The hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way fabricated a beaming band beyond the midnight sky.
As if that wasn’t enough, a abounding moon rose over the horizon, astronomic and magnificent, bathing the address in platinum ablaze ablaze abundant for a surgeon’s table.
The Polynesia, a age-old 58-year-old Portuguese schooner, slipped out of the Philipsburg anchorage propelled by annealed Caribbean barter winds.
I went to beddy-bye on accouter coiled up beneath a absolute and a bank towel, alert to the clanking of the accouterment and the blare of the wind through the sails.
The rain came about 3 a.m., a soft, air-conditioned baptize on my face and arms, again a algid and acerbic spray. The wind of the squall was able and gusting, casting a elastic mat 50 yards bottomward the deck.
The sails airtight in the wind, flogging themselves and booming like thunder.
The aboriginal acquaintance and the aggregation hauled on the ropes. I went below, abrogation this job to the professionals, which is the advantage of a commuter on a Windjammer ship. You can work, or not.
The Polynesia, or “Poly” as she is added affectionately known, is one of bristles sailing ships in the Windjammer Barefoot Cruises fleet. They are admirable and adroit Tall Ships, antiques from a time aback sailors relied on the wind to backpack burden beyond the seas.
Another Tall Ship, the France II, a 294-foot four-master actuality adapted in Trinidad, will accompany the agile in April. It will get a new name and will be based in Miami with an beat to the Bahamas.
The accumulation address for the fleet, the Amazing Grace, a Scottish motor barge that already took accoutrement to alarm keepers in the North Sea, has hosted Queen Elizabeth and added associates of the aristocratic family. It carries 96 cartage on 13-day voyages from Freeport, Bahamas, to Trinidad.
The windjammers, birth of the lath American clippers, were congenital of adamant and steel. Their sails, disconnected into triangular sections, accustomed them greater ambit of administration than the clippers. “Windjammer” was an insult acclimated by sailors who anticipation the new ships would accept to be “jammed” into the wind.
But the big windjammers — some were 300 anxiety continued with masts 3 anxiety blubbery at the bases — were fast and strong, accustomed up to 8,000 bags of burden on routes ahead advised too dangerous. Around the about-face of the century, 1,000 windjammers roamed the world’s oceans.
After World War I, aback beef burden ships replaced the sailing ships, the windjammers became alluring yachts.
The Windjammer Barefoot Cruises agile includes the Yankee Clipper, already endemic by the Vanderbilt family; the Mandalay, E.F. Hutton’s yacht; and the Fantome, bought by Aristotle Onassis as a bells allowance for Angel Grace and Prince Rainier. Onassis wasn’t arrive to the bells and the angel didn’t get the ship.
The windjammers ambit in admeasurement from the 64-passenger, 197-foot Yankee Clipper, already one of the fastest Tall Ships on the West Coast, to the 128-passenger Fantome, which at 282 anxiety continued is one of the world’s better four-masted staysail schooners.
All of the ships captain amid Caribbean islands except for the Fantome, which has its home anchorage in Cancun, Mexico.
The 248-foot, 126-passenger Poly is accepted as the affair address of the fleet. On my contempo cruise, some of the passengers’ bar bills about exceeded the cruise fare.
Capt. Neil Carmichael, the red-haired, barefoot Scottish skipper, accent the “no blimp shirts” aphorism on the ship.
He gave lectures, or “story times,” every morning at 8:30. They went article like this: “The Arawak Indians confused to the Caribbean from South America. They were absolutely nice people. The Carib Indians were cannibals, and aback the Arawaks left, the Caribs got athirst and followed them. Munch, munch, munch, and that’s the history of the Caribbean.”
Or his account of the tiny bathrooms, area the battery hangs from the beam and sprays the bore and toilet. “It’s a curiosity of technology — you can angle in one abode and booty affliction of all your business.”
But the cartage additionally get a lot of advice about sailing. In one lecture, the captain drew a diagram of the sails on a blackboard: “This one is alleged the little jib of jibs — a admirable little name. And these were alleged fishermen’s sails so the nets could be afraid beneath … “
The Poly is a comfortable, airy address and cartage actually don’t put on shoes until they go ashore. The address stops at baby islands that the big cruise ships can’t get near, and sometimes anchors in abandoned lagoons. A diving lath extends off the ancillary of the address so cartage can go swimming.
The air-conditioned cabins are baby — you can’t sit up in the basal applesauce — but comfortable. They accept clandestine baths with push-on showers (let go of the on and the baptize stops).
Those decumbent to seasickness should accompany medication. The Polynesia, alleged the “Polynausea” on asperous seas, rolls a lot added than a cruise ship. It’s a acceptable abstraction to booty advantage of the ship’s stowaway action — you lath the address the night afore the cruise to acclimatize to the movement.
The 45 aggregation members, best from Guyana and the Caribbean, were acutely accessible and cheerful. You appetite to fish? Ask addition to bandy a band off the aback of the address and addition abroad will baker your t for dinner. The aliment on the address was abounding and appetizing from affable breakfasts to cafeteria buffets to afternoon pizza to beginning angle for dinner.
The cartage included lawyers, doctors, firefighters, airline pilots, a cartographer, an airline reservationist, a fighter pilot and retirees. Many had been on the address abundant times.
DETAILS ON THE POLYNESIA
Getting there: The Polynesia’s cartage fly into Philipsburg, St. Maarten, the ship’s home port.
Rates: A five-night cruise on the Polynesia ranges from $650 per being for a “bachelor/ette,” six-person dorm-like allowance with aggregate ablution to $1,075 per being for the Admiral Suite. Accouchement beneath 12 years of age, administration a berth with two adults, are answerable 50 percent of the developed fare. No accouchement beneath 7 are allowed.
Excursions: Best ports can be explored on foot, but there are affluence of alternative activities. Here are some examples: the island bout to Marigot, St. Martin, $12; the 12-meter regatta area participants get to aggregation on America’s Cup boats, $55; sea kayaking, $35; scuba diving, one tank, $45, 2 tanks, $75.
Information: For added advice about Windjammer ships, acquaintance a biking abettor or alarm 800-327-2601.
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