There had been changes on our island. The most devastating change for me was that Sara had left. Her father had suffered a severe stroke about a year earlier. She had gone to San Diego to take care of him and had “fallen” (her word) into running the family real estate business. We talked by phone periodically and Sara assured me that she would, eventually, return to St. George. After about nine months, I realized that wasn’t going to happen. The house and my life were very empty without her.

Stacy Maxwell had first come to the island when the father of her college friend Joanne Long had bought a house not far from ours on the west side of the island. Stacy, Joanne, and their friends had used the house before Art Long did. Sara had encouraged a relationship between Stacy and me and she and Stacy formed a relationship. Stacy had come back to the island by herself several times while she was in law school. The three of us gave each other a lot of pleasure. A collateral benefit was that Stacy was an accomplished sailor. I had bought a sailboat not long after moving to St. George but wasn’t near Stacy’s level. I had learned a lot about sailing, and about other things, from Stacy. Unfortunately, Stacy was not a candidate to fill the void left by Sara. Stacy was now working hard to build her legal career.

Joanne and Stacy’s other friends who had come to St. George were now starting their careers, so I didn’t see them anymore either. Gretchen and Beth, our neighbors from across the road, had left the island when Beth was diagnosed with cancer. While St. George had a lot of great things, the kind of sophisticated medical care Beth needed was not among them. The only positive change was that Art Long, Joanne’s dad, had started using his house just up the hill from mine frequently. Art was a good guy and we had become friends.

I had been very lucky in my own practice and had come to St. George with enough money that I didn’t need to work. I still earned a nice amount each year from passive investments. That had been great when Sara and I were together because it had meant that we had the time and resources to do whatever we wanted. It was a mixed blessing after Sara left because I had a lot of time but nothing to do.

I did volunteer to crew St. George’s one rescue/patrol boat. St. George had bought a 47-foot motor lifeboat from the US Coast Guard. The boat was captained by a member of the St. George Public Safety Service, the government agency that handled customs and immigration, law enforcement, and emergency response. However, the PSS was not able to provide a full professional crew for the lifeboat. Consequently, several of us who had some seamanship ability volunteered to serve as the three crewmembers. There were about 20 volunteer crew who served under one of three professional captains in rotation. Typically, we were each on call one week a month.

One of my weeks on call coincided with a strong storm in the Atlantic. While the storm was not projected to hit St. George, we would get high winds and very rough seas. Because of the enhanced risk, the volunteers on duty that week spent the storm in the PSS barracks at the harbor in Chamberlain, only a few yards from the boat if we were needed.

Our professional captain during the storm was PSS Marine Commander Antoinette Wilts, commonly known as “Captain Toni.” Captain Toni was, in my opinion, the best of the three captains. She was an outstanding boat handler with excellent judgment and courage, but she was also easy to work with and would listen to us amateur volunteers. In return, we volunteers busted our asses when Captain Toni was at the helm. During that storm, the other crew were Bob Heddrick, who ordinarily captained a tour boat around the island, and Steffi Williams, who was a nurse at the island’s clinic. Bob and Steffi were good people.

Everyone had plenty of advance warning about the storm. Consequently, I didn’t expect that we would be called out. Surely, the only vessels out would be the very large commercial vessels that typically operated far enough offshore to be out of our range. Absent a desperate emergency, any problems with those vessels would be handled by the better-equipped and fully professional services on nearby islands. I expected to wait out the storm in the PSS barracks.

My expectations were wrong. We got the call while the center of the storm was at its closest to St. George. A private sailboat needed help about eight miles east of the island. Captain Toni, Steffi, Bob, and I quickly put on our life vests. In compliance with St. George’s mandatory nudity laws, the vests and deck shoes were the most we ever wore. That was just as well because the rain was coming down as almost a solid sheet of water. A small fringe benefit was that Steffi had a nice ass.

We got underway quickly, but it was very rough outside the harbor. While the boat could go very fast, we made slow progress against the waves and water. We had brief radio contact with a woman on the sailboat, but we lost that. Captain Toni headed for the sailboat’s last known position. Because the weather kept pushing us off course, it took the better part of two hours to reach the area where we thought the sailboat should be. The problem was that, with the weather and the darkness (it was about 1:30 a.m. when we reached the sailboat’s last reported location) we couldn’t see more than a few feet from the boat. The searchlight was useless. Captain Toni repeatedly ran the lifeboat’s siren in the hope that the people on the sailboat would hear it a fire a flare or do something to help us find them.

We finally found the sailboat by pure dumb luck. We almost ran over it. Captain Toni had to turn hard to avoid hitting it then carefully brought us back alongside. Two women were standing in the deck, which was awash. There was no mast in sight. It wasn’t until we were about two yards away that I realized that the women had been yelling the whole time.

We fixed a line to a life vest and I dove over the side. I swam to the sailboat and strapped the vest around the younger woman. Bob reeled her the short distance through the waves to the lifeboat. Timing the wind gusts perfectly, Bob tossed the vest back to me and we repeated the process with the older woman. I was about to abandon the sailboat when a man appeared on deck. I have no idea where he had been, but I waved for Bob to throw the vest and line back again. Unlike the women, the man seemed hostile, but I got him into the vest and Bob reeled him onto the lifeboat. I took a small risk by free swimming back to the lifeboat myself.

Our lifeboat had a small amount of space inside the small cabin and below deck. Steffi took the three people we’d rescued inside while she did a preliminary medical exam. Fortunately, none of the three were really hurt, although the man seemed very angry.

Going with the wind, the trip back in was much quicker than our trip out. We learned that we had rescued a family. The man, whom I guessed was in his mid-sixties, was Karl Harlow. We also rescued his wife Julia, whom I guessed to be in her forties, and a girl named Sandy, whom I guessed to be between 18 and 23. Julia told us that they had chartered the sailboat in Guadeloupe. We did not ask then what they had thought they were doing out in that storm.

We were about twenty minutes out from the dock when Julia, seemingly largely recovered from her ordeal, said, “May I ask you something?”

“Sure,” I replied.

“Why is it that none of you are wearing any clothes apart from your life vests?” Julia asked.

“We’re with the St. George Public Safety Service,” I replied. “A few years ago, St. George enacted legislation making nudity mandatory for everyone on the island at all times.”

“That’s cool,” Sandy said.

“Where are you taking us?” Julia asked.

“To our dock in the harbor in Chamberlain, St. George,” I answered.

“Uh, does that mean that we have to go naked?” Julia asked.

Karl, who had said nothing to that point, growled “Fuck that!”

“Not necessarily,” I answered. “If you want to move around the island, yes you must be naked. However, if you would prefer to stay clothed, the government runs a shelter at the airport. We can have a PSS van take you there and you can stay there until you can get a flight off the island. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but it is the law.”

“How often are there flights?” Julia asked.

“Ordinarily,” I answered, “there’s a flight daily; although they are often sold out. I don’t know how the storm will affect the air service.”

“What’s on St. George?” Sandy asked.

“We have a number of beautiful beaches which are wonderful when it’s not like this,” I answered. “Chamberlain has high-end duty-free shopping and a number of excellent restaurants. There are several five-star resorts on the island, and a casino near the airport.”

Just then, Steffi interjected, “We’re only a few minutes from the dock. Would you please let me know if you wish to remain clothed so we can radio ahead for a van to take you to the airport?”

“No one’s taking clothes off,” Karl growled. “Fucking heathens!” I thought that I saw disappointment in Sandy’s face.

Captain Toni brought us to the dock as gently as if it was a calm day. We helped the Harlows off the boat and into our barracks to await the van to the airport. In the somewhat better light of the barracks, I concluded that Julia Harlow was a handsome woman and that Sandy was borderline beautiful. Their clinging wet clothes disclosed that both women had very nice figures.

Inside the barracks, Captain Toni, Steffi, Bob, and I took off our soaked life vests. Julia commented, “It is surprising how much more naked you all look without those vests on.”

Sandy said, “You guys have great tans. Do you all live here?” We all four nodded affirmatively. “So, you never wear clothes?” she asked.

“Only if we go off of the island for some reason,” Steffi answered.

Captain Toni went to her office to write her report. Bob went to monitor the radio. I asked, “Does anyone want coffee?” Julia and Sandy both said, “Yes, please.” Karl just shook his head. Steffi helped me bring out four mugs of coffee.

As I handed mugs to Julia and Sandy I unwisely asked, “How did you come to be out in the storm?” Julia grimaced slightly and shifted her eyes towards her husband and then back.

Karl growled, “Goddamned weather warnings are always exaggerated. Bitch called for help when I had it under control.” I thought Karl was delusional. The storm warnings were not exaggerated, and he hadn’t had anything under control.

Karl didn’t say anything else. However, Julia and Sandy were very pleasant. I learned that the Harlows were from Columbus, Ohio where Karl owned a construction company. Julia had been a banker until she married Karl three years earlier. Sandy’s father, Julia’s first husband, had been killed several years before that while deployed with his Army reserve unit in Afghanistan. Sandy was a varsity diver at a well-known university in the Midwestern US.

Julia, Sandy, Steffi, and I had become reasonably friendly by the time the van arrived to take them to the shelter at the airport. Before they left, I wrote down Steffi’s and my cell phone numbers (St. George had and has very reliable service all over the island that was compatible with North American phones) on a slip of paper and handed it to Julia. “I hope that you get to wherever you are going without any problems,” I said, “but, if you need anything while you’re on St. George, please feel free to call Ms. Williams or me.”

Julia took the slip of paper, ran her eyes over my bare body, smiled, and said, “Thank you Harry. It was nice to meet you.”

Sandy added, “Yes, thank you so much. I’m sorry that we can’t stay on St. George.” Karl spit and the three of them followed the PSS officer out to the van.

Once they had gone, Steffi said, “I’ll bet that the women would have gotten naked and stayed but for the husband.”

“Folks from Ohio?” I asked rhetorically. “I doubt it.” With that, I put the Harlows out of my mind.

The storm had passed by that afternoon and Steffi, Bob, and I went home. Bicycling from Chamberlain to my house, I didn’t see much damage beyond a few limbs down. However, I had heard before I left the harbor that the east side of the island had suffered much worse. Once I had satisfied myself that nothing had happened to my house, I went up the hill to check on Art’s place. I was sure that he’d expect me to and would call to find out if he’d suffered any damage.

When my phone rang just after sunset, it wasn’t Art calling. When I answered, I heard, “Harry Stone? It’s Julia Harlow. We’re at the airport but it has been damaged and they’re telling us that it may be several days before it is open again. Uh, well, uh, Sandy and I talked, and we agreed that we want to get out of this ‘shelter.'”

“You realize. . . .” I started.

“Yeah, I know, we have to take our clothes off,” Julia said.

“What about your husband?” I asked.

In a hard voice, Julia said, “Karl is staying here.” I’d made another misstep. I heard what sounded like Julia taking a deep breath. “Where should we stay?” she asked in a more normal tone.

“I know a few of the hotel and resort managers,” I said. “Give me your number. I’ll call you back when I’ve found you a place.”

I started calling my friends at the hotels. That quickly became frustrating. Several of the larger hotels were, naturally, close to the airport and had also suffered damage. The largest, part of an international chain, had moved its guests to other properties. In short, there were no vacancies on the island.

After about 45 minutes of calling and a bit of begging, I was forced to call Julia Harlow back with my negative report. “Shit!” she said. “Sandy and I have had all we can take of this so-called shelter. We’re fucking prisoners here.” Julia was quite agitated.

“Well,” I said, “This may sound bad, but I’ve got a guest room and this side of the island wasn’t hit at all. You’re welcome to stay here.”

“God! Thank you,” Julia said. “What is your address? Can we get a cab from here?”

“Don’t worry about a cab,” I said. “I’ll come and get you. Give me about 45 minutes.” I ended the call, got out the “carriage bike” with a back seat where two people could sit side-by-side, and started peddling towards the airport.

The shelter at the airport really was a holding cell, although it did not have bars on the windows or doors. Anyone who refused to undress when they arrived in St. George was kept there until they were transported off the island. Since almost everyone came to St. George for the purpose of vacationing in the nude, the shelter did not get much use. Those rare times when it was used typically involved people, like the Harlows, who had arrived on St. George involuntarily.

The shelter was a small concrete block building on a far corner of the airport. As I pedaled through the airport grounds, I was surprised by how much more damage had occurred there than on my side of the island. Even though it was night, I could see a small army of people working under temporary lights to clear the runway and taxiways to get the airport back in service.

At the door to the shelter, I had to show my island ID card, which I kept in a small card holder held around my left wrist with Velcro, to a young lady wearing only her PSS cap and sandals. Her dark skin suggested that she was one of the minority of people in St. George descended from the island’s original inhabitants. After checking my ID, she let me through the outer door into an anteroom. There, a young man dressed in his PSS cap, sandals, and a gun belt unlocked a second door. The young man followed me into the inner room.

The main room at the shelter was spartan. There was a table and a few chairs, four cots, and a refrigerator in one corner. Along one wall were four small windows just below the ceiling. The opposite wall had a plain, unmarked door which I assumed led to a bathroom. While I assumed that the shelter was air-conditioned, the room was uncomfortably warm.

Julia and Sandy Harlow, dressed in the clothes they’d worn when we rescued them, came up to me.

“Thank you so much for coming,” Julia said.

Sandy gave me a quick hug and a peck on a cheek. “Yes, thank you so very much,” she said. I saw Karl Harlow sitting in one of the chairs. He just stared at me.

With some trepidation about what I was getting myself into with these people, I asked “Are you ready to go?”

The PSS officer with me cleared his throat. “Ladies, you must remove all of your clothing before I can allow you out of this room,” he said.

“We know,” Julia replied. She bent down and slowly started to remove her shoes. Sandy, on the other hand, swiftly whipped off the tee shirt she was wearing and unfastened her bra. Sandy’s breasts, highlighted by her tan lines, were not large but were in proportion to her slender body. They looked firm and Sandy’s small nipples looked erect. Topless, Sandy bent over and slid off the deck shoes she was wearing. She straightened without hesitation. Her blue eyes beneath her wavy light brown hair gleamed. She smiled, reached down, and undid the top of her shorts. She hooked a thumb into the waistband of her shorts at each hip and pushed them and her panties down her long legs to her ankles. Sandy stepped out of her shorts and stood naked making no effort to cover herself. She looked very nice.

Sandy’s unhesitant disrobing seemed to give Julia confidence. She pulled her shirt over her head and dropped it on the concrete floor. As she reached behind herself to unfasten her bra, I could see beads of sweat in the valley between her breasts. A moment later, Julia’s breasts were completely uncovered. Julia had much larger breasts than her daughter. Not surprising for a woman her age, Julia’s breasts sagged slightly. Julia’s nipples also appeared hard.

Julia looked at Sandy, then looked at me. I noticed that she did not look at her husband who was sitting behind her. Julia took a deep breath, unbuttoned her shorts, and pulled down the zipper. Wearing only a pair of cotton panties, I could see that Julia’s hips were wider than Sandy’s. Julia’s legs were shorter and her thighs bigger than her daughter’s. Still, Julia Harlow was a very attractive woman.

Julia took another deep breath. She grasped the waistband of her panties at each hip and slid them off, bending forward as she pushed the panties down her thighs and calves. When her panties reached the floor, Julia straightened and took a step back. “We’re ok?” she asked her daughter.

“We’re great!” Sandy replied with a smile.

Julia turned to me. “Am I properly dressed to visit St. George?” she asked.

Like most people, Julia Harlow looked much better naked than clothed. “Quite properly,” I replied. “The two of you will enhance the beauty of our island,” I added.

From his chair, Karl Harlow uttered one word: “sluts!”

The PSS officer had stepped away. He came back with two heavy gauge plastic bags which he handed to Julia and Sandy. “For your clothes ladies,” he said. “Please remember that it is not legal to wear any clothing at any time while you are on St. George.” To me, the officer said, “We’ve already checked their passports. They are free to go.” The officer asked Julia and Sandy, “You have other bags?”

“I was with Captain Wilts when we took them off of a foundering sailboat early this morning,” I explained. “Their bags are gone.”

To the women, the PSS officer politely said, “I’m sorry.”