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Sailing The Leeward Islands – Day Six – Il Forche

Day Six

Today, two of the best – and most expensive dives we’ve ever done. Also, a hike and attempted boat rescue which turned into a fight for survival.

For the rest of the photos and video, and daily summaries, be sure to read the Sailing the Leeward Islands Trip Summary
Photos on Flickr (Slideshow)
Video on YouTube

– Woke up in our quiet Columbier bay mooring, and got picked up to scuba dive with Birdie.
– Birdie’s dive boat was very very nice and new, and birdie was a nice and knowledgable divemaster. However, he was very hurried and businesslike with how he handled us. Immediately after we got on the dive boat, he had all the equipment ready, and had us get into our dive gear and ready. The second we got to the dive site, he had us file off the end of the boat, seemingly military style. The whole operation was very swift and precise, and it felt like we were just another group of paying tourists to hurry through the system. It was fairly impersonal and hurried. Our two dives with Birdie were great – amazing coral and marine life, and Birdie was an expert at pointing out interesting things to look at. Of particular note, we encountered a super friendly sea turtle, which hung out with us for a while on our dive.

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– After diving, Birdie dropped us back at our sailboat, where we had a quick and tasty lunch.
– After lunch, we departed from Columbier and motored across the channel over to Il Forche, a beautiful, deserted scrub island off the west coast of St. Barts.

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– Moored in Il Forche, and then took the dinghy ashore.
– Hiking around Il Forche was amazing. The island is rocky, covered with low scrub brush. Sean and I climbed to the top of one of the peaks, and then went and met the others lower by the cliffs.

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– While looking off the cliffs, we spotted an abandoned dinghy which had been pushed into the jagged rocks at the base of the cliff. The dinghy looked somewhat serviceable, so Sean and I hiked down the cliff to go investigate. The abandoned dinghy appeared to be serviceable, although a little banged up from being slammed into the rocks be the large waves rolling in.

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– We decided to try to salvage the dinghy and get the motor running. After a few minutes of fighting in the rough waves and jagged rocks, we were able to get all of the stray lines and anchor chain untangled from the rocks. Then, after working on the engine for a bit, we finally got it started.

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– The engine ran fine for a bit, so we motored out away from the rocks. However, as we were about to clear out of the rocky area, the motor died. Now, we were out in the water, but getting pushed uncontrollably by large waves into the rocks at the base of the cliff. After frantically trying and failing to get the engine started for a bit, we realized that we were getting dangerously close to being slammed into the rocks. We paddled frantically for a bit with the one oar and a piece of one of the seats, and eventually made a little farther away from the rocks. Once we had a bit of distance from the rocks, we untangled the anchor line, and managed to successfully anchor the dinghy, just a few feet away from the beginning of the rocks.

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We then shifted our focus back to starting the dinghy motor. After another 40 minutes of trying, we realized that the sun was setting, and it would ve extremely bad to be caught washing onto the breakers at night. So, we picked the least dangerous pathway around the rocks to the base of the cliff, and pulled up the anchor. Once we were free, we paddled frantically, and eventually made a mostly smooth passage around the rocks, and climbed out of the dinghy onto the rocks. We abandoned the dinghy, and finally climbed ashore and hiked back across the island to meet up with the rest of the crew. We were disappointed that we couldnt salvage the dinghy, but were glad we escaped with our lives!

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– Tonight, we had a relaxing dinner on the boat, and are going to sleep.

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