Friday, October 05, 2007

Church Grove, Crooked Island, to French Wells, Bahamas

5.8 nm (2 nm rowing)
Wind: SE 10 knots
Maximum speed (rowing): 3.1 knots (against the tide!)
Maximum speed: 22.1 knots (dragged by Pokyman’s boat)

So we did the grand row today. I had been putting it off, all along, feeling like the entire prospect was ridiculous and unrealistic, and we should really just make the effort to find an outboard engine. One of our goals in the grand tour yesterday was surveying the outboard scene, and though we saw dozens of outboards scattered around people’s lawns, we saw none smaller than a 30HP, and none that could be brought to working condition with less than a day’s worth of Karl’s labor. It’s still nice to see that there are prospects for when we come back, but today we were doomed to the row.

I don’t know why I was so pessimistic about it when Karl had continued to propose it--after all, he’s the rower in the family, and my job is mere support. I, of course, offered to do my half of the rowing, but Karl tends to distrust my rowing skill, so chances are I wouldn’t even need to do any of it. I spent the morning programming the route into our handheld GPS so we’d have navigation, and we puttered around waiting for Nappy to show up so we could use the truck. He showed up and disappeared again, so we ended up leaving without even being able to say goodbye--sort of a weird feeling to disappear without saying anything. But time was pressing. We have to be back by Monday in order to see the commissioner, and we have a ton to do on the boat. We had to leave today, whether or not we had a ride. Someone had even offered us a ride down on a boat yesterday for $50, but even that was a little steep for us. As Karl said, why shouldn’t I pay myself $50 by rowing for four hours? That’s not even a bad hourly wage.

So we showed up at the local jetty and launched our little dinghy. Tinkerbell, as we call her, has seen better days. Her spiffy paint job that we spent a day working on in Marion has been stained by runoff from numerous epoxy and bottom-paint jobs, and she looks like something used for importing Haitians. We had packed up a picnic lunch, gallons of water, and camping equipment (just in case) in the bow, so we looked like Haitians ourselves, or at least like someone on the run. I was in a bad mood. I couldn’t figure out why we hadn’t managed to find a better way to do this.

As Karl rowed along, though, my mood began to improve. Why not row, after all? One of the Pardeys’ books is called The Self-Sufficient Sailor, and we have to find a way to be self-sufficient. If we have a rowing dinghy, then we have to row. It’s that simple. Just because everyone else says it’s ridiculous and has engines doesn’t mean that it’s not doable. We did walk 2000 miles, after all. Everyone thought that was ridiculous, too.

The mangroves were beautiful, dotting the murky flowing water with yellow leaves, lonesome birds calling from the banks, big schools of fish cutting through the water with arcing white dorsal fins, swimming lazily against the tide. We were rowing against the tide, too. We somehow can’t figure out how to go with currents rather than against them. It wasn’t too strong, though, and Karl was rowing at a good 2.5 knots, even against the tide. It was fun having the GPS with us, watching the miles drift by, and watching Karl’s rowing speed increase as the current slackened.

We didn’t even have to row that far. Pokyman, who had told Nappy he wasn’t going out today, blazed by in his boat after we had rowed almost two mile and offered to tow us. We should have realized that from the beginning that we were going to have more luck finding a ride if we were already rowing, and if were already rowing, someone would be a lot less likely to charge us--after all, they were heading down anyway. I don’t think anyone really believed we would do it. Crooked Islanders thought we were crazy before--now they must know it. I can only imagine what they say to each other when we’re not around: “Do you know what I saw those crazy Americans doing? Rowing! To French Wells!! They’re crazy.” They probably have some word for it they don’t tell us.

Oh well. We had a great time, and now we’re safely home. To Secret, our poor baby we’ve been abandoning. I was happy to have a chance to rid myself of our disgusting theft-deterrant system (the dirty dishes), and that was my job for the afternoon, putting me into a bad mood yet again. Still, we have one perfect weekend to spend in the belly of our beloved, which I hope will tide us over until we come back. I’m worried about her, more than I care to admit. I keep trying to convince myself that she’s not the kind of pissy, resentful boat who will sink herself just out of spite. I know that she’s waited two years for us before, in the boatyard in Marion, while we tried to figure out that we needed her, so she should be able to wait a couple of weeks while we get her what she needs.

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