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Life in a Caribbean boatyard

written by Terysa January 24, 2017

Welcome to our very first sailing video!

We arrived into Antigua after a fairly straightforward, if boring, flight from Gatwick. Disembarking into the hot, tropical climate was quite a shock after the winter’s cold of London. We got a cab ride to the marina and dragged our heavy bags over to our boat which was sitting patiently waiting for us.

Getting back onto the boat after 7 months away was a peculiar moment. We had anticipated coming home to the boat for so long, and to actually be back was quite emotional. She was in pristine condition, apart from some mould on the lines and 7 months worth of dirt on the deck.

After turning everything on and making sure the systems were all working, we made the local supermarket our next stop, and who should we run into but our good friends John and Sandra from Eupraxia. They kindly invited us over for dinner and picked us up in their dinghy early in the evening to take us out to their boat which was in the anchorage. Although we were knackered- it’s a 4.5 hour time difference so felt way past our bedtime- we felt very content being back on the water and catching up with our mates. We couldn’t wait to get out to the anchorage ourselves, but we had quite a bit of work to do before that happened.

Antifouling fun and games

The next day we were up bright and early after an average sleep; it was going to take a while to readjust to the tropical weather. On went the very flattering boiler suits and we got to work on antifouling the hull. We had had a couple of guys from the yard (I think…) approach us to do the antifouling for us. It’s such a boring and arduous job that Nick wasn’t adverse to letting someone else do it- until he heard the price. US $10 per foot. We’re 39 foot. Even I can do that maths. When we looked totally gobsmacked he said, “Alright, I can do it for $9 per foot.” I just about managed not to laugh in his face and said thanks but no thanks.

Interestingly, it seems that we’re in the minority here, which is presumably why they can get away with charging such high prices (this isn’t an isolated incident. Prices across the entire Caribbean for yacht services seem extortionate compared to the local wage, and far pricier than our old marina in Conyer for example). As we enjoyed yet another sundowner on Eupraxia one evening, they invited another British couple aboard for a drink. We mentioned the work we’d been doing and their eyebrows visibly rose. “What, you did your own antifouling?” said one of them in a tone of amazement. I guess it depends on your approach to such jobs, but as much as I don’t enjoy doing the work, I’d enjoy paying someone else to do it even less. I mean, that’s money I could spend on a shopping spree in New York and a posh meal out. Or, more likely, that’s money we can spend in the chandlery on our never ending to-buy list.

While we were living in the boatyard, we continued to prevail upon John and Sandra for all our cooked meals. We told Sandra that we did, in fact, have gas and could quite happily cook up a meal onboard but she wouldn’t hear of it, which did make our lives a bit easier. We were very grateful and as soon as we were back in the water we repaid the favour.

Finally back in the water!

Being launched was an exciting and nerve-wracking moment. Exciting because, well, have you ever tried living in a boatyard? It’s not fun. Nerve-wracking because no matter how much faith you have in the guy operating the travel hoist, seeing your boat swing several metres off the ground and be manoeuvred through a gate, around a corner and into the water is a little disconcerting. It all went without a hitch and suddenly we were off! We would have loved to go straight out to the anchorage, but since we still had quite a bit of work to do that would be far easier in a marina, that’s where we headed. We even ended up back in our old slip!

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2 comments

Julia January 25, 2017 at 12:38 am

Great video. Made us very boatsick!

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Mary and Tom January 25, 2017 at 9:39 am

Life in paradise continues I see..

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