Managing Momentum

Newport, RI. Photo JAL
Might as Well. (photo of a gift card given to me)

I’m learning to sail – again. As captain of my own small fleet of sailing vessels for half a century I’ve worked to project a confident, responsible persona. I have a hearty respect for the power of wind that some call Maria. She can instantaneously morph from a catatonic state into a raging bitch.  I accept the truism that water always wins and pay Neptune homage before leaving the dock. I’m sensitive to the moment a boat settles into the center of effort as the hull, wind, and water harmonize.

Translating experience into coherent lessons that will be my legacy to grandkids takes a whole lot more than visual imagery and sea tales. Sailing is a very technical skill set that comes down to managing momentum. It’s about knowing how things should move predictably on command and understanding most stuff is driven by universal laws of physics. That’s a writer’s way to politely say, “all that wind and water colliding with my boat scares the living s•¶∞ out of me.”

I’m learning to sail racing dinghies in 708 billion gallons of salt water that covers 147 square miles. Here critical race theories are grounded in physics not history. I’m getting reoriented to the basics of energy, motion, and force that involve gauging the wind to trim sails, tending the tiller to aim the boat, and anticipating wind gusts to avoid a dunking.  

I’m the senior in the adult sailing class. I’m pretty sure some of my classmates and instructors were born in the 21st century. I’m in the third act of life that my parents’ generation described as “go-go, slow-go, no-go”. Say it ain’t so, Boomer! Researchers concluded that Nuns are better equipped to dodge cognitive decline because they do crossword puzzles and used to sport wimples that kept jowls tightly concealed and elevated lower eyelashes to the mid-brow. Nuns were forever young looking in a stiff sort of way.

My generation isn’t known for our rosary beads. We are the very souls our parents warned us about. We’re not porch sitters. We are big dawgs who run for fun, explore, cultivate, and create while earnestly disrupting our parents’ notions about aging. We’ve got will and momentum with a sharp eye on the clock. Being mindful of Now we devote less energy to reminiscing our past lives in favor of tackling the future.

Dog Days Race @ Wickford Yacht Club. Video from Race Committee Boat. jal

Narragansett is an Indigenous name meaning “people of the small point.” I’ve forged fresh friendships on the shores of the Bay. Whether on the waves or ashore, the small point that connects us is the belief that we can never stop learning about life. The sea’s in our veins, we’re forever sailing forward, always forward. First word Across, seven letters, “beginning a voyage, leaving a harbor.”  

My Crew – Team Levesque. Surprise 70/50 Private Cruise around Newport Narragansett Bay July 2021

Thanks to Shale for a great sailing lesson and to Skip for coining the phrase, managing momentum.


Somewhere Under the Rainbow. Photo by Scott Berstein

What makes people happy? Abe Lincoln was quoted 50 years after he died for implying that happiness is what people get when they set their minds to being happy. A century later Pharrell Williams invited us to “clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.” That’s being meta-happy, you experience happiness when you think you’re happy, and that makes people near you happy too.

Nautilus Stained Glass by Barbara Dawson Makes Me Happy

For past 86 years, Harvard researchers have been studying what makes adults happy. Being happy requires a lot of verbs, making it more of an action than a disposition. The Harvard crew discovered that happy adults are highly aware of what it takes to be happy. They are constantly choosing to be happy with whatever they do. This seems to be a commitment to embracing the the best and worst of times with minimal guidance from Charles Dickens.

As we reunite with kith and kin after months of social distancing, I hear more positive things about the lockdown than negative aspects of being in a room with the leaky roof.  One friend, married for over 40 years said she came to really appreciate her husband and treasures the way they made it through a pandemic together. Another stated the lockdown freed her from social anxiety. She felt peace and comfort during the time she simply tended to her home. People seem to be reconstructing their memories of 2020 to shape stories about the creative endeavors they took on and new things learned, like total household weekly need for toilet paper.

Tending to our closest relationships makes us happy. Clap along if you know how good it feels to strengthen ties with the people who matter most in your life. Nobody needs a Harvard lecture to appreciate the value of true friendship and having a place within a family circle. After a year and a half of only seeing me on a flat screen my youngest grandkids think grandparents are much like Flat Stanley. Clap along if you think happiness, is the truth.

The third ingredient of happiness may be the hardest to feel that it’s what you want to do. It’s taking care of yourself physically, financially, and emotionally. Happy people, young and older, sense time is limited. A friend advised me to separate my emotional connection from our home, sell it for top dollar, wait two years for the market to collapse, and then buy a really nice place on the water. I declined, citing I only have a finite number of “two years” left and want to be happy in a place shared by wonderful neighbors. Personal, family, and my small local community well-being have taken priority over financial gain. Happy people choose how and with whom they spend time with. Clap your hands if you know what happiness is to you.

Mark Twain reflected that some of the worst times in his life never happened. Happiness is not about forgetting that bad times are hell. We can’t always do or have what we want.  In general, I consider myself a very happy person. It’s what I want to be. I don’t go as far as Thoreau did by sucking the marrow out of the bone of life, but I tend to take big bites. Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do.

Happiness is a pair of new Top Siders.
They Fit Me.

Read again and sing along,


Nest IRB

Beach path, The Nest on Indian Rocks Beach

Normal is relative and over rated. What’s a normal boat look like? While you’re at it, show me a typical beach. I expect unique responses – from Hobie Cats to the sliver of sand at Mavericks in Half Moon Bay. Normal boats and beaches span a wide spectrum – the way each color of a rainbow has its own identity and right of being.


South Denpasar,Bali Beach and Boats JAL

What’s a normal person like? Psychologists decided that like boats and beaches people can be judged on what is deemed as normal and typical. They set up a scale that ranges behaviors by factors such as social deficits and strengths (easy to get along with to PITA), clarity of communication (clear to garbled), interests (boats and swamp pluff), repetitive motion (ex., swimming and finger tapping), and sensory issues (loves to be wet or no contact with water).

We show an interest by engaging with it regularly or collecting a whole bunch of it. When someone’s focus seems is fixated to the point it becomes a defining character trait others may question whether or not the interest is healthy and normal. People can be critical of others and judge their habits as indicators of weirdness.


If the shoe fits…

I was a geeky kid who hiked alone through swamps, creeks, fields and harbors collecting stuff to look at under my microscope. I collected books to read and stack up in my room should the need to read them again arise as predictably as a neap tide. By middle age, collecting boats was more interesting than merely collecting books about boats. As the economy prospered my interest flourished and sails, paddles, engines, ropes, and anchors accumulated.


Blue Hues on the Block Island Ferry JAL

I needed to tame my passion for the sea with something requiring less space, maintenance, and annual property taxes. I thought about my youth spent toting a butterfly net and knapsack stuffed with collection jars trudging through the shallow waters of Long Island Sound. I saw myself in the same footwear year in and out – brown, scuffed, sloppy and soggy Topsiders. My tickets to the sea held ten toes, two feet and a prayer to be invited on somebody’s boat. I showed up uninvited at yacht clubs and marinas but was never turned away. Topsiders were calling cards, proof of membership among groups whose social calendar centered on tides and waterlines. Who else would wear grungy leather shoes with white rubber soles in an era of Go Go boots and ballet flats?

Somewhere along the spectrum of normal is a tiny speck for people who temper their constant desire to be on the water by slipping into a pair of deck shoes. That’s my sweet spot on the rainbow. I wear them for play and work – because I can. Topsiders aren’t particularly comfortable shoes. Their weak arch support is balanced with a tenacious grip on wet decks that prevents a lot of painful slips and injuries. Security creates the feeling of comfort.

IMG_5968Some professional women strut their stuff with Tory Burch. I’m confident in my Sperrys. I accessorize the crisp lines of Brooks Brothers pinstripes with color appropriate Topsiders. My collection spans a rainbow of colors that match my quirks and wardrobe.

Obviously, anyone with a tight grasp of normal is going to find me pushing the envelop at either end of the spectrum. Knowing this makes me sensitive to and appreciative of; off-the-bubble nerds, gentle souls, misunderstood leaders, idiosyncratic neighbors, students of all ages, and interesting yet atypical people. I fit with some and not well with others.

That’s okay. The only things that I collect more obsessively than Topsiders are words. I line Jeri@Ragtime-1them up, left to right, in all kinds of combinations of consonants, vowels, verbs and nouns. I’ve just arranged 587 words for no better reason than to mull over the notion that normal is found at every point on the spectrum of human behavior. Why do I like Topsiders so much? Because collecting lots of shoes to wear on boats is a whole lot less expensive and more normal than collecting lots of boats to match with shoes.

Holy Carp!


Asian Carp plays Pomp & Circumstance. Photo by Ted Lawrence, Great Lakes Fishery Commission

Regardless of what college or university claimed you after high school – proof of study was found in the “Freshman 15” pounds of excess ballast packed on during that first year away from Mom’s home cooking. The lure of unlimited helpings, highly salted carbs “on demand” coupled with bottomless mugs of “adult beverages” trump any resolve maintain a healthy diet. I fondly remember how Coney Dogs sloshed around my gut. These boiled hotdogs were smothered in chili, mustard, onions and pickles nestled within a steamy bun – 3 for a buck – and inhaled after frat parties. This was being real adults, “to eat whenever we want”, I’d slur to my friends – who wondered why they had a wicked headache and were a dollar short the next day.


Super-Sized Lunch for Mizzou Courtesy US Geological Survey

Boaters on the Mississippi River despise invasive, ugly, nasty Asian carp that launch unexpectedly high out of the water and crash on deck in a mess of slime and bloody guts. Carp are disruptive, annoying and in most people’s opinions – tasteless. Asian carp are like college freshman – they are voracious eaters with minimal sense of dining etiquette. Upper classmen avoid them unless they are saturated with “too much too too” at which point they are fair game for things you never write home about.

Like carp, freshmen leave little behind except a messy, undernourished environment. Saturated with copious amounts of booze over time, college students ineptly face the stress of incomplete assignments, the subsequent threat of flunking out and fear having to move back home. These moments of rational thought heighten freshmen’s anxiety and slam their hunger into hyper drive. Stressed students eat a lot of just about anything – including, the newest addition to dining halls at the University of the Show Me State – Asian Carp.


Geologist or Culinary Staff? Who cares! Soup’s On! Photo US Geo Survey

Show Me students have given two thumbs up to fish entrees disguised beneath international hallmarks of fine eating such as; Pasta Putenesca (“best with vodka” quipped a coed), Mexican Jalepeño fish soup (“okay smothered with tortilla chips – gets rid of that Jose Cuervo after-taste from the night before”), and the top Sunday favorite, carp simmered in gallons of Italian gravy over a pile of pasta (“tastes like meat balls” garbled a sleepy undergrad). “Don’t assume it is fish”, a student advised – “except for the leafy stuff – only Bio majors know what’s in anything on the menu – and they eat here – so chill.”

Feed the Tigers – carp! C’mon guys – eat lots and lots – pay it forward – they’ll fit right into your Freshman 15 and never be missed by Mississippi River Rats. Remind rival SEC athletes that you are what you eat – then show them a picture of lunch. Go Mizzou!


Distinguished UM (SL) Alum who’s a Triton not a Tiger



The iconic Casino Towers of Narragansett, RI JAL


A Bombogenesis is a nasty, depressed Arctic cyclone. Image courtesy NOAA.

Coastal New England was just TKO’d by Juno. Apparently TWC has a crew of misogynists who crowned the storm, Juno – after the Roman Queen of Heaven and God of Air whose chief attendants were Terror and Boldness. Blizzard Juno was a Bombogenesis, a weather bomb that riveted more attention than the hot, sleeveless CNN anchors who monitored the storm’s wrath. An emotional train wreck up in the North Atlantic lit Juno’s fuse when the barometric pressure plummeted so low so fast that the limbo stick scraped icebergs.

One of the best assignments of my career landed me in Cambridge during the Blizzard of ’05. The storm made landfall Saturday at high tide. Boston shut down. My hotel was transformed into a Blizzard Blast as guests and neighborhood staff hunkered down in the bar, fixated on TWC and urged the storm-fueled tide to “bring on the surge”. Dawn broke behind a veil of white gauze that swaddled Bean Town. Cars were entombed in drifts. Corner signs buried by plows wavered in the wind. The snow kept falling, swirling and accumulating.


Not me digging out a ride across from hotel.

Unlike many business travelers, I heeded the forecast for bad weather and packed a full complement of ski gear. The day held promise for outdoor adventures rather than long naps and channel surfing in the hotel room. Other than the company of Eddie Bauer, I was on my own to explore Harvard Square. On any other day the streets would’ve been clogged with taxis, Rastafarians, cyclists, and pedestrians. Logan was closed. Poor Charlie must’ve finally got off of the MTA as the Mayor had pulled it’s plug the night before. Pathways the width of a shovel were bordered by snow mounds piled up to eye level.

The campus quad was abandoned. Its dorm residents were either too hung over or too smart to build snowmen. The bronze statute of John Harvard was tucked chin high beneath a thick white blanket – its foot made famous by students rubbing for good luck was buried. My quest was to view campus from the top steps of the Widener Library. Home of a Gutenberg Bible, the Widener is one of my favorite places. The library was bequeathed by the Mom of an undergrad who was an extraordinary book collector – before he perished with the Titanic (she survived). Its steps were hidden beneath the deep snow. The effect was an illusion of a Greek temple towering atop a mountain. Climbing was slow. Once topside I took in the view and calculated the odds of breaking my neck if I leaped into the air and slid down the slope. There is no formula for risk. I launched skyward, soared for an instant, and settled broadside in goose down. A slightly metallic frost coasted my lips as I paid homage to the Gods of Snow Days and made an angel.

And so it goes with a Bombogenesis – turn off the weather station and put on the right gear. Go outside and into the snow.  Play – and the cold won’t bother you any way.


Nemo, RI

Watching Time


Watch me, Now.


It’s later if you think.

The endless loop of classic and current holiday carols keeps reminding us that it’s the most wonderful, hap hap happiest time of the year. That depends. Adults bemoan feeling that the year went by much too fast and there isn’t enough time to get ready for the holidays. Kids find these days dragging on way too long before it’s time to unwrap presents. As the good Dr. Suess noted, “How did it get so late so soon?”

My grand daughter is learning to tell time. She finds decoding clocks and watches to be very exciting. She also can’t wait for Christmas and can’t understand why it’s time to go to bed when she isn’t tired – just cranky – not tired. Only Peter Pan beat the clock – at the tender age of two he did not understand that children grow up. So he never grew up. Watching Elle telling time makes me feel like Wendy’s mother who cried, “Why can’t you remain like this forever!” Rather than feel sad, I’m passing on to her some things to learn about time.

images-3#1: You can’t turn back time. We can hold fast to memories of finestkind moments but to live is to leave the past behind what’s now and what will be. So let go of hurts, misgivings and anger because to be alive is to be where we are right now. We don’t need to share now with then.

#2: Spend time doing things that will have a hearty return on investment. Our favorite things don’t cost money – they take our time. Like, learning to read,  playing just for the fun of it,  messing with boars, loving others and ourselves.


If you’ve been nice – a wake up call is good. If naughty – it’s not.

#3: If you’re really happy when you’re wasting time – you’re not wasting time. The opposite is also true – if you’re miserable wasting time – you are wasting time – and none of us are given an unlimited amount of time to begin with – time doesn’t recycle and you can’t reuse it. Use it or lose it –  lost time is a shame.

#4: Wearing a watch doesn’t mean you’ll be on time. I should know – I collect watches and am chronically late. Sometimes it’s not better to be late than never.

#5: Jingle bell time is a swell time. Go ahead – rock around the clock – seize the day – it’s time. Take time to make time.

Check the time? Peter Pan was right, it’s like a ticking crocodile isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us. I guess this means – we are all ahead of our time.


Gone with the Flow


Anchor Yankers Island Island Closing. JAL

Imagine doing something just for the sake of doing it. You’re in the zone. You are going with the flow. Time fades and your entire being gets into whatever it is you are doing. The moment is prized and you hardly notice that your body and mind are stretched to their limits. The flow is you.


DW’s idea of a river dance. Port Charles to AYI.

Saturday I hitched a ride up river on our friend DW’s power boat. I arrived at the harbor and found him on the dock, relaxed as he savored a hot tumbler of coffee. When I apologized for being a couple of minutes late he grinned, “We’re on River Time.”

His 24’ Cobia stirred up a mess of Chinese carp before pointing upstream, getting down on plane and ripping through the current. The shoreline was ablaze with orange, crimson, and golden foliage. The channel shined beneath the low-slung sun as a purloined trove of Cartier’s finest diamonds.


Pavillion @ Anchor Yankers End of a Season. JAL

Time like a river flows. Boats allow us to flow with time in ways that can’t be measured by Rolexes. Watching a bald eagle soar above the river for just a few moments is a vision that can endure in memory over a lifetime. Being with the flow resets our heads to moments in life when age is irrelevant. Age is trumped by the joyful sensation of being alive. The past is left in our wake the future lies at the bow. We float with Now. Regardless of the number of candles on the last cake – being on the water resets our internal sense of time. We are forever young.

Our cruise back to port was brief as the boat bit into the groove and sped down the channel. My mind absorbed the crisp fall air, glare of the sun, and brilliant foliage reflected off the calmer waters. My knees flexed to absorb the shock of crossing over wakes. Crows dug their feet into the creases of my eyes and lips as I squinted and grinned into the wind. Water, land, wind, and sun were transformed into a memory that will last longer then the time yet to pass between laying up for winter and next year’s boating season.


Ralph, Jeri, Big G Last Sail of 2014 on Ex Libris

Fall Up, Sail On


Avast ye Scurvy Crew – Pirate Day on the Alton Pool


Fleet Admirable Jerry with Commemorative Bucket water bucket. Sioux Harbor.

Fall winds bring sailors out to frolic on the Alton Pool of the Mississippi River. Small powerboats have been cast aside as soccer moms, the NFL, and the Cardinals’ boys of summer command summer boaters’ weekends. Hearty sailors who laid low during the spring into summer floods, when summer breezes that barely misted a mirror thus declaring sailing about dead, greet autumn with zeal.

There’s an adage in southern New England to beware of crazed Mainers Down East in the early spring because they’re all crazy with cabin fever. River folk take notice – sailors assume the persona of an Indy 500 driver who spent the final weeks of summer in Jamaica. Fall brings forth their need for speed as they trim the mainsail to capture the winds, fill balloons and canons with water, and fill their holds with fermented libations to enhance yarns told ‘round harbor bonfires. They become Mississippi River Pirates.


Best or Most Not Johnny Depp Pirate Costume Winner – A Simple Man.


Which Wench?

MRPs are the polar opposites of those not deserving of the moniker “pirates” who hail from east African ports. They amuse rather than terrorize other vessels. The only booty they ever plunder tends to be legitimately purchased and paid for with VISA cards. Their wenches are often captains or majority shareowners of the boats and comfortable bunkmates for decades. While they consider most rules to be “guidelines” – they’d never arrive unannounced in a cockpit – they always ask permission to come aboard. They flat out do not take hostages – most secretly revel in their empty land nests and note that while the Captain will sail safely with six to 10 passengers and crew – and may well have berths to accommodate 6 – the boat ONLY sleeps two.


Cap Mike’s NotAwardWinning Couture & Motley Crew aboard his S2.

Some people fall into a mild depression as the days grow shorter, trees shed, grasses dry up and daily highs mean its too chilly for flip flops but just right for donning cords and sweats. These sad souls think the third season is a precursor to the third and final act of the dramatic play, Life Span. Snap out of it – some never live beyond a day and some wish they’d been dead for years. Life is at once a tragedy and comedy with plot lines crisscrossing pleasure and pain, starring the characters Joy and Sorrow, set in rain and sunshine with a mysterious theme. Heed the wisdom of the philosopher Horace and the fictitious teacher John Keating – Carpe Diem – Make Your Lives Extraordinary. It’s not just the events of a day that create memories to carry us through the year but our perception of the meaning of those happenings that silence or give voice to our power to sing – “It’s been a really great day.”


Work Like a Captain – Play Like a Pirate

Ten Signs You are a Kindred Spirit of Father Time this Christmas


This is the first time all of the Levesques, who number a crew of 12, will be under one roof for Christmas. George and I are both the oldest members of our respective families. Age has it’s graces and its vices. Here’s how you know that Santa’s been coming down your chimney since mid 20th century. Things change and stay the same, and we all adapt or just go nuts, no not nuts – the kids are allergic and you’ll spend Christmas Day alone while they are at the ER. You have a lot frequent sky miles under the sleigh when:

  1. The kids are coming from California on Christmas Eve. Your son is a physician who specializes in diseases of the gut. Your daughter in law is a physician who specializes in birthing babies. They have two little girls, ages four and one. To prepare for their visit you:
    1. Buy only organic food because they are from California and only eat brocolli, sprouted things, and organic food stuffs crafted from soy beans.
    2. Consider bottles of hand sanitizer as room accessories.
    3. Employ the cleaning ladies to work an extra shift to decontaminate all rooms from normal living flora and fauna.
    4. Vacuum the dog.
    5. Take a magic marker and write, Organic very boldly on everything in the pantry.
    6. Black out the Born on and Dead By dates on all items in the fridge with dates prior to the 2013 America’s Cup races.
    7. Hide all nut infused foods behind the organic things in the way back highest shelf of the pantry so you can swear solidarity to the grandkids’ peanut allergies and be assured your son in law who is severely allergic to legumes considers you his favorite in-laws and not potential killers.
  2. Clean all vents etc in their hypo allergic bedroom and leave a note that nobody has slept on those “new” pillows except them. That night you and your spouse had a tiff and you slept in there is frankly, none of their business.
  3. Your daughter and son in law are flying in on Christmas Day so you:
    1. Assure her you’ll just serve crackers and cheese Christmas Eve and save the shrimp, gifts, and good wine until they arrive.
    2. Marvel that her bedroom still is decorated with spring break photos from a decade ago and her wedding dress that barely fits in the little space you left it from your spring wardrobe in her “old” closet.
    3. Change the sheets because nobody’s slept there since the last time they visited. Then sit for ten minutes trying to figure out when that was and why the room still looks like it did when she left for college, not law school — college.
    4. Spend three hours running around St. Louis county picking up a “couple” of things she really wanted for Christmas (because you inadvertently, as she patiently reminded you, did not keep in mind as you shopped that she does not have children, your grandchildren and she is your only daughter and surely she should have a little something special because she is flying all the way home even if she doesn’t need two car seats for the kids at the airport).
  4. Your middle son, wife and two grand daughters live in town. So you spend the weekend babysitting and forgetting about the Do Lists. You make cookie dough and don’t bake it so the eldest doesn’t get jealous of the one year old who “helped”. Then you take it out of the fridge the next day and marvel that it was only 28 hours later, the directions said it would keep for 24 hours, and it’s as hard as a rock. So, you:
    1. Remember both your son and daughter are anal about clean refrigerators, so you take everything out, clean the shelves and organize it by genre – even the doors and put in fresh Baking Soda and circle the very fresh Born on Date in a red Sharpie so they know you are up to date.
    2. Call your best friends who make a gazillion dozen cookies and barter for a couple of dozen.
    3. Decide “less is more” as far as the tiny village ornaments that are usually displayed on tables because both one year old grand daughters are avid climbers and cheek pocket horders.
  5. You put the expensive scotch behind the stuff you got cheap in the Virgin Islands Duty Free shop.
  6. You get sort of weepy listening to Christmas carols and remember how your Mom and you sang out of tune to your favorites. You want to call her and sing again, but as she promised, there are no phones in heaven. Smile, sing with her memory and wipe your nose on the sleeve of the grungy Santa swinging on an anchor sweatshirt you wore to do errands for 7 hours, organize the pantry and decontaminate the fridge.
  7. You can’t remember the secret ingredient of your father’s popcorn balls. You sit a moment, visualize him in his robe, his eyes glistening as you opened your much dreamed of most wanted Christmas gift in the whole world. Your heart feels like bursting when the recipe comes clicking into focus and your grin smunches freckles on either side of your dimples.
  8. You count the wine, divide by 8 adults and realize there are enough grapes for all. The spirits are abundant enough to carry us through this holiest of nights.
  9. Hear your favorite carol on Pandora and whisper “Thank You” to God, your parents, grandparents. family, and friends for all the blessings that have afforded you a wonderful life. Then pour a toast from the good stuff, toast to the memories of those who are celebrating in heaven (including my Aunt Pat who arrived there just in time the other day for the highest holiday of the realm) and wish everyone reading your blog the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of new years.
  10. Thank the kids for wanting to come home for the holidays. It makes the year.

Mostly Water


Relaxin’ @ The Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost Van Dyke, BVI


The Soggy Dollar Bar

Three quarters of Earth is water, as is the human body.  Human brains are even soggier. Gray matter accounts for only 15% of the stuff within a skull – the rest of our smarts are composed of – water. Three lush-ish days of relaxin’ at the Soggy Dollar Bar in Jost Van Dyke amplified my thankfulness for the sea. They also affirmed the adage, it’s not the ice in the frozen concoction that chills.  It’s the booze in the Painkillers that melts brains. The cup may hold 12 ounces, but 75% of the swill is water – the minority rules.

Vacations are hyped as get aways. Vaykays spent on, in, or near the sea, are really “get closers.” Our inner sea floats with the swells. Blood feels lighter – saltier – and heart beats keep time with the surf’s rhythm. Ebbing tides swipe land bound worries. We become lax; what was firm back home settles as soft silt beneath our toes at the water line. The past ebbs and the future dissolves. We savor the moment – now.


SDB Challenge, “Swim In, Drink, Swim Out”

We discovered the ultimate beach “get closer” in the Caribbean. Jost Van Dyke is a small island, there is always a sea breeze no matter the time or tide. Every room has a library, the pages of the books are softened by the tropical sea air. Meals are prepared by a chef rather than a fry cook. Smiles run rampant, stories become legends, laughter triumphs. By day’s end, fresh friendships flourish and stress is forsaken. The star soaked sky merges with the sea and envelopes one’s senses with bliss.

The Soggy Dollar Bar serves scores of patrons on a busy day – but it sleeps just six couples at it’s Sandcastle Hotel.  It’s only approachable by boat. We traveled by ferry from St. Thomas and Tortola – but most guests arrive on cruise ship excursion boats, catamarans, and other vessels. These patrons swim from boats to the beach – and back. That’s the SDB challenge; Swim In, Drink, Swim Out.


A Sunny Place for Shady People

Mick, the bartender at the Soggy Dollar understands the magic of lax.  He will tell you it’s not what’s in the glass that is so different from the spirits poured in millions of bars. The famed plastic cup holds a sip of this particular island, a slug of the sea, a dash of sand clinging to the rim. A sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg crowns the brew. To expect the same sensation from a cocktail by the same name anywhere else is foolish. It’s the whole-ness of being at the Soggy Dollar that is inebriating.  Oh, sure it is, until you ask Mick for another round and the water within begins to spin with the sea.

If you plan a “get closer” to the Virgin Islands, skip the U.S. Saints and ferry to the Brit’s isles. Pack a toothbrush, a change or two of casual wear. Leave the make up home.  Plan to play.  Allow 75% of your being to blend with it’s counterpart – the sea. Make a reservation to Jost Van Dyke to relax. To lax again. That whole thing about becoming slack  and letting salt water make worries go soft … To relax is to get loose…again.


True Blue Blood

Thank you Tina, Mick and the great staff of the Soggy Dollar and Sandcastle for outstanding service – our best beach vacation in 42 years! A shout out to the gang who introduced us to One Love and Ivans – stories to follow  – send me some pix and Stay Shady. Sorry to have missed you Jerry & Tina (two LaSalle Alums) – we are sorry for your tragic loss.

Readers interested in visiting the Soggy Dollar and Sandcastle Hotel contact Tina at and visit them online at