Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Boat Boys

Martin on his boat Providence in Dominique

In many of the former “English Islands” that do not seem as prosperous as their French neighbors, cruisers are sometimes plagued by “boat boys.”  Boat boys are young men that attempt to make their living by serving the passing cruisers.

Banana Man in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia
Photo by: Izzy St. Clair

Sometimes they are humorous and offer good products at a fair price.

Fruit vendor Gregory in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Others try to “rip your face off” with their prices and either become belligerent or go into a begging routine if you are not interested in what they have to offer.  In Marigot Bay, I found that I could not sit on the back of my boat and read without being pestered by the various “vendors.”

At some dinghy docks you are expected to pay protection money to kids that will occasionally glance at your dinghy.  

But, it is hard to fault them for trying to make a living, especially in a place where jobs are scarce and opportunities are slow to materialize. 

Dive guide in Dominica

In some places they actually do serve a purpose and help cruisers tie off to a mooring, provide transportation, pick up your garbage, or offer guided tours.

Many of the boat boys have very colorful boats.

And, most have some sort of handle they go by.

Cobra an Indian River Guide

The boat boys in Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica realized that their key to success was repeat business from the cruisers.  Islands and anchorages that get a bad reputation via the cruisers’ “coconut telegraph,” like St. Vincent find that the cruisers quit coming.  So the boat boys, Indian River Guides and other business around Rupert Bay formed the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (PAYS).

The boat boys are all PAYS members and are held accountable by the organization.  Once you have “contracted” with a boat boy, the others leave you alone.  The current president of PAYS, Jeffery (Sea Bird) began a Sunday night beach barbecue that costs $50EC and includes what we have heard is a very potent rum punch.  The money collected pays for regular night harbor patrols.

Our “boat boy” and Indian River Guide, Martin Carriere (Providence) was a real joy to meet.  We hope the PAYS concept spreads to the rest of the islands.

Providence VHF:16
767-345-2700 Cell

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