Buying a super sailing boat, that was securely strapped down in a marina dry storage area in Puerto Rico seemed a good bet, until two hurricanes went over it in summer of 2017.
As we watched from our rented hippie cabin in Devon and then Mum’s house in Dorset we wondered if we would be skipping straight to the insurance claim part, bypassing the part where we actually sail it!
Puerto Rico suffered a lot of damage. Although as a country with so many problems (giant pot holes, homemade connections to overhead power lines everywhere and only a small % of the population earning a wage) it was never going to be very resilient to such a wipe out.
Needless to say, we were the only “tourists” on the flight out and we arrived to a world of no power, gas, lighting, phone, internet etc.
Limited electricity surprises you in strange ways. All the airport luggage trolleys were locked up in the coin operated park. There was no way to get a drink from the electric vending machine and we walked with other customers round pitch dark shop interiors with a phone torch. Payment was cash only everywhere and the speed of getting anything done without internet slowed to a snails pace.
At our AirBnB apartment – hosted by an eccentric US expat and his little dog – we learned to brush our teeth by head torch and eat every kind of cold meal possible with the limited supplies in the shops. A petrol generator ran a 4 socket charger and a spaghetti of cables to power a fan, a fridge and either a lamp or a coffee maker…but not both at the same time.
Mozzies hate cold drafts so without air conditioning we were feasted upon despite “bugging up” all over every night with a cocktail of delicious repellent chemicals. What we did not do was constantly reach for the dead light switches – we never even registered where they were during our whole stay!
The good news was that Puerto Ricans have incredible good humour and patience with all this stuff, queuing for hours for entry to Walmart and graciously apologising to us for the situation.
When we did get into the boat yard and clambered aboard with a borrowed ladder, we also found our catamaran undamaged, although the rows of toppled boats either side of us, with mangled rails and holes punched through the hull were sobering.
And then the hard work began!!Turn up. Paint stuff. Same old… How to take a mast off a boat! Or a “stick” as riggers call it.