It was my first stop in the Caribbean, and I was instantly blown away, not literally but the trade winds were noticeable from the start. As was a bright blue sky, the navy-blue water, swaying palm trees and the enveloping warmth of a perfect twenty-eight degrees. This was heaven! And a far cry from the cold of Britain, where a summer might reach the twenties – on a good day when it wasn’t raining! Wind and sun -this was novel.
As our small plane landed, only just stopping before the tarmac met the sea, we watched with hilarity as the luggage was unloaded. No baggage carts, everything was dumped into or onto the truck, even on the hood. The driver, unable to see anything, followed instructions called to him by another guy walking alongside. A cheerful West Indian, who, like the majority of the population, knew how to combine work and relaxation.
‘Welcome to the Caribbean!’ the customs officer grinned, although I’m not sure if the grin was his natural predisposition, or the sight of my passport photo. But I didn’t care. I was in the Caribbean. I had arrived!
My luggage hadn’t.
‘What do you mean it’s not there?’ I cried. ‘It was there in San Juan, it can’t have fallen from the plane mid-flight!’
‘Don’t worry, it’s no problem, mon!’ I was told. A phrase I was to hear often over the coming months. ‘It’ll turn up in a day or so. ‘appens all de time, mon.’
A day or so? This was not the start I’d been hoping for. Fortunately, my backpack, with all my clothes, toiletries etc arrived on the next flight and was delivered to The Moorings wihtout much delay.
The Moorings, the marina from which our yachts were hired, was to be our base for the next couple of months. And I was astounded. Two long arms formed the marina, from which vast numbers of clean, white yachts sat stern to. Even in my limited experience of yacht marinas, I could tell I was looking at several million dollars’ worth of boating heaven.
‘Here we are. Home sweet home!’ said Tom, our director. ‘Get on board and settle in. We have a team meeting in thirty minutes.’
‘Home sweet home’ was Perseverance, a Morgan 50. Fifty feet of plastic, stainless steel and crisp white sails. I chose a birth up forward, dropped my flight bag on the bunk and took in my surroundings. The boat seemed huge! Little did I know how small it would come to feel in the coming weeks.