Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 19 2009 Walter Cronkite

The radar shows we have a mess coming our way, but no storms since last night (yet!) The satellite currently shows two tropical waves in our neighborhood. Winds are brisk and temperature is at 84 F. Lots of clouds but the sun is out mostly. I spoke on bad information yesterday when I said the surf was up, as it was not. It's not up today either, according to a trusted eyewitness who just called me from the North Shore near Bombas.

Walter Cronkite died. So sad. He was a frequent visitor to the BVI bringing his boat in here for months at a time. I once had the pleasure to have dinner with him. We only spoke about the joys of being in the BVI, sailing and paintings. I figured since he was retired the last thing he wanted was a bunch of questions from some stranger. Besides, I was in a slight state of shock.

I happened to be climbing out of my dinghy at a seaside restaurant. I had just tied up the painter, (dinghy rope) and stood back up. I took a few steps into the restaurant area, surveying the eatery and bar for possible friends or sailors I might know. Suddenly a familiar gravelly voice said "Here you go dear." I looked around and there stood Walter Cronkite holding out a dining chair for me and bidding me to sit down.

Confused and surprised, I suddenly found myself sitting down in the proffered chair. Did he mistake me for somebody else? Was he going senile? Was I in a dream? Who was I to embarrass this great man? Now what if one of the other guests ejected me, now that would be embarrassing. I nervously smiled at Walter Cronkite and looked around at the rest of the people at the table who were all chatting and smiling, seemingly oblivious to the stranger at their table.

The deep baritone voice announced he had been watching me sail solo into the harbor and had in fact seen me and my boat in other anchorages, either sailing in or sailing out, alone. He wandered what a young lady like me was doing sailing solo. I stared at him astonishingly and thought to myself am I being interviewed by one of America's greatest?

So I explained briefly (after finding my voice) how I I bought my boat hurricane ravaged and spent a few years rebuilding it like new and now it was my home between working as charter crew on larger yachts. He spoke with great fondness about his sailboat, named Wyntje (pronounced "Vintka").

I stammered about previously owning two of his coffee table books, North by Northeast and South by Southeast. (He narrated and Ray Ellis painted these magnificent paintings of sailing and coastlines.) He seemed touched that I knew something about him other than the evening news.

All too soon, the drinks came, the food was consumed and we all bade farewell, and I thanked him more than once for a magical evening. As they loaded up into their tender, I climbed into my modest inflatable and went home to my boat. I sat in my cockpit for hours, unable to sleep, recalling every moment of that enchanted evening.

Walter Cronkite was a trustee for the BVI National Parks.

QUOTE from Walter Cronkite:
As one travels the rest of the world, the appreciation always is greater for the efforts of the British Virgin Islands to maintain the difficult balance between necessary economic development and the great natural beauty bestowed upon the nation.

TODAY is the flea market at Cruzins in Carrot Bay. Sometimes they have live music too. Stop on by and sell or buy some stuff. You can also buy my book if you go by there!

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