Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Long Bay, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: E 15-20 knots

Our decision to not leave yet turns out to have been a good one. After Monday’s brief interlude of less windiness, the wind picked up yesterday and has stayed consistently windy today. Maybe tomorrow, again, as we say every day. Maybe tomorrow we’ll finally make some progress towards our ultimate destination, finally begin to get away from these dang hurricanes. My big accomplishment for the day was a twenty-foot dive.

Twenty feet! A month ago I could barely get to five! Now I can set the anchor by hand and I can stay at the bottom for about five times as long as I could when we first got to the Bahamas. The occasion for the dive was the loss of a towel, my favorite fluffy yellow towel that we accidentally stole from Danny and Sam in Daytona.

We’ve been draping the towel over the gigantic barbecue to stifle the blinding, refracting light that refracts off it during the heat of the day, and we had neglected to secure it when we went to town yesterday. When we got back to the boat, Karl noticed its loss, and it was with a heavy heart that I wrote it off. Karl went for a swim, though, and spotted it, not fifty yards from the boat, and thought that he could hook it and reel it in with one of our fishing lines, if I guided the process from the water. Since the weather forecast looks good for leaving tomorrow, we had to do it today.

I put on my fins and my mask, and swam out in the choppy and stirred-up water to check out the situation. It didn’t look so far away, crumpled like an empty shroud on the sand. I took a couple of deep breaths and dove. I didn’t tell Karl what I was doing, I didn’t even tell myself, but I knew that my first dive of the day is always the deepest and best. I’m the most energized and relaxed. I can equalize effortlessly, and let the pressure build up in my lungs without getting that desperate, soul-sucking feeling when I can’t breathe.

So I dove, slowly, propelling myself downward with long, strokes of my fins, and pushing myself farther than I’ve ever gone, until I could just reach the sandy yellow mass of the towel with my finger tips. I carried it to the surface triumphantly and waved the soggy heap above my head like a trophy. Karl, still working with the fishing lines on the boat, permitted me a smile and a “very good.” He’s been my diving champion all along, but he’s a coach who works much more by remonstrance than by encouragement. Still, I knew all along that he knew that I could do it, even if I didn’t believe that I could. I never believe I can actually work up and get better at things, that repetition and practice actually leads to skill in the physical realm. I always think that I’m good at the things that I’m good at it (reading, writing, arithmetic, and book-learning), and bad at the things I’m bad at (fence-jumping, acrobatics, diving, etc.), and that there’s nothing to be done about it. What a tremendous feeling of accomplishment to actually get better at something that I’ve always thought I’m bad at!

I know any Bahamian, even an infant, could do that dive with their eyes closed. Bahamians dive to forty feet and then lie down on the sand and wait for grouper. But for me, it was a crowning achievement. Maybe I can even start catching us some fish one of these days.

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