Sunday, January 11, 2015


As soon as we anchored in St Anne, we had realized that the UV protector on our genoa had some rips again, and the whole thing should be replaced. Le Marin has a two marinas and a boat yard, and as many chandleries while half its population is somehow employed in the support industries; but the myth is they work for European remuneration standards. We had never before been in a position to get work done  there. The parts an materials for the boats are the same price as American, but in Euroes, that is at least 30% more expensive for us Canadians.

Long story short, we decided to ask around for the work to be done, and also check with Martin at Grenada Marine to decide. The only price we knew was the patchwork we had got done in Rodney Bay marina in St Lucia last year. We had paid about $60.- Canadian for less than 2 meters long of a patch. On the other hand, we needed our genoa for sailing, even to St Lucia; so bite the bullet and see what they had! We checked our French For Sailors guide to learn the terminology in French, and armed ourselves for the ardous task of communication.

First we went to a sailmaker accross the street from the main marina and the chandlery (Caraibe Marine) in Le Marin. The owner/operator speculated that the two edges of our genoa to be covered would be around 18 meters, and he would charge 37.- Euros per meter. A rough calculation was $1,000.- Canadian. Hmm.

Next step, we discussed the issue with our friend Levent (who is also the main advisor - muhtar of Martinique). He mentioned a big sailmaker outfit close to the boatyard in Carenage, and the other big chandleries, further down in the town. Levent indicated that our friend from last year, Selcuk had used that outfit, and was impressed. Levent  gave us directions to get there.

We started according to the directions, but got as far as the boatyard, and a little beyond, where there were several strip malls gathered together, but not the big building he had talked about. So we returned to the boatyard, and asked about the sailmaker. The attendant showed us the one operating there. We talked to the nice guy (Michel) working at Voile Assistance (who spoke some English), and gave the price as 30.- Euros per meter, and he was going to use blue Sunbrella (better than dacron according to the blogs on the web). Wow, right off the bat, more than $10.- Canadian less per meter. Al decided on the spot to bring the genoa there.

We went back to Ruyam II and brought the genoa down. Before we packaged it, we roughly measured and saw that the total length was 15 meters. Since the sail package is quite heavy, we arranged with Levent to give us a ride to the boatyard from St Anne.

After we dropped off the sail, Levent showed us the other place that he meant. Apparently down the road from the shopping centre (called Artimer), there was a dinghy access and a bigger chandlery (called Clippers Ship Sarl), where the sailmaker was occupying a hangar. When we looked from outside, Al decided that they would not charge less than ours, since all of the outfits there looked new and more prosperous than our boatyard. We consoled ourselves that we had made a mistake, but found the best place to fit our budget. Michel promised to finish the job in five days, but called us a day early, so we motored Ruyam II to Le Marin, and went to take the genoa by dingy, since access by sea to the boatyard is easier. In the end we paid 450.- Euros cash, everybody was happy. Oh, I forgot to mention that Martin would charge for the same work, US$800.- (more than $1,000.- Canadian now.) Grenada come to your senses!

We have a saying in Turkish, if God wants to make you happy, he first makes you lose your mule, and lets you find it. We were happy, that we saved about $400.- Canadian, and did not worry about the amount that we paid. We have yet to try our genoa.

Almost right after we put the genoa up, Al found out that there was a bit of water in the starboard bilge (first time we ever saw it, probably from the waves that came in from the hatches on the way), but the pump was not working. Nothing to be done, but replace it. It must have been corroded from no usage. The only time it was used during the four years, had been when the other pump for discharging the water from the shower malfunctioned. Al had used the bilge pump to clear the shower, and replaced the shower pump.

What could we do, but go to the Carenage boatyard chandlery to ask for a new bilge pump. Carenage did not have the one we were looking for, they have an immense inventory of second had boat parts, but not much new. So we walked further up to the Clippers. They had only one in stock, for 300.- Euros. She gave us 15.- Euros discount after we cried about the outrageous price, and we bought the damned thing.
While Al was working away in cramped conditions in the head, under the sink, our refrigerator decided to stop working. When we saw that all our meat in the freezer was thawed, I cooked them all.

Al could not understand the reason for the erratic performance of the fridge, since it was not completely gone, but working and stopping for no reason it seemed. Al thought that the reason could be related to low amperage of the batteries, since it had been gloomy for the last couple of days - worst part of solar chargers. He started the engines, and the refrigerator started working; however, it was not regular, either working constantly for a long time, or not at all. Al checked the Budget Marine catalogs, and on line for some French suppliers; $1,000.- bucks to change the compressor system. Not good!

The compressor is located in the storage under our dining room seat, next to the fridge. Al was first spending time listening to the hum of the compressor, then decided to check the line running from the compressor to the fridge. Apparently if it gets cold, the compressor is working fine.

One evening, both of the engines were running (quite a lot of noise), Al was kneeling down in front of the seat holding the fridge line, and I was at the far end, reading. All of a sudden I heard a loud "PSST", and Al looked at me with some confusion, and let out "the line broke!". All the gas in the fridge was gone in a couple of seconds. Now we were really without a fridge, which contained the food that I had cooked a day before, several plastic containers worth. I begged Al to leave the fridge alone, and turn the engines off immediately. Peace at last! Early in the morning we will get ice from shore  and fill the ice chest with the food from the fridge!

Now, we were in need of a mechanic, and fast. What to do, but ask Levent of course. A smart decision again. When we asked him, Levent told us a story about the refrigeration specialist in Le Marin. Some time back, there was a Turkish sailor at the Le Marin marina, who needed the same service. He got the company located at the marina (Tilikum) to check his fridge, and learned that he would have to dish out 800.- Euros, to replace his compressor. The sailor could not believe it, and asked somebody else, who estimated half the expense. With the conflicting estimates, he turned to Pascal, the owner operator of Nautic Froid. Pascal asked if the mechanic at Tilikum had seen the fridge. When the guy confirmed, Pascal started laughing, indicating that Tilikum had asked to buy a compressor from him the day before. Pascal thought that he was going to charge double for the new compressor, and sell the old one, since it was working fine. In the end, Pascal charged the guy 50.- Euros for some minor adjustment. Pascal became Levent's mechanic for the restaurant fridges after that time.

We arranged  with Pascal to see the fridge around 3:00 o'clock on a Friday at Le Marin. So, we motored all the way, replenished our water and anchored. I was not very optimistic about our prospects, what could a mechanic do in a couple of hours, other than diagnostics? The next day being the week-end, I despaired that we would have to wait until Monday for complete repairs.

Well, I was wrong. He met us at Elite Kebab, and asked me to accomapny him in his dingy, to show our boat, while Al went alone in our dinghy. He checked the broken line, went back to bring his soldering and gas filling equipment and finished the work in about an hour and a half. He declared that the fridge was working fine, but our energy storage capacity was at the lower end, which created the problem. When Al mentioned his intention of buying two extra solar panels, he suggested adding two more batteries instead, indicating that the fridge was designed to shut itself off as a safety precaution, as soon as the voltage provided by the batteries dipped lower that 11.8V. The solution was to increase the amperage. Long live Pascal! The whole thing cost us 80,- Euros, and we learned something besides.

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