My Mom came to visit us in St Thomas this past week. She brought our oldest son, Jimmy with her. He has been living with her in Wyoming since last summer. He is going to school and helping my Mom out. We lost my Dad in October and it has been really tough on her.
This was the first time anyone from my side of the family has visited the boat. We have had visits from Beck’s Sister, Niece and her Mom but my family has never made it down so we threw out all the stops and my Mom had quite a visit.
The highlights: She watched her son stop a drifting boat from going up on the rocks one evening, watching the same boat the next day pull up its anchor and drift down on us so that we had to throw off the mooring lines and motor away while our kids ran off in the dingy to rescue the little dog on the drifting boat. They brought the dingy alongside the big boat transferred the little trembling dog and tied off the dingy and got onto the big boat all while underway.
The next day I received an email about a stollen Catamaran and thought it looked a lot like the boat that was anchored out behind “Sweetest Thing.” I told Mom about the email and she and Rebecca and I took the dingy out to “Sweetest Thing” where Mom waited for us to check out the boat. Upon closer inspection we were certain that it was indeed the same cat that had been stollen two weeks before in a bay on St Thomas. We had the hull number and a picture of the boat’s registration number as well as it’s name and hailing port and when we looked at her closely you could still read the ghost numbers and the old name under the new one. The hull number was right there for anyone to see. Cool beans and a reward from the insurance company to top it off. The insurance guy came over from Tortola and Jimmy and I helped him move the boat over to the marina. Mom could hardly believe it!
We took her on an afternoon sail on “Sweetest Thing” and while we were out there she saw the Para-Sailors being pulled behind their boats and said,
“If only I was 10 years younger!” (She’s 78)
“Aww Mom they just launch those people right off the boat and they are in a big harness just like a chair! I think you could do it!” My Mom got that look on her face that we all know so well... the one that says, “By Damn I could do that! Why the Hell not?”
EmilyAnne, who has always wanted to do it too said, “I’ll go with you Grandma!”
So the next day we called the company and a couple of nice guys showed up right at the Water Island Ferry Dock and we headed out. Mom was trying to catch all of the experience, the boat speeding out into the ocean kicking up a rooster tail and the guys got a huge kick out of her. Geran has dredlocks and looks like your typical young rasta island surfer dude. We got a picture of him with Mom right before they hooked her up to the Parachute.
The first thing they do is inflate the parachute and as it opened up behind the boat it was a huge red, white, and blue dome covering the boat with deep blue sky all around. Mom actually caught her breath and said, “Oh Lord that is beautiful! Look at that!!!”
When Geran came over to put Mom in her harness there wasn’t a trace of fear or concern on her face just excitement but when he turned to EmilyAnne I could see her concern. She was a little nervous but there was no way she would show it with Grandma acting like she was just going for a stroll on the beach.
Once they were in the harnesses they had to sit on the platform of the still moving boat with the parachute inflated above them while Geran hooked the harnesses into the crossbar that was attached to the parachute. He asked one last time if they were ready to go and Grandma yelled, “YES LET”S GO!!!” and they did....
As the line was paid out they drifted off the end of the boat and just off the surface of the sea and then the Captain put the juice on and they zoomed up, up , up and away! In the end they were about 500 feet up and could see St Croix, Culebra, Puerto Rico, St Thomas, Water Island, Buck Island, Savannah island and a number of smaller rocks and islets.
Before the trip was over the guys let them drop as though they were on a parachute, then he pulled them back up high again and dropped them slowly into the ocean for a dip. He dipped them in the sea a few times, pulled them back up and then slowly reeled them in. When she was safely back on the boat the first thing she said was that she wanted to do it again!
They flew out yesterday, headed back to Wyoming but now when we talk about things like, heading to town in the dingy, kids playing on the beach, boats dragging anchor in squalls, she can be there with us in her mind and memories. She now can better imagine what it is like when we are sailing offshore with all the kids on our 47 foot boat.
Thanks For the Visit Mom! (Oh and thanks for the genetics... I am sure that is why I am out here in the first place!)
Captain Tofer and The Family