Monthly Archives: July 2010

Kiss me goodbye.

And just like that it was over almost like it’d never happened.

There’s a certain bittersweet longing remembrance that clings cloyingly to these kinda vacations and the enforced closeness that jams us all together and rubs us up against one another, peeling away layers.

For all of it, I know I’m gonna miss living with and being with The Queen Princess Cruise Director, The Captains MoRon, and chirpy little Hennifer. And honestly? My friendship with these friends has deepened and broadened. It’s taken on a whole new level and color.

I poke fun but I realize how deeply I like these people.

I got up at 4:30 and finally took a shower. After seven days of blissfully salty decadence it was time. I HAD to do the marine shower thing. I’d avoided it- not because I long for a dirtier and stinkier me but because I hate me a marine shower.

Imagine standing, hunched over in a tiny cramped little closet bathing with the little shower gun from your kitchen sink and that’s exactly what it’s like. It’s like being peed on. Gently.

But I knuckled down and did it.

And then, while Miss Carol slept on, I joined Captains MoRon in the predawn darkness on the bow and we three stood thinking long deep thoughts on the week past. Or maybe just ticking off the minutes of another hangover and staring retardedly.

It’s always so hard to tell.

And then Captain Ron said, Let’s go.

And that’s what we did, we yanked the mooring and headed over to Cane Garden Bay in the early morning light and Captain Ron dinghied us over to the dock and the waiting taxi and that was it.

We were gone.

Would we do it again? Nah. And not because of anything but because of everything. We’ve done it, and done it twice. Life’s too short to repeat.

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White Bay. Finally?

Not to be thwarted two days in a row, The Queen Princess Cruise Director declared that we’d be haulin’ ass for a mooring in White Bay first thing in the morning.

And we did.

And it was a good thing ’cause that place fills up faster than a bar giving away free drinks. Within an hour of our arrival all the mooring balls were taken and the anchorage looked like a mall parking lot on Christmas Eve.

Come to find out, 60 and 70 foot catamarans jam packed with tourists and daytrippers from St. Thomas salivating for a Soggy Dollar Painkiller swarm into White Bay every weekend. I hated it. Think tourist trap crap anywhere in the world and stuff it all into a half dozen sandy beach front bars unable to handle the overweight, sunburnt influx and count me out.

The Queen Princess Cruise Director, however, was in her element. She moved from bar to bar and Painkiller to Painkiller telling anyone who would listen about Bobby being shot and how the islands were still recovering and how provisioning was hard.

White Bay was her drunk day. Hey. We all had one.

The Queen Princess Cruise Director even managed to get kicked out of Ivan’s, something none of us had ever heard of and didn’t think possible but maybe the Bobby story wore them down.

I’m thinkin’ they’d already heard it.

A quick aside.

I was watching Deadliest Catch tonight as Captain Phil died and his sons struggled with his death.

And I thought.

Ya know? As much as that would suck I wish I had had a father. An old man. Somebody I coulda’ looked up to and tried to be like.

But I didn’t. And don’t.

Instead, I have some guy living out on the other side of the country that every century or so tries to get in touch with me and be my bud.

Dude. I don’t need another old friend.

I needed a dad.

Day Six-The endless sail.

The Queen Princess Cruise Director decided that our next stop would be White Bay on Jost Van Dyke so that we could grab cocktails at Ivan’s Stress Free Bar. Ivan’s is a dumpy little hole in the wall that, for whatever reason, attracts celebrities like Keith Richards and Kid Rock- not that we’ve ever seen any but, hey, a girl can dream.

Ivan’s is an honor system bar meaning you make your own cocktails, grab your own beers, keep a tally and then, when it’s time to pay up, you tip Ivan who just sits behind the bar and watches his world go round. It’s quite the gig Ivan has going.

It all sounded like the perfect plan. But there were two little flies in the ointment of The Queen Princess Cruise Director’s planned day- Captains MoRon.

Captain Ron had saddled himself with the navigational duties of the trip. Unfortunately he’d been up half the night battling acid reflux brought on by Miss Carol’s cooking AND he’d had to return the safari rental truck that morning so he never bothered to look at the chart.

And since Captain Ron had to sleep off Miss Carol’s cooking, Captain Mo was gonna be on the helm for most of the trip. Never a good thing. Captain Mo loves him some gadgets and not only had he somehow managed to key in the coordinates for White Bay into his GPS, he’d figured out how to sync up his GPS with the boats’ autohelm. Oh boy.

In theory this should have been a good thing in that the boat would’ve steered itself freeing up Captain Mo to stare at the horizon and think about whatever it is that Captain Mo thinks about.

In practice, however, the autohelm didn’t want to work very well on the tack we were on. I noticed this fairly early but didn’t want to say anything lest I incur The Queen Princess Cruise Director’s wrath. After about 3 hours of watching the compass swing through 60 degrees, 30 to each side of our course and watching the island we were aiming at trotting from side to side, I finally mentioned it to Captain Mo.

I know, he said. I’d been noticin’ that, he said.

I was just about to suggest that maybe he take THE GODDAMN BOAT OFF THE GODDAMN AUTOHELM AND STEER when Captain Ron staggered up from his nap and offered to take the helm. A half hour later Hennifer, looking a little green, plaintively asked how much longer the trip was going to take prompting Captain Ron to fire up the engines and motorsail the rest of the way. Thank you Jeebus.

So we get to Jost Van Dyke and of course all the mooring balls were taken in White Bay, ditto Big Harbour, which left only Little Harbour. This was a tragic blow to The Schedule. Not only were we not in White Bay, we were in a place NOT ONE OF US had ever visited.

We were waaaaay off The Schedule.

After we settled in, the four of them went ashore to make dinner reservations (quick side note- in most of the islands you HAVE to make reservations because the kitchens only make enough meals for the dinners reserved) so I timidly asked Miss Carol to take a shower with me. She tilted her head and looked at me over her sunglasses for a minute and said- No.

I was crushed. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get into a tiny, cramped, hot, humid, marine shower stall with a sweaty, sunblock greasy man who’s been drinking since noon and hasn’t bathed in six days?

Well. Apparently Miss Carol, that’s who.

So I fumed and they got back and we changed into different t-shirts for dinner and Miss Carol dinghied us over to Sydney’s Peace and Love for dinner.

And I don’t know why, but that place and that island were my favorite of the entire trip. Arguably it was the same kinda lush green mountainous island and gin clear turquoise water we’d grown tired of but for whatever reason it struck a chord. Secluded and remote, it was small and cozy and felt like home.

Except at home, Miss Carol will take a shower with me.

Anegada Day 2

Okay, I get it. This doesn’t suck. Loblolly Bay is the kind of Caribbean Beautiful that inspires postcards and mid-life-crisis-type-drifts-of-priority. It was gorgeous and secluded and all ours.

For a little bit, anyway.

The Queen Princess Cruise Director had herded us all together into the dinghy with our coolers and Painkillers and snorkel gear and sunblock for a day on the beach at Loblolly Bay. It took a couple of trips but we were all standing on the dock by 8:50 while Captain Ron went to pick up the rental truck that he had reserved for 9:00. He returned a couple of minutes later, on foot, with news that he couldn’t pick it up ’til 10:00. Ooh, baby, baby, Island time.

So we sat down or roamed around the closed up waterfront bar checking out graffiti. It’s an island kinda thing that people drop off stuff at the bars like bras and scrawled thoughts. I walked around deeply contemplative or maybe mostly bored in the heat and humidity reading the blurbs of those who had come before.

We finally picked up the rental. And get this- it was a pickup truck with seats running down both sides of the bed. Think safari. Think laughing and pointing by the locals as we drive by with the Touron light bright and flashing. I know I was.

And so. We set out secure in the knowledge that we were headed somewhere meaningful.

After lots of wrong turns and backing and forthing and after Captain Ron jumped out of the truck at one point and screamed that if someone else wanted to drive, they could fucking drive, we somehow found our way to Loblolly Bay. Kinda lyrical, that.

And it was beautiful- until 109 teenage kids and 19 support staff from Sail Caribbean showed up, streaming over the dunes and into the water like cockroaches. They seemed like good kids but our little sanctuary went from seductive to sedentary in, like, two seconds?

Even the little bar with it’s obligatory dangly graffiti was overrun. It’s kinda creepy to have a fourteen year old sharing bar space with you. Nursing a beer, I don’t wanna be sitting next to a kid ordering virgin whatevers and pulling crisp dollar bills out of his crisp little wallet. It’s creepy. Bars are for big people.

So anyway.

After about four hours of this we were ready to go. And we did. But Hennifer wanted a tour of the island. Like we hadn’t gotten one trying to find Loblolly Bay. But she insisted and Captain Ron relented so we bounced around drinking warm beer and enjoying the view-

I’m pretty sure the travel folks call this quaint or diverse or whimsical, but trust me, it’s not. It’s hot, dusty, and boring. Even with beer.

We eventually got back to the boat and honestly? it was my drunk night. Each of us had one and this was mine. It’s a testament to our friendship that we can have drunk nights and be forgiven.

So I don’t remember eating any of the leftovers that Miss Carol made for dinner and I ended up sitting bolt upright listening to Buttons on my iPod over and over again until Miss Carol pushed me down and made me go to sleep.

Whew.

Anegada, part uno.

Anegada has the sole distinction of being the only island in the BVI’s with no mountain. It’s a flat little spit of sand and palm trees surrounded by the world’s second biggest reef. Who knew?

Not to mention it’s the loneliest and most forlorn place I’ve ever seen.

We awoke in The Bitter End to pretty much the same weather we’d had the day before so I got my hopes up briefly that we’d head downwind and, you know, have fun?

Everyone, including Captain Mo was thinking we’d head south. But The Queen Princess Cruise Director had other ideas and, of course, THE SCHEDULE clasped firmly to her bosom. We were fucked.

She called the charter company and got the go-ahead to sail to Anegada. We’re goin’ to Anegada she hissed through her cigarette smoke, cold blue eyes narrowed to slits.

Hennifer chirped that Anegada was supposed to be really pretty.

Captain Ron announced that his cold was probably viral.

Captain Mo mumbled and messed with the GPS.

And I thought, oh goody. Another day of bashing into heavy seas. I felt beat down as I unhooked us and we headed out, keeping time with destiny. Vacation is FUN I told myself over and over again.

Captain Mo had spent hours that morning and the previous evening trying to program the channel marker coordinates for Anegada into his GPS, all the while self-deprecatingly telling us that he hadn’t used it in years and had forgotten the manual and honestly wasn’t sure if he could make it work. I prayed that the earth was round and we wouldn’t sail off the edge following Captain Mo’s coordinates for Mars.

Normally, navigation in the BVI’s is pretty straight forward- you just aim the pointy end of your boat at the next big island you want to visit. Anegada is different- since it’s over the horizon and can’t be seen, it requires either GPS or traditional navigation skills. We lacked both so I opened another beer and thought happy thoughts about how if we got lost at sea I wouldn’t have to fly on any more commercial flights.

But ya know what?

It wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was fun. The seas and wind weren’t as rough as the day before and our heading was more northerly and we were able to sail so the wind pressure pushed the boat down in the water minimizing the bouncy.

And the GPS? Go figure. Somehow, some kinda way, the planets aligned and the angels smiled on Captain Mo. Strangely enough, between the Painkillers and Bloody Marys and beers,  he managed to clumsily push enough buttons on his GPS that someway it put us right on the marker leading us through the channel and into Anegada.

Gotta love him.

So there we were, at the end of the world. Hennifer, Miss Carol and me, and The Queen Princess Cruise Director dinghied ashore to see what was what. Captain Mo wanted to play with his GPS some more and Captain Ron’s cold was becoming alarmingly fatal.

We walked through the one “restaurant” advertising $50 lobster on the specials board, went out onto the broken down little street littered with unfinished construction stuff and rusty abandoned vehicles, boats on cinder blocks, the obligatory barking dog.

We crossed the street and went into something posing as a “market” and that’s where Miss Carol lost her mind. Without a single word to The Queen Princess Cruise Director she’d decided she was making dinner on the boat that night with whatever she could find in the “market”.

Oh boy.

The “market” was a sad little sullen cluster of tired canned goods and warm beer sitting on broken pallets carefully watched over by the sad little sullen owner. Miss Carol and me walked back and forth wondering and trying to think of a way to make a meal for six out of Spam and canned beans and maybe rice?

We were still wandering when The Queen Princess Cruise Director strode in wondering what the hell we were doing. Miss Carol told her and the sky darkened. She looked around briefly, sneered, and stomped out.

What the hell were we thinking?

Miss Carol found some frozen pork chops in the sullen freezer at the back of the “market”. Get this- they were only 10 bucks. Normally that much freezer burnt meat would’a cost  two or three times that. We snagged ’em. There was Ragu sauce and noodles on the sullen shelves and some warm Red Stripe beer on the sullen floor. Dinner, baby.

We collected Hennifer and The Queen Princess Cruise Director and headed back to the boat. And everything seemed fine, but the damage was done and we’d crossed the line.

How dare we?

But hey? the sauteed pork and noodles with red sauce were excellent and the Red Stripe didn’t suck either.

The Bitter End.

No. no. not that bitter end.

Not the bitter end of our journey. Not the bitter end of our friendship, not the bitter end where we all throw down and punch each other ’till our hands hurt.

Not that bitter end.

I’m talkin’ about the Bitter End that’s the place where most of the boats have to turn around and head south or west ’cause most of the charter companies don’t allow un-captained boats to sail to Anegada. It’s off limits to most.

But not to us.

Captains MoRon had made the trip once before so we had been given the green light- weather permitting. That morning when we left Cooper Island we were told by the folks at Bare Kat Charters to get to where we were going by late morning and hunker down because there was a fast moving front headed our way and we could expect 6-8 foot seas and 30 knot winds from the NE, building as the day progressed.

So what did we do? Did we leave Cooper Island and take a comfortable, downwind sail southwest to the mountainous green islands and gin clear turquoise waters that looked pretty much like the mountainous green islands and gin clear turquoise waters to the north? Nope. No indeedy. We headed NE because we had to get to The Bitter End so that we could be sure to get to Anegada the following day.

Did I mention there was A SCHEDULE? I think I did.

Anyway, we spent the day slowly motoring, slamming into the big seas and steadily strengthening wind. Both Captain Ron and Hennifer had to take suppositories, she because she was getting seasick and he because we convinced him it would cure his cold and stop his whining.

By afternoon as we were closing with the channel into The Bitter End a squall hit us with 40 knot winds, thunder and lightning, and sheets of blinding horizontal rain. Captains MoRon and me stood out in the cockpit getting drenched in the howling wind and rain trying to pick out the day markers. Fortunately, God was a male that day and understood the importance of unrelenting SCHEDULES governing happy little vacations and the squall lightened up just enough to spot the channel before we ran aground on the reef and wrecked the boat and died a watery death wondering why vacations have to be this hard.

We got in, picked up a mooring ball and cracked a beer right before the REAL storms hit. We all decided, or at least some of us did, that if the weather didn’t improve we would bypass Anegada and head southwest to some other mountainous green island with gin clear turquoise water.

I should have noticed that the Queen Princess Cruise Director wasn’t saying anything, that she was just sitting and smoking.

But I didn’t.