Saturday, May 6, 2017

This Is My Drug

The weather forecast for Thursday looked mildly better earlier in the week than it did the day we left Anguilla… Our biggest concern is always the sea state. We look for seas of 5 ft or less, and coming from only one direction that isn’t on the nose. Unfortunately we had seas coming from two directions the day we sailed out of Round Bay headed for île Fourchue…
Rounding the point as we leave Round Bay
Waves aren't bad as we actually SAILED east along the northern coast.

Happy Cat = Happy Crew!

Things were looking great as we raised sails and started off toward the NE end of Anguilla. There is a narrow cut between the island and nearby Scrub island that would get us a better angle on the east winds. We said a long, bittersweet goodbye to this beautiful island as we slid along her northern shores. We would love to stay longer but summer is coming and we must move south.  

Tacked toward the gap
Tacking up the coast was fun for us! It’s been a while since we’ve actually sailed anywhere, being the lazy cruisers that we are… if the boat won’t go 5 knots, we turn on the engine and motorsail! Our joy was short-lived however… as we made the slight turn to windward after rounding a patch of reefy waters midway to the cut… we had to start the engine to keep speed enough to make our self-imposed goal of rounding the eastern tip of Anguilla by noon.
Scrub Island...I wish we could go to THAT beach!!!
Rounding the eastern tip of Anguilla

Once we passed through the cut, the seas became confused. We were getting reasonable-sized waves from the ENE with occasional whoppers from a more northerly direction! It wasn’t bad for us but Jezabelle rejected this activity briefly before settling in for the long haul… The big swells were long enough to make it fun as we rose up and over… but they really made things fluky with the smaller, more choppy wind driven seas…

Our hopes of shutting down the engine for a long reach were not to be. We tried it but the winds weren’t strong enough to move our boat through the waves without reducing to speeds of 3 knots… the boat just bounced around like a cork… so reluctantly, we powered back up and settled in for a rollicking romp! We said another fond farewell as we put Anguilla and St. Martin behind us.

Photos don't do the waves justice... they were pretty confused and occasionally large!
Motorsailing with St. Martin off to our starboard
Taking down the small sail to roll out the jib!

There it is!! Ile Fourchue!!!

Destination: île Fourchue.

Friends had told us about this place… but only that it was beautiful and worth a stop. Upon arrival, the rock-lover in me agreed! The island is much larger than I had pictured it, with several rocky peaks with deep, blowing brown grass covered valleys between them. The coastline is stark rocky cliffs with a small crescent beach at the head of the mooring field.

Immediately we decided that we would stay over an extra day so that we could relax after a long day, and take our time exploring the island in leisurely fashion.

Leisurely… AFTER we clean up the carnage that has invaded our home after such a tossing as we received. All of this was done by maybe three or four bigger-than-usual waves! Yes, we secured things as usual down below… but not well enough evidently. We had things fly off of the shelves on the port side and land at the lowest part to starboard, where they remained until our arrival here.

Our aft cabin floor...

I was amazed to see that even the settee cushions had relocated across the saloon… Crazy waves! It didn’t take us long to set it all to right again. Thankfully we had pretty much cleaned house before we left… It could have been much worse and nothing was broken… we just got a mass shuffling!

The main saloon!

Turtles came up to take a breath, two, then three, and sometimes four before disappearing down to the bottom of crystal clear waters. Once we knew what the blobs on bottom were, we could pick out the turtles plainly. Bruce joined them in a brief swim to check the tackle on our mooring ball and to take a quick look closer to shore. All looked good so we will sleep, well, as best we can when trusting someone else’s tackle.

Those people on top of that peak set my goal for tomorrow!

We settled in to watch other boats come and go as the sun set behind us, casting changing shadows on the island before us. It is fascinating to watch as the hills enshroud low-lying areas in shade as the sun reaches it’s last fingers of light to the higher patches. Surprising colours pop out when the light hits them just right and we see reds and greens that were previously hidden as the fierce light of mid-day beat them down.

We had one free day to play here so when a brief shower arrived just after sunrise, we weren’t very happy. But it passed quickly and we were off and running to paddle to shore in our little kayak.  
The sun comes up behind the peak we will climb....

Morning saw a reversal of the creeping light and shadows

As soon as we reached the beach I was off exploring… Bruce dumped the brown sand out of his shoes in preparation for our hike… Yes, I did say brown sand. This may be the first time I’ve seen it. We’ve seen black, pink, green and of course all shades of white… but never truly brown. Very cool!

Once it was all out of our shoes we took moved our kayak up the beach and left it beside the trail. We took our paddles with us, let’s just keep honest people honest… but thinking that if our path took a very sharp upward turn we might use them as walking staffs… That didn’t happen.

The only part of the trail that was strenuous was the first rise. I huffed and puffed to get to the saddle where the incline became less steep. Turning around to see where we had been, the view took our breath away. With ever step it got better and more amazing.

In some places it was like hiking on the surface of the moon… Other spots were covered with waving golden grasses… like we'd been suddenly transported to a prairie in Kansas… except with hills... and a sea!

Then gazing out over the Caribbean sea, the deep, indescribably blue waters showed cloud reflections that took my mind right back to our time in Maui many years ago. Distant sailboats punctuated the blue with white as they slowly drifted by.

We took several breaks, making sure to keep hydrated. It was very dry up there, but with the wind blowing it was delightfully cool… even with the direct sunlight near mid-day.

We came upon stacked rock cairns… proof that others had been here before us. We don’t do the rock thing. The island is privately owned and we are asked to leave it as we found it… But we did enjoy the rock art left by others.

St. Martin in the near/distance

We topped the rise and could see northeast toward the eastern end of St. Martin. It seems so close but we feel like we are a world away already.  

Our goal is near...

Continuing on, we reached the southern side with a unique view of St. Barts. We will be heading there soon.

Almost there... but look how far we've come!

Unexpected splashes of tenacious color!

You can see the trail... but barely!

At this point it becomes Any-Way-You-Can...

Then we turned our sights to the final rise. Our paddles got left behind as we moved toward the rocky rise. A rough trail with several choices to choose from led our scramble up and up. I couldn’t even see the top at one point and wondered how much further we had to climb… when suddenly I was there!

I scurried up the last few steps and stood tall, slowly turning 360° with my arms thrown out to greet the wind as I surveyed all that is now ours. Now I know that if WE could do this climb, it must not be all that difficult… but it FELT like an awesome accomplishment to us right then…

We sat and enjoyed the view in silence for a while.

It wasn’t so very long ago that Bruce was at a low point. We had a real discussion about whether or not we would continue on… It was 50/50. That discussion was on my mind asI tentatively asked him if he was having fun.

His answer: “There isn’t anyplace I would rather be right now than here, with you.”. That’s what I had hoped to hear. I drove my point home, telling him that we can always get through the difficult parts if we can just continue exploring and experiencing new places.  

This is my drug. This feeling. It is more powerful than anything else in my life… well, excepting the births and achievements of my children, of course… This feeling of arriving to new places and opening each day like a fortune cookie to see what it holds for me. I can’t imagine stopping. How will we ever?

We talked on about how fortunate we are to be here and how our happiest times are always when it’s doing something like this together, just us.

Looking down at the mooring field far below, we could see a dinghy bringing people to our island. We watched as they began their ascent… signalling that it was time for us to start down. Besides, the day was only half over… we still had snorkelling and kayaking to do!

We picked our way down a different path and were only marginally relieved to find our kayak still waiting for us. I played on the beach a bit more, then we returned to the boat for a rest and lunch.
We were there...


RATS!!!  See those people up on that OTHER peak?  Now I have to go there! Maybe next time...

I was lulled by the warmth of the sun and could easily have just skipped the snorkelling… but Bruce urged me on. We have only today… we must do it ALL!

Snorkelling wasn’t all that great, unless you like turtles… We’ve been watching the turtles surface for air right around our boat since we arrived. I thought maybe it was two turtles… but we now know that it was far more…

They littered the bottom, lazily picking something unseen and eating it. They seemed completely unconcerned by our proximity and just went about their business…

We swam over to the shore to find tumbled rocks beneath the water’s surface. Not wanting to get too close because of a long swell, I followed the shore looking for little fishes while Bruce hung out in deeper water.

Very soon I began to get cold. I hadn’t worn my skins, thinking it was warm enough at mid-afternoon… not so. My fingers were becoming numb. I can’t believe how often we get chilled here. I guess perhaps we’ve acclimated after all of this time and don’t feel the heat like we used to. Or maybe it’s just danged COLD!

Back at the boat, we plopped the kayak back into the water, pausing for a bit to watch the comical antics of an arriving catamaran trying to secure themselves to the mooring ball. Normally I don’t make too much of this as this can happen to us all from time-to-time… But this was outrageous! Ten people all on the bow… continually dropping the ball. Two men splashed the dinghy and they sped around to secure the lines then threw them to the reaching hands on the boat…

Then the captain would back the boat up so far that the line snapped out of their hands… repeatedly. This went on for 45 minutes. Finally we became embarrassed just watching them, so we paddled off in the opposite direction, hoping they would have it under control by the time we returned. (end of story: They disappeared below decks… all ten of them… and we never saw them again until they left the next morning)

We are enjoying our new kayak. It handles wind very much better than our old one and it glides easily along with minimal effort on our part. It isn’t as sqirrelly as our last one either, the three small fins on bottom help it track a reasonably straight path. We explored the perimeter of the anchorage and returned to the boat, done for the day.

The luxury of being able to relax and watch neighbours come and go while sipping a cold beverage (or maybe munching a bar of French chocolate) is second to none. We felt for the people on the charter boats and wondered how many conversations went something like this: “Some day we are going to come back here on our own boat. We can relax like those people over there on Dos Libras because we won’t have to fly back home in three days… and our lives will be perfect!”.

Well, if that isn’t what they’re saying, I would be surprised. Because it’s exactly what we used to be saying when we came to the Caribbean on charter…

And so we sit here, our bodies infused by the languid power of the Drug… And we never want to leave. But we remind ourselves that this is wearing off and there are places yet undiscovered where our next hit awaits… I’m a tiny bit melancholy because the newness has now worn off of Ile Fourchue… until I raise my eyes to see people… standing atop another peak, one that we didn’t top! And I make a mark on my mental list… next time…


  1. The two of you look so happy . . . it is wonderful seeing folks out there living the dream.

    1. Most of the time we are happy! This place was one of those exceptional ones... Sometimes I think about what comes next... What is there after living the dream? Thanks for following!

  2. Greetings, How long and what brand is your inflatable kayak? Thanks