Rogues in Paradise Author, Ian R. Clayton, recalls his Grenada Vintage Memories.

Early in my career in Tourism, I embarked on an adventure to hitchhike through the islands of the Caribbean. We planned a trip that would go with the wind—no fixed timetable or destination. We would sail on mailboats, private yachts, and the vintage wooden trading schooners. We hitched rides and slept on beaches or any free accommodation: Fishing for food and eating coconuts and fruit.

People were kind, we ate well, and we often had a bed and shelter. But to be frank, ruffing it was part of the joy. Our most memorable moments were not of comfort but living off the land, sheltering under an overturned boat in the pouring rain.

This was in the sixties and wooden schooners still traded between Caribbean islands. It was not a plan, just an idea. The only fixed points were the start and the first destination.

In Trinidad & Tobago (T&T), we boarded an authentic trading schooner bound for Grenada.

The old ship sailed out into the sea, heading for Spice Island, Grenada. It was a trading boat carrying a T&T cargo to exchange for Grenada’s spices. The weather was not great, and the rain fell heavily as the ship rode the waves. Rain-flies were everywhere.


Grenada Vintage Memories of the caribbean trading schooner

“Do you know what rain flies are?” asked David, my hitchhike partner. He did not wait for an answer, and there was some distress in his voice. “They are termites,” he said. “They come out of their burrows in the wood when it rains.”

Termites burry into the wood, making it fragile and compromised. This was not good news, and I wondered if we should abandon the adventure. Termites Terminate. It was not a good sign that we set off on a termin-ated boat. The ship will fall apart and sink, I thought.


The captain was surprisingly calm. Perhaps he does not know that termites were eating his ship. “You know these rain flies are termites,” David told him. “Yes” said the captain, “but no need to worry the frame is sound, and she is solid.” You don’t sail a frame; it’s the hull that slides and cuts through the ocean. The frame is like a ribcage that supports the hull, and it was a mesh of termite timber. He may not know it, but we were sailing on a sieve.

David hit the hull with a flat palm. “Sounds solid,” he said, and everyone laughed.

We arrived safe and have many memories and intriguing insights to share.

Stay tuned for more…


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Ian is the author of Rogues in Paradise, the true story of Barbados Characters: Rogues, heroes, and knights, set in the island paradise. The story is a personal narrative of Barbados’ people, place, time, and history told through remarkable fun-loving people’s unique voices and experiences.

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