Saturday, April 7, 2012

Exhausted Hitch-hiker Under a Full Moon

We departed Saba at 6:30pm just as the full moon rose behind us and we anticipated our overnight run to St. Croix with a forecast of fair winds for sailing.

Unfortunately the winds never showed up and the moon tracked it's way across the sky to beat us to St. Croix in the morning. What a difference from our overnight from the BVIs to Anguilla just two weeks ago. This time, we had one encounter with a fishing boat crossing our bow and could see one other boat far in the distance behind us running up towards St. Thomas. Other than that, we seemed to be alone out there. With the full moon and almost cloudless sky, it was never really dark and unlike the previous trip, there were few stars to be seen.

The only real excitement of the crossing was at about the mid-point when there was suddenly a light fluttering shadow past the foresail and into the rigging of the stowed mainsail. As I watched, an exhausted king bird landed on one of the lazy jacks and all he could manage was to grasp the line and then hang upside-down for about a minute. I thought he was completely gone and was contemplating how we would get the poor little thing out of the rigging when he revived enough to pull himself back upright. He rested on the boat for about half an hour when he finally decided that we were going the wrong way and he headed off to the south east across the ocean. I have no idea what the stamina is for this little land-bird and whether flying a hundred miles across open water is even possible for him but I sure hope he made it.

The sun rose, the moon set and we arrived at our way-point off the eastern end of St. Croix at perfect time to allow us to take the inside passage between Buck Island and the big island and make our way past the reefs and into Christiansted Harbour. We even had an escort for a brief moment by three dolphins.

Another overnight passage under our belts but unfortunately not one accomplished without motoring. We actually met the folks from the boat that had passed behind us in the night – they had opted to sail in the light winds and didn't make it into Christiansted until late afternoon when they had the misfortune to also miss being able to clear in with customs and immigration. We are not sure whether they were able to clear in later or had to wait out in quarantine until Monday. The cost to us for being able to get cleared was that we needed to refuel the boat.