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Step aboard for another wild tale from the legendary Don Street, as well as a touch of reality, as Iolaire celebrates her 100th at the British Classic Yacht Regatta BY JEREMY McGEARY
The summer of 2005 was full of landmarks for Don Street and his venerable 46-foot yawl, Iolaire. Don turned 75, 50 of those years spent as a member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. Topping both, Iolaire reached her centenary. By way of celebration, Don awakened the old girl from a two-year slumber in London's Limehouse Basin, painted her white—she's been red as long as anyone can remember— and took her to Cowes, on England's Isle of Wight, so she could strut her stuff among her ilk, if not her peers, in the British Classic Yacht Club Regatta.
I first met Don Street and Iolaire 35 years ago. Even back then, Don was known for his love affair with that legendary Dutch elixir, Heineken beer. It's a well-known fact that the Green Flash in the eastern Caribbean is caused by the discarded green bottles carried by the current to the western horizon, many of them cast from the deck of Iolaire, but it's absolutely not true that Heineken constructed its brewery on St. Lucia purely for Don's benefit. Despite this long acquaintance, I had never sailed with Don or on Iolaire. So it was with some anticipation, if not a little trepidation, that I shipped aboard Iolaire last July on the occasion of this clutch of anniversaries.
Don was held in a sort of ambiguous regard by the fraternity of "yachties" that held sway in the eastern Caribbean in the 1960s and 1970s. Iolaire always seemed to be up sitting on the ways in Prickly Bay, Grenada, getting yet another rotten plank replaced or a frame sistered, and it was a matter of record that more dutchmen could be found in her deck planking than in an Amsterdam beer hall on a Saturday night.
The skippers who knew Don's ways gave up keeping Heineken in their ships' stores to shorten the time he stayed aboard chat-ting—Don has an endless store of endless stories, and, prefacing each one with "Here's one for ya," he'll tell as many of them in one sitting as the beer will support. At the same time, everyone wanted to remain on friendly terms with him because, as the Lloyd's of London agent for the region, he insured most of the
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