SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL
As a commercial skipper living in the Caribbean I have seen incredible changes in the charter boat industry. When I arrived in the West Indies all types of salt-stained vessels were carrying paying guests up and down the island chain. Captains and crew were characters, brought up in the old school of sailing. You went barefoot on deck, wore hacked-off Levis and an earring or two. At the end of the day you drank rum with the guests. It was expected, and you had better be able to spin a good yarn, too, if you wanted your guests to spread the word and increase your business. I knew at least two charter boats that worked 46 weeks of the year. One was made of crumbling concrete and the other ancient fiberglass. Both boats constantly broke down and it wasn’t unusual for the guests to find themselves called on to help change a head gasket on an ailing main engine, or being sent off to beg for ice when the refrigeration died. The guests never seemed to be able to get enough of this abuse and they returned every year, to fly home rejuvenated, with a bag full of wonderful new stories to tell.
Don’t get me wrong, the charter trade, as we know it today, is a wonderful thing. In this edition you well see that there are people living the dream, couples who have set up their own charter boat business or perhaps are about to do so. It is hard work and many fall by the wayside. Those who succeed garner great rewards, not just financially but with a lifestyle that most can only imagine.
One place you will not visit on your charter boat vacation is the island of Haiti. The island is of significant historic interest and home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but right now there are few tourists to see them. The glory days of Haiti are long gone and it is the sick man of the Caribbean. Politics apart, Haiti seems to attract more than its fair share of natural disasters and is still reeling from the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake of 2010. Getting aid to the outlying regions has always been a problem. A Florida based group of yachtsmen, calling themselves Sailors Without Borders, rose to the challenge in a unique way and began carrying aid to Haiti aboard their yachts. Their superb effort is forging a bond between two completely different worlds. In our article on page (insert page #) you will see some of the results of their efforts.
Glorious charter boats, fishermen eking out a living on some devastated coast, cruisers and racers, we are all connected by the sea Ã¢â¬Â¦ one people, one planet.ÃÂ Sometimes it takes an organization like Sailors Without Borders, to remind us of that.
After months of waiting she finally arrived from Central Europe. I walked around, taking in her sexy shape. When I could stand it no longer, I touched her, caressed her; ran my hands over and under her, stroking her firmness with trembling fingers. When no one was looking, I slid out my tape and measure her vital statistics. Yep, right size, one 8X4 sheet of 4mm steel. Now, at last, I can start repairing my boat