Earlier this week Mark posted about Palmas del Mar. This is Cindy’s addition to the post.
I always get a bit uneasy as we approach a marina for the first time. Things happen quickly when backing into a slip. Things can go from good to bad fast, especially in high winds. And, like most cruisers, there are things hanging off the boat that can get squashed—like the outboard motor. And then there is the dinghy. If it is on the davits it is hard to pass stern lines around it. If it is on the cabin top it is hard to walk around it quickly. On occasion we have also had last minute slip changes from the Dockmaster. It can be a tense time.
Another concern going through my mind is the dockhands who are there to help us secure the boat. Most marinas send someone to point out the assigned slip and to help. Sometimes the help is wonderfully experience and helpful. Sometimes not so much. We were approaching The Yacht Club at Palmas del Mar (The Yacht Club for short) with high winds. Gusty winds can and will push the boat around as we enter the slip and try to secure the boat. My usual uneasiness was on alert for a third reason; my Spanish stinks.
As Mark started to line up the stern of the boat to enter the slip, I surveyed the dock for cleats and pylons and started to form a plan. About this time I saw a man slowly make his way down the dock and stop. One hand in his pocket and the other pointing toward the slip, looking casually at Cream Puff and crew with a big smile. His focus switched to another man who walked up beside him and then a third joined the group. Help has arrived.
The first man walked down the dock finger. Without words, he and I quickly had the midship line tied off. Time to get the bow secured. The pylons for the bow are generally not accessible from the dock so it is up me. Mark hit the bow thruster and the boat slowly moved me closer to the pylon. Still a long toss away I gave it my best shot. I tossed the rope. Oops-missed. Tossed again and as the rope circled the pylon the crowd went wild. I was slightly stunned and laughed out loud. The dockhands were cheering for me. No time to spare, I went to the port side. Swing– missed– swing– missed. Damn. Over my shoulder a perfect accented English voice said “Help is here Miss!” I hooked the rope on the boat pole and passed it to my new friend who was now standing next to me. We quickly had the rope around the pylon. The crowd went wild. And this time, Mark and I joined the cheer. With three sets of extra hands the rest of the docking activities went quickly and easily. This is the way it is at The Yacht Club. Always an easy laugh and smile from friendly helpful people.
Dockhands are our liaisons in any marina. The dockhands at this marina consider it their job to go above and beyond. They get upset if I carry my own bag of ice or laundry to the boat. “It is my job to do this for you” they say to me. The guys take a lot of pride in doing a good job so the boaters can relax and have fun. They are always quick with a joke and a big smile. I like it here. I may never leave.
The General Manager, Juanjo Boschetti, must have a great relationship with his staff to have such happy people work with him. He sets an example by lending a hand to guests whether it is helping to dock boats arriving or a guest needing help unloading provisions. Juanjo’s focus is on boater’s needs and what he and his staff can we do to help them enjoy their stay. Any problem day or night, just call his private cell phone number that he proudly gives to each guest on arrival. Juanjo will always stop to ask if there is anything we need. Is there any wonder we came for two weeks and stayed for more?
We are not sure how they do it but as soon as we park our rental car and opened the trunk the marina golf cart mysteriously appears to help. The marina staff helps us load our groceries into the cart and gives us a ride to our boat. They insist I get on the boat so they can unload the cart for me. I am getting so spoiled! Did I mention how much I like it here?
The marina is going through some upgrades while we are here. They are moving the laundry room to an area inside the ship store to make room for a new gym for marina tenants and guests. We can wait in the large open lounge while doing laundry. The lounge has views of the swimming pool and ocean. Speaking of ship store, the ship store is opening soon. JuanJo is putting together a nice supply of items for cruisers and boaters. There will also be a ice cream! I think this will be a popular place during the hot day of summer.
Now to answer some questions cruisers always ask: The WiFi and cellphone services are good. In slip fuel and pump-out at no extra charge. The facilities are spotlessly cleaned daily. There are two restroom and shower facilities on the docks as well as restrooms in the building where the ship store and laundry reside.
The Yacht Club has very reasonable rates for slips (weekly and monthly discounts) and the best rates on water and electricity we have found in Puerto Rico. We saved enough money staying here to pay for the rental car (rental car agency, Target, is onsite). We do not mind paying for a marina and a bit extra depending on the amenities if we feel we are getting a fair deal. Unfortunately, transient boats like ourselves are often charged exorbitant rates for little to no amenities and facilities that are not well cleaned or well maintained. It is nice to visit a marina that has fair prices, nice amenities and is in decent condition. We have been to some of the top tier marinas and would put this marina high on our list of favorites. Saving money means Mark loves it here too.
Spoil the women and the men will come. When I said this to a fellow cruiser he said men likes being spoiled by the marina too. So, I guess I should say spoil the boaters and more boaters will come. And that is what is happening. The word is getting out about the Yacht Club at Palmas del Mar’s great service and fair rates. The marina is becoming known in the cruising community through word of mouth and cruiser’s websites like ActiveCaptain. All the hard work is paying off for these wonderful people. I hope their business continues to grow.