“My sailing experience started when I was a young boy growing up in Jost Van Dyke. At the age of 15, on a Saturday afternoon in 1991, I sat watching Foxy making three small sail boats out of wood, sticks, and pieces of bed sheet. Once each boat was assembled, Foxy would put the boat in the water and ask me to swim behind it so it didn’t tip over. That’s the first time I heard the word “tack.” Foxy shouted out, “Vern, tack the sails!” I was like, “What?!?” Then Foxy swam out to me and the boat and showed me what tacking meant.
Foxy’s Annual Wooden Boat Regatta was coming up and Foxy told me he had some friends from St. John with a wooden boat and had asked them if I could go sailing with them. I was so excited but I told Foxy he would have to ask my Mom first, so Foxy asked my Mom and she said Yes. Soon it was the Thursday afternoon Regatta Captain’s Meeting. Foxy said, “Vern, I have some friends that I want you to meet and you will be on their boat for the three days of the regatta.” Foxy walked me over to their table and introduced me to Captain Ted, Katy, and Michael Beans. At the time I really did not know who Michael Beans was, so I asked Foxy. Foxy replied, “You have three days and you will get to know him.”
On Friday, the first day of the race, there wasn’t much wind so we did a couple short races. There were about six boats in our class. On Saturday there was a little bit more wind so we raced around Sandy Cay and back to JVD. That day we came in third place. On Sunday the wind was on the light side so Foxy had us race around Great Thatch and back to JVD. It was a nice sail to Great Thatch, but on the way back to JVD a passing squall came pouring down rain. That day the only thing I can remember is Michael saying, “Teddy, get Vern a blanket, he’s shivering.” Michael called Foxy on the VHF and told him that we were going to start our engine to make it back to Great Harbour. Foxy said, “No problem ‘cause the race is over and you’re the last boat out there.”
That was my first sailing experience. I raced with Ted, Katy, and Michael on Esperanza in four more Foxy Wooden Boat Regattas. In subsequent years I crewed for various captains in at least six annual BVI Spring Regattas.