Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Beautiful But Sad Day

So with another waiting-for-weather day, having passed some deserted sand beaches on the leeward side of Lynyard Cay,  we dropped our anchor into 11 feet of crystal clear water about  a hundred yards from the middle beach.  There was a small t-top power boat at the southern beach and Judy thought we might find some of the searchers there.  So we headed that way and hauled our dink onto the strand and dug the anchor in to the sand.  There was no one at the other boat so we started walking up the bluff to see the ocean side. 
We walked through some low shrubs and found the beach with crashing waves on eroded coral pavement.  The terrain was various kinds of former coral environments, raised up and scrubbed to new forms by the sand and persistent waves.  Some was knobby and not too difficult to traverse and there was a sandy section upland of the swash, but most of the ocean-side of this island was nasty inhospitable jagged rock teeth.  Judy and I were wearing our aqua-shoes, which were not the best footgear for where we were. 
I felt like part of a star-trek landing party on some uncharted place, but aside from the harsh natural beauty there was human flotsam and jetsam up and down the beach..…a reminder that we were on planet earth.  A large mat of blue fishing net, frosted by the blowing sand covered an area the size of a cars footprint.  Remnants of plastic packing cases and other detritus was everywhere…and then we spotted an orange tarp spread over a rock at the crest of the ridge.  Closer inspection proved it to be the canopy of a life raft, tattered and torn from its beaching.  Its condition was so poor, that I couldn’t be certain that this hadn’t been here for months, rather than the few days since Rule 62 was wrecked.
At this point we could see that the people on the other boat had returned and their boat was stranded by an outgoing tide.  Judy and I helped with a heave and a ho till the boat was again afloat, and we spoke with these folks who were in fact other searchers.  They had found the life raft canopy and set it as a marker where it could easily be seen from the air or the water.  They had also found the boats flag, and another little piece of the life raft. They said the boat could be seen at the north end of the island, across from the last beach.
…Meanwhile, when we first anchored, we could see the appearance of a campsite of sorts at the middle beach.  We had read about such a place  from “Flying Pig’s” postings on a cruisers on-line newsgroup, where passing cruisers visit and leave mementos, so having a nose for adventure, we investigated.  We refloated our dink, also a victim of the tide and headed up to our own personal beach.    Sure enough, someone (or some few, or some many,) had collected driftwood, fish floats, and made a little beach shelter.  Some planks and a keg of nails gave the impression of a work in progress.  A few coconuts seemed to be nursed into sprouting to make this island paradise more appealing.  About a dozen fishing/ crabbing floats had been hung on a tree, signed and dated by the passing crews.
Behind the scrap book tree was an inviting trail which lead up to the remnants of a structure of 2X4s which appears to have been abandoned before completion.  (From what I’ve seen, there are many broken dreams in the islands, a place with so much beauty and promise and also a place where the harsh reality of the relentless battle with the natural elements manifests itself.)  Continuing beyond the stick house, the pathway lead through shrubs and trees to a meadow. The meadow was gently sloping back from the brow of the cliff face on the ocean side, and protected on the leeside by the trees.  The meadow was covered with an orchid like plant (the name of which escapes me) which I associate with my late mom who raised them, and with my brother Lew who researched them and produced a book with his kids about them.  I spent a few moments talking with my mom in this quiet unseen place.
The brow of the cliff was marked by a thicket of stiff brushy plants and the path lead through the meadow to a narrow space in this hedge.  There was also a mast with a sneaker tied high up on it so this beach entry could be landmarked after losing one’s self in the combing of the beach.  I proceeded to lose myself on this otherworldly terrain, taking joy in the multitude of natural shapes and the juxtaposition of human cast-offs. Small tide pools with limpets reminded me of survival scavenging on the coast of Sicily with Rena.   “Click, click.” The magic of digital photography.  It even makes the sound of a shutter clicking.
Here’s a dried coral sea fan with intense purple hue, captured in the arms of more stranded fish nets.  “Click, click.”  Then Judy appeared.  She wasn’t prepared or well shod for this caper along the beach.  I showed her my finds and we cavorted around this castaway’s living room and then returned to the dink carrying a beach frosted glass net float to use as our log entry in Robinson Caruso’s hut.  We returned to Bentaña to get a sharpie to sign our ball but first stopped at a new boat that had anchored on “our beach.”
Lynyard Cay

Another view

Atlantic beach on Lynyard Cay

Interesting shapes on this inhospitable beach

Beach trash

Top of Rule 62's life raft

Fan coral

Mom's plant

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