The bimini story.

The first couple of weeks back on the island of Curacao were full of chaos and to-do’s. When I arrived I took a couple of days at the hotel near the marina to give me some time to prepare the boat for living aboard. As I saw her there lying lonely in her slip with a torn up bimini flapping in the wind and a layer of dust covering the solar panels, it was kind of sad. The ten years of sun and breeze finally won over the strength of the sunbrella fabric. I knew the fabric reached the end of its life but I was hoping for it to hold together until we reach Asia as I’m convinced replacing the Bimini in Thailand or Malaysia would be a heck of a lot cheaper than here on the island. But alas, I needed to find a good canvas shop here in the sticks.

We already discussed replacing the Bimini and dodger with a local canvas shop last time we were on the island, and they even got us a quote. It was rather on the high side of our budget, but as we heard great stories about the work of the couple running this shop, we decided to go ahead. Unfortunately the old couple owning the shop was retiring and didn’t have time to complete our job, so we’ve put the project on hold for a bit. But now, with the fabric flapping in the wind, it suddenly moved to the top of the to-do list.

I asked the new owners of the shop to dig up the previous quotation and see when they could get started. If only things were that simple…..No, a delegation of three people had to come to the boat (again) and measure everything all over again. Seems like the previous owner took her notes or wrote in some sort of code that could only be deciphered by those that are enlightened. Anyways, the delegation went through the whole exercise again, asking the same questions. But this time on receiving the every ‘same’ answers, their faces frowned, frantic calculations had to be made and the words ‘difficult’ and ‘more time’ floated frequently in conversations. The process didn’t instil a whole lot of trust on my part. When I finally received the new quotation it was about 2k (USD) more than the previous one, which was already very high and this time an estimated duration of six weeks.

When I vented my discomfort about this project at a local ‘sailors’ bar, a fellow sailor gave me the address of a ‘local’ Colombian guy for a second opinion. So I exchanged some whatsapp messages with the people, and a couple of days later he and his wife / translator were on the boat. After a quick 10 minutes discussing fabrics and shape, they quickly measured a few things and left. That same afternoon I got a ‘quote’ in the form of a message on the whatsapp. It was half of the price of the previous shop, almost too good to be true.  I decided to check out the workshop to see if this was a legit business, and it was. A small but busy workshop, many photos of previous projects and in depth knowledge of canvas for sailing boats, as it turned out the owner is a sailor as well.

The next day I pulled a deposit out of the wall and gave the shop the go-ahead. Today, less than two weeks later they came for a final fitting.

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