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Open for Business – Le Phare Bleu Marina and Resort

The Le Phare Bleu marina complex designed and run by owners Dieter Burkhalter and Jana Caniga has had an attentive audience the past few months from both the yachting and local community awaiting the start of business.  From the arrival in December of the lightship Västra Banken, to the laying of state-of-the-art pontoons, there has been much to observe.

In the early 1980s, Burkhalter, a musician and owner of a prestigious music school and music shop in Switzerland, learnt to sail.  A Moorings charter out of Secret Harbour in Grenada brought him to the Caribbean where his dream began.  Caniga, a radio and TV news presenter and owner of a fine dining restaurant in Switzerland, joined Burkhalter in this dream concept—now all that had to be done was to find the right setting.

Already familiar with the south of Grenada, having kept their boat at Clarks Court Bay, Burkhalter and Caniga briefly considered Tobago.  But after looking at various sites there and some already-established marinas in Grenada, they were introduced by Champie Evans to Petit Calivigny Bay, a perfect natural harbour.  Hurricane Ivan (in 2004) slowed initial progress after the location was chosen, but once begun, the marina took shape at a steady pace. 

Perhaps due to the owners’ Swiss characters or just their familiarity with the strict regulations of the European marinas, Le Phare Bleu is ecologically-designed.  Their own sewage plant converts all waste water into ‘sweet ‘ water before returning it to the ocean or using it for irrigation; a mobile holding tank pump-out facility ensures that boats that have not discharged out at sea can be accommodated.  The marina shower and head facilities aboard the Västra Banken, for use by berth holders, are so splendid that no one will be tempted to use their own boats while on dock.

For the sailor, a marked entrance brings one safely through the reef to the docks, where most of the berths are stern-to with a few alongside slots.  Dock boxes provide 110 and 220 electricity and water, and larger boats or those requiring three phase can be accommodated on the southernmost pontoon.  A laundry, mini mart, car hire, boutique, and two dining areas will complete the facilities due to come on stream from end of May through October.

The fine dining restaurant in the Västra Banken, run by Austrian Chef Alex Sattler, will open at the end of May and the “sea pool” with lounge and bar by October.  Several businesses have already committed to run their services from this site: the Canvas Shop, Island Dreams Yacht Management, C &J Auto Rentals car hire, and Palm Tree Marine together with a yacht charter business and a commercial dive operation.

On shore there are 14 villas available for rent.  These bungalows are available on a “buy to let” scheme with the JADI Management responsible for the management and maintenance.  The bungalows incorporate the use of natural materials in line with the ecological principles that are so much a part of this development.  

As a getaway destination, this marina will complement the larger and busier harbours already in existence or under construction.  For those who own boats in Grenada, it will be a new sailing port for lunch, dinner, a weekend, or much longer.  For landlubbers, the marina is easily accessible, with a reef protecting the beach from any surge. With a tropical garden setting, snorkeling, and all the other resort facilities, this marina is likely to be a hit.  www.lepharebleu.com.

The lightship

The emblem and heart of Le Phare Bleu is the lightship Västra Banken, which today contains offices, restrooms for boaters, a small museum of the ship’s history, the engine room (open to the public), an internet café, a bar and a restaurant.

The ship was built in Stockholm in 1900 and, after two other positions, eventually served at the "Västra Banken" station from 1923 until 1970—position: 60°53’48" North and 17°55’10" East—from which comes her name.  In 1970, after almost 70 years of service as a lightship, the Västra Banken was decommissioned. The lighthouse and deckhouse were removed and installed as a museum in Öregrund.  The current lighthouse and deckhouse were taken from the lightship Trelleborgs Redd. From 1970, the ship was used in Stockholm as a café and later a houseboat till it changed hands in 2005. After a six month overhaul, the ship was brought across the sea to her new home in Grenada on December 7, 2006.   Information courtesy of Le Phare Bleu.

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