September 17th, 2002
Mysterious Anchorage. Mysterious Fireflies.
Our sail from Tobago held fair winds and
following seas. We were making good time towards Trinidad
when Curt hooked a four and half foot dolphin (not Flipper,
the mammal- the Mahi-Mahi variety). We looked past the stern
of Force Five and this fish was doing somersaults in the air,
trying to fight his way off the line. After losing the two
others back in Tobago, he knew better than to try to reel
him in right away. But even an hour later, the fish was still
giving it his best shot- careening through the air and swimming
every which way to get off the hook. He even broke two of
the metal line guides off the shaft of our fishing pole and
Curt had to cushion his hip with a towel as he tried to reel
in some line only to have the thing yank it all back out again.
He was getting dangerously close to running out of line altogether
when it seemed the fish had finally started to give in. An
hour and a half had passed by the time Curt thought we could
actually try to land him. I grabbed the gaff, worriedly wondering
what my fate might be if I did anything to lose Curt's fish.
No worry- the handle broke as I took it down from its spot.
I tried duct taping it to no avail. I put gardening gloves
on and grabbed a beach towel. If Curt could get it anywhere
near the deck, I could dog pile the fish and hopefully we'd
be barbecuing dolphin as we pulled into La Vache. No worry.
By the time Curt hauled him out, he was too pooped to do anything.
I busted out my cookbook.
We haven't heard great things about Trinidad.
We were advised only to go there if we needed to get work
done to the boat, because that's the only reason anyone would
go there. It would be by far the largest landmass we'd been
on since the United States, and along with that come "real"
civilization and high crime. But after consulting our cruising
guide, it seemed there might be some nice spots on the north
coast to break-up an otherwise long sail into two days. Curt
chose La Vache, for what he read was a "stunning landscape."
As we pulled into the enormous bay surrounded by towering
cliffs all around, we could see how the guidebook chose those
words. It really was amazing.
At first, it looked so open to the sea,
it seemed there wouldn't be a spot to tuck away from the swells
we had just been surfing. But as we puttered along the coast,
we watched our GPS to hone in on just the right coordinates.
Sure enough, there was one little corner, with one little
shelf big enough for just one boat. Today, it would be ours,
and we would be here all alone. The only signs of life were
one funny little house (that wasn't clear if it was occupied)
and way, way, up atop the cliffs above the bay, we could see
another that was hidden behind the trees. If there had been
so much as even room for a path along the water or among the
trees, we would have gone to shore for a tour, but there was
none. We settled in, alone for the first time in weeks, for
a nice meal of fresh dolphin and to get cozy with a good book.
Dinner was amazing. The cliffs were so high
around us, we had to peek from under our bimini to see the
top. Birds were calling to one another, and we had a quiet
dinner enjoying the sounds of solitude around us. I was below
as the sun was setting, and Curt called me up to see some
fireflies dancing along the water's edge. But the thing was
I said to him, they didn't look like fireflies. One of my
favorite memories as a kid, was playing with my cousins in
our Grandmother Germaine's front yard in Kentucky. I remember
so vividly the summer heat, even as it grew dark. The grass
was itchy around my feet, and I was sticky from playing all
day. But being from California, I was mesmerized by the fireflies
that we hadn't seen before. I tried to catch them in a jar,
chasing them down as they silently lit up and then disappeared
again- just out of reach. But the fireflies we were looking
at tonight just stayed lit up all the time. And they were
so bright, they cast light onto the leaves and shrubs around
them. Are you sure they're not flashlights I asked Curt?
I handed him the binoculars and turned
off all of our lights as he tried to get a better look. These
cliffs were so steep and so dense with jungle, it didn't make
sense that anyone would, or even could, be walking here. And
moreover, why? Why would anyone be moving so slowly along
the shore? The lights were moving all the time, but not moving
far from one spot. Curt now could make out the shadow of some
bodies, and in fact, those must be flashlights. Not only had
the magic of the fireflies been stifled, but now we were left
to wonder who these people were, why were they here, and how
did they get here. We were one lone sailboat, anchored up
close to shore in this huge bay. We couldn't be more obvious.
The lights came closer. So close in fact, we heard the murmur
of their voices, but couldn't make out what they were saying.
We waited and watched from the dark of our boat. The lights
moved away. We watched them disappear behind some trees and
reappear higher up the cliff. Slowly, they made their way
higher and higher, until we could no longer see them. As they
disappeared here and there behind the trees, they once again
could have been mistaken for the sparkle of fireflies. But
regardless, I made Curt lock us in our boat that night.