My favorite place to haul on this planet is Independent Boat Yard on St. Thomasâ€” with Calvin running the lift, Danielle tossing the jack-stands and Bruce pulling out his wavy hair â€œ…bout dis and dat, mon!â€. Yeah, they know me pretty well at IBY. â€œDonâ€™t listen to him,â€ the polyester-snorting Mike Sheen warns innocent people passing too close to Wild Card. â€œ…if his lips are moving heâ€™s lying!â€
Davis Murray often visits while Iâ€™m hauled on St. Thomas. Marine work fascinates him… or, at least, he never seems to tire of watching it. Occasionally he mutters stuff like, â€œ…there are limits to shoddy, Fatty, and you, obviously, have no idea where they are!â€
Marcus Compton will wobble by. â€œ…are you still attempting to glue that old girl back together, Fatty? Donâ€™t you ever give up?â€
Or Austin Gumbs will just glance at Wild Card, look sad and suck his teeth.
Marine surveyor Will Howe will stop by and ask perkily, â€œ…where should I paste the â€˜condemnedâ€™ sign, Fatty?â€
The real reason I love Independent Boat Yard so much isnâ€™t to get work done but because it is such a great to place to avoid working on boats. Why, there are sailors at the near-by bar who havenâ€™t worked on their boat in decades! Like, since World War One! Hell, theyâ€™re barely able to focus on their boats… canâ€™t even remember their own topside color… why, they just drive their dinghies around the Brenner Bay lagoon at night until they hit something they donâ€™t see… and yell wildly, â€œHoney, Iâ€™m home,â€ to what ever terrified person is aboard.
One of them spent five years circumnavigating… Happy Island!
My favorites are the pink-tinged, gin-soaked, boat-yard-stoked â€˜Lagoonie ladies.â€™ Once I quipped at the bar that some of them â€˜…had a screw looseâ€™ and one of the gallant gentleman there scolded me by saying, â€œI think youâ€™ve got that reversed, Fatty.â€
Another of the â€˜fairer sexâ€™ was recently trolling IBY for rich yachties, and askedâ€” when her bearded suitor lurched off for a head call, â€œ…did he say his boat was on the hard or..?â€
Why, when people arenâ€™t hungry here do they so often say theyâ€™re feeling peckish?
My favorite â€˜spiritual Lagoonieâ€™ is Mighty Whitey. Heâ€™d be a boat bum if, well, he could afford the boat. Just imagine a guy who passes the hat among THAT crowd. I mean, where is down from here? (Okay, the Green Barn, I suppose).
Iâ€™d say more about Mighty Whitey but he always sings out fearfully when he see me, â€œDoan harass me ass!â€
Oh, yes, Iâ€™ve paid my dues, me son! Foâ€™ true, foâ€™ true!
Iâ€™ve put my â€˜liver on the lineâ€™ for Caribbean yachting more than once.
I know of which I speak… or mumble incoherently of.
I tried to drink Johnny Harms under the Liarâ€™s table many a night. Yeah, I repeatedly fell outta the saddle at Horsefeathers… with Sally using me as a muddy foot rest on a number of 151-fueled occasions. (Didnâ€™t I first meet her in Turks and Caicos… with Bob… on a double-ender named Foxy Lady?!?) Remember Yesterdayâ€™s before we burnt it down? Ditto Sparkyâ€™s Waterfront Saloon… where the fat chick at the bar with the guitar didnâ€™t know she was soon-to-be Mama Cass? The Bilge and/or the Bridge? The Quarterdeck in Frenchtown?Â Barnacle Billâ€™s in Sub Base?
Alas, now Iâ€™m hauled out in New Zealand at Dockyard Five. (Iâ€™d give it a six, but, hey, the Kiwis are modest). It is a very nice place with nice people… and Iâ€™m sort of ODâ€™ing on nicey-nice. I mean, they still play accordion music here, for gosh sakes. Gay means happy. Wired has to do with copper.
Once I hauled out at Playboy marine in Fort Liquordale. Whoa! Yes, only a South Floridian sleazo-businessman would think that naming a ship yard something like Penthouse or Hustler would attract swarms of morally-suspect yachtiesâ€” and be correct!
I mean, do you really want your boat blocked up by some blond chick fired by Hooters? Sure, it is fun watching â€˜em wax your topsidesâ€” but whatâ€™s such sick titty-lation got to do with offshore sailing?
But weâ€™re here in New Zealand nowâ€” where the ex-pat Puritans are in firm control.
This sometimes makes basic communications difficult.
I asked one of the yard workers about drugs and he ran to the office, got a map, and conscientiously drew me a route to the nearest pharmacy!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! In town I spied a guy sitting at bar with a film canister in front of him and so I asked him, â€œ…whatâ€™s in that film can?â€ and he said, â€œFilm.â€
â€œ…whatâ€™s he mean, really,â€ Carolyn asked me.
â€œI dunno,â€ I relied. â€œBut he seems to be pretending heâ€™s not paranoid!â€
Yes, things can get weird in staid, old-fashioned Kiwiville.
My wife Carolyn walked into the local yacht club and she said, â€œI want some of the strong stuff,â€ and they gave her, like, Earl Grey!
No, it isnâ€™t like St. Thomas at all. Example: last year some government monies were spent as promised. â€œ…whatâ€™s with that?â€ Carolyn asked, completely puzzled… figuring she was missing something, not taking into account some cool new embezzlement angle.
Itâ€™s sad, really, having to retrain the local yachties to bring everything by Wild Card before tossing it into the shipyard dumpster.
Bottom paint is expensive. Thus I often sort of â€˜help outâ€™ others by wiping up their drips, saving them the trouble of cleaning out the bottom of their mega-$$$ paint cans… and â€˜rushingâ€™ the stiffening throw-away brushes to shred/die on Wild Card.
True, I use a lot of different types of paint on Wild Card. I list her topside color as â€˜patchworkâ€™ on government forms. And, since Iâ€™m usually cruising in the Third World, I turn this to my politically-correct advantage. â€œMy vessel is completely color-inclusive,â€ I say. â€œThatâ€™s right, Wild Card is as multi-hued as the people she seeks-to-learn-from by visiting. We believe in diversityâ€” and sheâ€™s a colorful floating reflection of the melting pot of America… with the browns and the black hues ultimately rising with predominance… like cream-to-the-top. Diversity! Yes, the Rainbow Warrior lives again!Â Brotherhood! Reggae! Bob Marley!
Whew! I really love this PC stuff.
Itâ€™s easy. Donâ€™t worry about over-exaggerationâ€” just go for it!
But, in reality, I do take time out from â€˜…bringing the people of the world together in peace, mutual respect and international harmonyâ€™ to also celebrate my global miserliness.
â€œI sail around the world on the pennies that Scotsmen throw away,â€ I proudly boast. â€œIn America, I squeeze my money so hard Abe Lincoln cries! If it costs a nickle to use the pay toilet, I throw up in the sink! Thatâ€™s rightâ€” all the Thai bar girls know me as â€˜Cheap Charlie, that Cruising Chap Sap.â€™ Yeah, salt-water has corroded my wallet shut! I keep tarantulas and scorpions in my pockets just so I donâ€™t even THINK about reaching in!
My wife Carolyn is far, far more extravagant than I. I mean, she wants to eat daily…. numerous times daily! â€œWhy load cargo only to discard it the next day,â€ I query her, hoping sheâ€™s see the logic of my well-thought-out position. â€œIsnâ€™t it just a waste of time and toilet paper… speaking of which, donâ€™t forget to save our old Manila dockline hawsers!â€
I hate to admit it but she IS the smarter member of this family. Example: a couple of times every day I say to her, â€œ…I bet you canâ€™t guess what Iâ€™m thinking!â€ and she replies, â€œSex.â€
…how she is able to be right 100% of the time… over the course of nearly four decades now… is beyond me!
But Iâ€™ll say one thing for this Kiwi boat yard… they REALLY want me back in the water. â€œ…is there anything we can do to… you know, to speed you on your way, Fatty?â€ they constantly ask. â€œ…wouldnâ€™t it make a lot more sense… and be FAR cheaper… to finish up the work on your keel bolts in the water?â€
Yes, it is nice to know theyâ€™re on my side… on my sailing team, so-to-speak… ever willing to help me accomplish my nautical goals. Come to think of it, the IBY crew always seemed to wear particularly wide smiles at our relaunchings as well.
It is nice to know we bring joy where ever we sail.