Never won anything before? Think it can’t happen to you? That was certainly Bernard Portet’s story — until last year. That's when he once again signed up for Summer Sailstice, and ended up winning a $5,000 gift certificate from Footloose Charters in the British Virgin Islands.
“It was a total surprise, and a totally amazing trip!” says Portet, a winemaker homeported in Napa. Though the prize was awarded soon after the 2012 Summer Sailstice, Portet just recently ‘cashed in’, spending April 6-14, 2013, aboard a Footloose 44.3 bareboat with his son-in-law Jason Anglin and longtime friend Dr. Joe Pramuk.
Portet had sailed the Caribbean before, so had a tentative itinerary in mind. Mixing and matching with Footloose’s suggestions, the trio’s ‘grand tour’ of the BVIs included stops at Peter Island, Norman Island, Soper’s Hole, Jost Van Dyke, Little Jost Van Dyke and Marina Cay. The passage to that last destination was particularly memorable.
“The highlight of our trip was definitely our sail upwind from Diamond Cay to Marina Cay, tacking through the narrow passages between the islands and across that spectacular bay between Guana and Great Camanoe,” says Portet, who has sailed for more than 50 of his 69 years, and has done several previous charters. “The day started very gray, with intermittent showers, but as we tacked close to Monkey Point, the sun broke through, the skies turned blue and the water turned from gray to all shades of blue and green. It was just gorgeous.”
No Caribbean charter is complete without a stop at Foxy’s Tamarind Bar on Jost Van Dyke, where “Every Day is a Weekend.”
A good portion of his appreciation also goes to Footloose, which is based in Roadtown, Tortola, and offers crewed or bareboats from 32 to 51 feet, including catamarans. “The Footloose people could not have been more friendly or helpful,” he says. "They were right there with a clean, ready boat, provisioning suggestions, charts, itineraries — the whole package.”
Portet first participated in Summer Sailstice a few years ago. “I thought the idea of a congenial celebration of the arrival of summer was a good excuse to go out sailing and spending a weekend having fun,” he says. “The wind always seems to be great on that day, too.”
Portet and friends will once again be out for this year’s Sailstice on June 22, sailing San Francisco Bay aboard his CYC-based Beneteau 361, Obelix. He’ll no doubt share a story or two about last year’s big win; reflect upon yes-it-really-can-happen-to-anyone . . . and probably wonder, just a little, if “lucky lightning” can strike twice.
- John Riise
The mighty crew (l to r): Jason Anglin, Bernard Portet, Dr. Joe Pramuk.
Provisioning in Roadtown.
When you're talking dream charters, it doesn't get much better than the Caribbean.
Kayaks are just one of many 'water toys' available from Footloose.