In July of 02 my two bestest buds and I were limping the dilapidated Diva
from where I'd bought her (Tortola) down to Trinidad for the major rebuild
I was pretty sure she needed (and I was right). On the way we suffered fuel
problems, broken steering
chains, disfunctional windlass
problems, running rigging
fires, decks that leaked like sieves every time it rained (and it rained buckets 3-4 times per day) and in the middle of the night off Rousseau, Dominica
, a blown water
pump on the Ford Lehman
. We tacked into the dying wind
all night until by dawn we were about a mile from shore. We then got the bright idea of seeing if a 40 hp Honda outboard
could tow a 46,000 lb. boat, and to our surprise (and annoyance, for not thinking of this at 11pm), it did. We anchored, exhausted and demoralized at 7am. As soon as we were confident that back-wind alone had set our anchor
sufficiently, we heard the put-put of a beat-up pirogue, and a gleaming smile welcomed us to Dominica
. His name was Rodney, and we told him of our plight, fearing that Dominica's reputatiion as an eco-tourism destination
precluded much in the way of repair infrastructure. He said he'd arrange a taxi and meet us in an hour at the street side of the hotel
we'd anchored in front of.
An hour later, we found Rodney and Anthony the Taxi Man waiting for us outside the hotel
. They first took us to Customs
to clear in, then to the "Ford Dealership" in town, which was a dour office on the third floor of a concrete-block building with shelves of dusty parts
and a poster of a 1993 Probe on the wall. The Dutch proprietor said he could have a water
pump shipped to us from the UK in about three weeks, for a mere $1800 USD. Then, Anthony got another idea: he knew somone who might know where to get a pump. We drove north for over an hour through the interior
of the island, then finally turned onto a dirt road and through razor-wire fencing into the Dominican Dept. of Transportation Motor
Pool. Huge road graders were hoisted high up on even huger lifts. He parked and went into the office, and a few minutes later came out with the Asst. Chief of the motor
pool, who thought immediately of two Ford engines he had on the grounds, one easier to get to than the other. We went to a cluttered storage
shed, and pulled an old baby buggy and a box of ten-year-old government
pay stubs off a rusting hulk that was once a tractor engine
. They got some tools, and Rodney and Anthony removed the water pump. The Chief said, "Go try it, if it works, come back and we'll talk about a price
." We drove down-island, went to the boat, and while the bolt pattern worked, the geometry of the plumbing
conflicted with the manifold...damn, so near and yet so far.
We radioed Rodney and said we had no joy, and needed to go back up to the motor pool. An hour later, we met Rodney and Anthony again and went back, catching the whole place about to close up for the week; it was 4pm on a Friday. The Chief led us to the second engine
he had in mind...through a jungle path to an outer warehouse made of 6" steel
grating, and locked since time immemorial. No one knew where the key to it was, and the engine in question sat about four feet inside the gate with the water pump side facing away from us (of course). Rodney and Anthony first tried to tip the 800 lb+ engine over with a 4x4, breaking it in half. Then they took a long iron pipe and patiently dug a hole next to the engine until it finally just fell over. They reached through the grating and unmounted the pump, and my heart skipped a beat when it wasn't sure that it would could be wiggled through the grating. Here's a photo
of that mission, and one of our prize: http://www.cruisersforum.com/gallery...500&userid=945
We had brought our original pump with us, and it was an exact match. The Chief asked for $100 EC (roughly 40 bucks US), I paid it gladly and we went back to Rousseau. I paid Rodney and Anthony $100 US for all their efforts that long 12-hour day; an even better bargain considering the hundred included a trip to the airport
for one of our crew at 6am the next morning. On board, installed with some liquid gasket
, it fit like a glove, and we held our breaths while testing it with the engine running. It held water...it pumped water...and the temp gauge actually ran about 10 degrees cooler
than it had previously. We were back in business!
The next morning, we got a bit worried about having pre-paid for the airport
trip, as 6am came and went. 6:15, 6:20...finally, at 6:30, a different taxi came roaring up, and Rodney hopped out of the passenger seat, uttering a torrent of apologies about their lateness; evidently Anthony blew his windfall of the previous day on rum
and was AWOL that morning. Rodney had roused another driver and got there as soon as he could. They got our crewman to the airport in plenty of time, and he wouldn't take another penny for his gallantry.
If it wasn't for Rodney the boat boy...who knew Anthony the taxi driver...who knew Mssr. La Chief...today Diva
would be mouldering away in the jungle on Dominica, instead of (fingers crossed) a few months away from being resplashed in Chaguaramas.
All I can say is, God Bless Boat Boys.