11 Days in Jamaica – Day 8

Cool Cool Runnings - (c) Stan Thomas/Kanale Creations

 

Thursday June 21, 2007

Each year we visit Jamaica, Lee likes to charter one of the party boats for the band. It’s a chance to get everyone together and have a good time. The boat is a catamaran. We normally book it during one of the off days when the cruise ships are not in port.

We normally head out just after noon. On the way to the dock, my friend Tony came seemingly from out of nowhere to say “W’apning”. Tony runs the powered water sports. He’s got jet skis, parasailing, glass bottomed boats, etc.

On board the boat, the crew introduces themselves. Standard safety instructions follow as we cast off. We sail slowly around the shoreline and anchor near a reef. It’s time for snorkeling. Some of the guys swim way out past the reef. The first-timers always comment on the different types of fish they see underwater.

This year, one of the enterprising locals had some of his crafts loaded onto a kayak and paddled out to our boat. He had the usual conch shells, beads, and carved art. His ingenuity paid off; several people bought items from him. Too bad for his land-bound colleagues.

After snorkeling and swimming around in the waters of the Caribbean Sea, we pull up anchor. Slowly we head for another spot to anchor for lunch. Our crew cranks up the music and really gets the party started. People on the shoreline hotels come out to watch. Local kids start dancing. One of the hotel guards even threw down, doing a dance that can only be described as “The Jamaican Stomp”. All the attention we attract is good business for the crew; the name of the boat, “Cool Cool Runnings” (its big sister is named “Cool Runnings”) is written in large, bold, blue letters on both outer hulls. Party-minded guests are thinking, “I wanna be on THAT boat!”

Lunch is usually jerk chicken, rice and peas, salad, and dinner rolls. Free-flowing fruit punch and Red Stripe beer is provided to quench our thirst. I never get tired of jerk chicken. While we eat, we chat with the crew.

Following lunch, the crew stows the empty containers. The DJ turns up the music again. We head out toward sea into the wind. The deckhands unfurl the main sail. The waves get bigger. The boat starts pitching. The crew starts inviting everyone to dance. Of course, it’s Soca dancing. While all this is going on, one of the crew shows off her jumping skills. As the boat pitches upward, she jumps an instant before it reaches the wave’s crest, launched by its upward momentum. She is headed upward as the boat rides down toward the trough. When this is done right, you get some serious air. She certainly did it right. We tried too. It only took a couple of good waves to get the hang of it.

‘Round about this time, the flying fish leap out of the water and begin their legendary glide. There must have been a big school nearby because they came up a dozen or more at a time. No wonder this is one of the highlights of the trip.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. We slowly headed back to the dock. Our cruise was nearly over, but the music kept pumping. Hotel guests got one more chance to envy us. We reached the dock and tied up. Some people still had their sea legs when they stood up to get off the boat. We said goodbye to the crew. Hopefully, we’ll see them again next year.

One of the band members had made dinner reservations for ten of us at La Diva, the hotel’s Italian restaurant. This is the most popular restaurant in the hotel. We all showed up at the appointed 8:30pm time slot but had to wait almost half an hour.

The meal itself was very good. I had the rack of lamb with mint jelly. In fact, everyone in our group was pleased. During the meal, we toasted to Lee’s wedding anniversary, and to our bass trombone player, Dennis’ anniversary. One lady at another table brought her 5-year-old son by our table. He sang an anniversary song to Lee. The mom said it was the kid’s idea.

It took quite a while before each course was served. Since were a large group having a good time, we kind of overlooked it. But it was growing late. The place actually closed while we were there. In fact, the freezer had been locked up by the time we ordered dessert so they had to go find someone with the key to open it again. It was 11:30pm by the time we finally left. Even with the wait, I will come back to La Diva next time we stay here.

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