Tuesday, November 29, 2011

St. Kitt's: Two Days in Paradise

After enduring the bad weather and the swells rolling relentlessly through the  anchorage, we  regretfully slipped away from Statia and cruised over to Basseterre, St. Kitt’s. We all needed a respite from the lurching and rolling, so we were more then happy to take a slip at the Port Zante Marina. We were delighted with a starboard side-to slip, inside the marina away from all the swells. Ah…!

We had a fabulous two days in St. Kitt’s; we took a taxi tour around the island with Lorenzo, who was a great tour guide. Cheerful and talkative, he was quite proud of his island and was more than happy to share all sorts of history about St. Kitt’s, including its name. Columbus named it after the patron saint of travelers, St. Christopher, after sighting the island in 1493. While he never landed here, in 1623 the British did, and shortened the name to St. Kitt’s – Kitt being the British nickname for Christopher. St. Kitt’s thus had the first permanent European settlement in the Leeward Islands at a site called Sandy Point. The French soon established a colony here as well, farther south at Basseterre, and from time to time, they teamed up to fight Spanish incursions when they weren’t fighting each other. (This continued for the next 150 years – typical in the Caribbean!)

One of the oldest Roman Catholic churches in the Caribbean
Enjoying the gardens at Romney Manor
Predominantly British since the 1700s, we saw numerous old stone churches -- Anglican, Roman Catholic, Moravian, among others -- many still in use, before stopping at Romney Manor and walking about its beautifully landscaped botanical gardens. Romney Manor was part of the larger Wingfield Estate, which belonged to Thomas Jefferson’s family, prior to being sold to the Earl of Romney. 
The belltower at the top of the gardens
The "lipstick tree" -- roucou plant
Inside one of the fuzzy pods
As we walked about the beautiful gardens, Lorenzo showed us the Roucou plant, or the “lipstick tree”, which fuzzy, flowering pods contain little bright red seeds that were used by the Indians for pigment. Or lipstick, as Lorenzo demonstrated, by putting it on his lips and posing! The seeds, when popped, spilled out a waxy red substance very reminiscent of lipstick indeed! It washed off with a little water and elbow grease. Fun!

The manor is home to Caribelle Batik, and their workshop is filled with an array of works of art, beautiful to behold. It was fascinating to watch the women apply the wax, demonstrating how batik is traditionally done, and before showing different pieces in various stages of completion. We had a great time checking out all the intensely colored fabrics and items for sale; so many to choose from! 
The start of the process: cotton with the first application of
wax on the pencil sketch
A finished panel in gorgeous shades of blue
The remainder of the day, we spent scrambling about the Brimstone Hill Fortress on the west side of St. Kitt’s. The fortress, known as the “Gibraltar of the West Indies” is a UNESCO world heritage site, and impressively restored. (Check it out online for yourself at www.brimstonehillfortress.org !) We all had been there before -- Ron and I most recently in the spring -- but again, it was fun to explore and rediscover. From the eastern Place of Arms to the uppermost gun deck, we toured the exhibits and learned more about this significant piece of history. The place is wide open for exploration, with lots of areas accessible -- and some not so accessible -- but impressive as can be and we really enjoyed ourselves, climbing about! A great time was enjoyed by all!
Just a few of the cannons overlooking the sea
Ally loved seeing the mountains shrouded by clouds
The central courtyard. Note the stone grooves for water collection

Old square nails found near one of the sites undergoing restoration
And they had these two rooms side-by-side?? 
The front arches of the officers' quarters
Some places weren't as accessible...!
In the ruins of the Commander's Quarters
The Fortress in the background

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Golden Rock

One of the things we love about cruising is the chance to view history up close and personal. In the Caribbean, history is literally right there in front of you, where it blends into daily life through the many homes and buildings that are centuries old. Some are beautifully kept up, some are in various states of disrepair, but all are still in use and a part of every community. Living history, truly.

We arrived in Statia to find the weather worsening, and unfortunately, Oranje Baai is a rolly anchorage even in the best of weather. We hooked in the stern anchor to keep us facing into the swells, and dampen our sashaying about, but it still was rather uncomfortable. We couldn’t even get out to dive, as torrential rains and resulting runoff muddied visibility.
Rain rain go away!
We adjusted our game plan to land-based activities, instead. It was nice to get off the rolly boat and simply enjoy being on-island. Ally had been to Statia years ago while on a Broadreach diving trip, so we were revisiting old haunts. From the Lower Town area on the water we walked up the steep cobblestone path up to Upper Town of Oranjested. Oranjested is an excellent example of an old-world, colonial Caribbean settlement, as its architecture is predominantly traditional West Indian/Dutch-influenced gingerbread-style houses and buildings. The well-built cobblestone streets and tidy homes still in use today reflect its wealthy history, when Oranjested was the trading capital of the West Indies, bustling with merchants from Spain, England, France, Holland and other parts of Europe.
Typical Upper Town Oranjested architecture
Cobblestone streets from the 1700x
We made our way over to the nearly 370-year-old Fort Oranje where we scrambled about, enjoying the views from the hilltop fort. Dating from 1636, the fort was the site of the first foreign recognition of the fledgling United States in 1776, when the then governor gave an 11-gun salute to the Andrew Doria, a US Naval ship. In fact, despite the stated neutrality of the Netherlands, St. Eustatius was a vital supply center  for the  upstart Americans. Many of its merchants, having excellent contacts in the colonial cities of Newport, Charleston and New York, as well as France and Netherlands on the other side of Atlantic, were perfectly situated to provide the American rebels with shipments of arms and military supplies prior to the American declaration of independence.
Cannons overlooking Oranje Baai
Following a  meandering path from the fort, we came across the restored ruins of the old Dutch Reformed Church, where its lovely stone arches face the sea, and a quiet sense of history fills the churchyard cemetery. Several ornate grave markers and family plots dating from the early 1700s can be found under the large mango trees outside the stone church walls. Just down the road, there is a partially restored synagogue in Oranjested too, Honen Dalim, which dates from 1738, making it one of the oldest in the Caribbean. There was a large Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jewish population on the island at that time, merchants and their families who came from Curacao and Amsterdam during the first quarter of the 18th century because of the lucrative trade on the island. I love the sense of strolling through history here!
Detail from the gravestone of Governor Jan De Windt, who died in
1775. Jewish merchants donated the marble gravestone as a tribute
to the governor, whom they held in high esteem.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

St. Maarten Explorations

It's been a full few days! Ally flew in to join us for a couple of weeks, as she's currently between fall and winter quarters at DU, so we enjoyed celebrating Thanksgiving aboard. The galley was full of mixing bowls, pans and fixings; we had the usual family menu in its entirety of roasted turkey, bread stuffing, Daphne's mashed sweet potatoes, awesome corn casserole, broccoli, cranberry relish and of course, pumpkin pie!! I'd stocked up on all that was needed for each recipe, but the first challenge was cutting back the recipes to feed just the three of us (and not a small army)! The other challenge was finding enough small baking pans so that everything could fit inside our oven. Turkey on one shelf, with pans of corn casserole and mashed sweet potatoes on the other. Happily, everything fit, I timed each dish just right, and dinner was ... sumptuous! Yum! Ally was delighted with the pumpkin pie!

L'escargot, a local landmark restaurent in Philipsburg
After a day in Philipsburg, we thought we'd explore more of the island by dinghy, so went over to the French side to meander along the coves and bays of the west side. Fort Louis, Marigot, Friar's Bay, Grand Case...we made a great day of it! 

High atop Fort Louis ruins
Amazing views of the water
Ron and Ally exploring the fort
In Marigot, we walked up to Fort Louis and enjoyed the views, then took the dinghy north to swam in Friar’s Bay and walk its beach, before heading to Grand Case, where we watched the small planes coming in on final right over us as we ate lunch at Le Tastevin. We went rather high end for ourselves rather that eating at the lolos again, although I’m not sure that was the best choice as their lunch menu was quite limited. Still, a VERY fun day, and on our return to Great Bay, we stopped at Customs and cleared out. We’re heading to Statia tomorrow, to see our friends Glenn and Michele at Golden Rock Divers, and hopefully, do some diving there!  

My smoked tuna Asian salad at Le Tastevin
The small Grand Case airport is not too far from town
The beach at Grand Case

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

25th Wedding Anniversary!

The colorful promenade along Philipsburg's waterfront
We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary today with our good friends, the Baldonis, who were here in St. Maarten on a cruise. We were delighted that we all were on St. Maarten at the same time, and excited that we could spend time together! Originally they were scheduled for an excursion to sail, snorkel and swim; instead, we met for lunch at Chesterfields, the restaurant of the marina where Equinox was berthed, getting the last bit of her hull waxed. We then took a cruise about the harbour in our own little dinghy and had a great time on the beachfront! We walked a bit before settling in on the beach, where we either lounged in the water, or relaxed on the chaise lounges in the shade. Lots of chatter, lots of laughter, lots of fun! The kids did some shopping as well, and the afternoon passed all too quickly. Being experienced boaters themselves, they helped us move Equinox out of the marina and back into the anchorage; it’s always nice to have extra hands! Kim and Berto assisted me with the numerous dock lines while Al and Tiara handled the dinghy. Before we knew it, the sun was setting, and after one last stop at Chesterfields, we managed to return them to the cruise ship pier at the eleventh hour before their ship departed. It was hard to say goodbye; it’s really a treat to have dear friends share time with us!!

As we watched their ship sail out of sight, Ron and I were ensconced on the beachfront terrace of the Holland House Beach Hotel’s Ocean Lounge, sharing an excellent bottle of wine over a gourmet dinner, reminiscing about the past 25 years. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years, as it’s gone so quickly! Yet, we’ve gone through a lot, through events great and small. We’ve experienced momentous occasions like the joy of becoming parents and the grief of losing parents, we’ve gone through the mundane of job changes and house moves, to the happiness of shared family events together. In sum, we’ve experienced a wide range of what life has to offer …and overall, there’s been more happiness than not! You just have to keep on smiling, and keep moving! We appreciate that we’re still active and healthy, still together sharing life's adventures, and still living happily ever after, every now and then. That's life ... Cruise on!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Adventures of the Yellow Bikini

Ok, it really wasn't much of an adventure, but we did have a bit of excitement after we left the French side, and moved to the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. We moved over to Groot Baai/Great Bay on the south side of  St. Maarten and dropped anchor there, as we have some friends coming in on one of the cruise ships. Great Bay is where all the cargo and cruise ships come in to St. Maarten; it was simply serendipity that we would be here  "on island" during their cruise, so to Great Bay we went! Rather to our surprise, Philipsburg is quite lovely -- one of the nicest cruise ship ports we’ve ever visited! There is a nice anchorage area, deep and clear, with a long waterfront beach area fronted by small restaurants, bars and caf├ęs; numerous shops and boutiques are on a parallel street away from the water. The only drawback for smaller cruising boats is that you get waked a bit from the relentless cruise ship tender traffic. (Think of ants coming off an ant farm…they are non-stop!) Still….a decent anchorage despite that.
Equinox in Groot Baai, Sint Maarten
Then, the next morning we had an….um, international incident of a minor sort! While Ron was ashore checking into taking slip at a nearby marina for a day or so (to get our hull waxed), I was out on the back deck, in my fun bright yellow bikini, and a t-shirt cover-up. I was busy working on our aft deck table, re-attaching one of the legs which had decided to drop some of its screws and take itself for a walk. While I was working on securing the table leg, I noticed the Dutch Coast Guard cruising about the bay in their intimidatingly large black pontoon boat. I didn’t think too much about it; there has been a Dutch warship offshore the last few days conducting all sorts of exercises. We'd heard them on the VHF, hailing all nearby vessels underway, plus there were helicopters checking out smaller moving craft, and the Dutch Coast Guard inflatables were out in force, checking on anchored vessels. So, the Coast Guard was generally making their presence known.

Then, the third time I looked up from my task, the big black inflatable was about three feet from our transom and the Dutch Coast Guard was asking permission to board Equinox! (Uh…sure, ok!) Three of them manned the inflatable while three other young men came aboard with big black boots, uniforms and holstered guns, requesting to see our documents, clearance papers and such. As we stood in the salon, I was a bit embarrassed to be dressed so casually (feeling very bright yellow for myself) but I presented our papers and passports and answered their questions: what was our last port, how long were we staying in St. Maarten, what country were we going to next, etc. Then they asked if they could inspect the boat, which I admit, I wasn’t really expecting. I was thinking that they would check our helm for safety equipment (flares and such) but where did they go? They immediately went down below to our cabin and started opening up the cabinets, looking into each closet, and opening random drawers. I was startled and then...mortified! Why?? Certainly there weren't any undeclared guns or weapons, drugs or illegal aliens, nor even flares or other safety equipment for that matter, but we did have a small stash of um…er…hmmm..."adult toys" in one bedside cabinet. It was the first cabinet opened, of course! 

Yes…as I stood there blushing beet red, I began wondering what the Dutch laws were regarding such items, and could only imagine the headlines at that point! But nothing was said, no comments were made, and the young officers simply moved on to inspect different cabinets elsewhere: in the heads, the laundry locker and the other stateroom. Ron returned to the boat just as the Coast Guard was finishing their inspection; they assured us that our papers were in order and that everything was fine! While professional, everyone was all smiles as they shook our hands and took their leave.

Ron seems to think it was the yellow bikini that caught their attention and caused the Dutch Guard to swing by. I'm not so sure, but one thing is for certain: cruising is always an adventure...in a yellow bikini or otherwise! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Back to The Island...

...of Saint Martin! After our fun time in Anguilla, we headed out bright and early to brisk winds and light, choppy seas. An easy run back! We cleared into Marigot Bay on the French side…and remembered belatedly that they charge for anchoring in Marigot Bay. (Ouch!) But we had no agenda…we just wanted to be back in St. Martin since Ally is due to fly in the day before Thanksgiving, and thought we’d try someplace new, rather than go back up to Anse Marcel where we stayed last spring. Unfortunately, Marigot Bay is not all that great an anchorage: rather rolly with a lot of traffic and a bit of swell….oh well! 

Despite it not being the best choice, we made the best of it! We meandered through the local market on the waterfront, and got some fresh porduce, as well as some "Magick Spice", from Olive, one of the vendors there. We aren't sure what's in it, but we couldn't resist, after seeing all the spices, marinades and produce on display! I'm sure it will add some spice to the goings-on in the galley!
Enticing displays of marinades and hot sauces
Olive, ringing up our purchases
Afterwards, we decided to get out and do something new, so we “hiked” to Fort Louis, on the hill overlooking Marigot Bay. I’d been reading about different trails and hikes on the island…and while this was listed as such, it was only two blocks from the waterfront and the hike consisted of a pair of staircases up to the fort. Not exactly a hike, but there were lovely views from the tumbledown ramparts of the fort. A full and fun day, followed by a quiet evening on anchor....what's not to like?

Equinox down in Marigot Bay, looking through the ramparts

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Diving the OosterDiep!

Barracuda along the side of the wreck

Ron and I went out diving today with Dougie (Douglas) Carty,  the owner and operator of “Special D” Diving & Charters, which is the dive operation here at Sandy Ground. A native Anguillan, Dougie has been diving all of his life, and has over 18 years of running a dive operation in Anguilla. Just last year, Dougie was instrumental in helping locate the wreck of the MV Hilda, a Dutch ship that was loaned out to the British Royal Navy during WWII. The Hilda assisted in the evacuation of soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk in WWII, and helped in the recovery of survivors from other ships bombed during the naval operation. SO…an interesting twist of fate that a piece of European history is now a local dive site. It's a small world!
For our dive, Dougie took us out aboard his boat, Desha, to the reefs along the west side of Anguilla, where we first dove on a long, low-profile reef filled with healthy coral, and many fish, from the usual barracuda, grunts, tangs, angelfish, and parrotfish to a large queen triggerfish and porcupine pufferfish. We found a Hawksbill turtle happily munching on some sea grasses amidst the coral, too! From there, we swam across a sandy stretch to the dive on the wreck of the M/V OosterDiep. The 150' OosterDiep was purposely sunk in 1994 as part of an ecological program to develop artificial reefs from old vessels. Built in 1957 in the Netherlands, she drifted aground on a shoal at the southwest entrance of Road Bay, Anguilla and met her demise in 1990. She was stripped by a salvage company and made ready for deliberate sinking, and now lies northwest of Meads Bay in 75’ of water on a sandy bottom.
Well-preserved, the OosterDiep is covered with coral, sea fans, sponges and other growth, and home to a delightful array of fish. Gangs of barracuda hung out around the periphery of the boat, as turtles relaxed and rested in the pilothouse and on the stern portion. We came across a huge fish nestled into the shade of a jagged overhang of the wreck's port side – at first glance I thought it was a shark, it was that big -- but no, just a very large cobia which took off as we approached. Cool! Dougie said they’d seen the cobia on dives earlier in the year, but hadn’t seen it in some months. Nice that it’s back! Ron and I enjoyed the dive immensely…there were several large lobster inside various nooks and crannies, schools of blue chromis flowing past the gunnels, swarms of glassy sweepers inside the wreck, as well as a small moray eel up near the pilothouse. I also spotted a large trunkfish, shyly peeking out from the stern section of the ship. All in all, a lovely, relaxed dive!

The remainder of the day was quiet; we walked along the beach, had quiet time reading on the aft deck and spent sunset watching the Anguilla Youth Sailing Club in action, as they were out racing in their little sailboats. The kids are extremely adept sailors; they would come racing along the boat (looking like they were going to totally broadside our dinghy, but then they’d tack and turn on a dime!) I’d heard the Anguillans love sailing -- it’s regarded as their national sport, I believe — so it was neat to see it in action. The kids were simply fun to watch...and it's just one more reason why I love cruising! We're so very lucky to be out here doing it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ten Reasons We Love Anguilla!

Members of the Anguilla Youth Sailing Club racing just before sunset

We love Anguilla. Why? Here are our ten reasons!

10)   The island is low-key and relatively undeveloped.
9)   No cruise ships. And, no cruise ship-oriented stores full of over-priced luxury items or schlocky tourist stuff. 
8)   Friendly customs and easy clearance, as well as free wifi in Road Bay harbor, courtesy of a couple of the Sandy Ground restaurants and bars.
7)  Beautiful beaches (33) flanked by turquoise waters. Despite its uncanny ability to get everywhere on board the boat, we loved the soft white sand! Shoal Bay is not to be missed.
6)   Great beach bars and restaurants. Over 70 on an island only 16 miles long!
5)   Good diving. The marine park designated areas and their restrictions on anchoring have made an impact. The reefs are in great shape, and there is plenty of fish life
4)   Jimmy Buffett has played here with the local reggae legend, Bankie Banx. Would have loved to have been here for that!
3)   The people are among the friendliest in the Caribbean. Cheerful, honest working folk. No one is trying to hustle you. Their hospitality is genuine.
2)  Amazing rum punches. No pre-made, overly-sweet generic pink stuff here! Each place makes them from scratch, usually to include a bit of amaretto and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg on top. We want the recipe!

And the #1 reason we like Anguilla:

1)   They love the Baltimore Ravens!! Clearly, wise fans on a great island! Everywhere we went, from Shoal Bay to Sandy Ground, we found ample evidence:
At Uncle Ernie's Restaurant, Shoal Bay -- we added the Equinox sticker, of course!
Elvis himself, at Elvis' Beach Bar, Sandy Ground,
where Brett generously let us watch the Ravens game on Sunday.
At Ripples Restaurant and Pub, on an inside wall. 
Go Ravens! :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Landfall: Anguilla!

We cruised to Anguilla after we cleared out of Sint Maarten -- we had good weather, and thought we’d explore a new island! We had a very easy passage from St. Maarten -- Anguilla is only 6 miles away -- but we had to go a bit farther than that, around to the east side of the island to Road Bay, Anguilla’s port of entry.

One of many colorful local boats in Road Bay
Anguilla is a rather low-lying island in contrast to St. Martin towering just to its south, and its beaches are among the most beautiful we’ve seen. Anguilla has turquoise waters to rival those of Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, and 33 beaches with unbelievably soft, powdery white sand. The sand, unfortunately, has an amazing ability to get everywhere, even though we’ve been diligent about rinsing off our shoes, sandals and feet on the back deck. It just keeps showing up, time and again, no matter how often we rinse off the deck. Of course, I can't seem to resist walking barefoot in such glorious sand, so that may be part of the problem!

Along Shoal Bay, Anguilla
While Anguilla relies on tourism as its major industry, the country has resisted a lot of development so the island is low-key, relaxed and very serene. There are no duty-free shops, no huge cruise ship port -- and no marinas, either, for that matter. We didn’t visit Anguilla last year, mostly because the Anguillans are rather restrictive about visiting yachts: their rates for a cruising permit are somewhat on the high side (over $330 per week for a vessel our size) and there are only two anchorages where overnight anchoring is allowed: Road Bay and Crocus Bay, both on the west side. All other anchorages are for day-use only…and you need a cruising permit even if you are only using your dinghy to explore, and not your larger boat!! Yes, these regulations make Anguilla the most restrictive in the Eastern Caribbean.

But the restrictions have their benefits. Because of them, Anguilla is pristine: her anchorages are quiet and uncrowded, her beaches and her reefs well protected and preserved. Anguilla has five large marine park areas, designated to protect the fragile coral reefs and delicate sea grass beds from boat and anchor damage. All good!! There are additional daily fees if you want to boat in these areas, and there are mooring buoys for dive boats only (plus fees per dive) – all designed to keep traffic and use at a minimum. It means the reef is in excellent shape, as delicate coral, fish life and the marine environment in general are all protected. Diving is reputed to be good -- we hope to find out tomorrow, when we dive with Douglas Carty, out of the local dive shop at Sandy Ground!

As for a bit of history: Anguilla was first colonized by English settlers from St. Kitts around 1650. Britain administered the island until the early 19th century, when it was incorporated into a single British dependency along with St. Kitts and Nevis. While this was a tidy solution for the British Foreign Office, it totally went against geography and the wishes of the Anguillan people. After a few armed skirmishes and protests (no one was hurt or killed, thankfully), the island became a separate British dependency  -- termed a “British Overseas Territory”  -- all its own in 1969.

And, Anguillans have determinedly protected their interests ever since! Lucky for us that they do, because Anguilla is a gem!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Adventures in Med-Mooring!

Ok, just so you know…we are neophytes in the apparently international standard of marina "mediterranean mooring", where the boat is stern-to the dock, without finger piers or pilings to tie off the bow. Instead, you use your anchor to secure the boat forward. We spent 20+ years in the Chesapeake and the east coast, with its nearly infinite number of anchorages and marinas, with nary a med-moor to be found. Med-mooring wasn’t even on our radar screen; we had blinkers on! Down here in the Leeward Islands though, it’s the norm (as it is in the Mediterranean and some places in the Pacific). Getting Equinox situated her first med-moor in Palapa Marina wasn’t too bad, as there weren’t any boats near us when we arrived. We dropped anchor, fed out our long 200'+ “mooring” line (cobbled together from many of our longer dock lines, I am embarrassed to admit) and angled back into our “slip” before securing the stern with 4 different stern and spring lines radiating from Equinox’s different hawsepipe horns. We didn't do too badly for the first time, I guess!

Throughout our week stay, we watched as much larger yachts and sailboats came and went: Be as You Are, Blind Date, Costa Brava, Sherakhan, and the beautiful sailing vessel, Zefiro, registered in Malta. Costa Brava’s anchor fouled on the huge mooring line anchor chain on their departure, and it was rather exciting to watch them extricate themselves. As for Zefiro, well, they had sailed directly south from Glouchester, MA, skirting sub-tropical storm/hurricane Sean --“the waves only got as high as the spreaders” -- (!!) so despite their experience and nonchalance, even they had difficulty coming in. First off, there was a shallow bar in the channel, which they found --- their 14’ draft was not going over the 11’ shoal! 
Aground -- in the channel, unexpectedly, Maltese flag a-flying!
Aground, they kedged themselves off with assistance, and then backed into their slip on our port, er….make that the starboard side!!

Zefiro settling into the slip next to us
For us, our med-mooring challenges got even more exciting when the mega-yacht BelAbri slid in on our port side just minutes before our departure. Their large anchor and chain? Possibly dropped across our small anchor chain as they backed in. With the mooring lines of Zefiro to starboard, a mooring buoy dead ahead and our anchor possibly fouled, it looked to be an exciting exit from the marina! We were worried about our stabilizers snagging mooring lines or anchor chain…and how would we clear everything if we were fouled??
BelAbri pulling in prior to our departure
Anchor chains and mooring lines lining our path
The answer? A pair of divers from the marina came up to us in their skiff (clearly well-versed with this unsettling scenario) and the diver then followed our anchor chain out and down, to mark its placement before we moved. 
Preparing to follow our anchor chain down
The diver ensured that we were not fouled by BelAbri -- we were clear by a few meters – and instructed us to haul our anchor straight up, without dragging it forward as we eased out, so as not to foul BelAbri’s chain. It was a tight fit!! Capt. Ron was his usual calm self: after we hauled in the mooring line, he manned the wing station while I ran back to release the stern lines then returned to the windlass to haul anchor. While I was a bit busy, Ron was serenely keeping us neatly between Zefiro and BelAbri as we exited without issue….it just was a tight fit, is all!

Whew!! Always an adventure!