19 Jan - 'Just liming' in Grenada

Escapade of Rame
Richard & Julie Farrington
Sun 21 Jan 2018 23:26

12:00.4N  061:44.1W

With the departure of the Young People, we were in theory ready to head north.  We returned to Port Louis Marina and re-embarked the stores we had landed to make room for everybody.  Inevitably we had left UK in May with more stuff than we needed, so this was an opportunity for a reassessment and a restow.  In the event, the only things we felt were ‘surplus to requirements’ were a pile of Pilot Books and charts from Northern Europe and North Africa.  I think we would have happily traded some of them for Caribbean and Eastern USA equivalents, but when we advertised them on the ‘cruiser’s net’ (a slightly folksy US-oriented VHF voice net at some ridiculously early hour each morning) we didn’t get killed in the rush.  FEDEX wanted almost £200 to fly them home to UK, so I set off to find out how to send them by sea.  Quite frankly, we don’t want to see them again for a year, so speed is hardly a factor. 

It turns out that in the age of containerised shipping, it’s actually quite hard to send a smallish package (weighing about 15kg) by sea.  One shipping agent quoted me $1000 (sic) to charter a container for myself; another suggested I approach Virgin Atlantic, so in the end I sought refuge at the Grenada Postal Corporation where my carefully prepared box was split into two (‘max weight 22lbs, man’) and then I had to glue the stamps on by hand – no automatic franking here and sticky-backed stamps can’t cope with the humidity and heat.  The books are going by air after all.  What a palaver…


At anchor, Clarkes Court Bay

Admin sorted, we went sailing.  Or rather, we motored round to Clarke’s Court Bay and dropped anchor in beautiful surroundings.  A deep, well-sheltered anchorage, no beaches except on the private island of Calivigny, the shoreline is mangroves and fairly steep-to with some cliffs, a cross-section of low-end timber shacks close to the water’s edge and some swankier dwellings up above.  There’s a big boatyard here focused on providing facilities for cruisers to leave their yachts during the hurricane season, a public jetty with a rum shop or two, a cricket pitch and the Number 2 bus to St Georges, and a lovely little 15-berth marina with a restaurant, a butcher and a delicatessen all thrown together – Whisper Cove Marina.  It’s run by a French Canadian couple (imagine that: not-American, not really-French…) and I rather like it.  It’s for sale.  I fell in love with the marina in Oban last year that was also for sale, but was eventually made to see sense (the continual waterboarding from the Rain Gods had quite a bit to do with it!).  I’m not thinking about this at all – much too focused on our trip north!  But if it’s still for sale in 12 month’s time…


Whisper Cove – will this do?


Or one of these as a holiday home?

I started to clean the weed off the bottom with a sponge. Slime came off easily, virtually no green ‘beard’ on the waterline, but I was surprised by the proliferation of barnacles.  More work required, but the water here is quite cloudy and I’m nursing a bruised rib. We read books and did some planning for the trip north.  Mostly though, we spent hours trying to get sense out of someone at the insurers and sort Julie’s eye problem. 


The private resort island of Calivigny, apparently owned by Grenada’s UN Ambassador…

We asked to speak to a recommended ophthalmologist; we asked if there was an approved eye surgeon in the Caribbean.  No answer to either question (still) – and a different ‘Case Manager’ every day.  Eventually they told Julie to fly to England, get treatment on the NHS and then allow 12 weeks for recovery.  That would effectively scupper our sailing plans for this season – and our house is rented out so where was she supposed to stay?  Was this really why we had expensive medical travel insurance?

Seriously concerned and frustrated by the lack of decent advice from the ‘specialists’ we investigated the Miami option more closely.  The whole package seemed to cost roughly the same as a Business Class flight back to UK and could be achieved inside a week.  This news caused complete chaos at the insurance company.  In the meantime, a week had passed and the Grenadian ophthalmologist had returned to work.  We managed to get a short formal report out of her which added very little value to the original information, but it gave some ‘computer says no’ minion in Chichester another box to tick.


Lower Woburn, the public access to Clarkes Court Bay

Eventually, through Julie’s sister Susan we spoke to a London-based optician who she plays golf with.  He was brilliant: apparently, with these symptoms she would be immediately referred to a specialist surgeon and dealt with the same day.  Our fears of joining the back of one of those infamous NHS queues evaporated.  We rang the insurers.  They dithered.  But they had already told us to do this. Yes, but are you fit to fly? Why, are you going to send a frigate?  Stress levels at this end well above normal. Eventually on Saturday morning after a week of ‘negotiation’ we got a decision: fly that evening to Gatwick, taxi to Moorfields in the morning, all done and dusted by lunchtime.

And so it came to pass. By the time I got up on Sunday, Julie was at their fantastic City Road facility, having flown home Business Class. The diagnosis: no surgery required, time will heal the problem.  Relief, tinged with frustration at the local Opthalmologist who nearly got to perform unnecessary laser surgery, frustration at the insurance company who should have put us in touch with a UK ophthalmologist on Day One, frustration at the unnecessary delay.  Overall though, huge relief that her eyesight is not permanently affected and surgery is not required.  Plan B swung into force: stay in UK for a week, catch up with family, do some shopping and return to Grenada on Saturday.  Sail north on Sunday!


Amel Super Maramu yacht (think French Rolls Royce – ok, hard I know), private mooring and house thrown in…

That was a week ago. Whilst we were waiting for the Saturday evening flight, a couple of people approached us in their dinghy and remarked on our Cruising Association burgee.  Andrew and Kate own a floating greenhouse – actually, a brand new, still got the wrapping on, Fountaine Pajot 47 – 2017 edition… we met them half an hour later at a dinghy concert in Phare Bleu Bay and hit it off.  They had bought the boat direct from the builders in La Rochelle and sailed it to Barbados via Lisbon and the Canaries.  Gutsy call, in my book.  Offspring about the same age and sex as ours.  Career professionals doing roughly what we are doing.  Clearly slightly mad – so quite a bit in common!  Julie recognised the name of the boat from our Transatlantic passage – I found ‘Wildside’ in the log at 0315 on Friday 1 December, some 850 miles west of Cape Verde! A ‘dinghy concert’ involves a pile of dinghies tied to a midstream pontoon, a live band and quite a lot of rum.  ‘Just limin’’ as they say round these parts.

Andrew and Kate kindly invited me for a drink on Monday evening.  I turned up at sunset and left at midnight – don’t you hate people who do that?  I always loved the Navy’s ‘Ceremonial Sunset’ at Receptions, because it was such a good way of drawing a drinks party to a close: a bit of pomp and ceremony, sailors with guns always invite you to pay attention, everyone gets a lump in their throat when they play ‘Sunset’ and the ‘Last Post’… and when they turn around to soothe it with another gin, lo and behold! … the stewards have cleared the bar away and here’s the gangway, Madam –yes isn’t it steep – just as well you didn’t have that last drink! I do hope you had an enjoyable visit? 

To make amends, I fed them curry on Wednesday and have learned something about cruising catamarans.  I shall be less scathing in future: their boat is the same length as Escapade, but it’s more than twice the size.  A veritable Tardis.  It’s as smart as a bijou London apartment on the river, with panoramic views from the greenhouse windows, plus small tennis courts fore and aft to entertain or escape the noise.  The dedicated sailing area is all on the top – well out of the way of the living spaces!  Absolutely ideal for this cruising life – not sure I’d want to pay the mooring fees in UK though – after all she fills two Marina berths.  Out here though, where most people anchor or pick up a buoy, that’s not an issue.  Hence around 30% of the cruising boats we see here are modern catamarans made by Lagoon, Fountaine Pajot or Cayana.  All French and apparently all the new charter boats post hurricane are cats…


Local boats in the mangroves.  The breakwater on the left is made from conch shells.

I’ve had a pretty quiet week.  Done some maintenance, read about the snow at home, serviced the toilet, varnished the mosquito net washboard I made earlier (only for the wind to pick it up and chuck it in the sea as I was cleaning the brush) struggled with internet connectivity, had a couple of meals at Whisper Cove, worked out how to get the engine off the rubber boat without incurring a hernia or dropping the thing in the briny, went shopping and did the laundry. 

Now getting ready for Rounds as Julie returns tomorrow evening – Hurrah!


The view from the bar at Whisper Cove Marina