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  • Writer's pictureMagali Bongrand

Carriacou Bacchanal Easter Cruise


What an invite! A 5-day sailing trip aboard SY Bacchanal to Grenada’s sister isle of Carriacou. We were three families; all parents friends of old along with our five darling offspring (aged 4-8). After months in covid confinement each one of us were desperate for a long weekend if not in another country, somewhere ‘away’.

We knew this was trip was going to be good after all the Covid carry-ons and restrictions. Such was our combined need for a fun reset somewhere else. Pandemic-itis had set in deep – know that feeling? We still could not have imagined just how good the voyage turned out to be. Was it the azure crystal-clear waters, unending sunshine, turtle sightings (so many they became humdrum), deserted beaches, jumping manta rays, deserted islands, happy exercised sun-kissed children, and parents who could just let it all go? Or was it the commodious vessel that provided us all sanctuary and space and safety on the water. Or was it just feeling very free of COVID? Who can say? None of this is fiction and all of it is available to anyone who chooses to charter Bacchanal. You WILL NOT regret it.

Easter Bacchanal began on April Fool’s Day. I looked for fools on deck; saw none. Humans were mobilising though. They seemed more like ants than fools, marshalling their own body weight in children, food, drinks, and ice. They hoiked, sorted, packed, pointed, pondered whilst swatting children away like flies, as words like ‘over there’, ‘down there’ or ‘anywhere’ dropped like sweat. As I looked a vertical ant bum punctured my vision, the adjoining head obscured from view lost in the locker below, was it drilling for oil I wondered.

These messy deck scenes reminded me of every offshore passage I ever made remembering how important this ‘prep work’ is to the success of any voyage; as vital a part of the sailing experience as the actual pulling and trimming of sails. You can do little about the weather or sea state, but you can ensure the quality of the food and drinks (and hopefully the company)! A bit of forethought goes a long way and Grenada is very good for provisioning compared to some sister islands. Our stores were stuffed full, and we feasted like royalty for 5 days. As when you don’t need to go ashore, you can stay further afield. Think ahead!

Readers take note; think hard and then make a good list!

Cook whatever you can ahead of time and then online order delivered to the vessel will make life even easier! Send your ants out for any extras. We found this plan produced the perfect balance between effort and reward. The pre-prepared meals that went in the cavernous freezer; we just pulled them out as we needed. Smug was the feeling I had as I stood in my bikini pulling my frozen bolognaise from the icy hold knowing all I had to do was thaw, heat, make pasta, grate cheese. Et Voila – lunch for 10; easy-peasy. Meantime I could jump back in the sea to swim with a passing turtle…. smug satisfaction never felt so good. But I should also say that for those chefs that want to prepare from scratch; Bacchanal’s galley has everything you could need. One of the nicest galleys I have encountered and I have encountered a few!

Moments before departure, I glanced at the UK’s April Fool’s Day headlines; ‘third lockdown…blood clot…. disagreement over vaccine…quarantine for returning nationals. I sniggered to myself smugly as I wrote on the blue sky of my mind’s eye; GIRL GRATEFUL and FAMILY LUCKY as lockers slammed shut and kids went BOING on the trampoline. Kids were caught mid-air yet moved to do even more monkeying in cockpit. I was shocked at the embarrassment of riches Grenada put in our path in this post covid reality. Luck does not cover the blessings I counted. Embarrassed ants - 1; April Fools - 0.

It had been a while since I put to sea… the forecast did spell ‘a bit bouncy’ but nothing boat or crew could not handle. I assumed side deck position as lines were untied from cleats. Lines unattached and loose at both end and my muscle memory performed the well-known stretch-coil-loop-rope-salute of all departing vessels. Moments later fenders were in, and Bacchanal’s nosed it out of the south coast bay and into the easterly winds as we headed west. I was not concerned; after enough years of old wooden tub living and sailing, this plastic fantastic was exceptionally balanced and smooth. Bacchanal really can take the chop! The boat lapped it up like a bounding puppy wanting the ball thrown just one more time. Neptune’s doggy kept throwing it back and forth and Bacchanal kept running and returning fast! Tongue flapping, eyes bright. What a vessel…deceptively brilliant. Please reader; have no performance related concerns about this charter vessel.

Meantime the mouths of 10 hungry ants gorged on fried chicken, bakes, doubles, beer. There was no squished cockpit. Oh no - this was palatial spatial boating cum partying. There were larders of convenience, fridge, freezer, toys. Metropolitan tastes assembled a flow of ice-cold Bloody Mary to go with an increasingly lively sea. Excited kids swayed and clung on like koalas as tomato-coloured streaks ran go faster stripes here and there which the kids found hilarious and more fun than playdoh.

BOOM! some hours passed towards sundown as we completed the 30-mile bouncy windward stretch to Tyrell Bay, Carriacou. Snap; hook down, it bit the seabed – like butter of a hot knife. Oh Bacchanal – thank you for such an easy landing! Tired we snuggled down and slept like the dead, each family in their own spacious cabin.

We woke early and moved the boat to Paradise Beach, of course, aptly named. Adventure dinghy made a foray ashore finding secret paths on to black sand beaches where pirates were imagined, and cacti snagged at ankles. Not mine as me and my girIs snuggled lazily in our cabin lounging like cats and reading books under the cool of a fan. Bliss… something for everyone.

Anse La Roche for lunch. Imagine a deserted beach, in a bay fringed by rock pools. There are no roads to this idyll of a beach BBQ restaurant. Chef Tim Garraway has a reputation for cooking insane amounts of fresh lobster and fish dripping in garlic and butter. We ordered four lobsters. Eight arrived along with 5 tuna steaks, each the size of an iPad. Oh Grenada – talk about abundance.

Luckily so too were the crew’s appetites; their bellies somehow stood the test. Claws were sucked, meat hoovered off shells, hungry mouths worked like a long-distance runner. Plates emptied, like sloths, we affirmed Tim’s reputation.

In the end it was the unfettered freedom that bamboozled us as we wiped the butter from our chins and released elastic from our waists realising just how lucky we were to be watching a setting sun with a handful or people on a deserted beach in paradise. I imagined the Good Friday cheer in the ‘nth’ lockdown elsewhere (ANYWHERE ELSE) - Grenada, oh sweet Grenada thank you.

By now the kids had secured themselves into the deep holes they had excavated in the shore. My girls seemed involved in a game of ‘you are the prisoner, and I will not help you’. I chose not to get involved preferring the company of the women whom by now, had waddled as if pregnant to the sun loungers scattered on the beach. Magical midwives placed Campari’s in our hands and we realised all we had to do was push.

As we laboured with our Campari’s, the youngest crew, Bacchanal’s very own daughter Carmen (aged 4) decided to lead a kids swim convoy 500 metres back to the boat. Bacchanal’s mummy watched on as we saw Carmen’s head bob up and under, up and under. We winced as Mummy finished her Campari saying, ‘don’t worry I will kayak when I need to rescue her.’ She inhaled the last of her Dunhill its plume disturbed further as she strode through it like a superhero towards her ‘rescue’ kayak. She knew her daughter; apples never fall far. Whilst the older kids held on to floating dinghy of a neighbouring boat enjoying some rest, Carmen shouted to them ‘come on come on let’s go.’ Mummy escorted her and the rest of the old folk, arrived by dinghy to the sight of five naked children jumping around the cockpit singing ‘naked party naked party’. And so, the fun continued.

By Days 3-5 we had all fallen into a nice rhythm; days flowed into nights and back again. Food preparation, tidying, hanging out stuff, throwing away stuff, keeping everything ship shape was easy. Bacchanal really and truly is an amazing platform for multi-family fun. If you are in any doubt about her – DON’T BE. Her owners are fun loving and family oriented, so the vessel reflects them. You are definitely choosing the right charter boat.

Easter Sunday early morning we arrived on Saline Island as the mamas had received the memo from the Easter Bunny citing egg hunt coordinates. Baby bunnies ferried ashore to scoop bunny cache… formless choco surprises lay to be found and within minutes foil wrappers blended with liquid chocolate which they smeared with pride over their sun kissed faces.

Morning nap in early sun in the shore… turtles sited regularly…. masks and snorkels on and in we go….swim as fast as you can, you will never catch up with a turtle….they will let you close and then one flip flap and away from you they will fly. I tried at full crawl pelt…. But turtles know how to stay a knot ahead. What beauty sped forward; a privilege to witness…and anyway, best not to touch them or think you can hold their flippers. Please don’t do that.

Bacchanal really, is a go to vessel for groups or family sailing. And don’t worry if you can’t sail – the resident Captain will do all you need, not interfere and share in the fun as needed. Bacchanal surrenders effortless lounging. Three families moved easily between quarters with off piste action totally available; kayaks, paddleboard, movie zone, acrobatic zone, playtime zone and privacy available anytime it is needed. Five kids under 9 had loads of space and fun to seek at anchor as did the five adults to lime, feed, relax. Of course, this is THE WAY of the catamaran. THIS ONE however I can say is THE one – a truly comfortable boat. BOOK HER!!!


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