When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
Huh? Whazzat? Wow!
I wake in darkness as rain pelts me through the open hatch above my head. Big rain composed of gravid drops, not just a polite, short-lived, featherweight cooling drizzle. Lightning strobes the darkness and thunder follows. Iupiter Elicius bestrides our world in full command of his powers, revelling in their use. Aeolus is clearly off duty in deference to Iupiter as powerful, impatient storm gusts wring cries from our rigging and cause Kokomo to rear against her mooring ball like a frightened mare pulling against the post where her reins are tied. I hear Jon and Ben both up and about so I join them in the saloon. We are about to experience the full power of a classic Caribbean squall.
And, yes, I had been hoping the entire trip that we’d get one good squall so I could use that Shakespeare quote. Nature decided to cooperate on the perfect day at the perfect time.
After dogging all the hatches and ports, the three of us sat on the oval settee in the saloon enjoying the storm. We left the slider open to the cockpit, which was somewhat protected by the bimini, and that allowed us to smell the cool dampness and sharp ozone of the squall. Lightning cracked and strobed, followed by the boom of thunder in decreasing intervals as the heart of the storm blew closer, until the lightning and thunder were simultaneous and the glass ports and fiberglass hull rattled and vibrated sympathetically.
We could see the other boats nearby in the bay, their crews all up and observing, just like us. There were several of those sad Sail Caribbean (or whatever their name is) monohulls crammed full of teens, bursting at the seams like overstuffed sausages, and one of the idiot counselor/leader types took the dink from one to the other. In this weather? Really? You just hadda go yourself, a VHF or phone call wouldn’t do when lightning is striking right here in the anchorage?
Gradually, almost imperceptibly, the timing between the lightning and thunder lengthens as the storm passes over us on its way to Tortola. The full, roiling blackness and heavy rain ameliorates to a light grey and sprinkly drizzle quite familiar to this Northwest boy. Of course, this grey drizzle is about 20 degrees warmer than any Northwest sprinkle.
We’re all awake and this is our day to return Kokomo so we agree to just get started now. We slip our mooing and point Kokomo toward Roadtown. I sit at the helm in just a pair of shorts as the gentle rain caresses my skin and the overcast eliminates the need for sunglasses. Heading in.
About a half-hour out, we call Conch on the VHF and inform them of our position. They ask for us to call again when we’re in the road. Will do. As we enter the road we call again and they send a dink out with a “harbor pilot” to drive Kokomo to the fuel dock. It’s kinda interesting that they don’t trust their customers to dock/undock from their own marina but allow them to run free around the rest of the islands. Whatever.
As we head for the fuel dock we see a monohull which has grounded itself in the sand by being a bit too casual about the channel. By the time we’ve fuelled up, they have managed to free themselves and are now sticking to the middle of the channel, other traffic be damned. Happily, our fuel bill is only sixty-something dollars. I had expected to pay at least twice that, if not thrice, because we were not penurious in our fuel usage. Hooray for that. Paperwork checkin and we are set until our ferry at 1430. We leave our bags at the Conch office and go shopping in downtown Roadtown.
Roadtown is not Charlotte Amalie (the duty-free shopping mecca of the USVI). We wander a bit, finding a few interesting shops. After a while, we stop for lunch at Pusser’s. Yes, I think I will have a painkiller with my food, thank you very much. Eventually, we head back to Conch, grab a taxi to the ferry dock, and do the ferry thing. This time we remember to try the upper deck in preference to the horrid steambath of the lower. Of course, this trip the upper deck is like a meat locker and we retreat to the comfortable lower deck for our return to US waters.
US paperwork done, we grab a cab to our Best Western Carib Beach Hotel with thoughts of long, aggressively-scrubbed hot showers dancing in our heads. We hafta wait a bit before our room is ready, then we discover that the hot water in the shower is random and brief; but it’s the tropics and a tepid shower is ok. Not what I hoped for but ok. So we’re back in the US of A. Hamburgers are mentioned as a dinner possibility and we ask about a nearby good burger place. The front desk has some suggestions but when we run the numbers, it’s gonna cost us about $50 each to get a hamburger because of taxi prices and we can go eat at the upscale sister Best Western hotel’s nouvelle Italian restaurant for less. Ok, we take the free shuttle to the good Best Western (where the rooms are at least twice as much), and settle in for some al fresco nouvelle Italian.
Maybe we shoulda sprung for the expensive burgers.
All in all, it’s a fine evening, with lots of lovely reminiscences and we eventually return to our room for a good night’s sleep in an actual bed. Me, I missed having Kokomo rock me to sleep.