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Island Time

In the movie Volunteers (one of the great comedies that came out of the 80s), John Candy’s character, Tom Tuttle from Tacoma, bumbles his way through the Southeast Asian jungle, only to come face to face with a tiger. Slowly backing away from the big cat, he falls into a tiger trap, and utters one of the great lines in 80s comedy films

: “Trapped in a tiger trap by a tiger.”


I know how he feels. In our own version of that scene, Chantal and I are Tom Tuttle from Tacoma, the Grenadians are the tiger, and Island Time is the tiger trap. Let me explain.


A month ago, we shipped a barrel of goods from Vermont to Grenada. These were not critical goods. These were things we thought would be helpful for living aboard a 38-foot sailboat. Things like books on stoicism, Q-tips, and the flag of Ireland. (You see where I am going here, but that is an entirely different story that will be addressed at a later date, after we have sold all the stuff we shipped down in our barrel to other sailors.)


Getting the barrel on this end has proved to be challenging. We had two choices: DIY, or hire a broker. To DIY the importation of the barrel, we would both have to go down to the Grenada Port Authority, unseal the barrel in the presence of customs officials, then split up: one person would have to sit with the barrel to protect its contents, because it was now open; the other would have to travel a labyrinth offices and papers and stamps and approvals to get the barrel released. Then we would have to hire a taxi, and buy taxi I mean bus (see the previous post, “17½ People and a Propane Tank”). And then we would have the privilege of dinghying our goods out to Camino.


Or we could pay an importer named Mikey $86USD to take care of everything for us, except the dinghying part. Problem solved.


Except we could not nail down a delivery time, even though we knew the barrel had arrived in Grenada. In fact, it had been here a week already, sitting in the Port Authority warehouse. Mikey was supposed to deal with the shipper, and we knew nothing of what was going on. Finally on Thursday, July 1, Mikey said all was in order and he could deliver the barrel the next day. The problem was that the next day our schedule was booked with a visit from Hurricane Elsa.


Tiger Trap—1, Tiger—1, Tom Tuttle from Tacoma—0.


When you are living on a boat, it is not enough to have what you need. You need at least two or three of the things you need. For example, if on land you normally drink a beer or a glass of wine each day, on a boat you will need several bottles of rum—light rum, dark rum, spiced rum, rhum agricole, etc. It is the same with gasoline for your dinghy. It is not enough to have a half tank of fuel. Our tank is 5.3 gallons, and we could burn 2.5 gallons quickly for any given reason: fleeing hurricanes, going to Roger’s Beach Bar, or shopping for more rum.


So on Monday morning, July 5, we were going to catch the free bus that took cruisers to a nearby gas station. At this point, people from Green Harbor might be saying, “A bus to get gas for your dinghy? What kind of post-apocalyptic state do you live in?” In Green Harbor, everybody had a fuel dock: Taylor Marine, the Town Pier, Green Harbor Marina. In Woburn Bay, Grenada, none of the marinas have a fuel dock. In fact, if you need diesel for your sailboat motor, you must sail around to St. George’s and fill up at the Grenada Yacht Club. Fuel is kind of a pain in the ass.


When our guy Mikey offered to reschedule for Monday, we thought we would be able to kill two tigers—er, birds—with one stone. Mikey would come at 9, we would dinghy our goods to Camino, then be back for the fuel run at 10:30.


First, no Mikey. Chantal texted and called, and finally got in touch with him around ten. He offered to bring the barrel down in 20-30 minutes. But by then we would be on the fuel run. No problem, just call when you get back from the fuel run. So we waited for Chico the fuel run bus driver to show up, but he did not. Frantic phone calls were places. People began drinking heavily at the bar. Nobody could find Chico. Finally, the bar manager was able to reach him: he would not come until 1 p.m.


Okay, call Mikey. Get the goods here, and we will try to make it work. Mikey arrived, full of apologies.


“Another boat came in on Saturday,” he explained, “plus four planes. It was very hectic. And it was all made more difficult by the cricket (the sport, not the insect).” It seems Grenada had a match against South Africa in St. George’s, and this dosed the entire country with a miasma of island time that lasted days before and after the match.


Tiger Trap—2, Tiger—2, Tom Tuttle from Tacoma—1 (we got the barrel, so we get a point).


Now we were faced with a crucial decision: How long do we wait for Chico the bus driver? We discussed sand and lines. We gazed at our barrel. It rained. The sun came out and stewed everything. Cruisers, drunk and fed up, began leaving. We shrugged and decided to take a chance and make a run with some of our goods to Camino. If we missed the fuel bus, we would figure something out. We unpacked half the barrel into bags and puttered out to the boat, turned around, and came right back.


“You just missed the bus!” the chorus at the bar told us. Of course we missed the bus. Fortunately for us the bar was having a special: $1EC wings. I ordered a beer and we sat back and enjoyed the food.


Tiger Trap—3, Tiger—3, Tom Tuttle from Tacoma—2 (wings + beer = 1 point).


There was no rush now. There was not a lot of fuel left in the dinghy fuel tank, but we would figure something out. Maybe tomorrow we will motor over to Le Phare Bleu, where they have some fuel, and we can sit by their pool and drink a beer and think about tiger traps and island time. Or maybe there will be a hurricane, or an exploding volcano. Who knows?


Tiger Trap—3, Tiger—3, Tom Tuttle from Tacoma—3 (surrendering to island time + rum = 1 point).


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