Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Manatee Pocket, FL

0 nm

My first journal entry on the new computer... It’s been so long. I’m completely out of the habit, and with my continual unhappiness with anything new, it seems so unfamiliar and different. I don’t have Word on the computer, so I’m having to use Apple’s word-processing software, and all my settings are different, and I don’t have my music... Still, though. I have nothing to complain about. I’m thrilled, even though we got ripped off on this computer. The seller knew about the problem with the graphics chip and sold it anyway, without saying anything, and the battery doesn’t hold a charge at all. Luckily, we have the backup battery from the other computer, but I do think we should get some money back. Whether it’s worth fighting for is another thing entirely.

We’ve more or less decided, though: we’re going to the Bahamas. Probably not the Abacos, the northern string of deserted islands that I really wanted to explore, but we’ll compromise and head to the Exumas instead, the southern string of deserted islands. It is scary--we have to get all our paperwork ready for customs, and really be sure we have our food staples in place, and set up our fishing equipment. It’s thrilling, though, too. If we actually get going in the next couple of days, we might finally make some progress. We’re about twenty miles away from the first jumping off point to the Bahamas, so, in theory, we’re three days from the perfect desert island anchorage. One day to Lake Worth, one day across to Bimini where we can clear in, and the third night: desert island anchorage.

I have this idealized mental picture of what perfect happiness is, and it means being anchored off a tiny island, covered in palm trees and ringed by perfect white sand beaches. Clear blue water, so clear we can see where the anchor holds in the sand. A nice coral reef, not too close to the boat, but close enough to protect us from the swell, crawling with lobster and grouper and other beautiful non-edible sealife for skin-diving. Enough driftwood on the beach for a campfire, and enough ripe coconuts to be able to poach our grouper in milk. Enough beach that we can tromp around the island on a hike. And no one else in the anchorage. That, is perfection. I’m not sure if that really exists, and somehow I doubt it, but if we manage to find it, someone remind me to pinch myself.

The anchorage here is beautiful, too, despite being surrounded by multi-million-dollar houses. We can hear the manatees splashing around the boat after dark, and the flying fish are gigantic. They jump at least three feet in the air and then belly-flop back in the water, and I can never quite believe that I saw them. Today we cleaned and reorganized the whole boat, in preparation for departure, and then went for a sunset row in our little beat-up dinghy. We watched the water change color until it was the same color as the sky, which it always does in the evening when the light angles in the right direction. Then we sat out in the cockpit, sipped glasses of wine, and watched the stars come out. We talked about how crazy people are to not do this when they’re young. We see so many people out here who are 60, 65, 70--they’ve spent their whole lives waiting to retire, to follow their dreams, and then they get out here and are unable to enjoy it anymore. As Wordsworth would say, “getting and spending, we lay waste our powers...” I don’t want to lay waste my powers. I’m vigorous, I’m young, and I want to spend my youth watching the stars. It’s a great occupation. It doesn’t pay well, but the benefits are extraordinary.

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