The first time I tasted one of these things I was 22 and in love. It was May of 1990 and my soon-to-be-fiancee Kim and I were sailing here on her father Ron’s new boat Priority II. I was in love with her, in love with her family, and in love with the boat, which was the most amazing thing I think I had ever seen. So many things to fix!
So we sailed up here to Anegada and moored up, then dinghied ashore to the Anegada Reef Hotel. Since it was the afternoon, naturally we stopped for a smoothie, which turned into… many. I mean it’s basically a rum punch with some family secret ingredients (they won’t tell you what), but in such an amazing setting. Anyway I vaguely remember the dinghy ride back to the boat, but only vaguely…
So here I am again at Anegada, almost 29 years later. The friendly guy pouring the smoothies back in 1990, Lowell Wheatley, is no longer with us — the harsh island life got him in the end. His children are now running the place and in general they seem to be doing well with it. They have been odd beneficiaries of Irma’s destruction of so many of the bars and restaurants in the main part of the BVI. Weirdly, the storm went just a bit south of them, so they had some damage but nothing awful, and as a result there are many more charter boats willing to make the long (for a week-long charterer) sail up here than there used to be… which means the lobster dinner at the hotel is much better attended than it used to be.
What I find remarkable is how much has changed around me since I had that first smoothie 29 years ago… marriage, business, career changes, grandparents and then parents dying. Yet I carry the funny illusion that I myself, like the smoothie, am no different. Heavier, grayer, wiser, sure… but coming back here reinforces the feeling that I and the smoothie are at the center of some kind of whirlwind of change that flows around us while we remain the same.
Of course, if Irma had gone just a few miles north, its 200-knot winds would have removed all signs of life from largely-unprotected Anegada, and then there would no longer be a Reef Hotel or anyone to make the smoothies. Are we all just as close to the brink of disaster? I suppose so… so I had better keep coming back here to make sure nothing happens to the smoothie. It’s as good an excuse as any.