New Buoyage Makes Grenada’s Second City
an Attractive Destination
by Don Street
The harbor of Grenada’s second city, Grenville, is now marked by buoys and posts, and I have verified that there is ten feet of water through Luffing Channel at high tide and 12 feet inside the harbor. The new navigation aids make it much easier to visit Grenville Harbour, a reef-protected anchorage on the island’s windward side. Grenville Harbour is a perfect place to spend a couple of days and explore the northeast corner of Grenada.
The months of July and August can provide some excellent cruising weather with a nice 12 to 15 knots, day after day. If you are based for hurricane season in Grenada, enjoy these sailing conditions and do some exploring, putting Grenville on your itinerary. Needless to say, while cruising during hurricane season you must listen to the weather report every day, remembering that hurricanes approaching the Eastern Caribbean rarely if ever alter course more than five degrees in 24 hours.
It is a five- or six-mile beat from Grenada’s popular south-coast anchorages to Lascar Cove, Petit Trou or Requin (see pages 160 to 162 of my Martinique to Trinidad guide). Start early, before the wind really starts to blow, and you are anchored in one of these deserted coves by 1100 hours. The scale of the Imray Iolaire chart, and all other charts of this area is such that no real decisions can be made as to the viability of anchorages in these bays, hence the blow-up here.
From Requin north to Grenville is only six miles. Organize your arrival into Grenville by 1400 or before so the sun is behind you or overhead. The entrance to the harbor is through the reef.
Although maintenance of navigational marks has sometimes been poor, for well over 100 years the church on the hill, bearing 304 degrees magnetic, has led vessels through the outer channel. The only part of the outer channel that is narrow is the entrance. A good eyeball navigator standing on TOP of the bow pulpit could easily spot the two shoals if the outer buoys were missing. Use eyeball piloting until you pick up the posts marking Luffing Channel. An error crept into the chart: the range/transit for Luffing Channel is correct, but the numbers are wrong. They should read 004-184 magnetic (rather than 012-192 magnetic). This is noted in corrections at www.imray.com.
If the new buoys and posts ever do go missing, the break in the reef is obvious. It is a sharp turn to starboard, course 004 magnetic, hence the name Luffing Channel, as sail trimming on the old cargo schooners was slow to say the least! Head midway between the reefs.
Note: Despite a number of e-mails to the Grenada Port Authority asking when — what month, and at springs or neaps? — High Water was established, I have had no reply. This is a problem, since the Caribbean Sea is 12 to 18 inches lower in late May, June and July than it is in winter. The difference between High Water Springs in winter and Low Water Springs in summer is about three feet, and occasionally four. If you draw over six feet, try to enter at high tide.
Once inside, round up and anchor in roughly 12 feet of water, in a sand bottom with good holding. You are in a wonderful windswept (bug-free) anchorage, but the water is calm because of the barrier reef to windward. It is a perfect place to learn windsurfing or SUP, as the windward half of the harbor is only three feet deep — if you fall down you can just stand up and climb back on your board.
Named for an 18th century British prime minister, Grenville, also known as Rainbow City, is home to more than 2,000 inhabitants. As the commercial center for the eastern part of the island, it has the essential amenities of shops, bars, market, etcetera, that you would expect.
From Grenville, a number of unique attractions are just a short bus, taxi or rental-car ride away. Enjoy visiting the nutmeg processing station; Belmont Plantation, a 400-acre plantation run by the same family for three generations; the River Antoine rum distillery, claimed to be the oldest continuously operating rum distillery in the Caribbean; and Petite Anse hotel and beach — highly recommended by Grenadians. Sauteurs is a village worth exploring; here there is a small shop run by a 98-year-old woman who rides to work every day on a donkey.
The day you leave Grenville Harbour, have an early morning swim, a long leisurely breakfast and do not depart until 1100 when the sun is high.
Leaving the harbor, pick up the range/transit marks on the north side of the harbor to make sure you are in the center of Luffing Channel. Once clear of Luffing Channel, head east on a course of 124 degrees magnetic. Look at the chart carefully. There is plenty of water between the shoals, except for the outer entrance marked by two buoys. If the buoys are missing the two shoals are easy to spot as the water humps up over them.
If you have a red-hot crew, a boat that sails to windward well and tacks reliably, and a good eyeball rock pilot on the bow, you can sail out. If you do not have all the above go out under power. I have sailed my boats Iolaire and Li’l Iolaire, both engineless, in and out of Grenville.
From here, you can head on up to Carriacou or back down to the south coast, where that game of dominoes is no doubt still going on…
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