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boat for our first sail. As soon as we raised the mainsail and unfurled the jib, we were sailing at more than 7 knots, headed to the island of Saint John for our first night’s anchorage. That incredible feeling I felt as a little boy sailing with my grandfather in Michigan was back again. Tom was at the tiller driving the boat; Paul the Captain was standing behind him smiling, so happy to see someone experiencing the joy of sailing. We made it to St. John to anchor long before sunset, and we went to the shore that night to experience St. John’s nightlife and carnival. We stayed just long enough to eat at the Sundog Café. Then, we had to get back to the boat to get a good night’s rest to be prepared for a full day of sailing. I slept on the deck outside, swayed to sleep by the gentle rocking of the boat and the steady, cool sea breeze of the trade winds. Day Two • Waking up with the sun, living with the rhythm of nature • Checking into customs at the British Virgin Islands • Sitting in the cockpit talking navigation and sailing with my shipmate • Willy T’s party bar

We woke with the sunrise. Paul introduced us to the finer points of cooking aboard a sailboat. Paul fired up the stove and cooked up a simple breakfast so that we could get on our way; though cruising the Virgin Islands is often a relaxing pursuit, if you want to get somewhere, you have to negotiate with mother nature every step of the way – and she can change her mind quickly. This day we were headed to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to clear customs and to meet Paul’s wife in order to pick up supplies to provision the boat for the rest of our expedition. That night we planned to anchor in a bight – a curve in the island’s coast 30

INTERNATIONAL

resembling a bay – alongside BVI’s famous floating party bars, the Willy T. Tom. I took direction from Paul to prepare the Solstice for our first full day of cruising. We made a short stop clearing through customs and arrived at our anchorage in the bight just before sunset. We had sailed for a total of about seven hours that day. As a sailor new to the sport, I didn’t have the same sea legs as my more seasoned shipmates, Paul and Tom. And though a day under the bright sun and sailing in strong winds and a brisk sea state had tired me out, I was thrilled when Paul suggested we visit Willy T’s to visit his good friend Kelen and enjoy a refreshment or two to celebrate a perfect day of sailing. Tom turned in for the night as Paul and I jumped into the dinghy to motor over to Willy T’s. The party life in the islands was surreal to me: ahead in the water was a 100 foot floating barge lit up with strings of party lights and full of a loud, happy, raucous crowd speaking French, English, and Spanish. Paul headed to the bar and gave his friend a big hug. Paul had recently been a guest at this friend’s wedding. (People who live and work in the islands all seem to know one another and are a tight, warm group of folks.) As the party around us picked up energy, Paul and I settled in to talk about island life, family, relationships, and sailing. Joining us at the bar was an especially rowdy crowd of French men and women who danced the night away, performing a wild, island-inspired interpretation of the music that blared from the bar’s sound system. A group of Texans next to us were enjoying their annual booze cruise with the goal of hitting every party spot in the Virgin Islands before returning to everyday life at home. The islands and the waters of the Caribbean seem to attract an unlikely collection of people from across the world, and each person has their own unique way of experiencing this place. Kelen kept our drinks full as the night went on. When it was time to close, Paul and I were the last men standing; Kelen had coaxed the last of the revelers

ÉCLAT INTERNATIONAL - Feb/Mar 2016 Issue  

The Broad Museum in Los Angeles Art Basel Miami Beach Sailing in the Caribbean

ÉCLAT INTERNATIONAL - Feb/Mar 2016 Issue  

The Broad Museum in Los Angeles Art Basel Miami Beach Sailing in the Caribbean

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