Tuesday July 27.

Tuesday has historically been “adventure day” for us and, this year, it was no different. Who we were going out with was never debated; it was a matter of where. I’d contacted Captain Phil on the Wayward Sailor a few months back and inquired about the Jost trip. I really want to go to Jost but it never fits our plans. It’s a place I need to check off the list but haven’t had time to do. So, I booked the Jost trip on the WS.

Then, I started thinking about it. Then I started fretting about it. I emailed the group and got a collective “We don’t give a shit”. I fretted some more.

Then I pulled the plug. I booked the 2 snorkel trip. Good decision.

While on board, we were told that the WS makes up to 4.5 knots. Since Jost is 7-8 miles from Cruz Bay, even at top speed and under sail, that’s almost 2 hours of sailing. And if the wind didn’t cooperate…over 2 hours. So, on a 6-hour trip, we’d spend upwards of 4-5 of them beating into potentially rough seas.

We didn’t need to be puking…not just yet.

The trip didn’t leave until 10:00, so Her Highness, The Queen of I Don’t Give a Fuck, was able to sleep in.

Nice name, eh?

At some point on the trip, MerlotMan was taking pictures with his new big-ass camera. In fact, he spent a LOT of time messing around on the deck taking pictures. At one point, he was so happy with his shot that he brought the camera over to his wife to show off the result of his efforts.

Me: You’re about to show that picture to The Queen of I Don’t Give a fuck? Are you insane?
ChurchBomber: I like that name.

Needless to say, it stuck.

Anyhoo…we got to town a little early and ran into Ruth over at the store. Capt Phil was walking over and re all re-introduced ourselves.

“You’re the guy who wrote about the sandwich, aren’t you”

Yup…that was me. (Blushes)

Introduction and safety spiel done, we headed to the dinghy for the quick trip out to the boat. It’s quite possible that the highlight of Shmuppie’s day was the dinghy ride. She spent the rest of the week pointing out every…single…dinghy we saw (for those who have not visited…there are a LOT).

Onboard, we saw Tarn.
“Hi Tarn”
“You wrote that story, didn’t you?”
“Yup…And I got hosed when I didn’t win”

The good Captain had decided to take us to Great and Little St James Islands again. I was almost disappointed at first (we’d been there in 2008), but I quickly remembered that Phil knows his shit and knew where to take us.

We motored out of the harbor and out into the Pillsbury Sound.

Shmuppie turned green. It was a little rough and the WS is a small boat. The rear deck area barely has room for 6 people plus the captain. Plus, you face sideways, so any motion sickness you may get can be exacerbated by your positioning. I knew the cure; we just had to convince Shmuppie to go for it.

We headed for the bow. You need to climb up on a cooler and then walk along the side of the boat to reach the bow. I led and Tarn followed Shmuppie. Once out there, JewelrySlut followed and we all had a little bow party. The breeze, view and forward-facing-ness calmed all of our stomachs. We sailed over to Great St James and anchored in Christmas Cove.

The cove was mostly empty; no big boats from St Thomas and no gaggles of idiots. Just us and a few cats that seemed to be moored there from the night before. Geared up, we went over the side. In case anyone cares, this time we went towards the beach and not out towards the big rock that sits out in the middle of the cove. So…same location, new snorkel.

I had asked Shmuppie ahead of time to remember how Trunk Bay looked; plenty of fish but a mostly tan and white reef. Then, I asked her to compare that to Jumbie (less visited so more colorful). I told her she would not believe what we would see with Captain Phil. I was right. After a swim across a grassy area, we hit the reef.

How good was the view? Shmuppie didn’t even talk. She was speechless (Happy dance from the adults). We went back and forth across the reef and finally settled in along a little ledge that sat maybe 15 feet down. It was teeming with fish of every color imaginable. Capt Phil was there with his camera and his tail; Shmuppie. She followed him everywhere and, while she couldn’t match him dive for dive, she did her best. It was a sight to behold. This was her 3rd snorkel and she was holding her ground against someone who’s a minor legend in the Caribbean.

We stayed in the water for about an hour and a half and it honestly felt like 20 minutes. They say time flies when you’re having fun…it certainly flies when you’re snorkeling along a mostly untouched reef off a small Caribbean island.

We got our signal and headed back to the boat for lunch.

YAY LUNCH!

Allow me to be that guy and quote myself:
“What is a great meal?

Is it the exquisitely prepared and presented piece of grilled fish that you ate one summer night at a sidewalk table of a high-end restaurant? Is it your wife’s potato salad (believed by some to be the World’s Best) made for you on your birthday, sitting next to a huge rib-eye that you grilled for yourself because you know, in your heart, that nobody cooks a steak like you do?

Or, is it a chicken salad sandwich?

Her name is Tarn. She’s a world traveler and an adventurer. She’s also the First and only mate aboard a small sailboat named the Wayward Sailor. Every day a small group of day-trippers follow her boss, Captain Phil Chalker through the waters of the US Virgin Islands in search of coral reefs and the elusive Caribbean Reef Octopus. In the meantime, she works in a galley no larger than a card table to make lunch for the guests.”

We were back for the sandwiches!

How good are they? Shmuppie, who never met a meal she wouldn’t turn her nose up at, had 2 and a double helping of coleslaw. There’s nothing else to say.

Out came the folder. As we’d told Shmuppie, this was more than a snorkel trip; this was school. She got the full octopus speech from the Captain and was so tuned in to what he was saying, she didn’t even interrupt him. She sat, with laser-like focus, as the 4 of us smiled and knew we’d chosen wisely for our day trip.

The part about the octopus’ copulation arm and the blast of semen…well…that was nice too.

Lunch and school over for the day, we raised the sails and headed out. Shmuppie promptly passed out in my lap.

We put-putted over to Little St James and moored at the same spot we’d visited in 2008. It made no difference, the snorkel was amazing. We spent another hour and a half in the water, going in and out of the reef. We saw more puffer fish, some very cool trumpet fish and an ungodly assortment of everything else. Shmuppie, as expected, shadowed the Captain and asked him questions about what she was seeing.

I know I was a very proud parent at that moment. I can only assume JewelrySlut was too. Our little girl had, quite literally, taken the plunge and was having the time of her life.

I’d been a nervous wreck in the weeks approaching the trip. The week before, it had rained non-stop. When we left, the forecast was for another tropical wave to hit the islands. I had MAJOR doubts. Would we have a pouting brat on our hands? Would she be buried in her DS all week?

Nope…things were working. If it hadn’t happened already, by Tuesday, we had another Caribbean soul on our hands. The kid is hooked. I don’t think she knew what to expect, and what she got far exceeded her imagination.

Back on board, we beat through some rough water back to town. Again…we all turned green. There would be no JJ’s for us. We were sweaty beyond compare, a wee bit queasy and full from lunch. Plus, it was steak night!

At the house, we all soaked in the pool and rehydrated ourselves with beer.

I showered and cooked the steaks. Despite some major heat control issues on the grill (it soared to 800+ degrees on me!), they turned out well. Dinner was, as usual, eaten on the deck. We spent the rest of the night, burping and drinking rum.

How else would you want to end a perfect day?

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