Sailing to the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean 1500

The Crew

Jeff Edwards and CiCi Sayer in the cockpit, en route to Tortola. Click on the picture to see a bigger version; use your browser's "back" command to return here.   Greta Gormley on watch, en route to Tortola. I got a kick out of the book she was reading, "Get Rid of Boat Odors", which came from Jeff's library of boating books. Click on the picture to see a bigger version; use your browser's "back" command to return here.

When Jeff bought Night Heron in Rhode Island earlier in the fall, he hired a delivery captain to help him bring the boat down to Virginia. Once they arrived at Tidewater Marina, the delivery captain departed as planned and Jeff began the arduous task of preparing the boat for the Caribbean 1500. One of the tasks was to sign up crew to help sail Night Heron to Tortola.

He had already decided to invite his friend CiCi Sayer, who is an experienced cruiser and licensed boat captain from San Diego, California. CiCi lives on her sailboat and alternates seasonally between moorings in San Diego and Catalina Island, where she works as a shoreboat captain. CiCi has lots of offshore cruising experience from several previous crewing adventures.

Jeff and CiCi decided that they wanted a total of four crew, so they needed two more people. The Caribbean 1500 organizers knew in advance that some boats would need additional crew, so they established a volunteer crew registry on their web site. I had filled out the form to sign up, as had my friend Greta Gormley. After Jeff and CiCi got the list of available crew, they picked out names and emailed people, including me. After an initial phone conversation with Jeff, I drove down to Portsmouth to meet him and to look at Night Heron (a 236 mile drive, each way).

Although Night Heron looked big and sturdy and comfortable, I noticed a few problematic details right away, like the big empty space in the bilge where the engine should have been. Jeff was in the middle of a long list of extensive repairs and improvements, and I had my doubts whether the boat would be ready in time. Nevertheless, I expressed a willingness to serve as crew. I also decided to spend some time helping with the preparations, which I talk about in the Preparing For The Voyage section. I wound up visiting the boat twice, plus arriving early for the final visit (when we sailed away), so I put in a total of about two weeks of preparation time.

Meanwhile, Jeff and CiCi needed one more crew member, and I recommended my friend Greta, who keeps a cruising sailboat in Solomons, Maryland. Greta is an artist and entrepreneur with an indomitable spirit, and in addition to being an experienced sailor, she is also a terrific cook. Greta visited the boat to meet Jeff, and later made another trip to meet CiCi, as well as arriving for the final visit with a rental car loaded with provisions.

Ultimately, we all got together and formed the crew of Night Heron. Oh yes, there's one more crewperson: Schooner, who is CiCi's Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog). Schooner is well-trained as a boat dog, since he and CiCi live on a boat full-time (they commute to shore by dinghy).

As for the financial arrangements, each crew person paid for his or her own expenses, including transportation to/from the boat and splitting the cost of provisioning, while Jeff paid for all the boat expenses, including the per-crew entry fee for the Caribbean 1500.

In the next section, take a look at Night Heron and learn about its features and accommodations.

Schooner, CiCi's Shetland Sheepdog, on board Night Heron. Click on the right-hand picture to see a bigger version; use your browser's "back" command to return here.

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