Dang, You Trashy!

I keep my politics private. A big mystery among my friends is which side of the aisle do I lean. My Republican friends tell me jokes about the left. My Democrat friends joke about the right. It’s as if I am the human form of Switzerland. In reality, it’s more like I am a private island.

Do you know what I have found on every island around the world that I’ve visited? Trash: 

Some of my favorite people are trashy. But that doesn’t mean they throw plastic out and about. Last year I posted a blog article about waterway trash pickup meetups. A lot has changed since then.

These days, when I’m in town, I co-host a Saturday beach clean-up in Miami. It is on Key Biscayne at the Bill Baggs State Park, to be exact. Every weekend we go out with our buckets and long-handle grabbers. Every weekend we return with full buckets of plastics.

The Beach Cleanup Meetup

One misconception that I’ve learned is about plastic straws. Rarely do I find those on the beach. The politics of the matter will steer the topic to the left or the right. “It’s because more people are using paper straws.” “It’s because the turtles are eating them before they make it to the beach.” See, even that can be polarized. The real question is, do you really need a straw at all? It’s more of a want than a necessity. I will argue that there are reasonable conditions for straws. I’m referring to the ADA. (You just googled ADA, didn’t you? Good, you probably should. That’s why I placed it there.)

The thing I find the most on the beach are bottle caps. Yep, those little things that go on top of the water and soda bottles. This is another good reason to drink beer on the beach or a boat. Skip the plastic and reach for the glass option.

A Tale of Two Pizza’s

The choice is thick or thin. Families have been at stalemate for centuries with knife and fork in hand.

The thing to know about pizza is that there is no middle ground for thick or thin. As you read this, you already know your favorite style. Unless God forbid, you are a carb counting, card-carrying, cauliflower crust loving Karen! If that’s you, go ahead and stop reading now.


For the rest of us, we want flavor. We like cheese, especially for Americans; we want every topping, including the kitchen sink on our pizza. I mean, can you really be a Fun-guy without mushrooms?
For me, I’ve always favored thick crust, double mozzarella, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, and dare I say it… pineapple. Yep there it is. Perfection.


During a recent trip up North, I started daydreaming about pizza. I messaged friends who I know live or have lived in Chicago, asking for authentic deep-dish pizza location recommendations. They all messaged back with the name Lou Malnati’s. With an honorable mention, they named Giordanos as their second choice.
From where I was in Michigan, I charted my course to the Windy City. It was three states and two hours away. With a full tank of gas and an address plugged into my GPS, I was on my way.

Peroni Italian Beer


Chicago signage has a sense of nostalgia. Maybe it reminded me of the way Hollywood portrays the strong economic era before the 2nd World War. Strong, confident, and welcoming. The sign to Malnati’s is no different. It beckoned me from across the street as soon as I saw it.


I was that guy. I was the hungry guy who followed my nose through the front door. My timing was perfect. It was that sweet spot between lunch and dinner. Lucky me, they had a table at their rollup glass garage door. On a 1-10 level of food excitement, I was a 10. So excited that I ordered two pizzas. I wanted to experience all of it.

Two authentic Chicago Deep Dish pizzas


The uniqueness of Lou’s is the Butter Crust. It coats your fingers and prepares your tastebuds for the boldness of the pie. I chose “The Malnati.” The sausage had a little kick that made my nose run before I finished my first slice; thats a good thing. Along with the vine tomato sauce and extra cheese, it would be hard to beat. My second pizza choice was “The Lou,” named after the founder. In my opinion, this is an excellent complement to the first pie. The three kinds of cheese bridged the void from the plate to my mouth. Add the flavor of spinach, garlic, basil, onion, mushrooms, and sliced tomatoes!!! Yes, please.
I washed everything down with an Italian beer and took in the moment. I was sitting in Chicago and happy in a food coma on deep-dish pizza.

Your turn, what and where is your favorite pizza?

Food Pirates

The Food Pirates stole my journal. Time for a fresh start on our culinary journey.

Last month my travel journal fell into the hands of food pirates. Wait, you have never heard of them? Seriously, they are real. You may not realize it yet, but I bet you have been a victim of them at some point.

Think about it. Have you ever looked at your dinner plate and said, “there is no way I ate all that.” Or maybe your best friend had already ordered her third margarita when you didn’t see her pound the second one. And let’s not forget about the late nights you are standing in front of an open refrigerator, staring at the old cheese beside a half-empty White Claw. Yep, it’s all because of those sneaky Food Pirate bastards stealing things off our plates and tables, robbing us of the things we love most. Maybe a better term would be “Pie Rats”.

You may have seen glimpses of my travel journal on older Facebook posts. During my travels, I’d jot down notes of things I was seeing, hearing, smelling. Lots of times, I would even try to draw out the moments. They are great memories. I guess it was time to retire that book.

The best things in the world happen at a dinner table, and I believe every meal has a story. Here’s a toast to the next year full of recipes and new friends. Let’s start.

Page 1, CHICAGO-

The Aquatramp Life

Introducing Coco and her first blogpost. Her professional manner of framing the fabric of the Aquatramp lifestyle leads us to believe she will be a regular onboard Sapphire Catamaran.

The Blog post entitles “My Week With Three Women” … I’m one of those women. My name is Coco, and much like Captain Gary, I love to share laughs, stories, and hospitality. Let me tell you how three women from Philly found themselves living on a catamaran for over a week and planning their first sailing trip. My and Hanna’s Week began on February 26th on the West Coast of Florida in Tampa for a bachelorette party. Getting smoke bombed by the police to get off the streets after a night out on the town and boating to an island with a random pet pig where the bride-to-be fell off a jet ski and scraped up AND broke her left hand (yes, the one with the ring) wasn’t enough of a Florida experience for us. Hanna and I stayed beyond the bachelorette weekend looking for more adventure. Adventure we found disguised with the names Gary, Sapphire, and Aquatramp. I originally found Gary through the Couchsurfing App. Our flight was for a few days after that and we also wanted to visit my grandparents so we asked to stay one night (the night of a shuttle launch)! The launch was canceled and rescheduled for the following week so we thought it best to also reschedule our flights and convince our third Stooge to join us. April, the third Stooge, was just finishing her 3-month working in Yellowstone National Park Experience and was eager to get home and see her family and bunny. Insert Coco and Hanna calling and relentlessly pressuring April to join us in the sun. Having spent 3 months in cold Yellowstone, she happily caved and joined us. Thus, began a week living on a boat with three women and a Gary. 

The Three Amigas

Food is an important part of the Aquatramp lifestyle. Considering I have a background in cooking breakfast (my parents had a diner… yes I am Greek), every morning I cooked breakfast. Every evening we all cooked dinner together like a family and it was magical. Gary organized a cookout the evening of the rescheduled shuttle launch and many other boaters came. 

Friends from around the world

We did quite a lot in this week and a half. Gary showed us Playalinda at the Canaveral National Seashore where the shuttles launch. He took us to St Augustine and showed us around town and we went to a Reagea Sunday party. We watched a shuttle launch. We had a cook out. My friends and I are a drinking/dancing group, so we did that too! When we weren’t off the boat, we were on the boat and wishing we didn’t have to get off the boat and onto a plane.

Boat Daze

We met people from all different walks of life who really make you reflect and learn: a women in her 70’s who lives in a hippie camp, a lovely French couple and their dog with many stories, a man from Jamaica who did not understand personal boundaries (this was not on the boat), a nomadic couple who have overcome challenges and still offer nothing but gratitude and love, a man with a beautiful wife and children and a new baby pig (not the same pig from Tampa), and of course Gary. Gary, is the epidemy of southern hospitality. One of his goals is for the Sapphire to become a place where people can let go of the stresses of life, meditate in any way-shape-form they’d like, and leave with a therapeutic experience as a happier person. I can say I have done just that, and I thank Gary greatly. Whether our future trips pan out or not, I have met a lifetime friend and hope and encourage you all to step aboard the Sapphire and experience the Aquatramp lifestyle. 

Feeding the Crew

You know Gary, if you don’t you should change that. Thanks for reading and getting to know the three girls who nearly implemented squatters’ rights. I am Coco (the short blond), a General Manager of a waterpark, Hanna (the tall Ginger) is a bartender, and April (with the glasses) is a flight attendant. We are grateful to have jobs that allow us to have adventures like this and never plan to stop exploring.

How high can we fly?
A baby pig that made a surprise visit
Breakfast on Sapphire Catamaran

Hola Chica

Songs to Strip By, Part 2, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Making new friends with guns. I woke rested and eager to get to the boat, but first thing first, breakfast!

Songs to Strip By, Part 2, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Making new friends with guns.

I woke rested and eager to get to the boat, but first thing first, breakfast! The hotel provided a traditional Caribbean breakfast with lots of fruits and juices, and I was in heaven. Looking like a Hollywood American, I rushed into the lobby. With my aviator sunglasses covering my eyes and a piece of toast hanging out of my mouth, I darted for the main entrance to grab a taxi. Steps away from the door, I hear the concierge call out, “Capitan!”, “a message!”

Day Two, Track Four: 2018’s song, Nice For What by Drake

Waiting outside was my driver in what looked like a very well kept Louis Vuitton hat and a big smile from ear to ear. His task was to spend the day showing me the city of Santo Domingo until we were called to the marina.
Our first stop was the Amber Museum, an educational location with lots of cool pieces of… amber. It was wild to see historic insects and critters frozen in this hard sap.

Day Two, Track Five: 1996’s song Pony by Ginuwine

The second stop was at the county’s capital building. It seemed my driver knew everyone in the city. We found a restaurant across the street and had lunch with a few of the guards.
With a full belly of Locrio de Pollo and a few Presidente cerveza’s to wash it down, we headed onward. Then the next stop was something I would never have imagined and honestly didn’t know in the Dominican Republic.

Columbus’s ashes

The Faro a Colon, Christopher Columbus Lighthouse. It could be the famous or infamous explorers’ final resting place. A tomb with what I can describe as a seafarer’s chest sits encircled at the intersection of a massive cruciform. Inside the chest are the ashes that some say are ol’ Chris. Each October, the chest is opened for a few moments to reveal the contents.

Day Two, Track Six: 2019’s song La Romana by Bad Bunny feat. El Alfa

As the sun was setting, I was under the impression that the boat would once again not be arriving, if there was even a boat at all.

Presidente Cerveza

Intermission… enjoy the track Unforgettable from French Montana featuring Swae Lee.

The sun dipped behind the mountains, and Leo, the driver, had an outdoor sports bar in mind for a few cold beers off the clock. Thunder rumbled in the distance as we walked up and grabbed a picnic table outside. This storm plays a vital role later in the night. The smell of food grilling nearby teases my appetite. Halfway through the first beer is when the rain hit, and we ran for the Escalade! “I know where we’ll go,” Leo said as we pulled out of the parking lot.

Track Ocho: 2017’s Swalla by Jason Derulo feat. Nicki Minaj

To be continued… next, the Brazilian woman who stole my heart but not my wallet in the brothel.

My Week with Three Women

I survived a week with three amazing women from Philly. These friends have been traveling to the far-flung corners of the globe. They are independent, bold, loud, and remarkable.

I survived! I survived a week with three amazing women from Philly. These friends have been traveling to the far-flung corners of the globe. They are independent, bold, loud, and remarkable.

At a warehouse afterparty in St Augustine, Florida.


Originally Coco and Hanna had only booked to stay one night on the catamaran while in Florida during a bachelorette trip. One night led to three nights. Three nights led to inviting April. All in all, the girls stayed over a week. Not once did I feel that they had worn out their welcome.
Quickly I realized how much I enjoyed having them aboard. We ate like Kings and Queens for every breakfast and dinner.

April and June, on hold using the “Red Phone”


The three girls were so very different on the individual level, but so much alike. Whatever magic they had worked. Not once did I hear them argue or pick a fight. Their differences in music, books, and fashion seemed to be scripted from a blockbuster movie. I enduringly started calling them The Powerpuff Girls.

You can’t always see their wings, but their wings are always there.


They like to think of themselves as cold-hearted, ruthless, no-chill… but I caught glimpses otherwise. I saw hearts bigger than I can ever hope to have myself. They were about having experiences and making the most out of life. Within that week, I learned so much about sharing. They didn’t have a mean bone in their body, and like the Grinch’s heart grew, so did mine.
From the cookout to the rocket launch, from Reggae Sunday to our beach day, I never want to forget those special moments. Wherever you go, you will have a friend in me.
I’ve invited them back to the boat later this year for some Caribbean sailing. And just as I hoped, they have already started a list of what will be needed in the boat’s galley to continue our daily routine of starting with a great breakfast.

Doing what they do best, smiling, laughing, and dancing.

Thank you Philly, and thank you Coco, Hanna, and April, for being you.

Pura Vida

Guest writer Captain Chris writes about his honeymoon with best friend Holly to Costa Rica. The culinary experience and fishing adventure is a dream destination.

Costa Rica: You had Our hearts @ “Pura Vida” 

We awoke with pure excitement after only getting a few hours of sleep from enjoying the magnificent Central American inspired dinner the night before!  Juan Carlos, our personal Waiter, ensured we would have the most delightful time from making his custom guacamole that was only to embellish the encore of fresh perfectly blackened Tuna and Mahi served over some of the best rice I have ever experienced.  And for dessert, a flambe style bananas foster served tableside, a true dining experience that has only been surpassed once in our travels… but that was at a castle that I will detail in a future post!  With the illustration of such a meal leaves to question “what could be more exciting for the day ahead?”  Holly and my first Billfishing adventure!  An experience I have been waiting my whole life to enjoy and now that I was able to enjoy it with my newly married Best Friend, an epic day surly awaited us!

Chef Juan Carlos
Preparing Bananas Foster

I. Juan Carlos Preparing Bananas Foster! 

Now it was a new morning and we awoke to a breakfast served on a porch manufactured from the Guanacaste trees that are native to that area of Costa Rica of our secluded hut; fresh squeezed juices and some of the best coffee I have ever enjoyed had us prepared to meet the man who I had been conversing with for 2 months about this fishing trip, Captain Rick Bergstresser of Rhino Charger fishing charters.  Rick soon picked us up in front of our abode and we were off into the unknown adventure to be had.   We met our Mate for the day, Victor, and the diesels were sounded off, warmed up, and the with the smell of rigged Ballyhoo invading the air we watched Victor take control of his station and begin to check lines while setting the reel drags in preparation or deploying our baits.  

Within minutes the Captain had spotted a Whale cruising the Tamarindo Beach and after we were blessed with a couple of amazing breaches, we settled in for the ride to the fishing grounds.  With upmost excitement Holly hit me on the shoulder and exclaimed “LOOK!” as a school of a hundred or more Porpoises made their way jumping from wave to wave!  Suddenly the 34’ Island Hopper designed fishing machine was slowed and lines were set in hopes of a Tuna or Mahi that may have been running with the Porpoises.  Quick action on the fishing front like we had hoped for was not on the agenda for our mid-July day, but with fishing anyone who has partaken in the: hobby, sport, lifestyle…the Angler knows it is a true labor of patience. Holly and I settled into the enjoyment of where we were and the fact that we were there together and loving the fact we were living life; when the reel began to scream and within seconds Holly was in the fighting chair hooked into a massive Pacific Sailfish.  Line continued to peel off the reel as the Captain skillfully worked the boat into the perfect position for her to successfully bring the behemoth boat-side.  This was where the testament to Victor’s fervor came into play and he did not disappoint!  With his help we were able to not only bring Holly’s first Sailfish boatside but Victor made it possible to capture one of the most cherished photos we have to this day! 

Holly in the Fighting Chair
Holly, Captain Chris, and Victor with Holly’s first Sailfish!

II  Holly, Capt. Chris, and Victor with Holly’s first Sailfish!!

This day was already one of the best days of our lives, and as we sat there on the boat remembering the fight of the fish, laughing and preparing our story to illustrate the battle and the conquering of this awesome catch, Holly and I enjoyed a fresh cut chilled watermelon with the Captain and Mate.  The Imperial beers went down smooth in the hot Costa Rican sun as we were really starting to realize just how special this day was, how could it get any better?!  “DOUBLE!!!” that’s right! 2 reels had the drag screaming and line peeling off, Holly was back in the chair, throwing watermelon over the side as pure excitement overtook her.  I was handed the other rod and as I got into the stand-up fighting position my line went slack, this day the Wife was going to show the Husband how fish catching was done!   Holly got into her rhythm and really put on a show of true professional angling skills!   This battle went on a bit longer as this fish seemed to really want to give Holly the fight she was looking for!  30 minutes passed and then an hour, some action shots were photographed, and before we knew it, Victor had us in a perfect photo opportunity once again!  

Captain Chris, Holly, and Victor pose with Holly’s 2nd Sailfish!

III Victor, Holly, and Capt. Chris with Holly’s 2nd Sailfish

We simply could not believe how fortunate we had been: to find each other, to be blessed with the ability that we were able to be where we were, to be living out a dream to be boating the beautiful creatures!!!  As we brought the lines in and put up the tackle to make our way back to the shore we were graced once again by more of the playful Porpoises making their way from swell to swell; we discussed the fact of how could this Honeymoon get any more perfect –which we were soon to discover—as this was our second day of two weeks in this literally unbelievable country that we had found ourselves enamored with! 

Hide and Seek with Octopi

Part 2 is about the other islands I visited were the vanilla grow, the pearls develope, and a shark who got a little too friendly.

French Polynesia, Part Deux

If you would like to refresh your memory of part one, you can find it here. An Embarrassment of Manta Rays.

The next flight landed on the island of Raiatea, where we were able to stock up on groceries before catching the ferry boat. While waiting on the ferry, we had time to rest and fill our appetite with freshly baked bread at a local bakery. Just the smell of the warm croissants alone made my mouth water.

Waiting at the airport, French Polynesian style.


Looking like pack mules, we trudged to the government dock for the scheduled boat that would take us across the water to the island of Tahaa. Here we spent the next two days napping in our travel hammocks at the edge of a private wooden dock. The view from there was more than I expected. One day after lunch, I sat lost in my thoughts, staring down at the reef only a few inches below the water. I watched a clownfish swim back and forth, in and out of the anemone. They share a special relationship with helping each other live their best life. As little Nemo was dancing with the current, I was caught off guard when the reef adjusted it’self beside of him. However, it wasn’t a reef at all. It was a small octopus who had been there camouflaged the whole time. Before long, it was time to let my aquatic friends go back to their secret life of hide and seek.

Life is all around us. Do you spot the octopus? Hint, there are two!


The same ferry picked us up for the return trip to Raiatea. This time we spoilt ourselves to a small resort bungalow for several nights. It was heaven having air conditioning and lounging around a swimming pool. From the west coast of Raiatea, you can see Mt Otemann. A 2,385′ (727 meter) dormant volcano on the island of Bora Bora in the distance.

The rains pass quickly and continue to feed the impressive waterfalls on Ta’haa.

On to the island of Huahine. There we were met at the airport by our host. She first drove us to markets where we stocked up on supplies such as vegetables, fresh fish, and beverages. Next, we loaded everything into a small skiff that would deliver us to a private motu where we would be left alone as the only two people on an island for the next four days.

I cooked fresh Tuna and coconuts on the open fire outside of our thatched hut.


It was pure bliss. If you ever need to unplug and get away to decompress, I highly recommend doing it in the South Pacific on a little private island without any electricity or phones. We cooked on an open fire, skinny-dipped, and star gazed during the nights, all protected by a reef that encircled the island. On the outside of the reef, there be sea monsters! On the inside of the reef was peaceful and safe… or so I thought.
On our last day, we decided on one last swim in the lagoon. With our snorkel and mask, we explored the shallows. As time was running out, we turned to the beach and floated, taking our time and squeezing every last minute. As I was about to stand up, I looked over and saw a Black Tip shark on patrol. I had no idea how long he had been swimming with us, but it seemed that I was more curious about him than he was of me.

Back to Tahiti for our final night in French Polynesia. Papeete seemed like a megacity after being out on the smaller islands for the last two weeks. Cars were zipping around us, buildings were taller than two stories, and the smells were more industrial. We found a bar near the hotel with live music playing outside. That beer mug was the coldest thing in the city. I enjoyed it and daydreamed of one day sailing back to the very spot I was sitting.

It was the coldest beer in the South Pacific.

Christmas Down Under

A few years ago, I spent Christmas in NYC. The entire city covered in beautiful decorations, crowds buzzing with excitable anticipation, the smells of home-cooked meals filling the air. And as much fun as it was running around town like I was Kevin McCallister, it just wasn’t the same as the Australian summertime Christmas I’m used to. We have some pretty unique traditions down here that may seem a little odd to those of you in the northern hemisphere!

Santa in shorts

For starters, it’s too bloody hot, so Santa ditches the britches for shorts and sandals. Pretty flip floppin’ festive!

It’s quite rare to see a group of carol singers wandering the neighbourhoods. Instead, our bush fire brigade pimp their fire trucks with tinsel and lights, one of the crew dresses up as Santa, and they drive around the streets handing out candy canes.

You know those awkward family portraits people get every year with mall Santa? How much better are they when you take them down on the beach! Although it would seem that no matter what country you’re in, there’s always one screaming kid in the photo!

We adapt the lyrics of traditional carols to suit our climate. We’re pretty proud of our version of 12 Days of Christmas with the ‘six sharks a-surfing.’

There aren’t any reindeer in the Southern Hemisphere, so it’s kangaroos pulling our sleighs. Rod the Roo has us covered.

And the night before Christmas, forget leaving out milk and cookies. The kangaroos are happy with grass, and Santa is left an ice-cold beer. Cheers mate!

With no snow around, we opt to build a Sandman!

No holly or mistletoe here, our decorations are made using beautiful native Australian flowers.

Ugly sweaters? Pffft, you’ll be lucky if we even wear shirts!

Prawn

When the weather is so beautiful outside, the last thing you want is to be trapped in the kitchen cooking a hot meal. Instead, we do an early morning prawn run (a dash to the market to buy some fresh prawns) and cook them up on the bbq to have with fresh salads. Go on; I know you’re already desecrating my accent with your ‘throw another shrimp on the barbie’ impression.

Yum!

Who wants pudding when it’s the season for beautiful fresh fruit. A pavlova covered in colourful fruit goes down a real treat. The great debate about whether this is an Aussie or a Kiwi invention is real. We add a little kiwi fruit to ours just in case.

After a big Christmas lunch, what do you usually do? Take a nap by the fire? Not us. We’re up having a game of cricket on the beach or in the backyard. Wheelie bin wickets for the win!

Backyard Cricket

Then it’s time to cool down – a swim, a water fight, running through the sprinkler in your underwear or sliding down the Crocodile Mile (our version of a slip and slide)

Ahhhh… There’s nothing quite like an Aussie Christmas.

Have you ever celebrated Christmas in a warm country? Maybe next year you can join us for Christmas on the boat. We’ll be basking in the Caribbean sunshine somewhere, celebrating with a fusion of international Christmas traditions. Vegemite cocktails, anyone?

Santa surfing

*** Editors Note: Americans should know that Aussies use the word Prawn instead of shrimp. Hollywood tricked us in believing the popular phrase “throw another shrimp on the barbie.” I myself, have been schooled by Nat, with a waving finger and the stink eye. ***

Bom Dia- Lisbon, Portugal

The bus sighed as the transmission geared into neutral and the brakes set. Fellow travelers waited their turn before standing, grabbing overhead bags, and waddled to the door. Each one of us left the bus and immediately started stretching as we waited for the driver to unload the luggage.
I had been sailing on a relatively small sailing yacht for the last five weeks. The guys on the boat, for the most part, had become a functioning unit. To rest in the middle of the ocean, you must hand over your safety to a stranger. Trust builds. Respect earns respect.

Welcome to Lisbon. I was alone in a new country, and desperately in need of a haircut. A Tuk Tuk took me to my hotel, The Lisbon Heritage. Once I was in my chamber, I noticed the nothingness. The silence of the void of my crew was deafening. I needed a walk.
Armed with sunglasses, a map of the city, and a few Portuguese words jotted down on a folded piece of notebook paper, I headed off to the main square.
The city was active. My head was on a swivel looking at the architecture. Noticeably anyone could tell that a massive party involved the entire city and not been long past. Portugal had won the FIFA World Cup less than 24 hours prior. The country was hungover.

A few hours were spent combing the main square and waterfront before returning to the hotel to prepare for dinner. Lisbon is known the world over for the quality of fish served in restaurants. The decision on where to dine took time, and the reservations made.
Sacramento do Chiado is a respectable restaurant that is now in what was once the palace stables in the 18th-century — hidden up a stone street and a block away from most eyes. When I say up a street, I mean up a street. The city is vertical, not far from the water.

Once I was seated inside, the room seemed to breathe. Large red curtains draped the walls. An open-air staircase was the artery delivering the dishes from the “cozinha” to the tables, upstairs. Eating solo is not uncomfortable for me. Lots of time, the experience allows me to enjoy the presentation of the meal, the flavors, and the atmosphere.
The meal ordered in three courses arrived separately after I slowly enjoyed bread and wine.
The first plate was Goat Cheese lightly breaded, and Strawberry Jam.
The Main plate was Tuna with local wine.
Followed by Pears seared in vino.

Stop right there. At this point, I must say that this meal was absolutely worth the 10 minutes walk in the wrong direction before realizing I needed to turn around to retrace my steps.
With a full belly, I returned to the hotel and collapsed on what seemed to be the most generous bed(s) ever for the night. The next day I would grab a cab to the airport for another flight to a new country.

Will you please pass the jelly?

It was several months before Hurricane Irma hit the coastal town of Tortola, British Virgin Islands, and I was flying from New Orleans to inspect a catamaran for a possible purchase. At the time, I was in the market to acquire a late model catamaran in the 40′ to 50′ range. The BVI and the USVI are home to several large charter fleets. The yachts in the businesses are shined, maintained, and regularly used by folks on holiday and vacation. The two main reasons to charter a new boat are A) It’s cheaper than owning a new vessel, especially if you are only available to enjoy sailing a limited time each year. B) Folks who will be buying a new boat may want to test drive a similar model to compare before taking the plunge.

Lagoon and Leopard both make quality products. They are built in France and South Africa, respectfully. On this specific trip, I arranged to meet up with a broker from one of the famous charter groups on the island. He and I had been in communication via email over several weeks before the trip on a modist Lagoon 420. The broker was always punctual with answers to questions and sent extra photos when asked, even making travel and accommodation suggestions.

On a three day weekend with an Airbnb booked, flights arranged, and a backpack slung over my shoulder, I traveled to the islands. New Orleans to Ft Lauderdale, to San Juan, to Tortola. With each flight, the planes were smaller and smaller until the last aircraft had seats for six passengers. Early the next morning, I woke with an island roster outside my window, crowing to announce the Saturday sunrise. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I ran down the stairs, and in this case, halfway down the mountain. The marina was still asleep when I arrived but lucky for me a bakery was nearby. Loaded up with fresh pastries, I waited eagerly.

Two hours later, the broker and I had preformed our walk around on the boat. Peeking under floorboards and behind engine parts, we were ready to untie the dock lines and go for a sail.

The sail and inspection did not disappoint. It was a beautiful day, the boat handled as expected, and the broker was respectful. We returned to the dock and secured the small ship. The rest of the day, I wandered the town taking in the sights, sounds, and flavors. A famous establishment most sailors visit is Pusser’s. The name comes from the historic British Rum once rationed on HMS ships. Notably, the Painkiller should be on your drink bucket list.

That night as I pondered of the possible purchase, I danced and made friends in town, I was even introduced to and shook hands with the BVI’s Premier, The Honourable Orlando Smith. Everything seemed right, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on a feeling that was in my gut. It wasn’t the plantains that I had for dinner, it was something else.

A week later, back in the states, it was time to decide on buying the boat. Still, my gut was telling me to wait. I phoned the broker and passed on the deal. Remember I mentioned Hurricane Irma? Not many weeks after my decision to explore other boats elsewhere, the weather system took a violent turn slamming all of the northern islands and leaving destruction from the infamous Irma. Who knows what the fate of that vessel would have been if a different decision would have been made? Note to self, always trust that inner intuition.