April 24, 1994
David left this morning on Jessie at 6:30 for Antigua Race Week with Orren and Paul. He spent the night on the boat after taking an entire two weeks getting her ready for the trip. I can't say that I am sad to be alone here at the house. It is actually quite welcome as I was trying to remember the last time I spent some quality time alone. It has been well over a year and a half. I used to always love being alone. In fact, I didn't ever think I would enjoy living with someone. I guess I've changed.
These past three months with David, since he quit his job at the Shipyard, have been the happiest of my life. We have been together 24 hours a day and I can honestly say that I am not too bored, or uneasy, or even entertain ideas about getting out. I never think about the next man, the next trip, house, island etc. I guess I'm in love. It sort of surprises me to write it -- to see the letters forming that actually say "I love him". I was thinking the other day when we were sailing (we've done a lot of sailing on Antares lately, and this always makes me happy) that I have not felt like this but once before. It was with Bud - we always had a very loving relationship before he became so involved with money and power.
Is real love that difficult to find?
Working on boats together has been fun, and it has really provided me with an opportunity for growth. Three years ago, when we had to get Jessie ready, I was a pure klutz. I didn't understand why anything had to be done the way it was. To me it was all a big waste of time and I couldn't stand the way David was always bossing me around, telling me what to do. Well guess what? I learned what to do, I do it on my own and he doesn't boss me anymore. In fact, Saturday, just yesterday, I was below and he was topsides. We were just working along for hours. Talking if something needed to be said but just generally doing what we could to prepare the boat. It was so enjoyable. I must have been a real pain in the ass three years ago.
I love sleeping with him. I love touching all night. David is the most intimate person I have ever known. He doesn't space out. He's there and he's there for me. It's nice being happy. I am going to try and take advantage of this time that he's gone to read, write, watch old movies (I watched two this morning "Virginia Woolf" and "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" which was in Spanish with subtitles and was hysterical) I am going to snorkel every day, watch my diet, sleep whenever I like and write letters. I have already cleaned the living room and the kitchen and will save the bedroom until I feel like it. It is so wonderful to do just what you want when you want. But only when it is a treat, As a life it is lacking.
How I love living here by the Caribbean Sea. Looking out of the glass jalousies typing, I feel the warm and varied breezes cool me as I watch the endless parade of ships entering and leaving Sopers Hole. If I had the genius, this would be a wonderful place to write a novel. But there's no novel in me, much to Budley's disappointment. He always thought that I should write. But then he has never read the great writers; however, there are a few poems and some short stories yet to come out. So I shall enjoy this type of writing simply because that is what I want to do. Observations, feelings, statements--the ordinary thing. This little laptop is a delight though. It is such fun, when finding myself stuck, to quickly play a few games of solitaire. It will take me years to figure out where all of the information "is" that is stored in this little machine. How life improves--on the information hwy.
It gives me great satisfaction to watch ANTARES lolling at her mooring. David and I have really had fun on her this year. We have done a lot of work, with still much more to go, but it has been so pleasant, just sailing, talking, making love, eating and drinking--all beneath a warm tropical sun or a balmy moonlit night. Here sails Estonia, a large gaff rigged schooner. She is just passing beneath the palms going up to the mouth of the harbor--no, I hear her chains. She's setting anchor. All of this beauty is almost distracting. It is hard for me to listen and observe--to see what others are going through.
April 25 -
It is now 5:50 am. I remember how I used to awake very early when I lived alone. Everything is still. The water has only ripples--no waves. The light is soft and the roosters from West End crow as if in conversation. I will have no coffee. I never drink coffee when I am alone so that I can nap whenever I like. One thing I have never understood about my life is my erratic sleep activity.
I suppose it all started with Nannie Belle who had to have at least twelve hours sleep every night. I grew up thinking that was normal as we always had to be quiet so she could sleep. I would love to go to bed at nine and wake up at nine, but that just isn't possible. However, I did get eight hours last night, as I fell asleep at ten and had a wonderful night's rest. No partying. That has been another bane of my life. I love to indulge, but I certainly don't need what it is doing to me. I fell down the rock steps in the garden a few weeks back, when coming home from the Jolly Roger with David. I hit my head on the lamppost and had a black eye for a month. It hurt and it was ugly. I was embarrassed and humiliated.
It seems that all expaites love to drink. But now that I am 54 it is really beginning to show. My skin is dry. Wrinkles and fine lines are appearing. I have always looked great for my age and now I look my age. I feel much better in the morning when I don't drink--like now--I get up and write. Funny thing is that when David started his job as GM of Frenchman's Cay, he gave up drinking for six months at least. That was the perfect time to give it up, but I kept on having those cocktails every night. I also need to lose some weight and drinking certainly doesn't help that.. I can't believe I've let myself gain twenty pounds in the last decade. I eat like I did when I was a teenager and then have a cocktail besides.
Yesterday was good though. I ate only vegetarian and not in large amounts. It is so quiet. The ferries have not yet started their daily schedules. Think I'll go back to bed.
Later - It is a full moon. As I sit here typing this I can hear sailors at anchor hooting and hollering as they get ready to go to BomBa's for the Full Moon Party. Things that happened today. Went snorkeling as usual. There are thousands of small silver fish that were just born swimming in a amicable line from our house to Peter's. It was something else swimming with them and would have been perfect if there had only been musical accompaniment. They are really wild--thousands moving as one. Also saw a lovely small turtle.
As of this month they have been tagged as endangered species (about time) and the fine is enormous if caught. Somehow snorkeling removes me from the daily life that we all face. So to study all of these wonderful and varied creatures just minding their own business, trying to stay alive, swimming here and there, is a very calming affect.
There are times when it is not all calmness and light, however. I still don't like to swim with barracudas and great schools of fish coming towards me can be pretty scary. One of the local fishermen put out two large chicken-wire fish traps about a week ago. As I was passing today I noticed that he had caught a large spotted blue eel. I just floated for awhile enjoying watching him but feeling very unhappy that he was trapped. I have never liked to see anything inside a cage. Also, in my three years of snorkeling here, it was the first time I have ever seen a whole eel. Usually, just the head appears as they are very shy and completely hide between or under the coral.
This morning, as I was taking the trash to the dumpster via dingy, I noticed that several of the older locals were in their wooden boats putting out an enormous seining net at the entrance to the cut-off that runs from the harbor to the bridge that goes to Kelly's store. I will have to ask the oldest one, Mr. Smith I believe, to do an interview with me for the Oral History program. I am curious as to whether the only time they do this is at full moon or can they just tell, from decades of experience, when the fish are running. It was most incongruent though to see the old men fishing in such a way when fifty yards away a fleet of million dollar yachts is moored.
April 26 -
What happened? I couldn't sleep last night. The moon was full and I decided to go out on the deck and look at it. Dusti's poem came to mind. Nothing would do but that I have a glass of wine. Then another. I was trying to be so good. Therefore, It is an hour later this morning than yesterday. Of course, I went to bed several hours later. I am getting ready to have my second cup of coffee "Oh what fools we mortals be." David says that I am the most quilt ridden person he has ever met. He believes in doing what you want only in moderation.
I am thinking seriously about recovering the living room couch. I hate to spend money on someone else's apartment but the dirty white Haitian cotton covers cannot be washed again or they will fall apart. I went to town yesterday to price material. I need 16 and a half yards. The material that I like would cost $136 so I am torn between going to St. Thomas to shop and spending that outrageous sum here. We've been in this house almost three years and in all honesty it doesn't seem that we will be moving out for another year. I should probably do it just to save the couch and not have my $600 deposit fee taken.
The thrush that I feed each morning is waiting on the railing for his breakfast. He is such an ugly bird that only his mother could love but I miss having a pet and he looks forward to my feedings. I met Judy H. for lunch and an afternoon at the beach at Long Bay Resort. We had a delicious lunch of lobster salad but the afternoon turned out to be almost beyond bearing. Judy ran a constant monologue for four and a half hours. She started drinking and just wouldn't shut up. I have known one other person like that, Myra G., but at least with Myra a conversation occurs. Judy did not ask me one question or require any input. I finally put on the darkest sunglasses in my purse and watched the ocean. I did nothing but nod my head yes or no for 1 1/2 hrs. How can anyone just ramble on like that? Well, that's one less friend I have to worry about.
April 27 - My God it happened again. I was awake watching old movies until 3 am. I tried going to bed at 10 but just couldn't sleep. Finally, about 3:15 I poured myself a glass of red wine and was asleep by 3:30. Of course, I awoke at 7:30 to the noise of the ferries and dingy motors. Why does sleep do this to me? Maybe I should just chill out like David suggests. I'm too concerned about it all - actually, I'm very neurotic about my sleep patterns. I feel guilty if I don't sleep. Could it have anything to do with the fact that Mother tied me down in my crib when I was a baby or forbid me to get out of my bed, or even turn on a light, once I got older and could walk. For a lovely lady, she was a real control artist.
It's cool now. I just put on a long sleeved cotton jersey overhead sweater. It is pleasing having something so soft next to my skin. I wear so little clothing in the tropics that sometimes I forget the feel of fabric. There is something special about waking to a gray breezy day in the Caribbean. We get so used to sunshine that we forget what calm is in neutral tones.
I am seriously considering calling Suzanne B. tonight and inviting her down for a visit when David delivers PHOENIX to the states in May. He will be gone for three weeks and I actually think that I will be beside myself. I have just stated how very much I love being alone and I am already beginning to feel lonely after just three days. I think that I really do miss David and just don't like to admit how mentally dependent I have become. I am also slightly hurt that he has not called me to say that he arrived safely.
I called Tina Pickell last night, knowing that Orren would have called her, and found out that they had a hard trip, 36 hours into the wind all of the way, but that they were safe, if tired, and anchored securely in English Harbour. This means that they will be hanging out at the bar at the Copper and Lumber, where I stayed when I was in Antigua last summer with James and Elizabeth. Ironically, that is where I am to meet them on Saturday morning.
April 27 - I did a really unpredictable thing yesterday around noon. I am taking care of Gordon and Paul's yacht FOOTLOOSE for a month while they are in Canada. I was cleaning out their fridge and bringing all of the cold perishables home. Upon returning I decided to snack on a piece of cold baked chicken that they had a left overs. I bit down on it and lost at least 1/2 of my upper left back molar. God, did it hurt. Well, the pain became really too much so I got in the dingy and started going to boats in the harbor to see if they had any pain medication.
The first boat, SEPTEMBER SONG, is owned by a Jewish doctor, Fred. He was on board but had no medication without codeine, to which I am violently allergic. I then tried ACE. The captain and his wife had rented our house for a week while we were doing the Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas, so I already knew them. Luckily, she had a vial of zylocane so she gave me four shots in the gum and then some sleeping pills. She was great and needless to say, I felt much better. I called Cynthia and Jim Quast in St. John when I returned home and made an appointment for 1:00 this afternoon. I took the pills but slept badly anyway. I have a really strange reaction to pills due to the fact that Bud had my on Halcion for seven years.
David finally called at around seven. It was good to talk with him. They are having a ball. There are over 250 boats registered for the regatta. That must be one of the largest in the world. I feel really woozy writing this as it is now almost 8:30 and I must take the 9:00 ferry to St. Thomas. I haven't eaten since this happened (one way to lose weight) but did manage to get down a cup of coffee.
April 28 - Took the car over to the ferry dock and boarded the 9:00 to Red Hook. We had to go through customs, so everything was detained. We finally arrived at around 10:45 and I wanted to buy material to cover the living room sofas with. I took a taxi to and from Woolworth's, found my material and arrived back at Red Hook in time for the noon ferry to Cruz Bay. That's Maxi shopping! As I had a 1:00 dental appointment, I had a carrot juice and mailed some letters with the U.S. Postal Service. The dentist was lovely, painless, thorough, and expensive. This tooth is going to cost well over $900, so I don't know what I'll end up doing. He put on a temporary, so I maybe able to have a crown put on in Tortola for around $100. I have saved so much money this month that I hate to blow even some of it on a tooth.
Dr. and Mrs. Alexis were also at the ferry dock when I arrived home from St. John. They are friends of our landlords, the Hendersons, so I picked them up, took them to get a British License, showed them around, and took them back to the house. They settled in upstairs and I had a glass of wine or two to unwind. The next thing I know, I am out on the boat, still with nothing to eat in several days, the Novocain is wearing off and I am sleeping soundly in the V berth of ANTARES. That's one way to cure pain.
April 29 - Woke up woozy but had several cups of coffee on the boat. Jay came over and we had several more. I prepared for my trip to Antigua tomorrow and covered the sofa in a temporary manner for the time being. It is quite an improvement. Then around happy hour, I made the terrible mistake of trying on my new outfit and "trotting" off to Pusser's for approval. That was assured. After several Sea breezes, Jay, Carter, Katie and I went to the Sand Spit. Everyone had brought something to eat, but I just wasn't hungry. I went via dingy back to the boat to get some wine. We ended up at the J. R. much later, and breaking into our house even much later. Seems that I had forgotten where I put the key. Of course, it fell out of my bra when I undressed. I fell asleep at once, but did manage to rouse myself in time for the 6:15 taxi to the airport.
April 30 - Believe it or not, we had a very lively conversation on the way to the airport. My plane was the longest way to cover the shortest distance known to man. The normally 45 minute flight to Antigua took just under four hours as we stopped at St. Thomas, St. Marten, St. Kitts and finally Antigua.
As I was hot, tired, and irritable I took the luxury of a taxi to English Harbour. Naturally, I was early so David was not in the bar yet. I walked around, looked at the yachts, read the protests with great interest, and had two bloody Marys. David appeared and was as delighted to see me as I him. We hugged, kissed, walked and had a long lunch at Nelson's Dockyard. After a really good chat and two vodka and tonics we motored via dingy out to JESSIE and joined what had to be the most "partied out" group of men in history.
Orren's high school buddies had come down for Antigua Race Week. Upon seeing me they got out the Mt. Gay bottle and proceeded to make island "rummies" These five guys had put away a case of rum in the few days they had been in the islands. Several hours later, they left for dinner, and I, being in no shape to join them, stayed on the boat with David. We were making beautiful love, when I got a bee up my bonnet and began getting mad. Well, I am the most heinous woman on the planet when I consumed what I had in the past days, so fortunately for him I passed out.
May 1 - Awoke to the voices of some mighty hung over lads. They had such a spree after leaving the boat the night before, that they could not even accept Bloodies. As they had planes to catch and Orren, David and I had to return JESSIE to Tortola, the partings were brief. We did go and shop for more T-shirts though, David Checked out the boat and crew, and I got some Antigan food as by this time I was famished. We left English Harbor at 11:30, two hours late in David's estimation, and had a really rough downwind sail until St. Kitts.
We then changed course and had a very pleasant evening and nighttime sail. For some reason I was unable to sleep until after my watch which ended at 6:00 am. I slept well from then until 9:30 when we all got up and I cooked breakfast. We had a delightful sail to the Virgins and arrived in the Sir Francis Drake Channel about 4:30. The impeller then broke and I drove, with only the main up, while David fixed it with Orren's help.
We arrived in Sopers Hole at 5:15 and had time to both check in and get to the dock before the dockhands left. We were all tired puppies. We had a drink, a pizza at Pusser's and were in bed at home by 9:00. It was a really nice sail home, though, and I am glad I spent the money and made the effort to do the trip.
David and I have had a very active year. I can’t remember when I wrote you last so I will start out in the fall of 1993 when we delivered the 54’ Alden, JESSIE, from Norfolk to St. Thomas. David has been the captain of this yacht since it was built in 1989 and it is now on it’s second owner. Because he wanted to keep it in BVI waters for the winter of 93’ and the spring of ‘94, we were asked to deliver it. We chose to enter the Caribbean 1500, which is a marvelous rally for all cruising boats coming down to the Caribbean for the winter. There were 63 yachts entered. For insurance reasons they call themselves a rally instead of a race, but it is definitely a RACE. We took as crew the three guys from the winning yacht the year before. It was well worth it. Eight days and twenty-two hours later we arrived at Crown Bay Marina in St. Thomas capturing first place and setting a record for time. It was great fun but my body is getting too old for that type of stuff--just a couple of days too long at sea for me.
In December JESSIE’S owners, Orren and Tina Pickell, decided that they wanted to spend Christmas in Grenada with their children. My roommate from my freshman year in college, Glenda, was here visiting at the time. Although she had never sailed, we took her and one of my best friends from the islands, Daralyn, and had a perfectly great sail to Grenada. This only took four days and we had beautiful
weather and winds. David had to come back to work so Glenda and I stayed in Grenada for ten days and explored the island. We loved it. She then returned to her home in Boulder and I came back to our home in Frenchman’s Cay where we entertained 28 sailors from the Caribbean 1500 for Christmas dinner on our deck. They all brought something delicious to share and I must say that it was one of our most memorable Christmases ever.
1994 brought many changes in our household. In January David decided to resign as General Manager of Frenchman’s Ship Yard. He had been there for a year and a half and although he loved the work and the responsibility, a better opportunity came his way. He was asked to be a Marine Broker for BVI Yacht Sales (formerly Nanny Cay Yacht Sales). This he accepted and continues to do. It allows him much more freedom as he still has time for yacht deliveries.
He took JESSIE to Antigua Race Week in March with Orren and six of his high school buddies, now all in their forties. If that wasn’t a blast. I went down to join them and help deliver the boat back to Tortola. They had never seen French Topless Sailors. They were so funny “ooohing and ahhhhhhing”
In May David, Orren and I took JESSIE to Georgetown, Exhumas. This was a downwind trip and was delightful. The Coast Guard was out in full force due to the embargoes of both Haiti and Cuba and enjoyed buzzing us in their helicopters and on the VHF. We took out the largest U.S. flag we had, which measures 4’ x 6’ and flew it, knowing they would then leave us alone. They did.
In June I went to work as a writer for the Nautical Scene, a BI-monthly newspaper devoted to Sailors and Yachtspeople from Ft. Lauderdale to Venezuela. I am the correspondent from the BVI and absolutely love reporting. I cover all of the races and have the license to write on anything I choose without editing or censorship. Right up my alley. I also became the secretary for BVI Yacht Sales so I spend my days in air-conditioning and with boats. Also right up my alley. Because of the fact that our house was then located too far from Nanny Cay, where the office is located, we moved onto our boat ANTARES and put it in a slip right in front of the office. This was a very wise decision as it saves us time, money and generates many more sales as we are always close by.
I enjoyed a wonderful delivery back from St. Maarten in September. I flew over and joined my friends, Matt and Claire. We ate and partied, partied and ate and then brought back their new 48’ Jean Tote Catamaran for charter at the Moorings. It was a very enjoyable week.
On October 2, David and I left for the U.S. where we spent a whirlwind seven weeks. We rented a “95 Bonneville that was loaded for only $80.00 a week with 7 miles on it. 7,000 miles later we had covered all of the outer islands of Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. We had attended the Annapolis Boat Show where we donated our time and expertise to the BVI Tourist Booth, attended the start of the 94’ Caribbean 1500 in Hampton, Va., explored Cape Cod and visited with all of our many friends on the Eastern Shore.
David’s oldest daughter, Diane, was married in New Hampshire so we were there for a week for all of the festivities and the wedding (of course he was “Father of the Bride”) which was lovely. There is nothing more beautiful than the North East in the fall when the leaves turn hundreds of colors. It is breathtakingly beautiful. We had a wonderful time with his family also.
Orren and Tina had invited us to be their guests and to cruise the Bahamas with them for a week on JESSIE. We truly had one of the most enjoyable sails ever. We snorkeled and sailed each day; drinking and eating well at night. They brought along a close friends of theirs, Judy and Pat, and we all six hit it off famously. We then took JESSIE to the marina in Palm Beach, went to the Breakers for Halloween Night, let Judy and Pat off to catch a plane and motored down the Intercoastal Waterway from Palm Beach to Ft. Lauderdale. This was really an experience for me as I had never been exposed to the type of massive opulence that exists on that waterway in reference to both the homes and the yachts---and I mean yachts--mega, mega, mega yachts. From Donald Trump’s LARGO to the canals in Lauderdale, it was all just too much.
We then took JESSIE to one of the lovely municipal marinas. Orren and Tina headed back to Chicago and we worked on her. We attended the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show and marveled at the difference between the Newport, Annapolis and Ft Lauderdale shows. Not enough sailing yachts in Florida. Little did we know that Tropical Storm Gordon would shortly arrive and alter our plans for returning to the islands. David didn’t feel that he could leave the yacht so we stayed throughout the three day storm. The rain was unbelievable--17” in two days. We were stranded on the boat at all times as a high tide put the docks some three feet under water and getting off of the boat was impossible. We finally made it back to Tortola on November 19.
As we were doing major construction on ANTARES, I took advantage of an opportunity to do a delivery on a Whitby 42’ to St. Lucia and then on the Bequia in the Grenadines. This I really enjoyed as I had never been to Bequia and it is delightful--small, quaint, and friendly. One of the best islands I have visited yet. I returned home two days before Christmas---just in time to get David ready for his “gig” as Santa Clause for Pusser’s on Christmas Eve. We partied hearty until “95 and then went on a diet.!
My younger son Greg, his wife Helen, and my adorable granddaughter, Lauren, arrived for a ten day visit on Jan 11, the day before my 55th birthday. To celebrate both their arrival and five and 1/2 decades on the planet, we threw a Dock Party to end all parties. We had a huge sheet cake and Lauren managed to get all 55 candles, plus one for good luck, on the cake. There were presents and food and friends, all of the ingredients to make it one of the most memorable nights of my life.
The next day, not too early of course, we left for a week’s sail throughout the BVI on ANTARES. We had a truly wonderful time. David and Greg hit it off well as they are both captains and love engines and the water. I enjoyed Lauren to the max and Helen is like the daughter I never had. I was very let down when they left.
It is now the beginning of February. Our good friends from Maine, the Lukes, are here for a week and then David’s two youngest children come for their winter break. We will take them sailing for a week also as they love the water. All in all it’s not a bad life for a couple in their “golden years”.
We think of you often and wish you the very best in health, happiness and prosperity for 1995. Have a wonderful year and let us hear from you.
Fondly, Nancy & Dave