The Day finally arrived. This would be our first “real” passage. Those of you who have followed our blog know that we are still new at this and our previous experience (other than racing, crewing for others, and formal RYA and ASA courses) was charting in the BVIs. Compared to any of the BVI island hops we have done, the Grenada to Carriacou passage felt like a “real” passage. We felt that we were really sailing for the first time! And yes, we know that this is still a baby passage but everyone has to take their first baby steps at some point!
We woke up at sunrise and before long we were aiming directly to the outer (west) edge of the Kick’m Jenny exclusion zone. Kick’m Jenny is an underwater volcano just north of Grenada. It has an exclusion zone that is not enforced but we took quite seriously. Prior to the passage we had to make a decision as to whether we would sail on the inside (east) or outside (west) of the exclusion zone. The charter company, as well as most online standard advice, recommend to hug the coast of Grenada sailing north and then tuck into Sauteurs on the north coast of Grenada. From there you would sail north through the Sisters islands towards Carriacou on the east side of the exclusion zone. The main problem with this plan was that it required us hug the coast where there is little to no wind, so we would have to motor the entire length of Grenada. We hate motoring – as you may remember from the epic tacking festival in the BVIs – so the idea of spending hours motoring up the coast was not appealing. The alternative was to stay away from the coast of Grenada by pointing directly to the outside (westside) of the exclusion zone. Sailing away from the coast of Grenada meant more wind but also the possibility of drifting too far west due to the currents and wind. Luckily, I got enough feedback from experienced sailors who do this often to feel pretty comfortable that we could do this safely. My RYA offshore theory also came in handy as I had to calculate leeway and tidal streams to make sure the current and wind didn’t take us too much west of the islands.
The passage was simply amazing and fast. We had consistent 15 to 20 knots and we sailed at 7+ knots on a close reach for most of the passage. We did one tack after we reached Carriacou and we would have sailed into harbor except that we were trying to arrive before the immigration office closed at 4. So after one tack we turned on the engine and motored the last couple of miles into Tyrrel Bay. We highly recommend the outside passage if the wind are W or WNW. We found it to be an excellent alternative to burning fuel for hours while going up Grenada’s coast. Click the pictures below for a larger version.
We got to the beautiful and massive Tyrrel Bay anchorage at 3:30, with just enough time for me to jump on the dingy and rush to the immigration office. Carriacou is still part of Grenada but we wanted to leave early the next morning to Union Island, which is part of St Vincent. So we had to “clear out” of Grenada that day so we didn’t have to wait for the office to open the next morning.
After a relatively quick clearance process (both customs and immigration are in the same small office) I came back to the boat to pick up the rest of the crew so we could go to shore to get some post-passage drinks and dinner. We ended up having dinner at the Lazy Turtle, a great Pizza place with an amazing view of Tyrrel Bay. We definitely recommend this place. The pizzas were excellent and the prices reasonable. But make sure you make a reservation if you are arriving there at regular dinner time (evening). When we arrived there in the late afternoon the place was empty, but soon after the place was crowded and many of the tables had reserved signs. We actually got kicked out 🙂 (although in a friendly manner) to make room for the many parties waiting for a table.
All in all, we loved our quick stop at Tyrrel Bay. It was a great ending for the first “real” passage of our sailing adventures.
Photos by our amazing crew Conan and Michele.