Hopping, Skipping, and Jumping

Our lonely dinghy on the deserted beach at Ile Fourchue
Ever get the feeling that you are the last one on the dance floor?  Lost in your own groove, you suddenly realize that the music has stopped and the party is over?  As we travel south to avoid the hurricane zone, each port resembles a deserted party.  All the bars are still there, but everyone has gone home.  The beach is vacant.  The docks aren't lined with dinghies anymore.  Happy Hour seems to be over.  On the radio nets in the mornings, more and more sailboats are calling in from places to the south of us…St. Lucia, Grenada.  But we are still here, going south, mind you, but waiting for weather windows and having many beaches all to ourselves.

From St. Martin, we enjoyed a stop at Ile Fourchue, near St. Barts.  This was a beautiful, secluded anchorage that quickly became a favorite.  We hiked along the rounded, arid hills and were greeted with views of the rocky cliffs and white waters that marked the windward side of the small island.  Strange cacti plants were scattered along the trail and small lizards skittered out of our way as we hiked.  My heart skipped a beat as the kids excitedly climbed along the rocks, high above the rocky shores below.  “Be careful, not too close!”  I tried hard not to be that mom, but I couldn’t keep that nagging mommy voice quiet!

Eventually, I calmed down enough to relax.  It was serenity - way up there, just us and the elements.  Sitting up on a boulder, looking out to the wide open sea and thinking about just how big the world is and how blessed we are to be here. 

Brother and sister looking out on St. Barts, our next anchorage
Piles of shells at Shell Beach
The kids discovered lines of quartz amid the craggy rock paths and shined them up when we got back aboard to admire their treasures.  I am always amazed at how many “treasures” those little hands can carry at one time!  It becomes a battle between Mark and the kids about which “treasures” are worthy of being added to the ever-growing collection on board, and there have been many tears shed over lost items that have seemed to jump ship (with a little help)!  If we'd only known the treasures that awaited us at Shell Beach in St. Barts!!  

Everything's bigger and more expensive in St. Barts!
We left the seclusion of that island, and found ourselves among the mega-yachts and designer shops in St. Barts.  I kept my eyes open for Jennifer Anniston wandering the quiet streets, but she must have gone home for the season, too!  The upside to being here now, is that the shops all have sale signs in the windows.  One purse shop bragged prices on handbags were a mere 1,000 euros!  Wow, what a deal.  Um, where’s the nearest Target, please??

One of the many designer boutiques in St. Barts.
We felt a bit out of place in our flip flops and sun visors...
The restaurant prices weren’t much better, so we ate on board most of the time.  The one exception was Le Select.  It is a bar/hamburger joint that is supposed to have been the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet’s song, Cheeseburger in Paradise.  If you know me well, you know this is one of my favorite songs and I have been known to massacre it at the karaoke bars.  No sailboat iPod is complete without Jimmy’s cruising favorites, so the kids have had to listen to this song over and over, and have a few parts memorized.  SO, you can imagine our thrill when our buddy boater, Walter, heard a rumor that Jimmy might make an appearance at the restaurant to honor the owner, Marius, on his 90th birthday.  Chance of a lifetime, right?  So we stayed one night more than planned, took afternoon naps, and prepared for a late night concert with our pal Jimmy.   In the dinghy on the way to the dock, Michael was belting out the one part of the song he could remember… “I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes.”  Ah, music to my ears.  I was one proud parrot-head mama.

Waiting for Jimmy to sing for us
The Birthday Boy!  90-year-old Marius

Walter and Meryl had fought off many French locals to save us seats, so we grabbed a few horrifically priced drinks and waited.  And waited.   We became friends with the people around us, and eventually I got up and danced with a sweaty French guy who didn’t speak a lick of English.  There were a few cruisers there, but most of the party-goers were locals it seemed, who knew each other.  It got later and later, but no Jimmy.   By 10:45, we were all way past tired and decided to go back home.  Walter and Meryl stayed until 12:30, and reported to us the next day that Jimmy never showed.  He must know it’s hurricane season,too!  Oh well, it was a fun night, but made for a tough sail the following morning.  Note to self:  do not think you can stay up until midnight and then handle wind and waves the following morning.  You aren’t 20-something anymore…
Mark putting on a smile for the camera

We arrived in Nevis, after the longest 9-hour sail ever!  I was very thankful I’d spontaneously grabbed the rice cakes in the grocery store in St. Barth’s the day before.  They were about the only thing we party animals could stomach, slathered with a bit of peanut butter for some extra 'umph'.   
Meryl from s/v Flying Cloud, grabbing the mooring ball at Nevis
We grabbed a mooring ball in a very empty mooring field, reminded again that we are behind the pack.  We found great wi-fi connection, so we took a moment to check email and FB and let everyone know where we were.  The kids took the chance to build a fort out of my sarongs in the cockpit, where they stayed most of the evening.  I crouched down to check it out, and they pointed out the “hatch” that could open when it got too humid inside and the bed for their stuffed animals.  I continue to be amazed at the playtimes they create.  They have become experts at entertaining themselves, a real perk of boat life, I think.  Every hour seems to be Happy Hour for them, and the memories they are making together are priceless!

Learning to build shelter with available materials! 
Nevis - Elizabeth put a sarong cast on Michael during a game of doctor!
On we go, southward, watching the weather and keeping a sharp lookout for any extreme energy in the atmosphere that might mean trouble.   Many people have told us that hurricanes don’t come this way until later, like September, but others have said that the elements of a severe hurricane season are building.  We decided to skip a lot of the places we were going to see this time, and get down to Grenada on the next weather window in one big 24-hour hop.  Then we can get settled and re-join the other cruisers below the official hurricane zone.  We’re looking forward to no more hopping, skipping, and jumping – to stay a while in one place – a novel idea to our family these days. 

On a side note, let me take a minute to honor the 'dad' of our crew, Mark.  When you marry someone, you think you love them as much as you possibly ever could. But then you have kids, and you get to see your husband become a dad.  And suddenly you see your husband grow into a father right before your eyes.  I just love to eavesdrop when he is with the kids in the galley, letting them help him cook or when he is down in the forward locker, showing them how to service the generator.  I love to see him take time with them and pour into their little souls as much wisdom and love as he possibly can.  To all you dads out there, especially my own, thank you for loving your kids, teaching them, and taking time to live alongside them vulnerably.  A father is such a gift to a child, and a role that is not esteemed enough in our society today.  But you are seen by us.  What you do makes a huge difference to your families.  Thank you for being “Daddy”.  



  1. "When you marry someone, you think you love them as much as you possibly ever could. But then you have kids, and you get to see your husband become a dad. And suddenly you see your husband grow into a father right before your eyes."



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

People of the Forest - Orang-utans

A Warm Fulaga Welcome

Upriver Adventure