Virgin Gorda’s North Sound hasn’t seen pirates in hundreds of years, but recently the area was invaded during the sixth annual Leverick Bay Dinghy Poker Run.
Instead of plundering and pillaging, about 100 people, dressed as pirates, collected cards at five stops in the sound in hopes of forming the best poker hand.
The dinghy poker run was started by Mark Paulson and Leverick Bay Resort Manager Nick Willis as a way to raise money for charity.
“It started out as a crazy idea and Nick thought it would work,” Paulson said. “We basically get wet and have a good time in the sound.”
All the prizes were donated by local businesses so that the registration fee could be donated to the Virgin Gorda Animal Rescue. Seventy-four hands were sold, raising $3,700 for the charity. Since the event first started about $10,000 has been donated to the organization.
At the start, participants waged battle against one another on the water in their dinghies with squirt guns and buckets of water.
The first card was collected at Leverick Bay Resort, before heading to the Sandbox Beach Bar on Prickly Pear where they collected their second card. The lunch stop was at Saba Rock Resort and then the fourth card was collected at Bitter End Yacht Club. The last stop in North Sound was at the Fat Virgin, before participants collected a wild card at Leverick Bay Resort.
Over the years the event hasn’t changed much. The stops remain the same, but it has received more support from not only boaters, but also residents, according to organizers.
It started out as just bareboaters who participated in the event, which was promoted through the online forum traveltalkonline.com. But now the event is getting more participation from people who aren’t at the event, whom Paulson calls “armchair admirals.”
“It has mainly just grown more and more every year,” Paulson said.
The event received support from The Moorings, which donated five dinghies. This enabled organizers to charge land-based participants for use of the dinghies, which helped boost the amount of money donated to the charity.
Faye Barksdale of Missouri was competing in the dinghy poker run for the second year.
“It was a little unnerving and a little rough,” Barksdale said, after arriving at the first stop. “There was a lot of water being thrown.”
She was with her family and friends on a charter boat vacation. The reason she opted to do the event for a second time was for the camaraderie and it is for a good cause.
“It is a good group effort for a good purpose,” Barksdale said.
1: Four Queens — Catatonic
2: Ace Flush —Jeanius
3: Jack Flush — Jeanius
4: Straight 10 through to Ace — One Love
Todd VanSickle is a journalist living and working in the Virgin Islands.