Living aboard a sailboat was probably one of the greatest periods of my life. It meant that I always had a lot of company and always tried to take 4 or 5 day weekends to take them sailing. This particular trip I had my Mom and one of her friends visiting for the Thanksgiving after my Dad had passed away. The plan was for Mom to come and stay with me from late November until mid-January and not have her be alone at all for the holidays. Her friend would fly home after the holiday and a week of visiting. Thanksgiving weekend we decided to go sailing around the island of St. John, USVI. We were moored in one of my favorite bays called Hawksnest Bay.
There were only a few boats at anchor with us that day and evening. We snorkeled, sunbathed on the beautiful beach and had a glorious day. We decided that we would go ashore by dinghy and drive into town. A friend had left us a vehicle in the parking lot for us to use that evening for a quick sightseeing tour around the island and then dinner in town.
Mom was great on the boat. She never got seasick and was always a good sport and willing to try anything I suggested. She was, however, a little bit unstable getting in and out of the dinghy. The dinghy was made of rigid fiberglass but had great stability and a pretty flat bottom. It wasn’t very tippy and it slid over the water easily. They were called the Vieques Dinghy and they came from the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. I had a teak tread ladder that went down the side of the sailboat, and all she had to do was go down the ladder backwards and step squarely and firmly onto the dinghy’s large front seat. For some reason, she just never got the hang of it and she’d always push away as she stepped onto the seat, which in turn made the dinghy slide away from her.
She had one foot on the ladder and stepped into the dinghy and of course pushed out at the same time. Picture the dinghy starting to slide away with Mom having one foot in and one foot still on the ladder. She did the splits, and there was nothing I could do to help her… She had her prescription glasses on and her handbag hanging from her shoulder. She couldn’t hold on and ended up falling into the water. My Mom has always been a good sport and very resilient. I was just getting ready to jump in, when she bobbed back to the surface still holding on to the ladder! Her handbag barely got wet, and she came up laughing with her head tilted up and her glasses still perched on her nose. She was fine and thought the whole thing was a fun adventure!
I got her back aboard, she changed her clothes and then I finally got her into the dinghy without further incident… That is until we motored up onto the beach! The dinghy was half ashore and I jumped out with the line to tie us down. I then took Mom’s hand and was helping her fling a leg over the side and step ashore. She did that just fine, but then pushed off again with her other leg and she ended up doing a face plant into the wet sand. Again, she just laughed, brushed herself off and said, “Let’s go eat, I’m starving!”. She was always a good sport.