23 December 2012 | Barbuda
We had the most amazing 72 hours. It started off with morning laughter and goodbye hugs from our sailing friends, Mark and Eileen from Washington State and Danielle and Michel from Quebec. Then we were off for a fabulous overnight sail to Barbuda. On route Dennis caught a 40" Wahoo. It's a sporty fish, so reeling it in was exciting. It's also very delicious; we could hardly wait for dinner. We put four steaks on ice and another eight in the freezer.
We had a pleasant sail north. The wind was mostly on our beam at about 12- 15 knots. On one of my watches there was a half moon shining brightly, lighting up the path ahead.
Arriving in the morning in Barbuda, the first task was to navigate through a maze of coral on the south side. We slowly wound our way through, with me at the bow, using polarized sunglasses and pointing out coral heads, and Dennis at the helm. The water was crystal clear. The depth was only a little over eight feet and our draft is six so there wasn't too much water to maneuver in. We anchored in White Bay, alone in this part of the bay, in one of the prettiest anchorages we've ever encountered.
After breakfast we dove into the turquoise waters and swam to the nearby reef. This reef was truly gorgeous, like an underwater garden. There were numerous soft corals swaying gently back and forth in the light current. Some were long finger like corals while others had the shapes of giant pansies with hues of gold, pink and brown. Shafts of sunlight we're streaming through the clear blue waters illuminating the corals and glistening around fish as they glided with the current or darted in and out of the sea fans. On the edge of the reef was the whitest sand you could imagine, and there right before we turned around was a beautiful young turtle.
Our final adventure was a trip to a frigate bird sanctuary. We hopped a ride on a small boat with Barbudan native George Jeffrey. George is just shy of 60 years old and reminded us a bit of a young Morgan Freeman with his voice and his handsome features. George is a wonderful storyteller and as he guided us in his boat across the lagoon he would stop and tell tales of life on his island home.
The rookery is the largest in the Caribbean, home to as many as five thousand frigate birds! The lagoon they are in is two miles wide and seven miles long, with clumps of mangroves dotted throughout, bushes rising out of the water on sturdy roots looking like lush green gardens on small stilts. The first thing I noticed when we came to the far side of the lagoon was hundreds of black birds (their wingspan is over six feet) soaring across the bright blue sky, reminding me of Hitchcock's movie The Birds.
As we approached the rookery it was clear that every branch of every bush held several birds. Some were mating, others were sitting on nests, and some were trying to land on already fully populated airstrips. The birds are protected with no fear of people and they allow visitors to approach as close as about a foot away. The males have red balloon like features hanging below their beaks, which they puff out to attract females to mate with. As this was the middle of mating season about half of the males were busy blowing out their red sacs, making clicking sounds and attracting females, while the other half were searching for nest materials or food for their mates and young chicks. Females were caressing those red balloons or sitting on eggs. Oh and the babies, with those fluffy white heads - adorable! It was a truly amazing sight.
It's December 22, 2013, the day after the end of the Mayan calendar. As we wake with the sunrise, we are quite grateful for these adventures, and especially that the world didn't end.