Provo and our final days in the Caribbean

We had hardly finished docking before we had called Jay to meet up, and he came over within the hour to take us back to his place. Because of the island’s shape, it was actually significantly faster for us to dinghy there than to drive, so Jay had come equipped with his own, which he allowed us to borrow for the next few days, as our own 4hp engine still would have taken an hour to push us there at the speed of a rampaging manatee. On top of that, once we arrived at his place, Jay provided us with beers, no mean offering in the Turks and Caicos, where beer generally goes for 70 bucks a case. We went out that night to a a little joint called Da Conch Shack, where we treated ourselves to the last conch of our trip. I must admit, chewy and strange as those creatures are, they do make for a tasty morsel when prepared correctly (Fried. The correct way is fried). The platter that we ordered must have represented at least 6 different styles of conch, from fried and grilled, to spicy and cajun. We found ourselves flagging fairly early on, however, and so we headed back to Jay’s, and thence to our own boat, where we fell into a grateful sleep.

The following day was a day of work. Though Jay did his level best to distract us, we had to get the boat ready to sell, so we spent the day scrubbing, scraping and cleaning, trying to get the base layer of grime off of everything to make our job easier in Florida. More on that banal day need not be said, but we returned that evening for dinner and a party that apparently occurred at his place that night. I say “apparently” because mere minutes after dinner I found myself awakening to Ellen and John shaking me in the most gentle and considerate of ways, informing me that I had been asleep for 4 hours, it was now 1am, and I really should be getting up. Though my nap had refreshed me considerably, everyone else was a real person who did not decide to take a 4-hour nap at 9pm, and were therefore entirely ready to turn in. We went back to the boat soon thereafter, though only after promising Jay that abjure work in order to “play” for our last day in Provo.

This procrastination wound up being thoroughly worth it, as we had as much fun that day with Jay as just about any other day of the trip. After waking up fairly early(four-hour naps tend to play hell with your sleep cycle), we went over to Jay’s for breakfast before he drove us to his catamaran on the North side of the island. Now, we have seen and boarded some luxurious catamarans: monstrosities of nautical design, complete with state-rooms, enormous galleys and opulent decoration. This was not one of those. It was a thoroughly pared down cat, with a bit of storage and living space in each hull, and completely open trampolines stretched between. It was, in short, perfect. The weather had finally decided to favor us with sun and a pleasant wind that we enjoyed with a plethora of coronas as we sailed up and down Provo’s north shore. Jay regaled us with his stories of sailing that very same cat throughout the Bahamas, and we answered with tales of our own much less impressive accomplishments. We finally pulled in close to shore at Grace Bay, and anchored so that we could jump in the water, enjoy the beach, and experience Jay’s hammock, which he hangs between the cat’s hulls and allows you to enjoy both the heat of the sun and the cool water as you recline halfway in each. We also listened to him dubiously as he told us about the seasons in the Turks and Caicos, and how no one goes swimming during the “winter” because it’s so cold. This conversation was held, of course, standing in 85 degree water, with the sun searing our shoulders. In short, I was skeptical.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so it was with that day. It might seem strange that we spent our last true day of relaxation sailing, but it seemed a fitting way to end our time in the Caribbean. All that was left for us was to enjoy a dinner worthy of our departure. Jay dropped us off to pick up supplies, as we by this point felt that we had intruded extraordinarily upon his hospitality and were keen to, in some small measure, reciprocate. We therefore settled on steak and fries, because nothing says “thank you” like  a 3/4lb slab of red meat and potatoes in oil. For some reason, I was left unsupervised to prepare the fries, and I discovered, gratifyingly, that frying things in oil is easy. We still had a slew of spices from Tracey, so I threw a few of them on the potatoes that I had haphazardly chopped, which I in turn dropped unceremoniously into the skillet. a few minutes later, we had a substantial number of quite passable fries to accompany our plump, succulent steaks(no one let me anywhere near those). Granted, many of my fries were unsystematically cooked. Some baked to a thin crisp, while others, perfectly golden on the outside, where more what I like to think of as “pleasantly raw” in the center. All of them were edible, however, so I’m going to go ahead and take that as a win. We went back to the boat fairly early that night, though we returned to Jay’s the next morning to give him his dinghy back, and set out on our 650 mile leg back to Vero Beach. Before I get to that, though, I would like to extend (another) special thanks to Jay. He was, once again, far too welcoming to us, and showed us the hospitality that one might expect from a friend of years, rather than just a month or two. We owe him so much that we will probably never be able to repay and so I would like to simply express our deep gratitude for everything he did for us.

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