Adventures in the Trade Wind

“Yacht skipper, electrical engineer, beekeeper, stargazer, and seer, English expatriate Morris Nicholson was present at the creation of the modern West Indian charterboat trade. The story of his life and times, superbly told by American poet Richard Dey, is the next best thing to running south from Martinique to Grenada with Nicholson as your watchmate.”

                                                                        —Llewellyn Howland III

Morris Nicholson was a tremendously competent charterboat skipper whose adventures ranged from winning the first charteryacht race in the Caribbean to being washed overboard by a rogue wave, and from hosting scientists studying marine life to being shot at by Haiti’s tontons macoutes. Because he brought to everything he did a studious nature, this account is never less than illuminating. 

As Donald Street, the dean of Caribbean sailing, said “Morris is unique, a real seaman. He could do all the things that had to be done back in the days when there wasn’t any way to do them. People would quiz me and if ‘Eleuthera' were in harbor I would tell them to go quiz Morris. Morris was my authority.”

Sailing up and down the eastern archipelago, Nicholson witnessed firsthand the islands change from neglected colonial backwaters to modern independent mini-states, and their economies from agriculture to tourism. He saw how a single yacht could mean earnings and income for islanders, and later how a multitude of yachts became an economic sector.

In no other book is there an account of how skippered yachts, bareboats, and headboats came to sail the Caribbean Sea. This book also fills a void in Caribbean studies, for not only did foreign white sailors develop chartering but they also developed many of the island resorts.

Nicholson’s story captures a time now all but vanished in the islands. However, it is his own story—and his stories of others—that drives the narrative. He left England in 1951, a young man intent on sailing around the world and returning to England; however, fate—in the form of first one boat and then another—intervened. You will delight in a cast of fascinating characters as they appear and, as often as not, disappear.

Nicholson & Dey

Photo by Sarah Huntington

“Part adventure story, part history of yacht chartering, set against a backdrop of political upheaval, this ode to a remarkable individual brings to life many of the scoundrels and pioneers who made up the chartering community in its early years.”

                                                           —Bob Berlinghof, Caribbean Compass     

© Richard Dey 2013