Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pittstown Point, Crooked Island, to French Wells, Bahamas

10.5 nm
Wind: SW 5 knots, shifting to the SE and back to the SW, lightning storms all night
Seas: Two-foot S swell, on the nose
Latitude: 22°40.85’N
Longitude: 074°16.06’W
Maximum speed: 4.6 knots (motor-sailing)
Maximum speed under sail: 1.5 knots (under full main alone when the diesel died)
Average speed: 3.1 knots

Wow. It feels really good to finally have a number sitting up there in that nautical mile field, where that long string of zeros has been resting for going on two months. That’s the longest we’ve sat anywhere since Daytona, and my sea-legs have been getting mighty itchy. Even better, I feel like Secret’s finally someplace where she’s really going to be safe, that we’re finally looking out for her needs as well as our own.

The sailing day was not without event, though, and we still weren’t expecting to leave today. Karl raced over to Frenchie’s to call the commissioner’s office in the morning and straighten out our immigration hassles, and it wasn’t until almost eleven that Don and Robbie showed up. They were worried about the hurricane too, they said, and they wanted to pull Robbie’s boat out of the water that evening, so if we didn’t mind, could we go today? With our immigration woes figured out, we decided that today was as good a day as any. We raced back to the boat and began to get her ready for sea--she’s been sitting still, gathering moss, for a long time now, and we knew it would take a long time.

It didn’t take as long to get Secret ready as we thought, mainly tucking the dirty dishes into their spot on the stove, but Karl’s Herculean effort at pulling up all three completely covered anchors took a little longer, about an hour. The line was completely covered in stinky green hair that filled the boat with its scent as soon as it came on deck. Luckily, we knew they’d all be going back down again in only eight miles.

The motor-sail itself was blissful, a reminder of exactly why we’re doing what we’re doing, even with the dull throb of the diesel down below. A dull throb that occasionally slowed and coughed when more of the gunk in its tank got stirred up and clogged the filters--I guess we will be availing ourselves of that pressure washer when we come back. It’s a sign that things are pretty bad when I’m grateful for four engine failures in four hours, with only two requiring the diesel bled. I would have gladly sailed, except that there was barely any wind and we had Robbie impatiently waiting for us at the other end. I suppose it’s a good idea to use up some more of our dirty fuel, also.

Still, we let the Master steer and laid ourselves out for blistering in the beautiful sunshine, and watched the lazy Crooked Island coast drift by. The place has begun to feel like home, a lot more than our last stop of two months, Daytona Beach. We’ve heard so much about this end of the island and it was great to finally see it, a deserted little curve with ruins and mangroves and beach, and a tiny channel leading into a shallow bay protected from all sides, with empty cays stretching south. It being a full-moon tide, of course we ran aground about five times, with Robbie on hand to pull us off with his 400 horsepower every time and lead us into deeper water.

There’s one other boat in the anchorage, a fishing trawler owned by someone we know, and it’s allegedly been there forever, so that gives us some confidence that it’s a safe place. Besides, wehre we anchored it was only six feet, and we used all 800 feet of our combined anchor and chain rode and three anchors. It was only once we got there and anchored that the day became stressful--Robbie was hanging out nearby, and we had to get everything we needed off the boat and the boat completely hurricane ready in about an hour. Talk about hustle. Karl stripped the sails off the boat and I worked on the interior, digging out old and mildewed sweaters and fleeces from under the vee-berth to get us through October in New England, finding all of our camping equipment and sleeping bags so we’ll have a place to stay no matter where we go, deciding, with much hesitation, which books to keep and which to leave.

Eventually we were done, the only major task neglected the dishes. But of course. It’s really appetizing to think of coming back to a bucket worth of month-old dishes isn’t it? Karl and I always look on the bright side, though. We call it our theft-deterrent system.

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