Saturday, February 16

Boat Boys

In our trusty guidebook, we read all about the “boat boys” that would zip out to your boat, well before reaching the harbor, to see if you wanted them to be your 'go to' guy for the duration of your stay.  What?  Do we really need a boat boy?  We are cruisers after all, we could handle things (or not) by ourselves, right?  These were the thoughts that went through our heads as we sailed toward Dominica.   As you can tell, we were a little apprehensive and perhaps a little put off at the thought of these so-called boat boys.  We poured over the guidebook that listed each boat boy and what his specialty was and decided we wanted to work with Martin from Providence (in the end, we learned that any one of them would be superb).  But would he want to work with us?  We hailed him on the radio when we were a couple miles out.  He answered our call!  “um, yeah, we are about 30 minutes from Portsmouth Harbor, ummm, do you want to be our boat boy??”  It kind of felt awkward, like we were asking him to the homecoming dance.  He promptly said yes and told us he would meet us upon our arrival into the anchorage.  Phew, thank god that was over with!

Sure enough, a few minutes later, Lawrence of Arabia came speeding up to our boat.  He was waaaiiitttting for us.  It was a little creepy, however, he was polite and welcomed us to Dominica and then asked if we needed anything.  We promptly told him we were working with Martin (that's what the guidebook said to do).  He said “aaahhh, Martin”, turned his head away in shame and sped off.  Uh oh, did we piss him off??  No sooner did he leave, we were approached by another boat, Cobra.  He also greeted us with a smile and welcomed us.  We turned him away too.  At least he didn’t turn his head in disgust.  At this point we weren't sure how this whole 'boat boy' thing was going to turn out.

Come to find out, these guys all work for the same organization; PAYS - Portsmouth Authority and Yacht Services.  They work together to help with anything and everything a “yachtie”(as they like to call us even though we are on anything but a yacht) needs or wants .  They keep the anchorage and mooring field safe and secure by patrolling day and night.  But wait, there’s more....  They will organize and personally take you on a tour of any part of their island you want.  They answer all your ten thousand questions from where to take your trash to where to get your daughters hair braided into cornrows.  They are THE nicest, most accommodating boat boys we have ever met.  Well, truth be told, we haven't actually met any before.

We were soooo relieved once we got to know Martin.  Well, as much as you could get to know someone in the first 10 minutes.  Let's just say that he made a very good first impression.  We didn't have anything to dread or worry about from that moment on.  We knew we would be in great hands.  They didn't hover around our boat like beggars.  They didn't try to sell us anything or hustle us for taking tours.  They were there when we needed them and they went about their business otherwise.  We especially loved that they truly liked spending time with us, beachside or at your boat.  Sometimes they came by just to say hello.

One great example of how these guys operate and help yachties came one afternoon when a fellow Salty Dawg (Montana Sky) drug its anchor and was heading out to sea (narrowly missing a big fishing boat).  I was chatting with Erica on the back of our boat when I noticed their boat moving.  And then I noticed 2 people in a dinghy that looked like they were headed towards MS (not the owners).  I quickly told Craig they were adrift and he hopped in our dinghy and sped over to meet the other couple.  Together, they boarded MS while I hailed Martin on the VHF.  He said he noticed it too and was on his way.  The 3 of them hoisted the incredibly heavy anchor up and moved the boat safely to a mooring.  All heroes in my mind but it just goes to show what a great service PAYS provides.

Greeted by Martin, our boat boy, as we arrive.  He brought us fresh grapefruit from the island and demonstrates how the locals peel it - all in one strip!  We also had the pleasure of working with Eddison, boat boy to s/v Patronus.  Ken G., Titus, Stafford and Stan the Man also work closely with Martin and Eddison.  You will hear more about them in future posts.  Let's just say that we got to know all of them really well and we would recommend any of them to our cruising friends.

These awesome wooden boats are hand built in Portsmouth and are what the PAYS guys motor around in all day.  This is 'Seabird".

1 comment:

  1. That nice experience, I would like to make a boat trip with my family. Thanks for sharing your story