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August 8, 2002
Looking Back at Carriacou

Tonight was our last night in Carriacou, but we've put this entry at the beginning to introduce the island and the characters we've met here to you first. Tomorrow we set sail for Grenada, and Curt and I are both so sad to be leaving this great island and the surprise of new friends and fun that it held for us. When we first got here, we had read our travel guide and the portrait it painted of this funny little island was not pretty.

The majority of the islanders' income apparently comes from smuggling. Smuggling what, we weren't sure of. When we anchored in Hillsborough, we always saw lots of fishing boats go out each morning, but they never came back with any fish. As we waited outside the customs agent's office we started to get the idea. There were three freight boats rafted to each other on the customs dock, and cargo was passing between the vessels, and little-if any- actually made it onto the dock. As we sat on the bench, we watched several agents rifle through drums of someone's shipment en route, and freely take whatever they liked. Later, our new friends we would come to make here were all waiting for Simon (as in, the smuggler) to pull-in with crates of wine and beer being transported from- who knows where? This little factoid that made us wary in the beginning, we now believe is at least part of what made Carriacou so fun for us by the end. Our guess is that because the locals make a good income from their own variety of business, they don't bother to hassle the yachties. They always seem happy to see us, and seem rather intrigued by the lifestyle that we've chosen.

The hospitality of the folks on Carriacou only seemed to get warmer when we went around to Tyrrel Bay. The girls at the yacht club recognized us every time we returned after even our first visit. The woman we bought water from had an earful of news for us while we filled our water jugs. And most of the boats in the anchorage seemed to know each other through one-way or another.

Even the local boat boy, John, seemed to know everyone in the anchorage and offered us stories about their lives, even when we hadn't inquired. He had approached us our first day here and asked if we'd like to try the infamous mangrove oysters that he would harvest for us the next day. He arrived around 11am and sat in the cockpit with us for about two hours while he shucked them. He'd shuck three, eat one, ask us for a shot of rum, and shuck a few more. The oysters weren't very good, but it was pretty entertaining to listen to him talk. This strange little man in a funny little rowboat was talking to us about everything from flying and aeronautics, to DNA testing, and sailing (at least that's what we gathered from trying to understand his thick accent). In the end, he would came by our boat almost every other day to take our trash, offer us some ice if he had more than he could sell, or to show us pictures of his little girl he had only met once. And only every other time he stopped by, did he hit us up for a shot of rum.

Then of course, there were the other yachties we met like George, and his boat the Vagrant. He's an old salty dog type, ex-charter boat captain with a sharp sense of humor, an earful of good stories, and a soft spot for the pretty ladies. He's the guy we all know, wearing tee shirts with dirty sayings, and a carrying a spare beer in his hip pocket. We came to know George through an ex-street juggler named Ray.

And it was through George and Ray that we met our heroes Wilf and Teresena on Avillion. They are likely years younger than us in spirit, though they were born probably thirty years before. They were coming from Brazil, where the gallantly British Wilf had met his lovely and sassy lady Teresena, and it was not long after that she had left her job as an architect in Brazil to go sail the world with him. Their story was quite the same as the rather unlikely pair of Iris and Charles- sailing on Guys and Dolls. The New York Iris (smoking like a chimney, wearing a tee shirt reading, "Re-hab is for quitters" when we first met her) met the stoic Charles, in Bequia shortly before they left their lives on land. Iris is sort of Rodney Dangerfield in a five foot tall woman's body and Charles is, well… Charles is what you might think a lanky engineer with glasses named Charles would be.

And there's Tom and Marge, from ¾ Time. The gaggle forenamed was aboard the Vagrant for a, "every-few-months/but never really on the date/more like whenever he feels like it really," Fourth of July party that George was throwing. The ten of us were merrymaking in the cockpit of George's boat, wearing our prescribed attire of big rubber nose glasses, fake dreadlocks, or Carnival masks, or plastic Dracula teeth, etc., when the (then unknown) Tom comes boldly racing up in his dinghy like a bat out of hell… in the manner of Tigger the tiger from Winnie the Pooh. His head pops up from beside the boat and he asks, "Where's the best happy hour around here?" None of us were fooled that he wasn't there to see what George's "The Bar is Open" banner was all about. Of course, he was invited aboard- but he went to go get his wife before he joined in our fun. He returned with a lovely Florence Nightingale in the flesh. Marge is so sweet and has the kindest smile and dimples- a shoe in for the role of a Sunday school teacher. I had two thoughts: is she really with that guy? And what must she think of our outfits and these off-color jokes? No worry. We didn't miss a beat before all becoming fast friends.

As a matter of fact, that same night, our new friend Tom came to True Blue's rescue. The fun had reached full tilt when John went off to do a beer run. Curt had opted out for the dinghy ride to shore, and so John was on his own. Among the revelry, I lost track of John's absence until Alison was hurriedly gathering their stuff to go. In a flash she was gone saying something about John and the dinghy. Shortly thereafter, we learned that on his way to shore, John hit an unknown object and it sent his tender flying engine over bow through the air. Tom caught sight of it and went off to lend him a hand before anyone else even knew what was happening.

The cast of characters in our lives grew quickly on Carriacou and we were transported back into a community of friends and events before we knew it was even happening. It was all of this that first got Curt to thinking that perhaps we should call this cruising adventure a day and build a nice little gingerbread Caribbean house right here on this funny little island. Even if we weren't living on land, Carriacou was certainly the first spot where we felt like we part of a community again and that we've started to settle into our new lifestyle. Who would have ever guessed that this unlikely spot would grow to hold so many fun memories for us?


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