Friday, May 04, 2007

Bird Cay to Bottom Harbour, Bahamas

40.5 nm
Wind: E, shifting to NE 5-10 knots
Seas: 1-2 feet
Latitude: 25°05.03’W
Longitude: 077°12.78’W
Maximum speed: 6.1 knots
Maximum speed under sail: 5.2 knots
Average speed: 4.4 knots

It’s our anniversary today. Three years! I can hardly believe it. It feels like a blink of an eye since we met under that tree on the Appalachian Trail. I can’t even believe it’s been two years since our Pacific Crest Trail adventure, when we slogged down a mountain in the snow to get a pizza in Idyllwild with Flippy for our anniversary. Last year, we spent $100 on a sushi dinner at Turk’s in Mattapoisett. A hundred bucks. We could probably live on that for a month this year. We haven’t spent a cent since Bimini--there’s been nowhere to spend it. At this rate, I worry we won’t be able to use up all our Bahamian currency before we leave.

This year, to celebrate our anniversary, we had three-day unrefrigerated soup and fresh homemade bread, which was more than a little melted after rising causing it to flatten and become cracker-like. I have yet to perfect my bread-baking on the boat. I may need to follow my recipes more precisely instead of winging it. And factor in the heat.

Still, though. We had bread and half-melted cheese and wine and our own little celebration in this harbor right outside of Nassau. It was a beautiful day of sailing, although we were beating the whole day and we continue to have engine problems. Karl may have to bleed the diesel for a second time. The good thing about engine problems is that it forces us to sail, even if we have to tack, although we had luck today and the wind shifted to the north just as we were heading into our cut. We even sailed onto anchor, a glorious beam reach, close to hollowed rock cliffs with perfect blue waves beating against them. It was exhilarating, dodging coral heads under sail, as Karl called out instructions to me from beside the mast where he could see the dark spots in the water. I just wish someone had been there to see us and be impressed.

We had thought the dark patches were mainly just reeds rather than actual coral, and we’re a little bit freaked out to discover, upon jumping in the water that we had anchored about 100 feet from a huge patch of coral swimming with fish. I guess we’ll be a little more careful next time.

So, three years. It’s been a good three years, and I continue to believe that we share more intimacy than most couples do in a lifetime. I always used to say when we were hiking that every couple should have to thru-hike together as a prerequisite to marriage. There would be a lot fewer divorces. Now I say every couple should have to thru-hike and live on a boat together. The joke for cruisers is that retired couples move onto their boats to sail the world, as has been their life goal, and have their marriages dissolve because they’ve never been forced to spend that much time together in such closed quarters, not to mention in such stressful conditions.

We mesh together more every day. We can anchor (the true test of any couple’s teamwork) with three or four hand signals and much of our communication is unspoken--an ability to read and respond to the needs we see on the boat. Then there’s the other kind of intimacy that comes from living in a bare 100 square feet with another person and a partially functioning head. People who fantasize about the romance of live on a sailboat have never had to deal with the traces of poop left in the toilet by another person, not to mention the transparent plastic grocery bag full of used toilet paper, cooking in the enclosed, hot space of the head. Greater love has no man than this.

Not to gross you out or anything. I’m perfectly content, and have even reconciled myself to the lack of flushing. Especially when Karl performs an act of true love like he did today and bleaches the head. Some girls might want flowers or jewelry, but that’s enough for me.

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