Thursday, May 10, 2007

Normans Cay, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: N-NE 5-10 knots, with gusts up to 30 during squall in morning

We woke up this morning at dawn, ready to sail all the way to the Exuma Park without our engine, only to have the skies open and a squall break loose. Someone on the VHF was out in it and saw gusts above thirty knots. So we had little else to do all morning but eavesdrop on other people on the radio, trying to glean information from those who have radar.

The big shocker is that the first named storm of the year, Andrea, hit off the coast of Florida. It was a sub-tropical storm with sustained winds of 35 knots, which seems fairly ridiculous considering we spent all winter dodging storms far bigger than that. It’s also a little flabbergasting. A named storm? In May? Maybe we do need to spend hurricane season in Georgetown.

We spent all morning debating whether to go or leave, while the rain kept pouring down and Karl collected it. He ended up gathering more than twenty gallons fo delicious, fresh, sweet rainwater, basically filling up our supply. He just spread our tarp in the cockpit and scooped it out after it collected--I couldn’t believe how well it worked.

When Calliste, a boat we had made a passing acquaintance with in Bimini, pulled in, we decided to stay in Normans Cay for the afternoon. We even risked a row against the diabolical current to land, just to stretch our legs and escape the claustrophobia of the boat. Karl was soaked in sweat by the time we made it, but it was worth it. At least for me. The cay was crazy--abandoned vehicles, unlocked, all over the place, buildings and villas overgrown with weeds but perfectly intact, a huge dump with washing machines, toilets, upended trucks, and dishwashers scattered along the path, and the tiniest airport I’ve ever seen, nothing more than a rutted concrete strip and a “Welcome to Normans Cay” sign. We thought the island was basically deserted, so it was a bit of a shock to round a corner and see two gentlemen, barefoot and shirtless, roaming around in a golf cart. They told us there was a yacht club , with generator and ice, on the island. Who knew? All this time we’ve been next door to civilization!

Later on, after collecting some coconuts and wood for a fender board, we drifted back to our boat with the tide, past the wrecked cargo plane from the fifties rusing in the anchorage. Then we drifted by our friends’ boat, Calliste, and Laidley and Shane invited us up for some ginger beer and companionship. Wwe were hungrier for the latter more than anything, and they showed us around their gorgeous teak-drenched Tayana 37 and told us stories about their sailing days. They were both sail instructors for Outward Bound and gave us sailing advice, and he had spent time in both the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, so gave us recommendations for where to find safe hurricane holes and work.

They’re heading back the opposite way, back to a home in Maine after twelve years on a boat, back to start a little farm and settle down. It’s weird to cross paths with a couple so like ourselves, in some ways, who are making a different set of decisions: stability instead of transience. It was good, too, because both of us are content in our decisions.

Shane also told us a crazy story about the island--we had read in our guidebook that a drug runner had made it his hideout, but he knew that the drug lord was the character from the movie “Blow,” who beats up Johnny Depp in the end, and that this cay was exactly where that had happened. No drug smugglers running around anymore I hope, but we’re walking in the footsteps of history. Hollywood history, at least.

We rowed comfortably back to our boat with the tide for a dinner of cabbage and rice. Calliste’s heading south for a little while with her parents, so we may cross paths again. It was nice to feel not so alone out here, at least for a little while.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am in tears and almost on the floor. To read your tale then for you to find a golf cart!!!!!! tooooooo funny