Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

Infamous Irma and Maria – names now an unfortunate slight to the ladies who were dubbed with those monikers at birth, who, by association, are often referred to as ‘bitches, witches or whores. It makes you wonder if human names for hurricanes should be abandoned in favor of say, venomous snakes, wild dogs, stinging jellyfish, poisonous insects or killer diseases.

‘Hurricane Hyena has just formed off the Cape Verde Islands as Tropical Storm Carbuncle approaches the Virgins’ sounds appropriate doesn’t it?     

Anyway, enough of doom and gloom and hurricanes, 2019 is just around the corner and many folks who were forced to move away from the islands after the devastation are returning to rebuild their lives and enjoy the beauty of sailing in a tropical paradise.

A friend of Charlie’s said it was a real eye-opener trying to adjust to the ‘rat race’ in Babylon. If you enquire about health insurance, for instance, then your newly acquired phone is bombarded by incessant calls from insurance hustlers. And then talking to an unctuous robot on the phone is frustrating to the limits of sanity. Enquire on line about a car and the same thing applies, non-stop ‘unbelievable offers’ by a myriad of dealers. They offer fabulous discounts that have you reeling in your chair with happiness only to find that the interest on the short-term loan is north of 10% … sly, right? Then there’s the ‘must have warranty’ at $20 a month and a fee ($899) that reads ‘re-con’ (reconditioned), i.e. – the tires have been polished and the interior vacuumed, perhaps even an oil change.

There is no question that it’s a ‘buyer beware’ situation. Salesmen with Polyester suits, slicked down hair and winkle picker shoes should raise the hackles on the back of your neck. Yacht brokers can be pretty bad but there is more a sense of ethics with them. Although on a recent visit to a marina Charlie took a shine to a nice little Bristol Forty. The broker actually declined to start the motor for a cursory look to see if the battery was charging “in case it breaks” he said. But once you’ve paid the deposit … well, we could give it a try. Unbelievable!

And everybody’s rushing – gotta rush to sign that contract, gotta rush to meet that new client, gotta rush to secure that deal, gotta rush to make a payment. Money, money, money … you can almost see the dollar signs.

Sailing schools in Florida and elsewhere are booming with the number of people trying to pry loose from the credit nightmare. It’s quite something when you can’t even get a credit card if you don’t owe anything. It’s the way the system gets you. Buy all those luxuries you want on credit and then work harder and harder to pay them off trying like hell to keep ahead of the big interest payments. The American Dream!

Suicides are on the rise and so are bankruptcies. Without a doubt it’s time to get that boat and sail into the sunset, smiling to yourself while those credit cards and IOUs are relegated to the dustbin. 

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