Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Prologue

Lisa and I flew from San Francisco to Miami, then to St. Lucia for a sailing trip in the Carribean islands. We originally had wanted to run a trip in the British Virgin Islands like we did several years ago, but could not drum up enough interest to run a catamaran there. When I read the New York Times article about the SV Illusion, I did a quick computation and realized that the cost of the trip was lower than if I were to charter a boat myself and sail it myself. So on the spur of the moment, I signed Lisa and I up with the Illusion from December 15th to January 2nd.

The flights were uneventful, and we were met at the St. Lucia airport by Peter, a taxi driver sent by the Illusion to pick us up from the airport and deliver us to Rodney Bay where the Illusion was anchored. The weather was a balmy 80 degrees and sunny, but despite the small size of St. Lucia, it took an incredibly long time to drive from the airport to Rodney Bay. Peter was quite garrulous, happy to explain the country and our ship-mates to be, Sarang, who had apparently already made a name for himself.

From St. Vincent and the Grenadines


Upon arrival at Rodney Bay, our driver called Norman and Allison, and we were asked to wait at the H20 bar. There, we ran into Sarang and Zach, who were already on the crew. Zach was near the end of his stay, but Sarang had a few more days with us yet. A little later, Norman and Allison showed up and took us out to a local bar for a drink. Then there was a debate as to whether we would eat on the boat or eat out. Since the crew wanted to eat out, we obliged, but first made a detour to the Illusion to drop off our lugguage.

From St. Vincent and the Grenadines


Stepping onto the Illusion for the first time, I could see that this was truly a working boat: the deck looked well worn, despite being made out of metal, and the interior cabins were tiny, even smaller than the Rya Jen, which I had sailed two years ago. As a treasure hunting boat, the Illusion had hot-bunked a crew of 20, which included divers to dig up treasure from the Atocha off the coast of Florida.

We got ourselves squared away, and headed out to dinner, docking the skiff at the Happy Day bar. Dinner was at a local grill, which served reasonably good food, but did not have prices that kept Norman happy—he had shown up a year ago during their opening sale, and apparently prices were much better. At dinner, Sarang demonstrated himself to be a hard drinking, chain smoking, kleptomaniac professor, by not only ordering drinks and smoking, but also trying to talk us into bringing some extra silverware back to the boat. After dinner, Lisa and I were so tired that we went to the lounge and dozed off, and were awakened to return to the boat after everyone else was done with a round of drinks.

On the way back to the Illusion, however, the skiff ran over some fishing line left by some fisherman, and the propellor ground to a halt. Norman, while trying to unwrap the line, fell into the water, and had to climb back up to the skiff before finally un-fouling the propeller. Fortunately the water was warm and the moon was bright. I had caught a bit of a bug on the plane flights, and upon reaching the Illusion, fell asleep quickly.
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