—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

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Not long after a I got married I was driving home from a wedding rehearsal, with the beautiful bride and handsome groom on my mind, when I ran into traffic in the middle of the day. Very unusual for our small seaside town. Even rush hour wasn’t much of a rush. I settled back in my VW and turned the radio on. Ten minutes later I saw the hold up. Traffic light was out, and standing in the middle of the street, ramrod straight, arm moving up and down and sideways at the elbow, hand stiff, fingers extended as if he were about to salute, was my husband.

Double-O, first on the scene to this major disruption in beautiful downtown Santa Barbara, was taking charge, directing traffic like a robot. I bit my lower lip, clenched my fists tightly on the wheel, curled my toes in my sandals, all this to keep from laughing as I pulled up to the intersection.

He saw me. Smiled. Barely.

I stuck my head out the window as I pulled alongside.

“What’s the problem, officer?”

“The light’s out.”

“Dub,” I said.


“Loosen up, you look like you swallowed a laxative and you’re trying to hold it in.”

“Say again?”

I burst into laughter, put it in gear and got out of there.

I only mention this because he really was kind of a tight ass. Probably his Marine Corps background. But I swear he did start to loosen up after that and by the time the twins were born, he was about as loose as anyone I knew and he stayed that way right up until we moved onto the boat.

Now, the ramrod straight, traffic directing cop is back. I see him every time we come into an anchorage, standing up at the bow with that stiff saluting hand. Only now the only traffic he’s directing is me.

We spent our time in St. Martin on the hook in boat jail, whoops I mean the lagoon. We didn’t move, neither did anybody else, not unless they were coming or going. The BVI are different. Boats here move about all the time. We did too. So I got to see a lot of that traffic cop.

Double-O wanted to see it all, every secluded little anchorage, every little nook and cranny and to do this in the BVI, you’ve got to get into your secluded little anchorage early, before all the other boats take up all the moorings.

When I went through here twenty years ago, I swear there were hardly any. Five years ago, when we chartered here, there were lots, but I didn’t care, because I was more interested in getting Double-O acclimatized to this boat life. Moorings just made it easier, I didn’t have to spend time teaching him about silly things like anchoring, scope and dragging. 

Now, I declare, there are more moorings than ever in the BVI. More charter boats, too. This is not the easy, laid back cruising lifestyle that I waited a third of my life for, but Double-O simply loves it.

“Moorings mean order,” he told me one evening.

“Yuck,” I said.

“Just imagine the parking lot at Disneyland without parking stripes.”

“This isn’t Disneyland.”

But he’s happy about this mooring business. Parking lots in the ocean, you can’t get more democratic than that. First come, first serve, it’s the American way. Brother, do I have some educating to do.

One evening as we were coming into Virgin Gorda for the third or fourth time since we’d been there, Dub started waving that stiff arm, bobbing it back and forth like a donkey’s tail swishing away flies. It was raining, the sun was going down, I couldn’t see anything, but apparently Double-O could. Policeman’s eyes.

He was pointing to the starboard and I wanted to go left, but I’d been giving him his head so far and he’d been doing okay, besides he was the macho one up there, loving every drop that was plastering his hair to his face. In his old life he kept that hair short, getting it cut sometimes twice a month. Four months since we’d bought the boat and he hadn’t touched it, said he was thinking of growing a beard and getting an earring, too. Anyway, against my better judgement, I turned to starboard and saw a charter boat heading in about the same direction we were.

“Dub!” I shouted up.

He shouted something back.


“New mooring!”

Swell, for the last month we’d watched the charter boats race into the anchorages at sunset and several times we’d seen two, maybe three charging for that last mooring. We’d laughed at them. Now, I was sure, there were old timers out there laughing at us as we raced that Sunsail Beneteau.

“Hurry!” Double-O shouted.

I added power. I don’t know why, just stupid I guess, but there is something about a race that gets my blood pumping. The Sunsail boat was faster, but we had the lead and I knew boats, that guy was just a weekend warrior, I was the real deal. Much as I detest moorings, no way was I gonna let him beat us to it.

Up on the bow, Double-O was trying to wave away the other boat with his stiff arm. I grabbed a quick look behind. There was about eight or thirty people on the Beneteau. It was flying a French flag. It was going to be close.

I added full power, planning to throw it in reverse and stop the boat as we closed on the mooring. That was really dumb, but what can I say, a race is a race. The Beneteau was beside us now, but we were running neck and neck, he wasn’t going to pass us, the prize would go to the courageous. Wimps didn’t get the last mooring, not in the BVI.

The Beneteau moved in close to us, too close. All those people on deck, out in the rain, all those eyes glaring at me, daring me. No way was I gonna back down. I grabbed a look ahead. I could see Dub’s mooring now.

“Oh Lord!” I pulled back the power, veered off to port, stole a look to the right as I did and saw all those triumphant eyes.

“Ah, ouiiiiiii,” I heard the skipper shout.

“It’s a fish trap stupid,” I shouted back but he didn’t hear, or maybe he didn’t understand.

Ten minutes later we were resting safely on the hook in a light ten knot blow as the charter boat dragged that fish trap across the anchorage.

“Not so smart, huh?” Dub said with a sheepish grin.

“We gotta get outta here,” I said. “Go someplace sane, like South America.”

“We’ll leave in the morning,” Dub said.

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Doing laundry at sea. Not everything in the sailing lifestyle is as glamorous as people think it is.

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We’d just anchored off St. Anne, which is on the southern tip of Martinique. We used to go there a lot, because it was a fun anchorage and we’d play boule with the Frenchmen ashore. As you can see, I can’t wait to get to land.

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