We have been without a boat for about a year. That means we have had to hire someone to take us in their boat to shop in Placencia and Independence, the nearest villages (14 miles away, a 30-45 minute trip each way) with grocery stores and fresh produce. We also have to pay someone to bring the work crew over and back from Monkey River Village (1 mile away) five days a week, or take us to catch a bus or plane if we travel any farther. All-in-all, that adds up to an amount that I don't even want to consider.
We have 2 excellent engines; 100HP Yamahas. We have a non-functional boat that since August 2017 is supposed
to be being rebuilt. We will get it finished, one way or another - but that is an incomplete story for another time.
In the meantime, we needed a work boat. We found a used boat without an engine for sale for a good price in Independence. It is a classic "high bow" work boat, also called a panga in other parts of the Caribbean.
|The bow flares up in profile to cut through the waves.|
The boat, built in 2005, was used as a fishing boat by a local fisherman until his health got too bad for him to continue to work. It is a basic 25ft fiberglass boat with no floor, painted the ubiquitous mint green.
|You can see the open bottom. Local fishermen often just lay plywood cut to size across the bottom to make a rough floor. This boat didn't even have that.|
We bought the boat from someone who had bought it from the fisherman when he had to pay his medical bills a few months earlier. The person we bought it from hadn't actually done all the paperwork involved in buying and selling a boat, so technically, we bought it from the original owner and repaid the middle man, so to speak. We got papers signed and notarized, money changed hands and everyone was happy - the original owner, the middle man, us, and the Port Authority of Belize.
Our friend Jason helped us inspect the boat before we bought it and then used his boat to tow the new boat from Independence to Stafford's Boatyard in Placencia. That was a short trip of not quite 4 miles across the Placencia Lagoon.
|Unloading the boat off the trailer. |
|Maybe you can see that the trailer is not a boat trailer but has 4 fixed sides. That made it a little difficult to load and unload the boat. The guys had to lift the bow up and slide the boat across the rear side of the trailer. It went well, all things considered.|
Now it was time to tow the boat across the lagoon.
|The lack of a good bow hook meant we had to tow the boat stern first. Glad we didn't have far to go.|
|Keeping it steady as we go across the lagoon.|
Stafford inspected the boat for us and in his opinion it needed to be stripped down to have new ribs installed to strengthen boat for our 100HP engine. We looked at other boats in his boatyard for ideas for the layout of the benches and hatches and the placement of the steering console.
|Stripping the boat down.|
We settled on a design with a bench on either side, one cross bench near the bow, and, most importantly for us, a builtin floor that will make it much easier for us old folks to move around in the boat without twisting an ankle or knee.
|Floor is in place and benches are taking shape.|
|Center console to the rear of the side benches.|
Another change from the original boat design was to put in a center steering console since our engine is not a tiller engine like the one the first owner used. We decided to include a gas tank in the console and a small seat to the front of the console.
|Looking from stern to bow at the side benches with their cutouts for stowing gear and purchases. You can see the seat in front of the console.|
The nice thing about fiberglass is that you can make any shape you want. We wanted the benches to have angled ends on this work boat. That makes more room to haul long pieces of lumber across the diagonal of the floor space.
|12ft lengths of wood can easily fit along the diagonal.|
Just because it is a work boat doesn't mean it can't look sharp. We opted for a blue and dark red color scheme on the hull.
|Stafford has a great eye for color and patterns. Below the horizontal masking tape, the hull will be painted with dark grey with an anti-fouling paint|
The interior, with the exception of the console and console seat, will be painted light grey with dark grey flicks.
And here she is, coming home to our landing on Black Creek! No more mint green.
|Captain Tiger brings Sea Buggy around to the landing on Black Creek at the west side of our place.|
The bimini was installed and now she is good to go.
|The first trip with the bimini in place. We need all the sun protection we can get - even the engine wears a T shirt!|
So much easier now with a boat again.
|Off to do some shopping.|
We are very pleased with the work Stafford did; a very professional job completed in a timely manner.