Hungry Like The Wolf

Hungry Like The Wolf

As temperatures drop, thoughts in the North frequently turn to the Caribbean.  Fitting for us to discover award-winning travel writer Seth Stevenson’s new feature on chartering in the British Virgin Islands (with thanks to ProaSailor for the heads up).  This five part series (three more pieces will show up this week) captures the Animal House-esque experience that is chartering in a destination that’s been purpose-built for drinking, partying and sailing – in that order.  Seth is an SA fan, and he’ll be writing something for us early next year, but in the meantime, here’s an excerpt from part 2 of the excellent Slate series:

Upon our arrival at the ship—it’s a floating bar named the Willy T, moored a few hundred yards from shore—we find a dozen other dinghies already tied alongside. The soused sailing crowd is sucking down bottles of Red Stripe and munching on baskets of conch fritters. We cleat off our dinghy and climb aboard to join the fun. As I step up onto the deck, I immediately collide with a drunken woman in a disheveled bikini. She’s attempting a sort of glassy-eyed stumble-dance to the driving beat of "Hungry Like the Wolf."

If there’s one thing I’m learning about boating culture, it’s that alcohol and sailing go together like marijuana and bowling. Which is to say: exquisitely. (Save for those occasions when your bowling ball jumps into the neighboring lane. Or you capsize and your whole family drowns.)

When we were reviewing our boat’s equipment checklist back at the marina, the woman from the charter outfit specifically mentioned only two items. Not the lifejackets. Not the flares. The two things she wanted to be 100 percent sure that we had onboard were the corkscrew and the bottle opener. And perhaps now is also a good moment to note that the name of our boat is Rummy Cat.

The British Royal Navy, for most of its history, maintained an official alcohol ration. Those serving on her majesty’s ships were ladled out up to a pint of 95-proof rum per day. This delightful custom began in the 17th century and lasted all the way up until 1970. Had it endured just a bit longer, we might have found out what happens when a shnockered British sailor gets placed in charge of Trident-class, submarine-launched nuclear missiles. Read On