Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fowl Cay, Exumas, to Long Island, Bahamas

24.1 nm
Wind: calm to ESE 5-10 knots
Latitude: 23°39.37’N
Longitude: 075°20.45’W
Maximum speed: 4.3 knots
Maximum speed under sail: 3.7 knots
Average speed: 3.0 knots

We sailed again today for the first time in so very, very long. It felt exquisite, like having a corner of your back scratched that you haven’t been able to reach for months. Every time we sail I wonder what took us so long. Why aren’t we out here just doing this? This is what I love. That perfect moment when the wind catches the sail and angles Secret sideways a couple of degrees, just enough to get her to that sweet spot she loves.

We didn’t have wind at all in the morning, but even motoring wasn’t so bad, not with Georgetown at our back and hundreds of miles of islands scattered out across the blue ocean in front of us. We’re taking it slow and easy as prescribed by our guidebook, 20-30 miles a day, ducking into each safe anchorage for a peaceful afternoon spent fishing and the sunset in the evening. The wind picked up in the afternoon, and we were able to cut the engine for a few blessed hours, sailing east with the wind a little off our quarter. The coral in the Out Islands is a lot trickier than in the Exumas, so the entrance into Calabash Bay on Long Island was a little hairy. The advantage was that I convinced Karl to leave our fishing line out as we came across the shallows, and we reeled in a beautiful, big kingfish, just as we were coming into harbor.

Kingfish steaks on the grill with basil and sun-dried-tomato couscous on the side for dinner, after a delicious swim in the ice-cold water and some lazy time scraping the furry growth of Secret’s bottom sides. I even saw two lobsters crouching under a rock at the edge of the reedy sea grass, my first lobster sighting in the Bahamas! It may be my first lobster sighting in the wild of all time. I’ve seen them in tanks, of course, but never out there on the ocean floor, waving around their tentacles. I watched them for a while unobserved, as they clawed their way around in the rocks and sand, gathering up the detritus off the ocean floor. They’re like giant vacuum cleaners, cleaning off the rock and the sand, each of their legs in constant gathering motion, funneling food up to their mandibles. If I squinted, I could just imagine them as beetles, crawling around in the dirt. It made me think that maybe the Thais are onto something with their insect consumption. If only they made beetles that big. I bet they’d have great claw meat.

It’s still closed season for lobsters, so I didn’t make an attempt to dive for them. I could just see it on their little faces. “Don’t eat us, we’re having babies!” Lobster babies are good. We need lobster babies. But they have thirty more days--if I’m around for them--I’m going to get us some lobster. Karl has the tail of the kingfish off the boat to try to catch a bottom-feeding fish tonight. If I actually can start diving and spearing fish, and we can catch fish when we’re sailing, and then bait fish in the evenings, we could actually feed ourselves. Aside from an onion and some three-year-old couscous, all we ate tonight was what we caught ourselves. It’s crazy to think we could really live out here interminably.

At dusk, a giant shark came by to suck up the kingfish fragments we had tossed underneath the boat as chum. It sniffed at our tail but didn’t take it. I’m glad, too, because we probably would have lost our pole. Even the sharks out here have a purpose. They’re the garbagemen, cleaning the sea of its dead and wounded, with the lobsters vacuuming up the rest. It’s an intricate and beautiful ecosystem. I’d be happy to live in it forever.

No comments: