Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sailing to St. Barts

Last Thursday night we were invited to a party to celebrate a friend's birthday over in Falmouth Harbour. It was a nice group of people enjoying the beautiful view of the harbour and all the yachts from high up just below Monks Hill's old British Fort. I must admit that the passing of Francis Gobinet had given me extremely itchy feet and while there a few of us hatched a plan to sail down to St. Barts the next day. Many of our friends would be there for the St. Barts Bucket which is one of the worlds most extravagant yachting regattas. Only luxury yachts over 100 feet long were permitted to take part in the four day regatta. Roddy and Iain of had hired Greg and one of the Caribbean Helicopters to shoot the regatta and offered a seat to Mykl on the way down. The next afternoon I met my three crew at Jolly Harbour Customs and cleared the sloop out. Before we sailed off we decided to meet the Adventure Antigua crew for what is now our usual Friday company meeting at Foredeck Bar at happy hour. We were all very close to Francis and the week had been a tough one. Serge was home with his family and with my last minute sailing crew we all toasted Francis and had one too many rums. Of course one of the crew stayed away from the rum so that he could safely sail out of Antigua afterwards. We ended up leaving with some pizzas to go sometime around 9 pm. Powering out of Jolly Harbour into the brilliant star filled night with a happy buzz from the aged rum we had been drinking we felt that life was beautiful once again. Before i had much time to dwell on that sentiment a huge ground swell rocked the boat as we exited the harbour reminding me of the forecast for the weekend. Big swells had been pushed down from way up north and were giving all the shores on the lee side of these islands a good pounding. Just outside the harbour we hoisted the big sails that are typical of Carriacou Sloops. With power in the sails the engine was off in no time and our course for St. Barts was set. Tom Miller was first on the tiller and with his watch mate Joe Compton on deck it was as good a time as any for me and Louis Nicholson Sinclair to head below for a nap. Three hours on and three hours off was the schedule for our sailing watches. The wild and fascinating sounds one hears down below a dark boat at night are something you don't forget. While in the forward bunk trying to sleep I listened to the water against the wooden hull as we rushed though it. It's hard to describe, but it always sounds as though you are going much faster than you are with the waves and bubbly water filled with turbulence loudly flowing alongside the boat. As i lay there i remembered the last time that noise kept me awake. It was on our way back from Barbados with Francis, Xabier and Andre aboard the carbon fiber catamaran Cream back in Feb of 07. The noise on that boat was much louder. Images of Francis and our past adventures floated around with the fluid noise against the hull until it was my turn on watch sometime after one am. Louis and I went up on deck and took over from the other tired duo who quickly retired below to sleep. The phosphorescence showing itself on every bit of wake and wave crest was out of this world. I don't think i had ever seen as much of it before and as bright as the ocean around us was, the sky above was more so. Louis and I talked a bit and enjoyed the sailing. Broad reaching at night in warm weather with a brilliant sky is hard to beat, and with the atmosphere that you feel out on a traditionally built wooden boat I felt happy to be alive. I lost count of how many shooting stars i saw after a while. On a clear night when you are at sea the sky is something to gaze at and be fascinated with. With no artificial lights polluting the sky the true brilliance of what you see is breathtaking. I made one or two wishes while remembering a wish i had made about two years before. It was just after i started seeing Mykl and like a happy lovestruck teenager i had wished that we would be together forever. I smiled thinking about that shooting star as it's been two years and we are now engaged. I know I am a very lucky man. Call me silly or childish but i still believe in wishing on shooting stars.
We got into the beautifully clear waters of Gustavia sometime after 8 am dropped the sails and found a good anchorage. IT was time for a fresh croissant.


Anonymous said...

By way of your bloggosphere, both of you.Very good news !!
PS..sounds like a great sail too !

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story, it brought tears to my eyes. Can't help but think of the old song:

When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you

If your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star as dreamers do

(Fate is kind, she brings to those who love
The sweet fulfillment of their secret longing)

Like a bolt out of the blue, fate steps in and sees you thru
When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true

Best wishes to you and Mykl!
Donna Breen

St. Maarten Condo said...

Very nice story, very romantic. Any person would like to be in their partner's arms as both of them are talking and gazing the wonderful night sky full with stars. And to tell you honestly, I also believe in shooting stars. Good luck to you and your fiance, best wishes!