Saturday, April 29, 2017

1980 (23) - Recovery

Parrot Bay - an art quilt by Jean Baardsen

To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

We spent most of the month of July anchored in Road Town, living rather quietly, since Ed couldn't leave the boat.  In the middle of the month a tropical wave passed through.  While a tropical wave is not as bad as a tropical storm, which isn't as bad as a hurricane, it's still lousy weather, with heavy winds and driving rain.  We had to put out a second anchor during the worst of the storm.  Ed, with his back problems, had trouble setting it.  We were only too well aware that Hurricane Season was upon us, and that we would have problems securing the boat if a trip to Hurricane Hole became a necessity. 

Ed had assured me that once the muscle pains in his back eased, it would be the end of his problems.  He’d said the same thing when the pains were in his hip area, but this time he was right; he finally started moving around the boat again.  We left Road Town on July 25th and stopped for a few days at St. Francis Bay on St. John.  The improvement came rapidly.  Ed was once again pacing the deck for exercise and rowing the dinghy into shore - his first time off the boat in 35 days!  From that point on, he steadily improved, walked normally again, and could go for miles at a time.   

Parrot Bay - Detail

Courtesy of our cruising lifestyle, I faced my own “health challenge” – finding an ongoing supply of birth control pills….  Since St. Thomas belongs to the United States, I went ashore in Charlotte Amalie one day, hoping to locate a Family Planning clinic.  I went to the Legislature building, looking for a phone book.  I wanted a number for Planned Parenthood, but didn’t find it listed.  A man working there offered to help me.  He introduced himself as the special assistant to the head of the Senate.  He called around, and found the location for Family Planning.  He ended up driving me there himself!  I think he just wanted to get out of the office for a while.

I made an appointment, and returned on that day.  When I reached Family Planning, I was told the clinic was being held in Frenchtown, which was across town from where I was.  I drove over with three black women.  It turned out they were the nurse (driving), the doctor, and the receptionist.  I carried the black bag!  We opened the clinic, where there were a few other women waiting.  The doctor proceeded to throw a fit.  The water was off – again!  She was yelling about how unsanitary it was for her to examine women without being able to wash her hands in between.  No kidding!  There was a water cooler at the clinic.  The doctor would take a cup of water to use with each patient.  I was glad I was the second patient.  I had the exam, and got six months of birth control pills.  Even that took some talking.  Three months of pills was the limit they were allowed to hand out at one time. 

Parrot Bay - Detail

July 28th was Hurricane Supplication Day in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  It's when everyone gets the day off from work to supplicate the gods for safekeeping from the hurricanes.  One week later Hurricane Allan (the worst of the century, topping the previous year's Hurricane David) blew into the Caribbean.  Someone in the Virgin Islands must have prayed effectively, because Hurricane Allan stayed well to the south of the Virgins, merely causing bad squalls in our area.  To be on the safe side, we motored over to Hurricane Hole on St. John.  We secured Tropic Moon with three anchors, and three lines to shore.  While there, taking advantage of the calm waters, we worked from the dinghy and painted the second half of the topsides.  Compared with the previous year, very few boats bothered to take the trouble to leave their regular anchorages.

While in Hurricane Hole, we ran into some people we’d met briefly in Antigua in February.  Jerry and Martin were living on a sailboat, Travel.  In May they’d decided to sail to the Chesapeake Bay, by way of Bermuda.  Bermuda is 600 miles due north of the Virgin Islands.  They liked Bermuda and stayed for five weeks.  While there, they learned that Martin could have a job on Tortola as a mechanic with a bare-boat charter company – so they sailed straight back to the Virgins.  I was somewhat aghast at the thought of sailing 1200 miles of open water, and ending up right back where you’d started.  Martin and Jerry were from England.  They’d crossed the Atlantic three times, so it wasn’t anything to them.  They told us they were staying semi-permanently at Maya Cove, on Tortola.  We said we’d look them up.

Waiting out Hurricane Season, we spent August through October cruising the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.  It was a relaxing time, and a nice change not having to face any new islands, with the attendant problems of locating food, water, and marine supplies.  Our sailing was measured in terms of a few hours, rather than a few days.  After spending our second summer in the Virgins, we knew the islands well enough that we seldom took out a chart.

No comments: