After more than three months in St Anne, Martinique, it was time to return to Grenada. We had bought our plane tickets back to Toronto for the end of April, and wanted to spend some time in St George's bay before that. We said good-bye to our friends Guylaine and Levent on the afternoon of March 14th, weighed anchor at Le Marin early in the next morning, and set sail towards Rodney Bay, St Lucia. It was a short and pleasent sail, going south is never a problem around these waters. The current seems to be favorable most of the time, the wind almost always.
We had not cleaned Ruyam II with feesh water for so long, that I wished to spend some time at the Rodney Bay marina, which had been cheaper than most we had seen so far. Last time we were there (early December), they had incredibly low rates, due to a promotion.
We reached the bay around noon, and went into the channel without delay. I called on VHF and the guy told us to proceed to a spot at the dock. When we got there, I looked and looked to no avail, there was nobody in sight to give us a hand.
Thankfully it was a very calm day, and Al was able to slowly slide by the finger dock, onto which I jumped down with the front line. This was the first time that I did such a thing, always having had people on the docks to receive the lines. Anyway, I jumped and tied Ruyam II, before she hit the dock. It was good that I did not know in advance what I had to do, otherwise I would have got scared and maybe botch the affair. When our friends Buket and Ender of Istanbul yacht told us about their similar experiences in the marinas around Europe, we were quite surprised. Live and learn. However, I was not impressed with the IGY employees. Are they trying to change the culture around here.
Although we had stayed at this marina twice before, we had never explored the vicinity by boat. We had walked around and even taken a bus to Castries (capital city) at those times, but had neither seen the extent of the lagoon, nor the bay outside.
First mission was to get to the small village around the south end of the lagoon, which had a big shopping centre and American style grocery stores, one of them being Canadian IGA, as shown by Doyle in a detailed map. So we started in the general direction by dinghy, and surely saw the top of the shopping centre, and a small dinghy dock at the corner, almost obscured by the private docks of the villas/apartment complexes sorrounding the lagoon.
The dinghy dock was manned by an islander, who promised to take care of our dinghy (for a small fee of course), and helped us out. The dock was tied to an alley beside a restaurant, which lead to the European style village with many shops and restaurants. It seems that all the establishments there were catering to the inhabitants of the million dollar villas in the area. I saw an advertisement for a one bedroom apartment for sale, for over three hundred thousand US dollars. Thanks to them, it is possible to buy stale peppers, grapes and apples, as well as angus beef for exhorbitant prices at those grocery stores. We made a turn at the store and bought a few items. Unfortunately, nobody seems to go for the local produce or meats, which are available at the open market in Castries for a fraction of the prices, but an hour away by bus. This time we decided to buy from the neighbourhood, and did not venture there.
Same day, we also dealt with laundry and filling our propane gas bottles. There is one lady in the marina working for a company called Suds, which provides the service for both. As far as convenience goes, her services are good; same day pick up and delivery at the boat, but they do not come cheap. She charged more than Yvonne at Le Marin, Martinique. We paid 40 dollars for laundry and as much for two bottles of gas. We had not seen such prices in our three seasons around the Caribbean. Oh well, we know now where to avoid for the necessities of life. (Doyle thinks Rodney Bay is the place for any kind of work done on the boat. I beg to differ.)
I should make one correction however; on our way back from Dominica, we realized that a portion of the UV protection piece on our genoa was ripped, which had to be repaired before we could use it on the trip back to Grenada. The sail maker Ken at the marina was praised by Doyle, so we asked him to take a look. He came and after seeing that it was a small job, reluctantly agreed to sew a new piece, saying something about the next morning. We had to ask him several times for an estimated price, which came out vague; one or two ours of labour plus materials. He charges US $45.00 per hour. Al thought that he was probably going to charge around US$150.00, and got prepared for it.
We waited around on the next day for him to show up. When in the afternoon Al went in to check, Ken scolded him for not bringing the sail early in the morning to start the work. He argued that he would not be able to return the sail the next day. It meant staying one more day at the marina, but no matter, we were determined to make the most of it, and had a lot to do. Apparently he expected us to bring down the sail and deliver it ourselves. Taking down the genoa is not that hard, so we managed to make a neat bundle, but delivering it was the problem. Our part of the marina had only one trolley when we asked for it. The guard told us to go to the section for mega yachts, and get one from there. Getting the trolley was our morning exercise. We never appreciated Port Louis marina in St George's until now, which Al finds pretentious, but they provide excellent service!
The next day, we donned our swimming suits and headed outside to the bay as our second mission. Doyle was talking about a yact club somewhere on the beach, and I wanted to check it out. We had seen several resorts side by side at the south side, with no place even to land our dinghy. It was interesting to note that the club was tucked in among the resorts, without having access from the sea! No dinghy dock or a piece of beach to land the dinghy, since the sea was roped out for the swimmers. So after making a tour by dinghy, we headed to the north side, and saw a dinghy dock at a complex called Landings. While tying there, we asked if we could have a bite to eat, and the guard welcomed us. The dinghy dock was next to the beach, from where the restaurant was accessed through a small seating area, like a beach bar in front of the secluded restaurant. We sat there for a while until lunch time, went in the water, which seemed clean but full of weeds; we enjoyed the sun without attracting any attention from the servers, who were busy with the breakfast crowd.
It appeared that this place was an apartment complex rather than a resort, possibly a time share, which could be the reason for welcoming outsiders.
When lunch time came, a server strolled by and gave us menus. The clientele seems to be from US, prices in US dollars and US standards. Al had not brought his credit card, just some EC dollars, and it would not be enough to eat there for both of us. So we returned the menus and promised to come back some other time. Not likely, it is not worth paying money for bad food and bad service.
Last day before taking off, we did a lot of cleaning up, filled our water tanks. It appears that I used a lot of water, and it turned out that Rodney bay was selling their water like gold. We had not seen such an exhorbitant amount added to our bill. Al mentioned that the lady who calculated our bill remarked about our water usage. It seems that she made a mistake in her calculation, there was no way we could have used that much, but he did not argue and paid the bill. The last time we passed by the marina we were offered a reduced price due to a promotion, but when the time came to pay the bill, Al was charged the full price and some by the same lady. Beware! Unfortunately Al hates making a scene.