The world continues to be in dire straits economically, we are told. But this season the Virgin Islands charter boat industry has been booming. Charlie has never seen more boats in the anchorages and more and more folks are coming to learn how to sail and eventually go cruising. So is the economy not as bad as we are told or is it so bad that people are looking for a desirable alternative?
Jimmy Buffett is the champion of Caribbean escapism – he’s made a fortune at it. His message is that a change in latitude will bring a change in attitude. If life gets to be too much of a burden ‘Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw’ or how about a ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’…?
Cheeseburger in Paradise actually relates to how Jimmy ran out of fresh food on a voyage to the BVI and subsisted on peanut butter and a few leftover cans. He started dreaming of that American iconic dish and when he finally tied up at the new Village Cay Marina (1978) in Road Town, he headed straight to the restaurant. “We gave particular instructions to the waiter on how we wanted them cooked and what we wanted on them – to which little attention was paid. It didn’t matter. The overdone burgers on the burned, toasted buns tasted like manna from heaven, for they were the realization of my fantasy burgers on the trip.” The song made him an international megastar.
Charlie remembers arriving in St Thomas in the early 70s. “It was paradise. The weather was warm, the sun shone nearly all the time, clothes and shoes were unnecessary, rum was cheap, the girls were easy and you could buy 25c cans of cold beer from vending machines. Not only that, the Caribbean work ethic was ‘laidback’. But the one essential item was a boat: a boat on which to live and a boat on which to sail. Hey, warm trade winds blow nearly all the time – from the same direction; the Caribbean is made for sailors.”
In the early 70s it was necessary to know navigation the traditional way – with compass, RDF and sextant. Nowadays, navigation is done for you with high-tech devices. To enjoy the boating life in the Caribbean today your expertise must change. It would be wise to know how to find and fix problems yourself because there are numerous gadgets, gorbles and gilhickies. If you have unlimited time and riches, you can get someone else to do it but that is a dubious option if you’re miles from anywhere.
If you’re a musician or budding songwriter perhaps you could take a leaf out of Jimmy Buffett’s book. Charlie has been racking his brain to find a potential hit song to make millions to finance his sailing lifestyle … and he came up with: ‘Horsemeat Pattie, GM Pickle and High Fructose Ketchup’. Irresistible, eh? But just in case this doesn’t hit the No. 1 spot, he plans to find a rich and sexy first mate itching to spend her bulging bank account on their new life in paradise.
Charlie admits it may take a while!
Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.