The Raffle Prize

img_2445 Do you feel lucky?

Jeff certainly did several months ago when he attended a charity event in London.  The way he tells it, he just felt like a winner that night.  In fact, he was so sure of success that when he was given a card for the raffle, he declined to fill it out completely and opted instead for one word: DISH.  He was clearly having a “Cher moment”.

Later that evening, the Auctioneer had a confused look at his face as he pulled out a card from the hundreds stuffed within the raffle container, held it up, cocked his head sideways, and asked as if uncertain, “Dish?

And so begins our adventure.

The prize that night was a weekend aboard The Wellesley, a 180 foot yacht in the South of France.

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For perspective, I once won a raffle at the cineplex in New Jersey when I was about 12 years old.  I sat in the dim movie theater as a person announced a number that matched my ticket stub.  I was too embarrassed to get up and claim my prize — a pack of Twizzlers.

This was WAY better than licorice!  Sweeter and more satisfying in every way.

We booked our trip for the last weekend of September to coincide with the annual sailing regatta, Les Voiles, which marks the end of the season in St. Tropez.  We left a crisp cool climate in England to prolong the summer with sunshine and heat worthy of bikinis in the south of France.

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Upon seeing the yacht in the harbour of Cannes, we all gasped at its grandeur, immediately conveying (if it weren’t already painfully obvious) that we were not Russian oligarchs or Hollywood royalty used to traveling in such style. Our mouths stayed agape as we wandered through the beautiful and well appointed staterooms, lounge areas, and deck spaces throughout.  Though confined by definition, it was possible to get lost aboard this vast vessel!

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We boarded in Cannes and took a brief cruise to the waters just outside St. Tropez.  The Wellesley was too large to fit in the slips near the harbour that were occupied by sailing boats of all shapes and sizes.  However, we travelled in style aboard the “dinghy” that was actually a proper water craft and not the meager inflatable raft I usually associate with the term.

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We roamed St. Tropez by day and night, drinking too much champagne at the legendary club, Les Caves du Roy at the hotel Byblos.

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Though quite honestly, it was hard to remove ourselves from our luxurious world on board The Wellesley.  Days were lazy as we awakened to fresh bread baked daily by the Michelin-starred chef who came with the yacht.  We lounged in the various deck areas where one of the many staff members was always on hand to refill a glass. This was helpful because the weekend’s motto was “rosé all day!”

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Lunches and dinners were extravagant affairs with table decor, linens, and flowers arranged specially for every meal. Flat screen TVs, a cigar room, an outdoor hot tub, water toys, and comfy deck chairs kept up happy on board in our 5+ star accommodations.

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The fantasy weekend passed all too quickly, and by Sunday we found ourselves ashore in Cannes, enjoying one last lunch beneath the beaming sunshine at the Hotel Martinez waterfront.

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As you can imagine, on a boat that size, you do not feel the swells of the ocean.  But, once I disembarked, my sea legs were wobbly, and I was surprised to feel like I was swaying in place for days after my return.  I can only imagine what a full week aboard The Wellesley would do to my equilibrium.  But something tells me it would be well worth it.

Boats are always referred to by female gender.  And as luck literally would have it, ours was a true beauty.

If “Luck be a lady” as Frank once crooned,

her name is Wellesley.

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