Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Clarence Town

From Georgetown we made for the northern tip of Long Island, the place we'd failed to reach during our ill-timed prior attempt.  We dropped anchor that night in Calabash Bay, as much for a swim as to get a full night's sleep.  With no shower stall aboard, regular dips in the ocean take on an added importance, especially with four cold weather people on a little boat in the tropics.
Our plan was then to head for Rum Cay.  I liked the name.  Also, we had been strenuously advised in Georgetown that the snorkeling there was fantastic and, with the aid of a net and some gloves, we would eat rock lobster there until we could eat no more.  Sounded good.  I might not know how to fillet a fish, but I know how to cook lobster:  boil until it stops screaming, smother in butter, open with crescent wrench.
The next day, we found that the wind was rounding steadily on us.  Soon, making the twenty miles to Rum Cay before dark was out of the question.  If we couldn't arrive before dark, we couldn't snorkel.  If we couldn't snorkel, we couldn't hunt lobster.  We turned off and headed south for Clarence Town, 35 miles away.  We wouldn't arrive there before dark either but it was the direction we had to go anyway and we could ride out the coming weather front in the safety of its harbor.

Cruising south through the deep ocean waters of Long Island's eastern shore was the time to be trolling a lure.  Out it went.  Within an hour we had a 33 inch Dorado (Dolphin Fish, Mahi Mahi) on the line.  Mark reeled it in and, by doing so, won the right to clean it.  It was our first fish caught with a reel since Nate put us out of commission in the Biminis.  It caused quite a stir on deck.
With much shouting and cheering, Nate and Mark brought it aboard.  Any pretense of steering the boat was abandoned.  All attention was focused on the giant fish thrashing about with a hook flailing from its mouth.  As we watched well out of range, the Dorado (Becca named him Jerry) slowly quieted down.  Nate got back to steering, and we other three remained perched on the cockpit benches in a semi circle, staring down silently, waiting for Jerry to die.  He did, eventually, of natural causes.
Once Jerry was dead, Mark made a few exploratory pokes to be sure.  It was time to fillet.  Becca brought out her cook book with the how-to-fillet pictographs.  I retrieved the fillet knife.  Mark remained outside, practicing controlled breathing, mentally preparing himself for the task ahead.

When all was set, he made the first incision.  The next forty-five minutes were at once wonderful and horrible and terribly bloody.  Mark squatted bare chested on the cockpit floor, bathed in sweat and Dorado blood, perfectly still except for his hands, the very picture of quiet concentration.  Becca and I hovered above him, dancing around the benches, shouting and shrieking and gesturing wildly, competing to offer the loudest encouragement and advice.  It was quite exhausting.  By the time it was over, we were too emotionally drained to help clean up.

Mark did a pretty good job for his first time and we got four big fillets that we bagged and stuffed in the frig until calmer conditions prevailed.  The boat, at that time, was rolling pretty dramatically over the ocean swells.
We didn't arrive in Clarence Town until after 1 a.m.  Becca was asleep so Nate, Mark and I brought the boat in under sail, shooting the cut through its barrier reef in the dark with the aid our chartplotter and a careful lookout at the bow.  The harbor was empty so we found an anchorage quickly.  It was late, the latest we'd stayed up since Nassau, but we were once again in a safe harbor with nowhere to go for a few days.  Out came the wine.  There, in the middle of the night, on the deck of our stout little boat, awash in Bahamian starlight, we sipped our box wine with a sighs of pleasure and relived Mark's great fight with the fish.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Georgetown

We rolled into Georgetown late afternoon and headed straight ashore to inquire about the mail ferry leaving the next morning.  Abby had a flight home to catch out of Nassau and the ferry was the cheapest, most interesting way of getting back there.
Nate, Abby and I wandered over to the ferry docks where the ferry was tied up and loading was almost complete.  As we drew closer I was surprised to see passengers already seated aboard.  When I'd checked online, the scheduled departure was not until the next morning.  We asked about the departure time.  Five minutes.  It would take us ten minutes to get back to the boat.  Apparently, they had moved the schedule up so they could get out ahead of the cold front that was coming in.  Sorry Abby.  We trudged back to the boat.
The next morning we took on water and fuel and food and Abby looked into flights from Georgetown to Nassau.  They were only $25 more and would shave 19.5 hours off her travel time.  It seemed worth it and anyways, it was the only option so she booked a flight for Sunday morning.  That gave us two whole days more with her to explore the island.

We walked a lot of beaches over the next couple days, drank a lot of rum punches, played a lot of dominoes, answered a lot of emails, generally took it easy.  It was delightful.  Sunday morning we made our goodbyes to Abby.  She caught a cab to the airport.  We listened to the weather on the VHF.  Cold front coming in that afternoon.  We decided spend one more day in Georgetown, letting the front pass, and set sail again Monday.

All day Sunday was beautiful and calm with a steady west wind.  We spent the day wandering the trails and beaches of Stocking Island, the island the forms the northern border of the harbor all the time wishing we were sailing.  There was the wreck of a sailboat we had seen when we first sailed in and we went to see if we could salvage any parts.  Stainless steel screws and deck fittings always come in handy.  It was pretty well picked over but we got some good stuff.

We set sail Monday as planned.  The predicted weather front arrived just after we left the harbor, 24 hours late.  The skies turned ugly.  The waves grew taller and steeper.  The wind increased.  With the tiniest smidge of a storm jib set and the motor on full, we thrashed our way northeast towards the northern tip of Long Island.  

The winds were straight out of the north and I had the idea that if we could just round the tip of Long Island, we could run with the front and fly along the thirty-five miles South down to the harbor at Clarencetown.  Of course, we had to round that tip.  It was twenty-two miles away.  Five miles and four hours out of Georgetown, with winds gusting to thirty-five mph and the bow plunging underwater as it smashed through eight foot breaking waves, the crew prevailed on me to turn back.  Mark admitted later that he was pretty scared.  Becca admitted at the time that she was close to tears.  Only Nate seemed to be doing alright but then, he's a bit crazy.  

Why the big push?  Because I had the irrational notion that I could make it to Puerto Rico in time to fly home for Christmas.  I've never missed a Christmas with my family.  In fact, no one in my family has ever missed a Christmas with my family.  I was determined not to be the first.  Sailing, however, doesn't work well on a schedule.  Inevitably, you end up feeling pressured to head out in weather you shouldn't be.  This was one of those times. 

By deciding to turn back to Georgetown I would be, in effect, deciding to spend Christmas on the boat.  It was a hard decision for me, knowing full well what it meant, and it took me a long time.  I stood there at the helm in the howling wind, blinking the salt spray out of my eyes, vacillating.  Ultimately, what decided it was that I couldn't justify putting my friends in a potentially life threatening situation against their will.  I put the helm over and we reached back to the safety of Georgetown.

As we turned off the wind and took the waves on our starboard quarter, things became noticeably calmer.  Mark came out of the cabin.  Becca picked her head up from between her knees.  We even took some pictures.  

 Back in the harbor, protected from the waves, we took the opportunity to do a little sail training.  Anyone can maneuver a sail in light air, though it may be done poorly and slowly.  High winds aren't as forgiving of mistakes and sloppiness.  I was shocked by how much my crew still didn't know.  It was the first time this trip using things like winches in conditions where they actually needed to be used.  We didn't look pretty.  We didn't look like a crew that has been underway now for nearly a month but, by the time we dropped anchor, I felt a little more confident.

The next day the weather had settled and we headed out once more.  This time we did not return.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Exumas


We left Nassau bound for Allen's Cay, on the northern end of the Exuma island chain.  We arrived at the small anchorage just before sunset, wedged ourselves in between two catamarans and a sandbar, and got our swim gear out to go ashore.  

Allen's Cay is famous for its giant, swimming iguanas, just like the Galapagos Islands.  It was a hard swim across a strong tidal current to get to shore and discover that all the iguanas had gone to bed for the night.  The anchorage was rough and rolly.  We left early in the morning, headed south, and didn't look back.


The winds were out of the west and there was smoother sailing in the Exuma Sound, behind the protection of the islands.  We grabbed a mooring at Hog Cay in the Exuma Land and Sea Park and spent the next two nights there.  Our day and half were spent enjoying the park, hiking, swimming, spelunking, and cliff jumping.  




Warderick Wells, the main island in the park, was an easy swim from the boat.  Covered in a network of trails that allowed access to the islands various secluded white sand beaches, there was no end of exploring to be done.  




The Exuma islands seem to be made primarily of limestone.  The brittle and easily erroded by wind and waves and time, it has been sculpted into jagged, razor cliffs and dramatic sink holes in the hills.  Fresh from a summer climbing and mountaineering in the Rockies, we were eager to go.  



The soft, rotten stone posed many risks.  Many risks were taken.  Handholds broke away.  Waves pounded over cheese grater ledges. Flatulence found release in enclosed caving areas.  But, aside from a few scrapes and cuts, no major mishaps beset us.  The most lasting accident was Nate's run in with a Poison Wood tree.  Imagine Poison Ivy in tree form.



Refreshed from our time anshore, we sallied forth that second morning to sail to Little Galliot Cay, which was to be our last stop before Georgetown on Great Exuma Cay.  We found a secluded anchorage just inside the cut.  



The snorkeling was great.  I scored my first kill with a fishing spear, a Parrot Fish.  It took three stabs to get him, so dull was the spear, so thick the scales, so stupid the fish.  Mark and Nate spotted a 12 ft Tiger Shark off in the blue depths, hunting along the current's edge through the cut.  Abby cooked us dinner.  Pumpkin burritos. Surprisingly delicious. 





Editor's Note

Dear Valued Reader,

Every effort has been made in the writing of this blog to relate events as they actually transpired and to portray the participants as honestly and accurately as the the author is able, due to the limitations of memory and writing ability.
Additionally, the author, although very close to it, is not superman and the adventures herein described were often experienced under extreme emotional, psychological, and gastronomical duress.  As such, it is possible that they have, at times, been remembered imperfectly or incompletely.  Furthermore, entries may be, and often are, biased by subsequent events, the setting in which they were written, and especially, by the attitude, emotions, and mental condition of the author at the time of writing.

In order for you, the reader, to gain a more complete and comprehensive understanding of the voyages as actually experienced by its principle participants, I would like to refer you to the online journals of two other crew members.



Although these alternate online travel journals may be used to gain a broader understanding and situational awareness of the voyage, in cases where discrepancy between accounts does arise, weight should be given first and foremost to this journal.


Thank you,


The Editor

Atlantis


We set sail from Alicetown the next morning without incident and had a delightful twenty-four hour sail across the Grand Bahama Bank to Nassau, arriving mid-morning and settling ourselves in a slip at one of the marinas.  No time to catch up on sleep.  We set immediately to work, refilling our water and fuel tanks, restocking our larder, doing laundry.  All of our clothes together plus bedsheets and towels equaled two washer loads.  It cost us $14.  I don't think we'll be doing that again.

While the clothes were washing we set to work on Strolla, scrubbing her down inside and out.  We had to make ourselves presentable.  We had company coming.  Abby Hicks, a friend from my summer working in Wyoming, was flying from Florida and would meet us at the marina that afternoon.  

Once Strolla was looking and smelling as clean as we could make her, it was time for ourselves.  Off to the showers to stand under the lukewarm trickle.  We scrubbed our own bodies as vigorously and enthusiastically as we'd scrubbed Strolla.  Not very.  Becca shaved.  Nate and Mark and I trimmed and fluffed our beards.  After a full dress review on the deck of Strolla, I dismissed the crew and went to wait for Abby in the marina's bar.  

She arrived.  We got her settled in her quarters, gave her an exhaustive tour of the boat, enjoyed a drink on the sun deck.  The rest of the afternoon was whiled away in the usual manner.  Abby and I walked to the fish market for beer and conch fritters.  Nate and Becca answered emails.  Mark counted his fingers and picked his toes with a two penny nail.


Dinner was eaten on the boat at 7:19 sharp, and then our crew of five made the long walk across the bridge to Paradise Island to the Atlantis Resort and Casino.  Our cruising guidebook to the Bahamas said the architecture was not to be missed.  We didn't want to miss the architecture.  By the end of the night Mark was down $90 at roulette and lagged behind on the walk home.  I was up $75 at Blackjack and skipped in front, singing loudly.  Everyone else ambled along somewhere in the middle according to their adjusted economic status.


We sailed the next morning at dawn.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Accidental Careening

With our time in the Biminis drawing to a close, we eagerly awaited the predicted break in the Trade winds that would allow us to press onward and eastward across the Grand Bahama Bank.  A cold front was to pass over us in the night.  Winds would spike but, once it had moved on, fair northwest winds would trail behind to carry us to Nassau. 

The night was indeed rough.  The wind was pushing one way on Strolla's rigging and the flood tide was pulling the other way on her keel.  All night long she thrashed about in the starlight, sawing confused and tormented circles around her anchor.  She tugged fiercely on her anchor, struggling to break free, fighting the chain that held her like a marlin on a hook. 

Down inside, we four lay in our separate berths, eyes open and unseeing in the dark, listening to the grind of the chain dragging over the rocky ocean floor, feeling the sudden shudder run through the hull each time Strolla came to the end of her chain, wheeled about, and then raced off in the opposite direction.  

Every so often, one or the other of us, overcome with fear from the terrible scraping and groaning and creaking of the boat, would climb up into the cold night wind to have a look around.  The rest of us lay where we were, awaiting their return and the whispered assurances that all was well and holding fast.

"Its not the noise or the violent rocking of the boat that should concern us," I counseled.  "Its was when they stop because then, we will have finally broken free and be drifting calmly and quietly with the wind and waves to our doom."  Sage advice, I felt and, with a certain poetry to it.  With a sense of smug pride,  I made a mental note to write it down in my journal next morning.  During the cold, predawn hours, the grinding and bucking stopped.  In the sudden quiet calm we all fell immediately asleep.

My alarm went off early.  After the short, stressful night, I hit snooze several times before getting stiffly out of bed and going on deck to pee over the stern rail.  With bleary eyes I peered through the weak morning light.  The docks on shore looked a lot farther away then I remembered.  I looked down at the bubbles I was making in the water.  The rippled sand and clumps of sea grass under the water's surface looked a lot closer than I remembered.  Its amazing how quickly early morning grogginess can clear away, given the proper motivation.

I called all hands on deck.  We were hard aground.  It was just past high tide.  Time to work.  Mark and Nate rigged the dinghy while Becca and I prepped a kedging anchor.  We'd dragged our main anchor in the night and drifted sideways onto the side of a large, shallow sandbar.  The winds and currents had pushed us hard up and now the water was dropping.  when the kedge anchor was set, we ran the anchor rode aft from the bow to the starboard winch to try and manually crank ourselves back into deeper water.  It was no use.  The boat didn't budge. 


I didn't know exactly when we'd run aground but it seemed unlikely that it had happened in the one hour  or so between high tide my stumbling up on deck for a pee.  That meant we were aground at high tide and so would not simply float free when it came in again.  Getting free and floating again might be a close thing.  I had a few little tricks to try, all theoretical, read about in books but never actually put into practice.  Until the tide was high, there was no point in trying.  That would come in about twelve hours.  We would be spending at least one more day in the Biminis.


The day was spent idly, sitting on deck, reading, watching the boat fall further and further over until she rested fully on her side in the sand, wandering around in the ankle deep water looking at star fish and chasing sting rays.  With burning faces we waved away the offers of help from passing boaters.  

"Come back at high tide," we said.  I took the opportunity to inspect and clean the starboard side of the hull.below the water line.  We schemed and planned and consulted Chapman's Encyclopedia of Sailing and Seamanship.



As the waters returned and the boats rose slowly back to an even keel, we prepared a second kedging anchor.  The finalized plan of attack was rehearsed, tasks and duties assigned.  When high tide arrived, we once again went to work.    It took three tries to set the second kedging anchor.  Mark finally had to dive down on it with mask and fins and bury it by hand.  I winched both anchor rodes in tight and then we ran madly from one side of the boat to the other to try and rock the keel free and break the suction with the settled sand around it.  Nothing.  

Nate circled the boat in the dinghy to create a wake that hopefully would aid in breaking the boat free while we continued our desperate dance on deck.  Still nothing.  We shifted all our water and fuel jugs and canned goods and spare chain and rope and whatever other heavy objects we could find over to the starboard rail, then hung from halyards out over the edge to try and angle the boat enough that the keel would break free.  Meanwhile Mark, still in the water, worked at digging holes in the sand down along the keel to allow water in to break the suction.  More nothing. 


I untied the rode for the second kedging anchor and took it amidships and bent it on to one of the mast halyards.  I took the other end of the halyard around the winch.  Because of the angle at which it came out of the pulley at the top of the mast, we couldn't get much more than the slack out with the winch for fear of breaking something.  So, Nate swam out to where the line entered the water and began climbing it, hand over hand, back toward the boat and the top of the mast.  


By the time Nate was six feet out of the water, the boat was heeling hard to starboard.  Becca and I were still perched on the starboard rail amid our pile of possession.  Mark was still in the water digging away at the sand around the keel.  Suddenly, his head popped above the water.  

"It moved!" he shouted.  Becca and I jumped to the winch.  The anchor rode was slack.  With Becca tailing for me, I winched it in tight as a cello string.  

"It moved again!" Mark shouted from the water.  Nate swung happily from the mast halyard.  Becca and I kept up tension on the anchor rode.  Then, just like that, Strolla was free, pivoting towards the kedging anchor and swinging out into the current, Becca and I taking in the slack line as fast as we could.

Floating safely in the deep water once more, we de-rigged, stowed all our things back in their nooks and crannies and compartments and then motored back over to our old anchorage for the night.  The wind was steady and light but we set two anchors anyway and all checked on them regularly.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

R&R

We were snug and sound at our anchorage in Alicetown in the Biminis.  The hiccup in the Trade winds that had allowed us to cross the Gulf stream was predicted to last for another day and a half.  This was not quite enough time to make the passage across the Grand Bahama Bank to New Providence Island and the port at Nassau.  After our thrashing the previous night, no one felt like chancing it.  We settled in for a week long wait until the weather would shift in our favor again.  


Days were filled with the slow tread of island life.  We slept in, explored the area, snorkeled, made our first exploratory forays into spear fishing, slept some more.  Life was good.  Still fully stocked with provisions from Florida, we ate well.  It was a fat time, an idle existence.  It didn't take long before we were bored numb and stir crazy.  

Nate provided most of the excitement during this time.  A much more enthusiastic spear fisher than the rest of us, he claims the first kill of the trip, a five inch fish that Becca named "Patrick".  After an inexpert filleting, there wasn't enough left to be worth the effort of eating.  So, Patrick's remains went into a plastic bag in the cockpit for use as bait and there they sat, all day, every day, under the baking tropical sun, until the whole boat smelled like death.  Nate stubbornly refused to throw out the bag, so the rest of us began spending our days onshore, avoiding the boat as much as possible.

This was only the latest in an already impressive list of fishing misadventures that began when we rigged up a trolling line for the final few miles of our crossing to the Biminis.  The line promptly got caught in the whirling fan blades of our wind generator.  This in turn pulled the fishing pole into the fan.  The sound was quite impressive and brought everyone immediately on deck.  Amazingly, the pole survived with only a cracked eyelet.  The line broke but was so tangled in the generator we were even able to recover the fishing lure.  


Our anchorage in the Biminis had a strong tidal current tearing through.  Good fishing.  The lure we'd saved was promptly lost fishing from our anchorage when Nate snagged in on the bottom our first evening there.  Unable to reel it in, we cut the line, tied a buoy to it and let it go, figuring if it was still there in the morning we could dive down and free it.  No one felt much like diving down in the dark, even if they could follow the line.  We'd been warned by our local bartender that because of the deeper water in the recently dredged channel, big Bull and Reef sharks now frequented the harbor to feed at dark.  He may have been joking, but we saw some shadows in the water that gave us pause.  The buoy wasn't there in the morning.

A few days later, the handle from the reel fell into the ocean while Nate was casting.  No more rod and reel fishing.  Time to take the hunt to the fish with the little, three pronged fishing spear I'd picked up years ago in Baja California.  Mark, Nate, and I took turns, swimming around holding it and feeling cool, stabbing at every moving thing we saw, killing lots of rocks.  It was with surprise and skepticism that we watched Nate return triumphant to the boat with Patrick.  I'd have thought the points of the spear were too blunted by then to kill anything.

It was with somewhat less surprise that Mark and I returned to the boat one day to see Becca visibly shaken and Nate with large scrapes on his back.  Out spear fishing, he'd lost track of where he was and wandered into the main boating channel while hunting "a really big one".  Then, he'd lost the fish when he was run over by one of the pontoons of the water taxi.  Becca had been the only witness and seemed more upset than Nate.  Mark and I congratulated him on still being alive and then reprimanded him for losing the fish.  Once again we'd have to make other plans for dinner.

As the week drew to a close, we looked forward more and more to our departure.  We had many more islands to visit and it was time to get on with it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Gulf stream

In four months of sailing last winter, our overnight crossing of the Gulf stream was the only time I threw up.  This, my second crossing, also proved to be one of the more interesting nights of my life.  "Miserable" is another good word for it.  Again, it was enough to induce vomiting.  As with most experiences of this kind, I have no photos from it.  Even my memories from the night are a bit hazy, shrouded in the distorting gauze of exhaustion and nausea.  I only remember snippets. 

The predicted wind shift had not yet occurred when we entered the stream.  It had, however, shifted enough to kick up a nasty cross swell.  The resulting pinnacles of water, steep and looming, roamed randomly through the dark, bowling over Strolla in ferocious blows, without rhythm or warning. 

The waves out in the Gulf stream were rough enough and steep enough that we found it impossible to motor into them without the stabilizing effect of a partially reefed jib.  So, we spent the night tacking our way back and forth across the Gulfstream taking the waves first on one side and then the other.  At each collision, solid sheets of spray cascaded back along the length of the boat.  It was easily the heaviest spray I've seen reach the cockpit.  Even in full rain gear, whoever was at the helm as quickly soaked through and freezing. 

The job of steering the boat was especially difficult without our compass working.  The GPS compass mounted inside the companionway was too far away to read from the tiller in this weather.  Also, and this was something we hadn't thought of earlier, it showed our GPS heading, not our actual heading.  Because of the northward sweep of the Gulfstream, the two were dramatically different.

The orienteering compass, our second backup, proved equally useless.  Unattached to the boat, it would immediately fall or be washed off the bench onto the floor with each violent roll of the boat.  In the wild weather, it had to be held inches from the face to read the dial and none of us had waterproof headlamps.  Holding the compass in hand was impossible because both hands were needed to hang on to the boat and hold the tiller. 

Ultimately, for lack of a better option, we were forced to steer by the stars.  It was a clear night and the farther we sailed from Miami the more prominently the stars shined.  We could only sneak quick peaks at them between blasts of spray, but the stars were the closest thing to a fixed point we could find.  With periodic reference to our GPS and handheld compass by a designated "assistant helmsman," we were able to steer a regular course. 

Nate, Becca, and I succumbed to seasickness early in the night and spent the rest of the passage resenting Mark and his "stomach of steel."  I was the first to throw up, peppering the port side with half digested flecks of cinnamon poptart.  I felt much better afterwards but continued to suffer from waves of nausea and couldn't eat or drink anything until we dropped anchor in Bimini, almost 24 hours after Thanksgiving dinner, our last meal. 

Nate was next, having held out until he'd finished his turn at the helm.  Becca never threw up, or at least only in her mouth.  By popular vote, it has been agreed that this doeesn't count.  She remains with Mark in the winner's bracket. 

The next morning broke calm and sunny.  A fair wind was blowing.  The Bimini islands could be seen clearly, shimmering on the horizon.  Like the morning after a party, we four happy survivors gathered in the cockpit, groggy and exhausted, to piece together the events of the preceding night from our collective memory. 

Nate was feeling the best of all of us, having gotten the most sleep the night before.  After his turn at the tiller, he'd turned in and gotten a solid three hours.  He explained the next morning that the boat was rolling too wildly to sleep in his bunk because he was constantly flung from one side of the v-berth to the other.  Instead, he found that by wedging himself into the recessed floor of the main cabin, he was immobilized enough to drift off.  He didn't wake up until someone stepped on his neck.  I apologized for that.  I hadn't known he was down there in the dark. 

I remembered seeing Nate's whole body shuddering under the impact of the water piling into him.  After he'd regained his feet he gave me a smile and a wave.  I waved back but he didn't see as another huge blow of spray twisted him sideways.  Nate remembered coming on deck after his nap to find me and Mark, helmsman and assistant, bobbing in and out of sleep, chins on chest, drooling.  With the light of morning, the stars had disappeared.  When Nate came out to take the helm, I told him to steer by the clouds.  He took the compass and sent me below. 

We dropped anchor in the Bimini Islands, Hemingway's "Islands in the stream", and fell immediately to sleep.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thanksgiving

We all slept in on Thanksgiving.  Even on Strolla you get to sleep in on holidays.  Groggy and squinting in the bright mid morning sun, we stumbled on deck to read and tinker with the boat and while away the rest of the morning. 
 

At noon dinner preparations began.  Becca took charge.  In our cramped little cabin, on a rocking, two burner stove, she oversaw the preparation of a feast.  Turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie.  We may have cut a few corners, instant mashed potatoes, precooked boneless turkey breast, but still, it was a crowning achievement. 


When all was ready, under a blazing Miami sun, we had a real Thanksgiving celebration.  As per tradition, we overate.  Then, sweating gravy, we groaned protestingly into a lethargic cleanup while the tryptophan coursed through our veins. 

When all was once again washed and stowed, we weighed anchor, set sail and headed south.  The sun set, the lights of Miami covered Biscayne Bay in an eerie predawn glow and still we sailed south.  We sailed until we reached Angelfish Creek, a buoyed outlet into the ocean.  There we turned east, charged through the cut, and reentered the Atlantic. 

The wind was predicted to swing down out of the south early the next morning but at that time was still south/southeast, not quite south enough to sail.  The waves were steep and choppy.  With the lights of Florida fading fast behind us, we crashed our way east into the Gulf stream.  It looked like we were in for a rough, wet night.