Stark raving lonely is what she felt. What had she gotten herself into this time. As she stepped on to the first boat she would ever work on she had to hold her breath. It smelled like wet dog. Wet dirty crazy ass dog as it turned out. The job started in two days and she would stay on board cleaning and preparing for the guests arrival. Only there wasn’t a bunk for crew of course. A grubby hairy settee would have to do for now. Deck hand stewardess was the position offered for one week and 225 dollars.
She was supposed to be doing this with her fiance in Florida but he forgot to tell her that he was already married and had two boys in another state. So she dumped him and took sailing lessons. Every night she would go to sleep listening to Jimmy Buffet and dream of a different life. It was out there to be had, she just had to go and get it. So she flew to St Thomas with a round trip ticket (just in case) 40 dollars and the promise of that one week job.
It had been a long day and she was starving so she stowed her duffel bag and headed down the dock to the local dockside bar called Castaways. As she walked down the dock she could see how she was going to have to rethink her clothes. Matching shorts and top with cute sandals didn’t cut it. She would need shorts a baggy t-shirt and flip flops to blend in. She felt so out of place, but this week would be it, make it or break it. A firm believer in “work hard and you will always have work” she would just have to figure it out.
Forty dollars wouldn’t go very far. Some had already gone to the taxi to get her to the boat. She would only have happy hour wings and two for one beers. There was no food offered on the boat because there was no food on the boat. The view from Castaways was breathtaking as the sun was setting. A light Caribbean breeze and turquoise water. The history of this harbor could be felt by simply closing yours eyes and breathing it in. Hundreds of years of tall ships and pirates slipping in and out of this protected haven. Rum, fights and sex. Nothing different than what she grew up with.
Watching that first sunset was lonely and magical at the same time. This marina was named Yacht Haven but everyone around her called it Rat Haven. On her way back to the boat that first night she found out why. Unidentifiable things were scurry around the docks. She was really glad she couldn’t see them. The job itself was on a 65 foot trimaran and it was filthy. She could take care of that in the morning, for now she found a sheet to wrap herself in and she crashed on the settee hoping nothing would crawl on her in the middle of the night.
The next morning the Captain didn’t offer coffee or breakfast. He just said clean everything and make up the bunks. there would be a freelance chef showing up later in the afternoon to take inventory of the galley. What inventory? She felt sorry for the chef who would be coming in. She herself held a secret that she didn’t want anyone to know while working in the yachting industry. She could cook. If anyone knew she could cook she was afraid she wouldn’t get the sailing experience she was looking for. For now she kept it to herself.
In that one week job she learned more about being crew than she did about sailing. For the first half of the week she kept the chef from killing the captain and second half of the week the chef kept her from beating the captains ass. The captain was so cheap he refused to let the chef provision properly for the ten guests that were on board. There just wasn’t enough food for everyone. He kept saying that he would catch fish and lobster along the way. Everyone on board could see what was going on. So they endured it together. Everyone but the captain sat under stars at night soaking up salt water and rum to get through it.
Becoming friends with the chef was one of the best things she ever did. When the job ended she stayed with the chef and her boyfriend on the boat they worked on permanently. It was a beautiful mono hull built in South Africa. It was a good trade, a little grunt work for a place to sleep until another job came along. Anything was ok with her as long as the stars stayed that bright every night and the water stayed that warm and clear.
It was right for her she could feel it in her bones. This was the new life she was looking for. The life that gave her freedom and adventure without the fear. The sea took away the lonely feeling she had in her heart and filled her senses with possibilities that would go on forever.