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Sailing with Charlie: The Help

Graphics by Hannah Welch
Graphics by Hannah Welch

Charlie’s boat was in the yard for annual maintenance and this time he’d planned a major overhaul. He’d be pulling all the through hulls for maintenance and replacement if necessary. The prop shaft would be removed for inspection and the cutlass bearing changed. The rudder had to be checked for undue play. All new zincs were to be installed and two coats of anti-fouling would be applied. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it?  But the boatyard foreman was there to help.

Charlie made arrangements to do the work himself. The yard charged $50 an hour for menial labor and $75 for mildly skilled labor such as painting. Poor Charlie almost had a bowel movement when he looked at the price list. The foreman informed Charlie that he had four helpers who would make the work easy: Anybody, Somebody, Nobody and Everybody. Charlie nodded, said nothing and started the work. Removing the through hulls needed a helper so Charlie asked if Anybody was available. The foreman told him that not Anybody could do it but recommended Somebody who was experienced. Next day Nobody turned up – Charlie was pissed – he needed Somebody. Charlie went to see the foreman and asked where Everybody was only to be told that Nobody was off sick and that he’d just have to wait, “Dis de Caribbean, mon, be patient, Somebody be there shortly.”

It took three days to complete all twelve through hull fittings and Charlie was pleased. But there was a nagging feeling of a rising bill; Somebody had told him how expensive skilled labor was. Charlie set about removing the propeller and uncoupling the shaft from the engine. He got the shaft out but the cutlass bearing was another matter. He asked the foreman if Anybody could help. Eventually Somebody turned up but Charlie was worried about his bill, “Is Anybody  available?” asked Charlie. “I sent Somebody over” said the rather irritated foreman. Charlie could just see his bill mounting but had to admit that Somebody was better than Nobody.

Finally all work was done and the boat was splashed. Charlie went to the office to pay the bill – it was heart attack huge! The office secretary who dealt with invoices kinda fancied Charlie and was sympathetic, “Nobody could be expected to pay this amount,” she said. Charlie wondered at the kindness of Caribbean people. Nobody must have known that Charlie was broke. He guessed that Everybody would chip in.

Charlie sailed away and two days later, in a quiet anchorage, while he was having his way with the buxom secretary, the police launch came alongside. “Anybody aboard,” shouted an officer. Charlie emerged from the cabin. “You have a problem back at the boatyard,” shouted the officer.

“What problem,” responded Charlie.

“Nobody paid the bill,” replied the officer. “I know,” said Charlie, “so what’s the problem?”

Charlie was escorted into the police launch and is awaiting his day in court.

Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

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