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#1 Jan 09, 2020 4:44 pm

New Historian
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I love Carriacou

Carriacou is the most southernmost of the Grenadines islands, a crescent-shaped island about five miles at its widest. It was called 'Land of Reefs' by its original Carib inhabitants. Considered too small to look after itself, Carriacou is administered by Grenada, the ‘big island’ to the south. With infertile soil, no rivers and little rainfall, most of its seven thousand-odd inhabitants make their living from the sea. Having been ignored by the rest of the world for centuries, Carriacouans, or Kayaks, have developed a healthy disregard for big islanders, and their petty rules. Especially rules pertaining to Customs and Excise. Kayaks hold it as their sacred duty never to pay one cent of tax revenue to the government; the original freebooters. They get little or nothing from the government, so why should they give anything back?

Carriacou is a self-declared free port, and boats come from miles around to stock up on duty-free supplies. It’s amazing what you can buy in Carriacou. The most humble-looking storefront in Tyrell Bay will be packed with Italian shoes, Cuban cigars, Seiko watches; and if you want something bigger, like a refrigerator of a satellite dish, let’s go round the back and talk. 

So, although government statistics list the main occupation on Carriacou as fishing, that is only half the story. The islanders' real genius lies in what they call simply 'trading', or what normal people might call 'smuggling'. Not drugs, I hasten to add, but the ‘good old kind' of smuggling: cigarettes, whisky, electronic goods, car parts, anything and everything of value. You can see the distinctive gaff-rigged Grenadines workboats as far away as Margarita and St Maarten, loading up some expensive cargoes, which they haul back to Carriacou in the dead of night. Governments in the Caribbean charge anywhere up to 100% duty on imported 'luxury goods' (i.e. essentials), so the Carriacou traders have a ready-made market of hungry buyers all around them.

Needless to say, the Customs authorities in Grenada take a dim view of all this freebooting, and every now and then will launch a blitz on Carriacou, when some people have to lay low for a while. When the Grenada government tried to build a Customs base on Petit Martinique, there was a howl of protest about meddling in local affairs, infringement of sovereignty, ‘big-brotherism’, etc, and the plan had to be abandoned. Late one night, we saw a 40-foot pirogue heading out to sea, loaded to the gunwhales with cases marked Johnny Walker and Sony with two huge Johnson outboards burbling at the back. 'Where you goin'?'  'Fishin'!' comes the rough reply.

Last edited by New Historian (Jan 09, 2020 8:37 pm)

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#2 Jan 10, 2020 2:13 am

Calypso
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Re: I love Carriacou

New Historian wrote:

Carriacou is the most southernmost of the Grenadines islands, a crescent-shaped island about five miles at its widest. It was called 'Land of Reefs' by its original Carib inhabitants. Considered too small to look after itself, Carriacou is administered by Grenada, the ‘big island’ to the south. With infertile soil, no rivers and little rainfall, most of its seven thousand-odd inhabitants make their living from the sea. Having been ignored by the rest of the world for centuries, Carriacouans, or Kayaks, have developed a healthy disregard for big islanders, and their petty rules. Especially rules pertaining to Customs and Excise. Kayaks hold it as their sacred duty never to pay one cent of tax revenue to the government; the original freebooters. They get little or nothing from the government, so why should they give anything back?

Carriacou is a self-declared free port, and boats come from miles around to stock up on duty-free supplies. It’s amazing what you can buy in Carriacou. The most humble-looking storefront in Tyrell Bay will be packed with Italian shoes, Cuban cigars, Seiko watches; and if you want something bigger, like a refrigerator of a satellite dish, let’s go round the back and talk. 

So, although government statistics list the main occupation on Carriacou as fishing, that is only half the story. The islanders' real genius lies in what they call simply 'trading', or what normal people might call 'smuggling'. Not drugs, I hasten to add, but the ‘good old kind' of smuggling: cigarettes, whisky, electronic goods, car parts, anything and everything of value. You can see the distinctive gaff-rigged Grenadines workboats as far away as Margarita and St Maarten, loading up some expensive cargoes, which they haul back to Carriacou in the dead of night. Governments in the Caribbean charge anywhere up to 100% duty on imported 'luxury goods' (i.e. essentials), so the Carriacou traders have a ready-made market of hungry buyers all around them.

Needless to say, the Customs authorities in Grenada take a dim view of all this freebooting, and every now and then will launch a blitz on Carriacou, when some people have to lay low for a while. When the Grenada government tried to build a Customs base on Petit Martinique, there was a howl of protest about meddling in local affairs, infringement of sovereignty, ‘big-brotherism’, etc, and the plan had to be abandoned. Late one night, we saw a 40-foot pirogue heading out to sea, loaded to the gunwhales with cases marked Johnny Walker and Sony with two huge Johnson outboards burbling at the back. 'Where you goin'?'  'Fishin'!' comes the rough reply.

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#3 Jan 10, 2020 2:15 am

Calypso
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Re: I love Carriacou

Calypso wrote:
New Historian wrote:

Carriacou is the most southernmost of the Grenadines islands, a crescent-shaped island about five miles at its widest. It was called 'Land of Reefs' by its original Carib inhabitants. Considered too small to look after itself, Carriacou is administered by Grenada, the ‘big island’ to the south. With infertile soil, no rivers and little rainfall, most of its seven thousand-odd inhabitants make their living from the sea. Having been ignored by the rest of the world for centuries, Carriacouans, or Kayaks, have developed a healthy disregard for big islanders, and their petty rules. Especially rules pertaining to Customs and Excise. Kayaks hold it as their sacred duty never to pay one cent of tax revenue to the government; the original freebooters. They get little or nothing from the government, so why should they give anything back?

Carriacou is a self-declared free port, and boats come from miles around to stock up on duty-free supplies. It’s amazing what you can buy in Carriacou. The most humble-looking storefront in Tyrell Bay will be packed with Italian shoes, Cuban cigars, Seiko watches; and if you want something bigger, like a refrigerator of a satellite dish, let’s go round the back and talk. 

So, although government statistics list the main occupation on Carriacou as fishing, that is only half the story. The islanders' real genius lies in what they call simply 'trading', or what normal people might call 'smuggling'. Not drugs, I hasten to add, but the ‘good old kind' of smuggling: cigarettes, whisky, electronic goods, car parts, anything and everything of value. You can see the distinctive gaff-rigged Grenadines workboats as far away as Margarita and St Maarten, loading up some expensive cargoes, which they haul back to Carriacou in the dead of night. Governments in the Caribbean charge anywhere up to 100% duty on imported 'luxury goods' (i.e. essentials), so the Carriacou traders have a ready-made market of hungry buyers all around them.

Needless to say, the Customs authorities in Grenada take a dim view of all this freebooting, and every now and then will launch a blitz on Carriacou, when some people have to lay low for a while. When the Grenada government tried to build a Customs base on Petit Martinique, there was a howl of protest about meddling in local affairs, infringement of sovereignty, ‘big-brotherism’, etc, and the plan had to be abandoned. Late one night, we saw a 40-foot pirogue heading out to sea, loaded to the gunwhales with cases marked Johnny Walker and Sony with two huge Johnson outboards burbling at the back. 'Where you goin'?'  'Fishin'!' comes the rough reply.

jjThanks for the information.




I would like to spend one of my summers there. If the island is a laid-back as Margarita. I would like it.
I would like to do this before I retire. I regretted not vising when I was in Grenada.

Last edited by Calypso (Jan 10, 2020 2:18 am)

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#4 Jan 10, 2020 8:12 am

Slice
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Re: I love Carriacou

Am with you. For some stupid reason I have not been there.  Plans was made, but the morning we were suppose to depart, Flow decided to show up.

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#5 Jan 10, 2020 10:45 am

New Historian
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Re: I love Carriacou

Another thing I like about Kayakou is its international flavour, because yachties, permanent or temporary, make up a sizable percentage of the population. There's pizza joints, restaurants, and the Alexis boys' supermarket in Tyrell Bay, you can get anything, from anywhere! Italian guitarist and opera singer barracuda has a funky little bar on the beach, which will rock all night if the spirit(s) move him!

Last edited by New Historian (Jan 10, 2020 11:03 am)

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#6 Jan 10, 2020 1:05 pm

Real Distwalker
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Re: I love Carriacou

During Urgent Fury a helicopter pilot and I flew two Jamaican military policemen to Carricou.  We waited for a couple hours to fly others back but they never showed.  By this time it was dark and foggy.  He and I started to fly back when we had electrical problems with the aircraft losing radio and gyroscopic compass.  We thought we would see the lights of Grenada but none appeared.  We kept flying but the island never appeared.  It turned out there was an island wide blackout that was pretty common in the days and weeks after the invasion.

We calculated how far we went and should have seen the island but the fog was thick and we were groping around pretty slowly so we didn't crash into it.  It was getting pretty scary and the pilot started going over ditching procedures.  I was scared as hell because nobody really knew where we were and I definitely didn't want to be in the sea, in the fog, in the dark in an unknown location.

Suddenly off in the distance we saw a flare go up.  It was Barbadian MPs in Sauteurs. They had heard the helicopter and fired the flare.  As we got closer we could see that they had truck and jeep headlights on the landing zone.  We landed and they told us they signaled us because they thought we might have mail for them.

The pilot stayed in the military and served in every American conflict since... Panama, Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan.  He finished up his career in 2010 in the storied Delta Force.   I attended his retirement ceremony and he told the story of the flight back from Carricou and said, even though it didn't involve enemy action, it was one the scariest things he experienced in the military.  He knew that if we ditched, there was little chance we would have ever been found.

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#7 Jan 10, 2020 2:02 pm

New Historian
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Re: I love Carriacou

Great story, so you saw "mortal danger" then! I guess you would've stayed the night in Sauteurs?

A few years ago a helicopter got into technical difficulty and did an emergency landing in, of all places, Petite Martinique! The only single flat spot on the island!

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10150558902988905

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#8 Jan 10, 2020 2:04 pm

Real Distwalker
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Re: I love Carriacou

We got the electrical working on the bird and, later that night, we flew back to Pt. Salines.

The Barbadian MP's contacted our base after we landed and let them know our whereabouts.

Last edited by Real Distwalker (Jan 10, 2020 2:12 pm)

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#9 Jan 10, 2020 10:37 pm

Expat
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Re: I love Carriacou

A sphincter tightener for sure.

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