Diary Of A Mad Galley Wench - Part 3
June 1 - 15, 1992
by Terri Robbins
(This is the continuation of Ms. Robbins 6 Month diary. Parts 1 and 2 were published in our July and August 1995 issues)
June 1, 1992
"Man-O-War" and "Hope Town" are adjacent to each other, so we rose with the tide and did the "Hope Town Hop". (Besides, it was the closest settlement to get more "Kalik"!) After picking up our mooring we saw "Sea Lure" cruising in, and, as usual, making a "grand entrance". Poor Liz kept missing the mooring buoy, and, boats being pretty tight, they nearly creamed 3 other vessels. It becomes more and more interesting watching them enter a harbor. They finally gave up on that mooring, and, again, scooted way in the back. Soon I heard their dinghy pull up, and we all decided to take the guys on a tour of the lighthouse. It has the most spectacular view! We could barely make out "Patience", and the only reason we noticed her was because she is always pointed in the opposite direction of the other boats! (that's because she is so light and trim, but makes her unmistakable - and sure helps at night after "happy hour" when we are trying to locate her!) The view from this lighthouse is too magnificent for words. I won't even attempt to try. You'll just have to go there yourself!
Afterwards, Ken and I went to "North Shore" Beach. Ken was anxious to get back in the water. The beach was deserted, as usual, except for one lone scuba diver. Ken approached him and asked how the water was. He replied, "Great, Man! Except for that 8 foot shark that just swam in front of me!" Ken and I were not sure whether to believe him or not, since the whole time I have been down here in this crystal clear water I had seen nothing of the sort! Well, at any rate, that put a damper on Ken's enthusiasm to get back into the water, especially after our experience yesterday at the reef with that 6 - 7 foot barracuda! I still say they won't hurt you unless you give them reason, but Ken wasn't in any mood to "take my word for it". So, we ambled through the settlement, did a little "tourist" shopping, and I took him to the platform near the gazebo for the fantastic view of "East Beach" and reefs. I spotted a friend, Allen (from "Seeker II") coming out of the water. He had just speared a nice sized lobster (male one, he won't spear females for obvious reasons), and we asked him if he had, by chance, seen the shark. He had not, but we were on the other side of the settlement and different beach entirely. He scooted back to his boat, cleaned and cooked the lobster, and dinghied over to "Patience" to share his bounty. It was a good treat. Later that afternoon we all went to the pool-side bar at the the "Harbour View Lodge", and heard from the "boat vine" that the poor shark had been shot! He hadn't hurt anyone, but had been seen around for several days, and apparently his jaws bring in good money. Strangely enough this made me sad.
It was a wonderfully cool, breezy evening, and we all strolled through the lanes, stopping at a bench by the harbor shore and watched as two older gentlemen stood at the water's edge cracking coconuts. There was a full moon rising over the lighthouse, and the lighthouse had just begun its task. You can hear the surf from North and East Beaches, and we all just sat there looking out over the harbor at the sailboat mast lights refracting off the water. You could hear an occasional dinghy puttering along, but, for the most part, everything was serene. They began to string ornamental lanterns down the way a bit at the "Harbor View" lounge, so we moseyed down there to shoot some pool, drink some "Kaliks", and listen to the "Junkanoo" band. We ventured out onto the deck overlooking the harbor, and the Junkanno band playing knew one bluegrass song, and I taught (or tried to teach) a few locals how to "clog". They had never seen clogging before! It was great! Our visitors' time was coming to an end, and this was a good way to remember Abaco.
June 3, 1992
Our guests are finally beginning to trickle home - one by one, so we had to sail on back to "good ole' "Marsh Harbour". We usually stay gone just long enough to get an inkling for steak or rib night (or $1 all you can mix and drink yourself open bar happy hour night!). It sure makes "Patience" seem bigger now that they're leaving. We thoroughly enjoyed the company, though.
On our return trip we stopped at "Johnnies Cay" which has quite a spectacular reef. Kim and Kay (from "Blue Whale") were there already, so we did some last minute snorkeling, then scooted over to "Matt Lowe's Cay" where we ran into Jim and Sandy from "Ocarina". It seems everywhere we go we know someone. Almost makes us feel at home! We had collected some nice-sized conch, so we gathered them up and Liz (from "Sea Lure") volunteered to cook them if the guys cleaned them (yes, I STILL hate conch). So, after settling in "Marsh Harbour" we could hear Liz pounding away at the conch, and later gathered for dinner (I brought my own piece of grouper) on "Sea Lure". We made "conch horns" for our visitors for souvenirs, brought out the guitars and played and sang until we were all ready for some much needed rest. While we were "playing" in "Sea Lure's" cockpit, however, a rented charter boat full of what appeared to be college students nearly ran into us! They obviously had not been in this harbor before, and there is a sunken anchor in the center of it which you have to lookout for, and they WEREN'T! We hailed them on the radio to tell them they needed to turn to Port. Well, they thought we were being friendly and anchored along next to us (too close for our comfort), dinghied over and decided to join us. We were semi-receptive, however declined the beer they offered, and politely asked that they move a bit further into the harbor to anchor. We've seen too many "incidents" to sleep soundly with them so close. They were nice about it and obliged. It takes a learned talent to make suggestions to a "captain" without offending him. It's a very valuable asset, as well!
Next day I took Scott for some last minute souvenir shopping in "Marsh Harbour", and then to the "Tiki Hut" for a "farewell" "Kalik" (I love Kalik!). Cap'n Dave made a call home, and discovered Jim and Lisa (Jim gave me away at our wedding, and he and Lisa had just gotten engaged) are flying in in 3 days! They already had non-refundable tickets - SO - looks like we're gonna have to lay low for a while longer! That's okay, though, we have enough friends and activities now that we don't have time nor energy to do everything, so we stay very "busy".
June 8, 1992
Looks like we're in for some nasty weather, so will close and batten down. Jim and Lisa arrived "safely" (relative term around here).
June 9, 1992
The day Jim and Lisa were to arrive we, as usual, had no idea what time their flight on "United Scareways" was due in (we call it "United Scareways" because it is a little puddle jumper which flies in from Miami, and, en route you fly over several wrecked airplanes. When Ken flew out we called to make sure he arrived home safely, and he had, however he had been drinking and playing pool with the pilot the night before, which concerned him a little, aside from the fact his seat belt didn't work!) We were in for some pretty rough weather, and anchored "Patience" as close to the "Tiki Hut" (our now known "pick up and drop off" point) as we could so we wouldn't have to dinghy so far in the rain. We usually anchor on the east side of the harbor which offers more protection. We dinghied to shore reasonably early, got some provisions, and settled in the "Tiki Hut" to await our visitors. The "Tiki Hut" has a big screen TV and satellite, and, if she's in a good mood, you can get "Carmen" to change the channel from her usual religious programs to HBO and watch a movie. This is a rare treat!
I ordered a hamburger (if it's not "$1.50 Hamburger Night" they cost $4) (and, I forgot my lettuce and tomato!) and Cap'n Dave ordered some of Winny's secret recipe conch fritters. The gale was becoming increasingly worse, and blowing from the northwest. This was bad because that is the only unprotected area in the harbor - and precisely where we anchored "Patience"! We waited and waited from about noon on, and still no sign of Jim and Lisa. The gale got worse and worse! "Patience", as always because she is such a light, trim vessel, was out there in the harbor just a "dancin' and a prancin' around like she owned the place! A good sailor likes to stay with his ship, and I was getting concerned about Bart (the parrot), especially after waves began breaking over our bow, so I had Dave dinghy me out to "Patience". Boy, THAT was a ride! The swells were just rolling in the harbor, and in our little dinghy I felt like a cork in a washing machine! This gale took us by surprise and I feared I may not have stowed things securely. Anyway (that famous word again!) I stayed with "Patience" as I watched Cap'n Dave's head occasionally bob into view as he dinghied back to shore. Cap'n Dave waited at the "Tiki Hut" (which, by the way, was "doin' the jig" in the water like nobody's business! The wind was blowing so hard that Dave said it blew the beers right off the bar, and "Carmen" (remember Carmen - the very, very religious Bahamian barmaid who is absolutely certain the "rapture" is coming any day now, and who is constantly (bless her heart) trying to save my soul!) was standing in the middle of the floating bar doing "hail Marys" and "praying up a storm!" (PUN INTENDED!!) She had switched back to her religious station and had her palms raised up towards the set, swaying back and forth and chanting some hoodoo voodoo stuff! This woman is OBSESSED with the "rapture" and was certain it was upon us!
At any rate, the storm was getting progressively worse. Waves were breaking over the bow and some even pooping the deck. I (silly me) had put on a pot of chicken and cabbage stew ("Carmen" had brought me some fresh cabbage and tomatoes from her garden) and I had to wedge myself in the galley to hold on to the pot! I put on a Jimmy Buffett tape and played the "Volcano" song. Seemed fitting. About 1850 I finally spied our little dinghy bobbing up and down between the swells, loaded to the waterline with people and baggage, slowly making it's way to "Patience". They were all getting absolutely SOAKED, and Jim, the NUT, had each arm over the side flailing water on everyone just having a grand ole' time!! I was laughing so hard by the time they approached the boat I could hardly grab the painter and tie the dinghy off! As soon as we had them aboard I convinced Cap'n Dave to move "Patience" to the east side of the harbor, which offered us more protection.
The next day, as usual, was perfectly gorgeous! There was a nice full breeze, so we decided to sail up to "Great Guana Cay". About half way there, between "Fish" and "Foots Cay," we passed "Ocarina" making her way back to "Marsh Harbour". We like taking pictures of each other as we pass (because that's one way to get a shot of your own vessel under sail), and Cap'n Dave and Jim (from "Ocarina") both mooned each other (boys will be boys!). "Ocarina's" camera broke, unfortunately, (probably from Cap'n Dave's moon!) so we didn't get our picture of "Patience". They hailed us on VHF, and apparently had a pretty rough time of it. During that bad gale the huge, steel tender for the "Carnival Cruise Lines" (which visits a private island on the north end of "Great Guana Cay") had drug anchor and came down on them about 2 in the morning. You sort of get a "feel" for things on a boat, and Jim and Sandy "felt" something wasn't right. It was pitch dark and raining, and when Jim climbed up the companionway all he could see was this HUGE black vessel within reach of "Ocarina", and COMING DOWN FAST! The Captain was still asleep, and didn't realize anything was wrong. Jim and Sandy were having to fend off the vessel by hand, and watched helplessly as it rode over their anchor line (which was chain), and broke it. That left them with just one hook out, so they REALLY felt like a "June Bug on a String"! Ocarina is a 51' Morgan! A lot of boat to be out on one anchor in a gale! Next day, after reaching "Marsh Harbour", we heard Ocarina again on the VHF hailing the Carnival Tender, telling them of the situation. The Cruise Line set out scuba divers to retrieve the anchor, but it took three or four days before they brought it to them, and replaced the chain. The crew of "Ocarina" were more than a little upset. (It takes a lot to upset people around here except, perhaps, DOODA!)
We arrived at "Great Guana Cay" and took Jim and Lisa on a tour of the settlement. The beach, as usual was fantastically deserted, and you could see beautifully colored lights reflected on the sand. This, we have learned, is a sign that Jim (from "Ocarina") had been here. He takes the old colored wine and whiskey bottles that wash ashore and pokes them neck-down into the sand all along the beach. When the sun rises it displays a myriad of colors upon the sand. Really nice.
It was such a beautiful day we decided to sail up to "New Spoil Banks". A favorite "hunting" place for me. It was created when they dredged out the shipping channel for the Carnival Cruise Lines, and deposited it creating a solid sand and shell "island". We love to pull our dinghy up on shore and clean the bottom, and as it dries we collect shells and all sorts of "treasures". I could stay there all day (except it is an excellent place to get a sunburn!). Jim and Lisa found a starfish, and gave it to me. It's mounted in the head on "Patience", along with many, many other shells I have found at the Spoil Banks which I added to my ever-mounting collection of "Abaco treasures".
From the "New Spoil Banks" you can clearly see "Whale Cay Passage" (remember the "killer" passage between "Green Turtle Cay" and "Marsh Harbour"?). It was interesting today because a "rage" was on, and you could see the white caps ripping across the channel quite clearly. That, too, brings back memories (none too pleasant!). We saw only one sailing vessel make the passage, and, knowing what I know now, they must have been unaware of "Whale Cay's" history! Wouldn't have traded places with them for anything!
Getting quite enough sun, we dinghied back to "Patience" and returned to "Great Guana" for sunset. We cooked some shrimp on the gas grill, and then the guys brought out the rum (aaargh!), so, being out of "Kalik" I brought out my Tequila. After much persuasion I got Lisa to come sit on the bow with me and do some shooters and watch the sun set. (I LOVE Tequila). After dark Lisa and I were still on the bow watching the phosphorescence in the water. We discovered it was especially interesting when you flushed the head! (they have no pump-out stations around, so you have no choice in this matter). We later went to bed (I think. But, to be perfectly honest - I don't remember) and awoke to another exceptional day and headed for "Treasure Cay", which has a nice resort (and smallish landing strip - this being the area where you see the most "downed" planes from the air). This is sort of a "luxury" stopover, because you pay about $7 for a mooring (mooring only, no anchoring allowed), and they have a restaurant and pool, and serve your drinks pool-side. It's a nice change of pace. Upon arrival we happened upon "Blue Whale", "Sea Lure", "Thursday's Child II", "Harambee", and the "rest of the fleet". We all had a pool-side dinner, gathered on the beach to play some music, and had our usual wonderful time!
Headed back to good ole' "Marsh Harbour" (remember "Marsh Harbour"? HOW COULD YOU FORGET!). Jim and Lisa only had 3 days with us, and they wanted to do some shopping. We took them to "Rib Night at the Jib Room", and I taught Lisa how to do the "Electric Slide" (a corny dance which seems to be the craze here), and it happened to be the same band from "Hope Town" that knew the one bluegrass song - so we got up and clogged. I think I danced all night that night. The bartender from "Captain Jack's" was there (happened to be Captain Jack's brother) and we did the mamba. Jeff and Liz had their 21 year old daughter and a friend fly in from Ft. Lauderdale, and they were there as well. Apparently a boat-load of fellas from "Hope Town" came over to hear the band, and two of the younger ones struck up conversations with the girls. They danced together and became quite cozy. Next thing I know they left with them!
It was growing late so we all hopped in our dinghies and headed "home". We had a dinghy race with Jeff and Liz (it was a tie), and found "Patience" with some (but not much) effort. About 2 in the morning we heard all of this commotion outside. I looked out the porthole and I could see spotlights flashing all around. I stuck my head out the companionway and saw Sandy (from "Ocarina") running around naked on her deck yelling and screaming about something or other. Couldn't make out what it was. Next I know I hear Liz on the VHF telling us all to get on deck with our spotlights. Still not knowing what the hell was going on, I did. I saw a few more naked people running around on their boats (it was a full moon!) (or should I say - full moons!) (I don't sleep naked here anymore. Not after our first night when the gale hit and we came down on poor ole' Bill from "Sarawak" at 0430 in the morning!) I thought maybe someone had fallen overboard! Turns out that those fellas from "Hope Town" were bringing Jeff & Liz's girls "home", and another dingy-load of local boys were angry at them for "stealing the women away" (as I mentioned earlier - there is a SEVERE shortage of women on these settlements) and they were following to see where they took the girls. En route one of them rode over someone's anchor chain, and the other rode over "Ocarina's". All the crew knew was that their boats were being tossed all over the harbor, and they didn't know why!! It was a pretty comical sight to be perfectly honest, and no real harm was done. Made for a good story for Jim and Lisa to tell when they got home. Another night in Paradise!
June ? (lost my calendar!), 1992
Okay, where did I leave off. Oh yes, with Jim and Lisa! Since they were flying home soon, we tried to "cram" as much activity as we could into the remaining days. Lisa and I decided to dinghy ashore for showers and a quick lunch with "Carmen" at the "Tiki Hut" (yes, she survived the "rapture") who was, as usual, watching her religious programming. There was another gentleman at the bar (drinking, what else?, a Kalik!) who was a "traveling" Jehovas Witness surfer from California. He was on a beautiful yacht, and he and his family traveled from island to island promoting their faith. What a job! It was strange see them in their "boating" attire, then run across them roaming the lanes of a remote settlement donning their suits, ties, shiny shoes - bibles in hand. Something about that whole scenario was quite puzzling to me. Couldn't quite put my finger on it. Anyway (!), Lisa and I set off for shore, feeling rather "naughty" being in the tender, on our own, without the men (aargh!). The guys stayed on "Patience" and watched our departure, and I yelled back "What's the matter?? Don't you think we women can handle this big boat???". Well, just about the time I said that the motor died. We were out in the middle of the harbor, in full view. Fortunately I had the oars with me, but unfortunately I didn't know how to use them! I had done a lot of canoeing in the past, but trying to maneuver an inflatable across a flowing tide was something else altogether! SO,,,,,, we ended up rowing around in small circles, as the tide took us out towards the channel. I turned and looked back at "Patience", hoping that Cap'n Dave and Jim had lost interest in our departure before this mishap occurred, only to find them standing in the cockpit laughing hysterically at us! But, you can imagine our dilemma!! I asked Lisa if she could row any better, and she said she'd try but, alas, no luck. FINALLY a very nice passer-by came and rescued us and towed us to the "Tiki Hut". (Thank God for all the camaraderie!) Lisa and I went about our business, delaying our return to "Patience" as long as possible, knowing we would never hear the end of this! When we climbed back into the dingy to return, we realized we were in the SAME SITUATION AS BEFORE! (we aren't as "naughty" as we thought we were, were we???). "Carmen" offered to hail Cap'n Dave on the VHF, but, not wanting to humiliate myself any more, I decided to take a look at the outboard. Dave had initially started it for us, because it is EXTREMELY hard to crank when it's cold. Well,,,,,,,, he forgot to TURN THE GAS ON! So, discovering this, I took a gamble that this was our problem all along, turned the GAS ON, cranked the motor (easier since it was warm), and dinghied (unaided!) on back to "Patience". (Aaargh!) I was right, however, we became the brunt of many "dumb women" jokes the rest of the day!
It wouldn't be a Bahamas visit without doing the "Hope Town Hop", so, being another absolutely gorgeous day we sailed over (stopping at Little Mermaid Reef on the way, of course). When the conditions are just right, it is like sailing on a sea of glass. You can see every little thing on the bottom. You can usually see quite a bit, but on (what I call) "special" days it seems you can almost reach down and pick up all the treasures laying on the bottom. I have become quite proficient at "reading the water". The grass (which is relatively safe to sail over in the shallows) has a different tinge to it than hard rock or coral (which is NOT safe to sail over in the shallows), and can tell the difference between shallows and "fish muds". I coaxed Lisa up to the bow to sit with me and showed her the spectacular sights! We sat side-by-side with our feet dangling over the bow, gazing down at the sea below. There was no sound to be heard other than the swish of "Patience" gliding through the water, occasionally splashing our feet with the warm sea spray. There are large, round sponges (look like giant "spores"), and huge starfish lay draped over them. Some of these starfish are at least two feet or more in circumference, and the brightest orange! It's absolutely breathtaking. The water is crystal clear aquamarine, and the sand is the purest white. You can see sea cucumbers dotting the bottom, and an occasional conch leaving it's trail in the sand. The "show" is most spectacular between "Matt Lowe's Cay" and "Parrot Cays". This is about as close to "heaven on earth" I believe you can get. I have come to know the bottom of the Sea of Abaco as well as the above-water landmarks! Sitting next to Lisa I suddenly realized how very tan I had become! I was beginning to feel like a real "native"!.
On the way back to "Marsh Harbour" Cap'n Dave set me out in the dingy with a camera, and SAILED AWAY! This was indeed an eerie experience! Even though I knew everything was perfectly OK, it is a helpless feeling all the same to be in a soft-bottomed dinghy, all alone, in the middle of the Sea of Abaco, watching my vessel and crew sail away (and knowing that that 6-7 foot barracuda awaited lurking under that mushroom-shaped reef nearby)! They soon tacked, sailed around me, and I was able to get several good pictures of "Patience" under sail. They soon came about and picked me up, and we sailed back to Marsh Harbour. While we were involved in this little activity "Sea Lure" had left "Hope Town" and was approaching us from astern. We decided to have a race (we ALWAYS beat them!), and, letting them pass us while I boarded and secured the dingy, they beat feet past "Matt Lowe's Cay", "Little Mermaid Reef", and were about to round the channel entrance of "Marsh Harbour". "Patience", however, was in hot pursuit, and just before reaching the jetties at the channel entrance we passed "Sea Lure" (no, Cap'n Dave didn't moon them) As we passed them I warned my Cap'n that we were cutting too close to the jetties, and just about the time I said that,,,,,,,, WE RAN AGROUND ON THE ROCKS! Right in the channel entrance, where the hundred or so-odd boats in "Marsh Harbour" could see! This was the first time for us, and we were more than a little embarrassed. I mean, why couldn't it have been at a remote location? Cap'n Dave, exercising his knowledge and expertise, repositioned the sails to blow us off, and we all laid down flat on the bow to position our weight to take us off the rocks. "Patience" made a few rocking motions, then swung around, and we were off. Whew! We ended up winning the race, ANYWAY! (But, in all honesty, we cared more about hiding in the middle of the harbor.) Fortunately, (I suppose) no one in the harbor ever mentioned the incident. Maybe it would be wishful thinking to think no one saw! (Ha! Whenever a boat goes aground, EVERYONE and their neighbor grab the binos to scope it out!)
We cleaned up "Patience", and "Ocarina" hailed us on the VHF to invite us for "Happy Hour". Soon after Jim (from "Ocarina") blew the conch horn, and we dinghied over with our guitars and a few choice hors d'oeuvres. Awaiting us were Kim and Kay from "Blue Whale" and Dave and Peggy from "To Boldly Go". Turns out EVERYONE had brought their instruments, and Jim (from "Ocarina") had an electric guitar and his wife, Sandy, had an electric piano! Lisa had forgotten her guitar, so Jim dinghied her back to "Patience" to fetch it. Well, they were gone a LONG time. We looked over at "Patience" and she was just a rockin' and rollin', and Bart (the Parrot) was squawking! After about an HOUR they finally returned to "Ocarina", and were known from then on as "the boinkers"! They never said what they were doing all that time! (didn't have to!). :-)
Lisa was a nurse in Boone, North Carolina, and, oddly enough, turns out she worked with Jim's (from Ocarina) best friend at the hospital there. Jim was an artist, so he took a quick moment and sketched his buddy a post card, and sent it via Lisa. When Lisa returned to work, she entered his office and laid it on his desk. It really surprised him, to say the least! Not only that, but another member of our "fleet", Worth, from "Tortuga" lives in Boone, sailing to the Abacos every winter, and knows many folks my Cap'n Dave and I know from Boone, as well as Morehead City and Beaufort, North Carolina. Small, small world (AND IT KEEPS GETTIN' SMALLER ALL THE TIME!!!!)
Jim and Lisa are leaving in the morning. As far as we know, they are the last of our visitors. We're almost afraid to call home! We're kinda anxious to GO SOMEWHERE! As fate has it, I have to leave now if I'm going to catch the mail boat. Since I missed the boat last week, I don't want to miss it this time.
June 12, 1992
Alone, at last!!! Company is nice, but you feel you have to constantly entertain those on such short visits - and it wears you out!! With our company went our sunshine, and it has been raining here all day. One of our favorite things to do, and one of the best ways to make it stop raining, is to strip down to bare minimum and soap up for a "rain shower". Never fails - you just get nice and lathered up,,,,,,, and it STOPS RAINING! Today was no different, however, we've improved this little technique by stopping up the scuppers and catching rainwater in the cockpit (good way to clean the cockpit, and do a bit of laundry when away from shore). I was able to gather several gallons of water in buckets today and wash my hair in fresh rainwater. I swear, when you are on a boat away from "home" for so long, such little things can bring you an immeasurable amount of pleasure! Makes you realize how really GOOD life can be!! A few die-hard boaters were scooting around the harbor today, all donning their foul weather gear, and, after our "refreshing" little bath, I heard a dinghy pull up and tap on the hull. It was Richard from "Gone With The Wind" and his dog "Scarlet" inviting us for a "boater's pot luck dinner" at the Jib Room. I adore "boater's pot luck" because, as mentioned in an earlier note, you never know what to expect! This day was no exception. Since everyone had pretty much been cooped up in their cabins all day, and were given enough notice of the gathering, some pretty exotic dishes appeared. The "Jib Room" was vacant save us "boat people" due to the rain, so we lined up several tables and spread out our feasts. There was crab quiche (made from dehydrated eggs) (still delicious, though!), dried salmon, a spectacular Mexican casserole (which I made), someone had gone to market and bought lots of fresh vegetables for crudities with clam dip, rum cake (I hate rum!!), and the list was too long to note. Couldn't sample everything, so we had our own private little party, closed and locked the place up, had free reign of the bar (since we invited Nick, the owner, and his lovely wife to join us), played pool and darts upstairs, and finally all gathered on the couches and watched a movie on the big screen TV. Sort of felt like "family" night.
From this evening on I felt the desire to head north (home). Sort of like a "calling". We had seen "Ocarina" head out the day Jim and Lisa (the "boinkers") left - and Jim (from "Ocarina" who had a collection of conch horns - all different octaves) blew "Anchors away" on his conch horns as they left the harbor, and Cap'n Dave, of course, stood on our bow playing in harmony with our conch horns - and bid them a fine farewell. Jeff and Liz from "Sea Lure" were soon to follow suit because their stuffing box had begun to leak, and they were ready to head back to Ft. Lauderdale. These were the first of our "fleet" to leave, and at "boater's pot luck" learned that Pat and Nelson from "Harambee", and Dave and Peggy from "To Boldly Go" were soon to follow. My heart misses our comrades already. We have grown so absolutely close with these people that they are indeed family.
After returning to "Patience" that evening we heard Harry (from "Odysee" who had broken his ankle from falling "up" the stairs during Reggae night at the "Tiki Hut" while drinking Rum (I hate rum) and feeling no pain (then)) re-set his anchor. We heard him pleading for assistance on the VHF for the owners of the vessel anchored next to him to return. They were only out on one anchor, and their vessel had come down on Harry's boat and both anchors were fouled. Cap'n Dave and I hopped in our dinghy and went to his rescue. Hesitant to board the other vessel while no one was aboard, we had to grab their anchor road and maneuver it around Harry's anchor. I finally had to dive overboard to aid in this task, and we finally got Harry squared away. We dinghied the other boat's anchor as far away from other vessels as possible and re-set it. Thankfully it held - and the next morning we awoke to find them gone. (Actually, I HOPE it held! Who knows, they could have floated out the channel!!!)
The dawn brought a spectacular day, and we decided to sail to "Little Harbour" again. We've spent so much time in the Abacos that, since hurricane season is right around the corner, our original dream of heading for the Exumas had become just that - a dream. One that I am sure we will fulfill next time, though! So, we headed down to "Little Harbour" with Terry from "Lady of the Lake" and "Blue Whale". Past "Lubber's Quarters Cay" (right at the tip of "Snake Cay") you have to cut through "Tilloo Banks", which offers a VERY SLIM channel to maneuver through. Not dangerous actually, because it is sandy on either side, but you have to time the tide and weather just right our you will surely go aground. We have made this cut several times and already had it programmed in our GPS, so we had no problem whatsoever, except that we draw 5 feet, and in order to make it through we have to heel over just the slightest! (because the lowest reading on the depth sounder that I have observed has been 4.5 feet!) Boy! That's what I call doing it by the hair of our chinny chin chin! This day we passed a vessel not 20 feet from us who, having veered just the lightest out of the slim channel, had run aground, and, unfortunately, there was absolutely nothing we could do to help them. They were aware of this, and were simply sitting on deck enjoying the fine day - waving as we passed.
Kim and Kay from "Blue Whale" only drew 4 feet, so, not having to worry, they scampered across Tilloo Banks with ease, and as we rounded "Channel Cay" saw them anchored near "Sandy Cay" doing some snorkeling. We anchored near them, and found the best reef so far. Not much reef damage there at all, and there we saw lots of sea turtles and small sand sharks (who could care less about you), spectacular reefs, and lots of colours!!
Waiting for Terry from "Lady of the Lake" we all ventured on towards "Little Harbour". If you remember this is the little settlement that old man "Johnson" settled with his family in the 50's - living in caves at the time. You can still see Mr. Johnson in "Marsh Harbour" with his long white hair and long white beard, very frail and tiny looking in his seemingly big old wheelchair, being wheeled by his young blonde nurse. To me he resembles "Ben Gun" from "Treasure Island". Anyway, if you also remember, this is the place where the channel can only be entered or exited by a vessel drawing more than 5 feet during high tide (or when the "dragon's paws" are under water), and where the waves crash against the rocks, creating the "boiling sea". Well, the tide was against us at this moment, so we anchored with some other vessels at "Lynyard Cay" to await high tide. Kim and Kay (drawing only 4 feet) went on in and did some exploring around the blue holes I mentioned we had found earlier. After anchoring we looked around and discovered "Nimbus", "Rum Runner", and "Thursday's Child" (part of our "fleet") were anchored nearby, and apparently had already dinghied into "Little Harbour" because upon discovering them and hailing them on VHF,,, received no response. So, we washed "Patience" down with some of the fresh rainwater I had captured, and took stock of our rigging (I discovered our "sunshower" must have gone overboard while passing "North Bar Channel" (a rather rough inlet to the sea between "Sandy Cay" and "Lynyard Cay" which is similar, but not as extreme, as "Whale Cay Channel". Soon the tide was high enough to enter "Little Harbour" and I was becoming quite anxious to see the rest of our "fleet" (who I hadn't seen in several weeks due to company), and go exploring.
Entering this harbor always makes me nervous because the waves sound and look so absolutely FIERCE as they crash against the cliffs. You have to sail right by them, and I guess visions of "Whale Cay Passage" will always bounce through my head. We have had no incidents here, but seeing the boiling sea and high rocks is intimidating. Makes you feel mighty small. I have learned to keep a lid on my fears, though, on this totally unpredictable adventure. It seems thus far, when I should be afraid, I'm NOT (except for "Memory Rock" of course - I'll never forget that damned rock #@!*&%#), and when there is nothing to fear, I'm SCARED TO DEATH! So, after a while you just sort of go with the flow.
Picking up a mooring in the center of the harbor, we lowered the dingy and puttered to shore. Cap'n Dave and I went exploring the old, dilapidated "lighthouse" there (the light still burns, but the "house" is falling in disrepair). Standing in this "house", though, you can see the "Little Harbour Channel" which is the channel we would have taken had we continued to the Exumas - next settlement to pass would be "Cherokee" (remember "Cherokee"??) thus, the need for the lighthouse.
We ambled on down to the beach, which had an abundance of "flotsam" scattered about, and, searching for "treasures", saw a familiar landmark. There, dotting the beach, was the beautiful glitter of colored lights bouncing off the sand. Jim (from "Ocarina") had apparently been there earlier and made his beautiful imprint. Gee, this is almost as good as a "note in a bottle". Memories of them ran warmly through my mind, and I wondered where they were on their route home.
Cap'n Dave, boring of my sentiment, decided it was "Kalik" time, so we climbed the dunes and ventured past the old foundry to "Pete's Pub". There we ran into our "fleet" of friends, already enjoying their beverage of choice. As I mentioned before, "Pete's Pub" is really nothing but a thatched hut - the "bar" consisting of the wooden remains of the bow of old man Johnson's wooden boat. As if knowing my nostalgia, I was standing by her bow ordering my "Kalik" when I looked up and saw "Jim & Sandy - Ocarina - 6/92" carved on her bow sprit. My heart lifted, and "Pete" said they had been there the week before playing music with him. Well, that did it, I had to dinghy back to "Patience" and get my guitar. Terry (from "Lady of the Lake") also went for his guitar, and "Pete" of course had his. So, Pete put up the "honor bar" system and we proceeded to play and sing and drink "Kaliks" until way into the evening. It was a beautiful cloudless night, and being so far from any civilization whatsoever, the sky was simply "milky" with stars. So many, in fact, you couldn't distinguish the constellations! It was beginning to get warm down here in the Abacos, and mosquitoes were beginning to appear, so we headed back to "Patience" and called it a night. Oh, but what a fine night!
Tomorrow we are going to the other side of the harbor to climb some cliffs and explore the caves. I'm sure that will be another story altogether - so,,,,,,
About the Author
Return to Articles Title Page
(c)1995 - Terri Robbins
21st Century Adventures - August 1995