Sometimes I struggle with what direction to take with my blog. My blog is called “Becoming a sailor”. But, what does that mean? Do I write about the slow uptake of me learning to sail? That I fear sharks as I clean the hull with a scrub brush? Or, do I write of the places we visit – by sailboat?
For the purists, I shall stay strictly on topic. See if this sounds natural:
Lorraine (that’s me) shouted the course, cursed, and spat as salt enveloped and stung her face. The sea spray hammered SV Aphrodite. A lone figure, silhouetted against the inky abyss, put in another reef, as the mast tilted to and fro. They worked quickly, dodging the boom as they went. And then, just as soon as the storm came, it went. The sky cleared, the darkness was behind them, and they felt a stiff breeze. The storm was over.
With that fictitious seafaring drama behind me, I shall move on to real life.
As a matter of fact, I have just learned to reef a sail – in benign conditions. That means I can tie down the sail to make the sail shorter if need be, and I can secure other lines to make the sail maintain its shape. At the helm, I am learning to steer into the wind to stay a course while my husband raises the sail. Practice makes perfect, I guess.
To catch up, we have now sailed from West Bay, New Providence Island to the Northern Exumas. And, we have had a visitor on board for the last few days.
It has been great having Ewa aboard. The kids love her, and it was nice to have someone else to help out with reading the seabed, and keeping a lookout for coral heads.
Ewa’s aim is to hitchhike – by boat – to Martinique, if possible. She will leave us soon when she meets up with the next suitable southbound boat.
As I said, we are here in the Exumas (Bahamas) – Allan Cay – to be precise, where huge iguanas roam. They are as big as house cats. They bite occasionally, but four-year old Karen was enchanted by these seemingly prehistoric creatures.
Yesterday the weather was perfect. We visited the beach and explored, what looked to be, an abandoned house.
Jumping from our boat, Karen swam without her life jacket, and discovered seeing underwater with goggles for the first time. The underwater visibility was about 80 feet. Karen put her head underwater to see our propeller. Later, she tried diving down to touch the bottom with her dad.
An ominous-looking stingray curtailed our swim. It seemed harmless enough – like a gothic cloak following the contours of the seabed. But, it was almost five feet across and, as it came within several feet of us while we swam, it certainly caused us a swift exit from the water.
But today, we are indoors and the weather is much different. The waves are tall enough to crash over the narrow islands that surround us. Fortunately, we are in a protected area.
Nevertheless we watched in the dark as neighboring sailboats repositioned their anchors by flashlight in the wee morning hours. This was no small feat as they battled the darkness, waves, current, and depth, not to mention other sailboats for a decent spot to anchor. It was quite something watching a silent orchestra of people – all working towards a similar goal – but in different boats.
By 8 AM the winds had reached 40 knots.
The winds continue to blow us about. But, we are monitoring our anchor placement with GPS. Rick and Seven-year old Paul swam to our anchor yesterday to ensure that it was properly placed. We are hugely grateful for our 105 pound Mantus anchor.
As we waited out the storm, this morning, Rick radioed a Bahamian fishing boat called “Bout Time”. They arrived to the Allan Cay anchorage this morning. A few hours later they brought us 18 conch (pronounced ‘conk’) and some grouper filets.
We will continue to watch our surroundings, location and listening for our GPS alarms. Soon the weather will be nice enough that I can return to my job of cleaning the hulk of our boat. While I don’t fear sharks here, I really could do without that stingray.