African AmericansBlack InterestsBlack MenLifestyleMoney/EconomicsMr. Free SpiritPoliticsTravel

Mr. Free Spirit — Did You Know? (Part 2)



I have tried hard to avoid any statements concerning our political environment in my column, however did you know if you have retired or planning to retire soon a change is coming. Financial planning is more important than ever, no matter if your retirement will be based on Social Security, 401 or Federal Government retirement some in-depth financial planning is necessary. Your lifestyle in retirement should be more relaxed, fulfilling those items in your bucket i.e., retirement home, vacation, new boat and etc. The political environment should not dictate your retirement. Think about it. The last chapter of your life has not been written yet. Don’t go about your day to day living like you have 1000 years in front of you, enjoy your life now!!

My column has a great deal of influence based on my experience’s. Recently, I almost lost my direction and focus.  Three things made me get back on track.

  1.  I got notified that my mentor passed away
  2.  I had a long talk with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  3.  I had a conversation with the person in my mirror.

First, my mentor was a very focused person and nothing would sway him from the path of success, he instilled that in me. Second, if you ever had a talk with an agent in IRS it will make you think HARD about your next move/step. Some of you have financial planners and you will find they are good; however, their educated guess may not fit into the guidelines of IRS. Last, my conversation with the person in my mirror, that one was real and shocking. That conversation made me regain my focus and not permit those that are not directly involved make me stray from my road forward. It is my intention to be the instrument of change for the African American community as it relates to retirement.  During my travels around the United States, I have found we have various thoughts and cultures within our communities as it relates to retirement. I will not provide any depth as to the meaning of that statement, however the Midwest is very laid back, and the northern west coast is very cosmopolitan, the lower west coast is the lower west coast, no explanation required.

Reasons to Love Credit Unions (And Not Big Banks)

Credit unions exist to serve their members. What big bank can say that?

While out and about, you may have passed by the local credit union without looking twice. You have no need for their services, right? Well, at least that’s what you thought.

Are you aware of how credit unions operate and what they entail? If so, you may be inclined to open an account at one close to you or even switch from your bank.

What exactly is a credit union and why is it better? defines credit unions as “not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members rather than to maximize corporate profits.” They operate similarly to banks, as they make loans to members and accept deposits.

So, why should I choose the local credit union over big boy banks?

  1. Motives

The sole purpose for a credit union’s existence means that it should have your best interests at heart and not the bottom line of the institution. Big banks, on the other hand, are there to turn a profit and will seemingly do whatever it takes to meet their numbers.

  1. Structure

Because they follow a cooperative structure, credit unions are owned and operated by their members. Upon making the initial deposit, you will be granted voting rights along with surplus income returned in the form of dividends because cooperatives are owned and operated by members.

As a member, you may also be able to conduct transactions at other affiliate locations outside of your institution. And some credit unions reimburse their members for ATM fees incurred outside of their machines.

  1. Fees

Credit unions have lower expenses, so they are able to pass on the savings to their members. For instance, many credit unions offer free checking accounts with no minimum balance constraints, but you will often have to pay a fee at the big banks if your funds fall below a certain number or you fail to meet other criteria. You likely will also be assessed a fee for each transaction that is processed using overdraft protection.

  1. Loan rates

Every loan I’ve ever taken out has been from a credit union, even after shopping around at the big banks. They usually have better rates because they are nonprofit and aren’t looking to make their wallets fatter. According to the National Credit Union Association, as of June 27, 2014, the average interest rate on a 48-month new-car loan was 2.64 percent at the credit union, compared with 4.78 percent at major banks.

  1. Credit card offers

The NCUA also indicated that the average interest rate for credit cards was 11.55 percent for credit unions and 12.89 for banks. So there isn’t much of a difference in terms of APR, but the plastic from credit unions are usually less costly in terms of fees.

  1. Borrowing

Been turned down by all the major banks? Try your local credit union. Its borrowing standards are likely to be more flexible, and they may be willing to work with you, especially if you are a member in good standing. And if you’re self-employed, you already understand how tough it can be to be approved for anything with major banks.

Credit Unions are also a great source for car loans. Check out the car loan search in our Solutions Center. It’s populated entirely by credit unions and you’ll find rates as low as 2 percent.

  1. Earnings on savings accounts

Interest rates on savings are low across the board right now. Credit union savings accounts generally fare a little better than those in major banks, but this margin, again as of June 27,2015 was extremely modest. Credit union savings accounts yielded earnings of 0.13 percent on average, while banks earned 0.12.

  1. Customer service

The credit union may not have a 24/7 customer service line for you to call at 2 a.m. when you have a burning question about your account, but rest assured that the focus will always be on you. The credit unions I’ve joined have been staffed by friendly representatives who knew me by name. I can’t say I’ve had that experience with most banks.

Also, there’s no need to worry if your card is lost or stolen, because there is typically an after-hours hotline you can call to report it.

  1. Insurance

You can rest assured that your funds are safe in the credit union’s hands. Similar to most major banks, all accounts are federally insured up to $250,000 and backed by the U.S. government.

What if I want in?

Credit unions usually serve individuals affiliated with a particular organization or geographic region. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to slip through the cracks. To search for a credit union in your area, take a look at:


Did you know the plans for the 2017 Black Boaters Reunion in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are underway?

Mr. Free Spirit wants to know:  What is retirement?

There’s a big reward waiting for you in retirement: you can finally go on those trips you’ve always dreamed of, without having to worry about running out of vacation days or coming back to piles of work and an annoyed boss. Whether you want to explore never-inhabited corners of the world or visit the cradle of civilization, if you have the time, we’ve got some ideas.

Come on try something NEW!  In my May 16, 2016 article I provided the following information:  The United States has a large number of Black Yacht/boat clubs?

Additionally, there are Black Men and Women that are qualified Captain’s and they operate both Powered and Sail boats. A reunion of Black Boaters is being planned for 2017. I found out from Joan M Jackson, (one of the 2017 BVI Reunion Planners) about the plans for all/some of these Clubs to meet in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) in 2017 for a Mega Yachting Vacation. Can you imagine how dynamic this will be? This will be a real Sailabration !!!!!!!!!!!

Let’s talk about what you will encounter on your trip to the Reunion of Black Boaters in 2017.

BVI & Friends

Black People having a private yacht for vacation. Really?

First, you don’t have to be rich to enjoy a private yacht. You do need 8-10 like-minded people per boat. You do need a passport or be able to get one. You have 14 months to get it.  As I stated in the May article there are many Black Yacht/Boat clubs around the United States, Black Men In will publish the clubs as they get involved. However, after some conversation with our publisher we have agreed that Black Men In will also have a yacht. I have been tasked to work on all of the necessary arrangements for our yacht. We will be a part of No Drama Vacations since we are very like-minded.

The article about the reunion will run in July, August and September.  Since I will be traveling with NDV in 2016, I will be able to provide loads of insight to the 2017 reunion.

Let me provide you some information about the British Virgin Islands (BVI).  If you’re planning a visit to the BVI, this is best place to start is here. You can find out more about the beautiful islands, friendly people and recreational activities. To start the BVI has many islands, but let’s start with the 4 main islands.  Each of the British Virgin Island (BVI) has its own special beauty, character and legends.



Tortola (Spanish for Turtle Dove), largest and most populated of the four main Islands, is a lush mountainous Island which was formed by volcanic activity. Crowning Tortola is the tallest peak, Sage Mountain National Park, at 1716 feet, which exhibits the characteristics of a tropical rain forest. The Island has a population of 24,045 and 55.7 sq. km (21.5 sq. mi) in size. Tortola is also the vibrant hub of the financial and government sectors with Road Town “The Small Town with a Big Heart” as its capital. Road Town is home to the beautiful J.R. O’Neal Botanic Gardens which features close to three acres of indigenous and exotic plants, trees and herbs. The capital is also filled with restaurants, shops, and is the site for the hospital, government administration offices and official Governor’s House with its historical museum. Just behind Waterfront Drive is Main Street, a peep into the BVI’s architectural past, which still has many historic buildings and churches, charming cafes, and curio shops as well as the Virgin Islands Folk Museum.

Tortola also provides the main port of entry for a growing mega yacht and cruise tourism industry. Beef Island, an island in the British Virgin Island, is located to the east of Tortola, and the two islands are connected by the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Beef Island is the site of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport (IATA code EIS), the main commercial airport that serves Tortola and the rest of the British Virgin Islands. Adjacent to it is sailboat-filled Trellis Bay, a unique cultural village with craft shops and restaurants.

The first inhabitants of Tortola, around 300 B.C., were Amerindians from the Ciboney tribe of Venezuela. Around 200 A.D., they were overthrown by the Taino Arawak. In the 1300s, the fierce Carib invaded the British Virgins and enslaved the Arawaks.

Columbus was the first European visitor to the islands, in 1493. Impressed by the number of islands and by their plentiful cays, he named them after Ursula and her 11,000 virgins. In the 16th century, the English, who had successfully taken control of the area from the Dutch, established a permanent plantation colony on Tortola and the surrounding islands. The sugar cane industry, dependent on the slave labour of Africans transported from the continent, dominated Tortola history over the next 180 years. It diminished in the mid-19th century after the abolition of slavery. A large proportion of the white landowning population left the British Virgin Islands during the economic downturn, but the political relationship between the island and the British continued and has been maintained.

In the late 1970s, the British businessman Ken Bates attempted to lease a large part of the island on a 199-year lease, but this was blocked after a protest movement led by islander Noel Lloyd. Inspired by Martin Luther King, Noel Lloyd, started the Positive Action Movement in 1968 to protest the Batehill company’s development of land in the territory. The Batehill leases “were to run for 199 years…leaving less than 10% of Anegada to its own people, and creating a barrier that would separate the affluent Road Town harbour from the rest of the island.” Today, a life size statute of Noel Lloyd and face plates of other members of PAM stands in memory of their efforts at the Noel Lloyd Positive Action Movement Park in Road Town, Tortola.

British Virgin Island

Virgin Gorda

Virgin Gorda is the third largest island of the four main islands. It is located approximately 18 degrees north and 64 degrees west. It has an area of 8 square miles and it was nicknamed the Fat Virgin by Christopher Columbus because the islands profile on the horizon looks like a fat woman lying on her side. The capital of Virgin Gorda is Spanish Town.

The first residents in Virgin Gorda history to populate the area were the Ciboney, Arawak, and Carib Indians, who made a life throughout the first millennium AD by farming and fishing its abundant natural resources. Christopher Columbus was the first European visitor in Virgin Gorda history, spying what was to become the British Virgin Islands and touching down there on his maiden voyage in 1493, though no European nation chose to settle the unusual scattering of land masses until much later. A smorgasbord of notorious inhabitants, rather, called the area’s coves home during this period in Virgin Gorda history – pirates, like Bluebeard and Captain Kidd used Virgin Gorda as a base from which to hound Spanish galleons that passed through the reef-laced waters on a regular basis.

Virgin Gorda’s history took a step into modernity when it was finally taken over by the British in the late 17th century, when a booming plantation sugar industry was established and the population of Virgin Gorda increased dramatically. Slavery was abolished by Britain in 1838, a momentous occasion in Virgin Gorda history but one which left a fractured economy floundering for decades. This was finally rectified when the development of modern travel and communications allowed offshore banking and tourism to take over the British Virgin Islands’ economy, which led to some of the most amazing growth in Virgin Gorda history. Residents of Virgin Gorda now enjoy a high standard of living and value the benefits that a booming, though controlled, tourism industry has offered.

The island contains many tourist attractions such as the Baths. The Baths is located on the southern end of Virgin Gorda. This tourist attraction shows evidence of the island’s volcanic origins as huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach, forming scenic grottoes that are open to the sea.

The centerpiece of this dramatic area on Virgin Gorda’s north shore is The Baths, a geological wonder comprised of awe-inspiring granite boulders, which form sheltered sea pools on the beach’s edge. The protected area also includes Devil’s Bay, which can be reached from The Baths by a series of ladders scaling the boulders. Just north of The Baths, Spring Bay is reached by a separate road and includes a lovely white sand beach

The most notable ruin on Virgin Gorda is the Old Copper Mine. It was recently designated as a national park. It was mined in the 1860’s by Cornish miners. This abandoned copper mine played an important role in the history of Virgin Gorda. Spaniards passing through the BVI were the first Europeans to mine coppers here in the early 18th century. However, Cornish miners built the ruins that remain today in the 1800s, following a decline in mineral deposits in Cornwall, England. The mine closed in 1862 due to escalating expenses and low market prices. As many as 130 Cornish labourers and their families lived on Virgin Gorda during this time. The ruins of their housing area and the operations centre, containing the powerhouse, mine shafts, cisterns, engine house and chimney are still visible scattered across the slopes.



Named Anegada or the “Drowned Land” by the Spanish, Anegada is the only coral island in the Virgin Islands’ volcanic chain. This Island is 10 miles long by 2 1/2 miles wide with extensive salt ponds. It also reaches its highest point at 28 feet, hence its name which means the “drowned land.” Of coral reef origins, Anegada has “extruded” sixteen miles of sandy beaches with a primeval quality.

Anegada is known for miles of white sand beaches and the 29 km (18 miles) long Horseshoe Reef, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean, and the fourth largest on earth. The reef makes navigation to Anegada difficult. While charter boats freely sail among most of the other Virgin Islands, charter companies often forbid clients to sail to Anegada to avoid running aground on the reef.

The reef has claimed hundreds of shipwrecks, including HMS Astraea in 1808, the Donna Paula in 1819 and the MS Rocus in 1929. As such, it was once an important scuba diving destination. In an effort to protect the reef, the BVI government has made anchoring on Horseshoe Reef illegal.

Apart from the miles of white sand beaches, Anegada is also known for the large salt ponds which cover much of the western end of the island, and unique fauna. In the 1830s, thousands of Caribbean Flamingos lived in these ponds, but they were hunted for food and feathers throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries and disappeared by 1950. They are now being re-established into the ponds. The birds are another tourist draw, but officials are trying to keep the number of visitors to the flamingo areas at a level that allows the birds to flourish.


Jost Van Dyke

Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the four main islands of the British Virgin Islands. Jost Van Dyke, named after a famous Dutch pirate, has been a sailor’s mecca for years. Like many of the neighboring islands, it is volcanic in origin and mountainous. The highest point on the island is Majohnny Hill at 321 meters (1,054 ft).

Although the English captured the BVI in 1672, it seems that Jost Van Dyke was mostly ignored until the mid-18th century. A map drawn of the BVI in 1717 by Captain John Walton does not depict either Jost Van Dyke or Little Jost Van Dyke.

The island of Jost Van Dyke is rich in history as well.   Captain ‘Joost van Dyk’ was a 17th Century Dutch pirate who used its harbors as a safe hideout and to attack ships passing North of the island on way to Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and Cuba.  Jost has been home to Arawak Indians, Carib Indians, Africans, Dutch and English planters.  In the 1700s, a Quaker colony settled here to develop sugar-cane plantations. There are overgrown ruins of Quaker buildings and burial sites in different parts of the islands.   Historically in the Caribbean, with the exception of the Amerindians, most people just started living near the water in the last 50-75 years.  Before that, settlers, planters, and freed slaves made their homes in the safe, harder to reach highlands and valleys.  This gave them a certain degree of added safety being able to spot thieves, pirates, or foreign Navy ships approaching.

Great Harbour, the main port of entry, is always bobbing with sailboats and sailors coming ashore to the charming West Indian village that lines the beach with gift shops and restaurants. Since the late 1960s, Foxy’s Bar in Great Harbor has been a popular stop for Caribbean boaters. Foxy’s and the other bars in Great Harbor now host a modest crowd year-round and are filled with thousands of partiers on New

OK that was your history lesson.!!!

Now let’s talk about Black Boaters:

In 2008 I was fortunate enough to join a group of Black Boaters called the Black Boaters Summit. This was a totally new experience for me and I must say.

Atlantic Creole


The first Black Boaters Summit shoved off in 1997 with 10 boats and 100 participants, and it’s been growing ever since. After ten years, Paul Mixon and Bill Pinkney have taught hundreds of African Americans about the wonders of sailing. But, says Mixon, the dream is just beginning.


When Paul Mixon, 65, got hooked on sailing 30 years ago, he never expected that one day he’d be the organizer of a popular annual flotilla in the British Virgin Islands. But his instant love of the sport gave rise to a dream of introducing sailing to more African Americans, long a minority in the sailing community.

“Since the industry is missing the boat, not targeting African Americans,” he said, “why don’t I target African Americans and have them go sailing with me?”

Mixon’s good friend, Captain Bill Pinkney, 71, had his own sailing dreams. In 1985, remembering Call It Courage, Armstrong Sperry’s classic adventure tale, Pinkney began planning a remarkable solo voyage around the world. It would be the ultimate inspirational legacy to leave his grandchildren.

In August 1990, at the age of 54, Pinkney left Boston on his 47-foot (14-meter) cutter, Commitment. Opting for the more challenging southern route, his journey took him to Brazil, Australia, South Africa, Uruguay, and Bermuda—and through tropical storms, 70-mile-an-hour (110-kilometer-an-hour) winds, and 55-foot (17-meter) waves. After 22 months and 32,000 nautical miles, he sailed safely back to Boston’s harbor.

“Bill is the real deal,” says Mixon. “Not only did he circumnavigate the globe alone, but he chose the most difficult passages in the world.”

As the first African American to sail the world alone, Pinkney’s voyage was followed by hundreds of schoolchildren via computer and on satellite radio and television.

“I ended up not with two grandchildren but 30,000 grandchildren,” he says.

After being introduced by a mutual friend years ago, Mixon and Pinkney planned how they could work together to attract African Americans to sailing. Mixon used his entrepreneurial skills to organize the effort, and Pinkney used his reputation as a master sailor and a positive role model to draw people to the trips.

Today Mixon, of San Francisco, and Pinkney, who lives in Connecticut, share their sailing dreams with others through the Black Boaters Summit, an annual summer event in the British Virgin Islands.

“It was an uphill battle to try to convince people to get out on the water with nothing more than a sail and a rope,” says Mixon. In fact, according to Mixon, many of the participating sailors could not even swim and had no previous exposure to open water. “At the end of the day it’s very rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of our first-timers.”

The summit initially tested the waters with only ten boats. Now in its tenth year, it has grown exponentially. At one recent summit, 280 sailors participated on 24 boats. All of the boats’ captains are African-American men and women who have made sailing their sport. It’s evolved into a network that has created many friendships and six marriages.  Pinkney sums it up: “You can’t make fantasies happen, but you can make your dreams come true. That’s what I’m most proud of. I turned a dream into a reality—not just for me, but for a lot of young people as well.”


Paul Mixon and Bill Pinkney both grew up in Chicago and both went into the Navy. But they were strangers to each other. Find out how a mutual love of sailing and a desire to make a difference brought these remarkable men together.

“Planning the Dream”

Bill Pinkney was a sailing legend who wanted to leave a legacy for his grandkids. Paul Mixon also loved sailing and wanted to introduce the sport to other African Americans. See how these kindred spirits joined forces to create a mutual dream.

“Spreading the Word”

In many ways for Paul Mixon, starting a Black Boaters Summit was like sailing into the wind. It meant, among other things, overcoming stereotypes about African Americans and sailing, and finding and signing up qualified black captains. But with sailing legend Bill Pinkney as a beacon, the dream got under way.


Paul Mixon scoured the Internet and boat shows for captains and participants in his inaugural Black Boaters Summit. With the allure of sailing hero Bill Pinkney, the promise of adventure in a beautiful setting, and a price that was right, the summit set sail in 1997.

Many events and clubs on the water and Boating sprouted from BBS.  No Drama Vacations is one of them.

Moorings 5800 CAT

The 2017 BVI Reunion

Since the publisher of Black Men In has tasked Mr. Free Spirit to stay abreast of the 2017 BVI reunion, many calls have been received. Since this article first ran, I have received calls from a large number of people who think the entire concept is fantastic. Some of the conversations centered around anniversary’s, family reunion’s and people just having a reunion with old friends. Many of the calls I received were from people that love boats but never met like-minded people. During my travels around the United States, I have met with the CEO of Events in Motion who wanted to know if this would be an event that could include her entire family. The President of Luxury Simplified wants to know about air fare is included since their base is Florida, and would be a cheaper flight. Sugarfoot Entertainment wanted to know does the various provide the entertainment or do we bring our own.

The publisher of Black Men In and staff will have a meeting to develop a FAQ guide for the public and the media to address questions relating to all questions about the 2017 BVI reunion. Additionally, a separate email address has been established to comply with people who want to attend on the Black Men In boat. Since NDV and I are so like-minded I will make sure we comply with the NDV mind set of people that want to go and be drama free.

OK Mr. Free Spirit out until July 2016 !!!!

Couple on chairs on deck of cruise ship

If you would like to leave a comment about this article or Mr. Free Spirit, scroll down to the comments section below.

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    Mr. Free Spirit, I would like to sign up for the 2017 No Drama Vacatin, plus 1. Please advise more info to do so and secure 2 spots.

    Thank you for the article.

    1. Good Morning Ms, Williams,

      I have registered yo and your guest u in our spreadsheet. Our July issue will talk more about 2017 and our Sept issue will have the details. Our meeting in August 2016 is designed to finalize how 2017 will be structured. We will start providing information to serious people via email so the outside world will not have access to personal information. Our email address relating to the 2017 BVI reunion is

  2. This evening my boyfriend and I had the pleasure of meeting this nice man .my boyfriend and i were going through a rough time and this loving man came through for us in a major way, you don’t find too many stand up guys like himself anymore he is truly one of a kind and an amazing writer glad i had the opportunity to meet and speak with this kind free spirited man. Thank you for everything.

    1. No problem. We may meet again someday.

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