ATLANTIC; or, Life On The Water is an exploration into the world of sailing, from New England to the Virgin Islands, to find work, to find love, to find an honest way of life.
On December 11th, 2011 I left Cool Change, Ray and Renee, JP, and Nanny Cay and took the ferry from the West End, Tortola to Cruz Bay, St. John. Finally, I reached my goal in making it to the U.S. Virgin Islands. I waited with my luggage outside of Customs for my friend Allie. As I long-boarded the parking lot at Customs, I thought about my trip, how I had sailed almost 2000 miles to (a) look for work, (b) come see this girl, not knowing what to expect. Allie was a good friend of mine, who I had met on Block Island in the summer of 2010. It felt so good to see her again. She lives in a studio apartment just outside Cruz Bay. We talked all night and drank champagne. The next morning I influenced JP to come over and stay with us, so we picked him up at the ferry and headed off to the beach. Allie took us to her favorite snorkel spot at Maho Bay. She found a Conch and I told her to throw it…she shouldn’t have listened to a word I said.
On the early morning of December 8th, 2011 we made our approach to Tortola and the BVI. I had the 2am to 6am morning watch at the helm and you could see the glow of the BVI while it was still night. It felt so good to be able to reach 18 degrees North and make it to the Caribbean. As the sun came up we were rounding Beef Island. As soon as Ray awoke at 6am I took to my cabin to get a little shut eye before we would head ashore. Jp awoke and raised the yellow quarantine flag and moored the 42′ Cat. Ray gathered our passports and went in with the dingy to clear customs while the rest of us waited on the boat. As we waited, I look around Road Harbour from the confines of our boat, I am completely ecstatic. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would have traveled almost 2000 nautical miles by sail alone.
We left the port of St. Georges, Bermuda after a week and a half. The new boat we caught a ride with was named Cool Change after that song. The owners, Ray and Renee Lillie from Islesboro, ME were some of the kindest people I have ever met. They took us on, out to eat, took us grocery shopping, and let Jean Phillipe and I have our own cabin space onboard Cool Change, all we had to do was to safely help them sail down to Tortola. If it wasn’t for their hospitality, I’d have flown home the day after Thanksgiving, back to Boston, MA and then home to New Hampshire, where I would struggle to employment. Ray and Renee allowed us the chance to keep on pursuing our goal, to reach the Caribbean.
I was stuck. I told a friend down in St. John that I would be there end of October…it was already Thanksgiving and I was still over 800 miles away. Luckily for me, I get to continue my travel story because I wasn’t going home. The day after I left the 42′ Whitby at the customs dock I met a nice couple from Maine, and they agreed to take me and my friend/sailing buddy the rest of the way to the Caribbean. They were headed to Tortola, which was right next door to the island I was trying to get to, St. John. As we moved aboard Cool Change, a 42′ Fountaine Pajot, we took to the narrow streets of Bermuda with all our belongings in hand, riding our long-boards.
On Monday November 21st we spotted land, and entered the port of St. Georges, Bermuda. As soon as we checked into customs, I let the others know that I would not be continuing with Kallista. I left the boat and checked in with the dockmaster, Sanda, one of the kindest women I ever met. She hooked me up with a good Samaritan named Shelly, another one of the kindest women I have ever met. Shelly runs the Samaritan’s Cottage, a historical building and refuge for sailors like me. She even picked me up from Ordnance Island after picking up her daughter from school. I find that the people of Bermuda are kind and welcoming. Young kids ride the buses by themselves without fear; I ride the bus alongside friends with anxiety. All and all I am just amazed by this country; there roads, their people, and the amount of bugs in the nice place I am staying.
On Tuesday November 22nd I met Raymond Lillie of Islesboro, ME. He was in the Caribbean 1500 from Hampton, VA to Tortola. After having a rough passage with damage to their boat, they decided to divert to Bermuda for repair. The crew isn’t able to continue so he invited Jean Phillipe and I onto their Catamaran as crew for the 2nd passage down to Tortola.
I recommend traveling the way I am, by boat, because you will end up meeting others that make your trip worth while.
Wednesday November 23rd, 2011 (A day in St. Georges, Bermuda)