Friday, January 31, 2014

Port Antonio, Jamaica

Posted by Scot.  Written Jan. 26, 2014.

Some local colour.
Port Antonio, the town, is a bit rough around the edges.  It is pretty amazing how our perspective has shifted, though.  As we were walking through town today, Katie said “If this is the first town we had come to when we left Canada, we wouldn’t have known what to make of it!  Now, it seems like a fancy place!”  It’s true – compared to the cities and towns in Cuba, it feels like we have sailed forward maybe 50 or 60 years.

One of the nicer guesthouses in Port Antonio.
Attendees at Titchfield High School.
One thing that is different here, which we haven’t seen much of recently, is the rain.  It has rained hard pretty much every night and day since we have been here.  Because of the high peaks around (about 7,000 feet), the clouds moving in from the Eastern Caribbean get lifted here, and dump their rain right on Port Antonio, making this the wet side of the island of Jamaica.  It also makes it incredibly green, and lush.  Fortunately, rain here only lasts for about half an hour.  But when it rains, it rains suddenly and hard.  We have to be on top of closing our ports as soon as the first few drops hit.  Otherwise, we run the risk of having soaked beds under the open cabin hatches.

More rain clouds threatening.
Sara met a local man as we were walking around town.
Our time in Port Antonio has been spent working on the never ending list of boat projects, and enjoying the shopping in the market.  The fruits and vegetables here are tremendous, again thanks to the tropical climate and the plentiful rain.

Market fresh goodness.
One of the kids in the market.
I got to go up the mast again (actually three times) to work on our wifi extender.  I remembered to take a picture this time.
Pretty much as soon as you land in the marina in Port Antonio, you are approached by one or more of the few locals who have somehow managed to qualify to work on boats in the marina.  The marina is otherwise secured from the local population with gates and guards, but these few guys have somehow gotten the monopoly on doing boat chores.  We were prepared for this, as it is well documented in the cruising guides.

Interesting cat.
Another interesting cat.  This was the last cat built by the Dean company in South Africa.  According to the owner, the company went bankrupt while building it, and it had to be finished by a private contractor.  We looked at some Dean cats when we were boat shopping.
Anyway, when we got in, one of the guys, John “Hulk” Brown and his partner Rudy were just finishing polishing the sides of the blue hulled boat next to us.  When they were done, the boat was shining.  As he was working, Hulk noticed we had some rust on our stainless steel, and he mentioned he could get it shining for us if we wanted.  After he was done on the boat next to us, we had a quick negotiation, and agreed on a price for him to clean all our stainless and our hulls.  The next day, he and Rudy attacked our boat.  They went so far as to break out toothbrushes and clean in the nooks and crannies of our stainless fixtures so that everything shone.  When they were done with that, we talked to them about our decks, which were still showing some spotting from the marina in Cuba.  So, they came back one more day and spent the entire day cleaning and polishing our top sides, so that now they are cleaner than they have ever been, since the day we got on the boat.

Hulk and Rudy getting our stainless steel shining.
We sat down for a drink with them after it was all done, and learned a bit more about them.  Hulk has been working on boats here for a long time, and is a bit of a jack of all trades.  He really knows his cleaning products and techniques, and gave us quite a few tips about how to keep the boat shining.  He is a really pleasant, soft-spoken guy who works hard, and is as particular about getting the job done right as we are.  He has done pretty much everything you can do on a boat, and has even done some long range cruising as a deckhand for folks he met in the marina.  His dream is to eventually own a boat of his own and go sailing himself, working on other boats as we go.

Monashee, clean and shiny all over.
The whitest our boat has ever been.  Hulk even cleaned the rust off our fishing rod.
Anyway, he asked us to mention him in the blog, and let any other cruisers know that he is keen to work if they are coming through here.  We can recommend him strongly – he worked hard, delivered what was promised, and the cost was way less than it would have been to have the same work done in the States.


  1. I cannot imagine climbing the mast Scot. How high is that? The boat looks great from up there, so glad you remembered the camera.

  2. It's 65 feet straight above the deck. Kinda unnerving when it's windy. I have to go up again on a few days to put up our new wifi extender. I'll try to remember to take another picture.