A curious thing happens during the transition from life ashore to life afloat. Left behind but not forgotten are the creature comforts, the camaraderie of friends and family, an abundance of national news and the gray skies of winter in Pittsburgh. In the course of a single day, we are transformed into visitors in a foreign place, laboring in the heat and humidity of the tropics with the singular goal of preparing our home away from home for winter occupancy. While this may sound inviting, the sudden change in venue is quite challenging, both physically and mentally. The sheer volume of tasks to be completed during the next few days is formidable. We must work before we can play.
The boat yard at Grenada Marine is a nondescript industrial setting, as is the case with most boat yards. It is a hot, dusty and noisy place with giant machinery in constant motion. The workers taunt one another in their native Creole. The thoughts they are communicating are obviously hilarious as evidenced by the constant howling and laughter of co-workers. Blaring radios can be heard throughout the yard, broadcasting reggae Christmas music and advertisements for Kentucky Fried Chicken. At lunchtime, the workers engage in a spirited game of dominoes, banging their tiles loudly on the table amidst the angry protestations of their opponents. This place feels far from home. We are outsiders, peering into the lives of blue collar workers in a third world country.
At the end of the work day, a vehicle from the nearby resort La Sagesse Nature Center appears in the yard to transport us to a world that is geographically close but a world apart from Grenada Marine. This change in venue is yet another interesting study in contrasts. After a quick change into swimsuits, we hit the beach for a relaxing late afternoon dip in the therapeutic waters of La Sagesse Bay. Instantly, our body heat and apprehensions about whether Cutter Loose will be ready for Friday’s launch dissipate. After dinner, the sound of waves lapping on the beach lulls us to sleep. Tomorrow will bring another day of hard work in the yard. For now, however, relaxation reigns supreme.
With a fresh coat of bottom paint and a shiny polished hull, Cutter Loose is looking good from the ground up. After bending on her sails and installing the cockpit canvas, she gives the appearance of being ready for launch. However, before launch, the diesel mechanic, “Green”, must perform a final check of mechanical maintenance, including the installation of a new fresh water pump for the diesel generator. Green is very thorough. He talks to himself while performing his work. He remains on board Cutter Loose for most of the day and throughout the entire launch procedure. When the boat hits the water, he makes sure that the engine and generator are pumping water for cooling purposes. He also checks the drip rate of the new packing gland in the stuffing box that surrounds the propeller shaft.
It is now late on Friday afternoon and Green’s co-workers operating the Travelift are anxious to begin the weekend. Green makes an impassioned plea to his co-workers for patience as he makes a final adjustment to the stuffing box gland. We cannot depart the launch pad until Green declares that all systems are “go”. Finally, we are given the “Green” light to move Cutter Loose to her mooring for the night. We thank him profusely for his attention to detail. He smiles broadly and offers a concise one word response: “WHALE-COMB”.
Our final night at La Sagesse is a special occasion. Caribbean 1500 friends Neil and Shaun of s/v Escapade are guests at the resort tonight as well. Over dinner, the conversation covers the highlights of last year’s cruise down-island and the whereabouts of mutual sailing friends. All cruisers are anxious to compare notes on interesting things to see and do at island destinations that are not to be missed. Tonight is no exception. We look forward to crossing wakes with Escapade later this season.
This brings to an end our stay at La Sagesse and our time in the boat yard at Grenada Marine. Tomorrow, we will cast off our mooring line in St. David’s Harbor and travel a few miles west to La Phare Bleu Marina for final preparation of Cutter Loose for the winter sailing season.