Location: Spanish Town, BVI

We awoke this morning in the Spanish Town anchorage to the unmistakable sounds of a fire drill, a test of our preparedness for a true emergency. Everybody was awake and on deck within a minute and a half, and I’m sure the sweet aroma of homemade cinnamon rolls from the galley didn’t hurt this timing either. After breakfast, the crew had some free time ashore to get their fix of cheeseburgers and ice cream, not to mention also stock up on seasickness meds and provisions for the upcoming passage. We readied Ocean Star and secured her contents before departing for the 150-mile passage to Nevis in the early afternoon. The crew is looking forward to the time at sea and anticipating a stiff north/north easterly breeze and many flying fish sightings. Jack read us a sweet poem about being a schooner sailor to mentally prepare for the journey; here’s a passage: We enjoyed a beautiful rosy sunset for our first dinner underway as we got into the the rhythm of 3-hr watch routines. A great kick-off for our first big passage. See you in Nevis! Sea Slug Cocktail (courtesy of Jack) Down the dock, with a swaggering walk, came another salty lad. A hollow fid was in his hand, a sextant in his bag. From the placid Caribbean, where Hed made himself a name, Hed come to join the big rigs, and sail the bounding main. Of spinnakers and bloopers, and Cunninghams and such, He could tell you A to Z, he seemed to know as much, As all those red-pants yachties, who’ll tell you of the storms they’ve fought, While sailing round the sound in boats of frozen snot. But he said he knew the gaffers, he could tell you throat from peak, Hed brought along his Ashley’s and smeared tar upon his cheek, And so that day he stepped aboard the big rigs salt-stained deck, His eagerness to take the helm was barely held in check. Now Wayne the Mate was forward, and Dan the Bosun was too Just sittin up in the Rum Sharks Lounge and knockin back a brew I don’t know, says Wayne the Mate, about our newest hand, He claims to be a schooner boy, but his boot is full of sand. He steps aboard and spins a yarn bout all the rigs hes known, But lets see him up in the widowmaker when the hawse is full o foam. Lets send him aloft on a stormy night with his belly full of supper, And make him hand the topsail when there are fishes in the scupper. Me thinks yer right! says Bosun Dan, And so I have a plan, With which tonight, we will prove the mettle of this man. You meet me here in the Rum Sharks Lounge, and though our ways be rude, Well make a proper schooner boy of this inland waters dude! That night up in the focsle they assembled all the gang. The fun was fast and furious, and loud the hootchbird sang. And amidst the din of shanties, and the strumming of guitars, In walks the new recruit, the jaunty, would-be tar. A yachting cap was on his head, topsiders on his feet! The boys all rose to greet him and they offered him a seat. To the brotherhood before the mast, we welcome you! they roared, We knew that you were one of us the minute you stepped aboard. And so, continued Bosun Dan to the blushing new deckhand, We’ve assembled the elite of the schooner fleet, they here before you stand, And just one thing would fill their hearts; one thing would bring them joy. They wish to make you, honored sir, a bona-fide schooner boy. Now the same, some say, is one whose sailed through a roaring water spout, But most genuine authorities, that definition doubt. And its a general notion of this assemblage of renown, That a schooner boy is one who drinks a sea slug cocktail down. A puzzled look crossed the new mans brow. I trust you do not tease. A cocktail I understand, but whats this sea slug please? Were not surprised, says Wayne the Mate, The sea slug you do not know, For they cling to keels of deep-water ships in the seas where the big rigs go. They’re soft and fat and pasty white, and feed upon red lead, And bottom slime, and barnacles, and stuff that’s pumped from the head! A toughish yarn, laughed the new recruit, as well you may admit, But Id like to see this little beast, before I swallow it. Tis easy done! cried Bosun Dan Ho! Cookie, hast and bring, Bring forth some pickled sea slugs of the vintage of last spring. So the cook went into the galley, and in the reefer found, A jar of slimy sea slugs, in sperm whale vomit, drowned. And then she mixed the critters up in the shaker of squid secretion, And handed them over to Wayne and Dan, who drank down the creation. The would-be schooner boy turned green, his face a ghostly pale. He bounded out of the forepeak and headed for the rail. And there he pumped his bilges, while the schooner boys made jest. And if you’ve read your Service, then undoubtedly you’ve guessed That the sea slugs in those cocktails, of such formidable size, Were just chunks of macaroni, with red ink dots for eyes. But if you were a Schooner Boy, you’d know it was no sham, Those were bona-fide sea slugs, no sweat for Wayne and Dan. For a schooner boy is forged in hell, he knows not little pains. His stomachs lined with iron; he has salt water in his veins! – Unknown, passed down from Capt. Tofferi