Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

I recently discovered that my mother , bless her cotton socks , had  saved my  very early school books. When I came upon them  I found that the first story  I ever wrote began with the immortal  words “Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest , Yo ho ho and a bottle of  rum “.   Now , half a century later we  have sailed round the real Dead Chest island completing the refrain at the tops of our voices in suitably piratical accent  ………………” Drink and the devil had done for the rest , Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.”   I wonder  what the  unfortunate crew had done to be marooned there ?

 Just across the  water (  the Sir Francis Drake Channel) are Pull and be Damned Point , Treasure Point , Drakes Anchorage ,Jost Van Dyke Island , Deadman’s Bay , Broken Jerusalem , Quart a Nancy Point , Privateer Bay  and many another name that reeks of the Virgin Island’s colourful past. There are seemingly hundreds of islands and thousands of anchorages  hiding amidst grand volcanic scenery ,  green and lush after the rain of the last few days , and set off by the classic white sands and turquoise  waters that make the Caribbean so photogenic . Being slap bang in the path of the homeward bound Spanish treasure ships, it must have been a great place to be a buccaneer , at least until the rum rotted your guts and the terredo made mincemeat of your garboards.

Nowadays there are two types of boat in the anchorages.  The majority of them are  charter boats, and their American crews are making the most of their short vacations, sometimes carousing in similar vein to the buccaneers of times past . Visibly less active are the cruisers taking a last , more leisurely look round  , before heading  north  and east to colder  climes just like the treasure ships before them. There is a tangible sense of  gathering  strength before getting back to ocean passage making mode.

Tomorrow we are sailing to  Tortola ( doesn’t that name send a shiver down your spine?) to stock up once more with a view to taking the next favourable forecast North. If we had set out the day after arriving here we would have had fair winds for Bermuda , but it looks a bit of a slog  at the moment , at least until the middle of  next week . Thankfully the Atlantic weather systems seem to entering a more benign phase suitable to the time of year and despite our wonderful surroundings we are itching to get going. Don’t feel sorry for us though; if we have to hang around for a favourable slant , I can scarcely conceive a nicer place to do it in.

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