Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Traditional Side of Carriacou

We arrived on Carriacou and have been enjoying the social life of Regatta and the beginnings of Camp Grenada 2016.  Today, with Janice & Dave (Livin' Life) and Sunny & John (Notre Vie) we decided to get ourselves over to the other side of the island and check out the wooden boat building scene.

We are anchored in Tyrrel Bay on the west side of the island, Hillsborough is the main town on the north side and way over on the other side is the little village of Windwardside.  Given that the sun is now directly overhead at noon and it is getting brutally hot, we opted to hop on a local bus and am I glad we did.  All told, the round trip is 28 km and it is hot, hot, hot!

Bus 10 from Tyrrel Bay to Hillsborough and Bus 11 from there to Windwardside.

Back when we were in Antigua for the Classics Regatta we had a chance to view the film Vanishing Sail.  If there's any way you can catch a showing and if you have any interest in island boat building or just a good story, don't miss the chance.  After watching the film we decided that we had to get ourselves over to see the actual building of one of these boats. I don't know if it's a result of the film or whether it was well on it's way before that, but there is a revival of traditional boat-building going on here with the sloops being sold to foreign sailors for racing or tourist excursions.

We found our way along the little beach and arrived in the yard of Anthony McLawrence.  When I say yard, I mean literally in his back yard, with the 64' hulk that he expects to finish by Christmas sitting solidly on the ground behind a fence.  Once the boat is finished the fence will have to come down and then it is just yards to the water.

The bus driver dropped us right on the town dock and we easily found one of the boat building locations, although there were a couple being built at various places in town.

Due to all the reefs and out-islands, houses can be built unusually close to shore on the windward side.

Standing on the dock, we watched a couple of island sloops getting ready for today's race around the island.  They fly these massive mainsails, a jib and a genoa or gennaker, have almost no keel and use men for ballast.

This half-planked boat was the first we found.

64' long and beamy inside.  These boats don't get finished off inside, the ribs will always be exposed, the advantage being things can't roll around too far.

The guys are checking out the planks that are nailed to the ribs with 10" nails.

Most of the wood is local Grenadian but the keel is Greenheart from Guyana - a very solid, heavy wood.

We had the pleasure of meeting Anthony McLawrence, the builder of this particular boat.  He has built 6 or 7 forty-plus footers but this is the largest he has built.

We carried on our exploration of Windwardside, finding another fishing boat being built alongside the road and magnificent views of the islands, including the start of the sloop round-the-island race.

One of the boat-builders featured in the movie owns this house.  It may need a little paint but is pretty none the less and a great example of a local house with gingerbread trim and lace in the windows.

An interesting story here - a memorial to nine boatbuilders who lost their lives in 1945 when a mine drifted to shore from a sinking WWII boat.  The mine exploded and killed the men working on shore nearby.

Petit St. Vincent (left) and Petit Martinique (right) with the sloops racing across the start-line.

Bus stop bench - great use of two pallets!

These guys seemed unperturbed that they were a half-hour late for the start of the race.

Welcoming sidewalk step to a local establishment.  We stopped for cold beers but although the pizza smelled delicious we were on the hunt for roti in Hillsborough.

One last look around Windwardside.  Dave found the site of the building of Genesis, the boat featured in the movie.

Lunch time was coming on and our tummies were empty so we hopped back on a bus to Hillsborough where the streets were bustling and the speakers were pounding out the Soca.  Nothing particularly special going on - just a nice Saturday in town.

Main street and market stands in Hillsborough.

Did we step back in time??  We've also seen signs saying they're licensed to sell Intoxicated liquor - I think I like Spiritous better.

Patti's Deli - a lovely example of traditional Carriacou architecture.

Not the bar we went to, but appropriate for Regatta weekend!

Noon and my shadow is almost directly below me!  We're just above 12N latitude and the sun is tracking south so it's just going to get hotter.

Found it - Sunny & John knew a great place to get roti.  Literally a hole in the wall, just up the stairs past the sign.
After lunch, we wandered onto the beach to watch the goings-on.  Prep for racing, liming(*) with beer, swimming, boats going back and forth to the pier, more liming, kids playing, adults relaxing - all a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Checking out the boats at the pier.

There's something just a little unsettling about watching a laughing gull eating a chicken wing.

We leaned on this guy's boat long enough so he came over to join in the discussion.  Where sailors gather the conversation always comes round to boats and sailing.

Just along the beach a catch of whelks were boiled up.  The 'ladles' are actually the tree-end of two palm fronds and made most excellent scoops.

Visiting Windwardside totally lived up to expectations - laid-back, no fancy demonstration or museum, just people carrying on with their daily lives and bringing back a traditional craft that had it's heyday a hundred years ago.  Perhaps we will be able to find our way back up here for the launch of the boat we saw under construction.

* - Get ready for carnival, here's the dictionary:
Liming:  to hang around and relax, usually shooting the breeze with your buddies and a cold beer.
Chipping:  carnival step - little steps in time to the music
Wining:  another carnival move - a little more licentious and probably after consumption of much rum and beer.

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