Just a Gentle Breeze
I sometimes walk around the shop, and just think, that if ole Leroy could just see me now, he wouldn't believe all the things, and good fortune, that have come my way. I came to Belize with two girls, running from drug dealers in their small Mexican fishing village. It helped that one of them was smart enough to steal the dealers' money on the way out of the village. I had brought my boat, the Queen Isabel, a large catamaran combination salvage and tow-boat, and two 28' catamarans. One I had loaded on the deck, and one was in tow. I had turned over, to the employees, the marine company that Leroy had left to me. I was fortunate, in having the insurance money left by my mother, and the inheritance of everything Leroy had, along with his insurance money. I am certain that I could have made it without the money Leta had taken from the drug dealers, but hey, it spent just as well as hard earned money, and there was plenty of it.
When we got here, we bought into, and later bought outright, a Diving School and guide service. I had tried to make a go of building 28' catamarans, and had sold about a dozen, and built another two dozen for our use. We also had a marine engine sales and service, and a bakery, along with a freight forwarding company, located in Belize City. We live and operate the dive shop on Key Caulker. About 90% of our employees are women. In the beginning we had not planned it that way, it just happened. When we saw that much of our success was directly caused by the girls, we continued to replace male members with females, as they left for whatever reason. I just seem to be able to get along with them, and, as I tell everyone, beautiful women, bikinis and palm trees, ain't no better deal anywhere. I have five girlfriends, yeah, I know, you think I must be one hell of a man, or hell for lucky. It's not either, I just do what they tell me and most of the time keep my mouth shut. They like each other, they get along, and they don't cause me any problems. We have two of the cats set up for treasure hunting, complete with metal detecting equipment, and dredges. We have been extremely successful in finding Mayan relics and Pirate gold. We have a contract with Belize, where we keep 60% of the appraised value of all gold and coins, and turn over any relics without compensation.
"Hey, Linda, where are you going?"
"I'm going to the city, to pick up some parts."
"Couldn't Jimmy or Brende bring them?"
"They could have, if they had not already left when I found out I needed them."
"Well wait, I'll tell Leta, and go with you."
Linda is a pretty cool girl. She was a year behind me in school, and while we were in school, I always thought she was a whine-bag. Her older sister, Anita, is almost five years older than me, but oddly enough she was my best friend. Not to mention that I had always been in love with her. Both the girls are beautiful, to the extreme, They are Mexican American, and I guess now you can add Belize. If there were ever better looking women, I have not seen them. When we got to the city, Linda went to the motor shop, and I went in the bakery to get a snack.
"Hi Elke, where is your beautiful sister?"
"Yeah, I guess that's right. I was looking for Heidi"
"Bullshit, you just wanted a fried pie and can't tell which is which."
"Well, OK, you caught me, do you have any apricot?"
I walked over to the motor shop to wait on Linda. She was visiting, with all the girls, so I set down and started watching TV. There is a tropical storm, heading toward Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I'll bet we get a downpour from it. Diving in the rain is no big deal but when the water gets rough, it's hard to keep the boats in position over the divers. If it gets too bad, we'll be refunding some money and re-scheduling some trips. I better find out where Anita and Clawdy are when we get back. On the way back to Caulker the weather was bright and sunny, but when we got there, Leta was watching the TV in the dive shop. The storm had turned away from Nicaragua and was now heading toward us. All the boats along the cost had started moving our direction to get out of the path of the storm, and now it was chasing them.
"Where is Anita and Clawdy?"
"They left Chetumal, about an hour ago, heading this way."
"Call them, and tell her to kick her boat in the ass, this may get bad. Get all the boats on the radio and tell them to come on in, we need to start thinking about what to do."
I went to the shop and yelled at everybody and told them about the storm and asked what we needed to do, to prepare for it. Marko and Andy had been through storms here, and on the mainland, and told the boys to start bringing in everything from the patio.
Andy said, "We are going to get some boats beat up, but there is nothing we can do to stop most of it. Just tie them up good. Damn we better strip the canvas tops off of them or they will be gone."
Marko said, "Do you think they would do any better inside Treasure Island?"
"Probably, if we can get them stripped, in there, and tied up. But I sure wouldn't stay there with them."
About 20 minutes later, the boats started coming in, and Leta told us the storm was gaining intensity. Everyone including the students worked to get the canvas off the boats.
"Take all of them to the island, and bring four of them back. Make sure you don't leave anybody. I'll move my boat in as close to the building as I can. Anita is on the way and we need to get her boat next to mine. Put all the fenders on the side she will be against."
People had started moving boats to the west side of the island, and tying to anything they could find. I had Buddy and Russ keep a watch, and make sure they didn't take up the space we would need for our boats. By the time the crews got back from the island, Anita had made it in. We got as many ropes on the boats as possible. A few of the divers were trying to call home. The two couples with Anita, seemed to be having a good time, and not worried about the storm. They wanted to know all about the business and talked to the divers and girls. Most everyone was in the dining room, and Mercedes, and her crew, along with some of our girls, were making, wrapping, and placing sandwiches in an empty ice chest. I couldn't think of anything else to do that would help. We only had windows on the front, or the dock side of the buildings, and they were not that large. We did put a grid of masking tape on them. Ireni and Joci were getting ready to sing and the wind was picking up a bit. They let me sing a song that they thought was funny." If I Had A Boat, I'd Go Out On The Ocean. About the time I got to Ole Tonto, He Was Smarter, And One Day Said Kemo Sabe, Kiss My Ass, I Bought A Boat, And I'm Heading Out To Sea."
The lights went out.
"Damn was I that bad?"
We got two gas lanterns lit, and I noticed we had quite a few locals, and the place was packed. I asked Ireni "What was going on?" and she said, "This is one of the few concrete block buildings on the island." Lila and Cristi went upstairs and came back with a battery radio. The storm had caught up with the boats trying to get inside the reef, and was approaching category 2 hurricane level. I had no idea what that was and someone said that "A category 1 had winds of over 75 miles an hour, and a 3 started around 110, so it was in there somewhere." " I hope the big cats don't get torn up, the little ones we can replace."
"Hey Leta, do we have insurance on the boats?"
"Levy, you can't run a business without insurance on the boats, buildings, and divers."
"OK, I just never thought about it before."
Anita just had to get me, "Levy, you don't think about anything but food".
One of the ladies that was with Anita, was telling the kids stories, and they didn't seem to be as upset as they had been. They sure are nice people. I would like to look out the door, but I guess so would a lot of others, "Damn, I'm getting tired of setting here. You can hear things hitting the building, and I keep wondering about the boats. I bet that Heidi, and the girls in the city, will be mopping water before this is over." Lupito told me he had seen the river raise up by several feet during storms. Damn, you can have some crazy thoughts at times like this. I remember a Disc Jockey I heard once on a Blues radio station giving a weather report. He had a guitar and would play blues riffs, while he was talking, and then sing, like, "Da da da da dum It's 8 o clock in the monin, da da da da dum it's 74 degrees, da da da da dum ain't much wind blowin' just-a-gentle-breeze." Man I need to get my head straight. Clawdy seems a little worse than I am, I better talk to her a bit.
"Hey Clawdy, come over here and set with us, I want to ask you something." She came over, asked what I wanted.
"Do you know any German songs?"
"Well, sing it for us."
It was a school song, of some kind, and we all tried to sing it with her. We had no idea what she was singing, but we tried to make the same sounds. It was a long night, and I kept thinking I would be glad to see morning come, until it did. Well, I've seen worse, but it was on TV and they were still dropping bombs on it. The other side of the island must be clean, because everything from over there, is over here. "OK folks, it's over, and it's daytime. If your home is damaged to the point where you can't stay in it, come back here and we will figure something out."
Anita's boat didn't look so bad, it had been hit a few times, and had some marks on it, but nothing that paint and new graphics wouldn't fix. Leta and Lena started talking to the dive students and told them "She would refund their money, and half of their plane ticket."
Then we found out that they couldn't go, because the airport had severe damage." Well you divers can set around here, or you can go help us dig out of this.". All of them wanted to help." OK, let's split up in two or three teams, and check every house on the island, to see if they are OK, if you can help them with their homes, that would help. Instructors and assistants let's go get the boats."
We had one dive boat torn up, something had hit the control console so hard it bent the steering wheel into the panel. The Treasure Island mangroves were still with us. A few boats were loose, some with branches still tied to the rope. Most had a few scrapes but nothing major. The pirate boat was floating half submerged Dani drug it onto the sandbar. A few days work, and this place will be in good shape.
When we got back to the dock, we had visitors from the government, asking if we could take the big cat's out to search for people. They assigned us an area and we fueled up. The woman that had been telling stories to the kids was a nurse and her husband a doctor named Morrison. They asked if we had any medical supplies and I told them just the big first aid packs in each boat.
"Get 3 or 4 and let's take them with us."
We were moving within 15 minutes, Anita would start on the east side of our area, and I would start on the west. The first boat we found was a 24' day cruiser, with nobody aboard. Dani climbed onto it and fastened a line. We found 3 more boats with the last being a 36' sailboat, with four people onboard. We tied a line on their boat and brought them aboard. We met up with Anita, and they had two people. They had found several empty boats. We headed to Caulker and unloaded then left to pick up the other boats. In a week we had rounded up a bunch of boats and several more people.
The Coast Guard had been dumping the boats they drug up in our impound. The search was called off, as the spotter planes could find nothing else floating. The Belize equivalent of the Coast Guard, told us to hold the boats until they identified the proper owners and contacted them. I asked about some boats that were sunk and he called his boss to find out. They wanted me to video the salvage of each boat, about 5 minutes per boat, showing the name or markings on each. We had to keep track of which ones were in the normal boat traffic areas and we would be paid some amount, which he did not know, for clearing them.
All the diving companies had suspended operations because things came to a halt when the airport shut down. At least the divers could not fly in and get mad at us. We spent a lot of time running people back and forth to Belize City. Other than a lot of trash on the dock and parking lot, our buildings there were not hurt. The reason there was so much damage on Caulker was because most of the houses were made of wood and tin, and not built to any code. We bought all the corrugated metal sheets we could find, along with lots of building materials and paint, hauled it to Caulker, then sold it for the invoice price. The people worked hard at cleaning and repairing the buildings because their economy is based on tourism, If they don't keep it looking neat, people will not stay and spend money with them. There was still a lot of junk floating around looking for a place to land.
The airport re-opened and things got back to normal. The open land to the south of us is a bit swampy but cheap. I had talked to a lady named Sara, at Caye Caulker Real Estate, about buying a chunk of it. The price of the land was good but doing something with it was going to be expensive. From the water to land dry enough to stand on was about 40 yards and it was covered in bushes and mangroves. I'll get the dock guy with the dredge and piling boat to take a look at it. We had boats tied to the bushes for a hundred yards. The water was pretty calm on this side of the island and they were not beating on each other, but I will be glad when the Coast Guard finds the owners.
I got Bethan, Rubi, Dani, and Lena to start clearing the boat traffic lanes. There was only 8 to 10 that looked worth the trouble. Some of these boats were docked at Belize City before the storm and how the hell they got out here was a mystery. One guy wanted his boat raised and was acting a bit too nervous about it so the Coast Guard just happened to show up as we raised it. Once it was up and the water pumped out they went aboard and had a look. I thought he probably had drugs but it turned out to be artifacts he had stolen from one of the ruin sites. They told us to haul his boat to the impound, and they would haul him to jail.
The Coast Guard brought several people out to identify their boats. I was ready to hand them over but the Coast Guard wouldn't allow it. We started getting salvage payments from insurance companies and called the Coast Guard. He said as soon as we were paid I could release the boat. They did it to keep anyone from coming back to them for salvage payment or claims of damage done by the salvage company which turned out to be us. After 60 days any boats left would be ours. They had contacted every owner they could, and some of the owners did not respond, because they didn't want to pay the salvage fee. It was fine with me. Hell, they had pulled in half of them and we didn't have anything in them. Law is Law, and while most of the time it works against you, sometimes it's a gold mine. When the 60 days were up we still had 30 boats. We had one taxi boat that was brought in by the Coast Guard and when the taxi company found out who had brought it in they said to keep it and they would buy one of our boats to replace it. None of the boats that were sunk were claimed because of the Coast Guard salvage fees. In some cases the owner would rather have the insurance money than the boat.
Leta got a big check, from our insurance company, for damages to our boats, and to repaint one side of our building. She had taken lots of pictures of the damage and told them we were going to go ahead with repairs because we needed them for business. The boat that took a hit on the console was completely torn down, painted and put together using the parts from it and some new stuff. We had torn up one top in our hurry to get them off, and the insurance paid for it without asking how it got damaged. So we went ahead and put new motors and top on it and it was a new boat.
After the 60 days, we took pictures of the 30 boats we still had, along with identification numbers, and went to see the" Coasties." The officer I talked to, took the pictures and list, to a woman, and told her to give me salvage titles to all of them. When she finished I asked what I owed her and she said "Nothing." I walked out of there as the owner of 30 boats and some of them were real nice expensive boats. I stopped by to see the dock man, and told him what I was thinking of doing with the property next to the shop. He and his ass- hole foreman would be out to look it over.
I took all the boat titles to Leta, and then talked to the shop crew. I got them started on looking each boat over and deciding the when and how. Some of the upholstery was stripped out and laid on the decks to dry and be used for patterns. Linda kept looking at a 38 foot cabin cruiser.
"Do you want that boat Linda?"
"No, I want to change the shape of the cabin, and extend the top, to make a patio cover for the back part. Way too much sun on the back."
"Do whatever you want, the beauty of these babies is the only money we will have in them is the repairs."
Linda assigned Buddy and Russ the 6 small boats, and told them to handle them like those we bought. "Power wash, sand, patch, and paint. Two of the motors were so old they needed to be junked. I'll haul the outboards to Jennifer, and get them checked out and tuned up. She probably won't be happy when I haul the 6 boats to her but she will have a better chance to sell them than we will."
Herb and his foreman came, and we looked the property over. I told him, I thought it would be best to just pull up the brush and then dredge the waterfront and use the sand to fill in the land." We took a piece of conduit, and a boat, to check the depth of the water. You could walk out at least 75 yards before you got your face wet. He told me that the reason it was not that way in front of my buildings, is because it was dredged years ago when it was a warehouse. He had seen the boatyards down the coast at Puerto Barrios in Guatemala, and understood what I was talking about on the motorized lifts that would transport the boats to a cradle. They ran out on what looked like two docks and you parked the boat between the docks, ran straps under it and lifted it out of the water. I also wanted a launch ramp, with a rock surface extending into the water. I wanted to build a trailer, of sorts, that would allow a catamaran to be pulled out of the water to wash and paint the hulls. I would need some type of tow motor to pull it with. I could see the dollar signs spinning around in his eyes like the wheels in a slot machine. It was agreed that I would find out the width of the lift and he would start figuring out how much fill we would have to move to make the land usable. I told him I was waiting on the figure before I made an offer on the property and his price would determine if it could be done or not and if he wanted the work he needed to keep it in mind.
I took a cart to talk to Sara, about the property I wanted. I wound up paying $130K, for a swamp with half a dozen shacks on it. She told me that the people living in the shacks were doing so without permission. I stopped at the shacks on the way back to the shop and told the people that they would need to move before the construction started. One old guy told me he had lived there for 20 years. I hated to do it to them but I needed the property cleared. I just told them that they would probably start working in a week and left. Ireni got us permission to park our salvage boats to the north of us while the work was being done.
The guy came back with a price of $215K. It seemed high, until you priced good vacant property on Caulker. We were going to have some good land when it was finished, and I just liked the idea of turning a swamp into solid ground. I got a firm 90 day completion date, and turned him loose.
They started out by pulling and dragging out all the brush. Then they drove concrete pilings in a straight line that would be our waterfront when they were through. They brought all the equipment they could round up for this job and some of it was old stuff. They had two barges to haul the mud and after they had enough dirt behind the retaining wall to make a ramp they could unload them with bobcats. The worked slowed as the bobcats had to carry the material farther inland. It was a slow process but it was getting done. Since they had no equipment to pack the soil they would spread a layer of mud and sand about a foot thick and then flood it with pumps. When they hit areas of clean sand with the dredge they piled it on the other side of the lot next to the road and would use it for the top layer. They were about half way finished in a month and they had enough sand piled up by the road to cover the lot several times over. When I asked about it he told me that whatever we didn't use on the lot would wind up in the pot holes in the streets. You do have to run a zig zag line down the streets after it rains so it looked like a great idea to me. I guess you don't waste clean sand, they saved all they hit. I got tired of watching and went to harass Leta.
"Hey Leta, where is Anita?"
"Damn it, Levy, they don't even get pulled away from the dock, before you're asking me where they went. I'm going to get a big chalkboard, and hang it on the wall, and make her sign out with where she's going and when she will be back".
"Great idea, Leta, have you seen Russ?"
"No, Levy, he does not work in this office. You might try looking in his work area."
"Hey, that sounds like a good idea, bye."
Hey Russ, who fills in the holes in the streets?"
"Well, if you lived on a street that had a hole, and when it rained it filled up, and golf carts splashed muddy water on your house or porch, you would fill it."
"That's how they get filled?"
Yeah, it's all I've ever seen.
Anybody on the island got a dump wagon, that you could pull with a golf cart?
"Not that I know of."
"Levy, what the hell do you want now?"
"I need a wagon, to pull with a golf cart."
"Well go see Lupito, and get one."
"Great idea Leta, I'll be back in two or three hours."
Lupito told me where to buy one, and I got it and two big scoop shovels, and paid to have it delivered to the Freight Service, and then caught a ride with the driver. Jimmy was gone, but Brende helped me load it on the boat. I got a fried pie and a coke, and headed back to Caulker. Russ and Buddy unloaded it, and started putting it together. I told them to air up the tires to the max. I filled the tank on a golf cart, hooked up the trailer, and headed to the high school. I told the lady I needed two people to work for me, for a week or two, and what they would be doing. They always knew who needed the money and they would arrange the students' schedule, where they could work. I got a girl and a boy and told them what I wanted done. "No problem, we can do it, yes sir." I checked them both out on driving the golf cart, showed them the pile of sand, told them to turn in their hours to Leta and left it with them. In 3 weeks they had every street on Caulker smooth as glass.
I got Leta to help me find a leveler to pull behind a ATV, and got it ordered, then ordered a Honda four wheeler to pull it with. I'm tired of dodging the mud holes. The next time I went to the city, I stopped by the garden store, and bought rakes, shovels, hoes, and limb trimmers. I got 24 pairs of brown cotton gloves and all 8 of the trash cans they had. Next stop was the hardware store. I bought all the mixed wrong paint they had, and 4 gallons of 7 different colors. Thinner, brushes, rollers, pans, scrapers, tape, and plastic drop cloths. I had Leta call the island counsel and asked for a meeting. I told them we still had trash on the beaches from the storm and the community property had not been painted in years. We cannot afford to let people leave this island and bad mouth it to their friends. They started with the "We don't have money" song, so I told them that L Teem was furnishing the paint and tools to get it cleaned up. We would also hire all the high school kids for a period of two weeks. "Now what's your excuse? If you run into a problem that a little bit of money will fix come see us"
On the way back to the shop Leta asked, "Are you going to give them the four wheeler?"
"No, we will need it to maintain the boatyard. I need you to find out who the girl that shoveled the sand is. I want to offer her the job of taking care of the boatyard. She uses a shovel like she was born with it. If any of the streets get real bad she can use the leveler to fill them in and I'm sure there will be plenty of sand left."
The high school turned out ready to get the job done and a lot of the local people helped. Their lives depended on tourism, and all of them knew it, but some of the bastards were just too lazy to help. The entire business district got raked, shoveled, hoed, picked up and painted. We hauled all the trash to south end of the boatyard lot, and burned it, then shoveled the ashes into the swamp. The girl I wanted to hire was there helping so I had her go talk to Leta. Her name is Rae and she will start work for us when the big clean- up is over.
I introduced Rae to the dock man, and told him that she would be the grounds keeper when he was finished and if he had any advice or instructions on how to take care of it, to let her know. He said, "All you hire is women?"
"Well hell yeah, why would I want to hire some ole ugly guy, when all these pretty girls need jobs? Now, when you going to be finished?"
"Oh, two weeks."
"It's going to be close on you being done before the lift gets here, and I don't want to handle that thing more than I have to."
Well he got it done before the lift came. The lift is a great big heavy sucker, and damned near killed all of us. You are supposed to have a crane, to assemble it with, and there is no way to get a crane on the island. The lift is the biggest thing here. I asked all the old timers how they would lift it and hired some friends of Lupito. We had 10 people, ropes, pulleys, come a longs, gin poles, and the four wheeler hooked to it, and I still don't know what kept us from all getting killed. It is up, and it does work but if it breaks it will just set there. I ain't messin' with it again.
We had to buy a plate compactor, and Rae has the approach to the docks smooth and she poured dry cement all over the place and swept it into the sand and gravel. We wet it down with a water hose, and it made the big lift happy to have a solid surface. We got all our salvage boats moved to our new dock, and we were selling the ones that needed the least work. The storm was good to us, but it hurt a lot of people financially.
Linda has her cabin cruiser drawn out, and I think she is wanting to get it moved to the dock in front of the shop. Just looking at the drawing, I would say that Marko is going to be busy with some fancy woodwork.
I'm back to being bored again. I don't know why I can't find a fun project to work. Uh oh here comes Rae, and it looks like she wants me to work.
"Levy, can I have part of that old chain link fence?"
"Yeah, what are you gonna do with it?"
"Clawdy told me, that on the farm where she lived, they drug it behind a tractor to smooth the dirt. I need it folded over twice so I have four layers and it needs to be about 6 X 6 finished size."
"How come you don't use the leveler?"
"I think it will work, for filling holes in the streets, but it just follows the contour of what you have. If the wheels go up so does the blade. If you start with a hilly lot you just get a smooth hilly lot."
"OK let's try the chain link, it beats just letting it lay there."
We got it made, and chained to the back of the four wheeler. The finish on the boatyard was done by dragging the bucket on the bobcats backward and it was a bit uneven. She tried different speeds and then wired some concrete blocks on the top layer, but it did work. We named it the Dirt Devil, and she ran it over the lot back, forth, and diagonally until it was smooth. This girl don't quit until it's right. I think she could do a lot of things and I'm going to see that she gets the opportunity. I got the building contractor to build us a carport with 3 sides for our boat lift and that sort of finished the boatyard. I still need to build some cradles to set the boats on. I'm going to find a gas powered welder made onto a wagon, and then hire someone to build them.
Lupito came up with a guy to do the welding, and I made four trips to the city hauling steel for the cradles. He was a good fabricator but Lupito said I needed to keep an eye on him or things would disappear. I did catch him doing some welding for cash with our welder and materials. I just let him finish the job and I collected the money. I explained to him that if someone needed a small job done, to do it and give the money to Leta. That seemed to end the problem but I told Rae to help me watch him. We lifted the boats that needed total rebuilds, and thorough hull work, onto the cradles, and had to re-arrange a lot of things to get the boats close enough to the building to work on. I need to buy a one-ton hoist and "A" frame to lift out engines the big lift won't work, because it is too fast for delicate work. I'm sure the guy who built our dock cranes can build us one. Maybe he will have some idea of what kind of wheels to put on it to cross the loose sand areas of the lot.
"Hey Leta, where is Anita?"
"Picking up customers in the city."
"How long are they going to be out?"
"They will be in tonight, she is dropping off Doctor Morrison and his wife at Chapel."
"Damn, do they stay on vacation all the time?"
"No, they are looking for property, and I think they, along with the other couple that were with them during the hurricane, are trying to buy Caye Chapel."
"Damn that will take some bucks."
"Naaahh, about 40 million is all."
"What the hell are they going to do with it?"
"My guess would be, not a damned thing, unless they have a lot of money left over, to promote it with."
"Yeah, it's a strange place for a world class golf course and resort, but it is nice. Hey maybe we can get their freight business for Brende and Jimmy."
The Morrison's and two other couples did get Caye Chapel, and we did get their freight business, but, they got Anita and Clawdy. When I found out I was pissed beyond anything that had ever happened to me and I let them know what I thought of them stealing employees. I never said a word to Anita or Clawdy, but I let the new owners know that if they came after one more of our employees they would not like the end results. And then, they tried to buy Anita's boat from me. I told them no, that I had already planned to burn it.
Linda said," Levy are you really going to burn her boat?"
"It's not her boat, it's mine, and I have the title to it. I will probably sell it, but they ain't got enough money to buy it."
"Well, that's good, we are in the boat business."
"I'm surprised that they didn't talk you into going with them."
"I'm sure I could have gone with them, if I wanted to clean rooms, or cook. I build boats Levy, better than anybody you ever met."
"What the hell made them want to leave, Linda?"
"Levy, since you are never going to figure it out, I'll just say, that Anita has to be the one in charge, or she will never be happy. You and Leta run this company, and Anita knows that Leta is not scooting over for anyone, and in this case, that is a good thing. She is fair, plays no favorites and she can run the whole damned place if she needs to. Now help me set the aft roof panel on my project boat."
The aft roof panel set about two feet higher than the cabin roof, and Linda explained that the cabin roof was too low to install a radar unit on without raising it up on some type of mount, and the cabin roof design did not have a solid core to bolt to. The aft roof would have a mount bolted to the top. That way, when you walked around on the front deck the radar beam would not hit you and turn you into a crispy critter. She said it was odd that it never had radar since the fuel tanks were just short of holding enough fuel to go to the moon and back. Makes you wonder what the original owner had in mind to do with it. She was building a long distance cruiser out of it and had already rebuilt the engine and transmission. I could see a lot of woodwork that told me what Marko had been doing.
I headed to the dining room, to get a coke, when Leta caught me. "Levy, I don't think it was a good idea to make the Morrison's mad."
"Yeah you're probably right, but let me ask you this, when they figure out that they can't get enough "High Rollers" to play golf on their island, to make any money, and maybe decide they need a few Dive Instructors, where do you think they will try to get them? How many tours have you got booked? Somebody is going to have to take those, because Anita doesn't have a boat. Who do you think can handle it?"
"I think the question is, who will handle it? I guess we need to see if there are any volunteers."
When Rubi and Dani came in I asked them if they wanted to work the tour boat, and they didn't like the idea at all. Dani said that, "Since the storm had moved a lot of sand, that they were checking the sandbars again." They, along with Kate, had been the main workers fixing up Treasure Island after the storm, and they had to pull a lot of dead flowers out of the mangroves and replant all the boxes. They had found an old chain and anchor, and Marko built them a treasure chest to put with the pirate boat. They had wrapped pennies in gold foil for the chest. The island looked better than it ever had, and they still wanted to lease it from us.
The dive boats came in, and Leta asked all the instructors. When she came and told me that Lena and Raine wanted the tour boat, I thought she was bullshitting me. I didn't really like the idea, but I sure couldn't say that they were not capable. They could both handle a boat, read maps, compass, and a GPS. They were both Dive Instructors, both cheerful and pretty, so there was no reason to object. I would need to check them out on the boat and let both of them shoot the pistols and hope they could hit something with them. I hope, for the customers' sake, that one of them can cook a little bit. Raine said she could cook but I think I'll get Mercedes to go over some menus and have her cook them.
The California girls, Wendy and Robin, knew a girl with an instructors rating. She was teaching surfing at an all- girl surf school in Nicaragua. I never heard of such thing, but then what the hell do I know? I told Leta that, to be fair, we needed to offer the assistant's job to Rae, before we went looking. Leta went and asked her, and came back with a grin on her face. Rae didn't want to work on the dive boats, but wanted to know if she could wear a bikini anyway, since all the other girls did. Leta told her it would be fine, but I would have to judge whether she passed inspection or not. Rae told her "It would be fine with her if I wanted to check her over." I was thinking that Leta didn't need to be so helpful.
The girl from Nicaragua, turned out to be from California, and she could give Lila a run for her money, on jokes and bullshit. Her name is Susan, or "Suzie Q", and she said she had been deprived of a social life, at the all-girl school in Nicaragua, and liked the idea of having all the male students to talk to. Leta took her to the city, to set up her checking account, and came back with Brende with them. She took off to talk to Ireni, and Jocie and Leta told me that she was going to dive school and would be Suzi Q's assistant. Oh shit my head already hurts.
"Leta you do realize that she's 14 going on 24 don't you?"
"Yep, it's going to be your job to keep an eye on her, and I know that's not hard for you to do."
"Well, I might piss her off, but it's going to be my way, or she's going back to the bakery and that's just the way it is."
I went and got Brende and Suzi, and set them both down, and explained that I did not want Brende messing around with any of the guys, because of her age. I told Brende, that if she did, she was going back to the bakery and that if Suzi let her, that she would not be very high on my list either. Suzi told Brende that she better remember what I said, because she was not going to lose her job over it. I told Brende, that "If I had to, I would have her age sewn on to her bikini on the left cup, and Jail Bait sewn on to the other one." I also told her that it would not just be her in trouble, if I thought the offense was bad enough, her whole family would be looking for jobs. "You are not going to destroy what we have built up from nothing. We employ a lot of people here, and you would be taking from them also. What the divers say about us, when they leave here, has a direct effect on our bank balance."
I didn't have any problem with her. She did get a lot of admiring looks, but she was quick to tell them, that she was only 14. Several of the girls helped with her Home Schooling, and she did pass the exams in the books, so, maybe we got through to her. She could already handle a boat, and she was fearless when it came to diving.
When Jimmy came with the freight, he had two new helpers, both girls between 14 and 18, both spoke Spanish and maybe 200 words of English. I asked him where he came up with them, and he told me they were semi-orphans, probably abused, from his old neighborhood. They were going to share Brendes' room, and help with the freight and the bakery. He was going to bring both of them for a while, so they could learn where the different stores were. I asked him to keep me a list of what supplies and how much was going to Caye Chapel, and to try to find out what job Anita had and also what they had Clawdy doing. He told me it would not be a problem and he would keep it quiet. I told him if there were about four more girls that needed jobs to bring them out when he delivered the freight. They will need to be young and pretty, willing to wear bikinis as a work uniform, and they will be diving a lot.
Here comes Leta, and it looks like she has some work for me. "Levy, do you have all the welding finished?"
"Because Rae just beat the shit out of the welder guy with a piece of pipe."
"Damn, I bet that hurt."
"You don't want to know why she did it?"
"Nope, if she did it, then she had a reason."
"The guy was stealing from us, and when she asked him about it, he decided, that maybe he would just take off her bikini and teach her to mind her on business."
"Doesn't sound like it worked out too well for him, did she get hurt?"
No, she's not hurt, do you think I should call the police?
Nope, give her a hundred dollar bill, and a day off. If the guy comes back, we'll let her finish him off. Call Lupito and tell him to spread the word on what happened, and that the guy got his ass kicked by a girl when he tried to rape her. Tell him if the guy has a wife, to make sure she hears about it. When you get a chance, call the building contractor, and tell him we need a fence around the boatyard, and a building, with an office, and about 10 bedrooms with bathrooms."
"So my boatyard employees don't take up your dive shop rooms."
"Good idea, Levy, maybe we could build it a little bigger and move all the instructors over there. It would let them get away from their students, if they want to."
"Yep, and let you have room for a few more dive students."
"I don't have enough instructors for more students."
"I'm working on that. I think we need to use local girls, anytime we can work them through the training, then we won't have to worry about them going home."
"Yeah, seems like we have been running wide open ever since we've been here. It would be nice to have extra hands, instead of always being short."
"Yep, but look at what we've built, and it makes money."
Jimmy brought two girls to talk to Leta. One of them was a nice looking girl, but the other one was skin and bones, and her hair looked like she combed it with a Mixmaster. He told me that she was probably starved, and that she had been on the streets for a long time. He wanted me to use her if we could, because she was not going to make it much longer where she was. I asked if she was on drugs, and he said he didn't think so. She had just been beat on till she had given up. He said her name was Rachel, and she just needs somebody to give her a chance. I caught Rae and told her to go tell Leta that I wanted Rachel to be her assistant.
"I'll take care of her Jimmy."
"I know she's not what you asked for, Levy, but if it comes down to it, I'll give her my job and take her place on the streets."
"You did the right thing Jimmy, and she will have a place here. We can't take all of them in, but I can see how important it is to you, so we'll have to find a way to help them. Tell Heidi to feed them, and let them use one of the rooms for showers. If you need to, buy a few fold up beds, and put them in the warehouse. Stop by here before you leave and I'll give you some money to buy clothes and a washer and dryer to put in the warehouse. If you can clean them up, and feed them, they will have a better chance of finding some work. Are there any orphanages that could take care of them?"
"There are some, and they take care of those under the age of 10 or 12, but they just don't have the room for older kids."
"Bring the older girls out here. At least we can keep them from being abused. There is not any way that I can take the guys, not with having girls that have already been abused, it just won't work."
"I know, it's the reason we have not taken in any. Heidi and Elke would kick their ass out, if they even suspected there was something going on. They are not real happy, that I have two girl helpers, but I told them that those two were staying, or I was leaving, and I meant it."
"Well Jimmy, a wise man once told me, that if you can't run your own business, the way you want to, it's time to leave, so I understand what you're saying. You do what you think is best, and I'll help with everything I can."
It took a few days, but we got the girls to the Doctor, and got it set up where Heidi, Elke, or Jimmy could take a kid to the Doctor, and they would be treated, and the bill sent to Leta. Rachel would be fine in a few months, and I told Rae not to let her work very hard. I had Lupito finding out about job training for some of the boys, and the building contractor was going to use a few of them, on our new building, to see if on the job training would work. Jennifer wasn't too happy about it, but she had half a dozen kids working at the motor shop, rotating through the jobs, to see if they had an aptitude for any of them. Heidi had several kids selling burritos, doughnuts, and fried pies at the taxi docks, and they were making about minimum wage. Lupito built them a pushcart, with a butane oven to keep things warm. I bought a used mini-van looking thing, for Heidi, to make deliveries to the restaurants and stores, and her business was doing better than any of us had dreamed. She had 10 to 15 kids eating there, most meals, and was still making money.
A civil welfare officer showed up, and tried to shake Heidi down, for some cash, to look the other way, while she exploited the children. It didn't go well for him, because Ernie, the cop, was setting there eating. He was off duty and not in uniform. He arrested the officer, and took him before a judge, and explained what we were doing, and what the officer had tried to do. He also told the judge, that we took in kids from the street, took them to a doctor, bought them clothes, fed them, took care of them, taught them a trade, so they could make a living, set up bank accounts for them and made sure that they saved 75% of their wages, and that we were doing this for children that the country of Belize had already failed and written off. We will have no further problems with any of the government about what we are doing with the children.
Rae and Rachel started pulling one dive boat a day out of the water and cleaned the hulls, a couple of them had some gouges and scrapes, so Russ and Buddy showed them how to sand and fill the damage and paint it with gel-coat. Some of the other boat owners on the island started inquiring about cleaning and painting with various anti fouling paints, and we added two more girls to their crew. They acted like it was all a big party, and cleaning boats was more fun than anything in the world. Andy taught them about replacing zincs, and what to point out to the owners. They would also check the through hull seals and fittings. We picked up some engine work, and a paint job, from a guy who lived in San Pedro. He told us he had been going all the way to Puerto Barrios, in Guatemala, to get his boats lifted out and cleaned. He had talked to Lena and Raine, when they stopped in San Pedro and they had told him that we could lift a pretty big boat, including either of our big catamarans. He ran 6 tour boats with only two doing long tours. He claimed he made more money running day tours with 12 to 20 passengers, and the boats were at the dock every night. I told him we only had the one tour boat, and we really never set out to do tours, it just happened. Now we have them booked and can't quit. I told him about Treasure Island, and the people that rented it for skinny dipping. He said a customer had asked him about it, but he didn't know what they were talking about. I told him that the other big cat was set up for salvage and towing, and he asked if we monitored the radio all the time. "No, but if you called and caught one of us, we would come and get you." He told me I should put up a tall antenna, and get listed with the coast guard, we would have to monitor the radio, but it paid some big bucks, for towing, and if there were bad seas or other risks it paid even more.
When he left I turned to Leta and said, "What do you think?"
"I don't want you going out in bad weather, and it may be some damned drug dealer calling you out to steal the boat. I say no."
"I wonder what he's using for the long tours?"
"You'll know soon enough, he's bringing them in, between tours, for cleaning."
"Shanty Boat! That's it, Where's Linda?"
"I gotta talk to Linda. I'll tell you later."
I found Linda and Marko, on her project boat, and asked her if she could take a 28' cat, and make the insides nice, but the outside look like a Huck Finn Shanty Boat?
"Yeah, but if you put wood siding on it, it will be too heavy for the hulls..."
Marko said, "So use 1/8" plywood, sandblast it and paint it like we did the pirate boat, some of that thin corrugated sheet metal for a roof."
"That would be hotter than hell."
"Insulation don't weigh much."
"It would need a potty, fridge, sink, water, bed, and table. Do you think you could rent it?"
Marko said," Treasure Island stays rented, who would have thought that?"
Linda said she would draw it out and figure the weight as close as she could, and then get the high school to work on the decoration, then we would see what it looked like.
I went back and explained it to Leta, and all she said was "Make two, a one couple, and a two couple. I'll put them on the Treasure Island website."
"Damn, the best idea I've had all year, and all you say is make two."
"Oh Levy, Dear, you are so smart, that was just the greatest idea ever. Now get your ass outta here and go build them. If I can't rent them, we'll have two more bedrooms at Treasure Island."
I watched Rachel unload the barge with the furniture for the new building. She is good, with the big lift, she set the pallets right in front of the door. Buddy and Russ were doing the heavy work, and the girls doing the small boxes. The boys had already complained that Leta wouldn't let them move into the new building. All I can say is "Nice try. I wouldn't mind living there myself. 25 or 30 of the best looking women in the country, not bad roommates."
When Rubi and Dani came in, I told them about the Shanty Boats. Between the two of them they had more common sense than an entire University.
"Levy, it's not a good idea to turn someone loose with a boat like that. It will be a little top heavy, and if they hit a wave wrong, they will be in trouble in a hurry. Kate has to be really careful towing the bathroom barge, because it's top heavy, and I can't see you building one much lighter on top."
"Well shit, there goes my idea."
"Build another island, there are lots of sandbars out there."
"Yeah but they don't have a 20' wall of mangroves around them"
"Levy, if I told you how to do it, would you let Rubi and I have one? We won't quit working for you, just own one for our own idea's."
"If you can save my plan, I'll build you one."
"Let's go talk to Leta, we are going to need some things."
"Leta, we need some stuff."
"Well go buy it, Levy, I'm busy."
"No, you better listen", then we laid it out for her.
"So, you want me to long term lease, all the uninhabited sandbars, within 20 miles, and you're going to build some more treasure islands on some of them. Why do you need to lease them ALL"
"So nobody else cuts into our business."
"And one of the islands will belong to Rubi and Dani?"
"Yep, I want it in writing. These are our new partners. They have the idea and we have the money."
"OK, I'll get it done. What do I tell the government that we want them for?"
"We want to make replicas of pirate islands and Huckleberry Finn type scenes."
Dani said, "And make sure we can put a fence around them to keep people from destroying our art work." We left Leta to get it done.
"OK girls, how are we going to get this done?"
"Call the dock and dredge man, we've got the plans in our room."
They went to get the plans, and I called Herb the dock man. We laid the plans on the big table in Leta's office, and the simplicity of the plan was amazing. They had a double fence, covered with square fence wire. They would use camouflage nets over the fence material, and then plant the climbing flowers in planter boxes to cover them with. The fence would be welded to the tops of the concrete dock pilings, and extend to below the water by a foot. Some of their islands were not really sand, but docks, on the shallow submerged sandbars. They had Tree- House type platforms, made on concrete pilings, with rope swings and flowers climbing everywhere. They had a specific plan, for half a dozen different sandbars in the area. When I asked them about how long they had worked on the plans they told me "It was a backup plan, in case something happened to Leta, Lena, and me." They had thought that Anita might take over, and they were going to build one island and try to make a living from it. Now they would have their island in case they needed it.
When the dive boats came in, everyone had to see the new islands, and Dani had a paper and pen making notes of their ideas. Everyone, including the students and divers, agreed that the tree house was the cool thing, so each island would have one. Rope bridges seemed to appeal to everyone, and a lookout on top with a grass hut design. I was against the grass hut because of smokers, but Linda seemed to think that it could be made safe with a fire retardant spray. Marko had a lot of ideas for building different things, and Dani's pen was really moving. Ropes and vines just seemed to go together. One of the tree houses evolved into a beached pirate boat made the same as the tree houses but wire would be used to make the boat shape and of course it would be covered with vines and flowers.
Herb, and his ass-hole Brother in Law foreman, showed up the next day. Herb liked the whole idea, but his foreman thought it would be too hard to make everything the way we wanted it, and started telling us how we would have to change things to suit him. I got pissed off and told Herb that "Rubi and Dani would be in charge of the project, and I didn't want his foreman anywhere near it. He could either get rid of him, or we would find another company to do it." Herb told him to "Head for the taxi dock, and he would not be working on this project, and was laid off until it was finished". We found out that Herb only kept him because his wife demanded it. Herb had some good ideas and thought we could build up the submerged sandbar with dredged material the way we had done the boatyard. I told him to "Work with the girls, and come up with a price for the pilings, double fence, dredging, and the tree houses with docks. We would be using a solar power set up, about the same as Treasure Island, with the exception of some new desalination units, called slingshots, or something weird. We also wanted one installed on the original island. We had decided that moving a bathroom barge once a week was not going to work with six islands, and we were going to have to bring in a pump boat, to empty them on a regular schedule. If we put the holding tanks were they could be accessed from outside the fence it would work." Herb said we would probably have to dredge a path for the pump boat, but we had to get sand from somewhere anyway.
"OK, I'm leaving it with the three of you, and Herb, they are in charge, what they want is final, no arguments."
"I'm not going to argue with them, didn't one of them beat the hell out of Geno with a pipe?"
"No, that was Rae, and he's lucky she was in a good mood."
"Rae did that? Damn I'm glad I was nice to her when we were building the boatyard."
Almost everyone had some input or idea for the islands. The high school was doing a lot of computer drawings of different parts of the tree houses, so they could be constructed with square steel tube with heavy wood floors. They also designed the bathrooms and figured out the plumbing system with the desalination units. They were re-working the website, and creating new pages for each island, and would use lots of pictures, as soon as they were available. I helped Marko create old looking wood items, and Linda made some carved Totem poles for one of the islands, they had a small solar panel and battery unit on top, and she used LED's and colored glass to light up different areas. Each of the islands had a theme, and it seemed that each island had a few people that wanted to make it the best one. I saw pearls made out of marbles coated with pearl fingernail polish, more of the pennies covered with gold foil, wood swords, wood pirate pistols, an old looking ships' mast, with tattered sails, a concrete sculpture of a mermaid. Just all kinds of things were filling up the boat shop. Lupitos' shop got caught up in it, and he was making canvas covers for one of the tree house patios, and making the entrance signs for each island out of wrought iron. It was decided that if one of the themes did not rent as well as the others, we would change it to something else, because it was cheap to do so. Once the basic island was built the theme could be changed in a day.
Leta came out of the office, and I could tell she was pissed off at somebody
"Levy, Buddy, Russ, come go with me."
We dropped what we were doing and followed her to a boat
"Head over to Chapel, somebody did something to Clawdy, and Anita is not there."
We tied up the boat and went into the resort. Clawdy was coming down the hall with her suitcase and some guy was following her cussing and yelling at her. It was one of the owners named Turner and he said, "Get that god damned bitch out of here." And that is when Buddy hit him, in the face. Buddy can hang a 150 horse motor on a boat without a hoist and Mr. Turner did not look like he was going to be getting up real soon. Then Mrs. Turner started yelling, and cussing all of us, saying she was calling the police. Leta smashed her a good one, to the nose, and told her that "As long as she told them what her sorry assed husband tried to do to Clawdy, we didn't have any problem waiting on them." Mrs. Turner decided that it would be fine if we just left. Several customers had come out of the dining room, and Buddy told them "If they wanted in on this little problem, to step on up." I guess they didn't want in on it, because they left real quick.
Clawdy said that "Anita and the Morrison's were Visiting various yacht clubs, trying to drum up business. It seems Mr. Turner had waited until Anita was gone, then started calling Clawdy a "Lizzy assed dyke," and telling her how much she would like a man. Leta took her in the office, and had her write down everything she could remember. Then she called one of our dive customers, an International Lawyer. The lawyer knew Turner from a yacht club, and didn't like him, and would be very happy to take Clawdys' case. Leta put Clawdys' suitcase in our bedroom. Fine with me. She then told Clawdy to call Anita and tell her what happened and that she had already got a lawyer to represent her and gave her the lawyers name. If the lawyer knew Turner, he probably knew Morrison, and that would stop Turner from doing anything about the little punch in the nose.
Clawdy made herself useful, keeping each islands decorations separate and stacked neat, and she went and spent a few days with Heidi. When she got back, Leta talked her into taking over the island bookings, and moved another desk into the office. She had decided that she was not going back to chapel, regardless of what Anita did. Leta seemed to think that Clawdy was made a lot of promises that didn't happen, and she wound up as a serving girl in the dining room.
I was talking to Linda, when Anita came in the shop door. She walked up to us and told me that she did not know that Clawdy was being treated the way she was, and that she wanted to apologize to her. I told her she would find her in the office but to remember what I said about stealing my employees.
"Levy, I did not do this."
"I have never blamed you for anything, Anita, not in all the years I have known you." She turned and walked toward the office, and Linda waved bye to her and said "Nice seeing you Sis." Then she held out her arm and we skipped off to the dining room, singing We're Off To See The Wizard. The girls had all watched the Wizard of Oz, and now Brende and Suzie Q had everybody skipping along.
Since all the new islands were mostly built up with sand and pilings, Dani wanted to use the closest sandbars and just rework them to suit her plans. It would make the care of them a lot easier for sure. They were located in a long line with plenty of separation, except for two which were laid out like a figure 8, with the entrances at the center, but on opposite sides. They had one that was mostly sand that they called the beach house. Rubi and Dani had selected their island, and it was like a large letter C with a small opening. It had sand around the sides, with the center clear, and they called it the Rubi-Dee Lagoon. They had paid for an extra tree house, one at each end, and it had a dock that extended into the lagoon at the center. The plumbing ran between the double fences to a point in the center that had the holding tank. It also had a small maintenance building which held the desalination unit and gave them a lot of storage space. The building had wire, camo net, and vines covering it, and you had to know it was there, or you would miss it. Their bathrooms had two potties, two sinks, and they had indoor and outdoor showers. The sleeping area had two double beds, with an accordion wall between them that could be pushed back to the wall, leaving it as one large room. They had it set up where they could handle two, four, six, or eight guests. I guess they would have to be close friends for it to work. We had all decided to stick to the $500 per night, per couple price.
The tree houses were all made using square and rectangular tubing, the walls were made like we use to build the cabins for the little cats. A lot of Styrofoam and fiberglass was used in the buildings, and the floors were another problem. We had bought 2 X 8 lumber, and built a long tank where we could submerge them in polyurethane, and then place them on a drying rack, on their edge. It was fast but it left one edge with drips hanging down so each board had to be worked after it dried. The boards were bolted to the framework, with carriage bolts, and it made a nice floor. The windows had screens, and there were screen doors, but I bet we still go through bug spray by the barrel. The solar panels were on roof top racks, and racks on top of the fence, but could be seen from the lookout hut at the top. The black tanks to heat the water could also be seen, so it was not perfect. One of the high school kids figured out a drip feeder system that watered all the planter boxes, if we remembered to turn it on a couple of times a week. We really needed a bit more electricity available, but with what we were using, the panels kept the batteries charged. I learned how to make some real looking boulders using chicken wire and fiberglass. We had a lot of wanna-be artists in our group, and they painted the fake rocks along with anything that didn't move.
We were six weeks into the project, and had the furniture and refrigerators in place. It took a while to find some two burner, butane cook tops, with safety devices built in. We had given Leta and Clawdy a date to start booking, and we were running around getting things done. I knew that Raine was using some of the girls, along with Chuck, Buddy, and Russ, for models. When I looked at the website the last time, I saw pictures of Rubi swinging on a rope and she was nude. There were pictures of the others, less clothes, swimming, laying on the sand and walking on the beach. None of the pictures were close enough to tell who they were unless you knew them. Hey, there is a picture of Clawdy and Sandy, in an area covered by flowers.
"Damn, Leta, I like these pictures, but won't our website be X rated?"
"Naaah, the cartoon channel has that much nudity."
"Yeah, it's common and accepted most places."
"How come we have to wear clothes then?"
"Because we have work to do, but I didn't see any tan lines on Rubi and Dani, so I think they do a lot of nude treasure hunting. Hey, I wonder if people would be interested in nude treasure hunting?"
"Yep, I'm interested."
"You dumb ass, go do some work."
I found Rubi and Dani, talking to Marko and Linda, they had a piece of paper that had a lot of post and rope drawn on it. Dani seemed to think that in the Popeye cartoons', that the dock posts had a flattened ball or knob on top of them, and she was trying to draw one, but could not get it the way she wanted. Marko told her he had never seen a Popeye cartoon and didn't remember seeing anything but normal looking posts. She was telling him they had the knob to keep the rope from slipping off the post. Linda said that does make sense, but I've never seen one.
"Come on girls, take me to the city, and I'll introduce you to someone that can tell you about dock posts." I told Leta and Clawdy where we were going, and we stopped at Lupitos', and asked him if Ethridge was still around. Yep he was still there selling junk out of his building, so we went there. I had Dani show him the picture of the post and he took her pencil and made a few changes to it. They used those before they started putting cleats on the docks to tie up to. There's some over in that trash pile. I don't know how he determined what was trash, and what was good. It all looked the same to me. The girls started digging through the trash, like it was gold, and started another pile. Rusty pulleys, frayed rope, other rusty metal stuff, an old canvas covered cork life ring, some wood things, a broken sextant, half a ships wheel. Damn girls you're going to sink the boat. I asked Ethridge if a hundred would cover it. He took the hundred and told the girls that the next boat load was free. We loaded it up and Dani told him they would be back tomorrow. They wound up talking him out of several more loads and some of it was not from the trash pile. They had what they thought was a real pirate ship anchor, and maybe it was. It was certainly a crude thing that could have been made with hammer and forge.
I don't know how Clawdys' lawyer got them, but he went before a judge, with some signed affidavits, from all the female employees on Chapel. Turner's goose was cooked. Clawdy wound up with $500K and I think the lawyer got more than that. Jimmy said, that the word was, that the employees got some money for the affidavits, and maybe they did. Lawyers work in mysterious ways. The Morrison's were trying to force Turner out of the partnership, and I think they were all in a bind for cash. Anita is the only one bringing in guests to the resort, and she has to spend most of her time traveling to yacht clubs around the world. But then, what does the kitchen help know.