Thursday, February 9, 2012

Out of Road Harbour, hopefully for the last time

Friday afternoon, we were ready to get out of the marina, and Al thought that we should anchor at the harbour one more night before getting out, waiting for an opening to make our crossing. The idea did not appeal to me, anchoring there again that is, and we made a rash decision to sail instead to the Great Harbour at Peter Island, almost directly across the channel. We untied the boat around 3:00 pm, and reached there around 4:00 to pick up a mooring, quite tucked up into a small bay, which seemed more tranquil than the rest of the few spaces that were available. There was another ball in front of it, but Al chose the one at the back. I was ready with my boat hook, looking at the water. I saw the white bottom, under the pure greenish blue water, truly Caribbean; and asked Al about the depth. 38 feet he said! Incredible. In many places that we had anchored before, we could not see the chain after five feet. This is a deserted harbour, save the Beach Cub bar at the corner, and many boats moored.

Technically it was prohibited to anchor around Peter Island since 2003 to protect the fish spawning areas, but nobody seemed to enforce it. There were a few boats anchored close to the beach at the eastern side of the bay, but most of the bay is quite deep. We did not venture into anchoring there, since Al lost his confidence on our anchor, and forecast talks about some possibility of high winds for a couple of days.
Anyway, we got our mooring and settled down. We were close to a high cliff, with big boulders that seemed to be cut by a razor. It is spectacular, and the water in front of it is so light colored, that we have a pool of our own to swim, and an aquarium to watch from outside!

Serenity spoiled; a cat bigger than us sneaked its way onto the ball in front of us. The captain was an old lady, apparently an expert helmswoman, and did not heed Al’s protests. She and her old husband promised to keep their bridle very short, making sure that their stern was just clearing our ball, and settled there. I suggested Al took the name of their insurance company, and we resigned to our watch.

The couple were so close, that we could see what they were doing. The captain must have been tired; she sat at a corner, and started drinking and eating, while the husband did the tidying around. Their sail was let down in a heap, and stayed that way during their stay. They had a wind generator, but it was tied down. So they started their engine for a while, sometime in the evening.

Early in the morning, we saw them up, the lady in her corner, the guy silently watching us. Then we saw him looking through his binoculars at a distance. He had started watching two young couples, kind of snorkelling/beaching around their dinghy. I could see that the old geezer literally following one of the couples riding in their dinghy back to their boat. I felt sorry for both of the old people, life seemed depressing to them, passing them by.

My sentiment quickly turned into anger when they started their engines again. Their exhaust fumes were directly coming to us, nowhere to hide. I asked Al to bring down the dinghy, and leave the boat to swim at the beach club. We stayed away for a few hours. When we came back around 3:00 pm, I saw the lady sitting at her helm, and gave the good news to Al. He thought nothing of it, since there was no other activity at that moment. It seemed to me that she got tired of sitting at her corner, and got the bug of sailing. Yes, after a short time, the guy got to work, and let go of the ball.

We contemplated of getting that ball, but Al was wary of starting the engine just for moving a few yards. He also argued that if we got the front ball, the one at the back would be a prime spot for the new comers, and we would be in the precarious situation. He would say anything to get out of work.

Not too long after, a big mono-hull literally crept in and caught the ball, while we were watching a speed boat pulling a surf-float behind, which seemed to have a mishap. Anyway, when Al saw the helmsman on the boat next to us, he jumped and shouted that they were too big to fit into that space. He showed them a better ball a bit further away from us, and they agreed.

In front or back, that ball was a prime spot, which caught the attention of another helmswoman, while the guy was looking at other places. Shucks, they turned and came to it. But thankfully, their boat was a 34 feet mono-hull, and seemed to fit into the space. We had a short discussion, and heard that it was their first day of charter starting late, and she was apprehensive of not being able to find a calm mooring before dark. I understand perfectly. Poor lady said that they were quiet people, and would like to stay there, since all the other moorings seemed rolly. No arguments there.

The two mornings of our stay we had a wonderful experience with some fish that seemed to live under us. Al saw one fish coming to the surface to check out a piece of dirt floating, but snubbed at it. So Al threw some bread crumbs from our breakfast. Oh my God, it was a scene, how one communicated the existence of food to a hundred of its friends in a flash. We kept on crumbling some crackers that we did not liked, and they kept on coming, catching the crumbs in the air. Al took many pictures and several videos. We looked at the map of St John, which showed the fish living around the Virgins, and spotted our school as the Yellow Tailed Snapper. They are a purplish grey with a fluorescent yellow stripe on the side, and at the tail. Unfortunately it is forbidden to fish here, otherwise we would have caught some with the bucket.

It seems that we had missed the window of crossing, and might stay in Tortola a while more. We have to extend our visa for another month on the 8th, and probably spend the waiting period at Cane Garden Bay, where we can anchor, and live comfortably, with WiFi and Internet being accessible. Al is angry if he can’t get instant access to internet, and starts cursing the system. I, on the other hand, need clean waters to swim and do my regular exercises; otherwise my back gives me trouble.

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