Moving back to Grenada, my home, was one of the most frightening and pivotal moves in my life. Here I was, living in Antigua for over four years where I had friends and an interesting job at a large sailing hotel where I could sail and windsurf as much as I wanted. I was into racing bicycles and enjoyed success riding around the Caribbean—with a nickname (Curly Locks). Yep, I had long, curly hair and the guys on the bikes decided that was to be my riding name.
One day I got a call from my father (Mop-head – yep, he had the long, curly, crazy hair as well). “Danny, you have to move back home, the most amazing job has just been publicized in the papers and I think it’s right up your alley.”
“Mops, boy, I enjoying life up here right now, I getting to sail with Bernie Wong and Jason on a regular basis, I have a million very cool friends, and I don’t owe anybody anything.” To make a long story short, within a month, I was heading back home to the Land of Spice to become Cruising and Yachting Officer for the Grenada Board of Tourism.
I saw that the island had a thriving cruise industry but the yachting section was lacking a little. To learn from those in the know, I met with people that make a difference in this sector: Laura Fletcher, President of the Marine and yachting Association of Grenada (MAYAG), Ray Donald (Customs), ASP Prince (Immigration), Ian Evans (Grenada Ports Authority), James Pascal (Horizon Yacht Charters) and others.
I realized straight away that each of them was willing to work really hard to make a difference in the yachting community. This small group was able to push through the one page customs clearance form that was on the cards for many years and finally show some of the policy-makers that yachting was going to be the way forward for Grenada.
With its indented coastline, great winds, excellent boat yards and marinas—and a very strong history of seamanship—Grenada was on the verge of something big in the yachting sector. In walked Mr. Peter de Savary (PDS as he is known by all) who started construction on a US$500 million marina and development project, Port Louis.
I had a few meetings with the Port Louis people and, next thing I knew, I was offered a job. Though I was leaving one that I loved and where I think I left a little mark and hopefully helped make a difference, I started working with Port Louis on December 1st 2006.
I spent a year when I first moved back home trying to get the wrecks in Grenada’s Lagoon moved out as they were an environmental hazard and eye-sore. My first task at Port Louis was to make sure all the wrecks were moved out of the Lagoon and sunk as artificial dive sites.
I sometimes seriously cannot believe some of the things I get to do in this job. Here I am, on a wreck being towed out past the Stadium, heading over to one of our national marine parks to sink this eye-sore. I see the guys pounding the hull with large cast iron rods and you know I have to jump in and be a part of it. Water is pouring through the holes in the deck and it’s up to our knees before we decide its time to jump ship. We sit there and watch as she goes down. I have since been back diving on her and I must say that she looks a lot more romantic under the water where she has already formed a home for hundreds of fish.
The best part of my job working for Port Louis entails going to international and regional boat shows and regattas—Fort Lauderdale, St. Barths for the Bucket, Mallorca for the Superyacht Cup or Antigua for the Classic or Sailing Week or the Charter Show. At these events, I talk, talk, talk…about Grenada, Port Louis, our people, our food, our festivals, our mountains, and our way of life.
My father was an artist and he was always able to paint the most amazing pictures. I unfortunately, never had that skill. What I hope that I have been able to do, though, is paint a picture of this vision that we have for yachting in Grenada and what this development will bring to the island.
I have seen a lot of this vision already bought to reality…wrecks and hundreds of tons of scrap metal are removed from the marina and an eyesore is becoming one of the most beautiful spots in the Caribbean. Last December, I saw Maltese Falcon berth at Port Louis. The Victory Bar was never as busy as she was on those few days that the Maltese Falcon was moored on our docks—everyone was coming for a beer just out of curiosity for this amazing vessel.
Recently, I have seen Camper & Nicholsons Marinas (C&NM), one of the most experienced marina operators in the world, come in and buy the Port Louis marina and village. This company has been around since 1782. To me this means serious business…that Grenada is looking at becoming “one of the places to be in yachting”.
I have seen more and more yachts starting charters in St. Martin and Antigua, making Grenada their final destinations, then flipping around and starting new charters. We have good customs and immigration officers and, with two very good yards and a host of marinas being developed, the island is definitely going to see an increase.
When I was on the plane leaving Antigua, I was completely freaked out that I was making a huge mistake by leaving my comfort zone in Antigua and heading home. Now, I think it is the best decision I ever made—to come back when Grenada was rebuilding. I cannot wait to see what happens next.