A rising sun wakes the sailors aboard their chartered catamaran. The aroma of coffee brewing floats on the ocean breeze. In the cockpit, skipper Ty Cobb savors a cup and thumbs through a book. “It doesn’t take me long to get on a sun schedule in the Caribbean, ” Ty says. While vacationing on St. Thomas in 2001, the Cobbs grew tired of land and got their sea-longing legs on a 44-foot Beneteau for three days. “Since then, we’ve never considered another way to vacation in the Caribbean, ” he says.
A Motley Crew
Their longtime friends, Paul and Margaret Cadden, come aboard and serve as first mate and chaplain. Ty and Paul have similar charter captain training and sailing experience. The Cobbs also sail with Don and Debbie Dyer. “Even though they had no sailing experience, Don’s mechanical and refrigeration expertise was very needed, ” Ty says. Don quickly became the boat’s chief engineer. Debbie took the title of
Don Dyer, Debbie Dyer, Ty Cobb, Kathy Welch-Cobb, Ray Skinner, Jody Potts Skinner, Margaret Cadden and Paul Cadden set out on a voyage in The Abacos.
maidenhead, meaning she’s not that involved in the ship’s work, until recently when she learned to raise and lower the anchor and earned a promotion to anchor winch. Ray and Jody Potts Skinner also join the team. Ray is an expert fisherman; he and Paul keep the crew filled with fresh-caught fish.
“The furtive and glad-hearted interaction among the crew begins with laughter each morning that lasts until lights out, ” Ty says.
All in a Day’s Work
Morning chores include: an anchor check to make sure they are, in fact, still in the Caribbean; an engine and systems check; cleaning and stowing of fishing and snorkel gear; a provisions inventory.
Then, the sailors return to a life of leisure over a scrumptious breakfast of homemade pastries from a local vendor, fresh fish, maybe lobster omelets, or fried eggs with Conecuh sausage. After indulging, the seafarers get to work on the day’s itinerary, which may include sailing or adventurous excursions ashore.
The Ice Capades
Days on the boat are spent snorkeling, free diving and spear fishing. If a nearby island piques their interest, they’ll head ashore. “We all pile in the dinghy and scour the island for fresh goodies and local souvenirs, ” Kathy says. They also dispose of garbage and stock up on the hottest commodity when sailing: ice. It’s hard to come by, and Ty says they’ll never forget the time they ran out. They were told, via radio, of a place that had “everything.” But, they soon found out the island had everything but ice. “A bartender told us he might find one bag if we could give him about half an hour, ” Ty recalls. “Now that’s a good plan for a bartender who wants to capture a boatload of new customers.” They continued their search.
On their next stop, Kathy and Ty stayed aboard and sent the other mates ashore for ice. Hours later, Ty heard familiar laughter and saw his friends peering from a beach bar. “It was the very picture of happy hour, ” he says. There was one bag of ice melting in the dinghy. Fortunately, the next day, Ty procured an ample supply.
He’ll never let them live it down.
Margaret and Cathy “Foxy” Fox at St. Georges Cay. “Cathy joined us midway through. We were supposed to pick her up on Caye Caulker, but we lost a propeller snorkeling at St. Georges. She had to get from the airport to Belize City and find someone with a boat to bring her out to us. The charter company fixed us up the next morning, ” Ty says.
Once they awake from their usual afternoon siestas, the sojourners anchor for the night and clean up. “Most of us bathe in our swimsuits off the swim transom, rinse with freshwater, then go below to dress, ” Ty says. They take in the sunset and enjoy cocktails in the cockpit or South American wine on the deck.
Aboard ship, they’ll dine on fresh grilled fish, local vegetables, fruit and bread. “We always bring plenty of steaks from Mosley’s Meat Market in Daphne, Don’s Ground Meat from Don’s Market in Reserve, La., duck and andouille gumbo from Prejeans in Lafayette, La., ” Ty says. Kathy is the chief galley mate, meaning she leads meal preparation and cleanup. “Nobody escapes their time under her rule, ” Ty says. Or, they may head ashore to a bar or restaurant. Plenty of music, dancing and stargazing follows. “We anchor in the lee of an island or cay that blocks the swells, ” Ty explains. “We sleep better on flat water.”
Trials of the Berth
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. The skipper vividly recalls a time when the boat almost sank. Fortunately, the crew saved the vessel before it foundered. “That would be a bad memory, ” Kathy says.
“We enjoy the quiet feel of a boat under sail, ” Ty says. “And, we mostly enjoy the challenges that force sailors to strive every day to be better sailors. It requires vigilance and forward thinking.”
“He almost makes it sound like work, ” Kathy says. “Keep in mind, we are actually spending the majority of the day in a swimsuit, enjoying the sights!”
Inevitably, the real world calls them to the homeland. “We begin the grief process the last morning at sea, ” Ty says.
“Or before, ” Kathy confesses. “It takes some adjusting to pick up the fast-paced life again, hear the news 24/7, and to be inside – without a sea breeze.”
Christy Dobson Reid