La Phare Bleu Marina and Resort serves as a convenient and comfortable staging area to prepare Cutter Loose for the winter sailing season. By noon on Saturday, Staron the dockmaster has us tucked into a side-tie slip in the outer reaches of the marina. We introduce ourselves to our new neighbors, Steve and Donna aboard the Amel 53 Summer Love. Little did we know at the time what a godsend it was to stumble upon these folks as neighbors.
These early days of living aboard can be quite tedious and disconcerting. Stuff is scattered everywhere waiting for some project to be completed before items can be packed away in a storage bin. Frequently, there is some essential item that cannot be found, even with the help of the stowage plan. There is little sense of order in our living arrangement. At the end of the day, clearing space in the forward stateroom for sleeping purposes is considered a major victory. The cockpit, normally reserved as the shady go-to place to stretch out for rest and relaxation, now serves as a workshop for projects that are in various stages of completion. While there is a certain degree of organization to the process, anyone who places priority on tidiness and order would not be comfortable in this environment.
By far, the most annoying problem on board Cutter Loose involves the carbon monoxide detector, which is directly wired to the house batteries, i.e., there is no on/off switch. Its ear-piercing alarm has jolted us awake almost every night since we arrived at La Phare Bleu. Since there is no combustion taking place, we are convinced that there are no dangerous fumes aboard the boat. The unit is simply malfunctioning. Today’s priority is to disconnect the unit from its power source.
Docked at a marina with shore power and water also provides a refresher course for on-the-hook cruising. Having been away from this lifestyle for seven months, we are becoming re-accustomed to critical daily routines such as monitoring battery charge level, water supply, the accumulation of water in the bilge and listening to the 7 AM marine weather forecast from Chris Parker. These practices are far from our mindset while at home.
Since the larder aboard Cutter Loose is completely barren, we quickly become familiar with the staff at the marina restaurant. Excitement is building in anticipation of La Phare Bleu’s annual dinghy concert scheduled for Sunday afternoon. This year, the Canadian folk duo Madison Violet will perform. The makeshift floating stage is the aft deck of a vintage tugboat at anchor in the harbor. Cruisers gather around the stage in their dinghies for an enjoyable afternoon of music and entertainment. Here’s a link to a short video of the concert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeBgI8mUB1g
Prior to our arrival in Grenada, we engaged a local Rastafarian contractor by the name of Thaddeus to tape, sand and refinish the teak cap rail and bowsprit on Cutter Loose. This kind and gentle man is quite talented with sandpaper and a brush. He begins early on Monday morning and works diligently from 8 AM to 4 PM each day until he finishes the project late on Friday afternoon. Through his stories about growing up in Grenada, we come to know more about his family and the history of this island. Thaddeus is a perfectionist. At the end of the work week, the glossy finish on the teak reflects the bright sunlight as if it were a mirror.
While Thaddeus works diligently on deck, we are kept busy discovering and diagnosing things that don’t work anymore. The depth sounder doesn’t sound. The freezer doesn’t freeze. The outboard motor doesn’t start. The VHF radio seems to have very limited range. The dinghy will not remain inflated. It seems that for every problem solved, there are two new problems discovered. Yes indeed, the gremlins were quite busy on Cutter Loose during our seven month absence. Thankfully, the marine service industry in Grenada is expansive and willing to help us diagnose and solve these annoying problems.
There is a virtual parade of problem solvers aboard Cutter Loose this week. First, there is Mike the outboard repairman followed by Stuart the refrigeration expert followed by Simon the electronics expert followed by Neils the dinghy repairman. Between visitors, we focus on organizing the cabin, storing the contents of our shipping barrels and re-commissioning the watermaker. Our primary responsibility is to stay out of Thaddeus’ way so that he can move freely about on deck. Naturally, no polishing or waxing on deck is permitted while Thaddeus is refinishing the teak.
Our neighbors Steve and Donna have spent the past five winters living aboard their boat on the south coast of Grenada. They seem to know just about everyone and everything about Grenada. They own a car that they keep here at the marina. Donna and Pat are off in the car almost every day, returning with supplies and groceries to stock the galley. On each trip, Pat becomes familiar with the shops and is introduced to many friendly people, both locals and cruisers alike. Steve and Donna’s overflowing generosity has helped us enormously in assimilating to life afloat here in Grenada. This is a way of life within the cruising community.
On Thursday, Pat and Donna attend a cooking class presented by Esther and Omega, the chefs at True Blue Resort. The entree is fish bakes, a local concoction of diced fish sauteed with onions and green peppers served alongside a fried biscuit. While we may not be seeing any fish bakes on the menu aboard Cutter Loose anytime soon, it was an opportunity for Pat to mingle with locals and other cruisers.
One of the many things we have learned from Steve and Donna is all about sorrel, a seasonal non-alcoholic beverage made from sorrel flowers with hints of clove and cinnamon. This refreshing beverage is sold primarily by roadside vendors and at small convenience stores. It is a tasty Christmas tradition here in Grenada.
After a hard day’s work, our reward is a relaxing swim in the marina pool. The most welcome part of each day is when the sun drops low in the sky and the heat of the day dissipates. The so-called Christmas winds have been blowing here in Grenada. The 25 knot easterly breeze ventilates the cabin and eliminates the need to run the air conditioner on Cutter Loose. In the middle of the night, we reach for a sheet to provide cover from the breeze. Sometimes, a rain squall in the wee small hours of the morning will send us scurrying to close the hatches and ports. After all, this is the tropics.
Wednesday night features live music at La Phare Bleu. Tonight’s entertainment features both Madison Violet as well as The Wizards, a local steel drum band. The meal at the resort’s restaurant is called the friendship table. Locals and cruisers alike gather together at long tables and partake of a meal served family style. Tonight the restaurant is packed in anticipation of the performance. After the show, we pose for photos with Canadians Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac of Madison Violet.
During our stay at La Phare Bleu, we enjoy the company of Richard and Jan aboard IP 370, Morpheus of London. We first met this British couple in the Virgin Islands one year ago, almost to the day. We hope that our paths will cross again before they sail west to the ABC islands, then on to Panama.
The standard polishing and waxing must wait until Thaddeus has refinished the teak. Until then, we will manage the flow of marine contractors and work on projects in the cabin. Cutter Loose will remain at La Phare Bleu Marina for another week in order to complete our projects and enjoy this attractive setting.