On Friday morning, we left West End and came to the area known as French Harbor. The wind forecast wasn’t the best (meaning we’d have head seas, no one’s favorite), but waiting for something better would have meant five or six more days at West End.
French harbor offers, among other things, a large grocery store, an Ace Hardware, a marine store and very few tourists. So, we made a quick but fairly bumpy trip (Howard was not pleased) “around the corner,” and along the southern coast of the island.
The rough ride was worth it, as we had decided to take a break from the sweltering temperatures and get a slip in French Harbor! Once we were out of the open ocean, I was able to take some pictures.
We made our way to Fantasy Island Resort & Marina. Timing was just right, as we were able to follow one of their dive boats through the reef, saving us the hassle of eye-balling our way.
Steve, the dock master, was there to catch our lines. He and his wife left Hawaii, bound for Annapolis, Md! When the dock master position presented itself, they accepted, and are now permanent marina residents. Steve helped us side-tie to the pier, which offers us terrific views from the boat.
The sound of breaking waves on the nearby reef is so loud, that you’d think we were anchored near a waterfall!
After plugging in and cooling off, we headed to the pavilion at dusk, where cruisers gather each evening. As we arrived, we were surprised to meet some of the marina locals…monkeys!! There had just been a bit of drama and screeching, that was quickly soothed by Steve’s offering of peanuts.
There are three monkeys who live on Fantasy Island, two males and a female (the names currently escape me). We are told that the female does not like women, so I kept my distance as she ate her peanuts. Steve warned us to keep things like shoes and such inside our boat, because the monkeys will take them. Scott is fairly sure that they have already made off with one of the gloves he uses when bringing in our paravanes.
The beer and wine bar in the pavilion is self serve, with latches on the refrigerators to keep the monkeys out, of course. A book is provided, to tally drinks next to your boat name. Payment is on island time, made that evening, or the next, or at the end of the week or at the end of your stay. We enjoyed music and singing from another cruiser, and chatted with a few of our new neighbors.
In addition to the monkeys, there are roosters and iguanas roaming on the island. Howard spotted this huge guy climbing the tree right outside our boat.
There are also many agoutis. These animals look like a guinea pig and a rat mated. They aren’t afraid of humans or noise, and wander the grounds (including the piers) freely as they look for food. Ick!
Howard is in “Wild Kingdom” heaven! The crying to get out began as soon as we tied up and he caught sight and smell of the grass. He was mesmerized by the agoutis.
We took him out to get some fresh air, and he immediately ran to the grass. After wandering around for a bit, he got right to chewing on the palm fronds.
As you can imagine, he did not want to leave the grass. Once inside, he showed his frustration by yelling at me and then biting my feet and ankles. Howard gets quite “sassy” when he doesn’t get his way. However, it’s not all bad for him. He gets daily walks, and enjoys watching the grass and trees for passing animals.
We spent all of Saturday washing the dirt and salt off of the boat. Scott spent hours pre-rinsing, and then we washed..and washed…and washed some more. Sea Life is a big girl, and the bath was much needed. We even washed the sides below the rub rail, turned the boat, and did the same on the other side. It was like a spa day for the old girl, and we could feel her breath a sigh of relief.
Yesterday, I started to reclaim the interior, that had been neglected once the heat and humidity kicked in. After a thorough vacuuming, cleaning of heads and general straightening, we enjoyed some time with Diane and Jeff, who are from the UK. They are just down the dock, and we invited them over to pick their brains for further information on Colombia, Panama and the Eastern Caribbean.
Today, Scott went into town with Jeff and Diane to visit Ace Hardware and some other stores. Since they left at high noon, I chose to stay behind and catch up on the blog, emailing and boat chores. Their dinghy has a small leak, so instead of pumping it back up, Scott fired up the Aluminum Princess and they all headed to the dock that’s used to access town.
We plan to stay here for a bit, and use the marina as a home base while we explore the area. Here are more photos of our trip to French Harbor, and our first days at Fantasy Island.
“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”