Ensenada Honda, Vieques
Joy continues her reputation as a bird magnet– of the feathered variety of course. Meet Mr Martin and his wife Mabel, they have been visiting us two to three times a day for the last two weeks. The reason for such an attraction for these love birds is difficult to tell, they have an obsession with the solar panels and in particular underneath them although they seem to only rest there for a few minutes in between swooping joyfully across the surface of the water and hovering alongside the cockpit just a metre away from us, almost asking for recognition.
The confusion starts mid-afternoon when the solar panels get lowered to tilt towards the sun going down behind us, they can’t quite understand how or why their perch is in an awkward position for them to get to. After a couple of days Mr Martin spotted a cosy hideout in the mizzen sail cover which wraps around the gooseneck (where the boom joins on to the mast), whilst Jez was sitting right underneath, he started a few ‘test’ fly-bys before landing and hopping inside!
One day they returned with a group of three others, word had got out that there maybe some house-building opportunities aboard and they all took turns in flying by, hovering and attempting to settle in the comfort of our sail cover. Luckily none had the courage to actually get in this time, and so – for now – we are nest free, but the chorus of song and chatter from these little birds on a daily basis has been an absolute joy.
Now, back to boating matters. In between all this bird activity we have been very productive on the ‘job’ front. Ensenada Honda is a huge bay, 2 miles wide and 1 mile deep, with reef and the odd set of rocks protecting the bay from the surge of the Caribbean Sea, inside it is fringed with mangroves with fingers of water branching off inland. The bay is deserted, as is the land that surrounds it as it remains the ‘no-go’ area, and therefore it is remote and peaceful.
After our first night of solitude here we had a visitor, we spotted another yacht entering the bay and making its way along the recommended dog-leg path into the anchorage. We could see from a distance a torn mainsail flapping in the strong wind and as he approached us and anchored close by we could see that not only was it torn but also jammed in the in-mast furling system. Once anchored he clearly needed help and we hopped in the dinghy and offered assistance, the skipper only had his ten year old nephew as crew and welcomed a couple of extra helpers. We managed to free the jam and winched the mainsail in as far as we could so that just a slither remained. Panic over. Two nights of neighbours and then we were going it alone again in Ensenada Honda, with just the birds and sharks for company…
These ones are juvenile blacktip reef sharks, there are plenty in Ensenada Honda and the water is quite murky so we are not swimming very much..at all, in fact!
With not too many distractions we have managed to repaint the gas-bottle locker, a tight space for Jez as he sands and preps. I can, however, get in to the locker completely (albeit in a sort of foetal position) complete with mask, paint tray, roller and brush. It’s handy being pixie size. The aft lazarette (that’s a posh nautical word for locker at the back) also had a good clean out and repaint. Both lockers are now gleaming and we can cross another two jobs off the ‘desperate’ list. It always amazes me how we manage to fit so much ‘stuff’ in to these lockers.
When the fridge contents diminished and the beer stock became dangerously low, we sailed back to Esperanza for some fresh supplies, and after a night anchored off the beach at Sun Bay we headed back to our favourite recluse.
On the way, tacking close hauled, we sailed right through a bubbling patch of water with fish jumping out in every direction and sea birds diving in quick succession. As we looked down over the side there was a 4 foot shark at the surface of the water and in the middle of the fishy mayhem, he was floating quite still and composed just eating fish, taking whatever mistakenly swam past him as cool as a cucumber. We couldn’t believe our eyes! On the next tack a couple of miles further along the coast, I spotted another bubbling mass of water with birds flocking from all directions to join in the feast. This time I had my camera ready! If you look closely you will see a tuna jumping out, he is in hot pursuit of the little juvenile fish.
Then we spotted what looked like another shark, interestingly enough at this point the birds stopped diving and gradually disappeared, leaving just the huge frigate bird picking remnants of the massacre off the surface.
It will soon be time to head the 420 miles south to Curacao for the hurricane season, tropical waves coming across from Africa have had non favourable conditions as far as storm development go. Dry Saharan air, high wind shear and sea surface temperatures 1 degree below normal for this time of year, have all assisted in preventing hurricane formation. Quitting whilst we are ahead is always a good idea, so we will start to get ready for our 3 day sail sometime next week. It will be very hard to say goodbye to this amazing island and peaceful anchorages, but all good things must come to an end!