After a little over of six months in Hamilton, Canada, we at last set foot on Maurice Bishop Airport, St George's, Grenada; and was welcomed by the caress of the warm and humid evening air, as well as our driver Richard. It felt really good to be back to our routine of living somewhat isolated from the world if need be, minding our own business with the sea and the wind.
But first Ruyam II had to be prepared as a home, to be scrubbed inside and out, fitted with the various gears and dropped on to the sea, so to speak. In a nutshell, a lot of work for the two of us and hords of people besides.
We settled for three nights at La Sagesse Resort at the next bay to Grenada Marine, and waited for the morning. At 7:00 am we were up and ready after a short breakfast, to be transported to Ruyam II. Mike, the owner of La Sagesse, understood our being anxious to see our boat, so arranged Rachel to drive us without delay. We had our luggage (three enormous collapsible bags full of essentials for Ruyam II, such as a a new cover for the captain's seat, mesh curtains for the cockpit, four mattress covers to be filled by thicker foam from Grenada, all made by yours truly. We had six months worth of toiletries and a few clothing items for ourselves, most of our belongings being already there.
With all the excitement, we left Al's briefcase in the car, hence felt like idiots in front of the companion way without the keys. Oh well, Grenada Marine had our spare, as well, Rachel turned around and brought the briefcase almost at the same time as the marina security guy brought the spare key. We must be getting old!
After we gained access, it was gratifying to find Ruyam II without any mold (except on the ceiling of the second head, which had a leaky hatch), despite the fact that the plastic covers we had tied over all the hatches having completely disintigrated. The mistake was using the garbage bags we had bought in Martinique, which were apparently bio-degradable. Maybe this year we will find a different solution, or not bother at all. Inside was quite clean, my efforts of cleanup before leaving had paid off it seems.
On the other hand, the amount of work is quite overwhelming at first, because of the relentless sun, without the bimini over the cockpit, and no sea breeze. This year our old bimini was discarded, and a new one was ordered from Turbulence sail makers, stationed at the marina.
Last year, while closing the boat, we had talked with the fibre-glass manufacturers at the marina about a hard-top, since I had set my heart on it. When we first asked around the marina managers, Jason (the boss) thought that it would not be less than US $10,000, since the metal supports would definitely would have to be changed (without taking a look at them). However the actual guy who was to make it mentioned that the frame was fine, and the fibre-glass top should not cost more than $5,000, which seemed reasonable. So we asked the guy to email us the actual quote later on, and almost decided to have it done. In the meantime, Al spoke with Martin from Turbulence as well, and got a quote, including a new sailbag. Martin was to use the existing bimini as the pattern if need be. However, I was encouraged by the initial estimate, and the assurances of the metal guy, attesting to the sturdiness of our existing frame.
In the end however, something happened between the estimate and the quote, and the price of the fibre-glass alone was boosted to ten thousand, even without the frame. It appears that the guys are satisfied with their existing customers, and do not need our business. So be it!
Martin got an e mail from Al in the middle of summer to go ahead and cut the sunbrella, we had enough of the hard top story. We had no idea how it was going to turn out, so it was a pleasent surprise to see such a professional job. Moreover, Martin was extremely accommodating; we asked him to add some D-rings to the finished product after marking the places of the hooks I had made on the curtain, and he did not mind (well he did not show any negative feelings) installing the bimini twice, as well as doing some extra work, without charging an arm and a leg. Above all, he is such a charming person, so soft spoken and gentle that, it was a pleasure to deal with him. Our sail bag also is quite kick-ass. Every thing looks very good from outside.
While Martin was dealing with the bimini, it was our job to buy the foam for the mattresses. We had been to the establishment called Best Rest, where mattresses could be ordered to measure, but I did not like their fabrics or sewing style when we looked at them last year, hence the decision about making the covers at home. I had taken one of the existing covers home, and made them to contain double the thickness of foam to give us some more comfort.
After puttering around for a couple of hours on the first day, we decided to give the mattress guy a visit, and call it a day. It takes quite a while and effort to get there from St David's, and we were beat from the heat.
When we sat at the office, the owner of Best Rest Mr. Fakhri gave us such an exhorbitant price for the 7 inch foam, so that we decided to keep the existing foam, and buy 3 inch thick foam to add on. It worked very well, and filled the covers very nicely. To tell the truth, we did not know what to do with the old foam, which seemed fine anyway. It was a bit thin, that's all. For some reason unfathomable by us, the guy was very happy to sell the 3 inch foam, but could not part with his 6 inch, since he charged triple for the latter. He also tried to sell us ready made mattresses with the thickness we wanted (double the width) for the same price as the foam. Go figure! His explanation; he was not in the foam business, but mattress business, and he would charge more for just foam. Does not make any sense, but hey, they do not seem to understand how business works, and make up their own rules along the way. It is amazing that they make any money to stay afloat. Anyway, it helped us at the time of need, and made our beds quite comfortable.
We arranged the pick up for the next morning, called our driver Richard, and planned some heavy duty shopping from CK for bulk stuff, like canned vegetables (mainly tomato which is not readily available in Martinique) and booze etc at the same time. All in all, the next day was also occupied with shopping and wandering around in the town. In the meantime, people started working under the boat for painting, which meant that I could not do any washing on the decks. It was frustrating, since outside the boat was filthy, and getting even worse with the constant traffic of riggers and mechanics. We concentrated on the inside, but did not accomplish much.
Al had reserved time for launch on Wednesday, and the boatyard honored it, although the rigging work had not been completed. As a result, we had to spend two nights tied to the concrete dock. Bad decision! Tide and swells made the shallow waters so rolly that the multiple lines to the dock created constant jerking in different directions and a lot of noise. At the same time, due to a full moon, there was such a strong tide, that we had to adjust the fenders several times a day. Once we were late to check, and reminded by a bang. In the low tide, all the fenders were completely submerged and left the starboard side in the mercy of the concrete dock! The gel-coat at one corner under the rubber band over the steps was damaged, along with some scratches at the side further along. It was unfortunate, but not a major problem, easily fixable with some putty. However, this was the first time that we had a mishap which could and should be avoided. I hope this will be the last of it.
Other than that, we endured the two sleepless nights, and escaped to a mooring ball for the third, right after all the work, including washing the decks with shore water was completed. While we were docked, all the passers by and the riggers praised our patience.
Saturday morning, around 9:00 am we set the main sail and started for Bellmont, St George's. Unfortunately wind was less than 10 knots, so we had to keep the engines running. We had never seen the seas as calm before at that stretch. So it was a pleasent ride, even around the Saline Point, where the two opposing currents meet and generally turn that area to a washing machine, it was almost quiet. We motor-sailed all the way and anchored at our usual place.
During the next few days we completed shopping, obtained a short cruising permit and got ready for the passage to Martinique. In the meantime we saw and hugged all our acquaintances. The forecast is mild winds for the week ahead. We shall see.