Wednesday May 29, 2013
Can you believe that in all the time Serendipity and Rode Trip have been together, we’ve never sailed on the others boats? Sure, there have been plenty times spent hanging out on one or the others, making dinners, playing games, or just enjoying a bottle (or two) of wine, but never had we all been together on one boat while it was in motion. And probably for good reason too, if you’re traveling together you can’t very well leave one boat behind. But it also means that we’ve forgotten the meaning of a ‘pleasure cruise’. Any bit of traveling we did on our boats was because it had to be done, not just because we felt like going out for day to enjoy the water. So today, we decided to change that. With Brian and Stephanie ready to leave Cayman as soon as the next weather window pops up that will carry them North and then East around Cuba, they needed to top off Rode Trip’s fuel and water tanks. There don’t seem to be any marinas in the West Bay where we’re anchored, only in the North Sound, about 12 miles away. Another thing that happens to be in the North Sound is Stingray City. It’s a series of shallow sandbars just inside a reef where fisherman used to clean their catches and throw their scraps in the water, causing the stingrays to come feed on them. Soon it became a tourist attraction, and now plenty of charter boats visit there every day, bringing herds of cruise line passengers to watch, feed, and play with the stingrays.
Getting to Rode Trip bright and early in the morning at 7:30 am, we figured the trip up would take 3 hours, we’d play with the stingrays, fuel up the boat, have a little lunch, and be back to our mooring before dinner. Matt and I tied our dinghy to the mooring ball so the spot would be saved for when we got back, and we were off. Matt worked with Brian to raise the main sail, and then with Stephanie to raise the headsail. I took it as a vacation and sat on the coachroof, watching us now ‘racing’ the pirate ship that’s moored by us and also decided to head in our general direction at the same time. Brian made some coffee to perk us up and help us get over the dreary, overcast morning that was on top of us. Tropical storm Andrea, what we had been keeping our eyes on a few days earlier, wasn’t coming close enough to us anymore for us to be worried, but she was forecast to bring lots of rain our way. While we were sipping on coffee, Stephanie showed me these baby crabs she said they’d been finding all over their boat, mostly likely climbing up from the mooring lines. At first I expected hard shelled crabs in miniature form, but these looked like they had just hatched that morning, big buggy eyes, but still cute nonetheless. I tried to keep one as my pet until he started to run away and I accidentally squished him while trying to get him back. No one ever give me kids.
Come on Matt, you have to earn your position on this boat.
It’s 8:00 in the morning and we’re out of bed. Cheers!
RIP Herman. 5/28/13-5/29/13
(Above two photos courtesy of Rode Trip)
The remainder of the morning was calm and uneventful. We kept a close eye on speed, and even though we were hoping to keep an average of 4 knots . We were doing ok for the most part, but once we passed all the fancy hotels on 7 Mile Beach and were ready to start heading around the corner to the North Sound, the wind was coming closer and closer to being on our nose, which was really slowing down speed. In the end we decided that the only way around it was to fall off the wind, meaning we’ll have to eventually tack back in, and add a few miles to our journey. That’s ok though. It was still early, the sun was not quite shining, but we had coffee and music and good friends. Another hour or so on the water wasn’t going to hurt us at all.
Ok, so we’ve managed to commandeer Rode Trip……..now what?
All was looking ok for us to start making our way into the North Sound. We were running parallel to it and just when we’d start navigating through the narrow channel, the engine would be turned on and we’d motor in the rest of the way. The channel isn’t supposed to be very wide, or even very deep at 8 ft, but with coral reefs on each side we wanted to make sure conditions were perfect before making our way in. So when we spotted some very dark storm clouds off in the distance, threatening us with not only some nasty winds and showers, but waves that would probably do everything in their power to keep Road Trip on her straight and narrow course. And since we don’t want Rode Trip to suffer a fate like Serendipity, and I didn’t want to ruin my afternoon by abandoning ship due to a coral wreck, we changed course to head out into open water instead while the storm blew by.
As the sky grew darker, the winds picked up as well. Matt and Stephanie quickly doused the headsail while Brian put a reef in the main. The haze of rain on the water advanced closer to us, I didn’t even wait for it to hit before scrambling below. The boat was already leaning at a pretty good heel, and with much more cockpit space than I’m used to, I couldn’t find my normal footholds to brace against, and I figured a storm and a man overboard drill at the same time was probably more than Brian wanted to deal with at the helm. Once the rain did come though, everyone else was quick to join me, and we let the windvane do it’s job as we tried to stay dry and warm. The storm was fairly quick and as soon as it passed, it was all hands on deck again. Except my hands. They stayed nice and warm as I napped on the settee. Where I was told to stay by Matt so I wouldn’t get in the way. ”There’s no reason for you to be up here right now.” That’s fine. You won’t hear any complaints from me about not being able to sit in the remnants of the chilly rain.
I think….yeah….I’m pretty sure it’s gonna rain.
Captain Brian, keeping us on a safe and steady course.
I let everyone do their job for the next hour or two while I caught a few winks of sleep. I did want to see what going through this dangerous channel was like though, and I was hoping someone would come wake me for that part. And I was in fact woken up while passing through the channel. By Rode Trip. As she hit some of the coral and stopped moving. I didn’t want to make a bad situation worse by running up on deck yelling, “Oh my god, what happened?! What did you do?!”. So instead I peeked through the portholes below and kept my mouth shut until we were moving again. Which was pretty soon, and no one seemed worried about any damage since it was a relatively minor bump, and Rode Trip has a big ‘ol honkin keel. I slowly made my way up anyway, where all of us had the discussion that we knew was coming by now anyway after our now extended trip up to the sound. There was no way we were going to make it back to our mooring that night. It was already after two, we hadn’t done anything we’d started out to do, and even if we turned around that moment, we may not even make it back by sunset. What we could do, was make it into the marina to make sure Rode Trip was topped off for her Atlantic Crossing, see the stingrays if there was still time, and then tuck into a cove for the night where we’d have a crazy slumber party. Cause even 30 year olds like to dress up in jammies and have pillow fights sometimes. With the decision made, we hurried into the marina so we could get at least one thing checked off our list that day.
This marina had the coolest little island vibe to it.
After all the tanks were full we made our way back into the sound to find a good anchoring spot to make it into town. There was a ship chandler where we needed to buy things for both boats (a $250 bill for epoxy and resin plus a few other minimal things, ouch!), and then a run to the grocery store so we could get something for dinner. Along the way we followed a channel in the dinghy that led by plenty of nice homes, many with sail boats and motor boats docked out front. And strewn along every lawn and boat was a blue iguana, supposedly one of the most endangered animals on earth. To us though, it looked like we were in a scene from Jurassic Park, with a million reptiles leering at us, ready to pounce any moment. We even had one swimming toward us in the channel, although he ducked below the water as soon as the camera phone was pulled out. Seeing that dark clouds were also on their way, it was a mad dash through the store as we acted like contestants on Supermarket Sweep, throwing various items into our cart and trying to make it to the check out as quick as possible. Back into the dinghy, we zoomed back through the channel as fast as we could. Getting to the open bay, the somewhat building waves of another storm on it’s way would crash over the bow, drenching everyone inside. The cold air would send a chill down your spine, until the next wave of warm water would come crashing over. Looking over at Stephanie who was up front next to me, I smiled and yelled, “This is our life!”. Somehow it had much less enthusiasm than it did back in the Bahamas. The rain never did come, but all the clouds that piled in made for one of the most amazing sunset’s we’d ever seen, the sky illuminated into bright pink and blue colors. It almost didn’t look real, and as we motored the big boat over to our anchorage for the night, no one could keep their eyes unglued from the horizon until every bit of color faded.
Dinner was very enjoyable since we had someone who actually knew how to cook preparing it. When we were finished. we cracked open one of the extra coconuts from our day snorkeling, and added the sweet water to some pineapple juice and rum. Then it was on to one of the favorite things for three of us on the boat to do, and one of Matt’s least favorite. Playing Settlers of Catan. It’s not that he necessarily hates that game, he just hates playing any kind of game. So after the first round when most of us were ready to go for another one, but we were quickly losing Matt’s interest, we found a way to make it more interesting. Since the game is focused on building a settlement, we thought we could spice it up by making a person take a shot of rum each time they wanted to build something. Which you hope to do on every turn. And since that would put me out of the game and passed out drooling on the floor after about two roads and one settlement, we brought down the ante to only a 1/4 shot for each item built. We had much more fun the second time around, although probably drew out the game even further initially, each person collecting cards and not wanting to build anything. But since this might be the last time we play Settlers of Catan with Brian and Stephanie, we all soon decided to go three sheets to the wind. Game on!
Brian knows he has it in the bag before he even begins.