After the new years venture we sailed home to St. John and everyone slowly dissipated until it was only me, Fletch, Summer, Mikey, and Dave from Boston. Actually, for all I know, everyone ran off at once; after all the new years fun, and then spending the day in the sun drinking painkillers, once back on the boat I passed out cold and didn't wake up until the next morning, at which point it was me, Fletch, Summer, Mikey and Dave from Boston left.

Mikey and Summer had to work the rest of the week, but we made plans to head to Willy T's and then the Baths that weekend. The time spent on St. John is a bit of a blur now, we got in a few days of diving, helped lead around some DSDs, went to this place called The Landing almost every morning for breakfast and got good and addicted to their florentine bennies... These things were so good we just kept going back for more. My mouth is watering and stomach growling longingly just thinking about them. Crisp english muffin, wilted spinach, perfectly cooked juicy diced tomato, the fluffiest of fluffy poached eggs that when cut into sent a stream of egg yolk seeping into the muffin, and a light hollandaise to finish it off. Perfection. I lost track of how many bennies I devoured over the course of the trip.


The weekend rolled around and we set sail for Willy T's, a floating bar off of Norman Island. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, everyone just kept saying 'floating bar,' which leaves some room for interpretation. Willy T's, it turned out, was an actual ship, anchored in the middle of the bay, an entire ship devoted to being a bar. We anchored Sugar Beach just as close as we could get, and took the dinghy on over to the party. Another night of drinking and dancing and shenanigans commenced, this time with the addition of shot skis. It turns out it's tradition to jump off of the poop deck naked, and we eventually reached that point where jumping naked off of poop decks sounds like a kick-ass plan, well except for me who hadn't quite had enough fireball yet to brave the reality of freezing my butt of in the water... So I told Fletch and Summer to go ahead and jump and I would join them when they were ready to jump for the last time. (Oh yes, I have failed to mention that the water in the Virgin Islands was surprisingly chilly).

While they swam back to Sugar Beach I hitched a ride with Mikey on the dinghy, which in retrospect was a worse idea than just jumping, because he somehow managed to get lost somewhere in the hundred yards separating Willy T's from Sugar Beach. One stalled motor and a good ten minutes later I finally joined Fletch and Summer. More shenanigans aboard Sugar Beach, and then we had no choice but to either stay there, or swim back to Willy T's. So much for staying dry the first time around. The cold swim sobered us up enough to continue on partying once we reached the floating bar.

We stayed there dancing until the bartender finally closed the bar, and we all jumped off the top deck of the ship and swam back to Sugar Beach.

The next morning Mikey was missing, with the dinghy.

I woke up to the sound of panicked voices overhead, radio messages being sent back and forth, and a sickening feeling, not from overindulging the night before, but from something being terribly wrong. I knew there was nothing I could do, and so figured the biggest help would be to just stay out of the way.

The coast guard was called, a missing vessel and missing person were reported, a neighboring boat went around to every boat in the bay looking to see if he had crashed someplace else... nothing. I spent the morning dozing in and out of a half sleep, feeling useless, listening to the crackle and beeping of messages being sent back and forth to the coast guard over the radio.

Several hours passed and all anyone could do was sit around and wait.

And wait.

At long last, sometime late in the afternoon a familiar voice came over the radio. Mikey told us to come pick him up on Nanny Cay. He had no idea how he had gotten there, or where the dinghy was, but he was on Nanny Cay, and if you're not familiar with the Virgin Islands, that was a very long detour (five miles) from what should have been a 100 yard dinghy ride from one boat to the next.


So we set sail, making our way past St. John, and on to Tortola. We finally arrived at Nanny Cay, which was not at all what I was expecting. I hear the word cay or caye or key or however you want to spell it, and think of a little deserted sand barge with a few palm trees; the perfect place to disappear for a day and play Robinson Crusoe. What I don't picture is a ritzy marina and boatyard, but that's where we found ourselves, and that's where we were reunited with Mikey. We stayed just long enough to eat away our anxiety over a lunch of rotis and listen to the scarce snippets and pieces that Mikey remembered. He remembered that the motor on the dinghy had stopped working, and so he had tied a rope around his waist, leashing the dinghy to himself and swimming the rest of the way. Once on shore in Tortola, he had tied the dinghy up and left, only to return to find it gone. It was after that that he had walked two miles to Nanny Cay, only to bump into an official personal of some sort (coast guard or park ranger) who was startled to see him and told him they needed to call off the chopper. I also forgot to mention previously that Mikey was a US Virgin Islands park ranger, ex marine, fighter jet mechanic, and sailor.


After lunch the air was still tense with emotional stress, so we all made our way back to the boat and continued on our way to the Baths.