Technical Services Available in the BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Given that the BVIs lie approximately half way between Florida and Grenada, it is a logical place to plan to stop to attend to the inevitable maintenance issues that come up on a cruising boat. We have encountered several mechanical issues that required the help of well qualified technicians both on our way south last year and again this month as we cruised the British Virgin Islands. As has been our policy in the past, we are not going to focus on the vendors that we have encountered that did less than satisfactory work but rather provide you recommendations for companies and individuals that we have found to be both honest and competent.
Welding and Westerbeke Genset
Our list of reputable firms in the BVI has to begin with BVI Marine Management in Nanny Cay. Mr. Tim Brown is the Service Manager there and he is a tremendous resource to call upon if you need anything boat maintenance related. We utilized BVI Marine Management to do some stainless steel fabrication and welding last year when we were redesigning our tender lift to better deal with the sometimes rough conditions that we have encountered in the Caribbean. Additionally, they have helped us obtain parts for our Westerbeke Genset (BVI Marine is a Westerbeke authorized dealer). BVI Marine Management can be contacted at (284) 494-2938.
Cummins QSM 11s
When we arrived in the BVI earlier this month, we needed to have some work done on our main engine heat exchangers and after coolers. I called Tim Brown at BVI Marine Management and asked if they could do the work and he informed me that they did not have the capacity to work on QSM 11s but he had a solid recommendation. I was referred to John, the Service Manager at Parts and Power, in Road Harbor, Tortola, (284) 494-2830. Again, we were dealt with honestly and the work performed was excellent and more than met our expectations. The technician assigned to our boat was Mr. Sanchez Christopher. Sanchez is a very knowledgable and hardworking diesel mechanic and it was a pleasure working with him.
Air conditioning and Refrigeration
Our final recommendation for the BVI is Mr. Alfred August , Manager at Marine Cooling Systems. If you have any refrigeration or cooling issues while in the BVI, Alfred is the guy to call. Alfred can be reached at (284) 441-6556 or email at email@example.com.
We recognize that there are many other well qualified technicians in the BVI and this list is in no way intended to be all inclusive. We have always felt more comfortable calling on someone whom we have had a favorable recommendation from a fellow cruiser; someone who understands the lifestyle and the resulting demands on our mechanical systems aboard our floating home. If our recommendations can provide you with that little bit of extra comfort factor while trying to address mechanical issues in unfamiliar territory, we are happy to help out. We will keep our list updated as we establish relationships with other vendors and technicians along the way.
Technical Services Available in GRENADA
For cruisers working their way south through the Caribbean chain, Grenada is a logical place to stop to address whatever maintenance issues that may have presented themselves to you along the way. First and foremost, Grenada is physically located south of the hurricane belt at a latitude most insurance companies consider “safe” during the Atlantic hurricane season (safe is a relative term and although hurricanes tend to turn north prior to reaching Grenada, there have been exceptions with devastating consequences). A prudent mariner must maintain a weather eye and always have a contingency plan just in case mother-nature decides to operate outside of the statistical norms.
Our insurance company mandated that we would remain south of 12 degrees, 30 minutes latitude from June 1 through Nov 1 making our decision to seek out yacht maintenance in Grenada a simple one. There are multiple boat yards capable of hauling everything from small mono hull sailboats, wide beam multi hull cats to mega yachts. In addition we found skilled technicians, well versed in modern marine systems, including sailmakers, upholsterers, marine electronics experts and expert woodworking craftsmen that are capable of handling anything from a minor nick in the woodwork of a salon to complete yacht refurbishment. We did have some unfortunate experiences with some of the tradesmen and since it is not our desire to make it more difficult for motivated workers to earn a living we will not call them out publically. Suffice it to say, if we had a less than satisfactory experience with a vendor you will not see them listed here. We hope that the folks that let us down have learned from the experience and will raise their game. If we have listed someone on this blog, you can rest assured that they met or exceeded our expectations.
For a reliable maritime day laborer, there are many to choose from around the Port Louis Marina but we cannot recommend any of them more highly than Patrick King. Patrick has always been professional, hardworking, courteous and trustworthy. Everyone in our family has come to consider Patrick not just an employee but also a friend. Should you need to get in touch with Patrick he can be reached at (473) 416-9622 or (473) 538-6536.
Mechanical, Electrical or Refrigeration
If you have a requirement for a diesel mechanic or electrician, or have any refrigeration issues, the guys that work for Palm Tree Marine are top notch. Palm Tree Marine’s number is (473) 407- 2783.
Steffan Meyerer and his crew at Driftwood Fine Yacht Woodworking (473) 459-9859 did an outstanding job installing custom cabinetry in the main salon of the Pilot’s Discretion as well as redesigning our galley to provide room for our new Fisher Paykel dishwasher.
While it is not inexpensive to properly maintain a 50′ motor yacht each of the people we mentioned above came in at or below their initial estimates for the work we requested of them, often times after circumstances required us to modify the initial plan of attack with a more complicated work around. All in all, we have found Grenada to be one of the best places in the Caribbean to address the myriad issues that come up while actively cruising aboard our floating home.
Hi Randy and Teresa, It has been almost a year since “The Fontana Eight” ran into the “Jenga Kings”. I was cleaning out and found your card and thought I would just sent you a Happy New Year message. It looks like Rowan and Ryan continue to enjoy your adventures. I think Gabe Fontana has kept up with you as he is preparing to take a similar adventure in the spring. He has been working on his sail boat all fall and winter. Hopefully, he will catch up with you in his travels. Winter is coming late this year, but I expect we will pay for the warm temps in a couple of weeks. Take Care, Joan McCleary
Hi Joan, We will be back in the BVI mid Feb. We’ll be on the lookout for Gabe. Happy New Year to all the Fontana Eight!