Tuesay, Day 12
30 November 2010 | 17 13.98'N:61 53.55'W, Bound for Antigua
Tuesday, November 30
There's probably a better word, but "Wow!" is what came to my mind as we approached Cocoa Point, at the southern end of Barbuda. We'd sailed in from the north, running perhaps a mile off the coast to avoid the reefs marked on our chart. Then, at Palmetto Point, we bore off to line up the channel that would take us inside Falaster Reef and into the three tight anchorages amid the coral at Spanish Point. But then just as we were about to commit to some hairy navigational challenges, Philip took a second look at the long white sand beach running back to the west and asked if maybe that looked better.
Indeed it did. Ahead, whitecaps covered the bay between us and Spanish Point. To our left, there was barely a ripple in the turquoise water. And to a person we were ready to drop the hook in still water and put this wet and bouncy passage from St. Barts to an end.
The thing about an over night beat to windward in 30 knots of wind and big ocean swells is that it takes about a day to recover. So, by early afternoon, Ulf was covered in towels and Doug had built himself a shade tent in the cockpit. The rest of us had gone below to escape the sun, and soon, the gentle sound of snores mixed with the whistle of wind in the stays and waves breaking on the nearby shore.
By 1500, the batteries recharged, four of us swam to the beach and walked the mile or so to Cocoa Point, past the still closed bungalows of the Cocoa Point Lodge. From the boat we'd spied workers moving about under the palms, but now, the place looked deserted as we trudged along. Deserted, that is, until on the way back, we walked up into the resort in search of the road "of sorts," that we'd seen on the chart. Almost immediately a golf cart pulled up with two occupants wearing "Security" t-shirts. Politely, they told us the resort was private, the road was private, and we'd enjoy our walk back much better if we stuck to the beach. We agreed, but as we turned to go, a third man, perhaps the owner, came out, introduced himself and shook our hands.
In three weeks, he said, the resort would be brimming with vacationers. When asked, he recommended we not try and navigate the reef out to Spanish Point. "Why risk it?" he said. "Yes, the diving is good, but if you must see it, take your dinghy."
Even the locals apparently are hesitant to venture out into the coral, though he guessed that should we, and should we run aground, there would be opportunists aplenty listening on the radio and ready in a second to come to our aid - for a price - or strip the boat should we not be willing to pay.
After wishing him a prosperous season, we followed our footsteps - the only ones there to follow - back to where Tioga sat at anchor. Philip and I swam back to the boat to enjoy the last of the afternoon's sun; Doug and Ulf went north to investigate huts they'd seen on the beach.
Soon, we were enjoying sundowners with ice-cold juice and fresh orange slices. A brief shower washed the salt from the cockpit cushions. Then, before we steamed hotdogs in beer and heated up a pot of beans, we watched the sun slip past the horizon, the clouds ablaze for just the briefest amount of time before fading to gray. We watched intently as each and every star filled the moonless sky. Too soon, another day in this Caribbean adventure reached its end.
This morning, we raised anchor at 0700, as planned. With a last look at the beach, we raised the main with the first reef still set, unfurled Tioga's working genoa and pointed the bow toward Antigua, 30 miles off, our destination for this trip now full in sight. The other night on watch, Ulf had asked me which of the places we'd visited I'd like to return to. This morning I have an answer for him: Cocoa Point and the beach, all 16 miles of it, just waiting for footprints.
This post is made possible by Iridium and Global Marine Networks.