Trip to the Grenadines (From May)

I’ve been a real slacker of late when it comes to posting anything to this blog…

What can I say? Life happens.

At any rate, back in late May, my wife Melinda and I went on a very nice and relaxing vacation trip on a Windjammer sailing cruise in the Grenadines. The idea for this trip has been hanging around in the back of our minds for quite some time now. Back when Melinda was in college at Georgia Tech, she was part of the sailing club and ever since she has been a big fan of sailing. While she was still at Tech, she saw an ad for the Windjammer cruises and thought that they sounded like a lot of fun. Fast forward a few years to when we got married in 2002: we were planning our honeymoon, and one of our top ideas was to take a Windjammer cruise. Ultimately, none of the cruise times synced up perfectly with our wedding dates, and instead, Melinda found us a nice package deal for a trip to Jamaica. We had a great honeymoon, but the idea of taking a Windjammer cruise at some point still lingered.

Every year since our honeymoon, we have done some sort of vacation trip to celebrate our anniversary whether it be a trip to Jamaica or a week in Asheville. For each trip, we have considered a Windjammer cruise, but increasingly it became clear that we would never find an ideal match between the Windjammer cruise schedules and our early September anniversary. Add to this situation the fact that Hurricane season is still in full swing during our anniversary… Let’s just say a Windjammer anniversary vacation simply isn’t in the cards for us.

Which brings us to early 2007. The first part of this year has been really stressful for the both of us at our jobs, but especially for Melinda. While I was at least gaining some job satisfaction during this period, she was mostly just gathering exhaustion and frustration. It was becoming very clear that she needed to take a vacation as soon as possible or she would crack. So one fateful day, I insisted that we take a Windjammer cruise like we had always planned, but that we do it then rather than put it off indefinitely. That was all it took to swing Melinda into gear. Shortly there after, she booked us a Windjammer cruise trip for the last week of May.

It was really well worth it that we finally took this trip! I cannot recommend a Windjammer cruise highly enough to anyone with a sense of adventure and a love for the ocean. We flew from Atlanta to Miami to Puerto Rico to Grenada getting up around 3:30AM on Sunday morning and finally arriving at our boat around 9PM that evening. It was a long and exhausting flight, but when we got to Grenada we were met by our taxi driver who took us and some of the other passengers to the docks where our ship the Yankee Clipper was waiting for us. The moment we stepped on board we were served rum punch and swept away down stairs to fill out a few last-minute customs from since our cruise would take across international borders. Afterward the paperwork was finished, we enjoyed some wonderful food on the ship’s deck followed by some dancing and live jazz. It wasn’t long before we were very tired and ready to get some sleep to recover from the day’s journey.

Our cabins were small, but surprisingly comfy. We had a pair of bunkbeds with a small bathroom that doubled as a shower. We slept soundly through the night despite our ship’s departure sometime during the early hours of the morning. We had brought along some Dramamine for the trip in case of sea sickness, but fortunately neither of us experienced anything along those lines during the entire vacation.

The next morning, we got up at seven for an early breakfast to enjoy the last bit of sailing and found ourselves at sea. It was very exciting to go to sleep in one place to greet the sunny horizon in another. After some thrilling sailing followed by the main breakfast, we gathered on deck for what was to be a daily ritual where our captain would tell us about the area that we were approaching and what kind of activities we could enjoy as well as what activities we could sign up for on the following day.

For our first “Captain’s Story Time”, the captain introduced his crew to us and then told us about our first day’s stop – a beautiful beach on the small island of Carriacou. This island is to the north of the island of Grenada but it is still a part of the nation of Grenada. We got to enjoy some nice snorkeling and a picnic on the beach. We also experienced here our first afternoon shower, but thankfully there was a convenient shelter that we stood under until the rain cleared out, and the friendly sun showed itself once more. It was a perfect introduction to the wonderful days that would follow!

We spent half the day there and then returned to the ship to set sail for our next destination. We retired briefly to our cabins to shower and clean up. We found our beds had been made up and our towels had been replaced with clean ones that had been carefully and skillfully arranged into cute animal shapes. Every day, we found a new animal sculpture awaiting us at the end of our excursions ashore.

We sailed the rest of the day and into the night until on the morning of our second day, we found ourselves at the island of St. Vincent where we took a land-based tour of the capital city Kingstown and got to see some interesting sites such as an old British fort, a bay where the Black Pearl was constructed for film The Pirates of the Caribbean, and a gorgeous botanical garden. That evening we had a fun costume party along with our usual night of dinner and dancing.

The next day were turned around for a slow sail back towards Grenada that would fill the rest of our week. Our first stop was the small island of Bequia where we enjoyed some shopping on the island in the morning and then went on a snorkeling safari in the afternoon where we saw lots of cool fish, some pretty squid and one huge lobster.

Next stop was the idyllic Tobago Cays which seemed like the virtual paradise always pictured on any Caribbean post card. The water was the most perfect gorgeous green and the photos that I took of our time there just don’t do it any justice. We stopped at a deserted island there in one of St. Vincent’s national parks and enjoyed a day of swimming, snorkeling, and another beach picnic. A fun fact abput this stop was that this beach was the one filmed in The Pirates of the Caribbean where the characters of Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley are stranded on an island together. This was the best snorkeling experience I have had so far. You couldn’t ask for clearer water and the fish were numerous and beautiful – although once again, my camera failed to capture the glory of it all. In fact, I find the stuff I managed to capture pretty darn pitiful. There were these majestic schools of fish that just look like hazy blurs in the photos along with some rather large fish that come off looking small and sad in the pictures that I achieved.

That evening we docked on an island whose name escapes me where we had a bonfire dinner on the beach. Melinda and I took a moonlit stroll along the beach and then retired to the ship exhausted from our exciting day.

On our last day of adventure, we returned to St. George, Grenada and spent the day taking a tour of the island’s capital. It was truly an interesting tour around the island. We got to see a spice plantation and learned a little about how chocolate and nutmeg are produced. I thought the cacao pods were really neat to see, especially the gooey banana-like insides that coat the cacao beans. We also heard a little bit about the final weeks of the doomed New Jewel Movement Revolution in Grenada from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. The tour guide didn’t go into too much detail, but I knew what he was talking about as I had read about the details in William Blum’s excellent Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II in the chapter on the US Invasion of Grenada in 1983 by the Reagan administration. It was somewhat strange and eerie to see the site where these events that I had read about had actually occurred.

After a full day that capped a marvelous week, we enjoyed another excellent dinner before retiring to an early night’s sleep before getting up at 4:30 in the morning for our flight home. It was sad to say goodbye to the Caribbean, but at the same time it was exciting to be flying once more. However, for our journey home, we got more than we bargained for with our connection flight in Miami.

But that tale is a story of its own for another blog entry…

In short, we had a truly awesome time during our week in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We would definitely love to take another cruise on a Windjammer sailboat.

Here are some pictures that we took that capture a little bit of the flavor of our trip:

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