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Flying Fish and Pounding Cats Page 2

"Mike, are you going to catch dinner for us?” Mom asks as my brother pads barefoot down the docks of The Moorings’s base in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, toward our Leopard 4300 charter catamaran, a rented trolling rod slung over his shoulder.“You know it,” he says, his excitement over spending the next week cruising St. Lucia, Martinique, and Dominica obvious. As we wrap up last-minute

The next day we head south toward Fort de France, enjoying fantastic sailing before pointing the bows east into the Baie de Fort de France and motorsailing past the island’s bustling capital city. We choose the peaceful anchorage of Trois Islets, rather than the industrial harbor, and drop the hook in the lee of a small mangrove island.

Our anchor is up by mid-morning the next day, and we sail past Fort de France with the wind on our beam. But once we clear the channel and head south, the wind is again square on our nose as we pound through ever-growing seas en route to Cap Salomon, where our charts depict heavy wave-and-current action. Just then a curious thing (for a monohuller) happens: We’re slamming into the waves so hard that the thrusting seas blast up through the bow nets in vertical columns. Talk about a party trick!

“Look!” Mom exclaims over the wind. “A flying fish! They’re real!” We all enjoy a laugh—me especially—but soon I’m white-knuckling the wheel as we scurry past the cape. Mike mans the trolling rod, but he can’t convince the local fish that his squid-shaped lure is anything but a Trojan horse.

Our reward for the pounding is the quaint resort town of Ste. Anne, with its white-sand beaches and crystal-clear water. We enjoy hours of swimming before venturing into the charming downtown.

We clear customs in nearby Marin a day and a half later for our return to Saint Lucia. Again the seas and winds rise, but now we’re running with a single reef in the main and a full genoa, with Mike’s squid hunting a few hundred yards astern.

The seas pile up and Mike and I trade helm sessions, our old dinghy instincts tempting us to surf. Soon we’re going fast. “Eleven point eight, eleven point nine, twelve point three, twelve point five,” I yell, my eyes glued to the GPS. Soon the Pitons dominate our horizon, their twin summits playing hide-and-go-seek with the clouds. Sadly, only a few precious miles separate us from Marigot Bay. I drive on, savoring the smell of tropical vegetation blowing down from the lush hillsides above Rodney Bay.

BZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz! The fishing reel screams. “You’re kidding me!” Mike yells and, with an impeccable sense of timing, promptly reels in a great barracuda. Within an hour we’ve cleaned it, picked up a mooring in Marigot Bay, cleared customs, and delivered the barracuda to a local restaurant to be filleted. Dad and I bring the fillets back aboard to Mike, Mom, and Coreen, who soon have the mouth-watering smells of sauted garlic, onions, olive oil, and white wine issuing from the cabin. Our charter is over, but our last meal aboard is spectacular.

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