Since arriving on Tortola we have been looking for a ‘runabout’ boat to get between the islands. On your days off there’s nothing better than jumping on your own little vessel and doing a spot of island hopping, having some well deserved beach time, snorkeling, hiking to the top of different islands in time for the sunrise, fishing, catching a few lobsters for dinner or having a mini evening booze cruise in the bay sipping on a few rum and cokes as the sun sets.
After searching high and low in shipyard after shipyard for the perfect little boat, it wasn’t looking likely that we were going to be able to find anything for our small budget. One day whilst out having lunch down at Trellis Bay, Gavin discovered a small old Hobie power skiff hidden on the beach under the bushes. He went to have a look and noticed it had a note which read ‘if the boat was not moved by the end of January, it would be towed away ‘- it was now February, so we thought we might be in luck as it didn’t seem like the owner had much to do with it anymore. We asked around to see if anybody knew who owned the boat and eventually we got a contact.
The boat actually belonged to someone we knew on the island and we gave him a call right away. He did want to sell it and the guys decided on a figure. The boat wasn’t in great shape and it didn’t come with a motor, it was literally just the hull and a rusty old center console, it was definitely going to be a project for Gavin to work on. He managed to purchase it for just $1000. Gavin then found a motor and a trailer to keep the boat on in the yard.
The next mission was to get the boat out from under the trees, onto the trailer and back across the island to our home. Gavin and his friends went to collect the boat and managed to get it up onto the trailer and a quarter of the way home when the wheel fell off. It was late, dark and they had no tools to fix the wheel that evening. Unfortunately this happened in the dodgy end of town and they took a chance leaving it on the side of the road, wondering if it was still going to be there in the morning or not. The following day the guys went back to fix the trailer and bring the boat home. They managed to get it home in one piece and it sat nicely on the yard outside our home.
Gavin told me it was going to be a ‘quick’ project and he would probably have it up and running and in the water in a couple of months. It just needed a little bit of fiberglass work doing to it. He was out there on every day he had off work, sanding, doing fiberglass repairs, driving back and forth to the chandlery to fetch new tools, products, and electronics. We had friends come visit who I told we would have a boat ready for when they arrived which we could take them out on, but unfortunately they never managed to get the ride I promised them. More and more work was needed to make the boat suitable for the sea.
Five months later and a lot of money spent on his new ‘hobby’ the boat was finally ready to launch into the water. The next issue was not having a tow bar on the back of our car. There was a small wall located between where the boat was parked and the beach, with a gap, big enough to try and squeeze it down onto the beach and into the water that way. Unfortunately with a lot of man power, ropes tied to trees and ramps made down onto the beach we could not manage to get the boat down to the sea. Eventually we found a guy willing to tow the boat down to the slipway for us and we launched it into the water.
It worked, it floated! No leaks and we didn’t sink! We had a quick whiz around the bay, but there were issues with the motor and it wasn’t working to it’s full potential. The boat was taken back to land and Gavin got set back to work on the motor.
We managed to re-launch the boat days later and we had a couple of great runs out with family and friends, cruising the bay with a beer or two and trolling the coastline throwing a few lines in the water to see what fish could be caught.
Gavin still wasn’t happy with his vessel and got back to work adding a sun canopy for those long days out in the midday sun, new cushioned seating, fishing rod holders and of course we needed to come up with a name and get the boat registered in the BVI waters.
The ‘Boomslang’ (Afrikaans for Tree Snake) was finally complete. After all of Gavin’s hard work, we finally had a perfect little boat to enjoy days out on.
We have had some fantastic times on the Boomslang…from early mornings, heading out on the still glass waters watching the sunrise on the way to Norman island for a hike with Ben, fishing trips along the coast to Soper’s Hole, trips to explore the untouched and uninhabited Great Thatch island, beach days on the lively White Bay, Jost Van Dyke for a few Painkillers at the Soggy Dollar bar, to deep sea fishing excursions which ended up being cut short due to heavy winds and a lot of seasickness on mine and Ben’s part.
Family members also got to try out the Boomslang. We had some very funny times, taking my parents out to Sandy Spit. The waters were so rough that day, we were hiding under towels and jackets, clinging on for dear life and we all ending up looking like drowned rats by the times we arrived home.
The boat does not deal well with waves and you definitely need to take a raincoat out when heading out in the evening as we did one New Years Eve. I was pregnant at the time as we went over to visit friends who were working and moored up at Foxy’s. Gavin and I headed home to Tortola around 11 pm in the pitch black, wavy waters and I was thinking what the hell are were doing in the middle of the sea, in this small tin can wondering if we were going to survive the journey… but it all adds to our many adventures living by the sea.
Gavin wants to start looking for a new project on a bigger boat now that will take us further a field, however, the Boomslang was an excellent little boat and we have had some fantastic times and made many memories we will remember for a lifetime.
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