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Cruising with Charlie: Marooned

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George and Mable were from a small town in Ohio and had spent long winter months leafing through glossy sailing magazines dreaming of chartering a yacht in paradise. “If only we knew how to sail,” moaned Mable.

A month later George was out on the water with a small sailing school in the Caribbean island of Tortuga, while Mable stayed ashore. George crammed in several years’ worth of necessary sailing knowledge in just five days. “Well done, darling,” she said when George showed her his crisp new certificate. “Now we can rent a yacht and make whoopee. I’ve been doing a bit of research and I think “Golden Sunset Charters” is the best company to go with.”

“Why do you like them the best?” asked Charlie.

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“Well, they’re about twice as expensive as anyone else so they must be the best,” she said, “and I’ve seen them in all the magazines. We don’t want to take any chances on a substandard vessel.”

Next day they managed to rent a half million dollar yacht for a week. “The lady at the desk took ages examining my credit card details and insurance documents and didn’t even bother to look at my qualifications,” said an astonished George. “I suppose they know an experienced sailor when they see one.”

On the morning of their departure a young man with tattoos and two rows of ear rings came aboard to “show them the ropes.” “Hi, I’m Blewitt,” he said, with breath reeking of rum. “Most people call me Blue.”

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“And where are you from?” asked Mable apprehensively

“I’m a citizen of planet earth,” said Blewitt with a broad Australian accent.

“And how did you end up here?”

“I haven’t reached the end yet,” said Blue with a smile. “Actually I was in the import/export business, boat sank, I floated in on a bale of …ummm… on a packet of cargo. Golden Sunset Charters were looking for experienced mariners so I got a job and here I am.”

Blue started showing the intrepid couple around, “What time is Otto the pilot coming?” asked Mable. “We’re almost ready to go.”

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“The auto pilot is here,” said Blue pointing to a red button, without batting an eyelid. He was used to ridiculous questions.

“Oh dear,” said Mable, “George was expecting a person.”

George and Mable finally departed the dock managing only a small scrape on the topsides. Their cruise in paradise had begun.

They managed to sail to a pretty cove lined with palm trees and enjoyed several rum drinks and a barbecue at a local beach bar called Happy’s. The next day the engine wouldn’t start and George called the Charter Company. After two days waiting George had got rid of his hangover but was starting a new one when he met Charlie.

Charlie, being a friendly fellow, offered to have a look at the problem and found that the fuel filter was full of water. George and Charlie then spent another hour at the bar celebrating the newly running engine. It was then that Charlie found out that George had reported that they were in Little Harbor whereas in fact they were at The Bight.

“Seems like there are plenty of ways to get marooned in the islands,” slurred George, who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself. He was becoming a seasoned bareboater.

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Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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