Although skipping ahead means leaving out multiple islands, anchorages and sails, I’m going to bring this tale up to the present date. We are now in a small and sheltered harbor called Treasure Cay. The facilities here, from the marina to the hardware store, are all operated by one resort and the draw is a 5-mile-long beach on the opposite side of the peninsula from where we sit. It’s blowing 20 knots, causing the boat to do little pirouettes on the mooring ball. We have two of the tree hatchboards up but have left the top one off for air, so from where I sit on the settee down below, I am watching as the top of the boat’s mast that’s moored off our starboard quarter moves steadily toward port, swings back to starboard again and disappears. Thirty seconds later the top of the mast of the boat moored off our port quarter swings into view, crosses to starboard and back and disappears. It’s a bit dizzying.
A light, fizzly rain has been coming down off and on for hours, but when a gust pipes up it gathers force and sounds like a thousand bullets simultaneously hitting our cabintop.
It’s not our first front, so we’re old hat at this (note the photo above). But as Greg just said, “Every day is an education around here.” As I was writing this he popped his head out to get the lay of the land or, the sea as it were, and noticed that the guy on the 50-foot Hunter beside us was up on his bow. The main line that extends from the mooring ball, the one you connect your own lines to, had disconnected somehow from the mooring – probably through chafing, over time. Fortunately, he still had one of his own lines wrapped around the base of the mooring ball. He then got into his dinghy to attach a second line beneath the ball. As we watched, a dinghy broke free from one of the Moorings’ chartered catamarans.
“Announce it on the radio!” I said. Greg got on and tried to hail the vessel but to no response. It was already on the other side of the mooring field, about to get rammed under a dock.
“I guess I ought to go get it, eh?” he said.
The engine on our dinghy has been acting up periodically, an issue Greg attributes to the “the mix” (of fuel and air), but he went out anyway, into the howling winds, speeding away until I could no longer see him. Then I watched him return and hand the dinghy off to a man on the back of the catamaran. I had seen the guy the night before, he and his wife and another couple. All four were overweight and flimsily dressed and the men were smoking cigars while the women smoked cigarettes. It was about five o’clock and by the looks on their faces and the way the wobbled back to their dinghy, they were smashed.
Somehow it did not surprise me that of all the boats here, they had lost their dinghy. With the exception of two Moorings catamarans, which you can charter with or without a captain, all of the other boats are monohulls decked out for cruising with extra water jugs along the side, extra lines hung around the cockpits, wind generators attached to the transom, etc., etc. Their owners are wearing long pants in this weather, and waterproof sailing jackets.
When Greg handed off the dinghy the guy (who was shirtless) said, “I looked out and saw you and I thought: What in the sam hell is that guy doing out there towin’ a boat? Then I looked back and realized: that’s our boat!”
We truly have hardly had a dull moment since we left home. But today has been, aside from the wind, calm. The upside to days like this is that it’s easier to work and write because there is no snorkeling to be done nor beaches to walk. I’ve got massaman curry cooking on the stove, and perhaps the only serious downside is that there’s no way to ventilate the smell of fish sauce or dispel the accumulating steam.
We just entered our third month on the boat, and it is with a tinge of sadness that I inform you of our plans to return to Florida within a week or two, depending on the winds and seas. In front of me is a piece of paper upon which I attempted to draft a calendar in late December.
“We need to give Chris and Gabe some sort of expectations,” I’d told Greg. “Just a rough guide.”
The calendar has 32 rows, each one representing a day in January, and then the final date: Feb. 1st. Only twelve rows have content. Here’s what they say:
- Chris & Gabe arrive, approx.. 6:30 pm
- Sail to Rodriguez Key Chris & Gabe arrive
- Sail to Bimini (unless NW wind), Cat or Gun Cay Angelfish Key
- Sail to Berry Islands Stay one night in Bimini
- Halfway across the bank
- Provision in Great Harbour
- Sail to Nassau
- Sail to Exumas, halfway
- Sail to Exumas, arrive
- Land somewhere with coverage so I can work (Wardick Wells?)
We didn’t even make it to Nassau until the 30th. And as you may have realized, we never made it to the Exumas.