To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.
For the second year in a row, we anticipated leaving the islands and sailing Tropic Moon up to the States. The window of opportunity, weather-wise, would be May and June. The month of April passed without us knowing if we’d be making the passage, or if we’d settle in the British Virgin Islands for a year, with Ed working for Mike Masters at Nautool Machine, Ltd.
Though Mike would have preferred a trained machinist, he could see Ed’s potential. He also needed immediate help in the shop. After a trial week, both Mike and Ed decided it was a go. From Ed’s point of view, it was a golden opportunity to learn machining because of the wide range of work Mike did for the boating industry. And not only would Ed be learning, but getting money for it too! Ed was paid on a project-by-project basis, rather than receiving a regular salary, and it worked out well for both Ed and Mike.
That decided, Mike needed approval from the local government to hire Ed. Mike first had to prove he needed assistance, and that there wasn't a local resident who could do the work Ed would be doing. Once Mike got the verbal approval from the Labor Department to hire Ed, they started the paperwork to get the work permit. Our visas had just expired, so Ed and I took a few days to sail to St. Thomas to apply for new visas.
While Ed's job at Nautool was in Road Town, we decided to continue living in Maya Cove, about ten miles from town. Two men on other boats in the anchorage had jobs at a bare boat charter company in Road Town. Both Tony and Martin had cars, and Ed commuted to work with them. In a small anchorage like Maya Cove, everyone knew everyone else. One couple, Ronnie and John, were expecting their first child. One morning when the fellows were getting ready to head to work, Tony came by in his dinghy to pick up Ed, and then went to Travel to pick up Martin. John called them over to his boat, and John and Ronnie also climbed into the dinghy. Ronnie's water had broken during the night. Martin was driving that day, so he dropped Tony off at the charter company, dropped Ed off at Nautool, and then took John and Ronnie on to the hospital. They had a baby girl they named Kylie.
Ed was soon busy at Nautool. One Friday toward the end of April, the Bomba Charger, one of the large ferryboats that ran between Tortola and St. Thomas, lost its propeller shaft. This was a major emergency, and Mike and Ed worked all Friday night on the project. Ed didn’t get back to Tropic Moon till 6:30 Saturday morning. I wasn’t happy he’d worked all night, but I was somewhat mollified to learn that Mike had paid Ed $20/hour for the ten hours. Ed earned $200 for the night, which was about what he got for a whole week of work!
I was missing my family. Since we weren’t going to be sailing Tropic Moon to the States, I decided to fly home for the month of June. My plan was to stay with my sister in Virginia, and see both my parents, and Ed’s parents, while I was stateside.