Brian’s working as a mate on a cool schooner all done up like a
pirate ship that takes cruise ship passengers out on snorkeling tours. His
boss’ name is Burt Reynolds, and that's how we knew that this
job was going to work out well. He and his co-workers pick up
their sleepy passengers from the docks at 9:00AM and take them to
a snorkeling site a couple of miles south of the harbor.
It’s a favorite place of endangered green and leatherback
turtles, and there’s a nice little reef there. Then they
all pile back on the boat, get the rum drinks flowing and sail over to
a picnic lunch at pretty Honeymoon Beach. After
swimming and beach volleyball, it’s a short hop to run the happy,
sunburned tourists back to their giant cruise ship in the main
Brian's office, SILENT LADY, complete with busty figurehead.
The job is an intriguing combination of swinging from halyards,
yelling, swimming with sea turtles, flirting with tipsy old ladies,
cross-dressing and steel boat maintenance. Brian gets to end his
work day by gunning a pirate schooner at full speed through a crowded
anchorage at sunset, blasting rap music all the way back to the
mooring. He friggin’ loves this job.
Brian as "Brianna", his hot sister who hides down below in SILENT LADY until it's time
to sell the women's souvenier t-shirts.
Alicia found work waiting tables in a high-end restaurant. It had
been eight years since she’d waited tables in college, but
it’s a skill like riding a bicycle: master it once, and
it’s yours forever. This restaurant has a menu that changes
every day and the chefs are well-versed in lots of different cuisines,
serving everything from spaetzle to monfongo to unagi to
manicotti! Plus, the wine list is longer than some novels.
Prices are high, and the tips are good. She’s been asking
lots of questions and learning a ton about food from the kitchen staff,
so when she has time for her own galley again, she’ll have a
bunch of new dishes up her sleeve. Louie and Steve are staying
fat and happy with all the steak and fish scraps she brings home for
Alicia basically lives here.
This island is a funny place with
American stores, American money, and American citizens, but some things
about the place are very foreign and even somewhat insane. Take,
for instance, alcohol. There are no open container laws here, the
drinking age is 18, and it is not illegal to hit the sauce while
driving. Repeat: drinking and driving is NOT illegal.
Being intoxicated while driving is a crime, but sipping a beer in
traffic while maintaining a blood alcohol level below the legal limit
is perfectly fine. It is acceptable, and pretty much expected, at
a bar to ask for your last drink to be served in a to-go cup and leave
with it. The first time we asked a bartender for a
“roadie”, we felt the thrill of the forbidden as we walked
through the streets carrying a clear plastic cup of red wine and a
bottle of Sierra Nevada. The thrill is gone now, but it’s
still completely weird to see people putting beers in the cup holders
of their cars as they head home for the night. Certainly these
laws put a whole lot of trust in the good people of this town!
Carry on, guy. You're doing nothing beyond your legal bounds.
Getting around the island is easy. For those without cars to
drink in, there are open-air mini-buses known as
“safaris”. A safari is a heavy-duty truck with
benches and a roof built over the truck bed, forming a sort of trolley
car body that passengers climb in and out of. Each safari is
individually owned and likewise personally decorated by its owner, and
they barrel around on a circular route all over the island from dusk
til dawn. You hop on, push on a buzzer mounted on the roof when
you want to get off, and for $2, you can get yourself all kinds of
places! It’s a surprisingly efficient mass-transit
Get on the bus!
The island is tiny, only slightly bigger than Manhattan, and gorgeous
with high green hills and more than 20 beaches. Iguanas,
mongooses and feral chickens scurry around the place like
squirrels. A good percentage of the local population is
Rastafarian, which means real reggae on the radio stations and a
good health food store (hooray!). Each morning we can see another
string of cruise ships on the horizon pulling into the harbor, getting
ready to offload thousands of tourists anxious to live it up before
moving on to their next destination.
We've had the good fortune of being able to visit with family
and friends over the past couple of months. In December, Alicia
flew home to the states, bearing seashells, a machete and Dominican
coffee to attend the christening of our nephew. Although a giant
snowstorm changed everyone's plans and the christening was cancelled,
it was still a fabulous trip and she got to spend time with lots of
family members. And luckily there was plenty of time at Tom and Angie's
house to play with little Pete
and give him the maracas we got for him in Santo Domingo. Pete,
as is obvious from the photo below, is one cute kid.
A meeting of the minds.
Then in January, our lovely and talented friend Kate came down and
stayed with us for a week! Kate is an old hand at boat living,
having visited us last year in Georgetown, so she settled right in,
bearing paperbacks and coffee from Brooklyn. Kate's just the
best. We caught up, we lounged on beaches, went snorkeling, ate
out, and drove a
Jeep through some crazy hills in St. John, trying not to hit wild
During her visit, two of our favorite
boats happened sail into town: Mike on GAIA and Keli and Stuart
on BEANNACHT! A joyous, boozy reunion was held at Betsy's Bar and
we felt so lucky to be surrounded by great people.
sailed on with friends to St. John, but we got to spend a few days
frolicking in the rain together with Kate, Keli and Stuart. But
it was time for BEANNACHT to move on to St. Martin and for Kate to go
back to New York, and the fun was over. One difficulty of living
this way is constantly being separated from the people you love to be
around: friends and family back home, and the new friends you
meet that move on to places you're not going. But when it does
work out that you do get to see them, it's like a nourishing tonic
for your heart. Distance is no match for real friends,
particularly in this age of
the internet and discount airlines!
Alicia and Kate swimming at Honeymoon Beach on Water Island.
So here we are, anchored in St. Thomas and pooling our tips for a few
months. Not a bad place to spend the winter, really. Things are
going according to plan and the funds are accumulating nicely.
We're happy with our jobs and excitedly planning our getaway in
the spring. One definite perk of staying here for a while is the
abundance of marine stores, hardware stores, and reasonable shipping
rates from the continental US at our disposal. We can resupply and replace
everything that’s worn out or broken throughout our travels
without paying too high a premium. So when we leave here,
SARABANDE should be flush with cash once again, with all systems
replenished and ready to go. But until then, we're plugging away.
Whenever the urge to hoist our sails and blow this joint hits, we just
imagine ourselves clocking in at a suburban Taco Bell, and it gives us
the patience to carry on for a little longer.
Money, cash, hos: living off tips makes you look like a drug dealer when you go to the bank.
It's not as though we don't feel guilty for not updating. To try and compensate, we've added a little retrospective gear write-up
to the PSA section,
along with our raved-about brunch
recipe, and we're working on overhauling the photos section for the
next update, which will NOT take another 4 months to post!
Honest. Pinky swear.
A very happy birthday
to Alicia's mom Belinda on 2/23 and congratulations to Mike Izzi and Jenny Diaz, who will very soon be married!