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A Day on the Wild Coast

Life is like a dry gully in the desert. Nothing happens for long dull periods of drought. Then suddenly alarm bells are ringing , the sky is falling and a torrent comes barreling down the gully - everything at once.

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Congo Cay

Back in the seventies, we lived at Lovango Cay, the largest off the Cays that form the northern border of Pillsbury Sound, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.It was a hardscrabble life in some ways. No matter, it was our brave new world—and the bes

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The Tire Iron

Editor’s note:  This article previously appeared in Peter Muilenburg’s book, “Adrift on a Sea of Blue Light.” It’s a funny thing about  coincidence…the  dictionary defines it as something remarkable happening by chance… yet the greater the coincidence, the less likely …

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Daysail Dog

Most people work because they have to.  It is not usually what they would choose to do had they unlimited options.    Dogs are different— their duty is their delight.  They do it with a passion—herd sheep, hunt foxes, retrieve pheasants, …

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Aves Island

We had no intentions of stopping at Aves Îsland.  Rather we were trying to give it a wide berth in the way most boats do. After all, the island is low and centered in the midst of a lethal web …

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The Barge Dog’s Turf

The barge dog’s turf—the territory he defended—comprised our little valley from the governor’s getaway house on the north to halfway up the steep road on Nancy Hill. Save for us it was uninhabited, surrounded on three sides by hills and …

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Marriage in a Storm

Lila and Rubin were from the suburbs of Washington D.C. and they both worked for the Government.  Rubin was the right-hand man of a governor whose star was rising. Rubin was tall, lean with a friendly grin.   He was sincere …

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The Same Under the Skin

In 1995 we crossed the Atlantic Ocean on a trading voyage, stopping at the Azores and Portugal en route to the Gambia River.  We made the voyage to buy calabashes, the hardy and lovely natural containers that are one of …

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Fishin’ from Lovango

For four years we lived on Lovango Cay.  Our only neighbors were Elsa and Rudolf, an old couple who’d spent most of their lives on the cay, fishing.  Elsa was  sallow skinned, with an incredibly wrinkled face from a lifetime’s …

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The Birth of Diego

After we’d lived on the Cay for a couple of years, Dorothy became pregnant again.  Living on Lovango, we were equidistant from the two hospital choices:  Tortola or St. Thomas.  Tortola was to windward, St. Thomas was to leeward and …

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Walking the Dog

One good thing about a dog aboard is that it forces you to take it for a walk, whether or not it is rainy outside, or too hot or whatever.   It militates against sloth and it brings one into unexpected …

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Colorful as a Conch Horn – Solid as a Lignum Block

For half a century, Manfred Dittrich has been living in St. Thomas making sails for everything from Beneteaus to brigantines.  Fifty years is a long time—long enough to take the measure of any man—and Manfred, whose sailing career began on …

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Getting the Lead Out

One night  forty years ago, the old Onward dragged her anchor in the night and beat in her stern on the rocky coast of Prickly Pear Island, one of islands forming North Sound in Virgin Gorda. A sudden swell had …

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Gone Venezuela

It began with Venk (short for Venkatachalam, an Indian name.)  He and his family came to St. John for a vacation, took a day sail on my boat Breath, and turned on like a spotlight to snorkeling.   He was an …

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Drake and Race

One of the most interesting stories from the early days of West Indian history concerns the brilliant, daring, and wildly successful English corsair Sir Francis Drake.  He spent a good part of his career in the Caribbean, made his fortune …

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The Smile

Potential charterers often ask if they’ll be able to get back on board Breath after swimming. Some are worried about their bad leg, their new knee or titanium hip, or they’re just way out of shape. Women invariably complain they …

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