We were anchored off one of the loveliest, most picturesque island capitals in the world, Plymouth, Montserrat. (Needless to say, this was before the volcano buried it under a billion tons of dust.) We were aboard Carlotta, our 36-foot ferro-cement ketch, and cruising in the company of the lovely 50-foot ferro-cement ketch Perseverance—vessels that had been constructed in the same boatbuilding commune in Boston and were now crossing the Caribbean in happy company.
Carolyn was baking a cake aboard Carlotta for somebody's birthday. We never made the party. It was one of those accidents that was almost impossible, yet happened. The anchorage off Plymouth always has a persistent roll from the trade-wind swell that works its way around the southern tip of the island. Carolyn was squatting while taking the cake out; the door was only open for a second or two. Our daughter, Roma Orion, and I were on the other side of the cabin. Suddenly Roma, who was just a toddler, stood up. And she unexpectedly started to lurch across the cabin. I yelled and tried to lean over to grab her. I missed. Carolyn saw her coming and attempted to push her away with a body block, to no avail. Roma evaded both of us and planted her little, pink hand firmly on the 425-degree open oven door. Nothing happened for a second—and then she got the saddest look on her face.