Cruising in the Caribbean has been a real eye-opener in many ways. Since we left the Canary Islands we’ve been sailing largely off the beaten track, and now we find ourselves back amongst a less nomadic tribe of sailors in a region that caters largely for the charter set.
This of course has good and bad sides. Services are far more available than they were in Senegal or Brazil, which is good, but the human dynamic that exists between the local people and the cruising crews is far more complicated. This is obvious when talking to regular cruisers of the area, when one subject always seems to rear its head above others—boat boys.
To listen to some people, you’d be led to believe that these guys are the lowest of the low, a mob of aggressive, abusive vermin who are out to damage your boat and rob you blind. Somehow the possibility that the vast majority of them are just poor people trying to survive in a harsh world becomes swept away in an unstoppable tide of vitriol, against which any plea to reason is doomed to be repulsed.
There’s no doubt that there are bad guys amongst them, but some sort of balance in the debate should surely be kept, that might in turn lead to a better understanding on both sides.
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