A Mate's Tale Part 3: Day Charters

Day charters are similar to Day Sails but with a larger motor boat, typically more people, and more things on the menu.  Because the boats are faster they usually go to multiple stops, sometimes four or five different islands or snorkel stops.  One of the boats I worked on (pictured above) held upwards of a hundred and fifteen guests!  Now, you have a bunch of mates on board to help, but it is still a bum rush getting that many people outfitted with fins for our snorkel stop, we typically had about twenty minutes...Other boats have a lengthier plan, with a whole day planned out accordingly, that's what I would like to talk about here, so let's get started in my usual manner ;)

BEFORE TAKEOFF

Okay, well if a big storm happens to pop up and your early morning trip gets cancelled, you do the above.  Otherwise, there is a lot of prep work to do for your fourteen hour day.  Typically you are on the boat around six am, which gives you an hour before takeoff, and about forty five minutes before guests start showing up.  The Captain checks the engine, does his tests and evaluation, and us mates are down below.  We have to slice up muffins and fruit for breakfast, stock beer, soda, and ice, and get customs forms ready.  We went to islands in a different country so we had to go through customs at the end of the day.  Once that is done, we greet the guests on the dock and get them outfitted for snorkeling BEFORE we leave, that way they can just keep the equipment with them and we don't have to worry about sizing them up underway, we have enough to do on this trip.  Once all the guests are on board, Captain has his speech, and then one of us mates calls out directions for them to fill out their customs forms, and we are off!

UNDERWAY STOP #1: HIKE

On the way to our first stop we don't have a ton of tasks, mostly getting to know our guests, get them water and juice, and tell them about the islands we were passing.  There were so many islands going by, I didn't know what they were all called, or all the beaches people kept pointing too so we made up a lot of names.  Usually I would ask the names of the kids on board before we left and name random ones after them.  "What island is that?" - Guest, "Oh that's Tyler Quay" - Me, "Oh my god that's me!!" - Random kid.  Works every time, also named one after myself hence my blog name.  Anyway, once we got docked, we got everyone ready for a hike to that beach above.  The hike was about an hour and a half round trip, very beautiful with a few nice picture stops, and a few historical stops for education including a Goonies joke for good measure.  We had about ten to fifteen minutes of chill time in the water at the beach, depending on how quick our guests were that day, then we would hike back up and hop back on board for the next stop.

 

This was one of our picture stops during the hike, I would take people's phones and digital cameras and take photos of them and their family.  Usually I would tap the "turnaround" button first and make some faces and snap a few while their backs were turned and before they were set so they have a fond memory which they will find later.

 

STOP #2: LUNCH

Yeah rough place to have a lunch break huh?  I know, its one of the things that just never got old no matter what.  Many things you get used too, or take for granted, but not this.  I ate here almost everyday, and once we got the guests their food and situated we had some time to just chill and eat.  We also had a deal with this particular restaurant where the crew ate for free!  They had a decent menu, enough that you could rotate things and get something you were in the mood for.  Although if you've ever worked in the business you know that whatever you are craving that day isn't available...but tough to complain when you are sitting here, just pick something else it's gonna be fine.  This whole island only had this restaurant, and a gift shop, that's it.  Once we were done with lunch, we would round everyone up and head to our next stop!

STOP #3: SNORKEL

After a proper digestion time we head over to our snorkel stop.  It is only a couple of minutes away from our lunch stop, so we slowly chug over there trying to kill time for our full guests.  We moor up, Captain gives a speech and we slowly get ready for snorkeling.  I usually volunteered to lifeguard, so I hop in first, check for jellyfish and sharks and what not and float around on my buoy waiting for them to file in.  I don't have to do all that much, just float around for an hour making sure people don't go too far, and if they do just swim over and tell them.  Sometimes I'll have to go retrieve a fin or mask if it's dropped (sometimes down forty feet), but otherwise I just swim back and forth watching everyone.  When the Captain sounds the horn it's time to gather everyone up which is the first time (but not the last) I need to go around gathering people up. Once everyone (and myself) is on board, it's time to start heading towards our last fun stop of the day, and one of my favorite places on earth.

STOP #4: BAR ISLAND

Okay that's not what it's really called, but it's an island that has a beach just lined with bars and not much else.  We serve drinks on board, so our guests have had a few on our steam here, so they are already getting tuned up.  There is no dock here, and all the charter boats come here at the end of the day in addition to everyone else in the area, it's a very popular spot, so it can be quite crowded.  We have a big boat, and finding a decent space close to the beach is always a challenge, sometimes we have to get other boats to move, or circle till there is a spot, but it doesn't take long.  The most fun part for me on this was anchoring (I know that doesn't sound like fun, but it was! Let me explain).  Once we got the bow (front) anchor set, because of the limited space and our size we also needed a stern anchor which someone had to toss an anchor as hard as they could behind the boat.  This was so much fun!  The Captain would just point in which direction he wanted it and bombs away! Once anchored our guests had to wade in neck deep water typically, and head to the beach and the bars.

This was what we looked at from our post (My co-mate is on the right). We would fold towels, clean up a bit, and get the shrimp cocktail ready for when the guests came on board.  Remember when I said there was another time when I had to gather people up? Yeah this was the biggest pain in the rear all day, finding thirty guests spread across a bunch of bars having a good time and telling them to pay up and leave.  I usually swam ashore, and walked up and down the beach yelling our boat name and "We gotta go!" Then I would signal to the Captain how many he had on board, if we were still missing a few I had to go find them.  If we didn't leave at the right time we would get stuck behind some awful smelly boats at the customs dock and would be late getting back.  Once we get everyone on board it's off to customs and the end of our day.

LAST STOP: CUSTOMS

Yeah, have you ever tried to get thirty drunk people through customs?  Let me tell you how THAT goes, ugh.  So, we tie up once it's our turn, bring out the laundry basket full of flip flops for them to put back on, ask them to put shirts on and get to the customs building, sounds easy yeah?  Hang on, they have to step over a rope and a gap just to get off the boat (one out of ten bites it and ends up face first in front of a customs officers shoes on the concrete).  We also have to make sure we are all together, there can't be any other people not from our boat in line unless they are in front or behind our group. Remember how busy I said that last island was with other boats?  Yeah well they are all here now trying to get through customs.  Some people forget their passport, others don't put a shirt on (they won't let women pass with just a swim top on, or men without a shirt).  We spent a lot of time running back to the boat to get random things, some people even walked through customs and started walking down the street in the town away from the boat!!  It was like herding cats to a boat, and this is all we have left before we are home free.  Oh by the way they had four dollar Patron (Tequila) shots on that last island, always a great idea after a day of sun, snorkeling, hiking, and activity hehe.  Once they are all through it's a great little hop home and people are usually in a great mood. We blast some music, some usually dance as we approach the dock, and it's the usual thanks and tip jar task from the last time.

Well!  That's it for the tasks, work stuff, and all the seriousness and what goes on in our typical work days.  My last post in this segment is "A Mate's Day Off" and I'm so excited for that one!  I didn't take nearly as many pictures while working as I did on my off days (Which is probably right for anyone), but my day off pictures are so cool, and I can't wait to share those experiences with all of you!  There will be less words and a lot more pictures for that one, I hope you are all okay with that!  Thanks for reading :)