We Survived… Woo Hoo!

So, it wasn’t easy… I don’t think either of us really slept for the first few nights… but we got lucky and had some really nice guests on board, who we believe had a wonderful time with us during that week… and Geoff didn’t have much criticism of our first charter… so I think we did ok!! Yay!!

I can’t say I can actually remember that much of the week at all… Hmm… or maybe that’s just the wine!

Talk about trial by fire… and then when we got back to the dock and saw the guests off on the Saturday… we had to turn the boat around and do it all over again from 5pm with another group!! Our real, first live charter!

There’s no substitute for getting started

Lindsay and I returned to Belize from our training charter in Antigua on December 3, 2009. We made our way back to the Tradewinds base in Placencia during the afternoon. Our dinghy “Ayelet” gave us a bit of trouble for having been left sitting for so long, so we finished the last leg of our travels under tow by a kind neighbor named Steve because our dinghy’s motor kept stalling. Thankfully, all was well when we finally made it back aboard.

The next morning, Lindsay and I were wondering what we would do with the next two weeks before our vacation with her family up in Ambergris beside, as Lindsay put it, “drive each other crazy.”

We started by sleeping until the sun heated up the boat. We put up our tarp for shade and got around to eating breakfast about ten. By eleven, we were both firing up our laptops and about to hoist the wifi booster when we saw Peter Rea, the TradeWinds Sales Manager aboard “Tank Boy”, coming out to see us as we swung on our anchor in a gentle breeze. I smiled and gave a big wave to him as he approached. He didn’t wave back. He came alongside and shut off the engine. Then he said something that I couldn’t quite comprehend, but it contained the words walk, job, and quit. Of course I asked him to repeat what he’d said even though I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to hear it again.

“Jason and Lindsay just quit. They’ve walked off the boat and I have guests arriving for a charter this afternoon on their boat. Can you go to work today?” Or it was mostly like that. I felt the anxiety skip all warning levels by twisting my stomach into a knot. I responded with, “Wow. I’m disgusted to hear that!” Peter replied with “I know Mate, believe me, I’m disgusted as well. I need you guys to take this charter. Will you do it?” I looked directly at Lindsay and wondered if she could figure a way out of this one. She looked back at me wide eyed and shrugged (I was desperately trying to think if there was any acceptable way of saying no!! Lx).

Lindsay and I both started talking at the same time convincing each other that this just is one of those things we have to do and there’s no other way and all that stuff. If we want the work, it looks like we have to do it right now. We might as well start out proving ourselves willing to go the extra mile right off the bat. So much for taking the time to drive each other crazy! “Are you going to come with us?” I asked, knowing that I didn’t have enough navigational information or any time aboard “Stess”, a Priveledge 45 catamaran weighing 14 tons. “I won’t send you out there alone, guys. Don’t worry. How much time do you need, we’ve got to get Stess ready.”

We negotiated one hour to pack and be at the base to provision the boat and get some information about the guests. Needless to say, things were a bit hectic at the dock that afternoon. We had lots of others helping us prepare food, checking lists and asking us what else we needed done. “How should I know?” was my eventual response, with a huge crazy smile! “Do I have enough Diesel?” The water tanks hadn’t been filled, Lindsay was rummaging through the cabinets, trying to find some sense of order. She was lugging huge bins of frozen food and veggies aboard, stowing them in all sorts of compartments. The base crew was busy cleaning the boat and we were all in each other’s way. The guests were expecting to walk aboard a boat ready to go in three hours. Peter arranged for Geoff, another captain with TradeWinds, to accompany us for assistance in navigation and to manage the membership process. He was expecting to have a week off and wasn’t happy about having to come out with us, but everyone pulled together to make the best out of what was given to us. That’s the most important point, performance under pressure. So what if I introduced Lindsay to our very first guest by my ex wife’s name? Everyone thought I was joking around when she corrected me! Lucky me.

Off Around the Island

Antigua postcard 1
At the end of November they sent us off to Antigua for another training charter… by then we had really become the whirlwind travelers … Belize… Miami… US Virgins Islands… British Virgin Islands and then finally to the Island of Antigua.
Antigua Postcard 2
While our new friends Dax & Kristyn were headed out on their first live charter, we jumped aboard “Passion” with at British couple Nick & Vanda and 3 couples and went out to explore what Antigua had to offer.

Antigua was a very different experience from the trips we do down here in Belize – you are cruising the waters around the big island, checking out all the different, little bays. There’s lots more ashore, from little hikes up to all the old forts…
Postcard of Antigua 3

So we had a great time exploring with Nick & Vanda and seeing how they run their charters.

All in all it was a great week, and we made some great friends… Nick & Vanda will be joining us in Belize, and we hope to catch up with Derek & Christine in the UK or Ireland sometime soon!