Peakes Boatyard. It’s like a scene out of Cannery Row. This isn’t to say that Peakes is an unprofessional outfit. You know this before you even come out of the water. Divers are in place under the travel lift to inspect your keel. They’re making sure the travel lift straps are properly in place. Above the water, the travel lift operators are working as smoothly as oil. Not surprising since they lift huge fishing boats that come down to Trinidad from all over the Caribbean, extra-wide catamarans, and everything else from racing yachts to antique boats. We’ve watched this all before we’d set off in February from our corner position in the boatyard.
This time, we are lifted out in the middle of Lulu’s Spanish lesson. As the class is progressing, I give the computer to a lift operator and find our shoes. Clad in green overalls, he stares blankly at the computer screen. Jorge, the Spanish teacher is declining the verb, ‘to go’ out loud.
‘Thank you,’ Lulu says to him. She steps off Quest, takes the computer from him and goes to sit under the trees. The lift operator shakes his head.
It’s hot. 8am and hot already. This is the boatyard where boiling is a pre-requisite. We’ve already arranged for Richard, the air-con man, to come with a unit right after lifting Quest out. I can’t wait. Like last year, he will remove our saloon hatch, seal the air con unit in and then Quest will become a lush, cool apartment instead of a breezy if sweaty boat. In the meantime, Jack has been attracting a number of bear hugs. Large numbers of boatyard staff are coming over and hugging him. He’s hugging them back like it’s Christmas day. His face is lit up like it’s a tree. At the same time, he’s receiving looks from fellow cruisers who are walking by. Where was our hug, they seem to be saying inwardly before carrying on.
After their embraces, the staff turn their attention to Quest’s copper-coated bottom. From going into the water in February with a new, dark red colour, Quest has returned as greeny-red as a cathedral roof. Everyone who was involved in copper-coating her then is admiring her now. With clicks of the tongue and words of praise, Delphine and I leave both Jack to his bromances and Lulu and her computer class under the pink bougainvillea. Instead, we head upstairs to the office.
The office is in a handsome building overlooking the boatyard. The rest of the building is made up of a breezy restaurant called the Zanzibar and double guest rooms. We hear Daniella in the office before we see her. ‘We are you calling me?’ she is asking someone loudly. Delphine and I glance at each other before closing the office door.
We enter and feel the best air-conditioning in the Caribbean. It’s so effective the staff are dressed as if it’s a March day in Wales. When she sees us, Daniella ushers us into her office quickly. She is half-Dutch and half-Trinidadian and a slip of a girl. The laughing begins almost instantly. This girl is funny. Then the phone rings. Daniella picks it up and listens for a moment.
‘I thought I told you to stop calling me,’ she says seriously.
Delphine and I look at each other. Daniella pauses and her eyes begin to glow. ‘Don’t worry. I’ll sort it out for you.’ She puts her phone down and smiles at us. We sigh in relief. It was a joke! Without further ado, she moves to the filing cabinet and pulls out the paperwork for Quest. Somehow in the chatting, Daniella cheerfully reveals to us that she was dyslexic as a child.
‘I’m dyslexic too,’ Delphine announces proudly.
I look at Delphine in surprise. I’ve never heard her say it before. Especially to a grown-up. The truth is that her cerebral palsy means that her learning issues are probably not as simple as just dyslexia. Still, it’s becoming a handy go-to. More than that too, she’s becoming proud of it. Especially since Jack is dyslexic and the spelling on Quest is often wild and wonderful. He regularly says to Delphine, ‘See, you spell better than me!’
Daniella has narrowed her eyes at Delphine. ‘Are you good at recognising faces?’
Delph nods shyly .
‘Me too,’ Daniella booms. She is grinning now. ‘And memory games where you have to turn cards over. I bet you’re really good at these too.’
‘She awesome at them,’ I interject. I nod a quick apology to Delphine. ‘What? I didn’t want to risk you being modest.’ And she is. Delphine’s visual memory is amazing.
Daniella looks at us as if she’s made her mind up about something. She stands up and pulls her phone out of her pocket. ‘C’mon you two. Lets go take photos of your boat.’
This most be the most magical moment of travelling. Going somewhere different and feeling at home.