Caribbean

Hitched in a Hurricane Page 2

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On Sunday morning we set our course toward Colombier, aiming for the northwestern hills of St. Barts. Rolling clouds of purple and gray loomed on the horizon. We pulled into the half-moon harbor just in time to make a little cockpit picnic and enjoy some sunshine.

We had struggled to sleep the night before, so Trevor tried to catch a few Zs after lunch. I pulled out my snorkel and was getting into the water when a nurse shark swam up. Whether he was trying to say "Hey girl, cool snorkel! Where y'all from" or "I am going to eat you and leave your entrails for your husband to find when he wakes" made no difference to me. I was not getting into the water alone. And perhaps luckily, it started to rain again. Trevor woke to my stomping around the galley with mask and flippers still attached. Gazing out the open hatch, he said, “You know where the rain doesn’t matter? Underwater.” So we loaded up the dinghy with our scuba gear and headed out for some diving.

We were 30 feet underwater when the surface above us became a tympani of raindrops. We looked at each other and laughed into our regulators; this was the first time we hadn’t been particularly concerned about the rain. We checked out the coral and fish and kept an eye out for that nurse shark.

We pulled into Gustavia around 1600 and found the harbor was jam-packed with boats of varying sizes and ages. They were all moored by both the bow and stern to keep them from swinging and doing massive damage to each other.

While the mooring setup made sense safety-wise, the wind needed to blow from the east for it to be comfortable. This southerly front really shook up the system, and meant that the wind hit Brown Eyed Girl directly abeam, causing her to heel to the steady gusts. Lying in the quarterberth that night, I wondered aloud if this was the romantic honeymoon we had dreamed about. Trevor patted my head and said, lovingly, “Your upper lip is super sweaty.”

“Your man-odor is stifling me,” I sighed.

We ended up spending four days in Gustavia instead of the 24 hours we had planned. Winds were regularly in the 50-knot range and seas hit 10 feet. By Wednesday there was a water shortage on the island, as too much silt had been kicked up for the desalination plant to operate. The ferry wasn’t running between islands, so shops and restaurants closed to repair their damage.

Wet and exhausted, we finally threw in the towel and rented a hotel room, courtesy of my brother-in-law, who had been searching for the perfect wedding gift. I drank a cup of tea on the balcony overlooking the harbor, watching as water washed out a parking lot full of tiny rental cars.

We left on Friday, on what anyone would consider the most perfect day of sailing possible. With 15 knots of wind at our backs, we slid down waves and chased dolphins.

Back in Simpson Bay, Kim told us the island hadn’t seen this much rain since the 1970s. St. Martin had flooded, and many homes and businesses hadn’t had power or running water in days. Suddenly, our wet boat experience seemed almost luxurious. If it had been our tenth anniversary, I might remember all this as pure misery and disappointment. But as it was our honeymoon, it was an adventure. And I couldn’t imagine going through it with anyone other than my husband.

On our final night I sat on our balcony overlooking the Caribbean Sea, sipping my five o’clock cocktail and gazing at Saba, looming on the horizon and visible for the first time all week. “I still want to go there,” I told Trevor.

“Me too,” he said. “You know we’ll be back.

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