|Mike Masters, Ed's boss at Nautool. |
Photo taken at the launch of Dark Horse.
To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.
Ed worked for Mike Masters at Nautool Machine Ltd. for a little over a year. It was an incredible opportunity for him to learn machining. Eventually, Ed was able to do all the machining jobs that came into Nautool, while Mike covered the welding. Mike sometimes left Ed in charge of the shop – especially after he bought a sailboat to renovate. After months of working on the boat, Mike launched Dark Horse, and we were present for the celebration.
It pleased me when I’d hear a comment like I got from a taxi driver. When I told him where Ed was working, he said, “That your husband? He’s a good man.”
Ed took advantage of working in a machine shop, and did extensive stainless steel projects for Tropic Moon. These included a new bow pulpit, stanchions and lifelines, gateposts, cockpit drains, and a shaft for the gearshift.
|Dark Horse, after launch. Mike is at the wheel.|
Tropic Moon is anchored in the background.
When Ed started at Nautool, he was being paid on a piece-by-piece basis. As he gained proficiency at the work, Mike put Ed on salary. Towards the end of Ed’s time at Nautool, Mike was billing Ed’s work out at $35/hour. (Remember, this was 1982.) Six months before, it had been $25/hour. At the end of Ed’s first year, Mike raised Ed’s salary by 20%, hoping he’d stay on a second year. That wasn’t happening!
Once again – for the third year in a row – we planned to leave the Caribbean and sail to the States. Our window of opportunity was May and June – between winter up north, and the hurricane season starting in July. But first, we’d have to haul the boat and do some major work on Tropic Moon. We scheduled a haul out for April 12th. Ed finished working at Nautool the week before.
Ed ordered new navigation lights, and a new stern light. We had our life raft serviced, including buying new flares and other safety equipment. We ordered a new mizzen sail from a local sail maker.
In early April, we had dinner at the Pub, our favorite restaurant in Road Town. We ran into two couples we knew from Maya Cove. One couple had been due to leave on April 1st for Maine, so we were surprised to see them. They explained they’d been out sailing on March 26th. During a squall, the boat heeled over twice. The second time, it came back up without the mast! They don’t know what failed. They couldn’t get control of the mast in the water. Worried that it would pierce the fiberglass hull, they had to cut it loose. Not only did they lose the mast and rigging, but also new sails that had just arrived from England. As they said, better to have it happen near land, rather than out in the Atlantic.
Needless to say – not what we needed to hear right before our own passage!