The build up was greater than the story, but the story turned out to be better than the build-up. (I’m not sure if that even makes sense, but our trip to the US turned out to be a lot different than trying to out-race a storm).
Archive for Sea
Like The Force, the lure of the Bahamas is strong. And it’s so primal. There’s something amazing that happens to the soul when it put knee-deep in absolutely clear water, bright sunshine and an seemingly infinite array blues in sky and water.
With hurricane season fast approaching and one storm already named, weather is dominating our thoughts these days.
I’m anchored in 5 feet of gin-clear water on a sandbar in the Bahamas on my own boat with no job. My freezer is full of mahi-mahi and lobster we caught, my kids are quietly playing in their cabin and my wife is cleaning – in a bright-red bikini. I have nothing else to live for.
The sky has a strange green cast here and I am in heaven. Green because there is an enormous bank of water less than 10 feet deep that reflects it’s turquoise cast on the bottom of the clouds. Heaven because that water is as clear as gin and that makes me about as happy as I get.
The Virgin Islands rock! It’s hard to sail 5 miles without running into another island and there is so much coastline that within hours one can go from pristine bay to circus-like resort and back again. All the amenities are here and the seclusion can be found, the water is generally clear, the beaches fantastic.
Or course, I’m sure everyone already knows this, but I can tell you it was a pleasant surprise for us.
There’s a fine balancing trick between succumbing to the overwhelming power of the wind a sea and harnessing it for survival, utility and pleasure. It’s a hot flame to play with though: the ramifications of each action can be absolute. The ocean is both indiscriminant ruthless.
Lately, when I look at the charts, they remind me more of blueprints after a few months on the job. No longer the representation of the unknown and the mysterious, they are there to tell me the depth of a shoal at Dogwood Point or at what angle St. Barts is from Nevis. Months ago, an unfolded chart showed glaringly white beaches with brilliant clear water, colorful houses, exotic spices and rum. Now they are more like certain parts of a building set: the foundation sheet or a window-framing detail – more so I don’t make a mistake rather than to feed my wanderlust.
While certainly not as romantic as it was, it is inevitable that the trip take shape, as a house does after it’s been framed, so I have a much clearer idea of what to expect and what is likely to happen.
We’ve been hanging in the Frech Caribbean islands for more than a month now. My French is abysmal, and majority of the residents aren’t very helpful about it, but we’ve managed to fill our bilges, bellies and britches with enough wine, baguettes, cheese, wine, pain-au-chocolat and wine even to impress the likes of Henry Miller.
We are sitting on anchor and the trade winds are blowing a stiff. The port engine is running, charging the batteries. It’s 10:30 in the morning and Jack is watching, A Land Before Time while Bayla asks me a series of identical questions.
“What’s this Daddy? What this?”
“That’s a screw.”
“Screw. It’s a screw,” I say, exaggerating the pronunciation.
“Oooooooohhhhhhh,” she sings.
Since we didn’t get Christmas cards out this year, we would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays. Come New Year’s Day we expect to be in Carriacou, the next populated island up from Grenada. We have been up there for a two-day stint, but returned to Grenada to drop a visitor back off for their flight to the U.S.
The feeling of force and speed was so pervasive and constant I got the feeling that we were on a runaway train, unable and unwilling to stop. Of course I knew something had to happen, but the tiredness brought on by the motion, the all-night trip and the rough bashing into and over the oncoming swells and wind lulled me into a complacency that tricked me into thinking it would be okay to slam right up onto shore, across the street and deep into a neighborhood before finally grinding to a stop, intact.
We made it. We’re in Trinidad and after days of hard work, the boat is in the water. We have slept on it (like heavy rocks) for two nights now and all is essentially well. We’ve still got to put up netting around the boat and find some harnesses for the kids so we can strap them in underway.
Moving sucks. See Week 1.
This time, add all of the above with two frantic 500 mile trips to Miami to replace passports inadvertently shipped ahead of us; and two adults carrying two children and 17 bags through Miami International.
But the flight was as short as our nerves, so they canceled each other out and after a few Stag (the local beer) and a couple of years, I’m sure we’ll be fine.