January 6, 2010 Miami and St. Martin Met rest of the crew (The Admiral,* The Saint, The Captain, Golden, Ringo and The Swabbie) in Ventura at 3:00AM. We boarded our own personal shuttle for LAX to check in for flight to Miami and then on to St. Martin. Didn't get any sleep although the movies weren't very absorbing: the kid flick “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and the 20-something finding yourself film, “Post Grad.” We ate at Carreta in the Miami airport--surprisingly great Cuban food but the bad news was that Golden’s wallet fell out of her purse and was left under the table. The flight to St. Martin was two hours late--apparently there is something to the Caribbean myth of “don’t worry, be happy” as pertains to punctuality. Arrived at Captain Oliver's---which reminded me vaguely of Fantasy Island (where was Mr. Rourke or rather Mr. Oliver?)--at 1:00AM after driving to the other side of the island from Queen Julianna airport. At any rate, we declined the offer of drinks and sandwiches and just crashed into the comfortable bed.
*The Admiral was formerly Captain but when he promoted The Fisherman to Captain, he did so only under the condition that he could assume the title of Admiral. When told that only the King could appoint an admiral, he threatened to name himself King, which was unacceptable to his subjects, so they allowed him to retain Admiral.
January 7, 2010 Oyster Pond, St. Martin This was the day we were to climb aboard our ship and start our adventure in the tropics. The name of our ship was rather embarrassing--at least to Ringo. It was called “Retirement Fun” which sort of made most of us feel like a prized collection of old farts. Actually most are still gainfully employed but the average age, less the 47-year old Ringo, is around 65. The Admiral thought it would be a good idea if we all attended the briefing by Moorings. They sent a French woman, who didn’t seem to have any real world experience navigating the islands we wished to visit. She speedily read everything off of a Power-Point and discouraged the asking of questions. Although The Saint took copious notes (on yellow) post-its I believe the collective consciousness will recall most of the salient points once we sail. When “Retirement Fun” was not ready on time, we went to the Iguana Bar for drinks and lunch. It was close to 2:00 before we were allowed on board with our inventory lists, ready to check off all the provisions and equipment.A nasty-looking squall hit right when we finally left the dock so The Admiral made the first of several admirable decisions and had us returned to the next available berth. The staff wasn’t happy since a group of ten boats was expected to embark the next day—-news that should have signaled the pain that was to come. We tied up, attached ourselves to the electricity and water, and then dispatched ourselves to the restaurant at Captain Oliver's where we had enjoyed a breakfast buffet earlier that morning. The food was French and most of us ordered some kind of fish dish. I couldn't identify the sauce that was served with the grouper but it reminded me of a stroganoff. Several of us speculated that a man and woman across the room from us were probably on their honeymoon. As we discussed the best plan to extract that information, especially because we couldn't get a good look at her left hand, the girl, whose name was Desiree, came over and introduced herself. She was enjoying the French side of St. Martin with her married lover. The Captain seemed especially pleased that she sat down and started pouring us shooters of infused rum--he managed to get the 22-year old's entire life history. It seems that her married lover was getting angry texts from his wife so he was planning on leaving the next day but Desiree was going to soldier on for a few more days. That fact led to just about everybody in our party managing to briefly catch sight of Desiree on each subsequent island visited. Slept very well that night--probably from exhaustion, infused rum, rocking boat or some combination thereof.
January 8, 2010 St. Barts Up at the veritable unzippering of dawn--make that 7:00AM, Caribbean Time or 4 hours earlier than California. Deployed on first stint as culinary assistant. Cut up pineapples and cantaloupes. Golden and The Saint also served a variety of Lithuanian meats, hearty dark rye bread and strong,dark coffee. This was a favorite breakfast of The Admiral and would lead to serious edema in some of us who can't take the salt. The sail crew, who were given their very own sporty shirts the night before, had a tough time getting up the mainsail. The guy lines holding up the storage bag kept getting in the way. The air got quite blue at times. In addition, the wind, which was quite vigorous, didn't cooperate with respect to direction so we had to motor most of the way to St. Barts. This was particularly problematic for The Saint who does fine when we sail but a little green around the gills when we had to motor. She doubled up on her seasick medication. We also thought we might not be able to see more than one or two islands if the mal de mar got the best of her. The Captain might have retained the name “The Fisherman” but for the bad luck that determined he wouldn’t really catch anything. Of course he blamed his fate on The Admiral and declared that we were traveling in what he called “The Dead Sea.” It is not true that he didn't catch anything--he would snag a piece of net as well as a couple of fish would bite at and seriously damaged a lure. I would have loved to snorkel around Isle de Fourche but it was too cloudy and choppy that day. Instead we headed into the bay near Gustavia--named for the King of Sweden. The guidebook told us that St. Barts was an island that was too rocky and arid to be used for growing sugarcane so the major industry became tourism and the natives turned their livelihood to serving the celebrities and non-celebrities with loot to generous helpings of their hospitality and TLC. Well, somebody forgot to tell the captain of a dive ship we encountered in the bay. We tied up to a buoy there while we sorted out our prospects for an anchorage. In fact, a really nice guy in a dingy came over to help us out but he did mention that the French could be very territorial about their moorings. We were preparing to leave for another anchorage when this arrogant Frenchman (redundant, I know) started screaming at us. The only English he got out were the words, “this is my buoy” and “I will cut your line.” Even though we didn't understand the French part, we realized his apoplectic face and nasty tirade were just so much posturing and preening designed to impress the females on board. Still if his business depends on tourism, his actions certainly didn't spell hospitality. Jon, with a twinkle in his eye, started spouting Lithuanian, which made the jerk all the more livid. Finally, The Captain issued the topper when he politely asked in English, “oh, by the way, are you French?” We rolled around laughing as his boat headed toward the marina then we motored just a few yards away and anchored. We tried to cool off with a dip in water that seemed about 80 degrees. It was great fun and soon our encounter with the Ugly Frenchman faded from memory. He, of course, never returned to HIS buoy. The Admiral, Ringo and The Swabbie went into Gustavia on the dingy (christened as the SS Rinky Dinky) to make reservations for L’Isola, which was owned by an old friend of theirs from Los Angeles named Fabrizio. The Admiral brought me a glossy magazine about St. Barts that I thought was written entirely in French. Got the gist of one piece until I realized the English translation followed on the next page. The dingy had to make three trips into Gustavia. Being in the first wave with The Saint and Ringo, we decided to walk around town and look in all the shops since we had an hour to kill. At the cigar shop we bought all the guys real Havana cigars--we congratulated ourselves for being such loving and giving wives. I especially relished the establishments that offered fabulous wooden sculptures, tuber rose essence and colorful Caribbean oil paintings---all three items, however, were way out of my price range. The dinner at L'Isola was one of the finest meals I have every eaten. Every dish was especially tasty and unique. We gorged on such appetizers as tuna tartare, calamari and an antipasto that included special olives, salami and cheeses as we drank our tropical cocktails. The Chianti with dinner was very dry which roughly translates “expensive.” We shared tastes of the main courses with each other. My ravioli was clearly the top vote-getter. The blend of cheese inside and the marinara sauce was unbelievably delicious. I have no idea how to describe the taste except the words “more, please.” The desserts were some variation of an extremely rich custard topped with fruit or chocolate. The Swabbie and Ringo really surprised their friend Fabrezio. As an extra added attraction—looking out the window I got a clear-eyed view of the constellation Orion. The return by dingy only took two trips. The Saint and the Admiral stayed up with us and we talked until midnight about their trips to Japan (Frank Lloyd Wright) as well as Cambodia and Vietnam.
January 9, 2010 Ile Fourche The guidebooks told us Ile Fourche was an excellent dive site with barracuda, turtles, rays and lots of beautiful coral. I was so excited. Admiral’s orders—-we were only to drink coffee in order to get underway by 8:00A. He promised that he and The Captain would cook us eggs, bacon, “the whole nine yards”* when we got to Ile Fourche. At any rate, it was an easy sail and there were plenty of buoys for tying up. In fact while we were there, ten boats must have left. Aha! It was the same ten boats that we had to compete with to berth at Moorings. They would follow or precede us throughout the trip. Took a swim before the smell of bacon brought me back to the boat. The water was a refreshing 10 degrees cooler than in the harbor. After brunch I decided to break out the snorkel gear and immediate found a fantastic spot. Fish came in all sizes. I could only identify some of the small tropicals and a shark but there must have been barracuda as well. There were also lots of soft corals—-mustard colored vegetation-like growth on rocks as well as the waving fans. Took pictures but then you can’t really tell what you are getting with disposable underwater cameras. I am almost at the point of leaving camera in my bag and just enjoying the scenery, silence and serenity. While I was out snorkeling, our line slipped the buoy—-BIG excitement but apparently all's well that ends well and somebody (who shall be nameless) got some knot-tying practice in before the next mooring. Found out that Camp Suds does work in salt water. Washed my hair and one of my black and white dresses, which allowed me to survive the humidity without undergarments. Some of us were quite content to sun on the trampoline but The Saint informed us that The Admiral was bored so we sailed back to St. Barts. Actually I think he was anxious to buy his wife this black dress he had spotted in a shop window. Poor Jon has such rotten luck with masks or snorkel gear and just gets panicky. I would love to share this activity with him but have to resign myself to the fact that he is happy just swimming to shore with me. He really relishes his fins. I am so buoyant in salt water that the fins never get under the surface and actually keep me from kicking so I just use my sand shoes for extra leverage and safety on coral reefs. We dined on the boat on The Saint’s special pork chops with leeks—a recipe she found in Gourmet Magazine. The sunset that evening also provided us with our first glimpse of the “green flash” which surrounded the setting sun. Nothing like the Caribbean for glorious sunsets and we didn’t miss any. The stars were also staggering—-no light pollution to hide them. Could identify the Big and Little Dipper, Pegasus, Orion, etc. easily from the deck. Then as quickly, around 9:00 (b edtime) clouds covered the sky, rain came through the porthole and it was time to cuddle up with my hubby.
*The origin of the phrase “the whole nine yards” is not definitively known. However, popular etymology has risen to the challenge, and a vast number of explanations of varying degrees of plausibility have been suggested. The proposed sources have been as diverse as the volume of graves or concrete mixers (in industry, volumes of concrete or dirt are noted in cubic yards); the length of bridal veils, kilts, burial shrouds, bolts of cloth, or saris; American football; ritual disembowelment; shipyards; and the structure of certain sailing vessels. Little documentary evidence has ever surfaced supporting any of these, and many labor under the significant disadvantage of being several centuries earlier than the first recorded use of the term. Perhaps the most frequently quoted is from World War II, where it is suggested that to "go the full nine yards" was to fire an entire aircraft machine-gun ammunition belt, nine yards in length.
January 10, 2010 Oranjestad, St. Eustatius
Today is my firstborn’s birthday but I couldn’t call Brendan. We decided that my sending my friends pictures was eating up all the extra units we had paid for in advance and since I couldn’t turn off my email or my phone and keep it locked, I was to wait until Miami to put the battery back in my phone. Hope he understands. Breakfast was cold cuts and fruit and we set sail for Statia—one of the still undeveloped islands that is very big on ecotourism—-the waters around it are a protected marine park and there are lots of sunken ships for scuba divers. The dormant volcano, The Quill, is home to a rainforest, which can only be reached by hiking. There is an upper and lower town to Oranjestad and you can still see the steep road built primarily by slaves. The Admiral wanted to give everybody a turn at the wheel. Even me! I was doing fine (around 9 knots) when this oil tanker looked like it was going to hit us. I felt a great deal better about giving up my seat but Jon took this funny picture of me with my ponytail floating out behind me. This was also the day I turned a deep golden brown even though I had used a can of sun block. As we sailed, Ringo and I spent a great deal of time on the foredeck, with the wind in our faces and our eyes on the schools of flying fish that leaped in front of the boat. It is remarkable how long these creatures stay aloft. We had hoped that the flying fish would prove an omen for The Captain but alas, no. It only took about three hours between St. Barts and St. Eustatius but it took some additional time to maneuver around the oil tankers. The Captain and Jon took the dingy to check in with the Port Authority. They didn’t have all the passports so will have to return tomorrow. That night we ate on board—-tuna steaks, herbed rice and salad. Fabulous sunset and the sound of macaws quarreling in the distance. After dinner we played Scrabble in couple teams. Everybody seemed to be having a great time until the moment I put down a word that started with an “S.” The Captain accused me of making an illegal play by adding an “s” to roost and starting another word, “slow,” down. Even though everybody told him he was wrong-—he was still upset. He really wanted to win so he weighed every possibility during the next plays very carefully. The Admiral decided to enforce the time limit-—but only when The Captain was playing. Long story short—-the egg timer ended up in the ocean. Everybody made up before bed but consensus was this would be the first and last Scrabble game.
January 11, 2010 Basseterre, St. Kitts Up early and loaded up on boiled eggs, meats and cheese. We thought it might be a good idea to take off for St. Kitts while the wind was cooperative and then we could return to Statia to break up the sail to St. Martin—-usually a nine-hour trip. We arrived at Basseterre in 2. 5 hours-—the only problem was that ten boats were coming in, there wouldn’t be enough berths at the marina and the ten boats had reserved places back in October. The Admiral slipped Chuck $20 and he miraculously found a place for us next to this concrete wall that was a good 4 feet higher than our deck. There was, however, a big tire tied up there that could provide a place to get up on top-—the only way to get into town. It was sticky humid, the air was full of flies, and air conditioning would have felt great but there was no electrical connection available. Not much of a marina. My big worry was getting up the wall. Well, I decided I would just do it. Hadn’t I resolved to “fear not” this year? Well, I did get up with lots of help—-including a goose from the Admiral (I believe). At any rate, the town of Basseterre, with the cloud-fringed peak of Mount Liamuigo (a dormant volcano covered by a rain forest) in the distance was being reinvented. Natives told us that sugar cane was no longer a cash crop and they had to pin all their hopes on tourism. To that end, there was much construction going on—-lots of new shops in a mall surrounding the famous 4-sided town clock. We looked at some typical tourist traps—-tried on a Rastafarian (green, yellow, red) hat with attached dreadlocks. The Admiral found a little sidewalk bar with tall stools and the best rum punch we had ever tasted. Whoever was pouring at the bar, didn’t measure and I swear that my drink was at least a triple. Needless to say—-I was feeling no pain---for the first time since being diagnosed. It was wonderful yet only lasted a couple of hours-—long enough, however, for me to make a huge mistake when trying to get back in the boat. Instead of sitting down and then shimmying down the wall with help, I decided I could just extend my leg—-which is several feet shorter than my husbands—-and then jump down just like he did. Fortunately The Swabbie caught me and I didn’t end up spending the trip in some sort of cast. What was even more impressive was how gracious he was about the whole thing—-this rash act on my part could have been the source of endless kidding. He just said “you’re welcome.” Class act. We returned to town for dinner—-an adorable little place with an outdoor garden called Stonewall. The surprise was the crickets that inhabited the wall were not just a recording---it was that belief that prompted The Admiral to ask the waiter to turn down the volume. The rum punch drinks were also not quite as lethal as those we consumed that afternoon. Needless to say, I took the more conservative route back into the boat on our return. We had hoped, the next day, to get a taxi to take us to the Brimstone Hill Fort where you can see Anguilla, Montserrat (which spewed ash all over our boat in Oranjestad), St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Barts and St. Martin the or to a plantation that doubles as a batik factory.
January 12, 2010 Cockleshell Bay, St. Kitts
Up at 7:00AM. The Admiral took our documents over to the Port Authority and Immigration. This, in addition to St. Martin, was the only island on which we were legal visitors. At every opportunity, we purchased ice—-there were lots of beer drinkers on board and pre-dinner cocktails were a valued tradition as well. We left Basseterre and headed south along the coastline toward Nevis looking for a nice beach. “Nice beach” to the Admiral and The Captain meant topless female sun worshippers. “Nice beach” to the rest of us meant sunning, snorkeling and swimming. We passed up a number of beaches that were too windy, that displayed wrecked boats, or that were deserted. Cockleshell Beach was listed in the glossy magazines as a place where the natives liked to swim. There was a fun bar (Reggae) and Spice Mill, a 5-star restaurant. Several of us listed this locale as our favorite place on the trip. I loved the snorkeling, which was incredible—-so many different kinds of coral as well as sea urchins nestled in the sea grass. I was surprised and delighted by a lobster, peeking out of a rock crevice. There were all sorts of tropical fish too. Jon and I swam in to shore. We found that a 400-lb pig named Wilma had been stuck in the mud. A crowd of well-wishers and so-called “experts” were cheering on the guys with the skip loader and sling. The sow kept slipping off her lift and was clearly exhausted but she finally made it to dry land. There was also one of St. Kitts famous green vervet monkeys riding on a goat. Since we swam to shore, we didn’t bring a camera to document this event but got a snapshot of the cows the next morning who were breakfasting between the bar and restaurant. We all had lunch at the Reggae Bar (curried chicken sandwiches and rum punches) where The Admiral struck up a friendship with the owner, who allowed us to use his buoy to tie up that night. The Captain also located us some gasoline for the dingy. Jon and I swam for a while—-perfect white sand beach (where we did find a cockleshell) and gorgeous aquamarine water---the poster child for Caribbean vacations. We all wanted to go to the restaurant for dinner but the remaining food in the refrigerator made us feel guilty, so we grilled burgers. Cockleshell seemed to stimulate some vivid (running into a pet taxidermist and finding abandoned Chinese kids) and frightening (murdered husband and visit by ghostly presence) dreams in us. Perhaps it was because when we tied up to the buoy, the sonar showed us with less than a foot of water under us. I had snorkeled this area and the grass was varying heights, which could have misled the sonar. According to The Admiral, there wasn’t more than the width of a piece of Saran Wrap between the boat and the bottom. He and the Captain didn’t say anything but they ended up staying up all night “playing Scrabble” but making sure we didn’t run aground as the boat turned with the current. Even Jon shot up straight in the middle of the night thinking he had “heard something.”
January 13, 2010 St. Martin Okay, the two experienced sailors were sleep--deprived so Jon and the Swabbie took over sailing duties for a while. We departed Cockleshell Beach at 8:05 and sailed through the passage between St. Kitts and Nevis, which are only 11 miles apart. We then followed the coastline of St. Kitts (this island is 23 miles long) and headed toward Phillipsburg, the capital of St. Martin. About halfway, we could see Nevis, St. Kitts, Statia, Saba, St. Barts, Ile Fourche, and St. Martin. We arrived at Phillipsburg by 2:30PM. It was a typical industrial port and nobody voted to anchor there so we pushed on to Simpson Bay, which is where all the celebrities go. There is a small bridge that is raised three times a day to allow boats to enter the huge lagoon, which is as peaceful and serene as one can imagine—-and divides the island into the French and Dutch halves. There was no room in the inn so we sailed up to Marigot. This was also a highlight of the trip for all the woman. We anchored close to the shore and took the dingy into town for dinner. We ended up at Sandy’s where the natives hang out. We walked out of the French restaurant that offered two steaks for $90 as a "special." Most of us ordered the seafood grill but first we were all treated to either fruit punch or rum punch on the house. It took a very long time for dinner to be served so there were free appetizers as well. We soon discovered the reason for the delay. We were clearly the biggest party Sandy's had ever served and the kitchen was on the second floor of the building behind us. Sandy, our waitress, had to balance plates as she descended a rickety ladder in high heels. After dinner she allowed us to sample her infused rums—-there was coconut, tamarind and lime. After dinner, The Admiral wanted to check out the local casinos so he arranged for a taxi to take us to the Princess Hotel which was recommended by Sandy and her friends/daughter who were helping her out. It must have been the world’s most expensive taxi--$90 for about a 15-20 minute trip in a van big enough for eight and driver. The Saint and Ringo lost a little money ($20 and $2, respectively) but the rest of us just enjoyed a cold drink and looking around the grounds. We all fell asleep within minutes of arriving back at the boat. No wind and little movement in the harbor.
January 14, 2010 Anse Marcel, St. Martin The Captain and the Admiral took the dingy out to get propane and came back with the most divine French pastries (filled with almond paste, raspberries, chocolate and apricots), quiches, sandwiches and loaves of French bread. The Admiral thought we would be angry with all the calories but we were all about showing the love. The dingy was readied to take shoppers back to find souvenirs. Jon, the Swabbie and I stayed to clean up the boat. One lesson we had to learn twice had to do with the bucket. A long rope with a loop on it was attached to the handle, which both the Swabbie and The Captain ignored until the heavy bucket (although made of wood, refused to float) started sinking. Both had to dive into the water completely clothed to retrieve the bucket before it descended to Davy Jones’ Locker. The shoppers found some wonderful treasures at the open air market. I was so touched when The Admiral presented me with a handmade (banana fiber and sea grape leaves) photograph album to go along with my log that I actually cried. The cover features sculptures of a mama sea turtle and her baby. I got to meet artist Nathalie Cottrelle when I went shopping at the open air market a few days later and told her how much I loved her work. We headed up to Friar’s Bay for snorkeling and swimming. The Saint was struggling with her mask and was quickly rescued by her husband. The snorkeling was a waste of time but swimming was enjoyable. After lunch (baguettes, chips, and cold cuts) we sailed to Grand Case, which is supposed to be the Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean. The colorful village was condensed along the water line—-mostly restaurants. The dingy took in the usual shoppers. On the way back, Jon saved the day when the motor conked out. He rowed everybody back with considerable assistance from the ladies who held the oars in their stations. No souvenirs to buy and the prices of the food gave us pause so looked forward to Golden treating us to her world famous fajitas. The Swabbie felt very ill—-he had been battling sun poisoning and the back cabins really didn’t get much ventilation. The Admiral decided to check us into the Radisson Marina at Anse Marcel since there was plenty of room. After dinner we walked the grounds, took advantage of the showers and flush toilets, and thoroughly enjoyed the air conditioning.
January 15, 2010 Marigot
Woke up to a quiet marina with a low clouds circling the green hills. We breakfasted on leftover French pastries. and walked out to the beach in front of the hotel and found a beautiful young man named Max who made us drinks and offered us shots of his infused rum (citrus, orange, passion fruit). Ringo wanted a picture taken with Max for her twin sister who loves black men. He happily obliged but informed us he was married and had twins of his own. The Admiral shared his Bloody Mary recipe with Max and an eavesdropping customer who ordered one pronounced it excellent. When the rain finally lifted, we set out for Anguilla. Nobody was around to check us out but we later called and said we wanted them to charge the bill. Here’s where a definition by Peter W. Damisch might prove apt: “Marina: Among the few places, under admiralty law, where certain forms of piracy are still permitted--many have up-to-date facilities for the disposal of excess amounts of U.S. currency that may have accumulated on board ship--causing a fire hazard.” We exited by the same passage in back of the hotel which only allows one boat at a time. On the way out, we were delighted by hundreds of white butterflies hovering in the jasmine growing along the banks. We made it across the channel in less than an hour and seriously thought about registering at Road Bay, despite the Admiral’s resistance to complying with authority. As we rounded the tip of the very flat island (almost at sea level) we hit the famous northern swells (10-12 ft waves ) and passed a number of boats headed for less troubled waters. We saw one catamaran that was almost perpendicular to the water. The Admiral made another admirable decision to head back to Marigot and, on our return, sent out a search party in the dingy to hunt for more baguettes and French pastries. The explorers found out that Sarafina’s serves breakfast too so we made it a point to take the whole crew there the next morning. After dinner we played another rousing game of Scrabble---without any flying objects, this time, I might add. Rained off and on all night—-it was a game of open the port hole (for air) and close the port hole (too wet) for the rest of the evening.
January 16, 2010 Orient Bay
Got up in time to hear the seven bells announcing mass in Marigot. We took turns in the dingy and quickly found a table for eight at Sarafina’s. Folks were already lined up to order pastries and all the tables were filled. You could order eggs of any type, a quiche, a sandwich, fresh fruit, raspberry donuts (my fav) and ham and cheese croissants. After that, we visited the open air market in the rain. My hurricane hat served me well. We found some hot sauce for gifts, a turtle made of onyx and marble for our coffee table, and zipper purses for gifts. Some of the others bought St. Martin tee shirts (3 for $10) children’s clothes, beaded bags, wooden rings, and a stunning collection of mounted butterflies. Since the rain wouldn’t relent, we went to the mall across the street for cover, where we were charged $1 bathroom fee. We finally sailed for Orient Bay and navigated the tricky passage between the reefs despite all the wind and rain. The beach to the right was the beginning of the snorkel trail but everybody voted to anchor to the left in front of the nude beach we had read about it in the tour guide. No cameras or cell phones were allowed and clothing was optional. We never saw so many naked people in one place. Let’s just say that gravity definitely takes its toll as one ages. Two individuals got nicknames-—Santa Claus with his red hat and his bowl full of jelly and Lady Gaga with her big beads and winged sunglasses. Jon and I swam in to meet the others for lunch at the Kon Tiki. The service was so slow that we got a round of drinks for free. Apparently electricity is a sometime thing at Orient Beach. This restaurant gets the award for quantity of food and presentation, however. Wow, my fruit salad was a work of art! The white sand really impressed Jon geomorphologically—-he claimed it was 100% shell. On the way swimming back to the boat, Jon and I experienced my most memorable moment-—a school of more than 100 black and yellow-striped fish surrounded us. It was almost surreal as they swam with us for the next few minutes. We didn’t have the key to the boat so Jon lowered himself into our stateroom through the port hole and got us dry clothes. The others came back in the dingy with ice and vodka. Dinner was pizza, which was a heroic effort, given that the oven burned in the back and didn’t cook in the front. The Saint and Golden finished up the crust on the stove top! It was a remarkable feat and we popped champagne to celebrate the end of the voyage.
January 17, 2010 Miami
This is when I learned that you should never try to recreate a memorable moment. Since I didn’t have my camera with me to document the school of fish, I asked if I could skip breakfast and snorkel out to the reef. It had been raining off and on so I said I would wait until the sun came out and the wind died down. Conditions improved and I headed out. It wasn’t getting out to the reef that was difficult-—it was my disappointment when all there was was a couple of fish and a giant conch shell. Since the skies were starting to darken, I headed back. What I didn’t realize was that the wind had risen to 24 MPH and even though I kept varying my stroke, I couldn’t make any progress back to the ship. Finally I gave the pre-arranged signal and the dingy was headed in my direction. Apparently Jon had ripped off his shirt and was poised to swim out but then we would have had two people to rescue. Even though the motor on the dingy had trouble fighting the wind, we finally got back and I told the Admiral and the Captain I would buy them a drink at the airport for saving my life. We all showered, packed and cleaned up the boat and prepared to set out for Oyster Pond to meet the noon deadline. On the way, the wind was really blowing and we were horrified to see a windsurfer out in the channel where he would have perished beneath the waves had he fallen off his board. We all scratched out heads at that phenomenon. Our deposit was returned and we had lunch at the Iguana Bar while waiting for the taxi to pick us up at 2:00. When The Admiral and I sat down in the reception area of the Captain Oliver Hotel—-we met a few of the people who were in the ten boats that followed us around the islands. Their presence everywhere was not so uncanny—-they had planned everything out while we had followed the wind—-but then these Princeton people had made this voyage before. What is the saying? Men plan and God laughs? Our itineraries were quite similar except they did more touristy things while we discovered Cockleshell Bay! The Julianna airport was not a good experience. What we hadn’t realized because we didn’t listen to the news was that there was a suspected terrorist from St. Martin so the TSA confiscated my hot sauce and even after going through security, we were also patted down by AA personnel. This made us a half-hour late taking off and resulted in missing the connection in Miami. Lots of anger, lots of threats, lots of platinum cards flashed and we finally were given 50% vouchers for the Windham Hotel and overnight kits. We had a great dinner at the hotel despite the fact that they were getting ready to close and we slept in soft, clean sheets and were able to take long, hot showers and throw whole wads of bath tissue into the toilet. The downside however, was that it would be difficult, however, to lose a whole day when many of us had to return to work.
January 18, 2010 Port Hueneme
While I wasn’t looking, American Airlines installed individual video monitors for customers. I was allowed to select in-flight entertainment from a nice assortment of films, television shows, documentaries and music which made the time fly by. I ended up sitting by some sort of celebrity but I decided to respect her privacy and not ask her name. The private van was waiting for us and before we knew it, we had traveled the two hours from the airport to Ventura where we retrieved our car. We arrived at our front door by 2:30 and our little Chloe greeted us with wet and wild kisses the rest of the afternoon.
The Swabbie: (at the American Airlines VIP counter) “Do you realize I have something like 9 million miles with you guys?”
Admiral: “The best is yet to come.”
Ringo: (upon spotting a pair of Yorkies on a balcony) “Au revoir.” When they trotted off into their house, we explained that “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” meant “hello.”
French captain: “I will cut your line!”
Desiree: “Have another shot.”
Jon: Do you appreciate that this sand is 100% shell?
Beverly: (at Julianna TSA) Do you think I’m going to take over the plane by throwing hot sauce at people?
Captain: The fact that after two trips, The Admiral still invited me back.
The Saint: When I sat on the Captain’s hand and he said, “I don’t know who should be thanking who.”
Golden: seeing her husband jump overboard to rescue the bucket
Ringo: (seeing the name of the boat for the first time) “What the hell, get a red light or something, are we all that old?”
Swabbie: when he dropped the bucket. “I knew I had to go in, like it or not.”
Jon: when the Captain said, “Are you French?”
Admiral: When Beverly cried.
Captain: When my friend promoted me to Captain and made himself Admiral
The Saint: The French pastries.
Golden: Cockleshell Beach
Ringo: Seeing Fabrizio after 15 years
Swabbie: Seeing Fabrizio after 15 years
Jon: Cockleshell Beach
Beverly: Swimming with the fishes