“To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet. To make all your friends feel that there is something in them. To look at the sunny side of everything and make all your optimism come true. To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of other as you are about your own. To forget the mistakes of the past and move on to the greater achievements of the future. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile. To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the prescience of trouble. To think well of yourself and proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words but in great deeds. To live in faith that the whole world is on your side as long as you stay true to the best that is in you.”
Helen of the West, Promise Yourself. 12-31-15 Nazareth, St Thomas.
I was colder than I’ve been anywhere else in the Caribbean waking up on the floor of the airport in Antigua. They wouldn’t let me through the security checkpoint until 4AM so that’s when I had to wake up. Sleeping on the overly air conditioned marble was akin to sleeping on ice. I just had my sheet, sweatshirt, and longsleeve for padding and pillow. I was in a quiet corner. It was a fitful sleep and I checked back into the LIAT counter before sunrise. LIAT, (Leave Island Any Time) was reliably two hours late as usual and I just knew they would be, so I took advantage to sleep until 7:30 once past the checkpoint. Still no benches to sleep on (due to restrictive armrests) is it so much to ask for? Anyway, the tiny plane eventually took off, and after half an hour in the air, I saw the rugged rainforest. Clouds obscured the green, and there thrusting boldly into the sky, the Piton Volcanoes. I’ve arrived back here in wicked Saint Lucia.
Through Castries I walked, dressed nicely for customs to give the phony story.
“What is your purpose here in St. Lucia?”
“I’m joining on a sailboat in the ARC race, destination Australia.”
“What’s the boats name?”
“What’s the captain’s name?”
(uhh…) “Jorgen Wennburg”
“Okay have a nice time.” Success.
I believed my own story as I walked out free as a bird into the wet, sundrenched humidity of Castries City. In fact I was thrilled. So thrilled I was talking to myself out loud! To think I really have found the boat to Australia, and I’m enjoying my last moments of freedom, hiking on my own, before joining another sailboat crew and taking off. It was noon by now because I had killed some time in the airport blogging, but I decided Jorgen wasn’t really expecting me at any particular time, perhaps I’d hike all the way to Rodney Bay. I took off my shirt and walked the city roads, following the coast.
At 1PM I decided it was about time to get there. I stuck out my thumb and was picked up immediately by a man who was coincidently driving right to Rodney Bay marina! I buttoned up my shirt, and quickly I was there. Ah yes, I remember, I know this place. A bubble of wealth in a poor town. A zone of white people from all over the world in a black community. I went to the marina bathroom to brush my teeth, there was a young man in the bathroom and I said, “Hello, how are you?” which is funny because you don’t usually greet people so cordially in bathrooms. We struck up a conversation and I learned he was crew like me, German, searching for a boat to take him to central/ south America. His name was Manuel and he was travelling with his girlfriend Selda. They had been camping out for two weeks at Rodney Bay, talking with people from the ARC race and were having a difficult time finding a ride. He had met Silvia and the Shalom crew, considering it too expensive to join. I told him I had an appointment to meet the boat Take Off- he knew the boat. I told him I was most likely travelling with them, he wished me well.
After that I met Jorgen and Louise. I had met Jorgen twice before in Martinique, and Louise greeted me with a kiss like I was already part of their family. They were so nice, a middle aged couple raising their small children on a yacht as they sailed around the world. I made an appointment to meet them in an hour and chat. So I went to sit back down with my German friends Manuel and Selda. However, I sat at the table next to them, and who was to join me but a rasta man, Curt. His teeth jutted out of his mouth in a very bad way, he only had half of them at most and filled with cavities. “I’m workin’ on a praject.” He told me, showing me his notebook. “It’s called… socializin’…” Ah you a hitchhiker?”
“Yes I am.”
“A’right, well so am I. I just need a passport… You’re gonna buy me lunch today.”
“Uhh, I could buy you lunch today that doesn’t mean I’m going to.”
He told me, “There’s evil on this island… watch yaself… beware. There is vampires, draculas, werewolves…” he pointed to a drawing in his notebook he did of a vampire and werewolf, “See?” We both laughed. As I left though, I thought perhaps he was the vampire he warned me about… As I walked out of the grocery store to buy lunch (just for myself) of bananas, a carrot, peanut butter and chocolate, I thought of how I really would be travelling with Take Off. I thought of how I didn’t work to get this ride, how it just fell into my lap. I was grateful to these forces of my universe, from my God these kind people were a gift. Then I thought I probably could share my lunch with Curt, but it was nothing fancy.
I met with Jorgen and Louise while they were with their young French speaking children at the pool. They set me up in a proper interview in the restaurant. I was very positive and peppy as usual, but I learned there was a woman they were considering to take aside from me. Competition. Upon asking them my questions, I learned I would need to cover my expenses, about 10$ per day. They had friends coming to St. Lucia to sail onto Santa Marta, Colombia. They were covered for this leg until there, and Louise said she felt bad to cram me into the boat because for her friends this was their vacation and they didn’t expect me to be there. I understand that… She said if I flew to Colombia, I could stay on with them indefinitely and cross the Pacific. What they really needed though was crew from Tahiti onward to Australia. Another problem arose in my mind. They weren’t planning to arrive in Australia until in fact, late July. If my expenses were somewhat covered… but otherwise that’s a long time to go without working. It might have been obvious to both parties, even though we liked each other, something wasn’t clicking. Maybe it was that I was running on 4 fitful hours of sleep on the ground but I didn’t feel like the interview went well. They told me they’d do their thinking and let me know tonight or in the morning whether they’d take me or the woman.
“Life is like a game of poker,” Silvia had said before. I don’t like that idea at all, but the more I experience the world of sailing the more I can’t help but see how it’s true. The plane ticket to St. Lucia was entering the game. Here are the cards I’ve been dealt. The ARC leaves in four days. I’m stupid, I thought. Manuel and Selda have been camping and having a hard time here for two weeks. I’ve been in Florida and St. Thomas for two weeks. Now my time to find a boat has been frittered away. I was delusionally hopeful as usual, convincing myself a maybe was a yes so I could leave St. Lucia to Florida before my boat ride was definite. I had told myself if I had to buy one more plane ticket it would be to Australia to find a job. Can I really buy a ticket to Colombia if it’s a promise to cross the Pacific? A quick search showed me 500$+ tickets to Santa Marta. I got worked up as I realized the opportunity was fading. I realized it would cost me too much money.
Curt sat back down with me. “What be troublin’ ya.” He asked perceptively with his dark voice. I told him everything on my mind and he listened good. “You need to convince them to take you from St. Lucia.” He advised.
“Yes I should try to, I should also be working on that same project you are.”
“Ah yes… socializin’… find out your other options” I thought he maybe wasn’t so evil after all, and he listened to me and made me feel better talking to him. He looked at me enviously as I ate the carrot, remarking about his bad teeth and how eating a carrot like I was doing was impossible for him. Someone had bought him lunch though. “Saint Lucia has a history… and it’s not a good one. This island’s been 7 times British, 7 times French. That’s a lot of fighting, a lot of… military.” He went on to tell me about the crazy underground military complex conspiracy. “The government does not promote farming so no longer does St. Lucia grow its own food. It’s shipped in from all other countries so it stays expensive. The government is stealing our money, so we stay poor. They use the money for promotion of tourism, that and fishing are our only industries. Tourism turns the people to beggars. They love the Piton volcanoes but they forget the other mountains. They tear them down, see that mountain?” he gestured to a large rounded mount at the mouth of Rodney Bay. “Without that mountain the island would be attacked and destroyed by tornadoes.” I had seen this around the Caribbean, many mountains being ripped away by strip mining. “The mountains are the soul of the people, they are developing this place, and they are destroying it.” Curt’s tornado ideas continued to get crazier, but I could agree with that last sentiment. “I have an idea! Let’s trade passports,” he said. “we just cut a picture of my face out and paste it into yours. Then I can get out of here and travel to somewhere where it’s cold, and you can keep enjoying St. Lucia.”
“Yeah maybe we can do that, I’m going to live on St. Lucia the rest of my life anyway…” I said.
Talking to Curt made me feel a little better, but I still felt basically downtrodden. I knew where I’d be camping tonight, I had found the spot 3 weeks ago when I first came to Rodney Bay. It was time to go there since it was getting late and rain was coming in. I went to the bathroom and sat down on the toilet where the graffiti “Fuck Your Dreams” was scrawled on the stall. I walked out of the marina where traffic passes through an opening in the concrete wall. As I walked through it, a van cut the corner without seeing me, the space between it and the concrete became narrower as it quickly closed me in. I screamed aloud as I was nearly squished helplessly. The truth then is, with all the “dangerous” things I’ve been doing in my life, the only time I’ve felt near death is walking down the street. I kept walking, emotions confused, my thoughts swirling and tortured. I walked passed a large hub of construction, the building of a 6 story hotel. I watched half hypnotized as a backhoe ripped a coconut palm out of the ground and tossed it like a matchstick. The luster left its broken fronds and they went dull.
I made it to my ditch on the side of the road where a track ever so faint ran into the untamed bush. I had to cross this swampy ravine first, a good mote to make me feel safe from any passerbys on the street. On the other side… there were spiders. Spiders everywhere, and they were terrifying ones, small and either bright red or black. Their bodies were six spikes like some kind of gladiator helmet. I’ve heard of poisonous spiders on St. Lucia, and poisonous snakes. I fretted over them, but found a flat spot and set up camp. The night was fairly miserable, because beneath my bivvy sack was the largest horde of pillbugs I’ve ever seen. Plenty of mosquitoes and roaches too. It down poured a few times and I was damp. The rain would always wake me up and then force me to sleep in until 7 or so to let it dry a bit.
I felt a little rough in the morning but it was a new day. Goals today – figure out if I’m buying a plane ticket to Colombia, and figure out my other options. Stay positive. Find a boat. Either that or give up. Yeah give up sounds good, I could go back and work in Death Valley, or I could just go to New Zealand and start hiking. Or go to Australia… I checked my email. Louise had messaged me saying sadly that Take Off was going to take the other girl instead of me. I expected as much. The waitress at Café Ole immediately sensed something was wrong and asked if I was alright, right after I read the rejection email. It brought me to tears in front of her as I said, “Yes I’m fine… Oh, I guess that was a bad time to ask me that!” It was a setback. I felt bad but I thought about it. It was okay. I drank some coffee. Then I decided my best bet would be da socializin’! I walked up to some people.
“Hi can I ask you a question? …Well it’s a long story but I came to Rodney Bay because I thought I had a ride travelling with the ARC race, but they’ve decided to take someone else instead of me, so now I’m just looking around, meeting people, blah, blah, do you need crew or know anyone who does?” I walked up to more people and asked. Any time someone made eye contact with me, they were asking to be asked! I saw someone I knew, a friend of Silvias. I asked him. Everyone was so nice to me! But no one knew of any crew positions or needed any crew. That was until Manuel and Selda told me what they had learned. There was a bloke coming back to St. Lucia from a spell in England, and both his two crew had deserted him. “But you probably don’t want to go on this boat,” Manuel said. “The crew left for a reason, and I don’t really know it, but the guy sounds irresponsible. He falls asleep on his watches, the stove doesn’t work, his crew member told me they were only eating noodles. It’s possibly not the kind of situation you want to get into, but who knows. Maybe all three of us could go with him.” He told me other things too, apparently this captain was being bad mouthed quite a bit by his crew who left. There, I had found my first lead. “The boat is called Mystique Soul.”
I walked the docks. I found Mystique Soul but no one was onboard. I talked to his neighbor, a young guy from Norway named Tor. Then I walked down all the docks and just talked to everyone. I introduced myself over and over until I had my story down to a science. People wished me luck. I talked to the boat Waterman and to Paradise Found who I heard needed crew at one time but now they were set. Then I was told about the boat Scorch, located in Marigot Bay. I heard they might need crew, then upon talking to someone else, I mentioned Scorch and they just happened to be the former skipper on Scorch. Yes they need crew, they’re headed to Cuba, he gave me Judy’s email. Another lead, but still… I was interested in the boat Mystique Soul because that boat was in fact headed to Australia. I went back again but couldn’t find the captain. I noticed the boat was a mess, and sure I had heard bad things, but I didn’t care. I’d have to see the guy and decide for myself.
Throughout the day I kept returning to the Café Ole and made good friends with the beautiful waitress who coached me through the struggle. I had gone through a slurry of emotions, feeling defeated in the morning, feeling exhausted from talking so much and hearing so much, but also feeling pretty good overall. I met other people who were on my side and talked to me, including crazy Curt, a lady selling fruit, a wise old lady, and a man from California who had sailed three times around the world. He told me as did many other people, look for a ride heading to Panama. The Panama Canal funnels all the boats going to the Pacific down to one marina. I looked at paying jobs on the internet working on boats and contacted one. My German friends Manuel and Selda were also at work today meeting people like they had been for two weeks. Manuel approached me to say that he had met the captain of Mystique Soul. He told me the guy was truly desperate for crew, because both his crew had ditched him. But the captain hadn’t checked his email yet and only thought one crew had ditched; he didn’t realize he was currently on his own. Manuel told me he had a bad feeling about it, but still I should talk to him. Manuel said he told the captain about me, and to go meet him in the morning. Manuel also said he and Selda had found their ride! After two weeks of searching futilely, and living in their tent in someone’s back yard, they found a boat to take them to Panama. I was very happy for them and met the people they would be travelling with, a very nice young couple. Sitting down by myself again as I watched Manuel and Selda walk off, realizing I had an appointment with Mystique Soul in the morning thanks to their help, I became emotional with my gratitude towards them. I was very happy now, and after talking to mom on the phone, I went and setup camp back in the ditch. I had left my camping stuff there all day with a note saying “please respect and do not molest my things…” ha, and of course everything was undisturbed. I setup camp and spent one more night among the bugs. That night it rained on me harder than ever. I setup my tarp well, but the down pour recommencing every half hour would wake me up, and by 6AM there was no avoiding it, I was soaking wet. It was a long and terrible night.
Woke up in my ditch and went to clean up my things. I walked back through the new day to the marina where I brushed my teeth. Then I went and met Mystique Soul. The captain was an old British man named Malcolm. He was battling throat cancer and talked with a raspy voice. He asked me my sailing experience, and halfway through me telling him he cut me off, “Right, well if you’re really serious about going to Australia, you can join. The thing is, I’m going to ask you to pay me 700 dollars. It’s called a ‘bond’ so if ya abscond on me like this other lad did, ya don’t get that back. If you make it to Australia with me, then you get it back plus 500$.” Basically he was asking me to make a blind commitment until late July. “In return I pay all of your expenses.” He showed me my spacious living quarters, with my own bathroom. However, the boat was trashed with junk, much of it being his girlfriend’s things that we were bringing to Colombia to give to her. I agreed to join him, excited, happy and confident. I know that so far I haven’t been able to commit to a boat for longer than three weeks and here I was supposed to make a blind commitment for 6 months. But I could go to Australia with my expenses paid.
I went and told all my friends about it, I would now be packing my stuff out of the ditch and moving onto a yacht! Maybe the guy was desperate to take me but guess what, I’m desperate too! I’d truly prefer not to spend another night in that bad spot, and I’ve been looking for a boat ride to Australia (for some reason) for about 7 months! What was really amazing about today was that as I walked the docks, from the work I had done yesterday I now knew everyone who was walking around. “Hello! …Oh Hello!” Waving at everyone, standing and chatting with the fruit vendors. “Have you found a boat yet?” They’d ask. “Yes I think I have!” I told my friends about the 700$ thing too and that made everyone extremely wary. Perhaps I’m just too trusting of a person. After getting much advice about it, I would ask to pay 350 now 350 in Panama. Therefore if something happens before the Pacific crossing I’d only lose 350. After the Pacific I’m committed. Who knows, so far I like the guy, maybe we really can get to Australia. When I saw Manuel I gave him a hug. His two weeks camped out in someone’s yard and networking were a success. He found himself and his girlfriend a ride, found me a ride (to Australia) and even found another girl a ride delivering a boat to Tortola. What a great guy. But he was worried for me, felt a little bad I was actually planning to travel with Malcolm and Mystique Soul. He told me I should leave and give up the 350 if I didn’t feel safe. As long as the boat floats I think I’m going to try and cross the Pacific on it! He also brought up again that Malcolm didn’t realize I was his only crew.
I went and sat down with Malcolm in the restaurant as he was about to check his email. Now was my time to negotiate with him the 350 deal. First I said, “My friend has told me you haven’t checked your email yet, but in fact the other crew member isn’t showing up.”
“What?!” he exclaimed as he went to check his email.
“I just want to let you know I’m still committed even if it’s just the two of us.” I let him know. Then I left because he was upset by the second crew deserting him, I’d give him some space. The second crew hadn’t even met him, and he gave up his ride and even his plane ticket to St. Lucia simply because of the bad rumors he had heard from the first crew. (The rumors were basically that the boat was broken, they weren’t eating well, the place was a mess, and Malcolm was generally disorganized/irresponsible or something.) Well I say you don’t know until you go! So right as I sit down to give Ol’ Mally his space, Manuel walks up and hands me a business card. “This guy might be interested to join you as crew and ride as far as Colombia.” I was a little amazed by the perfect timing, and after Malcolm had a minute went and delivered the info that I had found a possible replacement crew, should I give him a call? He said yes so I called the number. He picked up, and a couple hours later I met the guy’s friend. He said he’d send his friend by in the morning to interview with Malcolm.
After, I went to the bush and packed my things and joined Mally on the boat. It was evening now, and we went out for beers which he bought for me. We got along well. Malcolm turned out to be a bit of a dreamer like I am, romanticizing about the South Pacific Islands. “This is a golden opportunity for you.” He told me, “To be part of the ARC race. Only a handful of people have ever done it and it’s going to be the longest party you’ve ever been on.” Australia for him sounded like some superflous destination, the same way I’ve been treating it. “You create your own destiny,” he told me, “with a little help from the man upstairs.” That night I slept comfortably, like the dead, onboard Mystique Soul.
I woke up with Captain Mally at 6AM and got right to work. All I really knew was that the boat was a chaotic mess, I didn’t quite know why. I would soon find out. It was because of the ARC race. The idea is, a fleet of 40 boats are sailing together. We can all be in contact with each other in the open ocean, and together we are a big safety net to cross the Pacific. It’s a beautiful thing, it costs a lot of money to be part of, and Malcolm is paying my entrance costs. I guess I’m going to get to be part of many kinds of functions/ events because of that, and get to stay at marinas frequently with showers/internet. The thing is, there is a lot of safety equipment they require, they have strict regulations. Malcolm has been at the doctors in England until three days ago when he was given an okay to participate in the ARC at all. He’s got cancer and only found this out a few months ago. In fact, I think he’s beat cancer, now he’s trying to keep making his dreams happen. His crew left him for whatever reasons, so only another obstacle for him to overcome. I’m making it my personal mission to get this old bloke across the Pacific. He also is exactly what I need- an easy going guy, who has a boat, destination Australia, and has a lot of money to spend! So I got ‘lucky’ as usual, or at least I’m still optimistic, we’ll see how this goes.
So I went to work with him. I brought the spray hood to the sail maker, and I took the laundry to the laundromat. He went and bought some tools including a hacksaw and wood saw. Together we went and bought some plywood. Back on the boat we went to work sawing and doing projects. We cut aluminum and plywood to make a washboard, something you could use to replace the cabin doors in the event of them getting smashed in a storm. Extra plywood could be used to replace a window. He installed and wired a bright light by the steering wheel. I wrote ‘Mystique Soul’ on the life rings and life jackets, put the reflective tape on, attached lights and whistles. The boat became more trashed. The safety inspectors came and he was not ready for them, but the ARC leaves tomorrow. He’s so behind because he only arrived in St. Lucia 3 days ago… and this equipment hasn’t been taken care of yet. They said they’d come by tomorrow afternoon, basically we had 24 hours to get the boat ready. It was a mess and the safety inspector Andrew Bishop from England, the man in charge of the ARC, seemed very apprehensive to let Mally participate at all. I was there to help! They left and we went back to work.
Soon the guy showed up who might crew with us to Colombia, a young man from Denmark named Troels. I left him with Malcolm to interview, but when I returned and said goodbye to him, I thought he was surely not coming. Malcolm really doesn’t give the best first impressions, many old men don’t, and due to the state of disaster the boat was in… Oh well back to work. I was running around like a maniac all day, waving at all my friends in the marina and smiling. Everything did get done, and eventually we were working on the hardest part, the installation of this special radio. I’m not entirely sure of its purpose, but I think it will let me send emails from the middle of the ocean. At some point Malcolm bought me lunch.
Finally it was time for this big ARC celebration sendoff party. Malcolm wasn’t going because he still was working, plus why would he want to explain to all those people the reasons we wouldn’t be leaving with the fleet tomorrow? That was my job! It was decided we’d leave the following day, we’d be last in the race and meet them in Colombia. So Malcolm sent me to the party as our ambassador! Haha, so I got cleaned up and dressed nicely, got into a taxi which was paid for, and arrived at a swanky hotel with free rum punches, wine, and finger foods. I ate all I could. It rained outside like usual here on beautiful St. Lucia, wow, what did I do to wind up here? Going from homeless in a ditch to the swanky party schmoozing with these rich world traveller types. Most of them already knew me and I had some good conversations. I realized something… from this hitchhiking travelling… if ever I’ve found myself a person of social anxiety, I think after this Rodney Bay experience especially I’ve completely overcome it. No longer do I have any fear when talking to people. One woman named Suzanne realized Malcolm and me had a very inspirational story, assuming Malcolm and I can actually get this boat underway. She told me about the boat Take Off, the people who hadn’t taken me. Instead of me, they took a woman who was stranded on St. Lucia, who’s boat sank in the ARC race Atlantic crossing. The family in charge of Take Off really are great people, and they helped her immensely by taking her as crew. They made my dreams possible as well. I would not have been able to afford to travel with them, but because they gave me the excuse to come out here, I was able to meet Malcolm. If Malcolm beats cancer, and we can all make it to Australia, then everyone’s dreams can come true! That’s what the ARC race is about. Suzanne teared up as we spoke, and let us know she was on our side.
They gave some great speeches and I was welcomed to this highly exclusive club. I like the people I’ve met here, and what’s so exciting is that I’m going to keep seeing them everywhere we go around the world. I got into the taxi home, but when I got back to Rodney Bay, I took off running down the road. I had heard the hotel waitresses talking, tonight is Friday so there’s the Rodney Bay street party. The same party where I ran into Silvia and the crew the first time I came to St. Lucia alone. I found my way to the party in hopes we’d meet again. All I found there was the blaring music and street vendors, the crowds and the hustlers, but my international crew was nowhere to be seen. Oh well, I walked home.
Today was the day the ARC would leave and I woke up early with Malcolm and went back to work immediately. I helped him install this 20 foot high antenna onto the back of the boat for the safety radio. I washed the deck. Then who was I to see walking down the docks but our Danish friend Troels! He’s coming! We were very happy to have his help in the fight to get this boat ready, and I went with him to the ARC office where we gave our passports to Suzanne and registered. Troels is a chef, and quickly the question came up about provisioning the boat. He was good for that, having provisioned his boat for the Atlantic crossing. I went with him to the fruit market. I had an idea of how I’d provision, but was so glad to have his consult there. I definitely learned some things from him. We bought papaya, breadfruit, passionfruit, grapefruit, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, spices, starfruit, coconuts… We decided we’d be eating fresh for the six day Caribbean Sea crossing. At some point today I was very happy Troels was coming. He was a great guy. He fell out of the sky, thanks of course to Manuel. What’s amazing is that not just anyone fell out of the sky, but someone who is actually very good and exactly who we need. I think part of it is because since Malcolm is in a bit of a desperate and disastrous type of situation, negative people see that and taking it at face value say, “No way, I’m not getting into that mess.” Then that might work in his favor… The only people he is going to attract are people like Troels and like me. People who are positive and brave! People who are going to make it work/happen. Those are the people he’s going to want to have.
I threw my arms in the air as I walked down the docks, accidently making some onlookers giggle as I realized I was feeling foolishly happy. Miraculously, everything was done just in time for the safety inspection with Andrew Bishop. The place was still messy but we passed. We had the go ahead to participate in the ARC, leaving tomorrow morning to try and catch up with them. That evening, Troels went home for one more night of partying with friends, I cooked dinner of rice and veggies, and Malcolm bought me beer and ice cream.
In the morning we were busy again. I was running around. I don’t even know what I was doing, last minute things like buying paper towels, going to the ships chandlery to find out how much money Mally owned them for wires, cables and such. But I walk around this marina saying hi to all my friends, feeling proud that I succeeded in finding a boat to work on. Then I saw a rasta man sailor friend of mine who I met three times before on Martinique and St. Lucia. I was so happy to see him and told him my story. He was very wise and gave me advice, and he spoke quite poetically. “This captain of yours, he’s not a bad man, he is just a man. Respect him, don’t step on his feet. If you can see in his face he is angry, do not ask why… do not ask anything at all. Let some wind blow by. Be good to him because he is being good to you. He’s paving your road. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you and you’ll both have a successful journey.”
Troels, Malcolm and I went to work after Malcolm had finished with customs. We stowed all the extra junk and stowed all the food. The place was ready. I said goodbye to my waitress friend at the Café Ole with a sincere hug. She even teared up sad to see me go! We turned on the boat, let go the dock, went to the fuel dock and gassed up, then we left. Rodney Bay surrounded us as we passed a beach I once swam at with Silvia, Chico, Tom, Lou, and my friends. Soon we were offshore. The coast of St. Lucia is a rugged and foreboding one, rich green with jagged peaks. There they were again, the two volcanoes, the Pitons. Soon Martinique was in view, and St. Vincent in the other direction. Goodbye Eastern Caribbean! Goodbye sunkissed islands and the lovely people who call them home, as well as the adventurous people who travel through them. They feel so fleeting now, it’s as though I’m not allowed to leave, but I am. I’ve been here two months and when I left home in October I didn’t expect to come here at all. Now, somehow, some way, I am escaping them. Will I be back again? Supposedly not, but unavoidably yes, of course I will be back again. These islands have always been my home, and however many years I’ve spent away, they’ve always called me back. “The islands get in your blood,” my grandmother told me when I was younger. She was right, it’s only a matter of time before I return.
The sun set on the ocean, a familiar sight which I was happy to see. But we had no wind, we motored and the sea was rough. We made a simple dinner of rice and veggies in the microwave, because the oven doesn’t work. Malcolm accidently smashed the glass plate for the microwave, now the microwave doesn’t work. I dropped the ice and ruined everything and became seasick and puked. It had been a hard and tired day from all the work. “What a shitty day…” said Malcolm. Then, “- no, no, it was a great day.”