Saturday, March 26, 2011


My husband and I recently returned from the Caribbean, where we were fortunate enough to sail around the islands of Antigua and Barbuda with college friends on their 40 ft Island Packet sailboat. Seeing the Caribbean from a private sailboat is very different from the typical resort type vacation that many people associate with the islands. On the boat, we tend to sail to quiet bays and seek out islands with only small villages or little development.

About a five hour sail North of Antigua is the very flat island of Barbuda. Most people have never heard of, or visited this island, but we have visited twice over the past decade. It has only 1500 inhabitants that mostly live in the small, not easily accessible town of Codrington. The other, more numerous inhabitants are wild donkeys, deer, boar, tortoise, and Frigate birds! The island's main export, believe it or not, is sand! We have appropriately nick-named the island 'The end of the Earth', which reflects the feeling one gets after being there for awhile. We have yet to visit Codrington.

Our sailboat usually anchors in about 7 -10 feet of the clearest aqua blue water that you have ever seen, inside the long curved reef that hugs the SE coast of the island. Only a few boats, if any, are anchored near us or within sight. Occasionally a local fishing boat will approach offering up the native lobster! On the other side of the reef the Atlantic Ocean whips up large waves and throws up assorted debris on the long white stretches of beach facing the ocean.

On the reef side, jagged, sharp rocks covered with swiss-cheese-like holes create a magnificent 'rock garden'. We often spend hours exploring all the nooks and crannies,  observing the unusual plant and wildlife, and basking in the brilliant sunlight.

The holes in the rock often contain miniature plants, or worn, sun bleached branches of tiny, living 'trees' that miraculously grow in the rock.

While large Frigate birds circle overhead, groups of small birds dart in and out at the shoreline...all in unison, and looking like small windup toys!

After having a chat with some local fishermen who have landed their boat on the shore, we reluctantly get in our dingy and head back to our sailboat.

We spent two days here, enjoying the clear water along with the solitude and the sounds and sights of nature at it's best. I think that my favorite past-time was to swim to a nearby reef and gently glide over that underwater world. Unfortunately, I didn't have an underwater camera to capture the colorful fish and coral that snorkeling uncovers! It was all miles, and a world away, from my life in Oregon. Every night we saw another sunset, and this year, a bigger than normal full moon!