“Talk to your friend Brian, the broker. He knows a lot and can give you an idea of what you’re looking for”, John said to me before pulling out of Nanny Cay. I wasn’t sure I really was ‘looking’ but the gods answered that for me when not 5 minutes later Brian pulled over: “Need a ride back to Trellis?”
We started talking boats… Brian always talks boats… and pretty soon I was mumbling something about being interested in buying one myself. “Seriously?” He took his eyes off the road to pose the question. “Uh, maybe, possibly, seriously?” I winced, knowing what was coming.
“Well, you must have heard about Juno!?”
I hadn’t. But John and I had tacked past her that very morning, commenting on her pretty lines. John said “I bet that’s a Cape Dory”. He knew my love for Cape Dory’s and had a keen eye for spotting them when I was on board. So yes, Juno was a Cape Dory, and she was moored right there in Trellis Bay, just outside my hut’s window.
How hadn’t I noticed her before? She was suddenly the cutest little boat in the bay and that I’d ever laid eyes on. I stood on the beach, digging my toes into the sand, gazing out at her, my heart skipping along to a thousand potential adventures. I borrowed a kayak and paddled out. Around once, twice, four times. Trying to take in every detail… A nick in the toe-rail (my, she’s pretty!), hairline cracks at the bow (so cute and compact!), worn out sails (just look at those curves!)… and decided she was in relatively good condition.
I paddled back to shore, dumped the kayak, grabbed a mask and swam out. Again, going around and around, my heart pumping. I had heard that to know if a boats ever going to work for you, when walking away, you should have to turn back and look again. I swam back three times.
From the beach, she was close. Then I got offered a boat-sitting job – the Columbia 43 moored RIGHT next to Juno. In the morning I woke up to dreams of her, at night I fell asleep imagining our journeys together. For 8,000 dollars (a loan), I could sail her away. I knew I would be giving up the freedom of lightweight travel, I knew I would be buying into a life of debts and bills (a boat’s just a hole in the water you throw money into)… but I could taste the sweetness of having my very own sailing queen, I could already feel the wind that would blow us around the world.
I waited for time to point me in the right direction. I made lists, I spoke to people, I checked her over again and again, inside and out. I learnt about her strengths, her weaknesses. And finally, I decided to make an offer – next week.
The Sunday before that next week began, a road forked in my plans. Johan, a Swedish delivery captain needed crew for a sail up to Newport, Rhode Island, via Bermuda, in a 59ft Hinckley. A paid job. Leaving tomorrow. To the North East coast, my original coast-coast bike beginning. Shit.
Life will throw you so many choices and questions – the only way to answer them is to follow the signs. This felt like the right thing to do. The path was clear. I sailed off into the sunset, two days later, on a much bigger, much fancier boat that I will ever own… and Juno stayed, bobbing along on her mooring, calling to me in my Caribbean Dreamings.