I get distracted. I could never write a book. Or maybe that’s how you do it. Write all the stories you can think of and then assemble them into something comprehensive. I started this blog by giving an account of how we first came to Brittany, a southern California native and a British sailor. But then it seemed a bit of our back story was needed to explain how we ended up together in the first place. And most of that back story took place in the Caribbean. So even though I said I would fill in 2012 and 2013 (2 years that are at a complete loss from my memory) I think I will go back to 1985.
As I said in an earlier post, I arrived in the Caribbean as a tourist on December 23, 1984. Peter showed me the Island and on Christmas eve we sailed east to Marina Cay. We met some friends of Peter’s who worked on another boat as well as Peter’s ex-girlfriend. She was very friendly, very beautiful and knew everyone on Tortola. Her grandfather brought the first car to the island and her family was in government. She was also Miss BVI. You would think all of this to be intimidating to me but she made it clear that she had no interest in Peter. I of course had not intentions of love towards my future husband. I came to the British Virgin Islands purely as crew and was going to go sailing and explore the world. Who knew that 1 day later we would be in love and 4 months later I would have a ring. But that’s another story.
Marina Cay is a tiny atoll off the east end of Tortola. There are a few A frame guest houses, a beach bar and a crew house. I’m not sure who supplied the pig but when we arrived it was nearly cooked. In a pit, wrapped in banana leaves, accompanied by plantain, rice and of course rum punch. We ate and swam and probably snorkeled. This was 30 years ago so my memory is a bit hazy. I do remember at sunset we decided to head back to west end and we went for a night sail. The moon and stars and a bottle of wine- all very romantic. Can yo see where this is going? For some reason Christmas day completely escapes my memory so I will continue with my first charter.
Our first charter together started on boxing day- December 26th for you yanks. The boat had already been provisioned for me as Peter was busy getting the boat ready mechanically and cosmetically. A days work by most standards although this boat was a bit different. It seems the owner had decided to loan the boat out to some people who ran a shady business endeavor. They had some “cargo” that had to be transported from the Bahamas to Florida and did not know how to sail the boat. So instead of using a power boat with larger fuel tanks, they filled all the water tanks with fuel. Peter spent hours running water and Joy dish soap through hoses and tanks to try to get the taste and the smell of diesel fuel out of the tanks. Meanwhile, I went about inspecting the produce and the supplies for the next weeks worth of meals that I would be preparing for the three couples we were to have on board.
I had never trained as a chef but as one of six children I learned about food early on. Find it, cook it and eat it faster than the others or you will starve. I had experience sailing as I grew up on the water and my father had a sailboat company- in fact, at one time, the largest production sailboat company in the world- uh, yes, another story, don’t get distracted… So with a bit of cooking and sailing experience, I was not worried in the least. How hard could this be? I was to prepare three meals a day. Peter would sail the boat and we would make sure everyone was having a good time.
I was excited to start our charter and begin this amazing adventure of sailing the islands. The first evening went well. Our guests arrived in the late afternoon and we greeted them with rum punch and a nice dinner. Peter showed off his culinary skills. It turns out Peter dad was a chef, and Peter went to hotel management and catering college. This was perfect. Peter could help in the galley and I was just as happy on deck as below. We made a great team.
Our first morning I woke early. I had planned to make banana pancakes and serve a beautiful platter of melon. Everything was about ready. The guests were up, coffee was made, I had started the pancakes and then got out the melon to slice it up. It was a bit different than the melons at home. The skin seemed tougher. I cut in to it only to find that it was not a melon at all but a pumpkin! That year I learned to cook pumpkin, plantain, conch and curry. The staples of any West Indian diet.