As much as we enjoyed our two water homes - our sailing sloop, ANTARES - a 37' CSY, and our 65' trawler, SWAN SONG, we have equally loved our two homes on land in the BVI. Our first home was on the small island of Frenchman's Cay - above left. We lived there from 1991 thu 1994. We had Antares moored in front and sailed her on weekends. Dave was the General Manager of Frenchman's Cay Boat Yard - just beyond our home, and the Jolly Roger Restaurant, the home of our yacht club, was just across the bay. We had four wonderful years in West End where Frenchman's Cay is located.
We lived on ANTARES from 1994 until 1997. We loved living on her and sailing throughout the islands. In 1997 we moved into a condo unit in Sea Cows Bay - right on the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Large Manatees used to live there hence the name. Here we were also lucky enough to live on the water. All of our meals were eaten on our deck overlooking the channel - pictured directly on the left. The indoor pictures below are all of that condo.
We had a wonderful tree in the front yard that I called the "Hugging Tree". (above) Each time I came in from the car I would give her a big hug. WOW! did she ever grow. My office was on the second floor and overlooked this lovely tree. It was such a pleasure to write while enjoying the vista of tree tops from my office window. At that time I was writing for many magazines and newspapers.
The picture on the upper left is our front porch at Frenchman's Cay. Dave is taking the picture of Gary, a good friend from Maine, and me. The palms were lovely and we would awaken in the morning to the sound of swaying fronds. We would go to bed in the evening to the sounds of tree frogs and crickets, as everyone does in the Caribbean.
Our years in the BVI were wonderful and I shall never forget them. As it will always be our home, maybe someday we shall return after getting the cruising bug out of our system.
The Diamond Tree
How lovely to view
After a hard rainfall – diamonds left
perching lightly on tree leaves
Crystals of water
sparkling as the sun adorns each
Flickering multi facets through my window
My own personal jewel box
Glittering with millions
Of glimmering rays - a rainbow of colors - Making me
The richest woman I know
The first time I entered Soper's Hole I felt as though I was at the other end of a gigantic electromagnet, being reeled in like a reticent Wahoo on the newly activated tag and release program. I was hooked on the beauty of its mountains the blueness of its sky, teaming with billowy cotton caricatures and the quaintness of its village - the ferry dock and marina stores. The entire scene was picture post card perfect.
It was the mid 80s and I was on a ferry with my current lover - a tall stately middle aged blond, balding on top, sporting a feisty Panama hat with a bright purple band. Although older than I, we still cut a striking couple dressed in gypsy Bohemia - already tanned when compared to the other tourists carrying their newest luggage, wearing Bermudas with aching feet from summer shoes not yet broken in. I wore a lot of jewelry that day, having always had a passion for gold and glitter. I thought it went with my coloring - long blond hair and ankle length skirts. Swish, that's what it was, an element that I was used to as a weaver in the states.
Actually, I had looked forward to this trip for quite awhile. Although Clayton and I lived on St. John, an island only seven miles away, this was still an important departure. Everything was temporary at this stage in my life and to my mental image just crossing an imaginary boundary from one nation into another signified that there was a large opportunity that I too could cross from one life to a different one. Could seven miles make much of a difference?
The ferry was old and crowded. There were no animals on board as there had been in Central America but still there were crowds of people - strange people to me then. Belongers, as anyone who was born in the British Virgin Islands was called, were returning from shopping sprees in nearby St. Thomas laden with plastic goods from the newly built K-Mart and sacks of groceries from the stores on East End - the country, they called it, because it was located on the farthest shore of the island.
Our ferry docked with Clayton and I taking a taxi into Road Town, Tortola. Along the way I noticed, and fell in love with, the local houses all painted serene colors of the rainbow. My favorite was a lavender house with bright yellow shutters – I have always retained that image in my memory as the house was torn down several years after.
We had lunch at Caribbean Casseroles, a great little restaurant located on the second floor of a true local building. It was owned by Ros Griffiths, whom years later, would become one of my best friends and most certainly my mentor. I remember we enjoyed both fungi and plantain - two of my favorite foods even today – and, proudly, whose recipes I have mastered. We walked the small street that comprises the “drag” and Clayton showed me the small West Indian house where he had lived before settling in St. John. It was a truly lovely street that, unfortunately, has become “modernized” beyond recognition during the past two decades.
We had brought our swimsuits and decided to swim at Cane Garden Bay. In those days the beach had not been discovered and was another picture postcard scene. I had a delightful swing in the famed tire swing, hung from a huge palm not far from the water’s edge, another wonderful memory as it has long since been removed.
One surely could never guess that a tumble into that serene azure sea could leave you with a horrible staph infection had you not taken the trouble, or had the intellect, to protect yourself with topical ointment applied to all open sores before going in. Tourists never realize the Caribbean Sea is a paradox with its medicinal warm water and high saline content beaconing to enter and swim. Had I known of the high bacterial content, a result of just these conditions, I would have put myself on notice that entering these waters would be at my own risk - something that I didn't know upon arrival but superinticiously discovered during the following decade.
After a lovely afternoon we took the last ferry back to Cruz Bay, St. John, and then Clayton’s blue truck back to Coral Bay where we lived in Clayton’s West Indian home on the water. I did not know then that I would spend 15 years in the British Virgin Islands, one of the best eras of my life. But I always loved St. John too - Thank you, Clayton.
HENDERSON HOUSE - WRITTEN IN 1994
It is my last month in the Henderson House.
I have the stomach flu. There's quite a storm outside.
The power is off. David is off. Here I sit--
watching the waves and wind
fascinated by the enormous power unleashed
Mother Nature in her glory.
I don't really know how I feel about leaving
this lovely home on the water
with the five green dancing palms.
Three very good years have been spent here.
Years of love and maturation.
Nancy is growing up at last.
It was in this home that I got a divorce,
not only from Bud but from that part of my life.
I went through the sadness of losing, not only a son
but a grandson here. I also learned
what it is like to truly live with another person,
to actually be in a relationship
It was during the years in this home that I learned
needed lessons about sailing and living on the water.
David and I would go out on ANTARES on weekends,
sailing and playing, but having a land home to come back to.
Now I won't have that. ANTARES will be my home
Am I really ready for this?
Discovering myself during these past three years
I find that I am prepared for the unknown.
Being such a security freak, I have to console myself
that life can change at any minuet, by choice.
If I don't like living on a boat, I can move back into a house,
but it will never be just like this one.
For watching the evening sunsets has calmed me
and looking out on the sea as I sit at my computer
has let me know the value of nature and fresh air.
I have snorkeled the front reef, in front of the palms
at least three times a week for three years.
I will always miss that, for I always have wanted to do
just these things.
Am I growing to the age where change
isn't as desirable as it used to be?
RAIN - May 8, 1995
Days and days of parchment.
Creases in a ground that is already dry
with only century and bougainvillea growing,
thriving on the scorched earth
Goats in West End are dying.
Cisterns all around are empty.
Waiting, waiting, farmers turn to the sky,
their road map to the future
Prayers are given in supplication.
Offerings for an open ceiling,
blessing those of us who thirst,
answers to all un-askable questions
Then it happens. May is upon us.
God, as if hearing, unzips the sky
letting the deluge fall where it may.
Heads bowed, we accept and give thanks.