When one boatbuilder meets another, there's bound to be some mutual interest. I've already written about the boatbuilders of Windward – a community in Carriacou, an island some twenty miles north of Grenada. But to tell the truth I had forgotten about a gent I met last year in Bequia – territorially part of the state of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Shindig was anchored in Admiralty Bay, Bequia's principal anchorage; and a very fine one at that. We had taken a water taxi ashore to Port Elizabeth to do some shopping. Now, I don't know about you but I find shopping both physically and emotionally draining. I suppose it's all that excitement – walking between cliffs of stacked shelves, all burdened with delectable commodities like tinned tripe and toilet rolls. Too heady an environment for me. After a while one's sense of wonder falters and some form of survival instinct kicks in, telling you it's time to draw breath before you burst.
Thus it was that lugging our purchases and prompted by a heat-induced thirst, Chele and I found ourselves plodding southwards along Princess Margaret Beach – a long curve of sand that fringes the bay. We had heard that Jack's Bar was a good place to convalesce and thought that a spot of lunch and a couple of beers might help our recovery.
The beach was unusually deserted. For those anchored off, there are convenient dinghy docks nearer to Port Elizabeth, but the beach is still a good place to land. It's common to see all sorts of smaller craft drawn up on the sand: inflatables, windsurfers, kayaks and the like. But I had never spotted anything so unusual as the craft that heads this blog.
I stopped to take a closer look and was busy giving it the once-over when the gent featured above hove into view. He appeared cheerful and friendly so we went through a “yours?” “yes” “made it yourself?” “yes” dialogue and I asked him if I could take a photograph. He beamed at my request and stood proudly besides his creation while I clicked away.
And his pride is well justified, Yes, it's crude, but is that relevant? And it's far from ridiculous. His boat cost next to nothing to make and is probably too unique to be stolen. Maintenance costs will be virtually non-existent. It's propelled with oars rather than a paddle or a sail. Caribbean seas are warm so the lack of water-tightness is no handicap – could even be thought of as 'cooling'. Horses for courses as you might say.
And what about the timber? I thought it might be bamboo but clearly isn't. Mangrove roots perhaps? If anybody knows I would really like to hear from you.
We were walking through the streets when approached by three youths. One speaks.
“Hey, Skip, it's my birthday. Have you got a present for me?”
“Thank you. Now how about the present? Ten dollars maybe."
“What date is it today?”
The group looked nonplussed. Two of them now looking at the third.
“Told you. It's my birthday.”
“Yes, I know. But what's the date? Surely you must know the date of your birthday.”
The two are now grinning broadly. The third looks seriously discomfited. Then suddenly they ran off, two hooting with laughter, the other scowling. A good try but if only they had known I had no idea of the date myself.