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Conventional wisdom has it there can be only one captain on a boat, and that skippering by consensus never works. When it comes down to the wire, one voice must be heard above all others, or chaos will ensue. Well, that’s obviously a male viewpoint. My friend Pip and I share a passion for sailing and adventure, and we’ve done some offshore racing and family cruising, but neither of us had ever
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There followed a frustrating motorsail in light and fluky winds to Trellis Bay, where we enjoyed great rotis and bushwhackers at the Loose Mongoose. We two skippers were exhausted and snuck back to the boat early while the rest of the crew went in search of more rum and dancing. We were thus bright-eyed and alert next morning for the short motorsail to Monkey Point. Here we found by far the best snorkeling of the whole trip; the huge walls of fish and great visibility made it well worth braving the swell. After that we had a good sail to Little Harbor on Jost Van Dyke, where we spent a peaceful evening with the goats and pelicans. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the lack of light pollution on shore made for perfect stargazing. It was a fine end to a great day.

The next morning we spent a lazy few hours exploring in the dinghy while Aviva and Pam began to put the finishing touches on their water ballet. We then set off for White Bay via the Bubbling Pool and Sandy Spit.

Didn’t I say disasters come in threes? Shortly after we set out for White Bay somebody noticed our dinghy was missing, a realization that was almost immediately followed by the sighting of a white blob on the horizon. The recovery was drama-free, and was followed by a tutorial on proper cleating techniques.

The tricky entrance to White Bay, which consists of two very small channels leading behind a long reef, really put our skills to the test. But it was well worth the anxiety; White Bay is one of the most picturesque places in the BVI. We went ashore for cocktails and some fun people-watching. After a couple of bushwhackers we became the entertainment as we tried to launch the dinghy off the beach. Then it was back to the boat for another of Jen’s delicious meals.

After a lazy morning wandering up and down the pristine white beach, checking out the funky souvenirs and beach bars, it was time to head back to the base. As we departed, we experienced what we hoped would be our final disaster when the mooring got wrapped around the starboard rudder. Fortunately, some fancy boathook work set us free and we were off on our bittersweet sail back to base.

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Alas, our troubles were not yet behind us. Footloose had promised to send someone out to bring the boat in, but it soon became apparent that the promised help would not materialize. The skippers drew straws to see who would dock the boat and with the loving support of a fantastic crew, Pip managed to creep back into the slip without damaging the boat’s topsides.

That night, we reflected on our joint skippering adventure. We had climbed a steep learning curve as we encountered daily challenges and several unexpected hazards. At times it felt as though we were being tested. We gained new insight into how important it is to be vigilant and constantly aware of safety issues and potential difficulties as soon as they arise. Teamwork and problem-solving skills proved as valuable as any yacht charter manual. There is no doubt that the heightened sense of responsibility that skippering entails might have spoiled a week in the BVIs for some, but for us it felt empowering and we were inspired to go again. It was an incredibly affirming experience.

My lasting memory is one of a relaxed group of friends laughing relentlessly.

We ended our week with the wildly anticipated water ballet from Aviva and Pam. Let’s just say we were not disappointed!

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