Last Ferry To West End

Caribbean Sailing 34, Ocean TraderI joke often with Page Astle, a long time sailing friend, about the last ferry to West End.  Page had convinced her entire sales team to take a sailing holiday in the Virgins.  The only salts onboard were Page and a fellow named Howard.  The rest of the crew of 6 were along for the adventure, and to see what it would be like to cruise on a 50 foot sailing yacht for a week.  Page and her friends arrived in Tortola from divergent points on the East Coast.  After settling onto the boat with gear, food and cabins sorted, there was still one missing crew member. The missing sailor was the portly Sharon E. who also turned out to be the life of the charter.  Even after going through hell in St. Thomas with missing luggage Sharon still managed to contact the group, make arrangements with the airline to deliver the missing duffle bag, and made it onboard the last ferry that could take her to West End.  Ms. Sharon E. turned out be the glue that kept everything flowing on that particular trip.  This Lady knew nothing about boats, but she sure had a better than average understanding about people.

Ms. E’s story is unique not because of the great fun everyone had sailing, but also because of what happened  while clearing Immigration and Customs at West End, Tortola.  After trundling off the ferry the disembarked passengers were patiently waiting their turn to chat with Her Majesty’s agents.  The person in front of Sharon (another holiday maker) collapsed onto the floor of the Immigration Control ramp.  This very large man was having a medical emergency with 30 startled passengers standing over him in dismay.  Seconds flew by like minutes and eventually two Immigration Officials walked out to the ramp to see what the commotion was about.   There were people yelling “call an ambulance” and instinctively moving away from the distressed man who was hardly moving after awhile.  It was Ms. Sharon that sized the the situation up in a flash.  Sharon had a quick conversation with one of the Immigration Officials who had assumed that she and the man laying on the floor were traveling together.  She explained to the official that she did not know the man, but that he was dying and would certainly be dead by the time the ambulance arrived. Without any invitation to assist Sharon rolled the dying man onto his back, loosened his shirt and belt and began to deliver cardiopulmonary resuscitation.   The sight of Sharon kneeling over this helpless man who could now be experiencing the last few seconds of his life was a powerful thing to witness.  Sharon was aggressive and methodical in her CPR delivery.  After a few minutes the dying man began to respond to Sharon’s technique.  He began taking large breaths and everyone could see his large chest beginning to expand and contract in a breathing rhythm.  When Sharon finally managed to get back up on her feet the local people were praising the Lord and Sharon for what could easily have passed as a miracle.  After being cleared into the British Virgin Islands, Sharon was shuttled over to the marina by the ferry Captain’s brother; she had earned Rock Star status.  It was dark by then and Sharon was overjoyed to have finally rendezvoused  with her friends.  Little did they know how important it was that Ms. Sharon was on that last ferry to West End.

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