Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Conception Island to Rum Cay, Bahamas

23.4 nm
Wind: calm in the morning, SE breeze building through day
Latitude: 23°38.56’N
Longitude: 074°50.67’W
Maximum speed: 4.1 knots (under sail)
Average speed: 2.8 knots

Karl convinced me to leave paradise, so I did. We left, we moved on, and although the island we ended up at for the night is only very slightly less paradisiacal, the sundering of me from that island took its toll. We tried to sail and then motored, the lack of wind getting to us not so much because of the motoring but because of the unrelenting heat and sun. Karl eventually draped sheets over the boom, giving us a billowy white shade, like an Arab tent.

I was doing well with it all morning, even going so far as to clean the toilet, always a sign that I am happy and filled with hope and optimism. One needs a great deal of hope and optimism in order to face the prospect of cleaning a boat toilet. I got ready for lunch, and dug into our dry goods locker, thinking I could make some ramen and a salad, with some of the last of our still edible romaine lettuce. What did I find? Weevils. More weevils. They had infested one of our last boxes of older pasta, so I dug everything out and set it on the table, tossing cushions into the vee-berth with angry and reckless abandon. I dug through all the rice and all the flour, sweat pouring off me, throwing boxes and bags around the cabin. Not that it even helps--all of our rice and flour could be full of hatching weevil eggs as I write. Unless I check them every single day, I can’t hope to catch all the weevils.

I dug through everything and had it all out, watching the white table for the darting black shapes of the weevils, as we had done during the last weevil infestation. Karl said, “Aren’t you going to go through everything?” and tore open my lasagna noodles, encased in a cocoon of black garbage bag. I never saw them. I only saw Karl’s look of grim satisfaction as he tossed them over the side, my precious lasagna noodles that I paid good money for and have been saving, carefully wrapped, since Florida.

That did it. I sat down on the settee and dissolved into angry, miserable tears. I was hungry and sad for about an hour, not just about the lasagna noodles and the weevils, but about how incapable I feel of holding the boat together, how much cleaning, and maintenance, and work there is to do, and how I feel so poorly equipped to do any of it. I’ve worked so hard trying to fight the weevils, and no matter what I do, they win.

It doesn’t make things any better to feel like Karl’s miserable out here. Everything I love: the sand, the heat, the sun, the diving, the coral reefs--he hates. I’m blissful, and he’s longing for twenty degrees below and snowboarding and Maine. He dragged me up there for a winter, and I know how it feels to be completely out of one’s element. Now we’re in the opposite situation. This is my element, the ceaseless sun, the water, the feeling of foreignness and isolation, and he doesn’t belong.

So that was why I cried. I was leaving paradise with someone who didn’t know what paradise was. Even that was okay but the weevils pushed me over the edge. I went outside, and even though I was doing my darnedest to be miserable, in two minutes I was back to content. The sun does that to me every time--I can’t be unhappy when it’s butter yellow outside. I had a coworker (with three young children) who joked once about needing a Prozac necklace. That’s what the sun is like to me. I step outside for an instant Prozac.

Coming into an anchorage under billowing white clouds, over clear turquoise water, rimmed with pink-white sand for miles didn’t hurt, either. Then, watching for coral from the mast, I heard Karl reeling in a fish, a brilliant blue-striped one that was delicious grilled whole for dinner. Rum Cay is billed as “the untouched jewel of the Bahamas.” I’ve convinced Karl to take a day off and go to land tomorrow, so we can see what one of these Out Islands is all about. Yes, I lost a battle to the weevils today. I lost a battle to the chaos that’s always threatening to overtake our lives. But I’ll win the war.

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