Colombia, an incredible country to discover! Part 1

You might think of Colombia as the cartel controlled country of Pablo Escobar and the Orejuela brothers.

You might think of it as a dangerous, messy country where guerrilla groups (like FARC) kidnap politicians and affluent people to finance their cause and paramilitary groups, financed by drug money, fight the insurgents.

Well, that Colombia now belongs to the past.

With the dismembering of the Medellin and Cali cartels, and the disarmament of guerrilla groups like the FARC, things have changed.

And people are eager to show the true make of their country. Which is kind, not violent. Humble, not arrogant. Focused on productivity, not idleness.

There are many reasons why Colombia has been one of our favourite destinations so far;

  1. people are so friendly, welcoming, and polite that you instantly feel at home;
  2. their history, both ancient and more recent, is really interesting to discover;
  3. you get to enjoy a great variety of landscapes and places; from the mountains and jungle of Sierra Nevada to the palm tree fringed white sand beaches of Capo San Juan (Tayrona National Park); to the beautiful and developed cities of Cartagena and Medellin;
  4. the abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables available is incredible and…
  5. …everything is so cheap!

Do you really need more reasons to visit such a country?!

When we got to Santa Marta in mid February, they had recently relaxed the Covid restrictions, and we were struck by the incredible amount of people strolling about the streets of the small town centre, around Parque de los Novios, buzzing with bars and restaurants.

Santa Marta Town Centre

Santa Marta (and the whole province of Magdalena it belongs to) had really strict anti-Covid measures in place during the lockdown, with the town almost completely shut for 5 consecutive months. No wonder people were so eager to go out now that they could!

Wearing masks was compulsory, and there was still a curfew in place; restaurants would shut around 8pm and no one was allowed out after 11pm.

11pm? That’s the middle of the night for us sailors!?!?

We were not really troubled by these restrictions, and happy to be able to travel around to discover the beauties of such a wonderful country, despite the unfortunate circumstances.

Our visit to Tayrona Park and Minca

We spent the first week in Colombia visiting Minca, a beautiful and peaceful town in the foothills of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and the National Park of Tayrona, both easily reachable by cab from Santa Marta.

Minca

Minca is a famous destination for yoga and spiritual retreats and happy/hippy-like people! Just be aware of mosquitos when you go there! We got eaten alive by some kind of Frankenstein mosquitos, whose bites would leave you with and a strong desire of peeling your skin off to get rid of the unbearable itchiness…

Enjoying a Music Festival in Minca!

Having said that, we had great fun visiting the thermal waters of Pozo Azul, which were freezing cold and gave us a nice break from the heat. We went there on a Monday morning, as we were told it can get quite busy at weekends. Colombians tend to come here to cool down and relax after the working week.

My leg after our visit to Minca….!

After our dip in the refreshing waters of Pozo Azul, we were taken to La Victoria coffee plantation by motorbike, up the winding roads of Minca, and then through dirt roads across the jungle. Once there, we headed straight to the bar and tried some tasty arepas – it was passed lunchtime and we were all starving! Lunch was followed by a first taste of their coffee, then our tour guide appeared and took us around the coffee plantation. The visit lasted about an hour and was very interesting thanks to our knowledgable guide.

What we learnt about Colombian coffee, so called “washed coffee”:

  • Colombian coffee is technically a type of Arabica coffee, or better said, is derived from Arabica coffee;
  • Coffee beans are actually green :), they turn dark brown when roasted;
  • Colombian coffee is de-pulped (the skin of the cherry is removed) straight after it’s picked, washed, left to ferment in water for 18-24 hours, and then dried. In natural coffee, instead, the cherry pulp is removed once the drying process is complete, not before;
  • Colombian coffee is more fruity and has more acidity than the natural coffee. Washed coffee enthusiasts praise this kind of coffee for its purity, since it allows you to taste all the vibrant notes and distinct flavours of the variety.
  • For more info on all the steps of the ‘washed coffee’ process, you can check this article!

Tyrona National Park

The Tayrona National Park is a massive park, with 3 entrances and different routes you can either walk or ride with horses. We chose the middle entrance, El Zaino, and walked for 2 and half hours, all the way to Capo San Juan, and then back. While walking along the paths through the forest, we saw Capuchin monkeys sitting on tree branches and skilfully opening and eating coconuts. We also spotted a capybara, and some parrots amongst other wildlife.

The landscape was incredible throughout, and there were plenty of little kiosks along the way, selling all kind of refreshments. We even had a proper hot lunch, with grilled fish and ceviche, in one of the many restaurants by the beach. By the end of the day, we were exhausted and decided to spend the night in an eco-resort near the Park, Quetzal Dorado, (www.quetzaldoradoeco.com).

Everything was going so well, until…..Gc decided to cut his foot open!

The day before our scheduled trip to Cartagena, Gc had a ‘cleat accident’…

A small premise, before getting into the nitty gritty of what happened just after 11pm at Santa Marta marina, sometime around mid February 2020.

Many years ago I made the mistake of telling GC that I really liked his feet and hands! Well, ever since he’s been trying in all possible ways to disfigure them.

Within 2 years, he managed to;

  1. brake his little toe (kite surfing accident),
  2. brake his left foot’s big toe (a desk slipped from his hands and fell right over it braking it into 3 parts, ouch!!)
  3. severely damage the other foot’s big toe. This story would definitely deserve a chapter of its own, but to cut it short, he somehow kicked a cement ball mistaking it for a real football!!

Clearly, he has no luck when it comes to his feet….

This particular night of mid February at Santa Marta marina, he was adjusting the mooring lines as the wind had picked up and was now blowing quite strongly. I have to say that while at the marina, we often experienced winds of 40+ knots coming down the high mountains of Sierra Nevada that surround the marina. And the boat was often covered in red sand that was difficult to get rid of…

Anyway, this particular night of mid February at Santa Marta marina I’m telling you about, Gc was fixing the lines, and in doing so, feeling very feline-like, he jumped down the port side of the boat and landed with all his weight on something rather hard.

What had he landed on?

It was one of the pontoon’s S- shaped cleats and he had landed right on top of it with his right foot. Pain and blood followed.

Someone else instead was already sleeping very deeply and soundly, dreaming of walking around Cartagena while eating an ice cream! Suddenly, someone was calling her name, one, two, three times…Paola, Paola Paola! The sound becoming louder and louder. Rather annoyed, this someone finally woke up and dragged herself upstairs still half asleep…

What was in front of my eyes was a war like type of scenario. Blood everywhere, Gc’s foot up on the table and some internal parts of it, that should have stayed so, were now way too visible…

All I could think of doing was…fainting!!

For the first 5 minutes I could not stand up! I had very limited autonomy as my head kept spinning around, and I had to keep my centre of gravity very low when walking around trying to help Gc, gathering bandages and antiseptic spray.

What a disaster! One man down… and one woman lying down!

Gc’s new shoe!! Home remedy of a boatman!

Despite my insisting, Gc didn’t want to go to the hospital. He was adamant he was not badly hurt and we could just go to sleep and deal with it the day after. Thirty minutes later, he was in bed snoring while I was regularly checking his breathing to make sure he was still alive and wouldn’t bleed to death during the night….

The morning after, I accompanied ‘DIY Gucci shoemaker’ to the hospital. Thanks to Kelly, and all the marina staff, who were very helpful and supportive, we got in touch with a private clinic that was happy to receive us and look into the matter more closely.

Several forms later, Gc was given a real life tutorial on how to give stitches to…his foot! He kept saying we needed to learn how to do it, in case of accidents at sea, so I guess this was his chance to learn first hand…or first foot :)!

Sailing in the 5th most dangerous waters, ever!

Cabo de la Vela had been our nightmare for weeks – the countless sailors we’d spoken to agreed on one thing only; “be careful when rounding it, thatā€™s where the winds compress and blow like crazy, there are huge waves and the wind blows at 40+ knots”. To my probably naive question, when is the best time to do the crossing, the answer had been “when it’s less shitty”!

The 400 miles between Aruba and Cartagena are famous for having the worst weather conditions in the Caribbean, and the passage ranks among the top five worst passages around the world.

Though all sailors agreed on the fact that we shouldn’t underestimate Cabo de la Vela and that the crossing from CuraƧao to Colombia was the roughest of the Caribbean’s, there were different currents of opinions when it came to the best way to round the Cabo, with some sailors saying the safest way was to keep more than 100 miles off-shore and be weary of the gusts (“reduce all sails and bring them all down if you need to, motoring your way through”); and others saying it was much better to go closer to the coast as to be protected from the wind gusts.

Half relaxing half sleeping, fighting the seasickness caused by the confused seas!

I’m glad we asked!

It goes without saying, we were all a bit nervous before departing. To be on the safe side, I called all family members and friends in case it was the last time I heard their voices :)!

This was one of those times I wished I didn’t have so much information about the passage, and boats in general! When we first bought Gladan, I enjoyed sailing so much more! You know why? I had no idea of all the things that could break and go wrong and therefore it was all about, you know, enjoying!!

You know what they say, “if there’s anything worse than knowing too little, it’s knowing too much”…

For example, one of my misconceptions at the beginning of my “sailing career” was that I’d feel reassured by the presence of the coastline, thinking “what could possibly go wrong?… there is land nearby!”

What I’ve quickly learned is that if you’re caught in the middle of a storm with strong winds and big waves, you’re better off waiting out at sea than trying to, for instance, enter an harbour. The things you learn along the way!

The Crew

With Beatrice, Gc’s niece, it was three of us onboard for the crossing. Well, two (kind of) experienced sailors and a beautiful anchorwoman in charge of reporting our sailing voyage minute by minute.

Beatrice and GC in CuraƧao

We couldn’t find any sailing buddies on a similar time schedule, so we were going to cross on our own. And since Beatrice’s boyfriend, Ludovico, was going to wait for us in Colombia, there was no time to waste!

The pre-departure

Few days before our departure, we met a couple, an Italian skipper and his English partner, who had just sailed upwind for 3 consecutive days from Santa Marta to CuraƧao. They had been bashed by 30+ knots of wind and 3 metres waves for, I’d like to stress that, 3 consecutive days, while treating themselves to roast chicken and vegetables, and apple pie.

Now, I’m kind of a competitive person and I thought – if they managed to do it upwind while fleshing out a chicken thigh, surely we can do it downwind while slicing a pizza!

And off we went!

The departure

We set off from Santa Cruz Bay, north-west of CuraƧao, very early in the morning on San Valentine’s day. The wind was 20 to 25 knots so quite ideal for sailing, but the sea was very confused with waves coming from different sides, making the first part of the journey rather uncomfortable. The sky was grey most of the day but, at least, it did not rain.

Beatrice and I on shift :)! Though it might look otherwise, we did keep an eye on the road, from time to time!!

The sea conditions improved when we got closer to Aruba: the sea was flatter and we were sailing at a broad reach (at 135Ā° off the wind).

We also got signal because of the proximity to land, so Gc could do some of his beloved Facebook lives and Beatrice could speak with Ludovico to reassure him; we had started our trip and we should get to Colombia in a day or two…

The second day of the crossing, the sun was shining and Gc didn’t miss his chance to polish his beloved Gladan!

Bioluminescence, my friends!

The best part of the trip was the 2nd night of sailing, when we passed by the Los Monjes islands, off the Venezuelan coast. For the first time since we started sailing, I witnessed the phenomenon of bioluminescence.

What an incredible thing to experience!

While Gladan was smoothly sailing across the ocean, at a comfortable speed of 7.5 knots, downwind, his wake was populated by teeny tiny sea fireflies that made the whole experience magical!

The funny thing about this phenomenon is that the light produced by the microscopic plankton is actually a defence mechanism. The light these microorganisms release helps to temporarily blind their predators, or to attract their predators’ predators, taking the attention away from them! Teeny tiny yes, but incredibly smart!

Beatrice enjoying the first lights of the day!

Rounding Cabo de la Vela

We had planned to round the tricky Cabo de la Vela in daylight but Gladan sailed so fast that we got there around 4 am, in full darkness.

The wind blew at 30 knots. We had only the jib on and were ready to reduce it when necessary. We had opted for an in between option (from the two conflicting ones that had been recommended to us), and decided to keep 30 miles away from the coast, following the 100 metres depth line.

Our track for the crossing from CuraƧao to Santa Marta.

We were all on alert; the treacherous Cabo was here, and so were the huge waves!

As in all matters of life, perception is key. Depending on the point of view you adopt when looking at things, you perceive them differently. This applies to waves as well!

One thing is to see a 3 metre wave from the cockpit (meaning from a position of disadvantage, where you feel like you’ll be submerged by it, should it decide to briefly pay you a visit) and a totally different one is to experience it from the height of the flybridge, zipped inside the enclosure (and sometimes also tucked in below the blanket… ).

As I said, it’s all a matter of perception. And waves do look smaller when you’re taller than them – that’s why I spent most of the passage on the flybridge!

Long passages can be very tiring..!

When wind gusts reached 35 knots, we reduced the jib till it looked like a handkerchief, and waited to see what’d happen next. We had to keep an eye on some unexpected shallow patches we got quite close to, with the sea depth suddenly dropping from 100 metres to less than 20 metres. We realised that something was wrong because the waves quickly got steeper, so we adjusted the route to move away from the shallows.

Big waves…..
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta!

Several hours later, we could see the peaks of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the world’s highest coastal mountain range in the world. Our destination was close!

Little we knew that the worst was still to come. The last few hours were the scariest ones, at least for me. Once we reached Cabo de la Aguja, it was time to turn and start heading south towards the marina de Santa Marta. The wind reached 40 knots and waves were coming from the side.

A female frigate bird with her freshly caught prey.

During our last miles, we had big following waves, a few of which broke into the cockpit and flooded it. Since we had left the saloon’s door open, I rushed downstairs from the flybridge, and shut the door behind me. Luckily no water had got inside, but it could have been very dangerous. I spent the last thirty minutes or so tiding up the messy living area, while Gc and Beatrice were filming the huge seas behind us.

Beautiful sunset @ Santa Marta marina.

Arrival in Santa Marta

Once close to the marina, the sea was flatter and we were filled by the excitement of realising that;

a) the passage was over and we were still in one piece,

b) the 3 days long ride on the rollercoaster was about to end

c) we were finally going to sleep!

Ludovico, Beatrice’s boyfriend, was already waiting for us on the pontoon. The marina of Santa Marta was different from what we were expecting. It is very modern and surrounded by skyscrapers and high mountains.

We made friends with the security guards of the marina – everyone was very polite and efficient there!

It’s part of the IGY chain and it’s a gated marina, with security guards checking on people coming and going, as Ludovico could testify; he was thoroughly questioned before being allowed in!

The view from our dock, inside the marina.

We celebrated the successful ending of yet another adventure with very cold beers. We had made it through the fifth most dangerous waters in the world, in one piece!

There is nothing like a well deserved drink after a long passage!

“Bonbini Dushi”!! Sailing through tricky waters to get to CuraƧao!

A time comes when you know you need to go. You get some kind of ‘island fever’ and start feeling restless. You miss that cocktail of freedom, fear and excitement you only experience when sailing.

After months spent with our new friends in Bequia, playing pĆ©tanque and tennis, hiking and having way too many sundowners…saying goodbye wasn’t easy. But we had to!

The view from the top of Mount Peggy, Bequia
On top of the world!
Princess Margaret Beach, Bequia.

Our next destination – CuraƧao

CuraƧao belongs to the so called ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and CuraƧao). Geographically speaking, they’re not in that order; the first island you encounter coming from East is Bonaire, CuraƧao is in the middle, and Aruba is the last of the three. I’m specifying this for a reason, other than just being pedantic :): while sailing east to west is quite a pleasant experience, I wouldn’t say the same about the opposite. Let’s say you come from East and decide to stop directly in CuraƧao, like we did; going to Bonaire from there is no cup of tea! With 2.5/3 metres waves in your face and the wind on the nose, even a relatively short journey from one island to the other needs to be carefully planned.

The last goodbye to our good friends Joakim and Virginie from Drakkar @ Plantation House Bequia


Coming from Bequia, our trip to CuraƧao was roughly 460 NM, which at an average speed of 6 knots, meant 3 nights and 4 days of downwind sailing. We took it easy and sailed most of the time with only the jib on. When the wind was lighter, 15 to 20 knots, we would have both the jib and the code 0 open.

The sailing was very enjoyable, despite the big waves (2.5 metres). Luckily the period between them (the interval between one and the other) was such that they didn’t bother us too much, that’s also because they were coming from the back!

Hiking in Bequia!

Sailing through tricky waters

In the past, there have been incidents of boats navigating close to the Venezuelan coast, who had been boarded and robbed, so we were a bit afraid at the idea of sailing in tricky waters. And when I say a bit, I mean I would freak out any time a boat, especially of fishermen, appeared to be chasing us. Mentally, I would go through all the best hiding places on the boat (wrapped up inside the code 0, or the second jib, inside one of the spacious cupboards containing electric cables, under the mattress in our cabin, right next to the leaky boiler Gc keeps fixing!)

I would have preferred to wait and travel in a convoy, but we couldn’t find other sailors leaving at the same time, so we decided to go anyway. I mean Gc did….:) I’m ok with procrastinating!

Our tricks not to be tricked!

During the navigation, we kept at a great distance from the Venezuelan coast, and turned the AIS off at night, from time to time. Luckily, the passage was uneventful, and we only met loads of cargo ships and few fishing boats on our way. The first night was quite challenging as the area off the Grenadines was very trafficked.

We kept seeing one cargo after the other on the radar, and needed to make sure we wouldn’t get hit by any! The other two nights instead, we were almost completely on our own, no one else around except for a great full moon which made the crossing quite magical.

Gc and I did 3 hour shifts starting around 9pm and finishing at 9am. After the first one and half days, we got into the routine and didn’t feel tired anymore. Gc spent most of the crossing experimenting with a new way to make focaccia dough, which doesn’t require kneading, and baked one tray after the other.
I spent time reading books, memorising poems and eating a lot of focaccia, while Gc perfected his technique :)!

“Bonbini Dushi” – Welcome to CuraƧao sweetheart!

When we finally got to CuraƧao, it was noon. Entering Spanish Waters, the main anchorage, was quite an experience. After months in the Grenadines, we were immediately hit by the change of scenery; luxurious villas scattered along Santa Barbara beach and golf resort, super yachts moored along the pontoon. We were not surprised to find out this is one of the richest and most expensive parts of CuraƧao.

Spanish Waters’ anchorage though is definitely not one of our favourites. It is very crowded, the water is muddy, and it’s quite dangerous to swim around because of the motor yachts constantly passing by at full speed, and with loud music on. No chance of them seeing or hearing you if you happen to be swimming in the wrong place. A few weeks before our arrival, a boy had lost his life there, run over by one of these speed boats.

At weekends, there is more traffic here than in central London!


The only dinghy dock where you can leave the tender is small and rather neglected. You’ll see dinghies parked in second and third row and getting off yours can be quite challenging. The only positive note is that there is a security service, so less chances of your dinghies being stolen.

Despite this premise, we loved CuraƧao and actually had a great time there! After 30 minutes on the island, we had already experienced first hand how nice, kind and genuinely happy to help, locals are.

Sunbathing on Kalki beach – CuraƧao
Kalki Beach – CuraƧao

The day we arrived and anchored in Spanish Waters after 4 days out at sea, we needed to go to Punda (the town centre) to check in into the island. This is a rather time consuming process as the customs and immigration offices are far from Spanish Waters, and they’re not close to each other. We read that it normally takes up to 3 hours to complete the check in.

Our case, though, was quite different! After leaving the dinghy at the gated dock, we asked for information about the buses going into town. The guard standing close by told us that they were not very frequent, that we had just missed one, and would have to wait at least an hour for the next. Reading disappointment on our tired faces he added, “wait a second”ā€¦and stopped a car about to exit the parking area. After a quick chat with the driver, we were welcomed aboard a comfortable Toyota Yaris and offered a lift all the way to the Customs office!!

Thirty minutes later, we were on a hunt for the immigration office, which was proving very difficult to findā€¦we asked for information and… there we go…. another kind driver offered to take us there! He dropped us in front of the immigration office and waved us bye!

Last but not least, once we had completed all the check in procedure, we mentioned we didnā€™t know how to find our way back, and one of the immigration officers offered to give us a lift back to the town centre; 3 lifts in less than 2 hours! What a welcome!

The Queen Emma’s Bridge, connecting Punda and Otrabanda. It’s also known as the “Old swinging lady” as it was built in 1888!

Once in the beautiful town centre, we found a nice bar by the canal, and sipped the first cold beer in 4 days, which tasted incredibly great. Around us, the colourful building of Pundaā€™s promenade, which looks a bit like a little Amsterdam, with Queen Emmaā€™s bridge (“The old swinging ladyā€) opening in front of our eyes to let a boat through.

A stop for flamingos watching in…..Curacao

Our time in CuraƧao

You know you’ve been too long in the Grenadines when you get overexcited when stepping inside a Carrefour! When we first went to the big Carrefour inside Sambil shopping mall, I felt overwhelmed at the sight of so much food!

There was even a deejay playing music in the middle of it!

CuraƧao is incredible when it comes to shopping, it has several shopping centres, all kind of shopping districts and an incredible variety of produce. Fruits and vegetables are so abundant and cheap!

The first week went by running around to buy boat parts, fixing things, doing shopping (we bought new cushions and carpets for Gladan, bedsheets, clothes and whatnot, after months of deprivation :)) and getting Gladan ready for our new guest, Beatrice, GC’s niece who would fly in to join us for a few weeks.

Thanks to Beatrice we had a chance to feel on holiday again and spent a few days exploring the island. We went to the north-west part of the island, which is plenty of beautiful beaches, bars and turtles popping their heads out from time to time in Playa Blanca.

Locals are very relaxed and there is a great blend of cultures, religions, and languages.

We found a pirate in CuraƧao!

ā€œNay nayā€ – Jo would say in between a cigarette and a sip of the fourth cup of our espresso coffee. ā€˜This coffee is amazing, SeƱorita!ā€™

JO’s “dinghy” is an old rescue boat quite oversized as a tender šŸ™‚

Jo is a legend around Spanish Waters and does a bit of everything. He was recommended to us by another sailor who mentioned he was a good mechanic – although a bit eccentric… Originally from Holland, he’s been living in CuraƧao for the past 20 years and knows everyone there – especially beautiful women!

A few times he had to start his engine in a hurry and quickly sail away to escape from some very upset husbands. “One morning, I was drinking my coffee – filtered coffee, not even a tiny bit as good as your espresso, SeƱorita– he started telling me the story- when this woman I had only met the night before…you know how it is…showed up with her suitcase and told me, “Jo do you have an engine on your boat?” Yes of course, I do! “Then turn it on, quickly. My husband wants to kill me!” So I lit a cigarette, gulped down my coffee, and started the engine…”

“Bonbini Dushi”!!

Slim and fit, with blondish hair crowning his head like a crest, and a cigarette always in his mouth, Jo looks a bit like a pirate. He certainly is one of a kind! Despite his rough look, he is a generous, cultured and caring person. After working in a kindergarten for many years, he decided to change lifestyle and career and started working on cargo ships travelling around the world on big beasts.

Nowadays, Jo organises day tours for families on his 2 motor boats. He loves entertaining kids and their families and also makes pizza for them on board: ā€œI make the real one, with great fresh ingredients not the shitty stuff you find around hereā€¦ā€

When it comes to food, Jo definitely knows his stuff. He took us around the island, introducing us to the best selection of street food; Sunaynaā€™s chicken soup, the ā€œbatidosā€ truck which also makes amazing arepas, Mama’s Indian food…our heads were spinning around….so much food and so many stories from his past!

Going out with Jo meant stopping at every corner to eat something here or drink something there. A constant feast for our palates and souls.

I think we met the best pirate of the Caribbean’s!

When Gc (almost) sued Pope… and our stay in Grenada & Carriacou

Getting back to the Caribbeans after our summer break in Europe was no cup of tea. When Covid started to spread, all Caribbean islands shut their borders to avoid contamination. Health infrastructures in most Caribbean islands are very poor, or sometimes non-existent, so governments have been trying to protect islanders first by isolating them, and then by imposing very strict measures to people visiting their countries.

By September, most of the Caribbean islands had reopened, but procedures to enter the country were still very strict: not only you needed a negative PCR test to board the plane, but once landed, you were also requested to quarantine in a designated hotel for at least 4 days, until you’d get the results of a second PCR test. If they came back negative, you’d be free to move around.

Gc’s case was a bit more complicated……because he didn’t get the right test before flying back to the Caribbeans (he got a serologic test instead of the requested PCR test), and he got himself in trouble and was then requested to quarantine for the full 14 days. Luckily (at least for his pockets), he managed to quarantine on board his beloved Gladan, at Canouan Marina.

Sea view from Canouan Marina

The experience is not one he recalls with pleasure…instead of being able to enjoy the facilities of the 5 star marina he was paying to stay at, he was locked inside the boat, with 30+ degrees, 80% humidity level and tons of mozzies. One night the mosquitos were bothering him so much that, frustrated, he decided to challenge them. He shut himself in the bathroom, turned the lights on and offered himself as bait, waiting for them to attack. Fully armed with towels, our Italian Stallion of the Caribbeans, tried to kill as many as he could, shouting in a frenzy of rage. Luckily, there was no one around to hear him…

To buy food, he needed to text the marina staff, who’d come to pick up the list of food he wanted as well as the money, both conveniently placed inside a plastic box left outside, to avoid any direct contact.

Paradise Beach – Carriacou. Gladan is now part of the wall of fame!
Paradise Beach Club was a great place to spend an afternoon with plenty of other sailors and fun activities organised weekly!

After 4 days of initial lockdown, Gc was administered a PCR test by the Doctor of the marina, Dr. Pope, a very friendly and chilled out guy, whom we had previously met as he’s the one going around and taking sailors’ temperature upon arrival at the marina.

The day after, the results came back negative, which should have meant that he was free to go… Gc phoned Dr. Pope to ask for confirmation.

Pope said he’d check with the health authorities and get back to him. Few days went by, and no news from the Dr…..so Gc decided to get in touch with the health authorities directly. The person answering the phone that day was adamant he’d still need to complete the 14 days of quarantine even though he’d tested negative.

Ten days down quarantine lane, Gc was struggling to sleep and function normally due to the unbearable heat and the unforgiving mosquitos…

By then, with the quarantine almost over, it was time to get another PCR test as that was the requirement to enter the island of Grenada, the next destination.

GC got again in touch with Dr. Pope to schedule an appointment. “Good morning Dr. Pope, it’s Giancarlo here from Gladan” – GC said. “Ah, Giancarlo…..” – Dr. Pope’s voice sounded strangely apologetic. “Giancarlo, I’m so sorry…”

Sorry for what? Gc thought. He had just called him! “I was meant to call you back….wasn’t I?” – The Dr. continued. “To tell you that you were free to go… You’re not still in quarantine, are you?”

Gc couldn’t understand what Pope was trying to say…”Giancarlo please don’t sue me, I’m very sorry. You were free to leave when your test came back negative, but I forgot to tell you!” – Pope further explained.

Gc was on the verge of collapsing! Did that mean he’d spent 8 extra days in hell for nothing? He could have gone to the beach, the restaurant, the pool….instead of being confined inside Gladan. Gc couldn’t believe his ears!

Several G&Ts and a few days later, Gc was on his way to Grenada, leaving Canouan Marina, Dr. Pope, and the unhappy memory of his lockdown behind.

Gladan was wounded after a steel boat hit us in Guadaloupe….unfortunately we were not onboard when it happened, and neither were the owners of the steel boat when it started dragging towards us.

Gladan needed to undergo a bit of aesthetic work since another boat had crushed into us a few months before, while we were at anchor in Deshaies, Guadaloupe, a bay with notoriously bad holding.

Gladan at Clarkes Court Yard

Once in Grenada, Gladan was hauled out at Clarkes Court shipyard and spent 2 weeks on the hard.

By the time Gladan was splashed in, I was also back in the Caribbean’s, after quarantining in Barbados for 2 weeks, and – one might think – conveniently avoiding the joy of being stranded in a hot and dusty shipyard while the works were carried out!

My quarantine at the Hilton in Barbados…not so bad after all!

Once reunited with Gladan and my better half, it was time to discover the island!

Grenada is quite a big island, famous for its spices and chocolate.

We spent 3 weeks anchored in Gand Anse, a huge bay with a 3km long sandy beach. It was a great anchorage as it was quite sheltered from the prevailing winds, and located close to Spiceland Mall shopping centre as well as several good restaurants and bars.

View from 61Ā° West restaurant & Bar, Grand Anse. Great food and drinks!
Walking around Carriacou

We rented a car so that we could move around easily: the island is big and not well connected by minibuses.

For us, digital nomads, finding a good spot to work from, whenever we move around, is rather vital. And such place needs to meet certain requirements; fast wi-fi, good coffee, air con (possibly not set to freezing temperatures..) and decent food.

As you can imagine, these things are not so easy to find in one place, but this time we were in luck! We managed to find two places that offered the perfect working conditions: “Knife and fork“, inside Spiceland shopping centre, and Bella Milano, not far away form the mall. The first had great smoothies and decent coffee, the latter real Italian coffee and pastries.

Office with a view…! Paradise Beach Club, Carriacou.

We also found one of the best pizzas in the Caribbeans at Antonio’s. After months in the Caribbean’s, a delicious pizza is always a treat and their pizza was really good even for Italian standards!

For drinks and live music Aziz was the place to be!

Grenada is famous for its HASH. Every Saturday, locals organise hikes in a different part of the island and everyone can join in by paying a small participation fee. There is a path to be discovered and clues along the way. Food, drinks and music await the “runners with a drinking problem” that find the right way back!

Grand Anse was also close to Port Louis Marina, easily reachable by dinghy. Every Friday morning, we’d visit the local fruits and veg market, inside the marina, where we’d get our organic provisioning and delicious homemade guava juices.

Carriacou is only 15 miles away from Grenada and is part of the same administration, together with Petit Martinique.

It is a small and rather wild island with basic (expensive) provisioning and beautiful natural beauties.

Sandy Island – Carriacou – Thanksgiving day’s Party

We spent most of our time between Tyrell Bay, the main (and rather crowded) anchorage, and Sandy Island, the most charming place on the island, where you can only stay at a mooring buoy by paying a daily fee.

A visit to Anse la Roche it’s also a must, and the lobsters served by Tim the King at his restaurant on the beach are to die for!

Pasta with lobster by chef GC!

While in Carriacou, we made a lot of friends and spent an incredible couple of weeks, eating loads of really cheap lobsters, snorkelling and walking around to explore the island!

Thanksgiving party on Sandy island – Carriacou
Sandy Island – Carriacou
Our friend Alex, he made us discover The Paradise Beach Club in Carriacou and kept us company during our stay on the island!
Alex, Karen and Hugo with their beautiful little one!
It’s always difficult to leave behind the friends you’ve made along the way…