An homage to the good ship Atabeyra, Turks & Caicos

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It’s not every day that a slice of heaven fall is your lap, but yesterday was just such a day. Let me preface by saying that the latest vacation villa rental season in Turks & Caicos had been grueling and I was exhausted.  I’d gotten to the point where  my ability to focus seemed nil. I mean, for heaven’s sake, I forgot to pick up my beautiful 5 year old grandson, Maddox, to go play soccer,  just a few days before! At almost 60, with all our rental villas slamming for the season, 15-18 hours days for months on end are no longer so easy to do. I was weary, so weary…

Then, chatting with good friend Jenny Douglas two days prior – she and her husband Dave own beautiful Atabeyra, a 77 foot traditionally rigged trading schooner retired from cargo service, (the vessel traded for years between Hispaniola and the Turks & Caicos Islands carrying such commodities as rum , beer, produce, plants and building materials) – I mentioned that I had never, in the 16 years I’d known them, been aboard their ship.  To my surprise and delight, she and Dave immediately invited my husband Antonio and I to enjoy a sail  the following day. And oh, what a day – what a glorious day –  it was!

So yesterday, quite eagerly, Antonio and I climbed aboard Atabeyra with ten others, and with blue clouds in the sky and the wind in our sails, we skimmed the ocean blue. Though the sea was rough in the north, preventing us from snorkeling the reef, we scooted over to the south side to visit the abandoned ship.  The were all sorts of fishies – don’t ask me their names! – and the water was relatively calm and deliciously inviting.

From there, we made our way to Fort George while enjoying delicious nachos and yummy punch, where we sailed onto the beach and got the chance to wander, swim and collect shells. Some were even lucky enough to find sand dollars.

While all of this was amazing and incredibly relaxing, the highlight was seeing an old ‘friend’. JoJo, our famed dolphin, joined us and followed Atabeyra – a ship he is most fond of and regularly comes to greet, says Captain Dave – for some 20 minutes as we made our way home. Watching him enjoying Atabeyra’s draft, lolling and cruising, was truly spiritually uplifting!  It was so wonderful to see him again, having not caught sight of him for some two years. He looked older and weathered and it made me a little sad, while at the same time, my heart burst with happiness shifting through memories of joyful times watching my daughter, Natalie, swimming with him off the beach at Club Med some 30 years ago. A reminder too, however, that time is passing not just for JoJo, as I, too, am older and more weathered now.

And so, with new friends made, and with old friends to offer heartfelt thanks for this incredible journey, we made our way back to dock.  I disembarked with a lightness of heart, feeling refreshed and reinvigorated; happy Basia – who doesn’t forget to pick up her grandson – once more! (Thank you, Maddox, for forgiving me!) 🙂

For those of you new to our beautiful country, the Turks & Caicos Islands, and for those who come back to visit often, don’t miss the opportunity to sail Atabeyra to enjoy your ‘slice of heaven’.  You’ll fall in love with the ship, the amazing crew (Captain’s Dave and Tibby rock!!), and without doubt, our ocean blue. And if the fates conspire, you, too, will enjoy the unique pleasure of making a new ‘friend’, as JoJo joins you to frollick with the good ship Ataybera!

Atabeyra, Turks & Caicos

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