Let me just say this: Nothing could be further from the truth.
The boat boys of the Grenadines turned out to be one of the highlights of our sailing trip (they are really boat men, since the majority are adults).
One boat boy in Mayreau refused to take money after helping us find an anchoring spot. We paid him a small tip anyway, and later that night when we tried to get onto the dock in the dark in a huge swell he guided us to the safest spot and then proceeded to help everyone out of the dinghy while the incoming waves were wreaking havoc. He stayed there until I returned later with the rest of our crew to do the same thing.
In Mayreau we also met Carlos and when we told him we did not need fish that night he left us alone. A couple of days later in the Tobago Cays he spotted us looking for a mooring and helped us tie up. This is not as easy as it sounds, since they do not provide pennants. You usually have to back your stern up to the mooring since the ball is too far below your bow, get a line through the ball and then work the line forward to your bow. Carlos made it easy by taking our lines and feeding them through the ball for us. He also refused to take pay.
We asked Carlos if he had bread and other goods. Carlos said he only had fish and he later returned later with a beautiful hunk of big eye tuna which he sliced into steaks right next to our boat. I doubt I have ever had such a delicious piece of fish in my life.
Carlos also sent his friend Walter over for the bread and other goods we needed.
Both days in the Tobago Cays Walter delivered everything we needed at the exact time he said he would. He sold us everything from Pain De Chocolat to french bread, soda and even gasoline for our dinghy. It was all done with a smile, good-natured banter and efficiency. There was never a hard sell.
The biggest treat of all was probably Walter’s sister’s banana bread (without nuts so it wouldn’t kill our son). The banana bread would die an early death every morning as our crew would devour it within minutes of delivery.
When we inquired about going to Petit Tabac by boat boy, because our dinghy was too small and the weather too rough to take us all to the island, Walter turned us onto Mandy Man. Mandy Man (in the green shirt) drove us there in his colorful boat.
Again, good service for a fair price. I am not saying it was cheap, but considering that we were having everything delivered to and from our boat without ever having to lift a finger, it was a good deal.
So, if you want to go sailing in the Grenadines, don’t let the boat boys scare you away. They are actually part of the experience and for most of us they were among the highlights of our trip.