You can imagine it’s a bit of a struggle finding anyone to fly to the Caribbean for a free two-week sailing holiday, island-hopping in superb winds from one paradise island to another in a thoroughbred luxury ocean-going yacht, but old friends, strapping septuagenarian Lawrence, and Neil the Geordie made the supreme sacrifice.
Neil and Lawrence have sailed together on Mina2 before, on more than one occasion, but despite knowing they were on the same 10-hour flight in the same cabin and on the same plane, they failed to make contact and arrived at Prickly Bay in separate taxis.
I arrived in my dinghy at the rendezvous waterside bar to find Lawrence already tucking into his first rum punch. They were quite strong. Then Neil arrived. Neil is almost teetotal but immediately immersing himself in the holiday-like atmosphere, he too was tempted to join into the spirit of things as it were. I kept on telling them that this was not the bar we were to have dinner and spend the evening, but every time I thought I had got the message through, another round of rum punches would appear like magic.
After four of these innocent tasting bombshells we were about to leave when Lawrence discovered that his backpack containing his most valuable possessions like cameras, phones, chargers and his Bose headphones had been stolen. He was absolutely certain he had had it beside him in the bar and now it was gone. There was a bit of a commotion. The management were called and Lawrence was demanding that the CCTV tapes be run to identify the thief. Lawrence then fell over in a flower bed. Neil and I got him into the dinghy and onto Mina2, lying to her anchor in the millpond like bay, and we just got Lawrence on board when he succumbed to an unexpected bout of seasickness which left him rather tired.
Neil and I returned ashore to have dinner, leaving Lawrence to sleep it off. Now fortified with even more rum punches, when the band struck up Neil decided to impress the locals with some of his dance moves. God only knows what primeval signal Neil was sending, but a couple of local lads clearly decided that Neil would be more impressive still without footwear, wrestled his flip-flops off his feet and threw them far into the bay. Neil also discovered the following morning that his wallet had been lifted containing all his credit cards and a large tooth filling had fallen out. Nights out with Neil are always interesting as I’ve discovered on several occasions in the past.
The following morning the crew on which I was to depend for our passages north were both rather subdued and vowing to forsake the demon alcohol forever. As the day progressed, Lawrence slowly recovered. Neil did not. He deteriorated during the day and had a very upset stomach. He slept pretty much all day apart from the frequent sprints to the heads. This was no ordinary hangover. It appeared he had a dose of food-poisoning.
Meanwhile, Lawrence and I went ashore and went to the airport to try and find the taxi driver who brought him to Prickly Bay. He wasn’t there, but later in the day I got a call from the taxi driver to say that Lawrence had, indeed, left his back pack in his taxi and it was delivered to Lawrence later that day, all intact.
Neil was no better the following day and had in addition started getting severe joint pains in his hands and feet. Surely it couldn’t be the dreaded Chikungunya? If so, he would have broken all records by contracting it within 36 hours of his arrival. Nor did he have the ubiquitous flu like fever. So we’re pretty certain it couldn’t be Chik, but the arthritic pains which remained for all of the two weeks Neil was on board remains a bit of a mystery. It took three or four days before Neil improved. During that time he slept most of the time, was unable to keep down any food and was drinking copious quantities of water (although my attempts to get him to drink my rehydrating solution of salt and sugar weren’t entirely successful).
So, in summary, the arrival of the crew had been the usual totally chaotic mess.