We invited our local friends Ron and Jane to visit us aboard Escape Velocity on our last day on the island. Jane was busy with yoga class but Jack picked Ron up in the dinghy and ferried him out to the anchorage. He and Jane had been mostly off the island during our entire time in St. Thomas so we were glad to have this last little bit of time together before we left. Jane sent along a little Buddha; she remembered that I was wanting to find a small lightweight one for EV.
We gave Ron the grand tour and he checked over our watermaker. Ron makes reverse osmosis water for a living but on a big commercial scale. He isn’t familiar with the small units aboard yachts but he puzzled out our system and gave me some tips and advice on the care and feeding of it.
We retired to the cockpit and sat enjoying the view and the company. Ron is so experienced in sailing the islands, cruising in general, circumnavigating and the boat life mentality that every word out of his mouth was to Jack and me a pearl of wisdom to be meditated on and lived by.
Our conversation eventually turned to our non-working SSB radio which we had not got around to addressing during our stay in St. Thomas. Ron jumped up with the no-nonsense do-it-now attitude we’d come to appreciate from his emails to us and fiddled around with the radio and its connections. He confirmed that it wasn’t working and that it wasn’t me.
“Hmmm,” he said. “At this point I’d want to open it up and see what’s going on inside.” He looked at his watch. It was Sunday. He had other things to do.
“Aw, let’s do it.” And he and I set about disconnecting everything and pulling the radio from its cradle at the bottom of the electrical cabinet. We opened it up and were pleased to see that it’s clean and new-looking inside. He checked all the connections, Jack tested the fuses and even though it all looked good we are back at square one. It still doesn’t work. At least we’ve eliminated any obvious electrical failures. Ron suggested the next step will be to schlepp the radio and the remote control panel to a shop for bench testing. I’m not looking forward to that in a wet dinghy and with no car. It’s heavy!
We reluctantly said goodbye to our cruising guru. It’s impossible to overstate how much he’s helped us in adjusting to the cruising life, from offering practical advice on systems or course routing, to more nebulous boosts to our confidence from his obvious belief in us, and just the very fact that he, who has sailed around the world, is following our journey of discovery. We think of him as virtual crew and we’re glad to have him with us.
Jack called down to me from on deck. “I think Mark and Sue are here!” I ran outside. Sure enough, there was Macushla right next to us. Mark and Sue were busy anchoring but we waved, then stopped by on our way to shore to make a date for happy hour at the Greenhouse. It was a library day for me, and one of my last ones because I knew we’d be moving on soon.
We congregated at our two-for-one spot and caught up with Maculsha’s adventures since last we met — Key West, Cuba (we are envious), Jamaica, Isle a Vache, Puerto Rico and the Spanish Virgins. When Happy hour wound down they invited us for curry aboard Macushla; we never turn down curry, and we were glad to extend the evening. We have found kindred spirits in Mark and Sue and enjoy every minute we spend with them.
The next day we gave them the Schulz tour of historic Charlotte Amalie and had lunch at a little Jamaican place that had a completely vegan menu. It was great for me to be with fellow vegetarians and for once I didn’t have to puzzle out what I was going to eat. I told Mark it’s a rare delight to be in a restaurant and know that I can eat anything on the menu.
We rounded out our reunion celebration with the cruisers’ equivalent of pilgrimage to Mecca: provisioning at a warehouse store. We were all able to find some good bargains, and I was surprised to find a large selection of Field Roast products so we stocked up. Like I have any more room anywhere in this boat for more food.
Two days and another dinner together and Macushla was gone, but this time we knew it wouldn’t be so long before we saw them again. Next stop, St. Martin.
We knew they were in the area. For one reason or another we’d missed hooking up with friends from several boats so when I went out on deck with my morning coffee and heard a familiar cheerful “Ahoy, Escape Velocity!” with that distinctive British accent, it was hard to believe our friends from S/V Macushla of Shannon had found us.
They had been all over the Carribean since we’d last seen them and even to a few places that Americans aren’t allowed to go. We originally met them in Charleston at a delightful little cafe in the old section of town and I thought those people are sailors so we sat down and just hit it off. They are Brits like our friend Alan and I liked the no-nonsense way they had setup their boat. It was good to see them again.
Like all cruisers we had all gone our own way after the impromptu get together In Lake Sylvia in Fort Lauderdale. In fact they were in attendance at my wishful “no recurrence” pre-surgery party aboard Escape Velocity in March. Maybe they’re my good luck charms.
We quickly got together and toured Charlotte Amalie in which I would point at an old building and say “I might have played some music there in that building or somewhere around here some forty years ago.” I think they were impressed.
Then Marce would say that her family owned this building and we think that building as well. We went provisioning together at a box store called Cost U Less, where we introduced them to the charms of the dollar safari taxi truck, which is two dollars to “the country.” St. Thominians call anything that labors up over the mountainous switchback roads the country. It was just too hard to explain how to get there on the Safari taxi truck.
We invited them for a soirée aboard Escape Velocity and as they climbed the stairs up to deck level I was able to welcome our first guests aboard the new orange Escape Velocity. Janis at Island Canvas had worked her magic and after many months of planning all of EV’s major canvas is a handsome burnt orange, and the front window covers that were crumbling have been replaced with new see through sun reflecting fabric. We love it and we are more distinctive than ever. After all, yellow boats are a dime a dozen here in the Caribbean.
They left at dawn heading for St Martin, another eastward slog to windward. I don’t know who keeps coming up with these rough eastward passages but we’re about out of eastern Caribean Islands. Weather is supposed to be coming in and we have to wait for some last minute adjustments from Janice so it’s going to be close, but we have a plan. Stay tuned Escapees.