Where do I begin??? All of the fun, adventure, generosity, bonding, laughs, new friendships and overall ‘time of my life moments’ that happened on this trip were a complete surprise. There are plenty of opportunities to party when working on the super yachts but for me, 9 times out 10, I will decline the late night drinking and go straight to bed, even with this amazing group of clients. They are so much fun and love for the crew to be part of the whole experience with them, it’s so awesome. But knowing that I have another 16 hour day ahead of me keeps me in at night, the majority of the time. Plus this trip was three weeks with three sets of clients rotating in; I was not planning on doing anything but resting in between. What I hadn’t factored in was that it had been exactly one month since my man and I had broken up and although I was booked with work the whole month to keep my mind occupied, I was really sad.
When you’re the Sole Stewardess and Mate on a 75 foot yacht, it can get lonely especially when you’re like me and go straight to bed most nights. Honestly, all of my boat owners and their friends treat me as if I was family; it’s the best feeling in the world. Most of them are couples or families and although I chat with them here and there throughout the day, hang with them from time to time or even venture out solo once in a while, it’s still just me at the end of the day. Please don’t feel bad for me though, I am one of the happiest and most blessed people I know but when someone was in your life for almost two years and then all of a sudden, in flash, they’re gone, it’s sad, even when the breakup was kind and mutual.
So here I am, Thursday, June 14th, 2018 on a plane to the Abacos staring out the window stuck in my own mind, letting go, reflecting and shedding tears, all good stuff. It was now time to be single again and I was beginning to be OK with it. The Captain (one of my favs) picked me up at the airport and we headed straight to the grocery store to provision. From there we took a taxi to the waterfront where his son, our dynamic Mate, was waiting with the tender to take us to Green Turtle Cay to meet the big boat. The rest of the day was spent unloading supplies and getting the yacht ready for the guests who were to arrive on Saturday. Here I am happily working away, not for one second thinking we would be doing anything but working and the boss says, “If we get all of our chores done by mid day Friday, then we can have the afternoon off.”
What, I just got here…..yahooooo!!! Here’s the kicker, this crew had lived there for 10 years which meant they knew every waterway, back road, fun watering holes, the best snorkel spots, restaurants, hidden beaches and tons of locals. I had no idea I was about to experience these places, several times, I just thought I was here to work for 3 weeks. The next day we packed a cooler for the tender and the three of us plus the Mate’s childhood friend, who was born and raised on Green Turtle Cay, (pronounced Key) headed out for the day.
Our first stop was Munjock Cay where you snorkel with sting rays, turtles and nurse sharks in water that is an indescribable color of blue. You just pull your boat right up to the sand, throw the anchor and jump right in. I was in complete awe of the water and wasn’t scared one bit while snorkeling right past them. Two years prior I was terrified of the water, grew up watching ‘Jaws’ too many times but after a little coaxing from my ex, decided to face my fears, earned my dive certification and just like that, I wasn’t scared anymore. Guess after seeing what was down there, it wasn’t so frightening after all.
The next destination was to No Name Cay an uninhabited island just south of Green Turtle. There you will find the Abacos version of Pig Island, ‘Piggyville’. There were tons of them running around the feeding station that was built for them all sniffing out what they did and did not want to eat. They are some picky eaters too and the big ones, evil, they will run right over the little ones and take their food. There are many different theories about how they ended up there, but no one really knows for sure, either way they were malnourished and dehydrated. Then years ago, apparently a local named Craig heard about the pigs, visited the island, fell in love and took it upon himself to make two trips a week with food and water. Between him, the tourist and Sunset Marine on Green Turtle, who donated a 2000 gallon fresh water tank, all the piggies are thriving.
This was day two of my three week paid job in the Abacos. I love my career and all the people in it who make my life that much more blessed!! The best part of this trip was that 90% of the places we went to were by boat, not car, which is now my favorite way to travel. After hanging with the pigs we headed for some food at Pineapples on Green Turtle followed by a bit of dancing at Sundowner’s before heading in for a good night’s rest. The first round of owners were arriving the next morning for five days so it was important to be sharp and full of energy. Make sure to tune in for my next story, there are still 19 days left of my trip with so many more adventures to tell you about!
After one more failed attempt to find Cameron’s mobile, her assistant and I headed into the lobby to deliver the bad news. As we walked in, the pilots and the coolest actress ever were standing in a line just waiting to hear the news. Even though I knew I did not have her phone, it felt as though I was still guilty of something. You know that feeling when a police car is behind you on the road and even though you are doing nothing wrong, you start to panic, like you did do something??? That was me!! My day went from an epic high being told by Cameron Diaz that I was pretty and super cool to her now thinking I was still that street kid from my past that could clean out a K-mart without them ever knowing they had been robbed.
She was cool about it, kind of annoyed but cool and gave me her assistant’s number to call if it magically appeared. I spent another hour in that plane, searching the same corners over and over and the only thing I found was one of her hair extensions. For whatever reason, I chuckled and tucked it in my pocket. Obviously sleeping that night was rough and first thing the next morning I texted her assistant with trembling hands to find out what had happened. She simply said, ‘Oh we found it’ and that was it.
Since Cali is such a long flight from Florida, the jet company had us wait there a few days to see if they could book a paid charter back home or somewhere else for that matter. Like clockwork I was out every night drinking my face off and trying to find a boy to hang with. And like clockwork, I found one. Mr. Politician was quite young to be serving a term in office but after getting to know each other I soon learned that he was still at the bottom on the barrel trying to work his way up. He wasn’t really my type, which at the time was typically someone with 6 pack abs who was movie star hot and would most likely treat me bad or cheat on me.
Mr. P was just an average guy with an enormous personality who made me laugh hysterically every time we hung out. He had a car too which was like gold to me since in this particular California city, the jet company would always put us up at the airport hotel, a good hour’s drive to anything fun or cool. This meant my one option for excitement was the lobby bar and even though I was making good money, it didn’t seem reasonable to pay a taxi to go anywhere else. And although I didn’t know it at the time, we were about to see each other quite frequently since this city was a major stop for celebrities.
After about 4 days of hanging out and waiting for the call, we finally received our next charter. We were to pick up Tommy Lee Jones in Texas and drop him in Miami. Wow, in the almost 5 months of working on the private jets, we had flown to Europe at least 3 times and this was now my 3rd or 4th movie star. Eight months prior, I had never even been out of the Country and movie stars were just those tiny people on TV, like when they shrunk the loud kid in Willy Wonka. This was so exciting!
When he boarded the plane, alone, he sat down, asked for a beer then kind of kicked back and said he just wanted to chill. We had about 3 hours to Miami so I offered him a deck of cards, showed him how to work the TV and mentioned that I would be back in bit to check on him but if he needed anything in the meantime, to let me know. This jet was my favorite because instead of me having to chill on the tiny jump seat behind the pilots that hides in the wall, I had a huge, plush recliner with a tray and my own little TV. About 4 minutes after having settled into my seat, Mr. Jones pops his head in and says, ‘You know, I would like to play some cards…you know how to play poker?’ At this point I was beginning to feel a bit used to seeing these famous people so in a casual tone I responded, ‘Sure, but you’ll probably kick my butt.’ He headed back as I opened two small bags of peanuts to gamble with, poured each one in a small bowl and grabbed him a fresh beer. Here I was, sitting across from Tommy Lee Jones, 4 feet from his face, casually chatting about life and playing five card stud. He loved betting with those peanuts, said it was a clever idea. For about the first 2 hours he never seemed to crack a smile, instead he was very serious, but candid and joked a lot without ever laughing at his own punch lines.
Being the competitive soul that I am, I was determined to make him smile and I like to think that I’m pretty funny. Then it happened, he asked me about my parents. I proceeded to tell him how cool they were and how I learned my hard work ethic from them. Then I said, ‘you remind me a lot of my dad and he’s good looking, so that’s a compliment.’ He was looking down at his cards extremely focused on his next move when all of a sudden he paused, looked up at me with one eye while raising his brow and let out a chuckle with a faint glimpse of a smile!!! Whooooo Hooooo…..was what my brain was yelling but my face remained calm and for the last 40 minutes we continued our card game while laughing and carrying on the whole time. As he left the plane, he shook my hand and thanked me for a wonderful flight.
I barely had time to comprehend what had just happened when the pilots informed me that for our next flight, we would be picking up Lindsay Lohan….
Now that I had met another new best friend, I wanted to be single. But poor Dan had just spent $8000 on a stunning engagement ring, even though we had only known each other for 6 weeks. The many things about him that bothered me were now even more annoying, but he was so sweet, what was I to do? The fights kept coming, all provoked by me. All of a sudden I was questioning him about what he did while I was out of town and why he didn’t answer his cell phone when I was around. To be honest, I was legitimately jealous and couldn’t believe it. I had thought the past was behind me, that maybe it was possible for me to date without being crazy jealous. There was no way this man would have cheated on me and I see that now, but in 2003, at 31, I was still insecure. My body wasn’t terrible and I was a cute girl, fun, outgoing and obviously brave having picked up and moved from Indiana all the way to Florida, so why did I still think every man was cheating on me?
One night, as we were eating take out, I started arguing with him over something dumb I’m sure. Somehow I managed to make him think it was his fault, when in reality, it was me, I was manipulative and evil and I knew it, but I wanted out and didn’t have the heart to tell him. So I stormed out of his place leaving the ring on the kitchen counter and headed out to go party. He couldn’t believe his eyes and to this day, I still feel a bit guilty for what happened!!
My new friend Cathy lived just around the corner but was out of town so I headed straight to the coolest spot around. Shooters was this huge restaurant/bar on the water with plenty of slips for boats to dock and they did, tons of them. This place was always packed with heavy hitters hanging out at the bar and on Sunday’s they typically held a bikini contest by their pool. This was the perfect spot to go, one because I wanted to meet boys, but also because it was so crowded I figured maybe no one would notice I was alone. At this point I had only been flying for a couple of months and while on the road, most nights, was still clinging on to the pilots to hang out with. I did venture out once in a while alone but once I walked into this place, it felt like everyone knew I had no friends.
There was no way anyone could have known I was by myself but my insecurities had the best of me so off to the bathroom I went to figure out my next move. As always, I was chatting with the bathroom attendant lady spilling my troubles to her about leaving my fiancé and feeling weird about being alone when the most magnificent girl came busting out of the stall and in my direction. She overheard my conversation, was also there solo and wanted to know if we could hang together??? My savior Farah was blonde, fit, super fun, brave and loved boating. She grabbed my arm and off we went, like balls of fire through that crowd. My goal was to hang at the bar but not Farah, she was determined to get us on one of those yachts…and she did!!
Within minutes, we were drinking for free and mingling with the elite on an 80 foot boat. I had never been on one before and was just in awe of how beautiful it was. After a few hours Dan had been erased from my memory, I was the happiest single girl in Ft. Lauderdale and now had new bestie number two! To this day, her and Cathy are two of only a few friends that I’ve met in the 15 years of living in South Florida who are real, honest and genuine.
Life could not have been better!! I lived in a huge house on the water for dirt cheap, was making $300 a day flying around the world, single and had two girlfriends that loved to go out and party…and that we did, anytime I was in town, until my flight with Cameron Diaz almost ruined everything. We picked her and 5 other people up in Miami and were taking them to California, about a 5 hour flight. She had just finished filming a movie so the plane was overflowing with luggage from their long stay. What was so cool about her was that she had no entourage, no body guards and seemed to have driven herself there in a regular car, not a limo or a chauffeured vehicle. When Cameron boarded the plane, the first thing she did was run right over to me and asked if Carrie Grant was really my name? She thought that was the coolest thing and then proceeded to tell me how pretty I was and that I reminded her of a good friend, which was a compliment because her friend was awesome.
In my head, blasting loudly were the words OMG, OMG, OMG but on the outside I was cool as a cucumber while pouring everyone champagne. She was the most normal celebrity, fame had not ruined her or made her feel as though she was better than anyone else and at that point, it was the coolest day of my life. There was one boy with the group, not a body guard or someone famous, just a friend and as everyone was falling asleep, asked if I wanted to play cards to pass the time. I was so happy because with nothing to do since they were all passed out would mean that I would have had to sit in the cockpit on the most uncomfortable and smallest seat ever. It was located just behind the pilots, pulled out of the wall and was definitely not made for comfort or long distance flights.
Once landing, Cameron and her friends all hugged me as if we had know each other all of our lives. Since there were so many bags, the crew and I helped to take everything inside and then loaded them up in her SUV, which once again, she drove herself. The pilots were busy making our hotel reservation at the front desk and I was heading back to the plane to get it cleaned up when all of a sudden we heard Cameron yell, ‘I can’t find my cell phone’!!! ‘No problem, I’ll go and search the jet’. About 20 minutes in, there was no phone to be found anywhere on that plane and I began to panic. Her assistant was now searching with me and in so many words managed to get across that I was the only person in that fuselage the whole flight that they didn’t know, which meant they thought I stole it. To make things worse, she knew my name, and if Cameron wanted to, she could smear my reputation across Hollywood….
Now that I had a good job, Augusta was starting to grow on me. I soon met a local boy named Tony who captured my heart. When I told my ‘Sugar Daddy’ in California that it was over, he wished me well, chuckled and said,’I’ll see you soon’. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but it was about to become very clear.
Knowing that there was no other way out of small town Georgia, Tony joined the Navy and was stationed in Orlando. I was going on 9 months with AT&T when they informed us of the layoffs. Luckily for me, there was an office in Orlando looking to hire a File Room Clerk for $400 a week…I was elated! Not only was it my ticket out of Augusta, but it was a way for Tony and I to be together.
The week before my big move, the famous ‘Masters’ golf tournament was taking place and one of the local bars needed a beer tub girl. The city was flooded with people from all over and in 3 days time, I made $2000 cash. In my 25 years, I had never seen that much money, and it was all mine. Everything was working out perfectly, except for 2 tiny issues, my DUI and my lease.
A month before accepting the job in Orlando, I had moved into a nicer place and signed a year lease with a girlfriend of mine. Now If you know me, you know that I am loyal, and when I give my word, I will do whatever it takes to keep it. So I promised I would pay my half until she found a replacement. Basically between the rent in Orlando and the rent in Georgia, half my pay was already spent. Not having any money was normal for me though and like always, I would figure it out, but the DUI and weekly mandatory visits with my probation officer…..well that was another story???
My 1988 Chevy Cavalier was packed, Travis the beagle was chillen in the front seat and I was on my way. The 3 bedroom apartment was already furnished and my new roommates were eagerly waiting my arrival. At the time, cell phones were fairly new, expensive and impossible to get. Tony would have to call my home phone from a payphone in order to talk and it had been a week or so since I’d heard from him. I was getting suspicious, but remember, I was also the crazy, psycho, jealous girl, so I was always suspicious.
Once I settled in, it was time begin the hunt. My boyfriend had no way of getting a hold of me so I went to the Navy base to track him down. It wasn’t easy getting past the guard gate, but with a few flips of the hair, some fake giggles and a lot of flirting…..I was in! After interrogating several of his Navy buddies, they informed me that he was at a super popular beach bar with some friends. I was feeling quite proud of my investigation that day and with a big smile and happy heart, I was off to surprise the man I loved, the man who swore to me that we would be together forever…
Most of my wonder years were spent shooting guns, playing in the woods, building fires, and beating up boys, but dating boys, ew! I played with them, not kissed them. Around 14, in 9th grade, one of the pretty and popular girls invited me to her slumber party. Now you’ve seen the black and white Junior High photo of me in my last blog, I was not about to be nominated for the prettiest girl in class and I certainly had no sense of girly style or friends. Talk about nervous! Of course some of the hot football players decided to crash the party and that’s when I met my first love.
What he saw in me and my 3 inch think glasses and boy clothes, I have no idea, but I was so happy. He was shy, but played football so he hung with the cool kids. We dated all through the school year until he broke my heart for one of the hip girls. But within weeks, we were back together until summer, when I broke up with him after I woke up one morning with boobs and contacts. All of a sudden boys were noticing me and I liked it! Being single was short lived as I met another young man that summer from the rival high school with a convertible and muscles.
Now you may think bullying is a new thing, but you are very wrong. We started high school in our Sophomore year which was a combination of the 2 local Junior Highs. Since I had ditched the glasses for contacts, grew out my hair and found a sense of style and confidence, I was hardly recognizable. Within days, the cool girls in school made my life hell. They would push me down, knock the books out of my hands, corner me in the bathroom, threaten and yell terrible things at me and spread rumors to make everyone think I was the town slut! I was far from it and was happily dating my handsome man from the other high school. At one point, it was so bad, I refused to even show up, almost 2 weeks I think it was. The principal had to come to my house and make a deal to get me to come back. It never stopped and I spent many Saturdays in detention from getting in fights that I never started. It was always the girls from the rival Jr, High too, the same click, none of them liked me and to this day I have no idea why.
But I persevered, made the dance squad, got a job, played on some sports teams and had a few good friends who knew the real me. It was hard though, everyday as I walked the halls I never knew who was going to give me grief. Why? I had a boyfriend, kept to myself, didn’t bother anyone, it wasn’t fare.
I even got into body building at the school gym, was going to compete one day, wanted legs like Cory Everson. I was benching 145 pounds on the free weights.
After calming from my panic attack, I drove to the beach, parked, walked over to a bar, ordered a double and found a palm tree to chill on. After taking in the magnitude of what I had just done, I dialed both my parents. Dad of course never worried, he thought I was indestructible, like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, (he actually said that) and figured I would be fine. Mom was cool, she always worried but I was 43 and she had grown used to me giving her gray hairs.
Throughout my life if when there was something I wanted to do, I typically made it happen. They weren’t always the best decisions but I was stubborn, had been on my own most of the time so no one was telling me what to do. I was either running from one boyfriend to a new zip code or following another to a new state. Often I would move for a job, or have no job at all, just an a photo of somewhere awesome I wanted to live. If there was too much thought put into it, I would talk myself out of it. That’s how I made it from growing up in Indiana before moving to Illinois, Georgia, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and St. Maarten and eventually seeing the world. Usually with only a few bucks in my pocket, a small truck full of stuff and a dumb idea.
See, at 43 everyone in yachting would have told me I was nuts if I had said I was quitting a perfectly good job to work on yachts. I new it too! As a Crew Agent, I learned all about how it works. Typically once the aspiring yachtie graduates college, they pack a bag and head for the nearest crewing agency to apply for work. The hierarchy is similar to the military, there are ranks and usually the higher you are on the food chain, the older you are. Now that’s the norm for yachts with 4 or more crew, anywhere between 100 and 300 plus feet but the boats under a 100 feet ran things a bit differently and age was not a big deal. Especially for me because I was in the best shape of my life and could run circles around some of those young girls.
As I was sipping my adult beverage and having a good cry, all of this occurred to me and it scared me to death. I immediately text the owner of the yacht I had just worked on but he specifically told me not to quit my day job because there was no guarantee he could keep me busy. It was summer time in South Florida, the slowest time of the year for yacht charters and he was a private owner, didn’t use a broker. But of course, I didn’t listen so here I am, again, back to square one. Even though everything seemed hopeless at this point, I still felt relieved and so glad I left that job.
Let me start from the beginning…
I guess the story would be more interesting if you had an idea of who I was and where I came from. Northwest Indiana was a great place to be a kid. We experienced leaves turning in the fall, flowers blooming in the spring and snow falling in the winter. When it was warm and sunny, 4 whole months of the year, we were outside all day long riding bikes, swimming in pools, playing sports, building forts, burning bonfires and carving out trails in the woods.
Growing up, like many of my friends in the 70’s, I had 2 homes. My parents split when I was 3, which I don’t really recall, just always seemed normal to spend the weekends with Dad and his new family and the week with Mom. Dad had a good city job, Monday through Friday’s typically but Mom’s schedule was a bit all over. She waited tables and tended bar at night in a local Mexican restaurant, often not getting home until 1 and 2 in the morning. I used to wait up, watching TV show’s like ‘The Honeymooners’, ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Sanford and Son’ to stay awake. As soon as I heard her pull up, I would run downstairs to greet her and be the first to see what kind of Mexican food she would bring home from the restaurant, it was always delicious.
Often, I would go with her to work, helping out in the kitchen, taking orders, serving food, clearing tables and washing dishes. I loved going to work with Mom, even at 10 years old, hospitality was natural to me. It also gave me a better appreciation of how hard her job was. Dad had a big yard with plenty of tree’s and grass to take care of. In the summer, the leaves and twigs never stopped falling. We would spend hours raking and bagging them up only to turn around and have to start all over again. In the winter, it seemed we were always shoveling snow and I hated it all! But I owe both of my folks a big Thank You, because if they had just let us watch TV and play Atari, my work ethic would not be as strong as it is today!
Like most siblings, we would fight, a lot! Mom would leave for work as soon as we came home from school. That meant we could do whatever we wanted until she got home….and we did. (homework was not one of them) There were 3 of us, me being the youngest, I seemed to always be left alone. My older brother and sister were supposed to keep an eye on me, but they were older and had better things to do.
That was OK with me because there were lot’s of kids in the neighborhood, mostly boys and a few girls. Between fighting with my siblings, hanging with my Marine Vietnam Veteran Dad and being one of the ‘guys’, I became pretty tough. And back then, instead of cell phones and computers, we had pellet guns, the woods, motor bikes, forts, kick the can, ditch on bikes and TV tag.
The one thing we didn’t have was parental supervision when at mom’s during the week. I also had to figure out boys and dating on my own and that was disastrous, even to this day, I still can’t figure out how to have a successful relationship. And style?? Forget about it!! There wasn’t much money for designer clothes and even if there was I had no idea what to wear. My hair was awful, I wore super thick glasses because I couldn’t see 2 feet in front of my face, was not popular and an OK student. 9th grade most of the girls had hit puberty sporting their new boobs while I was flat as a board. I did experience my first love though, he was sweet, we dated the whole year and broke up by summer.
I wasn’t sad anymore either about the breakup because out of no where my boobs grew, mom saved up and bought me contacts, my friend got a car and I had a job at McDonald’s. All of a sudden, the boys were noticing me and it was AWESOME!!
10th grade was coming and it was scary because our Jr. High combines with the other Jr. High in the High School building. What if my friends didn’t have the same lunch hour or the older students were bullies??? I’ll tell you what, High School was not fun, I was bullied from day one and did nothing to deserve it….