The Bucket List:
On my husband’s bucket list was sailing on a monohull in the Caribbean. And how unbelievably fortunate we were to find Captain Dave Goodman and Admiral Bobbie Rae and their sailboat, the Bel Ami, to allow us to check this off his list. We are senior citizens, were first timers for sailing on a large boat in an ocean, and had only previously experienced the Caribbean through day stops from a couple of large cruise ship travels. So we were unsure, in so many ways, of what to expect, like for instance, what to pack, where would we be going, what would we be doing on and off the boat, safety, being with new acquaintances in close quarters. But through phone conversations, emails and completed preference lists with Captain Dave days before our departure and from our initial interaction with him and Bonnie Rae (they picked us up at the airport and gave us a tour of the island before taking us to the B&B we stayed at the night before our sailing), we instantly knew we had scored a home run. Captain Dave and Bobbie Rae picked us up in their dingy at Secret Harbor Beach, got us and our luggage aboard, and then Bonnie Rae gave us an informational tour of the boat while Dave prepared the boat for take off. This was the first example of the many ways they worked so well together as a team. Our room had plenty of storage, well-appointed (bed with multiple pillows and ocean-themed coverlet), TV with over 100 movies available (we had time for only 1), luxurious towels. After we unpacked, Captain Dave reviewed a few options that were possible for the remainder of the day, based on that days weather conditions, where we were, and where we could get to, and the possible activities at our destination. This was the procedure he followed each day. But being newbies, we generally deferred to his expertise. We appreciated being included on making decisions, but his amazing insight, after only a short amount of time, about our personalities, our interests, our physical abilities, led to each day being perfectly designed just for us. Captain Dave and Bobbie Rae were keen on being sure each part of our trip was to our liking. How does Dave create those awesome breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in that tiny galley? It would take me all day just to cook those meals! And where does he store all the ingredients? My husband and I love all kinds of music and we love to dance. Not only did we experience famous island venues for music and dancing, but also Dave’s onboard extensive music selections and his expertise on the accordion, with Bobbie Rae as backup singer, led to dancing and singing on board. As he knew my husband likes to explore historic sites, he made sure onshore time included hikes to amazing ruins. Yes, sailing the US and British Virgin Islands is a trip we finally got checked off our bucket list. But we are so thankful that Captain Dave and Admiral Bobbie Rae and the Bel Ami are the creators of that check mark. Whether you are a newbie or seasoned sailor, mature or not so mature traveler (in age, I mean), want to snorkel/hike/swim/dance, or just watch the sails blow in the wind, want to get up at the crack of dawn or sleep to brunch time, love bacon for breakfast (as Dave knew we did and provided it every morning) or you are a vegetarian (which Dave is), your check mark should be by the Bel Ami, Dave, and Bobbie Rae.
– Jean and Frank McKeown