Sailing with Charlie: World cruisers are everywhere these days

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

World cruisers are everywhere these days. With continued improving technology and yacht design the lifestyle is simpler and more comfortable than ever before and the older generation (the ones with the money) are finding it manageable, rewarding and fun.

Preferred cruising grounds are the tropics, of course, with trade wind breezes and warm, clear water. But with more and more cruisers sailing to small tropical island nations it sometimes puts a strain on relationships, especially when some crews think that coconuts, breadfruit, citrus and bananas are there for the taking, not realizing that they are probably owned by someone. To show friendship it is always a good idea to take ‘gifts’ like, perhaps, small flashlights, a kerosene lamp, some fishing gear, T shirts or a multi-tool. The cruiser’s motto, ‘leave a clean wake’ is now more important than ever.

When Charlie cruised the Pacific, he sailed to ‘off the beaten track’ locations and his intention was to video-film various aspects of island culture, particularly music and dancing. As an enticement he would ask the chief of an island community if he and the villagers would like to see a show and explained that he had on board a 12v TV and VHS video cassette player (1980s) that he could bring to the village square for all to see. His movies were an eye-opening and diverse collection. They included Dire Straits Live in Concert, Flashdance, Clint Eastwood’s Josey Wales and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, A Space Odyssey. As the sun set Charlie plugged the gear into a car battery and as the crowd gathered around the show began. They were much loved and appreciated by all. 

Then Charlie would ask the chief if it would be possible for the villagers to show him a cultural performance that he could film; perhaps the villagers’ enacting a traditional dance to their own music. It was soon arranged and the next day their show began with all girls, dressed in their best celebratory attire – often plaited pandanus skirts dyed yellow from turmeric, colorful headdresses and no tops (just can’t improve on nature there). Charlie remembers Ontong Java in the Solomon group as being one of his favourites, but others included Tuvalu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu.

Eventually Charlie got his bits and pieces of tape edited and sometime later, back in England, he showed the finished documentary to his old Mum, “Charlie,” she exclaimed, “You have spent months sailing around obscure islands in the Pacific taking pictures of bare-breasted brown-skinned girls wiggling their bottoms. When are you going to do something worthwhile with your life?”

“It’s all about intercultural relations, Mum.” Charlie replied.

“Fiddlesticks,” replied his Mum, one of her favourite retorts.

Charlie examined the film more closely and had to admit that there were rather more breast shots than anything else and many had been zoomed in. He concluded that perhaps it had been a mistake to show his adventures to the family matriarch; perhaps he should take a career changing business course – but then again…

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