ever Conscious of God We Aspire, Build and Advance as One People”. That rings so true, as you indoctrinate yourselves with the locals they are very welcoming to all cultures and quite often will remind you we are all one people. I have yet to witness any discrimination in my experiences. In fact, the opposite has been true. The locals go out of their way to ensure the visitors are made to feel welcome. One People.
The invasion of Grenada by the United States in 1983 codenamed Operation Urgent Fury was triggered by the conflict within the People’s Revolutionary Government. The conflict resulted in the execution of their socialist leader, the Prime Minister of Grenada, Maurice Bishop. The invasion resulted in the appointment of an interim government, followed by democratic elections in 1984. The country has remained a democratic nation since then. As a result, a national holiday was created called Thanksgiving, which in effect is in honor and is homage to the US involvement in Grenada during this period.
At any rate, I can’t speak highly enough of Grenada. It has so much to offer, any apprehension a first time cruiser might have of spending 3-4 months here melts away quickly.