Monday, August 06, 2007

Pittstown Point, Crooked Island, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: NE 10 knots

Karl’s at the house right now, on his first day of, what shall we call it, “work.” It’s an odd feeling, being alone on the boat. It’s one I like, though. It’s amazing how much work I can done at home when there’s only one of us six-foot-tall individuals wandering around in our little 15’-by-4’ amount of living space. Especially when Karl has things piled all around. I admit I do too--my fatal flaw is always books, books, and more books--but it seems to me that his piled-up sails and toolboxes take up more room.

It is hot out here, though. And rolly. We reset the stern anchor again this morning, and we can’t seem to get it right, or the current in here is such that we can’t ever quite sit still. I guess it makes sense--we’re anchored on a tiny ledge between land and shore, right off a open passage of Atlantic Ocean that’s 3000 meters deep. There’s a full knot or more of current in the Crooked Island passage, and it leads straight to Cuba. That’s probably why we’re getting buzzed by bright orange and black Coast Guard helicopters every morning, sometimes twice a morning. They come by, peer down our companionway, investigate our hailing port to make sure it’s still in the good ol’ US of A, and then survey us for any suspicious indications of our intent to leave for Cuba. Or maybe that’s just in my imagination.

It is tempting, I must admit (although I hope my website doesn’t get trolled by Bush administration crawlers looking for signs of terrorist activity). Cuba’s supposed to be really cheap, and it’ll change completely as soon as Fidel dies. This may be our last chance to see the old Cuba. Don’t worry, though--I’m not willing to risk the precious Secret being detained by the US military, so we won’t aim our bow in that direction. I’ve thought off and on about trying to get one of the journalist licenses, but I’m not really sure they issue them anymore, or what I would have to do to get one. Does anyone have a yacht club newspaper that needs a feature on Cuba?

We’ve heard all sorts of crazy stories, though. That the Windward Passage is completely wired, so that the base at Guantanamo can hear if a spoon drops in your galley. We’ve seen pictures in Latitudes and Attitudes of a giant Coast Guard ship approaching a little sailboat off of Cuba. We’re to the point where we’re afraid to say the word while sitting in the cockpit. It is weird watching the helicopters land and take off. Should they be even allowed in Bahamian airspace? Isn’t it Bahamian? According to the Bahamians, the aircraft can only operate in the Bahamas if they have a single member of the Bahamian Royal Defense Force aboard. If they do, though, they can do whatever they want. I wonder what they pay that one guy.

The Bahamas just gained their independence from the United Kingdom thirty years ago. It’s been fascinating studying their electoral process on the radio and in newspapers since we arrived here, and slowly understanding the differences between the parties and the complexities that Bahamian politics have had to deal with. It often seems to me, though, that the US has just taken over as colonial empire. The only difference is that the British empire had to show evidence that their presence was for the good of the people. They had the infamous “white man’s burden.” All the US has to do is claim that their military presence is part of the “war on terrorism,” and supply the people of the Bahamas with an adequate supply of Coca-cola and satellite programming.

It’s not just Coca-cola either. It’s amazing to me how much more expensive all the American goods are. Fresh Irish butter and New Zealand cheddar are available for cheap, as are Bahamian eggs and bread, Caribbean sugar, beans, and canned milk, and most produce is reasonable. What’s expensive are things like rice (packaged), canned goods, Kraft processed cheese, and ramen noodles. It makes me wonder about things like international trade and tariffs. Why else would American goods be so expensive, except that they charge giant export taxes?

Oh well. Enough of politics for the day. I have zillions of things to do--clean the cockpit sole, clean the head (ugh), tidy up, make some bread, and do the dishes. The list of tasks that never gets any shorter. I never claimed to be a good housekeeper, but it’s yet another one of the things that I’m being forced to become as the navigator of a sailboat. Well, good housekeeper may be beyond my reach. I’m aiming at adequate.

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