We hauled the boat the day after we reached Sint Maarten
It’s been a very good experience. This is a well-known marina, we are pleased with the crew; the office manager is brilliant, and the new supervisor seems to be an excellent manager.
Having said all of that, we quickly learned that they are in transition, so we have to make some allowances. Since EW and I normally have good attitudes, and since we understand how boatyards work, this hasn’t been a huge problem for us, but it’s made for a few interesting boatyard moments. As long as the work is done in a timely fashion and correctly, we can live with that.
For all you non-boaters or non-live-aboards, here’s the thing about hauling out: You can use no on-board drains of any kind. That means that you can’t use any sink or head. (Unless you have a composting head, which is reason number 5 for getting one. But I digress.) If you can’t use a sink, you have to go off the boat to brush your teeth, dump used dish water into a bucket for burial in the bushes, and walk to a shore facility to do your business.
The first time we hauled La Luna after moving aboard, EW chose a commercial marina near our boatyard in Maine, with no input from me. That was the last time he made that mistake. There were no facilities there. None. The one head was in the office and locked from 5 PM to 8 AM. We had to use the rest room in the gas station/convenience store across the street. We had to drive back to our home marina for our morning showers. This lasted two weeks and I was not pleased.
After that, I have always confirmed that any boatyard has a working head and showers available 24/7. In every instance until this particular moment in haul-out time, those facilities have been in the boatyard. In St. Lucia, the buildings were hurricane damaged, had spongy floors, and no privacy in the ladies’ shower. But they were cleaned at least twice a day. As we have found on most Caribbean islands, the boat yard was surrounded by a tall fence and security guards were posted at all entry points 24/7. I felt quite safe making my way down the ladder, through the stored boats, and to the brightly lit “Woman Room” any time, day or night.
In Trinidad, there was barbed wire atop the fence, the usual security guards at the gates, and others roaming about the property. We were farther from the heads and showers, but quickly learned that the guards were watching out for us. As I began my late night walk, one guard or another would emerge from the shadows and wave to me, so I didn’t get spooked by their presence. That yard had a long line of unisex water closets. Most of them contained a toilet and a sink with a mirror. The last four simply held a shower, hooks, and a small changing area. This was the most efficient system I’ve seen.Again, they were cleaned twice a day.
Here, we are again in a locked yard surrounded by a tall fence. The difference is, we are locked in.
The security guards, stay on the outside of the only gate. They are responsible for the boatyard, the docks, and the parking lot. When the boatyard is open for business – from 8 to 5 on weekdays – we can pass through the office. The rest of the time, we must get a guard to unlock the gate. Imagine this. I climb down the ladder to use the facilities and I go to the corner of the fence nearest the parking lot so that I can call to B, or M, or Mr. D. in order for one of them to meet me at the gate and unlock the chain.
Like I imagine one finds in jail, It’s easier to get in than out, because when we are “on the outside” we can simply track down a guard and ask to be returned to the pen. When we are on the inside we are at their mercy. They are efficient, friendly, and quick – in the Caribbean fashion of quick.
OH! And the facilities are uni-sex and we must use quarters to get into the toilets or the shower rooms. The showers require .50 for one minute of cool water.
I’m actually OK with the whole quarter thing, and that outstanding office manager had been clear about it prior to our arrival. I get a kick out of this sign though. Remember, we are in Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of this lovely island. The other side is French. We are no longer in the U.S. Still, this is the sign in the head.
So the quarter thing is mildly annoying but expected, but the whole locked in jail thing was definitely a surprise. One morning, EW and I were standing at the gate trying to get someone’s attention. He wanted to find a tin cup to run along the rails; I wanted to take the ladder from the boat, and “go over the roof” and “break out of this joint”. We could have made it. There’s a utility hut on the other side which would make it easy to reach the ground.
The hull has been polished. The bottom has been sanded and primed. We will ultimately escape via the water, much more comfortably than those folks who tried to escape from Alcatraz. In the meantime, anyone have a tin cup we can borrow?
P.S. On Sunday, one of our guards evidently had to use the facilities about the same time as we did. I had just left the building and EW was washing his hands when we heard, “Mister. Mister.” The security guard opened his stall door far enough to hand EW the key.
No! Not really.