Friday April 19, 2013
Dare I say it, I think Matt and I are becoming burnt out on deserted tropical islands. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters that I couldn’t stop yammering about getting to while back in St. Augustine, but we’re just ready for something…different. Like the lush mountains of Jamaica, our next intended country on this trip. Although being at the southern end of the Ragged Islands puts us much closer to Jamaica than many other spots in the Bahamas, we do have to get past that little country called Cuba before we can turn into the Windward Passage (the strip of water between Cuba and Haiti) and make it to those lush green mountains. I thought my geography was getting better and that we only needed to head south for a bit before turning west, and those easterly trades we’ve been getting every day would be the best possible winds for us (ok, besides a north wind), but it turns out I’m not quite as well educated as I thought it was. Because the south end of Cuba comes out in a southwest direction, meaning we have to actually head east for a bit before we can round it. Not easily done unless you want to spend a few extra days tacking just to make that ground.
Thanks to Stephanie for faithfully listening to Chris Parker at 6:30 every morning we’d get the weather update for the next five days and try to plan our escape from there. That escape did not look like it was going to happen from the Raggeds, or even slightly further north in the Jumentos. Oh no. According to our weather guri/tactician specialist Brian, the easiest way to start making tracks to Jamaica was to actually go back to exactly where we started from in Long Island. We’d have to go a little north and a little east getting back there, but once we were, a nice day or day and a half of NE winds should be enough to carry us down to the Windward Passage where we could turn west and not ever have to think about those east winds again. Stephanie must have been itching to get on her way as much as we were, because when Brian suggested that we break up the trip to Long Island into 4-5 separate days of traveling, basically stopping almost everywhere we had on the way down and possibly taking us a week to get back up to Long Island , we were both quick to jump on him and explain that Flamingo Cay was only 40 miles away and completely in reach to travel to in one day. After all those 10 mile trips from island to island that had only been keeping us out on the water for 2-3 hours, I think we were beginning to forget how many miles you could actually put on in one day.
The trip back up was more or less the same as it was on the way down, just continuous and with Matt biting his nails, waiting to see if the work we had just done to the port side would keep water from leaking in as the boat pounded through the waves on that side. It was once again a day without any engine power, that is, until we were tacking back into Two Palm Bay and trying to get ourselves in much closer this time to minimize any swell, and I did not follow through on a tack while the anchor was being dropped which left us in 6 ft of water and quickly drifting towards those jagged coral rocks that we had been climbing the previous week. The engine was quickly on and in reverse, saving us from disaster. By the time we were settled in, we were all a little tired, a little worn out, and there was no want for fishing or bonfires. A couple episodes of Law & Order SVU and I was ready for bed.
I was happy to be back in Flamingo Cay, I had enjoyed it so much the first time that it was now on my list of top 5 places in the world (can you believe that a certain spot in Michigan still holds my #1?), so I thought it would be as magical as the first time around. Not so much. I was in a funk that I just could not pull myself out of. It may have just been a sequence of not great events. Matt dropped our 3.3 hp engine in the water while trying to get in on the dinghy, and while he was able to dive the 10 ft down to tie a line to it and bring it back up, the next hour was spent drowning in fumes while we washed it in the cockpit and put enough grease on it to make sure that thing would never seize up in it’s life. Then it was off to Rode Trip go over that morning’s weather and work on more passage planning. If I thought we were bobbing around in the swells that had still managed to find us, Serendipity had nothing on Rode Trip, who’s mast swinging back and forth could make you sick just looking at it from land. The tall Tervis of Merlot that I had armed myself with to try and improve my mood didn’t do a whole lot to help as we moved violently back and forth while listening to reports that the winds were not only staying east, but right when we thought we’d make our jump down to the Windward Passage, were going to change course to SE, exactly where we needed to go. Which meant having to wait them out. Inside my mind, I was losing it. I needed civilization. Something to remind me that I was not a castaway, only left with the means to sail from one deserted island to the next. I needed people, and stores, and dare I say it, wifi. (Yes, that zen part of me left sometime while we were bashing into the waves on our way back up to Flamingo Cay) On the right day Duncan Town might have been enough to satisfy me, but I’m quickly learning that I’m a city girl who needs something big and loud and crowded to satisfy me at least every couple of weeks. Or at least the resemblance of something like that. (Sorry, rant now over)
To blow off some energy (or steam), we all went into shore once more. There was a quick bonfire on the beach, although when it’s in the middle of the day and scorchingly hot they become significantly less fun. As soon as the last tin can crumbling to ash the fire was out. Still wanting to get in one or two more good day of fishing since it’s not allowed in Jamaica, the guys went off with their gear while Stephanie and I hiked to a horseshoe bay on the other side of the island. It really was one of the most breathtaking beaches I had ever seen, the kind where any photo could instantly become a postcard, but it was only enough to lift me out of my funk for five minutes. We walked back to the other side of the island where the guys were to see if we could spot them and walked along the jagged coral shores between beaches before I admitted that I wanted to get back before the guys so that I could have a little ‘me’ time. Maybe that’s what’s making me crazy. I’m guessing two weeks without a moment to yourself would drive almost any person insane. Throwing on some Florence and the Machine and singing my lungs out, I felt instantly better. Phew. The chance of me setting the boat on fire in the night just went down dramatically.
Later on after we’d eaten dinner, we invited Brian and Stephanie over for a movie night. While I was waiting for them to come over and tossing some leftover scraps overboard for the remoras, I noticed another fish with a bright yellow tail also coming up for his piece. The winds were still high enough that they were causing ripples on the surface and we couldn’t make out exactly what it was, but I yelled for Matt to grab his pole all the same. By this time, Brian and Stephanie had dinghied over and were giving us tips as what to use for bait on the hook. After trying lobster, we put some lunch meat on and then heard the satisfying bzzzzzzz of the line, meaning something was on the hook. With a little bit of fight Matt was able to pull up what Brian told us was a jack, and what looked to be a mini-tuna to me. After quickly grabbing our Cruiser’s Handbook to Fishing to find out how to clean a big fish, we bled it and cleaned it, throwing our filets into a Ziploc bag after eating a few pieces of the raw meat just to see what it tasted like. A little tough, but not too bad. When that was done we got onto the important stuff, like watching Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels with dark & stormies in hand. A bad start to the day with a good ending, which always has to be better than the other way around.