The Nature of Nature

We sailed from the Nature Island of Dominica to the French Island of Martinique in Nature’s strong trade wind hands and seas. Winds 20 to 25 knots with a squall to 35 knots, seas to ten feet, made the passage between the islands a true “salty sailing day”. Why sail in such conditions? Doesn’t the Caribbean offer ideal sailing conditions in warm waters, gentle breezes and frequent rhum beverages? Why did two ceramic mugs fly across the cabin and smash into tiny bits? And what do crickets do for fun?

Well, in regard to the sailing conditions, we do (mostly) wait for the right “weather window” to minimize discomfort and maximize the beverages. But there are times when that window is pretty small, and a sailboat has to do what a sailboat has to do. We climbed into the cockpit at dawn to brave the angry sea. The French Island beckoned and we answered the call.

Dosen’t look too bad from here!

Why did the two mugs fly? Maureen does an excellent job of securing Kalunamoo for sea. Hatches battened down, waterline portlights dogged, keyboard stowed in the v-berth, pillows wedged into the book rack, any loose items stowed away. The cabinet doors have latches but there are times when  Kalunamoo takes a broadside swell and gravity does what the law of gravity demands: Cabinets open and two mugs escape, their demise comes swiftly after a few seconds of freedom. Nature has cruel ways to demonstrate her laws.

About crickets. As mentioned above, Dominica is known as the Nature Island, hiking trails, rainn forests, waterfalls, great diving and snorkeling sites. It is one of the last unspoiled islands in the Eastern Caribbean (although some would argue that French pastries, or rhum, could never spoil an island). But Nature, as mentioned above, is not always kind.

Our good cruising friend Carol apparently contracted Dengue Fever only last week in Dominica after a female mosquito bit her. The history of Westerners, in these islands is a story of man and women against disease. That is mostly tamed now but Carol was laid out for a week and is slowly recovering. But the lesson has been taught: humans are not the only disrupters.

It was, therefore, not too surprising that we saw a cricket aboard Kalunamoo one evening while in Dominica. Anchoring out, very few mosquitos or insects make it out to the boat. The big exception is that they could hitch a ride on our dinghy and hide among the packages or boxes bought from shore. Cardboard is banned from entering inside Kalunamoo. Maureen is good at disposing all cardboard boxes (like cereals and pasta) right at the store as she transfers the contents to plastic containers. But somehow a cricket made it inside. I successfully extinguished it’s life force with my foot and thought that was that. Until Maureen started hearing high pitched chirps. It kept her up at night.

St. Pierre

Unfortunately, I have poor hearing. Especially for high pitched chirps. It is very difficult to track down sounds you can’t hear. We purchased some glue pads that managed to capture 3 crickets, my foot (a few times), my hand, a towel and a carpet. Boy are they sticky! Maureen still heard them, and so more aggressive action was taken. Raid Bug Spray shot to likely nesting spots. On a boat that is many! My only solace is that they cannot swim out to us. A second round of French Bug Spray here in Martinique is underway as I write this.

Of course, Martinique has its own history of Nature’s malfeasance. St. Pierre where the entire population of 30,000 people died in the 1902 eruption of Mt. Pelee. The cathedral pictured below (only its first story survived) lies among old walls and foundations left from the eruption.     

The Nature of Nature is such that survival belongs to the fittest. We are bigger than those crickets so the odds are in our favor. They may be having fun now, but I’m confident we’ll be victorious. If only they were tree frogs I would hear them.        

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