“She’s dog, but we are up for an adventure eh’ darling” my husband announced on the 48 hour flight to Aruba. Oh how he has changed his tune! As we get closer to Aruba I have noticed a dramatic shift in his description of ‘Summertime’. Six months ago he was full of “She is a really solid boat- just needs a good clean” and “it is a great price”. Three months ago it was, “Think of her like the state house of the sea” one week ago, “We will have out work cut out for us” and then, as we were about to touch down, the truth comes out, and I discover she is apparently, a dog.
Today it was time to view this yacht and decide for myself.
We set off early, and walked the dusty 45 minutes into town to the bus depot. Unlike everyone else in Aruba we don’t drive a massive SUV with tinted windows. Half the lunatics on the roads here are American tourists who have a very flexible interpretation of the rode code. They think nothing of creating short cuts across roundabouts and off-roading in the centre of town!
Their legendary friendliness ( their number plate say, Aruba is One Happy Island!) compels them to swoop over lanes of traffic towards us and just as we think ‘this is the end’ they pull up hard on the brakes, slide the tinted window down and ask “ Bon dia, you okay? Where you go? I give you a lift?” After such dramatic displays of driving I decline politely, “Gracias, no, we are fine, we are going just over there”. I figure I would rather take my own life in my hands than trust it to some well meaning, mad driving, stranger.
To sum up – the walk is far from pleasant.
The bus driver yells out our destination ‘Sabana Basora’ at seemingly random groups of people sheltering under trees and if anyone yells back he swerves to pick up them up.
Dash loves the bus. He shakes with excitement and wants to sit in a seat all by himself as he repeats “Ohhhhhhh bus bus” for the entire journey. Like the free-form approach to picking up passengers we are dropped right outside the marina. A rather grand title for what turns out to be a fisherman’s wharf.
There, down some very steep steps, was ‘Summertime’.
She looked like a bag of arseholes.
I stood there very, very quietly.
I extended my hand while my eyes were locked on the bits of railing that were strewn around the wharf.
“Nice to meet you, I have heard so much about you” I replied.
“All good I hope” Reinhardt joked in his heavy German accent..
Thankfully, I could honestly reply “Yes” to this but I dreaded him asking me what I thought of the boat.
Luckily I was spared, and he introduced me to the welder who was squatting by the side of the yacht.
“This is Miguel; he is replacing the toe rails and has done a good job on the chain plates. He is the best welder on the island”.
All I was thinking was ‘Thank fark for that, cos bloody hell this boat needs all the help she can get’ instead I replied as cheerily as I could, “Nice to meet you.”
We stood there awkwardly while Ross watched my face for any trace of emotion. I had my sunglasses on which hid the Ice Stare. This face is reserved for severe cases of What the fark have we done!!!!!!!!
I knew she was rough, I had poured over photos of her interior and the screen saver on our computer is a snap of her at anchor, but seeing her there with bits of frayed rope and rusty steel hanging off her, her bobbly seams oozing filler and with her name ‘Summertime’ half missing, I felt like being sick.
“What do you think darling?”
“ Ummm she looks bigger than Astra” was all I could manage with the old owner standing right next to me.
“Is it okay if we go aboard?” Ross asked Reinhardt.
“Sure, just try to look past the mess”.
What do you mean look past the mess?! If the man who has been living on her thinks it is messy what hope is there?
“I admire their determination but with only 3 weeks and a tiny budget I just don’t know if they will be able to do it”. Cue long shot of ruined manor house….
Buoyed on by this image, I stepped over the newly wielded toe rail and boarded my new home.
Bits of junk, including a garden hose reel, cluttered the deck, the cockpit still had dog hairs stuck to it and there was a strong odor of filth emanating from below.
Holding my breath I made my descent into the cabin. Once my eyes had adjusted to the dim light I was pleasantly surprised. “What’s it like?” Ross called from the cockpit.
“Beamier than I expected” I called back. A smile of relief stretched across his face and he and Dash clambered down the companion way to join me in the saloon.
Reinhardt, waving his hand across piles of books declared, in a way that only Germans can “There is much more room without these.”
Pity the same can’t be said for the galley. It is tiny. Even for a boat. There is very little storage space and no gimbaled stove. And it is so disgustingly dirty I don’t want to put my hand on the rails for fear of catching something. Years of built up grease, human and dog hair and skin shedding have created big dark stains on the wood. I gagged.
Continuing our tour we took the required 6 steps from the galley, through the equally repulsive saloon to Dashkin’s forepeak cabin. I opened the door and out fell bits of hosepipe, plugs, rope, more books and other filthy trinkets. I couldn’t even see where the bed was!
Ross quickly closed the door, “ That will be the first thing I clean out tomorrow darling. Let’s check out the stern cabin”
This is where ‘Summertime’ comes into her own. A huge bed stretches across the width of the yacht, portholes look out to the bright blue ocean and well placed fans keep the stifling air circulating. Dead flies also litter any available surface and there are more grease stains and piles of dust. Just the kind of first home I have always dreamed off. Not.
Marriage is about compromise and for better or worse, so I looked at Ross and giving him a kiss said. “Once I have removed those ugly curtains, repainted the ceiling, scrubbed the walls, thrown out the carpet, picked up the flies, sanitized every single surface and have re-covered the soft furnishings, this area will be lovely”.
Again I could hear Kevin from Grand Designs “It is repulsive, yes they paid a pittance for a yacht this size, but this boat is going to need a huge about of sweat equity if she is ever going to leave this Aruban fisherman’s wharf. Trying to do this with a 20 month old son seems… ludicrous”. Cue commercial break.