Monday, April 22, 2024
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Progress in Paradise, Sort Of…

You know you want it...

Mocka Jumbies and Rum...

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I, meanwhile, was away on my first circumnavigation. When I returned to the Lesser Antilles seven years later, I immediately headed for Nirvana Bay. It was a shock. First, there was no place to anchor, as all the depths under 80 feet were taken by moorings. Bars and nightclubs lined the beach. Touts for the various mooring rental outfits zoomed up in very fast, very expensive boats—as did the somewhat less aggressive ganja salesmen. The beach was divided up into gang-zones—it was five dollars to a large muscle-bound guy who’d “watch your dinghy” and not smash it to bits, maybe.

I immediately rushed to see the Pasta Rasta—as I knew he’d have the scoop.

“What the hell happened to this place,” I said when I caught sight of him. He was watching a large screen TV at the bar—live ESPN coverage of the Cannabis Cup of Holland.

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“Oh, you mean last night? You hear ‘bout dat already? Damn! Anyway, some Jamaican kid was trying to, you know, take a local’s corner—so some idiot from the other side of de island busted a cap in face—stupid, eh?”

“What about your fishing boat?” I asked. “Did you launch it?”

“…sure, sure, we launched it,” said Pasta evasively, “but deres no money in fishing, Fatty. And I got the B&B under construction.…”

There was no money in fishing—and one of the reason was there were no fish any more. There were no more conch, either. And the locals blamed the yachties for that. “Dey come here and take, but they no give,” one local guy with very red eyes and a head full of filthy dreads told me. “When my fadder young, dere was no boats in de harbor and de bottom was littered with conch. Now, you can’t find a conch east of the Panama Canal. And dis government of we is weasels, me son! We tell ‘em we need the equipment to longline, and dey just laugh.”

The sad reality was that the local politicians couldn’t make any money off the local fishermen—but if they “sold” the local fishing rights to, say, Korea… well, they could pocket a good bit-o-change on the side, no one the wiser.

On the way back to my dinghy, a young girl with a dazed eye and a Heinnie tipped up to her mouth, slurred, “You wanna party, sailor?”

“Aren’t you Bethesda’s daughter,” I asked.

“How you know dat?” she hissed, attempting to focus on my face.

Cruisers Ashore: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

“I knew you when you were a kid. You lived across the bay—in dat green house with goats on the porch. I used to bring you and your sisters those LadyBird school books, remember? And I helped your fadder, Joe Jah, get the diesel engine of his first back-hoe running.

“…watch what you say ‘bout hoes,” shouted a teen-ager in the giggling, surging crowd behind her.

“…dat’s long, long ago,” she said. “Dat’s backtime, mon! Joe Jah is dead, and Bethesda too.”

She stared at me, and her stare was hard. There was a gulf between us. Nothing had gone exactly as planned. Brotherhood was supposed to be beatific, not sad.

I’d asked Pasta who’d ruined this paradise—as if it was someone else, some foreign bogeyman, some evil corporate conglomerate. But it was me. And him. And her, too.

I returned to my boat, hoisted my heavy anchor up from 100 feet of water, and steamed out of the harbor. Once outside the reef, I luffed up to hoist my mainsail. An incoming SunYerBuns bareboat swung alongside. Its crew had eager smiles. “Is this Nirvana Bay?” they shouted across the water.

“Not any more,” I replied.

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Cap'n Fatty Goodlander
Cap'n Fatty Goodlanderhttp://fattygoodlander.com/
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander has lived aboard for 53 of his 60 years, and has circumnavigated twice. He is the author of Chasing the Horizon and numerous other marine books. His latest, Buy, Outfit, and Sail is out now. Visit: fattygoodlander.com

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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