|by Jamee Gregory
What could be more fun than an invitation from a very good friend to spend ten days sailing in the British Virgin Islands? When Allison Stern proposed a “Girls’ Week” on board the Lady Allison, no make-up, no dress-up, just R&R, followed by the arrival of husbands for the weekend, I leapt at the chance.
January in New York, gloomy in the best of times, was beyond dismal this year. Counting the days, hours and minutes, I was ready and waiting for Al, armed with my duffel bag, at 8AM, as she picked me up. We made our way through icy Manhattan to be greeted by Muffie Aston, Shari Rollins, Maureen Reidy, and Christine Bernstein waiting at Teteboro airport. Off we flew to Saint Thomas where we were swiftly escorted from the airport to the welcoming deck of the Lady Allison. Racing to our cabins, tossing sweaters, and boots, jackets off in a flash, we congregated for a lovely lunch, sailing off to the BVI to begin a joyful interlude of reading, napping, swimming snorkeling, and shopping.
|Each evening we dined on deck, under the stars, watching schools of silvery Tarpon fish swim beneath us in the moonlight. The constellations were bright and dazzling, easily identifiable. A sliver of silver moon punctuated the night sky. Maureen taught us a terrific game, called “Who Am I?” We gave each other post-it’s, stuck on the forehead, inscribed with the name of a famous personality.
Questions were asked, like “Am I alive?” “Did I live in the last century?” “Am I a man” until the correct identity was guessed. Boy, did I have trouble guessing Ted Bundy! Shari suffered with Norman Mailer, Christine struggled with Walter Cronkite, Muffie missed Carla Bruni, Maureen, better known as Mo, was quick with Angelina Jolie while Allison nearly forgot Genghis Khan! Charades took a back seat to our new guessing game. One night we saw a movie, but our sporty days sent us to bed early.
|Each morning we would hit the gym or take off in the dinghy for a hike on one of the many beautiful islands we visited after a delicious breakfast. By the time everyone was up, we would anchor beside pristine reefs and snorkel for hours, dazzled by the many species of colorful fish that populate the perfectly pristine turquoise water.
Parrot fish, Angel fish, schools of tiny Silver fish, enormous turtles all darted before our eyes, nestling in the coral. Sea Urchins and Rays, all reflected in the sun, made our excursions underwater exciting. No Barracudas surfaced or Nurse Sharks, but no one swam with shiny rings or watches, just in case. Dressed in rash guards, wet suits and flippers, our multi-colored snorkels dotted the sea. Swimming back to the boat was a pleasure in the gentle warm water.
|After hot showers, we lunched, choosing healthy salads, grains, and freshly baked bread prepared by James, the amazing chef. After lunch we retreated to various decks, reading in the comfortable chaise lounges, all newly upholstered by the talented Jeffery Bilhuber, in fanciful cotton prints of red white and blue.
Snoozing in the shade, we refreshed our batteries, ready for an afternoon of exploring and shopping, unhindered by the presence of anxious husbands who don’t understand the joy of shuffling slowly through beach shacks, looking at colorful visors, tee shirts or seashells.
|Our well-organized, intrepid leader, Captain Allison, knew just where to stop, picking the best beaches, the fishiest reefs, the choice stores and stellar stops. Each day we docked somewhere new, from West End Tortola to the Bitter End, to Saint John, Norman Island and Little Dix to Peter’s Island and Anegada, checking out the local art work, sampling the special drinks and native treats.
“Pain Killers, a deadly rum drink available in four strengths, lived up to their name. Daiquiris whipped with fresh mango, banana or strawberry always hit the spot. The days passed in a minute and the week seems like a dream! Before we knew it, we were saying goodbye at the airport, wrapped up again, heading home.