In 1989, my only sibling, Jim, died of AIDS in Manhattan, where he had lived for several decades. I nursed him through those last years. Upon his death I realized just how short this life really is. I returned to St. John, where I was living at the time, and decided to invest in a sloop as my home. I bought a 37' CSY, Antares. Out of the 12 boats that I have owned, it was by far the largest.
I bought her in the British Virgin Islands and began sailing those islands with friends. This was where I met Dave. He had just lost his sloop, Villa de Coop, when he was single-handing in the Atlantic and encountered an 80 knot gale. Dave was the first person to be rescued through using a registered EPIRB and is lucky to be alive.
Antares was really much more than I could easily handle alone so I welcomed him when he moved aboard. We lived on her until we bought Swan Song where we now live. However, when working on both boats and unable to live aboard, we have often engaged in house-sitting or have lived in condos. For me, it is impossible to live in a construction zone or on the hard in a boat yard!
I am with Tessa, Foxy's wife, below on one of our many trips to Jost Van Dyke.
Peter Holmberg, who helmed for Oracle in the America's Cup '04, married my next door neighbor, Denise. He races all over the world and is our true interest in America's Cup Racing. Here I am visiting with him on the practice boat that they use. He is from St. Thomas so they are in the Caribbean practicing whenever they can. He is a really great guy and a wonderful humanitarian.
ODE TO THE WEST WIND
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead - Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red, Pestilence-stricken multitudes! O thou
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed -The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow
Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:
Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere; Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!
Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky's commotion,
Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed, Shook from the tangled boughs of heaven and ocean,
Angels of rain and lightning! there are spread On the blue surface of thine airy surge,
Like the bright hair uplifted from the head Of some fierce Maenad, ev'n from the dim verge
Of the horizon to the zenith's height, The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge
Of the dying year, to which this closing night Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
Vaulted with all thy congregated might Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere Black rain, and fire, and hail, will burst: oh hear!
. . . . . . .
If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee; A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share
The impulse of thy strength, only less free Than Thou, O uncontrollable! If even
I were as in my boyhood, and could be The comrade of thy wanderings over heaven,
As then, when to outstrip thy skyey speed Scarce seem'd a vision, - I would ne'er have striven
As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
Oh! lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!
A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd One too like thee - tameless, and swift, and proud.
Make me thy lyre, ev'n as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep autumnal tone, Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe,
Like wither'd leaves, to quicken a new birth; And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
BENNURE’S BAY - NORMAN ISLAND, BVI
I swam first with turtles,
anchored in Bennure’s Bay.
Hired as a first mate,
baptismal in warm waters--
masks, snorkels, fins--
aliens from a planet
altogether much too far away.
Born breech, with
feet slightly deformed.
Years of orthopedic shoes,
Now to swim bare footed, teaching.
We expiate women, observe our underwater siblings.
Fish abundantly plentiful, turtles infrequent,
Horizontally above, on a parallel plane.
Watch. Listen. Discover. Experience.
I observe my large sister
feeding on grasses six feet below.
Slow she is, in nature. Hurried when noticed.
Like a ballerina she entices me,
flappers become underwater kites,
beckoning me into a realm below.
We do the slow dance, swimming in layers
of Caribbean sun, sky and sea.
Returning to my ship, I speak to my soul,
silently asking my other half
if I too may dwell in these waters
amongst coral, angelfish, barracuda
and the ever wisest of old turtles?
My time is here. Seated in the cockpit
of my treasured sloop, ANTARES,
I watch the crescent moon descend
in the west, beneath the hill,
that serves as my mountain
while anchored in the lovely cove
known as Bennure’s Bay
Nancy & Tessa at Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke