Our return to Le Phare Bleu Marina signals the commencement of our transition to life afloat. The purpose of our stay here at this boutique resort is to prepare Cutter Loose for the long voyage ahead. As such, it is a period of intense work…the price to be paid for the pleasures of cruising that lie ahead.
The process of re-commissioning the boat for the winter sailing season involves a thorough cleaning from stem to stern. This creates a highly chaotic environment during the first few days of our stay. At times, it looks as if an explosion occurred in the cabin.
Every piece of stainless steel deck hardware must be polished to resist corrosion. Below decks, all supplies, parts and clothing are removed from storage bins and lockers. After a thorough cleaning of storage lockers, supplies are inventoried and returned to their designated space. To make matters even more challenging, the contents of our shipping barrels must be moved aboard, inventoried and stowed. The ship’s official stowage plan is updated during this process so that stores can be found quickly when they are needed.
Talk to any sailor in this neck of the woods and you will quickly learn that boat repairs are a challenging fact of life. It is a well-documented fact that alien gremlins take up residence on boats during periods of extended storage. This is especially true in the tropics where extreme heat and humidity create an environment that is conducive to gremlin propagation. The favorite pastime of this invasive species is to attack and disable electronic devices and other complicated boat systems.
Consequently, every system and device on board must be tested thoroughly. Here at the marina, there is convenient access to parts and marine specialists. If problems exist, it is far better to recognize, diagnose and solve them before taking Cutter Loose to sea. However, this is much easier said than done. Problems are not always apparent and marine services are not always available precisely when they are needed, especially at this busy time of year.
During the past week, a defective masthead light and an inoperable fresh water pump have been replaced. The outboard motor for the dinghy is in the repair shop. For days on end, we have been patiently awaiting the arrival of the local Spectra dealer to solve a water maker problem that is beyond our capabilities. On balance, the list of repairs aboard Cutter Loose is manageable. The real test will occur when we set sail up-island.
Ever so gradually, the boat becomes more orderly and livable. She is looking quite spiffy at dockside with her freshly waxed hull and recently polished stainless steel deck hardware.
Each day, the reward for hard work is a 5 PM visit to the pool. Within minutes, the cool water dissipates the 85 degree heat of the afternoon. The sun fades behind the hills surrounding the marina, casting deep shadows on the beach. This is the best time of the day. The evening temperature here is quite comfortable.
There are other forms of escape during the re-commissioning process. Shademan, the cruiser’s preferred taxi driver, provides much needed shopping trips to St. George’s in his van. This helps to restock an empty galley aboard Cutter Loose. On the return trip, a stop at the Jamaican Jerk Chicken roadside stand eliminates the need to prepare dinner.
The owner of Le Phare Bleu (a musician himself) is a Swiss gentleman by the name of Dieter. He possesses a strong sense of attention to detail and a profound interest in music. His goal is to showcase Grenadian talent. Each weekend, there is a musical performance at Le Phare Bleu which attracts a sizeable audience comprised of cruisers and locals alike.
Being here at Le Phare Bleu marina also provides an opportunity to connect with other cruisers. Meet Ray from Portsmouth, England. He is an avid dinghy sailor and jovial chap who resides part time at his Le Phare Bleu condo. Our commonality with Ray is the fact that we both own Island Packet 460s. Actually, Ray owns not just one, but two IP 460s. He maintains one boat here at Le Phare Bleu and the other in England. Considering the fact that a total of only twelve 460s have been built by Island Packet Yachts since 2009, it is quite astonishing that a full 25% of the entire fleet is represented by owners currently in residence at this tiny resort on the south coast of Grenada.
Other creature comforts here at Le Phare Bleu are more subtle. After seven months of living ashore, being surrounded by palm trees and the aquamarine waters of the Eastern Caribbean is a welcome change in scenery. There is nothing quite as comforting as being rocked asleep by the gentle motion of the boat.
In the marina, there are several solo males working tirelessly on their boats in anticipation of the arrival of their spouse or significant other. The re-commissioning process can be tedious and frustrating at times, dealing with things that don’t work anymore and working deliberately to prepare one’s vessel for an extended period of life afloat. I dare say, it is not an easy task. I am blessed to have a spouse who is a full partner in the process of readying Cutter Loose for the voyage ahead.
Our despair turns to jubilation on the afternoon of Tuesday, December 16th when Mike from Palm Tree Marine arrives with parts to rebuild the pressure switches on our water maker. In less than an hour, the water maker springs to life. After twelve days docked at Le Phare Bleu Marina, we are ready for life on the hook.
Let the winter cruise begin!