Mid-Career Adventures – 1973-1981
In 1971, Kincey had joined Bruce in Barbados, at the conclusion of his last business trip as the Program and Training Officer of the Latin American Region of the Peace Corps. Wandering through Bridgetown, they happened to notice a couple in a rugged looking little ~35′ sailboat tied up in the Careenage. They struck up a conversation, and long-story-short, the couple was from British Columbia; they had sold their house, bought a boat in Gibraltar; and moved themselves and their three teenage kids onto the boat for a year or two of cruising. After a year in the Mediterranean, the Canadians decided to see the Caribbean where they had arrived a couple weeks before we met them in Barbados.. Once their cruising was over, they planned to either sail back to Canada or sell the boat and fly back. Thus was born the seed of three years cruising and eventually eight years residence in the Caribbean for Kincey and Bruce.
So in the spring of 1973, we sold the house at 622 C Street NE, DC; bought a sailboat model called a Rasmus 35, made by the Swedish boatbuilder Halberg-Rassey from the Monroe B. Hall Yacht Associates in Annapolis; moved aboard on April 15th; had the still unnamed boat fitted out by itinerant Annapolis-based boat mechanics Robbie and Carl, while tied up on the docks where the Chesapeake Bay Program now has its office on Spa Creek; and sailed off down the Bay in mid-May. Down the IntraCoastal Waterway to Morehead City, NC, out into the Gulf Stream, heading toward Bermuda for several days, then turn right and about June 30th, 13 days after leaving North Carolina, tie up in the big marina at Isleta — a hi-rise covered cay — just off the NE coast of Puerto Rico, near Fajardo.
Dinghied ashore, met Kevin Gray, the 19-year-old Bermudan captain of the Governor of Puerto Rico’s 52′ Bertram yacht, and we were off — on a series of wonderful experiences throughout the Eastern Caribbean for most of the next three years. Here’s the Christmas letter we sent out 18 months later.
Click Kincey 1973-4 Cruise Text to download the one-page discussion of the year’s  cruising and other stuff. . . .
And here’s one of our very favorite places in 1975 — which was totally destroyed in the twin hurricanes of 2017, Stanley Hodge’s Welcome Bar in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola. . .
Settling in for the Long Haul
After we had been sailing in the Caribbean for three years (1973-1975) we decided to stay in the US Virgin Islands for a while. Kincey (and I, also) became an Emergency Employment employee of the Government of the United States Virgin Islands (earning about $12,000 a year — she enjoyed the irony of going from running EEP in DC to being paid by EEP). For a few months we anchored out in Honeymoon Bay on Water Island in the center of St. Thomas Harbor, where we became great friends of Phyllis and KC Jones (formerly of Cleveland and Washington, DC). As the water got colder in the fall, (making bathing in the sea less inviting at 6:30 AM every day) we lucked out with a rental apartment at Smith’s Fancy, a former small bar and hotel site just above the center of Charlotte Amalie (next door to the Synagogue). The apartment had one of the best views in the island, across St. Thomas Harbor to the West Indian Company docks where the cruise ships tied up every morning.
After a year working with the USVI Planning Department (which had great Friday lunch hours, since every week the meal was prepared by one of two expert cooks who had other jobs in the office), Kincey got a special assignment at the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) to coordinate their computer systems (in spite of having NO computer experience at all — she sought the job to develop expertise in computer system applications management).
Fortuitously for Kincey’s secondary goal in taking the DSW job, the Department became a pilot site (as a state government surrogate) for the development and implementation of a new Federally-sponsored database system to track and report on the payment of Child Support payments by ex-parents (fathers, of course) of children receiving Federal Aid for Dependent Children (AfDC) benefits. With virtually no other assistance other than the system developer, Kincey designed the system testing and quality control procedures which the system developer — a continental firm contracted by the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare (as HHS was known before 1979) — had to comply with. The Virgin Islands became the second state in the USA (after Arizona, where the system was originally developed) to have a fully functional state “Child Support Enforcement” computer system.
As we approached five years living ashore in the Virgin Islands — and our later 30s in age — we saw no realistic possibility of getting jobs or running some sort of local business that was likely to get us a decent retirement fund, even without kids. Local salaries were just too low. In the spring of 1980, Kincey made a tour of several cities on the US East Coast, but didn’t see or learn about anything that seemed especially interesting. Later that summer I had to go to Washington DC for some minor business and learned from a former Peace Corps staff colleague of a job possibility with Mobil Oil (before they merged with Exxon) in New York City. I went up to New York and interviewed for the job on the political risk team of the Planning Department of the Exploration and Producing Division of the corporation. It came thru, and we moved to New York, where we lived at the corner of 53rd Street and Second Avenue for almost exactly five years.
Frank Burdett, RIP September 21, 1980
Coincident with the twists and changes going on in life choices for Kincey, her father was sinking deeper into alcoholic depression living alone on his sailboat, the Kincey Gee (purposefully ambiguous whether it was named for Kincey his late wife, or Kincey his daughter), in Dania, Florida. In the spring of 1980, Kincey sacrificed a 10-day sailing vacation in the Bay Islands of Honduras to spend time with her Dad, hoping to see some way to get him to accept help to get out of the abyss that he seemed headed for. She said later that she felt when she left him that she had not been successful.
September 14th the Dania police received a report about Frank that someone in the marina called in. They found him taping a hose from the tail pipe of his car to the back window of the car. They talked to him and tried to arrange some sort of consultation for him with health offices, but they had no information about Kincey or how to contact her, and Frank certainly didn’t offer the information. A week later, Frank successfully committed suicide. Kincey never really talked about his death; there was no point; it was a page to be turned.