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Sailing With Charlie: Happiness is Giving

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Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

There’s so much bad news on the airwaves, cyber space and public media that it is really heart-warming to witness acts of kindness and generosity. It is often said that the act of giving provides much more satisfaction than that of receiving (unless you’re dying of starvation and someone hands you a sandwich). 

And that brings me to the point of care giving – to your other half for instance – ladies, men have two needs; food and sex so, if he doesn’t have your attention make him a sandwich. Men love to give ladies flowers, fancy dinners and pretty bling in the hope that love will flow both ways. 

Seriously though … Charlie and crew were on a passage from South Africa to Brazil a few decades ago on a 43-Ft sailboat. They were about 12 degrees South and 30 degrees west (miles from anywhere and becalmed) when a large ore carrier was seen on the horizon. It changed course to see what they were about, flogging around in the swells, becalmed. Charlie got him on the radio and after chatting for a while the captain asked him if they were in need of anything. The long and short of the story is that they dropped a care package for Charlie and he found it contained a bottle of Johnny Walker, a carton of Marlboros and a cold 12 pack of beer. What camaraderie of the sea! The crew lined the deck and Charlie’s crew did the same – the hootin’ and hollerin’ could have been heard in Cape Town.

On another cruise Charlie and his mate were down in the San Blas Islands and even before the anchor was down the ‘Kuna’ (natives) were pulling alongside in their canoes holding up their molas. These are cloth renditions made by cutting patterns out of several different colored layers and stitching them together laterally to form a unique, layered wall hanging. The craft takes hours to make and these simple peaceful people modestly hold them up in the hopes of a sale. Charlie wanted two but he bought ten – and paid a little over the top – because he felt like it.   

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One of Charlie’s guests on a week’s charter in St Martin came across a beggar on the street. The gentleman is known for his charity but the look on the pauper’s face when his old tin cup, rattling with pennies, was joined by a twenty-dollar bill, was one Charlie will never forget. The same man pays the marine garbage collector and provider of ice, when he comes alongside the yacht to offer his services, double the asking price! It’s all for the sheer joy of giving. 

In this day and age, it’s a pleasure to see.  

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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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