Monday May 6, 2013
Since we had been putting this off basically a week since we’ve been here now, we finally made plans today with Brian and Stephanie to do a little exploring over at Navy Island next door. This a small little island, about 64 acres, spans in front of both the East and West Bay, and blocks both harbors from the sea. It was once owned by Errol Flynn, and housed many wild Hollywood parties. Still standing on the island is the Navy Island Marina and Resort although it hasn’t been occupied in years and is beginning to fall into disrepair. Inviting Skebenga with us, the six of us traveled over in our dinghies to the dock that still sits in front of the old resort. Walking up to the resort it was like stepping into the land that time had forgotten. The derelict resort sat with vines growing over it, adding just a hint of mystery to the place. We walked up the winding cement stairs to the second floor and were amazed by the interior. You could tell that at one time it was a magical place. I could almost put myself back in time to when there were lavish parties where you’d be sitting with a champagne glass in your hand, looking out at the rolling hills of Port Antonio in front of you and listening to the trickle of water streaming down a stone wall into a basin behind you. Now though, the paint is chipping off the walls and the trees and vines from the outside are trying to make their way in. We searched the rooms and discovered not only a white owl nesting in the rafters but also the world’s largest moth constantly zipping across our heads like a bat. It was an interesting place and I wish I could have seen what it was like when it was up and running.
After the initial tour of the resort, we took to the grounds. There was a path that led out about 1/4 mile from the resort, but just after passing an old cement swimming pool, that trail ended and we started making our own. As we got further into the brush we began seeing all different kinds of tropical plants and flowers. The kinds that brochures use to entice you to come to a place, giving you the assumption that you’ll be surrounded by them in a tropical garden while sipping on a Mai Tai. But cruisers brochures rarely include viewing flowers from well maintained gardens, or even sipping fruity rum drinks while doing so. We usually find ours the hard way, and that’s blazing a trail through thigh high grass to get to them. It didn’t make them any less beautiful though. Eventually we found our way out to water again, on the little channel that runs out between the West Bay and the sea. Admiring the Royal Palms planted by Errol Flynn and surrounding the coast, Brian even went on a mission to scale any coconut palms he could to get fronds for new hats. With big bushels of fronds in tow we made our way back to the marina area where a mango tree was found and all three guys spent the next twenty minutes finding the best way to knock the fruit off its branch until we once again had more mangoes than we could eat or carry.
When our backpacks were once more full of mangoes we got back in our dinghies and went to see what the Port Antonio area had to offer for snorkeling. The water in the bay we’re in isn’t fantastic, but on the other side of Navy Island where the channel leads in from the Caribbean Sea the water clears up a bit and we found a place to tie our dinghies off to a few poles that were sticking out of the water. Before I could even open my mesh bag to start grabbing my things out all three guys and Elmarie were already in the water. Stephanie was staying behind in the dink to just soak up a little sun, but soon I was in the water with everyone else and trying to catch up. Out near the channel everything was just sand and there was nothing to see on the bottom but as soon as you closed in on the island a small coral shelf popped out and fish began darting around. The water here was much shallower than we were used to snorkeling in, only 3-5 feet, and I made sure to keep a careful eye on all the sea urchins that poked up just below me. We swam through lots of warm and cold patches in the water which caused a weird salination effect where the water would become blurry in front of our faces. There was a pretty good current rolling through the bay at the time we were out which made swimming sometimes difficult and we were only out about 30 minutes before pumping our way back to the dinghies to catch our breath and head back.
We spent a few hours back at our boats relaxing before we got cleaned up to meet back up on Skebenga for a few drinks and a tour of their boat. It was something Lukie had built himself about 20 years ago (it took him 10 years to complete) and it is absolutely gorgeous. We were busy arguing with Brian and Stephanie on which one of us would be the ones to take it off their hands when they stop cruising in the next year or two. We all poured over cruising books for the Med and it’s pretty apparent that Brian and Stephanie will be making their way there now this year. It hasn’t been shouted out as a definite yes, but it’s only a matter of time. If they go it will be sad to break up our buddy boat armada, but also a little nice that they’ll be able to scout out everything for us before we get there ourselves next summer. They’re still on for Cuba though which is great because it’s a place we were all looking very forward to seeing together. And now we found out that Skebenga is also going to be heading to Cienfuegos Cuba at the same time we are. Between the six of us, I think we should have enough Spanglish to get by.
Tonight was Jimmy’s last night in his multi-week sailing adventure this year before he heads back to the States. I would say back to resuming a normal life but he’s moving to Barcelona next week to experience something new, and that’s just not normal for most people. In any case, I wanted to do a little going away celebration for him at the bar. A big send off party. Hell, I would have even been up for going back to Crystal’s if that’s what they had wanted to do. These guys are crazy. I expected something crazy to happen, like jumping into the bay in the middle of the night. Which is why I even made it a point to wear underwear I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in just in case that happened. But once we finally met up after dinner we sat at our table by the pool for an hour and then called it a night. I have to tell you Jimmy, I’m just a little disappointed. That goes for you too Jason and Piers. I guess you’re not the off the wall guys I fell in love with. Ah, who am I kidding. I do still love you.