Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pittstown Point, Crooked Island, Bahamas

0 nm

At Frenchie’s last night, he let us know that he’s going to be hanging around the Bahamas a little longer. It’s kind of bad news, kind of good--in one way I was relieved to not have the pressure of an imminent departure looming over us when he said he was leaving so soon and we knew we wouldn’t have the boat ready in time. In another way, I can imagine nothing cooler than zooming back to Florida on a private plane, gazing below at the scattered jewels of the “crown of 700 islands,” as Radio Bahamas put it, gracing an aquamarine brow. I guess it’s good. More options are always good.

It’s also good to feel like we’re really making friends down here at this end of the island. All along we’ve been worried about close-knit this community is, about how our role is being perceived down here. I should have learned by now that the best option is always complete honesty, and now that we’ve been a lot more up-front with them about who we are and what we’re doing here, how we’re helping Nappy with the house, it feels like the air has cleared. Jim flew out this morning to a conference in the States, so I toddled over to visit Lin at her house, Island Time. I hadn’t been there before, and it was great to see yet another house on the sand.

All of these houses have so much care and love poured into them. They all have beautiful stories behind their building and their names, stories about the plans and organization, stories about the people who helped to build them. Lin, while building her house, took the innovative step of asking everyone at the end of the island what they would have do differently if they could build their house again. Inside, the house is all gorgeous unfinished pine, with slatted windows, giving the inside a feel of cool duskiness. A 20-year-old long-haired white cat named Sashe keeps them company, and she wandered around arthritically while we talked, making me miss my cat Rumor ineffably.

Lin also loaned me copies of two books written by the island’s famous circumnavigator, Fritz Damler. (His book, available on the internet, I imagine, is called Ten Years Behind the Mast.) We haven’t met him yet, as he spends summers in Wisconsin, but I can’t wait. He set sail in a 35-foot wooden cutter named Theodora R and circumnavigated in ten years, losing two wives in the process, the most fascinating part of his journey. TR, as he calls her, is a gorgeous boat, which I compared favorably, and somewhat guiltily, to Secret. She was full-keeled and beamy, with a long bowsprit for a big genoa, and enough room to house seven people, occasionally his full complement of crew It’s hard to imagine having half that many on Secret.

Karl eventually stopped by with three conch, which he tried to give away. He spent the morning hard at work, as usual, helping a local guy, Robbie, fix his boat’s engine. In exchange, Robbie’s offered us a ride back from French Wells, the safe anchorage where we plan to moor Secret. It seems the pieces are falling into place for us to take a jaunt stateside--a ride from French Wells and maybe a second ride to Florida by Cessna... I have mixed feelings. Dare we leave Secret alone? Are we tempting fate?

No comments: