“Everything is Beautiful…..”
We were anchored in Bequia, the Grenadines, when this very nice, handsome gentleman and his gorgeous young daughter approached Planet Waves on their kayak. The gentleman was quite interested in our boat and highly inquisitive and complimentary about her looks and design. They were anchored a bit away from us on a beautiful, 65 feet catamaran named “London Sky”. The man and his daughter had very British accents and explained that their boat was in charter out of the BVI for most of the year, that his wife was onboard, and as owners, they were only on the boat two to three times a year and always at Christmas. The boat had a full crew onboard fully engaged and had all the bells and whistles you would expect to find on a new yacht of that size. Anyway, we chatted a bit and as it turned out, discovered that we would both be leaving the next day bound for the same destination, Salt Whistle bay in Mayreau. So, we parted company with assurances that we would meet again and if possible, get together the next day.
At Salt Whistle Bay, the gentleman and his daughter came by that evening and invited us to dinner. We had already started cooking so regretfully had to pass on the invitation. He shared with us that he no longer lived in London, that his family currently resided in Los Angeles and that he and his wife were in the cosmetics business. He asked if we had ever heard of his product; Glam Glow. I apologized and said we hadn’t. After he left the boat I googled Glam Glow and learned the following story.
Like a lot of us, the couple had become dead broke during the recession of 2008 and were about to lose their home. They had lost their jobs as make- up artists, having been loosely associated with the film industry in Hollywood. During their hey- day, they had often sat around with friends laughing about the fact that there was no skin product on the market that could cure dry skin after a long flight across the country. So literally, with the very last bit of money they had to their name, they gambled it all with a chemist and came up with a mud pack concoction, packaged it into a decorative jar to sell (themselves) to their California friends. The gamble paid off. Within just a few years, both Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus had picked up their products, they had continued to develop their brand, and now their business was worth millions.
As I was reading in the cockpit, the sun had set, but while in the moonlit dark of night I heard the gentleman’s voice once again, back beside our boat in his kayak. It was dark outside and so was his face. He was wearing a mud pack and handed me an arm load of sample Glam Glow products. To say I was in heaven, is an understatement. Johnny and I both proudly looked good for a while, at least until the samples ran out. I’ll say it again, “you meet the most interesting people while messing around on boats”!
“Everybody Must Get Stoned…..”
We were sailing north on the west side of Guadeloupe. We had been sailing in tandem, so to speak, with a beautiful classic American ketch and were bound and determined in spite of the light winds, to out sail her. So, we tacked with the changing direction of winds caused by the williwaws off the mountain peaks and valleys, from east to west and back east again, staying close in to shore to capture the fickle wind in our sails.
Johnny was first to notice the sleek jet boat with two huge outboards drifting with a dive flag down in calm waters, close to shore, to our west, and said to me, “that looks suspicious.” “That’s not a typical dive boat.” So, I looked on the chart and noticed, sure enough, there wasn’t a reef where they were sitting but I could see a couple of people on board the boat. I said, “it’s probably nothing.” “I’m sure they’re probably just headed back in and saw some fish.”
As I completed this sentence, a plane came from nowhere off the island, so low in and above us that I thought it might clip our mast. We were stunned. As we followed the plane’s quick heading through the sky, we noticed the jet boat that had been off our beam, was nowhere to be seen. And in just one minute, the low flying jet had disappeared as well. We sailed on in a bit of a daze.
A few miles off our anchorage in Deshaise, the Guadeloupe Coast Guard approached our boat and hailed us on the VHF radio in French. I didn’t have to speak French to understand what they wanted from us. An English speaking officer asked if we had seen anything suspicious. We told him what we had witnessed. He thanked us and approached the classic yacht, who had by then gained on us by a few miles. Eavesdropping on their radio conversation, we heard them tell the Coast Guard they had seen nothing.
A few hours later, we dropped anchor next to the classic yacht who had beat us in, fair and square, but as we were setting our anchor, they began to pull theirs up. They smiled and waved to us as they tacked across our bow and shouted, “the winds are too good; we’re heading to St. Barts, Merry Christmas!” We laughed. “Merry Christmas!”
We were in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, the night of the 2017 Presidential election. We had voted by mail and Fed-Ex in Trinidad and like every other American sailing the Caribbean, we were sick to death of the political campaigning, saturated by the total political bullshit from both parties, and yet, fully interested and engaged in the outcome of what we thought would be a “shoe-in” for our side. We went early into the bar to watch the election results. Too early. We would be drunk way before a winner could be declared, or so we thought, so we returned to the boat confident in our thoughts and winning attitude.
Probably within an hour of our return, my son Zach called and said, “Mom, are you watching?” “You better tune in; you’re not going to like it.” So yeah, the rest is history, right?
Next day, I was in the marina office early to schedule a fed-ex package to be delivered. There was a gentleman ahead of me, so I paused to watch CNN playing on the T.V. above the concierge desk. President Obama was gracefully assuring everyone that he would do everything he could to insure a smooth transition for the new president. Suddenly, it was my turn at the desk and I opened my mouth to speak, but instead, started to cry. At that point, the woman behind the desk started to cry too. We hugged. Eventually, we pulled ourselves together. Between tears, she informed me that half the marina staff had not reported into work that morning due to their devastation over the election results. We hugged again, dried our tears, and then sadly, she scheduled my package.
“Food Glorious Food…”
I love to cook. Here is what I try to always have on hand in my pantry. My Caribbean galley onboard Planet Waves looks a little like this.
From the French Islands:
- Good bread; preferably a fresh baquette
- A good French Butter
- Several types of Cheese: Parmesan, Guyere, Brie, Camembert, and Edam
- Herbs de Provence
- Dijon mustard
- Fleure de sel
- Olive oil
- An assortment of vinegarettes: sun dried tomato, balsamic and mustard
- White wine
From the West Indies:
- Peppers to season (who needs black pepper)
- A good hot sauce; my favorite from Dominica called Bello is papaya based
- Limes, mangos and avocados so abundant in their long seasons
- Green seasoning: a home- made mixture that is a blend of herbs, green leaves from vegetables, garlic and pepper
- Dried chick peas, lentils and black- eyed peas
- Coarsely ground cornmeal
- Tubular root vegetables
- Curry, turmeric and saffron
“I’m a Loser…..”
I wish I had a nickel for everything we have lost while sailing. At the very least I wish I had written it down. You know, made a list in a diary. Between wind, waves, seas and old age, we have lost a shit load of stuff while out cruising on old Planet Waves.
Take Bonnie’s stuff. Her bathroom area has been blown off the deck at least three times that I can recall; once in Montseratt, once in Grenada and once to the ocean waves in the middle of nowhere. I have lost two cell phones trying to get off the dinghy beach side. Once in Tobago, when I got off too soon and landed in deep water that was well over my head and then again in Cariacou, when I was rolled in the waves between the dinghy and the dock, in my party clothes, while trying to make a graceful entrance into an open- air restaurant.
We have probably lost keys and locks to the dinghy a hundred times. I honestly don’t know where in the hell they go off to. We have lost eyeglasses and sunglasses on almost every island. Johnny was once going to shore in Tobago to get water beach side. He anchored the dinghy outside of the onshore waves, got the water in the natural spring on shore, left Bonnie on the beach and carried the jug back to the dinghy. Setting the jug inside, a rogue wave sent the dinghy flying and rolled him several times over, to the amusement of the many on lookers who were watching and drinking from the make shift bar. Of course, his new prescription sunglasses flew off his neck and away in the waves to God only knows where. Several days later, angry but determined, he returned to the spot where he thought he had been thrown and snorkeled for hours until he found them, in about 4 feet of water and partially buried by sand. Random.
And then there was the time in Martinique, while stripping and varnishing the topsides, our original port window, detached from the cabin for refit, decided to sail into the wind off the deck into thirty feet of water. Quickly Johnny threw a flotation device attached to a small anchor to mark the spot. The next day on the cruiser’s net, he asked if anyone who was into diving, would like to try to help us locate this extremely expensive and hard to replace port window. A South African gentleman named Ferdie, a professional diver, and his son Dion, answered our call. Both free divers. Within 3 minutes, and I’m not exaggerating, Dion had located the port window as if it was a piece of cake! Needless to say, Ferdie, Dion and the better half of the three, Darelle, have become, I’m happy to say, fast friends.
I have had towels, bathing suits, shirts and quilts blown off my life lines while hanging out to dry. I have lost countless clothes pins this way. Dion once gathered up 10 of them while swimming under our hull in the anchorage in Grenada. Hats….. blown away like puff willows in a field. Tools gone overboard… a frequent norm. Some are recovered, a magnet comes in handy, and others lost forever.
One of my favorite “losses” was a full bottle of unopened Pantene Shampoo. While sitting at anchor in Chagauramas, Trinidad, I was showering on the back deck, reached for the shampoo bottle and promptly knocked it overboard. Johnny had the dinghy and was onshore at the time. The water in the bay is quite dirty and there is a vicious current that runs through it, so I did not even attempt to go into the water to save the shampoo. I watched it drift swiftly in the current, along with other various debri, toward Venezuela, South America, which I could see in the distance. Several weeks later, Johnny and I were walking alongside the boardwalk at the Coral Cove Marina. We were observing and talking about all the flotsam that rode the currents into and out of Chagaraumas and then subsequently got trapped between moored boats. Johnny said, “Wouldn’t that be funny if the Panteen Shampoo bottle showed up?” And just as he said it, there it was, trapped between two large power boats moored dock side and floating among branches, bits of tire and an old worn out shoe. We grabbed the bottle. It was dirty on the outside, but no worse for wear and completely sealed and full of shampoo. We took it home and used it until it ran out.
One more story. Johnny once lost an uncooked chicken breast off the lit grill of our deck barbeque pit while anchored in the crystal- clear waters of the Exumas, Bahamas. He didn’t say a word, just quietly dove into the shallow water, retrieved the chicken breast from the bottom, rinsed it with fresh water and placed it back on the grill. We ate it. It was delicious.
Thanks for reading. I hope you will follow my pictures on Instagram @shelleysdavis.