Sailing with Relatives – USVI

After snorkeling in Francis Bay, St. John’s on Monday morning, we enjoyed a brisk sail over to Jost Van Dyke. With winds gusting to 27 knots, we sped along at nearly 8 knots while flying only the mainsail and staysail on a beam reach. This, along with the fast sail from Jost back to St. Thomas, has likely given my visitors the inaccurate perception that passages between islands are always smooth, fast, and flawless outings spent enjoying an easy point of sail. If only.

At Jost Van Dyke, I introduced my aunt and two cousins to the idyllic environment of Great Harbor. As usual, Foxy was holding court and, despite repeating songs and jokes told during my previous visits, he did sing a song about Ohio. Even in the Caribbean, Ohio is known for having the river that caught on fire. We had several excellent meals ashore and my 16-year-old cousin, Andrew, was even able to sample a Foxy’s Light Lager. When we inquired about the legal drinking age, the waitress looked dumbfounded and replied “it is all drinking ages.” Fair enough.

Throughout the week, my relatives became acquainted with the daily life I lead on the boat. This includes routine maintenance, frequent swimming, and an obscene amount of reading. While Christopher and Andrew helped me to change the oil, repair the jib roller furling, and run the line for the aft part of first reef through the boom, my Aunt Nancy varnished the teak in the kitchen. The galley now shimmers like that of new boat, although it makes the rest of the interior look shabby by comparison. Our frequent forays ashore allowed us to explore the islands and to restock our provisions. For the first time in a month, real food has replaced the stale beer in the refrigerator. Since most people ask what I do with all of my time, I might as well provide a brief description of a typical day when I am not sailing. Hopefully, this will dispel the general impression that my existence alternates between mind-numbing boredom at sea and mind-numbing boredom at anchor.

0600 – 0800 Run or Swim

0800 – 0830 Breakfast of Cereal or Pancakes with Coffee

0830 – 0900 Send and Receive e-mail

0900 – 1100 Maintenance on Boat

1100 – 1200 Read

1200 – 1300 Lunch (sandwich or Ramen noodles)

1300 – 1400 Study Foreign Language (just started French, put Japanese on hold)

1400 – 1700 Go ashore to look around; buy provisions

1700 – 1730 Swim/Bathe

1700 – 1900 Dinner while listening to the BBC or NPR

1900 – 2200 Read

2200 – 0600 Sleep

As my visitors thus far can attest, the days seem to pass by pretty quickly. The beauty of this lifestyle is that the way in which I use my time is almost completely in my control. Like a beached sea otter, whenever I get too warm, I can jump in the water and cool off. If a book grabs me, I can spend the day reading. If the boat starts talking back to me, I can head for shore and some much needed social interaction. Next in line to experience The Life is my Uncle Larry, who arrives today in exchange for his two sons who will return to Ohio. Apparently, his first experience on Audentes, when he accompanied us from Onset, Massachusetts to Bermuda, did not scare him off. Either that, or he is incredulous that the boat is still floating five months later and he wants to come and see for himself.

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