Sunday, July 08, 2007

San Salvador Island to Long Bay, Bahamas

.7 nm
Wind: SE 15-20 knots, less at dawn
Latitude: 24°00.82’N
Longitude: 074°31.96’W
Maximum speed: 1.7 knots
Average speed: 1.3 knots

We had more perhaps-rotten eggs for breakfast this morning, and the remaining four dozen of them are what is haunting me today. They’re sitting on the table right now, next to some wooden bowls and assorted spices (celery salt, parsley), and every once in a while I get a whiff of rotten egg. I’m hoping it’s just residual egg-smell from the styrofoam containers we bleached clean the other day, but I fear there may be a rotten egg or two left. We crack the eggs into bowls before we cook them, to test their health, and I found a rotten one this morning when it exploded all over me.

I also woke up early this morning to bleach the icebox, the third task I’ve been putting off for days. I understand why I’ve been putting it off. Finding little maggot eggs and husks in my bleach water twisted my stomach into knots. Last night I went to bed without dinner because cooking it, and dealing with the condition of all our food, was more than I could face.

It’s done now, though, and Karl’s contemplating a plan to block off the drain and fill the whole thing with gallons of bleach water, a brilliant idea if he feels like doing it. Pretty soon we may even be back to a state of normalcy, without butter and eggs and tomatoes hanging around to bother us. We’ll be back to a steady diet of cabbage, rice, and sardines, and I’ll miss my cheese and my oranges. You people at home don’t know how easy you have it, with your refrigerators, freezers, and Chinese takeout.

In other bad news, the weather report last night and this morning has confirmed that the current wind conditions will persist through Thursday. Can I take another wait for weather? It remains to be seen. If I can’t, you will see my slowly proceed into insanity as the week progresses. Before we nearly killed ourselves the other day, I would have contemplated leaving in this wind. After all, it’s only twenty knots. Now I think even fifteen knots and five-foot seas may be more than we can deal with.

Through it all, the miles of the pink-sand beach of San Salvador stretch out endlessly before us, ringed with dark coral, perfect and forever out of reach. The wind blows relentlessly, except for a couple of moments of peace at dawn and dusk. I may not have mentioned that San Salvador is the famous “Tierra, tierra!” that Columbus first spotted in 1492. He landed here, not 500 yards from where we’re anchored, in full regalia to meet the plenipotentiaries of the Great Khan, according to our guidebook. I can see the white cross that marks his landing spot from the cockpit. There’s always been some debate about where he landed on the island, if this was in fact the island, but this spot makes the most sense. Wouldn’t Columbus have done exactly what we did, round the corner from the prevailing wind, anchor behind the coral heads, and land at the nearest convenient beach?

Despite our other hardships, it feels good to be following the path of the great explorers. I’m sure they had to deal with moldy butter and rotten eggs and weevils, too. The anchorage we’re headed to next, off Samana Cay, is also called the Columbus Anchorage, and then we go along the Columbus Passage in the Turks and Caicos, to where Columbus lost the Santa Maria off the Limonade Reef in Haiti, right at the Dominican Republic border. We’re following, quite literally, in his wake. All this history I knew but hadn’t fully grasped. I knew that Hispaniola was the site of the first settlement in the New World, but I didn’t quite know that Columbus’s brother founded the city of Santo Domingo in the fifteenth century, and that it’s the oldest city in the New World, with the oldest cathedral, the oldest house, the oldest street.

I know now these facts because we read all about the Dominican Republic in our numerous guidebooks (copyrighted between 1972 and 2001) yesterday. We’re pinning a great deal of our hopes on the Dominican Republic. It will be cheap, we hope. Who cares if we don’t speak the language? We’ll find something to work at and if we don’t, at least there’ll be mountains to climb and rivers to kayak and reefs to dive on. If we can get to them.

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