From Jamaican Peace Corp Volunteer to Carpenter on Schooner Topaz

by James Simister

I first came to Jamaica with Peace Corp as woodworking instructor for handicapped boys in the School of Hope in Papine. That was by the University of West Indies in 1981.

That was a learning, eye opening, experience for me. I was moved and changed from a wasteful life in USA to a simpler but real way of existence.

After six weeks in Sligoville, my host family was in James Mountain at the bottom of the hill at a rum bar/market owned by a most loving family.

Before starting my job I hiked up Blue Mountain and back down.

After Peace Corp, I met up with the crew and Captain of a 114' Schooner Topaz that was in dry dock for two years with serious structural renovation.

I met them when Topaz was in the water for two weeks in Kingston. I had to return to the States to change government passport to citizen passport.

I returned to Topaz between Christmas and New Years. And when we were all sea worthy,we sailed around Jamaica from MoBay, Ochos Rios, Discovery Bay, and finally to Port Antonio.

The last port was the best for me as Port Antonio was not as touristy as it is today.

Besides the beautiful scenes and oodles of fresh fruits and vegetables; it was the kindness and warm smiles of the beautiful people of this island.

Thank you all in Jamaica for awesome experiences!

James Thomas Simister

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