Edruska: A Luxury Cruise in the Caribbean for 5 (Very) Lucky Women.

The ultimate.

The ultimate.

We are a group of five women, 3 professionals on vacation and two teenagers. We are all eager to sail, snorkel and explore as much of the Caribbean as we can fit into our week trip.

I had read a short history of the Virgins as named by Columbus in 1493 after St. Ursula and her following of 11,000 virgins who were attacked by the Huns and sacrificed their lives rather than submit to a fate less tolerable. Spain laid claim to this territory at the time, as it did with the Americas. There was a frontier mentality on the archipelago, which makes an arch from Trinidad to Florida. The native Caribs, who gave us the word “cannibal” already inhabited these islands. They had already absorbed the other native group, the Arawaks, and viewed the Spanish as more fresh dinner. Even the force of the Inquisition was not enough to conquer the determined violence of the Caribes.

IMG_0103As Spain’s hold on this territory began to fade, other nations began to use the Virgin Islands at a trading post due to their convenient location. Piracy flourished, and the term “privateer” was created to mean a sort of loosely legitimized brand of piracy for the benefit of the English, Dutch, French and Danish nations. Eventually colonization began to stabilize the evolving agrarian society based largely on sugar cane plantations, and brought with it the slave trade. In 1717 a census reports 625 people on the island of Virgin Gorda, half of them black. By 1750 the population had grown to nearly 2,000 with the largest number of them being slaves. The sugar beet became a cash crop in Europe at that time, which severely impacted the cane plantations, leading to slave revolts on all the islands. By 1800 the slaves were freed and the white population had all but deserted these islands. In 1893 it is reported that there were only two white men in the BVI, the Deputy Governor and the doctor. The economy was practically non-existent, and in 1917 the Danish islands were sold to the US as a strategically defensive position for protecting approaches to the Panama Canal. Eventually the unspoiled environment and comfortable climate of these islands began to attract tourists, and the islands themselves began to create a stable economy for the residents.

IMG_0926What we are presented with now is friendly people, living laid back lives in an outrageously beautiful cluster of islands. Our charter began at Road Town, Tortola, where we spent the night at Village Cay Marina before departure. The open cab ride up and down the hills and out to Cane Garden Bay for dinner was an adventure timed perfectly for a dramatic tropical sunset revealing the adjacent islands. We walked along the sand to select one of the half dozen ocean front restaurants for dinner. Open porches on a wide white beach, live music, good food and the sun setting over the masts in the bay was our introduction to the Caribbean.

After dinner, we decided to drop by Bomba’s Shack, a popular hang out on Tortola. The structure is made entirely out of drift wood, beach findings and ladies’ underwear. This is a wild experience, and not to be missed. Built entirely out of driftwood with the underwear of visitors who cannot resist an evening swim stapled to the rafters, It became in my mind the world’s largest lingerie display! Every driftwood surface was covered with hand written notes which dated back only to the previous hurricane. After each major storm a brand new supply of ocean worn building materials is delivered to the beach for rebuilding the completely erased previous structure. This has been going on for nearly 40 years. The music was impossible to resist, the other visitors were laid back and friendly, and the famous Bomba Shack Full Moon Party was on!

IMG_0985The first thing I noticed walking up the pier to board S/Y Edruska the next morning was how elegant she looked. Captain Alan Reynolds and his wife Jo-Anne were as welcoming as the yacht herself. Edruska is a 63′ Richleigh Yacht designed by Rich Ford. During his nine years of chartering he meticulously recorded the details of what makes a charter boat powerful to sail and comfortable to live aboard. These notes were central to the design of the yacht, and proved to be very effective at designing a fast sailing boat that is spacious and easy to live aboard. It is not hard to understand why the Virgin Islands are world famous as a cruising destination. USVI and BVI offer short hops between islands, line of site navigation, calm waters, plenty of wind and overall great sailing. Distance between islands is such that you can easily have breakfast in one spot, have a beautiful passage followed by lunch and snorkeling in another spot, and then head out again for a sail to a different anchorage in time to catch a sunset. We left Road Town and had a one hour sail to the harbor of Maya Cove on Buck Island off the eastern end of Tortola. The water is so clear that it is impossible to tell the depth, the beach is white and pristine. We were the only boat there, alone in paradise.

IMG_0933Lunch was served on deck, comfortably under the awning. Cold tortellini salad, with salami and fresh crunchy red peppers, chilled white wine and fruit with one of Jo-Anne’s special sauces on top was the first indication that we were in for many culinary treats on board Edruska. After lunch we headed to The Bitter End, Virgin Gorda. The breeze blew at 12 knots, and proud Edruska made clean and exhilarating passage. Our two 19-year-olds Katie and Jordan had a real desire to learn to sail, and Alan proved to be an experienced and talented instructor. All afternoon the girls were at the helm with Alan quietly near. They learned to feel the hull passing through the water, watch the shape and tension of the sail, observe the wind over the water, and generally perceive the boat as an animal interacting with her environment. He encouraged them to understand the primitive and the romance, but also to read the well laid out instrumentation. We were Gods of the ocean in the buttery afternoon sun as Edruska’s fine hull cut through the water with that telltale shiver of full optimization.

Virgin Gorda is 10 miles long with some peaks rising to 1000 feet over glistening beaches. As we approached, we could see boulders standing up out of the water, which gave way to wide, white stretches of sand. The vegetation comes in a perfectly orchestrated tapestry of color and texture, culminating in a horizon peppered with more of the giant boulders which just barely cleared the trees. The turquoise water below and azure skies above seemed to wrap themselves around this uncluttered place in peaceful isolation. The sun set over the stern, while the full moon rose over the bow. Life aboard a proud ship in the company of friends both old and new created the sense that we all wanted time to stop right here. Alan delivered fresh tropical frozen cocktails, while Jo-Anne made a snack of mushroom caps filled with mixed cheeses. Dinner was sea bass with a very thin crust of potato and Jo-Anne’s wizardry with spices. Next came fresh sweet peaches and sliced almonds in créme frâiche topped with cinnamon.

laurenThe next morning we set sail for a spot at the southern end of Virgin Gorda called The Baths. At first sighting we found huge boulders littered along the shore, and then in piles sprinkled with palm trees which formed the tip of the island. Alan ran us over to the beach in the dinghy and told us to take the “lovely path.” The path is actually a trail through the piles of mammoth boulders. Water flows between them in places, forming turquoise pools large enough to swim in with streams of sunlight poking through. We played like children happily going from one beautiful space to another, over, under, around and between the rocks, swimming in sun streaked caves, and scrambling around the sandy paths. Lovely indeed.

Meanwhile, back on Edruska, Jo-Anne was fixing crab tortillas with shrimp sauce. When we were finally lured in from exploring the shore with promises of lunch, the table was all set. Snorkeling was one of our priorities, so Alan began to plan a route that would take us to the most beautiful spots at the right times of day. The BVI and USVI offer plenty of activity for those who would like to dance under the stars, but we were interested in good sailing, dramatic sunsets, quiet evenings and good camaraderie aboard. So, after another delicious meal, we set sail for Norman Island. The wind was up and we had a fine sail while we sat in the stern and talked with Jo-Anne about the islands that we were passing Ginger, Cooper, Salt and Peter.

eveningWe sailed to Soldiers Bay for the evening and there was nobody else around, just what we wanted. It had been a great day filled with coral and fish, paddling the kayak, and laced with excellent food. The moon performed again, and Alan gave us his night vision glasses. That is when we discovered that there is barely any space between the stars once you can see them all. The three cabins on Edruska are very comfortable, air conditioned and roomy, each with its own head & shower. Still, I slept on the fore deck cushions that night, because the sky was as big and bright as I had ever seen it. As I watched the stars emerge and listened to the gentle lapping at the hull, I felt like the luckiest woman in the universe. Being out in the air under the stars infuses your soul with a kind of poetry and connection to the islands.

breakfastThe next morning began at a lazy pace. I woke to the inviting smell of coffee and cooking in the galley. My friends emerged at their own comfortable times. Breakfast was served on deck, enough for twice as many as we were, and lots of variety. Over the three-course breakfast we discussed the tans that we were acquiring, and I was elected to ask the question. I told Alan that I currently did not have any tan lines, and was hoping not to get any. He had heard this from guests before and said that he would simply announce himself before coming forward on deck. From then on, the forward cushions were known as Lido Beach and total tanning was on.

Our photographer Dana is fearless, and she asked Alan if he would put her to the top of the mast in the boson’s chair. He was happy to oblige. She took of the islands from the top spreader. Watching her up there prompted me to want to see the view from 88 feet up. Before long the others wanted to go up too. My sister Audrey went only as far as the first spreader, due to her concerns with heights. Our captain was very attentive to the person in the boson’s chair and he stopped immediately at the first sign of her discomfort. It was an easy ride down whenever each of us was ready. Alan told me that no other guests had asked for this particular adventure, but from the mast you can see over the islands, from horizon to horizon and down into the coral reefs under the clear turquoise water. Alan wanted us to see The Caves on Norman Island, so we moved Edruska around the point.

Dana had her Nikonos loaded, and armed with a plastic bag full of bread we swam over. The amount and variety of marine life was amazing, and the fish emerged from every crevice when we began to feed them. We even had some time in the company of a sea turtle. The caves themselves are big enough to swim into, and contain a kind of glittery light that makes you want to stay forever. After lunch at the caves we set sail for Lameshur Bay, on St. John’s East End. The afternoon sail was so fast and beautiful that we were all hoping that it would take longer. After anchoring we took a drive into Cruise Bay to do a little necessary souvenir shopping and to clear customs, as this was now the USVI. The mountain road is treacherous with switchbacks and drop offs. The bay road offers incredible views into the turquoise bays. St John’s is 3/4s National Forest, so there are plentiful hiking trails.

anagadaWe arrived back in time for a sunset hike to the farthest eastern point, Ram’s Head. It’s an easy one-mile walk through low shrub, with a variety of cacti. From here there are dramatic views back on to Salt Pond and towards Tortola. We saw a glorious sunset enroute, and got back to Edruska just before dark. Alan’s justly famous frozen pina coladas were served with baked mussels. Dinner was Grouper with salad followed by chocolate souffl� and a dramatic celestial display.

We woke to another perfect day in paradise. Alan is a dive instructor, and Edruska has tanks aboard but the water is only 30′ or so deep and perfectly clear for snorkeling. We set out from the stern with snorkels and swam out to the point. We saw a huge barracuda along the way, and lots of different fish and corals, but the big treat was that we got to hang out with a sea turtle. Alan went right to the bottom and swam next to it looking for all the world like a dolphin. We also found two different types of rays, and some squid during our swim, but it was time to head around to the north side of St. John. Edruska did her thing at 9.5 knots with the gennaker up, and we had a fabulous passage to Leinster Bay, where we stopped for another suit expanding lunch of salmon salad completed by carrots carved into palm trees, green pepper slices for fronds, with olives standing in for cocoa nuts. There is a small island at the entrance to Leinster Bay which demanded exploring, and a wide view of the Sir Francis Drake Channel and Tortola. The kayak went into the water again, and some of us snorkeled. Again we all hoped that time would stop and leave us in this clear water, under sunny skies on a sailing yacht surrounded by good friends. We motored around the point to find anchorage for the evening in Francis Bay. By then it was that lovely time when Alan would come up the companionway with yet another variety of his now legendary island concoctions.

The Savior of the Sea in Little Harbor on Jost van Dyke

The Savior of the Sea in Little Harbor on Jost van Dyke


Dana, Audrey and I firmed up our plans to hijack Edruska. We told Alan and Jo-Anne our plans and they described headlines reading “Crew Resists All Attempts at Rescue.” The next morning we headed for Christmas Cove on the western point of St. John. The girls snorkeled with a spotted ray that Alan told us is always there to greet his guests. In the afternoon we headed for Jost Van Dyke. This was going to be our only real land based party. As the evening came on we decided to have dinner at Foxy’s. This is a spot famous for good food, cold beer and excellent music. We danced late into the night, and slept late into the morning. All of us would tell you not to miss an evening on Jost, because it really makes you feel that life is grand and time is simply irrelevant.

We had become one family of explorers during this week in the Caribbean, and could not believe that it was coming to a close. Just to spend a bit more time together we made plans for dinner at a night spot called Latitude 18 in Red Hook, St Thomas. The girls had hand painted a T-shirt for Alan, which we brought with us and presented with great ceremony. We danced to El Gato Grande until we simply could not dance any longer. It was the perfect ending to a perfect week of roaming free in paradise.

Charter Contact:
Richleigh Yachts
e-mail rich63@ix.netcom.com

Jalousie Plantation on St. Lucia Becoming Tides Sugar Beach

Descending into the Valle des Pitons at night.

Descending into the Valle des Pitons at night.

Driving through midnight darkness on the road from the airport down to Jalousie Plantation on St. Lucia was rather like sitting on a gyroscope. I adapted to the constant shift of climbing up hair pin turns glued to the pitches of the legendary peaks of the island, and then of course there was that going down thing.I never really considered exactly how many of these hairpin turns it took to reach Jalousie and sea level. Couldn’t really make it out in the dark, but rocking from the “going up” to the “going down” got my attention.

My cottage with Gros Piton on the right

My cottage with Gros Piton on the right

Lost in post air travel dimness I barely noticed the lovely white villa under the Flamboyant tree that would be home for the next week.   I disappeared into the most comfortable of beds and snapped off the light wondering at what this intensely vertical terrain must be like by daylight. By morning it did not disappoint. Seconds later the sun came up. Petit Piton was so close and so alarmingly huge that it consumed the window, filled the sky, stopped my brain in its tracks.

My cottage with a private pool looking out to sea

My cottage with a private pool looking out to sea

Through the white French doors at the foot of my bed I saw an elegant patio with a million blossoms around a charming small plunge pool and what was that beyond? Dripping sunlight glistened on the rainforest soaked trees that clung miraculously to the vertical sides of that impossible peak. I was stupefied by these visions until I found the coffee pot on the terrace and sat down to process where I was. Then I was humbled.

Jalousie in the Valle des Pitons

Jalousie in the Valle des Pitons

I had done my homework and learned that the visionary Lord Glenconner had purchased 492 acres between the pitons in the early ‘80s which included the old Jalousie Plantation, then a producer of Royal Lime. Under his guidance the Jalousie Plantation Resort opened its doors to a festive crowd of celebrities and royalty in the fall of 1993. This is the same Lord Glenconner who purchased a chunk of rock in 1968 which his vision evolved into the playground of the royal and elite known as Mustique.

Sugar Beach

Sugar Beach

In 2005 the resort on 192 acres was purchased by another experienced visionary, Roger Myers. He has joined forces with KOR/Tides to launch a $100 million regeneration of one of the most beautiful and unique sites on the planet. In so doing he has created a rare opportunity for investors to own part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Tides Sugar Beach Resort project is due for completion in 2011.

In the mean time Jalousie Plantation is open and glorious to visit. The villas are clean lined and elegant and with a cool white living room, huge bath with claw foot tub, separate shower room with garden access. The plunge pool with its flowers, sunny terrace and small bar set up create a lovely laid back way to pay homage to the gods that created the pitons!   The food is fresh, local, interesting, and served in three gourmet restaurants with a villa delivery option. Don’t miss the chef’s tasting menu! Jalousie offers to set up tables and serve your dinner anywhere on site so fire up your imagination and create an unforgettable evening!

buffet breakfast each morning by the beach

buffet breakfast each morning by the beach

Jalousie Plantation Villas offer 24 hour butler service,   a sweet West Indian Spa, a diving center under Petit Piton, the beach club with lounging under the palms, several different lounges inside and out, a children’s club and swimming pools. The list grows as renovation continues creating Tides Sugar Beach Resort. It seems as if every day I was there another inspiration was added to the plan. This very imaginative team of experienced resort creators is focused now on making the most exclusive and elegant complex in history. They intend to blow right by the “5 stars” designation and given the prospectus as designed and this heart-stopping UNESCO site it seems a possibility!

Meanwhile down the beach, our friend Lord Glenconner is not sitting on his laurels. Owning the rest of le Val des Pitons, he has planned a new village where owners and guests get to meet the locals who will run the restaurants and shops there. I heard about a dock capable of handling super yachts and a new wide sandy beach along the shore with paths for access to Tides Sugar Beach Resort.

There are bits of construction going on, but nothing that takes away from the experience of being in such a lush location. Together Jalousie Plantation, Tides Sugar Beach Resort and Glenconner Village nestled between the famous and unforgettable Pitons of St. Lucia seem destined to leave 5 stars behind to mere mortals.

For more information on visiting the Jalousie Plantation Resort http://www.thejalousieplantation.com/content/87.htm Tel: (758) 456 8000 reservations@thejalousieplantation.com

For more information on Tides Sugar Beach Resort contact Lisa Basire, Post Office Box 251, Soufriere, Saint Lucia,+ 44 (0) 208 812 4761,+ 44 (0) 7917 701486, + 44 (0) 208 874 8205, lisa.basire@sugarbeachvillas.com

How to get to St. Lucia and Jalousie Plantation:

There are two airports on St. Lucia, Hewanorra Int. Airport (UVF) in the south and the George F. L. Charles Airport (SLU) in the north. American Airlines flies direct from Miami daily. US Airways and Delta have staggered schedules in. Jet Blue is starting to service the island. From the UK British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have flights. LIAT offers local flights between the islands. There is a departure tax of EC$68 ($26 US) per adult which is built in to a round trip ticket. A taxi from either airport to Jalousie Plantation is roughly EC $120 ($50 US) for up to 4 people.

S/Y Brilliant or How to Leave the Land by Schooner

ChuckBefore my eyes a New York city Lawyer turned twelve year old boy as his sky blue eyes scanned the busy Mystic River while directing our two masted schooner out to sea. Like Frank, Earl & Jen and myself, Chuck was a guest aboard the Mystic Seaport’s training schooner. No computers here, no TV or even music to distract from the sounds of rigging and hull responding to the wind and waves or the gentle chatter of getting to know our boat and fellow travelers as we sailed.

Under the guidance of Captain George Moffitt and mate/chef Keith Chmura our mission was to learn old fashioned sailing. Before setting off, Keith assigned our bunks, offered the all-important “head lesson” followed closely by all the various safety procedures finishing with a drill on boat handling. George’s twenty years of experience as captain/teacher aboard Brilliant had us eager to face what four days of wind, weather and sea might present as we learned to sail between the islands and harbors of the New England coastline.

departingThe river was mirror smooth as we passed beneath the railroad bridge. Our first lesson in raising sails on a gaff rigged schooner was done without too much tension on the lines. All four lower sails went up peacefully with our main concern being where the lobster pots were. Brilliant sliced neatly through the flat sea but when we passed Race Rock, the breezes freshened to six knots as suddenly as if someone had turned on a fan.

As we made the turn at Plum Gut towards Gardener’s Island two hours later, Keith arrived on deck with antipasto on excellent slices of bread and the scent of luscious beef stew followed him up the companionway. The disembodied voice of NOAA spoke of the front we could now see approaching with its flashes of red and gold bursting on the horizon, at once hypnotically beautiful and alarming. The air had that round rolling feel that usually precedes a heavy rain. Some people thrive on that kind of exciting turbulence. I am one of those, as long as I can see my way to a safe harbor. In this case it was Sag Harbor and it was right around the point.

SettingUpAs we put our schooner to bed that first night, the wind on deck became a gale while Keith put “Brilliant Bouillabaisse” on the table in the saloon. This original blend of mussels, scallops and fish in rich broth had spiced aoli on floating toast sprinkled shredded cheese on top. I am certain that I am not the only one who was feeling entirely well fed already, when the fork tender medallions of steak drizzled with zesty horseradish sauce arrived at the table. I noticed that we all began reclining against the back of our seats when the sliced melons and nectarines layered with Crème Fraiche arrived. It was clear that we were not going to starve.

By 9:30PM with the rain pounding on the deck overhead, we could legitimately climb into our cozy bunks declaring it a full day of exercise, salt air and great food. I never sleep better than I do on a boat, and this night was no exception. Voices drifted through the dark saying good night in the soft tones of tired bodies and it was as good as fondly remembered summer camp.

AtTheDockAs an early riser, I had the first few minutes of buttery sunlight to myself. George hosed off the deck while I chamoised hatches and rails as the smell of coffee wafted up the companionway. If NOAA predictions were correct (only a 48% probability) we were in for a long day of running before the wind to cover the 60 miles from Sag Harbor, NY to Newport, Rhode Island.

Brilliant’s name is also an adjective which only applies when all hands spend a bit of time every day polishing the beautiful brass winchs, cleats and fittings aboard. George calls this the “Brilliant Mantra”. I found this polishing a pleasant activity performed over that first cup of coffee, accompanied by quiet talk as we enjoyed the early morning. The time was short lived though, soon to be replaced by warm french toast, sliced peaches and maple syrup.

As we eased away from the breakwater at Sag Harbor we could see the chop on the waves indicating plenty of wind. Blue skies, warming sun and 18k of breeze set us up for the Gollywobbler and the asymmetrical pole-less spinnaker. We made ten knots of speed over the bottom. By late afternoon we comfortable with what the deck jobs were, and how to do them properly under the watchful eyes of Keith and George. Frank and I talked of how we were in no hurry to get ashore, it had been a wonderful day at sea and we wanted it to linger.

SettingUpEntering Newport harbor Endeavour greeted us with that uncanny ability she has of appearing to make 20k while still on the mooring. We were early for our dock space so we took a leisurely wander through the mooring field. Graceful Gleam slid by on her way to collect guests for an evening sail, followed closely by the elegant dark hull of Northern Light. Both captains hailed George and exchanged welcomes. This is an early summer ritual born of each captain’s understanding of how many parts must come together to ready a classic yacht for the season. The sense of reunion is clear. This atmosphere carried into the evening as we were loosed on Banisters wharf where captains, crew and visitors created a festive scene that would only accelerate as the season progressed.

The next day we were heading for Block Island roughly 35 miles away. There was absolutely no wind as we left Newport but NOAA’s bleating voice had promised light wind from the south-west turning mid-day to 10-12 out of the North. Jokes about the accuracy of weather prediction aside, we turned on the engine and hoped they were right. Arabella, a classic famous for having 50’ inserted between bow and stern, had just picked up a mooring when we passed her. More new season greetings were exchanged between captains over the rails.

ragingWe motored out for a while, but collectively decided that a slow day under sail was still better than speed plus engine noise. We put up the #1 jib along with the staysail and the main. There is truly no louder silence that the first instant after the engine is shut off on a sailboat, especially when the sea is quiet. Brilliant slid quietly towards Block Island. I dozed in the warm sun with the soft voices of George, Chuck and Keith drifting forward from the cockpit, lulled by the even motion of the boat gliding through the soft swells and the soothing sounds of the hull in the water. I eased awake when the angle of heel increased and noticed then that Sarah, Paula and Doug were beginning to stir from the same relaxed state as the breeze freshened.

But George was visibly alert, listening with his head turning slowly as he watched the wind over the water. He asked us to get the #2 up on deck and be ready to bring in the #1. As we were doing that it seemed like all hell broke loose. We had just gotten the #2 on deck for a sail change when a wall of wind marched through and we were slammed with 35ks. In truth it took about ten minutes to build but that is practically no time at all aboard a schooner doing a sail change.

jibdownThere is a complicated dance associated with doing a sail change in high winds, but George and Keith calmly directed us through it. Earl and Frank were out on the bowsprit while the rest of us hauled in the huge #1 before it could be shredded or filled with water. Our rails were fully submerged with water running freely inches deep along the deck. We moved about carefully and consciously as Brilliant sliced along through the white caps blowing off the chop. It was an exhilarating 15 minutes after which the wind settled into about 20k as we raged towards Block Island.

We did discuss doing the “harbor burn”, basically shooting through the channel under sail, but considering Brilliant’s 47 tons of momentum nobody would even find the pieces of a small craft that chose not to observe a sailboat’s right of way. We dutifully brought down the sails outside the channel and motored peacefully through the interior chop to the dock.

BeforeAfterA small crowd of locals warmly greeted our arrival at the Block Island Boat Basin. George was again waving and greeting old friends as he directed the fairly complex docking arrangement required in such winds. Brilliant seems to draw appreciators at every dock, we observed this phenomenon often. Whether or not you understand the true nature of such a yacht, you can’t miss the seaworthy resonance such an honest boat.

We used our residual adrenaline to clean the boat before heading up to The Oar for a wee dram. On the deck of the local pub overlooking Brilliant at rest, we talked about another aspect of this boat’s history, racing. George is justifiably proud of Brilliant’s performance, he calls it “successfully racing an elephant against gray hounds”. George limits the schedule because the stresses on gear and the risk to the boat are high but he believes that it does help with training for a crew to focus on an objective.

ChartReadingAboard Brilliant the world becomes smaller and perceivable, populated only by the friendly and adventurous group aboard and united by teamwork and being in tune with the elements. Days are filled with the rythm of raising, lowering or trimming sails, punctuated by Keith’s creative and irresistible cuisine. Evening brings exploration of some new or familiar harbor followed by the summer camp atmosphere of bunking in an open saloon.

And at the end of four days, what had I gained? I learned that the kind of life at sea that Brilliant represents is a larger subject than only the sailing. George and Keith instruct visitors in the total adventure of being “boat people” and that there is something very restorative about that. I learned that beautiful Brilliant, and by extension probably all schooners, are in constant need of caretaking, understanding and guidance. Without such programs as the Mystic Maritime Museum offers, schooners would surely remain tied up at the dock. I learned that George’s 20 years of accumulated experience has evolved into instincts that should always be respected. I learned that Frank, Chuck, Earl & Jen and the more than nine thousand others who have had the experience of pulling strings aboard Brilliant will return because they can’t help it. Certainly I will.

medrivingTo attend a schooner training program aboard Brilliant:
There are 6 Teen programs scheduled from Sunday through Friday in July/Aug
There are 6 Adult programs from Friday to Monday beginning in September


Schooner  Program
Mystic Seaport Museum
75 Greenmanville Avenue
P.O. Box 6000
Mystic, Ct 06355-0990
Ph: 860.572.5344
Email: visitor.services@mysticseaport.org
Web: www.mysticseaport.org