Friday, December 17, 2010

Grenada Marine Boat Yard: A Painful Experience

Our return to Grenada on December 5th 2010 wasn’t in the least bit fun or comfortable. Not only were we extremely sad to return without Darwin, but the plane arrived with a delay and Mark and I were the last ones off and, consequently, through immigration. Luckily, our cab driver Mandoo was still around and brought us back to Irie at Grenada Marine boat yard in St. David’s. His friendliness and courtesy are always appreciated and fit the welcoming and kind attitude of most Grenadians. It was past 11pm by then and we had to cross a soggy swamp before we could board our boat with eight pieces of luggage. By the time our cockpit was cleared of dangerous lines, a loose solar panel and a friend’s outboard engine, the next day had started.

Life in a boat yard is never fun, but most of the time we manage and try to get used to the sweat on our faces and bodies, the heaps of mosquitoes, the dirt and grime, the manual labor and the busy schedule. It’s a part of boat ownership. Grenada Marine proved to be more challenging than any of the other handful of boat yards we have stayed before, however. Our friends from SV Imagine had noticed that Irie was surrounded by water and had basically been put in “a swamp with lots of frogs and mosquitoes”. Upon hearing this, we asked the yard manager to move Irie to higher and drier ground, so we could work in relative comfort for a week. Obviously, that request had been denied or never got through…

Instead, our bare feet were exposed to water and chemicals the whole time, we dragged and kicked up mud everywhere we went, the power supply was inefficient and unreliable (no air conditioning for us, let alone decent use of power tools) and the water pressure was VERY sporadic, especially when needed most. After a long day of heavy, dirty and sweaty labor, Mark and I would walk to the showers for a serious clean-up, only to find a trickle of (cold) water emerging from the shower heads and full toilet bowls with no water to flush them. The psychological pain of loosing Darwin was soon augmented by physical pain from having to squat many times a day (the wet ground did not allow us to sit or kneel in hard to reach places) and strained muscles.

Mark and I pushed through, worked around the rainstorms and managed to complete a lot of projects while on the hard. We meticulously prepped Irie’s bottom – scraping hundreds of calcium deposits (we removed the barnacles before we left in September), sanding the two hulls, washing everything down and taping the borders – before we applied a barrier coat in the worst places and painted the area 2.5 times. Mark did the same with our sail drives and we managed to fix some dinghy leaks and install a new cooling system for the fridge. That required a newly drilled hole under the waterline, a scary but successful endeavor.

After a little over a week, we needed to pay our bill. All the employees and workers in the boat yard are very friendly, but we counted on the unprofessionalism of the office staff to miscalculate the bill in our advantage. That would have made up for some of our “suffering”. The bill did come back with an error in every department. In our disadvantage, of course. It took another half an hour to set a few things straight, while Irie was hanging in the travel lift. Then, we chased the remaining frogs away, took a few fat mosquitoes with us and sailed away from St. David’s Harbour with a new looking Irie. Under the waterline anyway…

No comments: