Monday, July 30, 2012

From Bad To Worse

If I had to be honest, my first night alone on the island was really creepy. Despite having camped here numerous times over the past three years, I was always with someone else. As I set up the hammock between the only trees on the island, I couldn't help but look over my shoulder at every noise coming from the bush. By the time everything was set up, I was inside the bug net rocking back in forth in the wind and on the verge of passing out from sheer exhaustion, despite my trepidations.

In the morning, I was granted about an hour of sunshine before things started to get worse. In that hour, I had several chances at fish, including a big one but I couldn't make it happen. The big one flat out refused my fly, I had a pair of bonefish rush my fly only to have another horse eye jack take it, and in the above picture you can see what happens if you accidentally overshoot a fish by a few feet.

Then, the rains came. Intermittent at first with several passing showers but the sun rarely made an appearance, which greatly reduces your chances of seeing a bonefish.

Soon, small storm systems started rolling through, bringing heavy rain that lasted anywhere from 10-30 minutes. I spent the time in the hot car, drinking warm water, and reading Game of Thrones. 

With things looking downright dreary, I made an executive decision to explore the north shore of the island. Here you have a very large barrier reef and a few shallow bays rather than immense flats. I rigged the spinning rod hoping to catch something.

The north shore is a maze of sandy roads, pot holes, and salt ponds. With no map, you have to rely on instinct. With no way of communicating with civilization, you run the risk of breaking down, getting stuck, or flat out getting lost (only for a short while). I found a familiar spot from previous excursions when I came upon a pile of bones. Last year, we found a skinned bull. This was all that remained. 

The roads lead right up to the shoreline where one can walk the deserted beaches. I caught a few small jacks and snappers on fly and surprisingly caught nothing on the spinning rod.

I re-found a few promising shallow bays ideally suited for fishing a low tide. I planned on coming back in the morning to look for some fish and hopefully a tailing permit. At this point, I needed to find a place to string up my hammock.

Near sun down, I found an abandoned beach bar that had a cabana on the beach. It had four concrete pillars holding up a thatched roof of palms. Between two pillars, I found my sleeping quarters. I had to park the car a few hundred yards down the beach and carry some gear to the cabana. I was hoping that the thatched roof would provide some shelter from the passing storms.

With the DSLR in the car (sorry), the best sunset of the entire trip unfolded on the horizon as I bombed casts out into the reef to no avail. The sun warped from hues of red and orange and then faded to pink and finally purple. I couldn't believe how purple it got.

With the sun setting before 8 o'clock, I crawled into my hammock and began reading via headlamp. Around 9:30, as I was attempting to fall asleep, the wind picked up considerably and the temperature dropped a few degrees. I peered out of the hammock and realized there were no longer any stars in the sky. Storm time.

The rain started slowly at first and I wasn't too worried about getting wet. The thatched roof of palms wasn't letting any water in. As the wind picked up it forced the rain to come down at an angle but I wrapped myself in a blanket and brought the other half of the hammock on top of me to create a cocoon. A half an hour later, the rain was only getting worse, but I was still dry.

As the rain continued to come down at a heavier rate, rain began to seep through the thatched roof and saturate the bug net, hammock, the towel, and eventually my clothes. I had to pack it in. What started as a dream sleeping destination quickly turned into the night from hell. My bags, sleeping quarters, clothes, and book two of Game of Thrones were soaked. In rain and flashes of lightning, I had to take everything down and hike back to the car. Wet and covered in sand, I had to navigate back through the maze of sandy roads and find my way back to the dock to recover.

The dock sticks out into the Caribbean Sea and contains really heavy wind. I set up the hammock to air dry and stayed there until everything was dry. In the meantime, I blew off some steam by jumping several tarpon and landing one. Around three in the morning, I made my way to the trees to set up for a few hours of sleep before awakening the following morning to wipe this day off the books.


Unknown said...

Real Robinson Crusoe stuff, great.

e.m.b. said...

Oh the places you go! And I vicariously through...
Amazing post.

Mark Kautz said...

I guess the last comment got lost, but to answer your question, the books mention the fly in almost every one, but never give a good description. Since I've been following, I've lost where you are. Where is this gorgeous island?


Mark said...

thanks for coming along erin!

@Mark- we like to keep that under wraps, but I am sure if you do a little investigating, you will figure it out. we've had people do that, contact us, go there, and do well