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Oxymoron – Caribbean Customer Service

Now, I don’t want to be negative or moan but..let me .. please let me vent – just a little – Aghurghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh – that feels better.

I need to talk about Customer Service in the Caribbean.

Yes, yes – I know it is a different culture in the Caribbean and I know we are still working through culture shock. But first let me say – as we mentioned in a previous blog we love the Caribbean mostly the people are fun, warm and friendly and the music goes into your bones and we have even got used to Caribbean time – where people turn up late, very late or not at all. And, yes, I realise we are living on a yacht in the Caribbean – living the dream. But sometimes there is a large void between the dream and the reality. I was thinking of taking a set of photos to show the dream v the reality. (Perhaps I will)

Some days are just bloody frustrating and some days your resilience is low. Living in the Caribbean is so different from anywhere and so it should be.   Some days it is easy to understand that ‘this is the way it is’   and some days it is just ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH get me out of here

Just indulge me with a few examples so you can judge for yourself if I am being a petulant, hormonal, middle-aged woman or if these are just annoying.

1.Diet Coke in Rodney Bay

We were in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia and we needed to go to the supermarket.  For some reason low calorie soft drinks are not popular here and you have to hunt down places that sell it. So an adventure to the supermarket to get Diet Coke is needed.  This entails getting the dingy and outboard ready – getting us and our bags and May into the dingy – crossing the bay and getting out with the help of a local ‘guard’ on the dingy dock. Then walking to the Supermarket.

Not so bad so far, but still significantly different from just popping to M&S in the car.  There are two reasonable supermarkets in Rodney Bay Village – one has Waitrose stuff and the other has more American groceries.  We opted for the Waitrose Supermarket as we were hunting Diet coke and thought the choice there was wider.  We couldn’t find it – no surprise – so we asked a rather surly (aka Caribbean attitude) woman who was bored with stacking shelves.

Excuse me,  do you have any Diet Coke please”  I rather sheepishly enquired.  Sometimes (especially the women) can be quite scary with their – “and, you are?”  attitude!  The “go away” aura they give out, in this matriarchal society, can reduce a once confident and assertive European woman to a quivering mess.

Her response to  “Excuse me,  do you have any Diet Coke please

was clear


Having lived here a while I persisted and went to the soft drinks aisle to look again anyway.  There I found:

Waitrose Diet Cola, Cola Lite and Coke Zero – delighted I filled my trolley.  As I passed the shop assistant again I said in as jolly a voice as I could muster “I found some!”  She said “That is NOT Diet Coke and Diet Coke is what you asked me for – we do not have Diet Coke

Firmly corrected, I slunk off to the check out,

2. Mooring Magic in Rodney Bay

We are pretty good at mooring Magic now – over the past 15 months in approximately 30 Marinas we have learned a lot.  We know how she moves in various wind conditions and we know her shape and length.  We know the best routine for Mark and I to adopt to bring her in safely and calmly.  So as usual we had prepared her fully – we knew we were coming in bow’s too (pointy end first) and we had prepared fenders along her Port side with lines forward, aft and a breast line (the line in the middle).  I have learned how to lasso the breast line so we are fully secure.  That is the first line we get on so Magic is held while we get the bow and stern lines on.  We are often offered help and we have learned that unless the person really knows what they are doing we are best left alone to secure Magic.  However when the dock master of a Marina comes to your help we are grateful.   Mark lined Magic up perfectly to gently come in on our Port side.  I was mid-ships with the carefully coiled line in both hands.  I throw the coils in my left hand over the cleat on the dock whilst holding on to the coil and end of the line in my right hand. In this way I can pull the right coil in having looped the middle of the line around the cleat (perhaps that needs a diagram!).   Any way suffice to say we know how to do it to secure Magic.  But the dock master was there so as I threw the line he took it and rather than secure it around the cleat he walked to the stern of Magic.  I pleaded with him to secure the mid ships line and give it back to me but he ignored. Mark was urgently asking him to do it and he wouldn’t.  Then he asked Mark for the stern line.  Mark was now shouting at him to take at least one line and secure it.  He had the stern line in his hand and yet he was just standing there shouting at Mark. He was saying that he was in charge and that he was the dock master and that he knew best. Whist he debated this point with Mark Magic was drifting slowly but with the confidence of a two ton lump – towards the boat next to us – yes, the side with no fenders on.   Just as it was getting too close a fellow sailor saw what was happening and took our forward line to the dock cleat. Mark could then use that to spring back on to bring Magic back into control along side. Then the dock master secured the mid line and the aft line and stormed off shouting that he was the expert on this dock. Mark was furious. He is the skipper and unless asked for advice his requests should be followed by anyone who is helping – especially ‘expert’ help. If there was damage to Magic or another boat it is us that would be liable not the dock master so he cannot take control. He does know his dock but he doesn’t know how each boat handles and how each skipper likes to do things. I hate conflict and I hate a messy mooring it just makes me feel all screwed up and stressed. Sad face

 3. Internet in Grand D’Anse D’Arlet, Martinique

The Internet is a big deal and we are often deprived of it. I saw a version of Maslow’s Pyramid with the Internet at the bottom i.e. a basic human need! So, when we get to a bar or restaurant that has Wi-Fi we indulge.   As usual we ordered drinks and then we asked the assistant for the Wi-Fi name and code. She pointed to a chalkboard with the information on it. Like junkies we were straight on our computers tapping in the precious information. But no, what ever we tried – and that included: checking with the lady if we had typed it in right, shutting down and restarting our computers, running diagnostics, moving around in the bar to different spots. Then we asked her what might seem like an obvious question – “is your Wi-Fi working?”…

Oh no” she said, “It doesn’t work!

Well, what do you think? Would these things drive you potty or am I being a grumpy old bag? I would love to hear from you.

And so the adventure continues. This morning we are leaving the bay of Grand D’Anse D’Arlet – leaving the pretty, palm fringed beach and the gentle graceful turtles and setting out for St Pierre in the North of Martinique. Then on our way to Antiqua we will go to Dominica, Les Saints and Guadeloupe.

It sounds amazing and we are looking forward to seeing new places but we are also going a little crazy on the boat. I am sure anyone who has lived aboard will know the tension that comes and goes like waves. Mark and I are feeling it – perhaps we are in need of some time at home.

Imagine if your home was always moving and you had to constantly check that it was safe. Imagine always not knowing where you are or how things work for basics like getting food and fuel. Imagine not being able to get Diet Coke – Imagine parking in your drive with a crazy person shouting at you how you should do it – Imagine having no Internet unless you beg for it from strangers – ops sorry lost it again..

Going for a lie down and I promise I will reflect on the fact that these are Middle Class Problems.

Must do better!


About Love adventure and creativity

mum, wife, sailor, animal nut, author, teacher, adventurer, stand up comedian, friend, entrepreneur.... I love creativity and fun - experiencing new things - walking my dogs - laughing with friends - building and making things like...friendships, businesses and dreams come true


2 thoughts on “Oxymoron – Caribbean Customer Service

  1. A lot of what you write about is also true on the Atlantic Coast and the Med so not just the Caribbean!

    Whilst we were sailing along the Portuguese and Spanish coasts, many marinas advertised free wifi but it often didn’t work. Diet Coke is a very British description so we often have to say Coke Light or Zero.

    With regard to docking, as two women on a boat, we often get offered ‘help’, especially when in Italian waters. Seems that we couldn’t possibly manage on our own!

    When I was sailing in the Western Caribbean 8 years ago, I remember having to pay for rubbish collection at the dinghy dock of $1 a trip. It did mean that your dinghy was there when you got back.

    Deep breaths and relax…..


    Posted by Jo F | March 3, 2016, 11:36 am
  2. Hi Tina and Mark ,we thought in one of your last blogs when you was saying what wonderful freindly people they are that you was in a different place to us ,we have had lots of instances where they are down right rude so now you are speaking our language exactly and we find it best to treat them the way they treat you (try it ,it does work ) we are now in the BVI been here for a month and will soon be heading back to Antigua Nelson’s Dockyard is the best .and be sure to spend a day at Booms opposite the Pillars (owned by the same people ) hope to see you soon .

    Richard ant Tracey
    Sailboat Why Not.


    Posted by Richard and Tracey | March 3, 2016, 1:46 pm

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