The Sea Hawk 4 Takes Flight

cap’n alex

31 May 2012 | Saba Rock

The day sail to Barbuda was sunny with good wind and buzzing excitement from both new crew and old. Arriving in the poorly charted waters we ran aground, but jumping into a shallow sea full of starfish isn’t a bad place to get stuck. Ashore the six of us strolled on an endless beach of pink sand with not another person or sign of human in sight (cant tell you enough how beautiful that is). The only colonizers we came across was that of several hundred frigates (a type of sea bird) across the lagoon.

Able to dredge our way out of Barbuda we carried into a sea of stars for a night sail. Conditions were near perfect and the clear skies revealed many a shooting star with some flaming so bright I thought they were missiles. Bubbles tracked nicely though the warm Caribbean waters leaving a bright trail of bioluminescence in her wake.

At sunrise we arrived in St. Barts and within minutes we ran into Turkey, a sailing friend of Diego’s who lives there, supplying us with a 50 hp dingy. Our arrival coincided with the transatlantic race from France and so the party ashore had already started. We went for a burger at Le Select which inspired Jimmy Buffet’s song Cheeseburger in Paradise and it was easy to see why. There we also added Theresa, the model/actress/surfer from Hawaii who we met previously in St. Lucia to the Bubbles crew rounding our crew number up to 7.

When doing some Mediterranean style mooring I noticed we had a problem with the propeller which landed us in the wrong position. Because we couldn’t move with the engine we decided to move our anchor by swimming down and picking it up which Diego, Paddy and I proceeded to do little by little while Joe held the boat. The local Frenchies were so impressed they bought us all beer for our efforts. Inspecting the prop I noticed we had lost a blade so I spent the next few hours sucking air from a hose and beating it with a mini sledge before finally getting it off. The girls had no problem entertaining themselves with the chic shopping that filled the port of Gustavia where we were moored while Diego and I rigged up our own prop puller using blocks and lines around the rudder that ran to a cockpit wench. Luckily we had a spare prop on board, but being in a hurry I bent the key during installation leaving it stuck in a position that didn’t allow the back nut to hold it in place. With no time or money for a haul out I decided to take our chances with half installed propeller.

The seven of us departed pre sunrise for a six hour sail to Saba which rises majestically out of the water with cliffs all around. We rounded the rocks to the leeward side of the island where Diego heroically jumped in to grab us a mooring before the 20+ knots of wind blew us into a cliff. Joe had brought down as a carry on our new dingy, the Sea Hawk 4, which is cheap inflatable raft brother Solomon had picked up for us at Wal Mart. While a couple of the crew readied the Sea Hawk for a shore landing I was checking our instruments when I was hit with a toothbrush and then heard a splash. Looking up I saw the feather light Sea Hawk 4 had taken flight and Joe had dove in, mid teeth cleaning, to rescue her. Diego joined in the chase while Paddy and I chanted the Indiana Jones theme song as we all watched Diego, Joe and the Sea Hawk 4 be blown further out to open sea. Luckily all three returned and we loaded up and headed towards the cliffs.

Ashore we found a steep staircase of 800 steps winding up the cliff. Halfway up was an abandoned customs house that in the days of old acted as the gateway to the entire island. Finally reaching the road, the seven of us hitchhiked (easy to do on an island of only 1200 locals) with a Californian named Jeff in his small jeep. Only two of us could fit inside leaving five to hang on the outside for dear life as we winded around the mountainous island roads, humming the Indiana Jones theme song along the way. We visited the airport and watched an airplane land on the worlds shortest commercial airstrip (pilots require a special permit to be able to land here) which is about the size of an aircraft carrier with cliffs to the ocean on either side. Later, on the hike to the tallest point in the Netherlands (Saba is Dutch, as is crew Barbara) we came across a donkey that took a bite out of my hat as well as the James Bond bull with his 007 eartag which we took turns feeding. Once again hanging on the outside of Jeff’s jeep we nearly lost Paddy twice as he wore the Indiana Jones hat. Back at the boat we played the theme song to a day that fit the tune.

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