Going Sailing in the Caribbean
Well,l I should start with the offer to sail on “Our Joy” with Rockne and Pam Ragsdale of Dallas, Texas.
No, not really it should go back two years when I started taking sailing classes and racing two or three times a week at our local sailing club.
Maybe it goes back to the shemozzle I had with Cuso over my offer to volunteer in Peru.
Or to my love of travel and my fascination with the sea. Why did I ever learn to scuba dive when I was afraid to snorkel and even more uncomfortable swimming?
Back to 1975 when I sailed with four Peace Corps volunteers around the island of Santa Isabel in the Solomon Islands. .. Perhaps the seed was planted then.
Maybe my upbringing in the Canadian prairies gave me a longing for the ocean.
Wherever I got the bug, I have just accepted to spend the winter on an Endeavour 43, named “Our Joy” sailing around the Caribbean.
The owners, Rockne and Pam Ragsdale plan to leave Kemah, Texas on December first, 2016. I will be one of the crew, hopefully the least experienced.
Last winter as I travelled the length of Chile from North to South and then back again through Western Argentina to Mendoza, I felt sorry I hadn’t got to know the people of either country in any depth. That started me thinking of alternative ways of spending my winters.
Cuso came to mind: a volunteer organization that sends professionals to developing countries. I knew of a project they had in Peru helping disadvantaged youth find work. So I applied and was accepted by the main office here in Ottawa. Unfortunately for me, the local organization chose someone else. The same thing happened with the job in Bogota, Colombia, and again in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
Fed up, other possibilities came to mind. House-sitting, for example, might be interesting except that everyone wants you to look after their precious dogs, cats, goats, and horses. How can a person even explore the neighbourhood when you have to give Puss his medication three times a day? And Rex needs to be walked morning and evening.
Crewing on a sailboat has always intrigued me, but I didn’t want to be someone’s captive mistress for weeks on end. Many of the skippers looking for crew should actually write “screw”; they are so pathetic.
Fortunately, while looking at all these forlorn offers, Rockne and Pam’s ad caught my eye. We had a skype interview, and the discussion began. First impressions were good. Their itinerary is excellent. Texas across the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba, then to Cozumel, Roatan, The Cayman Islands, Jamaica, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and then into the West Indies. Who could ask for a better way to spend a winter?
It will be a steep learning curve for me never having sailed on the ocean except as a guest and cook. I hope to learn a lot about sailing, about looking after a boat, about astronomy, weather forecasting, local birds, fish and coral. Diving will be a frequent pastime. Learning to cook in a moving vessel, exploring the local foods, baking bread, sprouting lentils and other seeds, and making yogurt will stretch my cooking skills. Socializing with other yachties and hopefully locals will occupy many evenings while anchored. During the day, we will explore the islands, climb the trails, and learn as much as we can about the local culture, history, food, and people.
During quiet time, reading, writing, exercising, and meditating will fill up the gaps when I am not otherwise occupied. While on watch, I will practise knots and listen to music, practise my navigation skills and learn about celestial navigation and the ways of the seas in general.
Wish me luck, my friends. I am excited, nervous, and just a bit scared!