On my knees in the dinghy, pushing other inflatable vehicles to port and starboard, inch by inch, I moved the dinghy forward into free space on the dock. Since we were going to leave the dinghy for a few hours – well most of the day --- I wanted to tie her up where she would be less likely to impede other cruisers. Using the motor would have allowed me to be the only active participant in an exciting game of bumper boats, by using my hands and limited knowledge of physics i could more accurately work my way to the far corner of the U-shaped space. We were in St. Thomas, visiting EW’s cousins and spent most days with them or touring in town. When Jeff chauffeured us, we left the dinghy at the marina for five, six, or more hours, in violation of the rules.
Cruising Sailors- particularly we who are full time – are notoriously cheap. We are not welcomed visitors in some marinas and provide no income to high-end tourist shops. We are do-it your-selfers who don’t want to purchase things that clutter the boat, and we anchor out nearly all the time. Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap. (We also eat a lot of chicken – particularly those of us who don’t catch a lot of fish.)
We anchor out, but we want to go ashore in various harbors, and that means we need to use a dinghy dock to secure the dinghy. Savvy communities have town docks to allow sailors to go ashore and use the local shops and services. Restaurants often have dingy docks for use while boaters dine and some of them allow us to stay on the docks while we visit the community and shop and do laundry. In Nassau, we used the one at the Green Parrot and gave them most of our eating out budget when we were in town. In Luperon, the town has an aged, crumbling dock for boaters to use. While we were there we heard that the mayor has offered to provide materials for a new dock and it looks like the cruisers will provide the labor. In Fort Lauderdale, where the town would love to severely limit anchoring, we could tie our dinghy to the dock at the South Port Raw Bar for $10.00. We could use the receipt for $10.00 of food and drink in the restaurant, and they didn’t limit our time on the dock. In Hampton, Virginia we could tie the dinghy up at the town dock at one end of the harbor or at South Port Marine on the other end, depending on where we wanted to go once ashore. We gave our fuel business to South Port Marine to thank them for the service.
Since we left Luperon, we have tied at the dinghy docks provided by marinas where we spend money only for diesel and water. This is a privilege, not a right and we are thankful they have set aside space for us. Evidently not everyone feels the same way. While I was maneuvering the dinghy that morning in St. Thomas, the dock master stopped by and helped move a large dinghy that was blocking access to the inner dock. I thanked her and she thanked me for working to get the dinghy into open space away from the entrance, particularly as we had “been leaving the dinghy all day”. So someone had noticed our rules violation, but I knew we weren’t the only ones. I thanked her for providing the space and she mentioned that not all felt the same way. It seems that there are cruisers – cheap ones like we are – who find fault with free, secure dinghy docks. Really? There are people who are living their dreams, cruising in warm waters, spending as little as possible, and complaining that the free dinghy dock is full or that they have to work to push aside other boats to enter and exit? “I deal with that nearly every day”, she said.
I think it’s time for a reality check. Nothing is perfect, this is an adventure, not a guided tour. If you want everything handled for you, “sail” on a cruise ship or crewed charter. I am grateful every day, for EW, La Luna, friends and family, this lifestyle we are living, and the little things like dinghy docks that make it possible. You won’t hear me complaining to the dock master – I’m more likely to bake her a loaf of bread.
PHOTOS, TOP TO BOTTOM
Dinghy Dock at Crown Bay Marina. La Luna’s tender (Lunah Landah) is to the lower right, partially under the dock. You can see her white paddle. The narrow opening to the space is in the upper right.
Rules at Crown Bay Dinghy Dock
Dinghy Landing at Jolly Harbor in Antigua
Crown Bay, again. The entrance is to the left. You can see all the large dinghies that parked in the middle despite the room at the far end.