Back in the BVI
Full circle. Back to where we started in the Virgin Islands. It’s been almost like a homecoming, only we hardly know anyone here so there was no fan fare on the dock upon our return. I feel like we’re home, all the same.
The Virgin Islands possess a lot of the features of a home anywhere it may be. It’s easy. Comfortable. Familiar. I don’t mean to present our little jaunt down the Caribbean archipelago as something particularly ambitious – it was not – but it was certainly more challenging than being here. Bigger wind, bigger seas, difficulties in access to parts and internet, cultural differences. In short, the further south, the rougher it gets. Being in the Virgin Islands feels like being back in the US with a tropical backdrop. Easy.
We’ve already been here longer than expected. 3 weeks. We were planning on being in Puerto Rico by this time, burning miles westward on the long downwind ride back to the States. But we’re not. We’re sitting comfortably in Leinester Bay wondering whether we should go for a hike, hunt for lobsters, or take a little day sail over to Peter Island. Maybe we’ll just sit on the boat and drink coffee all day and write and edit videos and then switch to wine sometime around 5pm and play card games until we fall asleep at 8:30pm, never having accomplished any of those first three ideas. And that would be just fine, because we’ve decided that we don’t have to be anywhere right now.
Believe it or not, we’ve been running on a pretty tight schedule for the entire duration of this trip. We arrived in the Caribbean on October 13th and gave ourselves three days to work on the boat on the hard. In a feverish rush we fixed what we had to and put Paradox in the water. Another allotment of one week to work on her in the marina, which we only overshot by a couple days, and we were out cruising. Then it was a dash to shake out the kinks in the boat, fix them, and get to St. Martin so we could make our flight to Cat’s brother’s wedding. After that it was go, go, go so we could get all the way south to Grenada and back north to the Virgins by mid-Spring with enough time to give every island it’s due consideration. We had to rush to make sure we weren’t rushed. The only periods in those few months where we weren’t in motion was when weather forced our hand. Even during those days of necessary stillness, we never figured out how to slow down and simply enjoy the fact that we weren’t going anywhere. It was looking at the forecasts three times a day, fixing leaks, catching up on maintenance, desperately chasing internet, never settling down.
I think the notion that most of us have about cruising on a sailboat is that it’s a rare opportunity in life to be free of schedules and craft our days on a whim. There’s a lot of beauty in that idea. That’s what distracted us in the office for years as we built spreadsheets and powerpoints. But for most of us on a finite cruise, be it 6 months or 3 years, that’s not our reality. There’s always somewhere to be, a weather window to work around, a broken something-or-other that requires access to parts.
But for this moment, here in the Virgin Islands, that’s not the case. Things still break, the weather still changes, but it hardly matters. Everything is close. There’s never more than a 5 mile sail to a protected anchorage. 10 miles to the nearest chandlery. We can fish the North Drop, freedive the wreck of the Rhone, buy a new outboard, and watch the sun go down over gin and tonics in a secluded anchorage all in a 24-hour stretch. Proximity removes pressure.
So we’ve made the decision to slow down and enjoy this wonderful place. What does that mean for the schedule that we’ve abandoned? We can’t make it to the East Coast by the start of hurricane season. Not if we have any intention to spend time in the many islands of the Greater Antilles and Bahamas. So we won’t. We’ll do that next season.
We’re not going anywhere.