Pirates, wenches, dinghies and squirt guns are just some of the elements that attract participants each year to the Leverick Bay Dinghy Poker Run.
More than 50 people competed in the seventh annual event, which took place in July in North Sound.
The event is a fundraiser for the Virgin Gorda Animal Rescue and Control. All told, $2,500 was raised for the charity, with 43 hands being sold; five dinghies were donated by The Moorings and rented for a total of $250, and Tim Jones and Sue Durham donated $100.
According to organizer Nick Willis, Leverick Bay Resort and Marina general manager, the event was “twice as big as last year.”
The fleet of dinghies started at Leverick Bay with a watery battle. The weapons of choice were water cannons and buckets of ice-cold water. Participants then made stops at the Sand Box on Prickly Pear, Saba Rock, Bitter End, Fat Virgin and then back to Leverick Bay. At each stop, a card was drawn and whoever had the best poker hand by the end of event was the winner. Ultimately, Joyce Philips five kings would take the top hand.
Participants were encouraged to dress as pirates and carry squirt guns to launch an assault on other competitors.
Roberta Haver was dressed as a pirate as she competed with friends and two service dogs.
“They don’t really like getting pelted with water,” Haver said of the dogs. “It is a good time. Everyone dresses up like a pirate and squirts each other with water. And it is for a good cause.”
Rick Beckner, who lives in St. Thomas on a 44-foot sailboat, was taking part in the event for the second time.
“It is fun squirting cannons and dressing up as pirates,” Beckner said.
His pirate costume was a mixture of “hand-me-downs in a pile,” which included a coconut bra and foam buttocks that read: Pirate Booty.
“I wasn’t going to wear the [coconut bra], but my wife convinced me,” Beckner said. “I am glad I did, because I got a good reaction out of it.”
Beckner has never won the event and this year was no different.
“I just do it for the fun of it,” he said.
Beckner was taking part in the event with his wife, son and his friend David Hedgcock of Colorado.
“I flew 3,500 miles just to be here today,” Hedgcock said. “It has been wet and wild.”
This year’s winners were: Joyce Philips (five kings); Chris and Tracy Curran, and Barbara Kelly.
Todd VanSickle is a journalist living and working in the Virgin Islands.