Monday, February 19, 2007

December 20, 2006, Anguilla

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Anguilla’s regulations require that all boats purchase a cruising permit (to the tune of $100 a day) if they wish to anchor or moor anywhere other than Road Bay. And supposedly, these restrictions apply to dinghies and yacht tenders as well as the mother ships. As much as I want to be charmed by this island, that is putting a damper on it.

Sten and I have very different responses to rules and regulations. He obeys them. I’ve never met one the boundaries of which I didn’t want to test. So we looked at the cruising rules of this island in very different ways - he as a limitation, me as a challenge. We know that there is beautiful stuff here, we just have to find a way to get to it that we both can live with. I know that if I wait long enough, Sten will get sick enough of toeing the line to take a risk. This morning, our third in Road Bay, his patience expired and we set off in the dinghy to see how strictly these rules were enforced.

We dinked over to Little Bay to do some snorkeling and have a picnic lunch of pb&j - my specialty (and certainly safer than quiche). Pale cliffs filled with nesting migratory birds, Bermuda birds, tropic birds, and pelicans embrace a picture perfect turquoise bay. We picked up a mooring and I was in the water before Sten had put on his fins. Just below the surface were schools of thousands of silversides (small bait fish) that seem to move as if they were one organism, shimmering like so many diamonds as the school smoothly pulses below the surface. Occasionally, a predator would swim below them, forcing them to the surface, where they hang, suspended briefly just above the water, before plunging back below. Silver rain.

As I headed toward the submerged base of the cliff, I passed over a puffer fish with the cutest startled expression on its wide-eyed countenance. As I checked out the smaller tropical fish feeding among the coral, I was startled by what appeared to be divers crashing into the water around me. The first clue that they weren’t divers was that their fins were awfully small. The next was when they dipped their beaks below the surface to swallow great mouthfuls of bait fish. Once I realized that I was being dive bombed by pelicans, I couldn’t stop laughing.

Meanwhile, Sten had been exploring a cave, filled with bats, which he declared was pretty cool. As we returned to the dinghy for lunch, several local daytrip boats pulled into our perfect bay. They all ignored the sign that declared that there was “Absolutely No Anchoring Permitted” and promptly dropped their anchors. One took care to anchor in the sand, the others went ahead and anchored in the sea grass. Perhaps the Anguilla Fisheries Department should shift their focus from trying to prevent (or at least profit from) cruisers from visiting, and pay more attention to how the local boats treat the natural resources.

We headed back to Road Bay, but weren’t quite ready to climb aboard, so we grabbed the computer and headed to Roy’s to catch up on the rest of the world. While we were surfing the net we noticed that one of the couples near us (with the greatest age disparity between them) was receiving a delivery from the captain of their yacht. He maneuvered their tender into the light shore break to drop off a laptop and a bottle of wine. I turned to Sten to ask where our captain was with our bottle of wine, only to be befuddled about which of us was the captain. I sign our clearance paperwork as the captain. We tend to reach agreement upon all decisions (sail changes, anchoring, heading changes, etc) before acting on them. However, when we get in a jam, Sten takes the command position and I follow his instructions and heed his requests. There are just times when it makes sense for one person to be calling the shots. Still, I couldn’t convince him that with great power comes great responsibility, so we returned to the boat to have our wine.

With our tanks wicked low, and the transom riding high, Sten fired up the water maker to see if his installation worked. With a small hick-up (had to briefly stop production to remove the wrapper from the filter), it was a success. At 5:23pm Sten shouted “Woo Hoo - We’re making water!” It is fantastic to see his joy and pride in having worked through the challenges of the installation.

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