happy turkey day, and sailing too

Well, my week rounded out nicely this time ’round, in a few good ways. Thursday was Yankee Thanksgiving here, so celebration ensued, a friend got his sailboat launched after a season of re-building, and i was dragged from my Saturday morning bed for a race Round Tortola.


Thursday night was the annual Thanksgiving Potluck at The Jolly Roger in West End, a short walk from my place. Owner Lou Schwartz cooked 13 turkeys for the free event, which was well-attended by tourists and “West Endians” alike. It was a chance to see many familiar faces from my spring visit all in one place. Just that day, several folks had just gotten into town, some on delivery, some aboard their own boats, and others freshly flown in. The end of the evening was a magical time. For whatever reason, i’ve really been taken into the West End fold; after all the tourists were gone, there was just the one table of us, right on the dock. The moon was a great and shining overhead, and just by our elbows great bats were skimming along the water, collecting bugs from the pools of glowing ocean highlighted by the JR’s docklights. Robin saluted us with a beer and a mischievious grin, exclaiming, “Aha! Just us West Endians left!”, before half-falling into his dingy to wind and wobble his way back across the bay.
Friday was a dirty day at work; repacking the 12 wheel bearings on our industrial articulated boat trailer. They’ve discovered that i’m something of a mechanic around here, so i usually end up with the greasy end of the stick, so to speak. No matter; there’s a certain meditative peace to cleaning and packing bearings.

(okay, here is where i have to re-write everything else… a fluky BVI power outage/telephone failure garbled the rest of this post, so i’ll just have to start over… grrr…)

Late that afternoon, i got out for a sail. Spencer had been working in all his spare time to ready his Sonar for sea, and just that day, Brodie and Mike had made him an early Christmas gift of the last payments on his new sails. Another Endian, Jim, had been playing “rigging elf”, popping by the yard on his own free time to get the newly-refurbished mast back in and tune the rigging. Spencer was beside himself at the prospect of getting out for a first sail, and i felt honoured to be invited along!
Without a motor, i swam off the stern as a “human outboard” to get us clear of the boatyard docks, then, in the lightest of breezes, we set sail and ghosted out through the many moored boats towards La Buscadora to retrieve Brodie. With the lady safely aboard, and still with just a breath of wind, we made a few gybes out into the channel. Spencer had me take the tiller, and then magic happened.
The sun dropped o’er the edge of the world with the alarming rapidity of the tropics. Likewise, the full moon popped up from behind Mt. Carmel, and just then, a bottlenose mother and baby frolicked their way just past our bows into the harbour. The wind picked up from a whisper to a polite chuckle, and the water began to burble beneath the counter. We tacked and gybed through the moored boats of the outer anchorage, where no doubt there were a few salty eyes admiring our play.
All my summertime sailing dingy practice paid off with a perfect sail to the mark, just kissing the fenders alongside La Buscadora, making the turn to weather and backing the main just so. Planning an industrious Saturday, i begged off early, and Spencer zipped me back to Kelly’s in his dingy.
i rose to my alarm at 7:00 Saturday morning, but my initiative began to fall away. By 8:00, a breakfast in my belly and a splash of water on my face, i’d settled into a book with an ear towards the radio, when a frantic knocking came at my door. It was Di, a woman i’d been briefly introduced to a few weeks back, practically begging me to crew on her & her husband’s race boat for the Round Tortola Race. i really couldn’t refuse! Of 8 crew, only 4 of us were sailors, so i ended up in a “skilled” position, trimming jib and spinnaker. This was a real treat for me, as this is usually a job for someone with greater training. However, i managed pretty well, and after a a few hours, we made it around Tortola in 2nd place. Bungie and Di are members of the “lah-dih-dah” Royal BVI Yacht Club, with more than a hint of monied British snobbery about them, but they’ve made me a standing offer to crew for them on whatever races i can make it to. The next opportunity is next weekend, a two-day regatta through the Loyal West End Yacht Club, but i’ve already volunteered to serve with the Race Committee aboard Kuralu.
Tonight has me invited to another Thanksgiving poluck, this one hosted by a couple that caretakes a private luxury villa high on the Mt. Carmel – Steele Point ridgeline, with (so i’m told) spectacular views of both Soper’s Hole to the south and Smuggler’s Cove to the north, with all the various islands beyond. i’ll have to take my camera and catch a few rays!


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