destination-caribbean-grenada-largeJust off the headland of Grenada's True Blue Bay a huge rock bathes in the Caribbean Sea. It is thirty feet high and ruggedly beautiful. Wind has etched lines upon its face; the sea has softened its rougher edges.

We sail past in the Bavaria 46' we've chartered from Horizon Yacht Charters, gazing out toward waves hurling themselves against the rock, shattering into a million pieces.

The mood of the sea changes; it seems to embrace the land. Now gentle waves nuzzle the barnacle-crusted rock. And the land basks in the attention.

Then the sea – a fickle suitor at best – changes tack again. The waves renew their assault, sending up a white curtain high above the jagged landform.

Through an opening between the rock and the shore another boat heads west, tossed about on following seas. Its mast disappears then reappears as it rides the crest of a white-veined wave.

We motor south, passing the rock and the other boat, leaving off our stern a vista of pastel-painted houses, of the lime- and lemon- and lavender-painted rooms of True Blue Bay Resort, of the orange-tiled roofs of the university facing seaward.

And the open sea lies dead ahead. It is every shade of green you could imagine, every shade of blue. But its sheer beauty belies its darker moods.

"Lumpy today," admits James Pascall, proprietor of Horizon Yacht Charters. He's graciously agreed to sail with us for our first day out. Glorious as the sailing here is, it is not for beginners.

"Care to estimate the wave height?" I ask. My hand, white-knuckled, clings to the grab rail above the companionway hatch.

"Good fifteen feet."

"And the winds?"

"Could be twenty-five." He grabs the wheel as a sudden gust hits us, sending white spray hurtling from the crest of one particular wave. He bounds forward to ease the foresail sheet. Then he bears off a few degrees. "More in the gusts."

Another wave crashes into the bow and now a cirrus-painted sky frames the foredeck. We plummet into the trough with a bone-jarring thud.

"Flat bottom, this boat," says Pascall. "She tends to feel the waves."

We have the engine going even though it's in neutral and we're only flying a foresail. And we're still going six, six-and-a-half knots.

The sea's assault continues, pounding the shore, exploding in white hissing foam on a series of reefs that are land's first line of defense.

In a sudden epiphany I completely understand these mercurial sea moods. The onslaughts are no amphibious invasion, but determined if unsubtle acts of love. They are the attentions of a suitor suffering from ineffable longing, if not ribald lust.

For a procession of gentle hills, graceful as the bridesmaids at a wedding, heads north off our port beam, growing into mountains, decorated by the orange glow of flamboyant trees, the red spatters of Poincianas.

If Grenada were a woman, I would be courting her myself. But she is but one character in this epic tale, for this is a story of both land and sea.

It is a theme woven through Grenada's history island, emerald and aquamarine threads that add body to the island's lush texture.

Columbus first saw the place around 1498 and named it Concepcion Island. But his seafaring crew – more romantic and moved by its sheer beauty – called it Granada. The reference was to the rolling emerald hills of their Andalusian homeland. The name – later Gallicized to Grenada – stuck.

And the intervening years bear further testament to the lure of both land and sea – and to a cavalcade of suitors smitten with her charm.

We sail into St. George's Harbour and drop the hook in the horseshoe lagoon in the island's capital, dominated by the stone bastions and implacable walls of Fort George. But we also sail past Point Salines, past the white crescent of Grand Anse Beach, we make for Moliniere Point hard by Halifax Harbour, past Gouyave and head for Sauteurs. And somewhere during that passage Happy Hill falls away off our starboard quarter.

A pepperpot of names spices up a tale reflected in history, in the images we soak up, in the back stories of the Grenadians themselves.

For on Grenada land and sea are inextricably linked.

One day we stand atop a cliff decorated by palms and raucous vegetation near an old church at Sauteurs. An obelisk carved by wind and water reaches up toward us from a boulder-strewn beach. Angry surf thunders below.

The story goes that in 1651 a few dozen Caribs who'd survived French domination chose to perish in the sea rather than share their land with the conquerors, hurling themselves from this very precipice.

"There is some evidence they actually escaped in boats to the north under cover of darkness," says the girl at the interpretive centre. It is a revelation that may dampen some of the romantic fervor, but it is a legitimate plot point in a tale of land and sea.

And it offers further evidence of a people torn between two lovers.

One day on the boat we pass two boys. They can't be more than ten years old. They bob up and down on the waves in a wooden orange boat no bigger than our dinghy. A fishing line dangles from the bow, another from the stern. The boys are in their element.

Off the waters in the south we glide past a cliff rising up a hundred feet from the waves. A makeshift wooden ladder clings to its pockmarked face – suspended eerily between land and sea.

During a land excursion we follow a pickup truck down a winding road so overgrown with vegetation we could be a thousand miles from the sea. There are no sea sounds here: just the wind whispering in the bamboo groves. No sea smells: just the perfume of bougainvillea.

But the land is not so far from the sea. The fellow in the back of the truck holds on with one hand as the rusty vehicle bounces over potholes. With the other hand he periodically lifts a conch shell to his lips and blows it mightily.

"Fish vendor," says our guide. "Catch of the day has arrived."

One night we anchor in the lagoon at St. Georges and venture north by land to a little village festooned with overhead Christmas lights. A massive sound system stands at the intersection of two streets, pumping out reggae so loud you can feel it in the pit of your stomach. The smell of frying fish, the aroma of barbecued lobster, the sharp tang of wood smoke, titillate the taste buds of the crowd of locals, who sip Carib beers and catch up on the week's supply of gossip.

One street here in Gouyave runs parallel to the sea and another falls away gradually from the hills to a tiny beach where brightly painted fishing boats are lined up like runway models in a fashion show.

We have happened upon Fish Friday in a place they call 'the town that never sleeps'.

"That's because the fishermen come and go at all hours," says the lady serving fish quiche under an awning sporting a sign that reads 'Sister Toffie's'.

People of the land and people of the sea.

On our first day on the water we tuck into a little bay in the lee of Hog Island. Here a weather-beaten shack snugs down under thatched roof and palm trees. A rudimentary bar lounges in the shade beside a beach.

"Locals often come out here on weekends," says Pascall. "This is run by a Rasta guy. He puts on a great jump-up." Then Pascall points into the bay, where a whole fleet of boats swing lazily at anchor, foreground to a background of emerald hills sporting an equal number of cactus, palms and flamboyant trees. "Cruisers like it too."

Further west we turn north into Prickly Bay. It, too, is full of a congregation of boats. Many look like serious cruising vessels. Many look barely seaworthy.

An elderly gentleman wearing a great white beard and nothing else dives off the swim platform of his ketch. He emerges from the water, naked as the day he was born, and waves nonchalantly at us.

Pascall shakes his head and grins. "A lot of our charterers head north from here," he says. "Carriacou, Tobago Keys, the rest of the Grenadines. We can help them do that – we offer a skipper up to Carriacou so you can check out your boat systems and brush up on your skills." Then he pauses and glances around the anchorage. "But you could just gunkhole here too, couldn't you?"

He then offers up some of the appeal of cruising here, the other anchorages tucked into the south coast, the fact that Grenada's capital rings one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the Caribbean, the near constant winds which make for incredible sailing – sailing which appeals to racers as much as cruisers.

Come August Carriacou kicks into high gear with a regatta featuring wooden workboat races along with a multitude of shore-bound celebrations. Every January Grenada hosts a sailing festival that includes serious yacht-racing events, more serious parties and their own workboat competitions.

"Grenada was once the Mecca for Caribbean mega-yachts," says Pascall. "I wouldn't be surprised to see that day return."

That's partly because the devastation that Hurricane Ivan left in its wake three years ago encouraged both soul-searching and thoughtful new developments, particularly in terms of new marinas and the entire marine infrastructure.

"The issues the government deals with are our issues," Pascall says in reference to the Marine and Yachting Association of Grenada. "They listen to our concerns and they do something about it."

All of which makes for an appealing destination.

But its biggest appeal is the quality of the sailing and the fact that Grenada's scenery is so beautiful it hurts your heart to look at it.

One day we roar up the west coast with a double-reefed main and a foresail small as a Brazilian bikini. Wind line after line chases us over teal waters as we heel over mightily, foam hissing on the low side. I crouch above the winch handles and grind for dear life on every tack, staring face-first into white water roaring past the toe rail. Andell David, the skipper we've hired for the last few days of our charter, rushes forward to let out the main as one nasty gust skims the water. We're breaking nine knots.

We skim over surprisingly flat waters here, and are treated to views of forested mountains as we pass the towering heights of Fort George glaring down at us from the approaches to St. George's, as we pass villages squatting seaside with palms dancing overhead, punctuated by ancient church steeples.

On a day like this I am torn: when it comes to sheer exhilaration the sea wins out. When it comes to spectacular beauty the point goes to land.

On our last night at dock the seas are uneasy. "My Mistress" strains anxiously at her dock lines.

The silhouettes of the hills to our north thrust skyward, backlit by a tapestry of stars laid out like a pirate's ransom. Twinkling lights on shore, mirroring the stars, are motionless. Anchor lights on the boats moored to our south dance like Hawaiian maidens.

The wind whistles in the rigging. Tree frogs serenade us.

And there on an amber beach a hundred yards past our boat, like reunited lovers, at long last, land and sea meet in a passionate embrace.

Lifestyle

  • Prev
The seasoned sailor mapped out an ambitious course around the world — aboard his 28-foot ...
Clean wake: A concept amongst cruising sailors that stresses the impact that individual behaviour ...
This line-up of Beneteaus can to us from our friends at RCR Yachts in NY State where they are ...
As another harsh Victoria winter came to a close, the deck repair and refinishing continued with ...
The Peterborough Canoe Company was formed in 1892 and began production the following year after ...
On one of the sunny days we had recently, Kyle MacTaggart in Honey Harbour ON fired up the Merc to ...
For all those OnBoard subscribers who have followed along with the maintenance, repairs and ...
We hardly need tell you about the pandemic but it’s worth noting that the marine industry is acting ...
If you’ve been to CORK, you’ve probably seen Tim Irwin. Whether he was organizing volunteers, ...
This brilliant shot comes to us from professional shooter Elle Bruce.  These four sailors are ...

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Boating safety is always—always—a critical consideration whenever you push off the dock, but with ...
Building on our last two editions (Sealants, and Fibreglass, respectively), Gelcoat is the next ...
After a successful R2Ak and regatta season in 2019, I felt that Pitoraq was due for a major ...
Pause for a moment and ponder this question. How much is your life and your safety at sea worth? ...
Last edition we talked about sealants to perform tasks like bedding and sealing. Other tasks like ...
Over the winter, a many-thousand pound fiberglass, wood or metal shell is held in position by only ...
Since the late 19th century, a debate has raged on the relative merits of diesel fuel over ...
This bag does more than hold your anchor and rode in one tidy little pile. After you’ve anchored ...
Purchase your copy of the BRAND NEW Ports Georgian Bay 2020 Edition at the Toronto International ...
The boat was put on the hard for this winter and were going to follow along with Graham as he ...

Shrink Wrap2020 is a year of change – self-isolation, social distancing, quarantine, and working remotely have become the norm. For many, this has been a bitter pill to swallow. Another bitter pill for boaters is the delay of the season. Provincial laws differ – so terms like ‘essential’ aren’t translating widely across the marine world.

In BC, marinas remain open and fuel is available, sometimes with conditions. In Ontario, marinas, boat launches, yacht clubs and the professionals that service the marine industry aren’t considered essential, unless the service and location allows a person to access their permanent residence only accessible by boat.

Read more about Boating in 2020........................

 

  

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
New at the end of 2019, the 58 Salon Express design features large windows to flood the living ...
No wonder this is one of Regal’s best-selling boats; the Regal 33 Express offers amazing ...
The newest member of Beneteau’s Gran Turismo line is the GT 36 and this yacht brings the style and ...
With a philosophy of quality and 'doing things right Ranger Tugs launches the all new R-25 at the ...
The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 renews the spirit of the practical seaworthy cruiser. The ...
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...

CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. Our Virtual Show will continue to grow so visit frequently and check it out. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

Read more about the CY Virtual Boat Tours....................

KingstonBy Amy Hogue

Cruise into the city of Kingston, Ontario, and it will quickly become clear that this city and surrounding waterways have something special. Built around the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Kingston is the place to go if you love to explore new waterways, fantastic views, and exceptional boating opportunities.

Sitting at the intersection of three world-class Canadian bodies of water, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal (Cataraqui River from Kingston to Newboro), the water’s influence is deeply woven into Kingston’s culture and history. 

Read more about Kingston...........

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
The new 2020 PORTS Georgian Bay, North Channel & Lake Huron Guide is available for purchase at ...
Professional boatbuilders don't want to have to redo a job any more than a DIYer. Many choose Life ...
Since its introduction last year, the JBL by Harman Marine BassPro 10" Powered Subwoofer (JBLMBP10) ...
After decades of perusing charts and guidebooks as part of planning a cruise, it was a totally ...
Ever since I was a youngster Jeeps of all kinds have fascinated me. It wasn’t until the mid 70s ...
New from Plastimo, this bi-colour backpack in Tarpaulin 500D will keep contents dry from ship to ...
Being a boater can come with certain space restraints for additional items that may make your ...
Whether you are interested in monitoring your vessel’s systems while underway or remotely from your ...
No wires to install down your mast. Transmit to smartphone/tablet. Works with lots of great ...
Vesper Cortex, the advanced multi-station VHF, AIS, monitor with intuitive touchscreen operation is ...