Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother’s Day

Emerald Rock to Bell Island, Exumas, Bahamas
10.6 nm
Wind: NW-W 5-10 knots, dying as thunderstorms approached
Seas: Residual swell of 1-2 feet
Latitude: 24°18.14’N
Longitude: 076°33.76’W
Maximum speed: 4.7 knots
Maximum speed under sail: 4.1 knots
Average speed: 3.2 knots

Karl and I had a miserable night last night. At about 1:30, a squall blew over, and our anchorage of last night was not exactly well protected. The tarp we use as a cockpit cover and had left up for the night started screeching and hollering outside, as did everything else in the boat--the lazy-jacks, the halyards slapping against the mast, the pans in the oven, the dirty pots in the sink and on the stove. We both got up and tried to make the boat shipshape, which usually doesn’t happen until we’re ready to sail, but every time we got back in bed, something else would start rattling and shaking around.

The swell was awful, because we were basically in the open ocean, and didn’t abate for the next four hours. In the meantime, I laid awake, trying to relax all my muscles as I rocked back and forth, back and forth, with nothing on my mind but sleep for two hours. It seems like the feeling would be pleasurable, like rocking in a cradle, but it’s not. At least not yet. They say old salts get to like the feeling, but rolling at anchor is not comforting to me yet. Underway, it is a little soothing, but wind bashing against current as your boat tries to hold itself straight is not fun.

So we were fairly exhausted and miserable this morning, but still knew we had to get back and move. I wasn’t staying there another night, that was for sure, especially because it’s supposed to blow hard tomorrow. The good thing is that we have to wake up at 7:30 these days to listen to the weather when it’s broadcast over the VHF by kind locals. So I rolled out of bed, bleary-eyed and miserable, and someone informed the collected assembly that the wind last night had hit 51 knots. Over fifty knots! That’s our worst recorded weather ever. Although Karl still has a sneaky suspicion that a couple of our Chesapeake Bay gales hit sixty. We’ll never know, I suppose.

We didn’t get going until noon or so, making the most use possible of our 24-hour internet access, and when we did, more thunderstorms loomed on the horizon. We were sailing, trying to spare the engine wear and tear, until the wind died and we had to motor-sail. Karl had grand ambitions, but I wanted to tuck in at the first safe anchorage and get some rest. As the thunderstorms threatened more and more, Karl came around to my perspective. We’re snugged in tonight behind the highest land we could find, an island that happens to be private. It was a little strange to pull in to a millionaire’s backyard and throw down a hook, but that’s exactly what we did. This little bay is marked as an anchorage on the chart, so an anchorage it is.

I actually think we’re anchored off the servants’ quarters. We’ve seen people walking around working on boats, and the living facilities don’t look too grand. The ones on the high points of the island, however, are different altogether--low-slung, huge, arch-modern, and luxurious, like something out of Architectural Digest. We had heard rumors that one of the islands out here rents for $35,000 a day, and we’re not sure it’s this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised. What kind of person has that kind of money, I have no idea.

Then again, this might be David Copperfield’s island. He has an estate out here as well, to which he’s importing lions and tigers, and on which he allegedly discovered the fountain of youth. Maybe we can sneak ashore and drink some.

Maybe he should be thinking about importing some spiders, though, or something that eats mosquitoes. They’re out tonight with a vengeance, and though we’re burning our convenient mosquito coil, we’ve had to close up the boat to keep them out.

Still, though, it was a lovely day. We’re still on the grounds of the Land and Sea Park, so the fish out here are outstanding to snorkel around, and I saw three grouper. My first! Unfortunately, however, I can’t spear them, not that my attempts would be successful. I was also scared back to the boat just about sunset by a twelve-foot bull shark. Yikes. They’re not supposed to attack unless you’re injured, but somehow just marching on up to a shark twice your size and saying howdy doesn’t seem like the smartest idea.

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