Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The History of AA "part 4"

(i am at an internet cafe off island at the moment. the connection is slow and the computer is a crasher......i will spell check and edit this later. please excuse the mistakes)

We arrived in Provo, cold, tired, and stressed. We were not speaking much because the reality didn't sound too good. We were at the very least stuck up the creek without a paddle. I made some calls to Cooper Marine as soon as i got in and they agreed to put someone on a plane the next day. Two of my crew who had businesses to run back in Antigua flew out the next day as the guy from Cooper came in. This guy came off the plane without saying hi to me and carrying loads of attitude along with two boxes of repair materials. Before we even got to the car i stopped him and gave him a bit of my mind. It was a good thing i didn't tear him apart considering my mental state at the time. I was the victim here and he's giving me attitude!!!! Anyway, he said his main problem was that he had never left the country (USA) and didn't think that flying out to repair a boat he built was his idea of fun. I told him i was having way less fun and that i would have him back in Florida as soon as he made the simple repairs we needed to get us back home. Fortunately there was a good boat yard in Provo and the next morning we started the job with the help of a good Jamaican Fiberglass repair guy. The Cooper guy and the Jamaican cut away lifted laminations and prepared areas where i suggested we added more strcture. I have had quite a bit of experience over the years working in fiberglass and on boats and could easily see the problems. Of course, the Cooper Marine guy wanted to do as little as possible and didn~t see the need to add structure. He did a rushed job which was soo poor that i was worried it wouldnt last back to antigua. I knew we needed much more repairs which would be time consuming and costly. Cooper Marine never helped a bit. Please speak with me if you are ever thinking about getting one of their boats!!!!!!!!!!
Finally about 5 days later Chael and I set off from Provo again on our way to Samana, Rominican Republic. It was slow going as the seas hadñ't eased up and we ended up getting stuck in the middle of a storm which lasted most of the night. We took turns driving and trying to look out for other vessels. At one stage in i saw a light appear behind us appearing in and out of the torrential rain. At one stage i had to increase the speed to keep clear of it. Never saw what it was out there in the middle of the dangerous and famous "Mona Passage". Anyway, at sunrise we arrived like wet rats in Samana after a horrible night at sea. All we needed to do in Samana DR was get fuel and get outta there. We had to bribe 5 government officials because they told us that we had to clear customs and immigration first. We had to bribe them because they said it was a public holiday, and we were not going to get far in that noisy, dirty corrupt town without "playing ball". Anyway, we were happy to get out of that manic town and be on our way to San Juan. Once again we arrived at night and were met by US Coast Guard who were doing an operation off Puerto Rico. They told us to go into the port where they would do a search. They were very nice and after searching us and the boat released us into San Juan Harbour to get some needed rest. We slept like the dead and the next morning got fuel and left for the British Virgin Islands. As we arrived, the weather got so bad that i was worried about our trip from the BVI to St. Martin. Inside the BVI where it is normally calm there were huge waves and torrential rain. I heard later that several people died in flooding there. We arrived into Virgin Gorda's Spanish Town which was the last stop before our St. Martin journey, and it's where we were given the most hard core and disrespectful search by the customs officials yet. They wanted to "confiscate" a drill set and some other tools we had onboard simply because they liked them!!! After they left, i went to the BVI tourist board and made a formal complaint. It was that bad! Served us right i guess for being so honest. Most boats in transit dont bother clearing customs! Anyway, we moved around in the harbour to get a "birth". It was raining hard as hell and the boat next to us filled with a group of self proclaimed "red necks" invited us to have steaks with them on their yacht. We must have looked miserable or something, but the kind and warm hospitality was exactly what we needed. IT was some of the best steak i have ever had and the company was great too. I think they had been drinking all day in the rain by the time we got there and were very merry. At 5 am the next morning we set off for the 100 mile trip to St. Martin straight into some of the nastiest seas i have experienced. It was 8 hours of scary pounding into the sea with waves crashing over the bow and washing right across the deck and out the back. Chael and i kept on listening out for noises below deck and we kept checking the repairs that we could easly see. Having no life raft out there with a boat that already had problems in huge stormy seas was a stressful experience. St. Martin never looked so good. We arrived to flooded streets and mud everywhere but we were happy to be there. The next day we made our last 100 mile journey to Antigua. We had to laugh really because as we closed in on the final 10 miles the winds calmed down. In fact, for the next three weeks the weather was flat calm........1500 miles of rough dangerous seas where we nearly lost the boat, and we get home to another 3 weeks of perfectly calm weather.
Within a week we were taking full boats out on The new Eco Tour though and very quickly the news of the new boat spread. IT was as good as i thought it would be for the tour. We didn~t have to change a thing and the tour was better now in my opinion. It realy is a great design. We added one crew to make it easier to handle a larger group, and this worked great as well. I figured i could make it through the season with the repairs we had done in Provo since it had made it through all that rough ocean. Winter 03/04 was a busy season and spring stayed busy too. In fact summer 04 was almost as busy for the company as with winter season had been. We were turning away bookings again, and i started thinking about another boat and another tour. Why not? On the trip down from Florida, i had seen some boats by a company called Performance 40. Powerboat Adventures in Nassau were using these boats and swore by them. They were built stronger than normal and looked like fun. I enjoyed the Cooper boat but it was a bit big to take out on the weekend days off. These boats would be perfect for a new tour as well as a great boat to have fun with. Soooo...............................I went to Miami to see Bob the boat builder..........T.B.C.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Eli,

Boy, when you said that had been an ugly trip, you were understating it! I'm sure if our first cruise had had half the drama, we wouldn't have gone on a second.

I've really been enjoying reading all the blog entries, and feel like I'm really getting to know the folks we've been communicating with. When are you going to write something about Nell, and put her picture on?