Cover Blurb by Geoff Holt MBE
First single handed quadriplegic round Britain sailor. First unassisted quadriplegic transatlantic sailor…..
“On Tropical Islands and Sparkling Seas” genuinely has something for everyone. Intimate, deeply personal accounts of past events, laugh out loud anecdotes, thought provoking poetry, all evoking memories of happy times in beautiful places when life passed at a slower pace. Jim Scott has led a full and colourful life which thankfully he eloquently shares in his writings. A very readable book to be enjoyed at your own pace, preferably with a glass of Caribbean rum to hand.”
Introduction by Mary Orme Ellis
Compiler and Editor of “Non-Local Flow … Good Chi, the Sea and Me” A journey of discovery through art and travel by Tanya Orme Ellis. http://www.nonlocalflow.com/
“Readers who have lived in the Caribbean and worked in the yachting industry will feel as though they have taken a leisurely, comical romp down Memory Lane; those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of exploring the nuances of life afloat might be packing their bags and searching for the next flight out.
Jim Scott weaves great stories and poetry from his sailing years and opens up about life as a captain. In the essence of the stories and poems, the reader finds happiness, sadness, and LOL funny. Jim’s well-traveled life, mostly by sea, has gifted him with many memories. He has the uncanny knack of transforming his salty tales into sheer poetry. Jim’s skill at painting pictures with the written word turns an old adage on its ear – his words are worth a thousand pictures! And his yearning to return to the sea is discernible within them.
You need not be a sailor to truly enjoy “On Tropical Islands and Sparkling Seas”. The author has a wonderful sense of humor, and an almost painfully honest ability to describe those unfortunate situations that are only funny long after they have passed and are shared with a tot of rum.
Whether you are a sailor or not, you will be entertained by this book, which is both hilarious and thought-provoking.”
Excerpt from “The Deflatable Dinghy”
He would row out through the anchored fleet from the stagnant air of the mangroves, stopping periodically to pump up the leaky hull chambers, and upon reaching the outer precincts of the bay before hitting open water where such a craft would definitely not fare well, he’d erect the latest version of his rig. He’d then casually sail back, down wind, zigzagging through the anchored fleet with an air of insouciance becoming such a makeshift craft.
A typical rig would have the wooden oar for the mast resting on a rusty tea tray to spread the load over the rubber bottom of the boat where water always sloshed. The besom would form the gaff lashed close to the top of the oar with a foot or so of overhang facing for’ard. The backstay was a discarded piece of a larger boat’s main sheet, too thick by far, and only just long enough for the task. The forestay was his bare left foot placed half way up the “mast” pushing it forward. The shrouds were mismatched pieces of worn out halyards that ran from the top of the “mast” to the rotting grab lines either side of the dinghy’s sponsons. He wasn’t sure what the correct nautical name was for the tensioning line that ran from the front of the “gaff’s” overhang through the anchor ring in the bow and back to where he sat in the stern, but he called it the cunningham.
The rudder was the plastic oar in the only functioning rollock which was on the port side (row forward to turn to starboard, backward to turn to port). The sail, of necessity, was loose footed with the luff and the head lashed as best he could to the mast and gaff with whatever small stuff he could find. The leech was tensioned by the sheet which was another piece of tatty old halyard tied to one of the poncho’s indestructible grommets which doubled as the clew.
Really needing three hands to operate this rig, one for the Cunningham, one for the sheet which he would play against each other to obtain sail tension and trim, and one for the steering oar, he had to improvise by employing his spare leg and wrapping either the cunningham or the sheet around his right shin which he would then move back and forth, or side to side, depending on whether the need was to ease off or take in which ever line was connected.
Needless to say he could not sail to windward and even a close reach was out of the question, but off the wind his “yacht” sailed surprisingly well, and as for downwind, well, anything will sail downwind, but this ocean greyhound was not too shabby at that point of sail, all things considered, as long as he had recently pumped the chambers up and bailed as much water out as he could.
Excerpt from “Voice in the Storm”
As reports came in of boats sinking or running aground and being destroyed the coordinator was thankful and amazed that as far as anyone could tell no lives had yet been lost, though the numbers of unaccounted was growing. He was not religious so did not pray, but knew many folk would be doing so and he wished he had something in which he believed toward which he could turn for the strength and inspiration he needed to honour the unexpected responsibility he found himself bearing, for he knew his energy was diminishing with each long and seemingly endless hour. Seldom if ever had his resolve been so tested and he was uncertain how much longer, or how much more pressure, he could endure. Desperately he needed something to fortify his spirit, but for him that entity, his God, his inspiration was the ancient and omnipotent power, wisdom and balance of nature that had always guided him so well, yet which now was the force that was driving the devastation and generating the terror with which he was embattled.
His ancient counsellor, his own deep spiritual guide that had stood beside him through so many of life’s trials was now his foe. He felt incredibly alone and, in a way, betrayed. Uncertain, scared of his own physical and emotional limitations, that his will could not be sustained on its own, he feared being overwhelmed by the enormity of his enemy and that he would prove inadequate for the role into which his initial less ambitious concept had now placed him. He became apprehensive that he would fail all those whom the net had united in their terrifying struggle.
When the first frenzied call came in furiously laying blame on the bareboat charter companies for not securing their vessels properly, so threatening lives and causing so much damage, he realized how that part of the battle, the emotional, the psychological part, must be fought.
Responding to the boat in question he told them that if the marine community turned angrily inward upon itself at the height of the battle with accusation and resentment, then their defense would be significantly weakened and the damage suffered would inevitably be far greater, the toll far more horrific. He explained that the very forces of nature that now assailed them had previously taught him that the way to deal with fury, threat and terror was with stoicism. Quiet determination. They must match the ferocity, the incredible wrath of wind and sea, with the calm of their strong and united defense; diligently support and protect the less prepared and able rather than accuse them of creating vulnerability and loss. There would be a time and a procedure for reckoning when it was all over, but not then. Their focus needed to be survival, and helping others to do the same, not whom to blame.
Opening paragraphs to “The Old Pirate’s Treasure”
You can still see them laying on the sea bed up in Statia Sound just north of Saba Rock. Many is the tourist that reckoned they’d stumbled upon an ancient wreck as they snorkeled the crystal waters above, and truth be told they had, in a way. But Statia Sound was not where the wreck was. It was several miles to the north and a little to the east of where the old Spanish cannon and anchor now lie at rest. The wreck from which they came was up on the treacherous Anegada Reef, the fourth largest barrier reef in the world that has claimed at least one ship for every year the island that sits atop it has been inhabited by people of European and African descent.
How those two artifacts from the days of the Spanish Main got to be resting where they are centuries after the ship went down, and how a disparate group of individuals became the team that found them, is a story that if told from its roots upwards would be too long in the telling. So let’s just start it at the point where a prominent American television program hosted by two men, very famous in the United States, heard that hundreds of years ago a ship carrying cargo containing a large amount of platinum sunk in a storm on the reef. They also heard there was an expert, an old treasure hunter and island legend, living on a tiny cay close by who knew the reef better than any man alive and who had apparently figured out where that wreck was located. And so that television program and those two famous men decided to produce a documentary section for their show all about that expert and that wreck and the cargo it carried which, it was thought, was worth a couple of billion dollars at today’s prices.
The expert was one of the more colourful contemporary characters of the Caribbean. The flamboyant patriarch of a clan comprising three generations of divers and skippers basing themselves around his headquarters on Saba Rock where he maintained a small museum of artifacts recovered from the numerous wrecks he had explored around the Virgin Islands. A conservationist and friend of the Cousteaus he was often referred to as “The Last Pirate of the Caribbean”. About his neck hung a gold coin from the days when doubloons and pieces of eight were the currency of his buccaneering forebears and which he had found on one of the many wrecks about which only he knew.
To provide a suitable filming platform for the shoot, and to travel to and from the reef, a hundred and eighteen foot research vessel based in the British Virgin Islands was contracted. She was skippered by an Englishman who had known the old pirate and his clan for a while. The project was organized by the publisher of a Florida based magazine focusing on the ocean realm, and an underwater film maker from Argentina, also based in the British Virgin Islands, who had worked in the past with the Cousteau foundation
Excerpt from “A Change of Luck”
He could make out the smiling faces of those standing at the bar, illuminated by the Budweiser and Guinness signs, and, though not recognizing them individually, was familiar with their ilk and was instantly comfortable in their anonymous company. He couldn’t see the people at the tables in the darkened corners and so had no idea from where or who came the wadded beer-soaked paper serviette that caught him on the side of his face. He looked into the most obviously guilty corner but could only see the shadowy forms of half a dozen dread-locked men, those seated with their back to him twisted round to be able to observe the reaction to the direct, and obviously deliberate, hit.
As a stranger in a relatively strange land faced by a group from a pretty much un-understood by him, and even possibly hostile to him, culture, he didn’t know how to deal with this situation. He needed to make a positive impression here that would lead to work, shelter, food, companionship, but this introduction to the community in which he needed to make that mark didn’t seem to be starting out so good. A few of the standing white people were looking edgily between the Rasta table and the stranger wondering what would be who’s next move. When it did come it came from the darkest part of the corner where a barely perceived face, a shady shape in the deeper gloom, suddenly lit up with a huge white smile that glowed in the ultra violet light from one of the cheesy beverage advertisements on the wall.
“Wazzup mesun!” The smile said. “Ya ferget de people ya met so soon?”
The newcomer’s bewilderment was evident.
“Jeeze an’ bread!” It called from the shadow, sounding vaguely familiar, “Ya doan know who it is dat trow dat?”
“Can’t really see you.” He said, trying to recall that voice. “It’s dark in here.”
“Den lemme come show you.” The smile was now a positive grin as its owner stood up and moved from the dark.
The grin was preceded from the shadows by a right hand outstretched ready to shake and be shaken, and accompanied by a left arm that hung in the air in preparation for a hug.