Sunday, December 03, 2006

Even When the Sun is Shining

When I moved to St. Thomas U.S.V.I. in the mid 1990's with the intent of being crew-for-hire in pursuit of my U.S. Coast Guard Captain's license, my first job was barback for a now long gone outfit called "Schooners Landing" at the former Ramada Yacht Haven Marina in Charlotte Amalie. It was a good vantage with which to infiltrate the local boatie community and, as well, made me instantly part of a large and boisterous group of young people who lived on the boats in the harbour and worked either in food service or for one of the small businesses in the marina. I shortly graduated from barback to waiter/bartender and after a few months landed my first sailing job as crew for day charter sailing boats. The captains of these boats were all liveaboards with yachts shipshape enough to entertain and the desire to make a little money from the cruise ship company for the privilege taking their cruise passengers out for four hours of sailing and a quick snorkle. In the nearly a year I served as mate on a number of these boats I'm happy to say we never had a problem or an accident - though I did have one fat, balding hairy guy throw a panic attack on the snorkle and nearly drown me. I felt very thankful to have never been aboard for a disaster when I read this story on a mast on a commercial tour catamaran off Waikiki snapping and pinning a passenger between the top deck and the cabin this past Friday. Tragically, a teenage boy was killed and two women badly injured. It's a reminder that the potential for injury and death aboard boats is very real - even when the sun is shining and the wind is light.

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