Shortly after the departure of Don and Lesley from Saint Martin, we ourselves began the day sail to the next destination. The original plan was to sail to Saba, but the wind angle was such that the sail from there to the USVI would be rough on the crew. In addition to this, the first mate and boat monkey were not at all thrilled about the idea of going to a craggy rock with no beaches. After considering these factors, the captain decided to change course to Anguilla, which has “the best all around beaches” according to the travel channel. We planned only to stay the night and then sail to either St. John or St. Croix the next day… so much for that plan. While we were anchoring in Road Bay, William, the sailing instructor from the Anguillan Sailing Association, sailed up to us on a Laser (little racing sailboat, see picture) and introduced himself.
That night we went into town and saw a reggae band called Hot Shot in what would become our new favorite bar on the island: the Pumphouse, which just sounds like a place to get really good and liquored up. In fact, one of the locals did just so, and went on to another bar down the street. He neglected, however, to bring along his baby daughter, who we found wandering around the parking lot across the street from the Pumphouse at 11:00 pm. Fortunately a local Rasta recognized the baby and after assuring us that Rastafarians “take care of the babies” we left the little girl in his care. Shortly after we began walking back we heard the Rasta start ripping into the father who had come back for his daughter.
True to form, my parents decided that we would revise our schedule, if it could be called that, because of how incredibly friendly the people were to us. This is in contrast to Antigua or St. Kitts where outsiders are not well liked. So we decided to stay another week and a half, during which we rented a car and visited the local bars, resorts, grocery stores, and rum factory. Life on the boat so far is not what most would imagine; we do not spend all our days idly lazing on the beach drinking rum (just some of them).
My shoulders still ache from jerry-canning water in 8 gallon tanks. And to think I almost forgot about my favorite chore: das Schleppen! No, we work for our time in paradise. We spend a lot of time provisioning, doing home school, and keeping our home in ship-shape. This did not stop me from having some fun though… it is my summer vacation after all. When we had free time, we took William up on his offer to go sailing. We all went out and sailed on 420’s, which I race back at UF, while Mom and Dad piled onto a Laser. Mom even got to go swimming too. We also got to go sailing on a Hobe cat that had a trapeze rig, which was a blast in the constantly blowing trade winds.
Phil found a dog on the beach, a stray mutt he aptly named Gypsy.
This dog would follow us around wherever we went and would even wait for us outside of places where she couldn’t go in. One night she followed us to the Pumphouse and found a pair of honeymooners (Phil and Casey) who we then started chatting with, or rather screaming to at the top of our lungs over the music. They were really good people, so Mom and Dad invited them out for a day sail to a nearby islet, Prickly Pear Cay. I’m sure they had a great time, we all did. Dad took everyone out snorkeling while mom and I stayed on the boat, made lunch and talked. We all then proceeded to enjoy rafting in the clear and surprisingly cool water. Following lunch and the exodus of the charter boats in the anchorage, we went to the beach.
It was all very picturesque. The beach was white sand, and had two palm tree surrounded beach bars, which were closed on Mondays. The real fun began when I pointed out to Phil (our Phil) that there were coconuts on these palms. He raced back to the boat to get his knife, so as to procure coconuts for our consumption. We must have looked like cavemen: I stood under the tree with a stick and would beat and club the coconuts until they fell, while Phil climbed the tree and cut them off.
On the way back, we all enjoyed Piña Coladas and coconut meat to reward our efforts. The only problem we had was that every time dad barked an order at “young Phil”, “older Phil” would jump thinking the captain was addressing him to pull out the headsail or sheet the main.
They were kind enough to take us out to dinner that night at the Pumphouse. While we ordered, young Phil decided to harangue the waitress with a request for “one original Pumphouse 8 ounce black angus burger with lettuce, and tomato, and caramelized onions, and French fries on the side and ketchup in a smiley face on the bun”. When he did not get the ketchup smiley face, he decided to make a smiley face after dinner on his plate with what he had not eaten. She sent him a separate check, which had a big smiley face on it.
Imagine, going from an institute of higher learning to live with these savages! I don’t even have a real bed, I get a hammock instead. It works well, but rain is a definite issue when you’re sleeping without a roof. Phil decided to try using waterproof camping blankets as a makeshift cover. His seemed to work fine, and so did mine... at first. I got soaked. Water leaked through the blanket (waterproof my ass) and diffused through the cotton in my hammock, leaving me wet on my back and front. After trying to rig mine up several times during the past week and getting wet every night, I decided that I would just have to get used to showering in bed. Yesterday, Phil decided that he didn’t want that, so he rigged up a tarp that encases the hammock, somewhat like a cocoon. I woke up to the sound of rain last night, but did not get wet, not even a drop, and I slept soundly and dryly through the night at last. Tomorrow we leave for Saint Croix, which is about 90-100 miles from Anguilla, making this crossing the longest one I’ve been on this trip, Yeehah!
Anguilla is a great island and has now become our favorite. We have spent over a week on the hook enjoying the island and its super friendly people. In every aspect the locals are very caring and helpful. I asked about where to rent a car and the customs officials not only told me whom to call, but also picked up the phone and placed the call on my behalf.
We met Julius, a giant of a man standing at 6 foot 11 inches and a hand shake that felt like shaking a bunch of bananas, at the Pumphouse. He pulled Sue and I on to the dance floor and bought us a round of beers to welcome us to the island. What an amazing place.
I made a reservation to have dinner on the beach for Susan and I.
When we arrived for dinner, a beautiful table was set for two, surrounded by tiki torches and fresh picked flower bouquets. It was a nice touch and rounded out a romantic sunset dinner as soft waves lapped at the beach 20 feet from our table . . . an unforgettable evening.
As I am writing this blog entry, Susan just asked me if it is Saturday today. “No, actually its Tuesday. Pretty close” I quipped, “were you early or late?” It’s great to totally loose track of time.
Aguilla is all about the sailing. Local boats that in the 1800's smuggled rum, now race and keep the tradition alive.