[Kyle]I had almost a week off work on my next trip home but I knew it wasn’t going to be any fun – we needed the bottom painted and we’d planned to be hauled out. Haul outs are all of the work and zero of the fun of boating – zero. Boat yards are hot, noisy, dusty, grubby places to do anything. We planned to make the most of being hauled out and had a host of other jobs to be done that are WAY more convenient to do out of the water – a busy schedule. We had been recommended Bobby’s Marina in the lagoon by several people and this is where we booked our slot.
I’ll spare the details, but life once we were hauled out was a miserable existence; we wake up at first light, work hard all day long (until it’s too dark to continue), and then, stiff and sore from the day, limp over to a cold shower where the grime runs off us in streams. It's impossible not to track mud from the yard everywhere. Aboard, all of the cupboards and storage areas are open with tools and parts spread everywhere. Most of the time there is not even a flat spot big enough to sit (no problem, turn around, go outside and keep on working).
Gradually, slow step by step, by the end of the 3rd day of the haul out, Footprint hung suspended in the slings, all freshly painted and shiny, clean and tidy inside and ready to go in the water. We got done just in time to limp our aching bodies to the St Maarten regular wednesday night Cruisers Sundowner (a social get together for fellow cruisers). The next morning we were scheduled to go in first thing (which around here is first light). We actually splashed down just after 7am, and then we went to pay the bill – ah the moment of truth. This is where things always go terribly wrong for us. This time we had a pleasant surprise. The bill was too low! Now, if you are ever trying to sell a car, I’m the guy you want to buy it from you because I have a certain negotiating technique which goes like this: “Really – are you sure that’s all you want for your car?” “It seems so nice, don’t you want more?”. Maryanne noticed that the bill omitted labour and supplies for repairing yet more voids in our hull (surely we are done now?). Eventually, even after all my complaining, the bill was not even close to the traditional 4 digits, we did all we could and had to leave anyway.
The thing that really freaked me out though was not the bill, but the staff. Typically, boat owners are treated as nuisances rather than customers (a-la FKG), but in this case, the exact opposite was true. I commented to Maryanne that this was the first time I’d got to the end of a haul out and didn’t want to strangle the yard manager. They even said we were super relaxed people (rather than the usual send off – "Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!"). The boat is in good shape, we didn’t get ripped off, ready for further adventures.
[Maryanne]We arrived at our haul out well prepared. We’d confirmed the rate and agreed the work we’d do ourselves (we were unusually allowed to paint the bottom since the yard was already busy – but normally this would not be the case; policy is all work below the water line must be done by the yard). I’m allergic to bottom paint, so Kyle gets that duty, but I was still busy with waxing the hull, and a host of other jobs on our extensive list. Bobby’s marina is a typical boat yard – dirty and a bit derelict in appearance, but it has a great reputation for excellent shoring of boats, and all our dealings had been friendly with plenty of smiles from the managers and other yard staff. Managers Yvonne (in the office) and Lance (in the yard) were both really helpful and a pleasure to be around, they kept us informed and were happy to help with any questions we had. The one guy that did work on our voids was polite and friendly, let us know when he was done, etc - all the things that make the yard life as easy as possible. AND they had wifi – perfect, and the price was right.
So unlike FKG Rigging (which we hope to never see again), we absolutely recommend Bobby's Boat Yard in the Lagoon (Airport Branch), and did I mention they had WiFi?. (They do have a lot of dogs roaming around, so be warned if that's not your cup of tea).
Footprint with her rigging all back to Bristol, and her bottom hopefully free of marine life for at least the next year, is ready for he next challenge... And next time Kyle comes home we WILL NOT be working on the boat, we'll actually get to go sailing again. Yay!