We are visitors, interlopers between worlds, sailing a bare boat charter through the British Virgin Islands.
We slip through the water below and wind above; shuttling from landfall to bay, mooring to dock for a week. On board you carry your culture with you and only step ashore to pick up supplies, investigate the local watering hole or enjoy a meal. Perhaps it’s that way for ‘live-aboards’ world wide? A sustained mooring might mix worlds more, but for this one week, my home is with this jumbled assortment of travelers assembled to facilitate the journey, share the expenses and crew the boat.
Our hosts have held this dream for years – training and preparing for a bare boat charter. The first launch from Tortolla’s Road Town, was almost anti-climatic for our captain. You dream and prepare so long that when the ship is finally leaving the harbor with the open blue beyond, the calm and perfection of the moment falls to quiet introspection. There is no fanfare, you are just underway. The moment to moment fickle wind becomes your partner and fate lies ahead.
I can’t say how many crews here are so introspective. From the outside they appear a well-mannered lot, private but friendly. Close quarters call for extended courtesy. There were families with small children on board, groups of men escaping responsibilities to wander for awhile, thirty-ish couples politely preparing for launch. There were collections of friends – like us, together to share the experience, crew and enjoy. Many of the boats at the Moorings docks are privately owned and managed in the BVI’s. The catamarans and mono-hulls sit in wait for rental most of the weeks of the year with owners visiting for pre-arranged trips. It’s a symbiotic system, good business and a great write-off, not without risks, for the owners under contract.
On the afternoon we came ashore at the Baths on Virgin Gorda, there were two large yachts tethered forward at the dock. They were glossy and luxurious. We passed a uniformed crewman working on a dinghy fitting and mentioned how beautiful the vessel was, he replied yes, but a lot of work. That was one world of privilege and we were in one too, but keenly aware of the differences. No matter. Life on a bare boat charter in the BVI’s was good.Copyright 2011, Elaine Masters, Trip Wellness Specialist, Yoga Teacher, Award-Winning author of Drivetime Yoga and Flytime Yoga. All rights reserved.