Monday, May 28, 2007

Big Galliot Cay, Exumas, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: ENE 16-24 knots, gusting higher
Seas: 5-8 feet offshore

Things are looking up today. The sun came out and the wind moderated enough that we were able to take the dinghy to shore to visit the pristine white-sand beach I’ve been eyeing lasciviously since we anchored. So even though the wind’s supposed to blow out of the north above twenty knots for yet another week, and even though we missed our weather window today, I’m content. Karl put it all in perspective today when he said, “How much do people pay for this? $35,000 a day?” Who cares if we’ve eaten sardines for the last four meals and we’re jealously hoarding our last two onions?

We may risk it and try for Thursday. The wind’s forecast to be lightest that day--only twenty knots--and then it’s supposed to pick up again until next Monday. I don’t know if I can take another week. I keep thinking that we’re being over-careful, especially when I see boats leave the cut every single day, even in 35 knots. Today, though, our Bahamian fisherman friend stopped by again, for the first time in a week. He said it was the first time he’s been out since we last talked and agreed that we were being prudent. The American lady who dives with him, off a Columbia 33 named Eagle, told us that some cruisers abandoned their boat on a passage from San Salvador Island to Georgetown. They were rescued by the Coast Guard in helicopters, the whole nine yards. Their boat’s still adrift out there somewhere.

That’s enough to make you think you made the right decision staying put. Another week of it, though, will be nearly impossible to take. It won’t be so bad if we can come to the island every day. It was food for our souls today, being on dry ground again. Just being able to get more than ten feet from each other was heavenly. I love Karl to death, but you try it. Just try it. Even with the person you love the most, being that close to another human being for that long is an ordeal. Karl wandered all over the island--sometimes he just has to walk--and I lounged in the powdery sand, letting the clear warm water trickle through my fingers.

We studied the geology of the beach, as best we could figure it out. The beach is surrounded by potholed cliffs, piled up besides which are thousands of abandoned conch shells in various states of decay, swept up by the surf. When I tried to pull some of the shells up I discovered that the rock is made up of ancient conch shells. They fill with sand and harden into stone. The holes in the cliffs are where the sand used to be: the sandstone that filled up the shells is eaten away by time faster than the lime of the shell. In some places you can actually see the spiral where the holes in the shell used to be.

The rocks are a little poky to sit on, but there’s shade above them and a beautiful view of the water. I can see a huge orange starfish through the water right along the beach, and giant red hermit crabs in taken-over whelk shells, the size of two fists, skitter through the bushes. I climbed earlier with Karl over the island, and we saw the water on the other side. Six-foot seas, with a whitecap on every one. I could feel the full force of the wind, unlike on this side of the island, which is sheltered but still windy. It confirmed it for me: we’re doing the right thing. Stay put, enjoy the beach, and try not to kill each other.

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