Airborn Dinghy

December 8, 2011 Posted by Deb

We cleared in to customs at Anguilla and my initial plan was to tear into a long list of new sailing related projects. Deb talked me into a hike and we got our gear on. At about that point, the charter boats headed out to the outer islands and the weather turned very nice. We heard good things about Prickly Pear island so we changed our minds again. Deb went in to get a permit for Prickly Pear (it is a marine park) while I did jam cleat bypass surgery. When she came back, I found out that we had just invested $50 in lunch (that was our reason for going out to Prickly Pear).

We passed the perfect tropical island on the way out to Prickly Pear and went on by.

Prickly Pear was fairly bleak looking coming in from leeward. All I could see was a low lying island, a bit barren, and sharp edged rocks off the anchorage. We grabbed a mooring (10% frayed through), rounded up our dive gear, and headed through the cut for the windward side where there were a few restaurants and nice beaches. I barely had the chance to say, “It looks a bit rough through there” when we found ourselves in a slot where those large NE swells piled up in the cut between the two islands and every fourth one was breaking. Deb saw it first … a monster wave that was going to break and eat us. I gunned the Merc and we charged toward it, up its face, and over the top just as it was starting to break. Then there was the descent. We went airborne with even the Merc prop out of the water and landed hard in the trough. As soon as we got to starboard we got out of the breaking zone but the swell made beaching the dink challenging. There were three very large dinks from the charter boats pulled way up on the sand but they had six plus guys to haul. We decided to dink back through the cut and try our hand at swimming in on the sharp rocky side. Going with the waves would be easier but we did have to avoid the large breaking waves. We centered the dink in the cut and watched two monsters roll through and break. We took off when they cleared, hoping there wasn’t a third. We surfed at less than half throttle and only let one wave go underneath us when we got a little slow. We stayed with the next one and got a little fast once but when the bow of the dink smashed into the back of the wave in front of us, that slowed us up nicely. Deb and I have dealt with large waves near shore in a dink before and have even surfed by accident from time to time but Prickly Pear cut with a large NE swell definitely tops the charts.  Good thing I wasn’t risking a brand new outboard.

We chained the dink, swam in, walked across the razor rocks to the restaurant, got over our sticker shock, and had one of the better meals in the last two months. They even had grass, a lawnmower, and they took credit cards.

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