Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Black Point, Exumas, Bahamas

0.5 nm
Wind: E-ESE 20-25 knots, gusting above 30 in the morning, dying to under 15
Seas: Extreme chop in anchorage in the morning
Latitude: 24°06.10’N
Longitude: 076°24.04’W

More bad weather. Or so we thought when we woke up this morning. We slept like rocks through the squalls and thunderstorms that blew through last night. Now all an over-forty gust gets is a yawn, as long as we know our CQR anchor is well set. But this morning the wind seemed to be building, and the chop in the harbor was getting worse and worse.

We set a very good anchor, but we’re always a little chicken about being too close to other boats and too close to shallow spots. We need to learn how to snug in a little better, because we’re always exposing ourselves to an awful chop. We debated heading down to Little Farmers Cay, where our charts show better protection but worse holding, or heading farther down to Cave Cay, our jump-off point to Georgetown. Instead, we decided to up anchor here in harbor and move closer to land, where we’ll have protection from the low-pressure trough after trough that are forecast to be moving through the area over the next few days.

We escaped the chop, right after more boats came in to fill up the anchorage, and then Karl decided to risk a trip to the dinghy dock for fresh water and maybe some eggs and vegetables from town. Now, though, the wind seems to have died down and it’s a beautiful sunny Bahamian day. I wish we had made a break for it.

Some missionaries live on a sailboat in Black Point. We’ve eavesdropped on a couple of their radio conversations, including one with a big old ketch named Bahama Star that was loaded down with twelve college students. When we dinghied by the first night, the ketch had three cases of Bahamian Kalik beer on deck and numerous bottles of rum, were playing quarters, and became extremely rowdy as the evening progressed. I don’t know how Sarshalom, the Christian boat, got to know them, nor do I know if the missionaries are evangelizing the Bahamians or the cruisers. Maybe the cruisers, based on that experience. I don’t know how the two boats would have got to know each other otherwise.

So far, the Bahamas seems a very Christian place. Every community, even the tiniest, has at least three churches, and the grocery stores don’t sell alcohol. The Radio Bahamas, the national radio station, plays sermons and gospel music (intermingled with calypso, rake and scrape, and songs about losing one’s virginity). The locals seem to look askance at the yachties and their rum-swilling happy hours. So it seems they don’t really need missionaries, but I imagine Sarshalom could have come to do development or relief work. I’m very fascinated by them, mainly because my parents were missionaries while I was growing up, and using a sailboat as a base of operations is a fascinating idea. In some ways, I feel kindred with them, like what we’re doing is similar. They’re evidently with a group called “Maritime Discipleship,” or so they told the partiers on Bahama Star.

I half feel like hailing them, telling them about my family’s history, and inviting them over to dinner, but I know they’ll look askance at my not being married to Karl. Our unmarried status alienates all the Christians we meet, and may even alienate some Bahamians. That’s not a good reason alone to get married, but it does seem like it would make things easier. I wish Christians just could be accepting, as commanded by Christ, instead of feeling a need to categorize people as goats or sheep. Or, in our case: dirty hippies squandering their numerous talents, or good Christians doing the Lord’s work. Couldn’t we be, maybe, dirty hippies doing the Lord’s work? And isn’t it the Lord’s job to do the categorizing, anyway?

It’s hard to talk about my faith, because my family reads this journal, and writing about my innermost doubts and concerns in here seems a backhanded way to discuss it with them. But I think about it all the time. I am a Christian, even if an alternate-lifestyle one, and even if that alienates people on the other side of the fence. Karl and I read the Bible together, and pray consistently for God to guide our steps. We may not be traditional missionaries, but I do believe that we are evangelists, by the original meaning of that word. We bear witness. We at least aspire to.

I guess Karl’s doing the bearing witness today--he’s the one ashore befriending the locals. I’m just sitting in the boat, sweating, contemplating, and playing computer games. I think that may fall on the squandering talents side. Oh well. God has grace, even if I don’t.

1 comment:

Capt.Clif Mahon said...

Melissa, I'm sorry we missed having dinner. We woud have loved to have met you. I understand your hesitation to make contact. I think you would have seen the kind of Christianity that you spoke of.

If you would like you can contact me through the Maritime Discipleship website @

Anchored in Jesus,
Capt.Clif Mahon
s/v Sar Shalom
(Prince of Peace)