A continuation of Part One…
We had enough of being repeatedly stranded beachside, so we googled and researched, and spoke with many fellow cruisers, about what would be our ideal dinghy motor. We felt that our dinghy “Korykory” is adequate as-is, so the inflatable would not be replaced, at least not anytime soon. We were advised that two-stroke engines, prized for their beneficial low-weight-to-power ratio, were available for sale in Saint Martin. (They’re illegal for sale in the USA; some BS about little lawnmowers being responsible for smog). We weren’t necessarily planning to visit Saint Martin up until this point, as it is a busy, heavily traveled island. But we really wanted a new motor, and so we convinced ourselves it was time for a visit to a new island.
Simpson Bay, Dutch Sint Maarten was only a day or so to the NNW, from St Kitts, and so we set sail on New Year’s Day (2020), just as the sun was rising in our faces as we rounded the SE tip of St Kitts, and then turned north between St Kitts and Nevis toward the open comfort of deeper blue water. Along the way to Sint Maarten, we decided to stop at another island, anchoring just outside of Gustavia, St. Barthelemy, also known as St Barts. I blogged about it here. Yes, another wonderful place, and definitely exciting if you happen to visit during the holidays!
During our brief walk around Gustavia, we happened upon a shop (then closed for the holiday) which had Yamaha outboard engines on display in the window. Unexpectedly, the model and size we were looking to purchase in St Martin was two feet away behind the glass window. Interesting, but not much we could do with the shop being closed for the holiday.
Just as we were turning away from the window and walking back along the narrow cobblestone sidewalk, a scraggly, unshaven fellow pulled up onto the sidewalk, uncomfortably close to us aboard his motor scooter. He greeted us and removed his un-strapped helmet. Not realizing he actually worked there, thinking we were being approached by a trickster or trinket peddler, I politely answered with a vague reply, as we turned to walk the other direction. But he persisted to inquire about what caught our interest at the window, beckoning for us to stay. Realizing then his apparent knowledge of the equipment in the window, we became captivated by his pleasantly aloof disposition, and accepted his invitation to step inside for a closer look.
We followed through a narrow entryway, up a narrow staircase, and then as he meandered through the dusty narrow corridors crammed with various power equipment. After some ensuing small talk about why he was there on such a holiday, we learned that he manages the establishment. We asked if he had any in stock, and then to quote a price for the desired motor – a brand new two-stroke, eight horsepower, Yamaha Enduro. After some Dutch mumbling, shuffling a bunch of papers and tapping a few computer keys behind his service window, he read the price out loud. I did a double take after a quick Euro conversion (and I quickly asked him to write it down). His quote was five hundred dollars lower (yes, $500 less!) than a previously quoted price I’d received from the dealership in St Martin. Hmmm… Could this really be? (Everything else in St Barts is more expensive). “What, do you want to pay more!?”, he smiled and grumbled to me when asked if he was sure about the price.
It turns out that this new year’s celebrator is the sole Caribbean importer for Yamaha Japan, and essentially he was giving us the wholesale price! Unfortunately, we were not prepared to receive the motor, as we had no way to carry it safely aboard Fayaway. We walked to and scoured the two chandleries in town and none were able to provide a hoist and bracket capable of holding the motor while we rode the big waves offshore. I needed to think more about how to do this properly. So we politely declined to take the motor that day. We cleared out that afternoon and set sail toward St Maarten.
Back aboard Fayaway I emailed the dealership back in Dutch in Sint Maarten, asking for a more competitive quote. Despite my pleading, “No” was the firm answer received by the time we arrived at Simpson Bay. So our choices now were to: a) beat against the 20 knot trade winds back to St Barts, b) buy a cheaper motor, or c) pay the premium. We realized that we could sell the little Honda for a few hundred dollars, so we opted to pay the premium. Then we only had to resolve the hoisting and mounting issues, now settled in the safe confines of Simpson Bay.
And we became happy with the choice we made. I recycled our spare boom vang blocks, and hung them with a homemade dyneema soft shackle from the Bimini/solar frame to create a hoist.
Oh what a pleasure it is to finally have a dinghy motor that starts easily, and allows our little Korykory to plane across an open harbor! So perhaps this end result is a bit anti-climactic to you, but the event of meeting Ledee on little St Barts will forever be longingly remembered during many holidays to come.
And then we sailed happily away…