We start pretty much as soon as we can get to St Lucia, which will probably be next Tuesday or Wednesday. We will have approx. 2 weeks in St Lucia before our first charter to familiarize ourselves wit the boat and the area. We start being paid as soon as we get down there and we can move onto the boat straight away.
The boat is a 47ft Robertson and Caine that is custom built for the Moorings. Its known around here as a moorings 4700. It has 4 cabins, 4 heads, 2 50 hp diesels, 3 air-conditioners and a Gen set. The galley is really well equipped with a great oven and pretty much every appliance you would be likely to need including a microwave.
It seems like it should be a pretty nice boat to work on. Its less than 12 months old and apparently really well maintained. Melanie and I did some sensational diving over the last couple of days. We had 2 dives on the Rhone which were fantastic with approx. 30 metre vis. then he next day we had 2 dives on some fantastic coral reefs near Ginger Island. Vis was about 25 metres.
We got a really good deal on the boat we did the Photo course dives. They gave us local rates which saved about 1 third. On all 4 dives we encountered a huge variety of colourful tropical fish and stunning corals, just what you would expect in the turquoise gin clear water.
So all is looking up at present and we are looking forward to getting established on the boat. We have a fair bit to do over the next few days in preparation.
Well we have had some fun over the last week or so. We managed to score about 4 nights free accommodation on a 35 ft Halberg Rassey, with a guy named Bill. It turns out Bill is a retired Nuclear Engineer. Still haven’t been able to figure out why he wanted to hang out with us.
Last Saturday we scored a days work with the eccentric cinematographer. Unfortunately we did not get paid but we did get to go diving for the day. There is a bloke out here named Mauricio Handler who is a world famous underwater photographer, he was conducting a 5 day intense course on underwater digital photography. He was charging about US$1700. The nature of the work was really interesting. Melanie was an underwater model for the day and I had to hold the underwater light for all of the dives. Now this was no ordinary light, it was a US$16000. HMI (halogen something Incandescent) that was connected to a generator on the back of the dive boat( Alby was a bit nervous given as a rule electricity and water don’t tend to mix).
There were 8 photographers and approximately US$100,000. worth of cameras housings & strobes. we did 3 dives on a wreck called The Rhone. For its age even though it is broken in to 2 pieces it is quite well preserved. We did not get to see a lot though, as Melanie had to hold the model pose and I had to shine the US$16000 light on her.
We did however see enough to know it is worth going back to dive properly. The next day Sunday we were invited out on a 26ft centre console with a 140 hp 4 stroke Johnson. with Ed, the bloke that owns the Virgin Queen, a local bar & restaurant.
We left from a place called Sopers Hole, apparently a famous pirate lair, on the West end of Tortola and headed for a place called Coral Bay on the Island of St John, part of the US Virgin Islands. We went to the US on the sly as the other guy with us Jerry was kinda on the run from his recently divorced wife, I can only guess that he was avoiding some sort of payout and if we checked in USVI he might get flagged. Coral bay is a bit of a hippy hang out and we had lunch at a bar named skinny legs. After lunch at skinny legs we headed for Norman Island and a bay called the bight. Norman Island is believed to be the island that Treasure Island was written about. The locals still believe there is a lot of treasure buried there!
The Bight at Norman Island is also the home of the Famous (out here) Willie T’s floating bar and restaurant. It is kind of wild and has a reputation for encouraging young girls to strip naked and jump from the top deck in exchange for a Willie T’s T shirt. While this did not actually happen while we were there, we only stayed for 2 drinks, I kind of have the feeling it probably happens fairly regularly. We didn’t stay there long I think mainly because Ed our intrepid host fell off his boat and got soaked. It was not a particularly warm day and we retreated to another land based bar in the same bay named Pirates. This place was magic, right on a beach that matches exactly what I imagined a classic Caribbean Beach to look like, complete with palm trees leaning out over the water and only accessible by water.
After another couple of drinks there it was back to Sopers and home to the sleazy Sea View Hotel for an early night. We have a job interview tomorrow at Moorings (the biggest charter Co. in the region) for a job down at St Lucia. Sound promising Rocket says she has a good feeling.
Well we had the first interview at 10.00 am and got invited back for the 2nd interview at 3.00pm. It turns out there are 2 jobs going down island as the locals say.
Mel – Laura who conducted the interviews told David that he would have to get a hair cut to fit in with the Moorings ‘image’, but given we are going to be down island I have a plan!! They are on boats based in a place called Canouan which is part of the Windward Island Group.
Apparently it is a bit of a Moorings outpost and fairly remote. One job is on a boat that stays in that region and the other is on a boat that spends 6 months down there and 4 months at he Abocos in the Bahamas. We have indicated interest in the job that is split between the Bahamas and the Windward Island mainly because it has an earlier start date.
The boat we would be working on is a 47 ft Cat (not sure what type yet) less than a year old apparently well maintained with air conditioning, Gen set and all the bells and whistles. We would have approx. 2 months in Canouan before taking the boat to the Bahamas, a trip of approx. 1500 miles that we would have 3 weeks to do, mainly reaching in 15 to 20 Knot NE trades, should be fun. Anyway we find out for sure if we have got it on Friday. Keep your fingers crossed!
Just an observation boats are generally cheap here. Good place to buy then sail home. Talking of buying it looks like we wont be following up on the Pearson 28 even though it has checked out is being pretty sound as if we get the job we wont need a boat of our own.
Well the time is passing very slowly here. we have couple of leads on jobs. One is only a slim chance and probably wouldn’t eventuate for a couple of months at least. The other a little more promising on a 45 ft French cat.
We met the American owner last night and he seems to be a nice sort of a bloke. We meet him on the boat this afternoon with our resumes. We have been staying at Jim Palmer’s place for the last 9 days, he is a really nice bloke who has become a good friend. We had to move from his place yesterday as he has friends down from Baltimore.
So after a week of relative luxury we are back at the seedy Sea View Hotel We had a day out fishing for Tuna in Jims Hataras which apart from not catching any fish was great fun. We have been spending some time with Armando the eccentric Argentinean underwater cinematographer. He showed us a DVD that he shot of a bull shark attacking him, it literally bit down on his camera housing after charging him a couple if times fortunately it did not manage to take a chunk out of him.
We have been looking at a little Pearson 28 which looks very similar to a compass 28, it is in reasonable condition apart from needing a really good clean, it has a new 2 cylinder 18hp Vartus diesel in it (less than eight hours since professional installation) and we can probably pick it up for 5 or 6 thousand us dollars. it has a swing mooring in the village marina and we would be able to live on it, do a bit of work on it and then even if we sold it for less it would be cheap accommodation with the added bonus of allowing us to do some cruising.
If we get it we may even take it to Antigua for race week. We met 2 Aussie guys who run an 85 ft motor yacht. It had a marble Jacuzzi in the owners cabin and onto the aft deck it had automated curved sliding doors. It had two 750 hp diesels that gave it a top speed of 25 knots. Thats planing! Cruising speed was 14 knots and at that speed it only consumed 70 litres an hour. They were up from St Maarten for a couple of days. After the owners and guests flew out they invited us on board for a drink or three. I don’t think I have tasted as many different rums in the rest of my life as we sampled that evening, and I don’t even like rum!
Any way it was amazing to get a VIP tour of the entire vessel. One killer hang over the next day. This morning we found a decent bakery and a place we can buy a coffee for $1.00 which doesn’t sound that exciting, I guess you would have to be here to appreciate our quest for reasonably priced healthy food. Hardest thing to deal with is there is pretty much nothing to do here unless you have a boat or are prepared to spend a lot of cash on organised tours or car hire.
We have been snorkeling out at the Indians which is a rock where Tortolas best coral is supposed to exist, glad we didn’t pay to dive there because on our standards even at home in Melb. this was crap. Apparently it used to be good! Apart from having set moorings in many of the bays there seems to be little awareness of conservation over here.
Still have not really managed to find any friendly belongers (the term they use for Tortolians with birth rights). They all really seam to begrudge others being here. We have no problem hitch hiking and it is considered safe here, most of the time we get a lift really quickly. I think it helps having Rocket. Both of us at times have been really home sick, missing family and friends and especially the dogs.
It has really made me think about the little things in my daily routine at home that you take for granted. It is not until you not doing them that you realize how much pleasure they bring. Any way thats al for now, any news or goss. from home greatly appreciated.
I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been pretty tough here, this place is not particular geared towards the budget traveller. We are staying in Road town on the south side of the island, which is where all the charter companies are located unfortunately the beaches are the north side, consequently expensive to get to. So when we are not looking for work there is not a lot to do.
The best time to go out is between 5pm to 7pm everyday to the Village Cay Marina Bar, because the drinks are at happy hour prices making them just affordable, and on Fridays they also have free food. The Village Cay has turned out to be a sensational place to meet people. We meet a fabulous bloke named Jim who is going to let us stay at his house next week while he is out on charter work.
Sleeping at the salubrious Sea View hotel is proving to be a nightmare We have both resorted to earplugs but even the effect of them is wearing off. The small window in our very small room is right next to a very busy and noisy road that doesn’t seem to slow down all night with the Island hoons doing burnouts up the hill!!! So staying at Jim’s Harbor side condo is going to be a blessing.
We hired a car yesterday morning and monday afternoon which is the best thing we have done yet. This island has without any question some of the most spectacular and picturesque scenery I have ever scene. Every photo is like a postcard. There have only been cars on Tortola for about 25 years and it shows in the driving skills of the locals. The roads are not much more than bitumen goat tracks, with the little 4wd we hired only just making it up them in 1st gear.
Well if hiring are car was good we had a better day out on the water yesterday. Alby while wearing a switch productions shirt and wandering the marinas met a full time underwater cinema photographer a Argentinean named Armando. He was going out to do a day’s filming on a local wreck and we were invited along. As I happened to have the long blonde hair I was invited to be a part of the film and got a free dive in the process. Alby got to go snorkeling. We then went to a little beach resort on another island – Copper Island to do some still photography.
We sold our house in Melbourne, Australia in November 2004 and left Australia for the British Virgin Islands in January with the hope of finding work in the crewed charter boat industry. After about 5 weeks of very persistent door knocking we secured a job on a 47 foot catamaran that worked in the Caribbean and The Bahamas for just over 13 months.
We have completed our contract and are about to set of to Europe for a 3 – 4 months in some sort of camper van. This site is an archive of the last 14 months and hopefully a journal for the next part of our journey.
You will find pictures, accounts of our work in the Caribbean and Bahamas, info on our travels, mpegs and podcasts.