Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon, the largest sailing yacht in the world in full flight in Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda, on Saturday 21st March.

A few weeks ago, in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua we had walked along her length, craning up, at her shining masts. The children skittered around her equipment on the dock. From Shirley Heights during the Jump Up the crowd saw her motoring into the sunset.

On Saturday afternoon as we dinghied passed her at anchor, I had a hopeful muse, not quite a wish, to see the Falcon in her full glory.
It came true. She passed us, at sunset, her sails unfurled.

Scores of cruisers stood on their decks awed by the rare and magnificent sight.
And on our VHF radio, we heard Sir Richard Branson wishing them a safe voyage. His island, Necker, is around the corner from the tip of Virgin Gorda.

It had been a busy day what with our walk from the Bitter End Yacht Club, pretty damn good resort, round and along to the Biras Creek Resort, described as a place of “understated wealth” where we were refreshed with lime juices in preparation for a crazy dinghy race home. And, a jaunt on Charlotte’s ski-bob for Jack. Charlotte (5) is his new friend sailing on Heatwave, a Leopard 42, more of them next time.

Plans changed on Sunday as the winds were coming from the south. Anegada beckoned. Fourteen miles to the north of Virgin Gorda, a taste of the Bahamas in the Virgins, it is an eleven mile long island of white, tranquil powder beaches oh, and sumptuous lobsters.

Anegada means the drowned island. After the Great Barrier Reef, and Belize, it is the third largest reef in the world. The island is only twenty eight feet high making landmarks hard to distinguish from the sea. Also, coral heads, the surrounding reef and over 300 sunken vessels along with hazardous currents make this a destination only for experienced yachts.

In March 2003 we sailed here competing in the Annual Dark and Stormy regatta from Tortola to Anagada and back with a one day break for snorkelling, or strategising ...

2009 our journey is of course children focussed. For Mothering Sunday, the boys collected shells “for Mummy” on coral strewn beaches, drew a card on the sand and treated me to a lobster dinner at Potters, which I did not think could be beaten until, I tasted John’s luncheon lobster at the Big Bambo on Loblolly Beach, in the north of the island.

Here John and my sons joined me in yoga on Pomato Beach, more powder sand which stretched on and on and on.

Anegada has a special, potent energy, unspoilt and not yet trampled too much. Old magic still exists here. I wanted to stay much longer than our two days but time as ever is pushing us north.

Coming soon, the updates promised in the previous blog entry!

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