From: Michael Graff

I joined the Brigantine Romance on August 28, 1974, the day before my twentieth brithday. I had seen the ship once before when I was on a trip in the British Virgin Islands. We were anchored off Peter Island in a Pearson 35, when the Romance dropped anchor and I swam over and was given permission by Mrs. K to climb aboard. Four years later, I signed up to become a crewman for my field term requirement at Beloit College.

I was on board for four months during which the ship sailed to Greneda for layup and subsequently took three cruises, as she worked her way back to the Virgin Islands. I had many exciting experiences while I was on board. It was the only time in my life when I have fallen asleep on my feet. On our first night of our passage to Greneda, I spent several hours keeping watch in the bow. I remember being awakened as the salt water slapped me in my face. I'd open my eyes and quickly say, "Yes Sir," thinking the Skipper had found me.

I had many adventures, I saw a school of Pilot Whales, I cleared customs for the ship one time when it returned to Virgin Gorda. The custom's official told me that only the captain could clear the ship and that I had to go back and get him. I said, "I don't think you understand, if I go back to the ship and if we haven't cleared customs, the captain will kill me." This man took pity on me and cleared the Romance.

I remember my bunk in the galley and trips into the dreaded "awful awful," but when I returned, I often told people that it was the first time in my life that anyone expected me to work hard, very hard. I am grateful that I had the experience to work on board the Romance. As I recently wrote to the Kimberly's, "A few months ago, I rented the film, "Hawaii," to show my son the Romance. I felt so much pride to be able to say that I had taken tricks at the wheel, scraped the hull, set sails, and did galley duty."

I can be reached at if anyone wants to talk about old times on board that magnificient ship.

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