Thursday April 25, 2013
Although our rally had now been cut in half, we still remained in contact through the VHF as long as there was still range to do so, giving coordinates for a race that just lost two of it’s members. It turns out the radio on Serendipity is the only one that could hear everyone and be heard back by everyone, so for a good portion of the night we were played telephone, relaying messages from one boat to another. There was still a lot of easting to do before us and Rode Trip could get to Great Inagua which seemed very difficult when we took off from the Mira Por Vos cays. I imagined us adding on dozens of extra miles for tacking and not arriving until the next night, even though we only had 75 miles left as the crow flies. When winds started to gust into the upper 20’s though, we hove to momentarily to put a couple of reefs in the main before getting going again. I don’t know what changed, but somehow we were now able to go so close hauled that we were able to almost head directly east, making all those extra miles fall off and giving hope that we might be there just after sunrise.
With the new course set we were also able to catch up to Rode Trip who had been much more close hauled than us to start with. The scary part was, even in the dark we made them out by eye much earlier than we ever detected them on radar. In fact, they never showed up on our radar at all. We must have passed within a few hundred feet of each other, I could make out their silhouetts in the moonlight, yet they were never even a blip on the radar. We used to tease them about the fact that they were invisible in the water to other boats (they are well aware they don’t show up on any radars), but this made me seriously worried for them. They always make sure to keep diligent watches so they can spot any other boats first, but I might have to make them a couple of tin foil hats to wear on passages from now on just to bump up their visibility. Anytime something popped up on our AIS we’d give them a call, forewarning that something might be coming their way. Other than that it was just an overnight passage as usual. Georgie has now taken to sitting as tight as she can get in our lap while passaging at night, which I found very cute until it began to interfere with my quarter-hour scans. Having to climb over to the other side of the cockpit to scan the horizon under the headsail meant constantly having to put her down, which she did not like. Finally I shoved her into her little nook under the combing and blocked it with my chair so she couldn’t get out. I’m such a good mother.
As I predicted once I knew we’d be able to get our easting in, we arrived in front of Matthew Town on Great Inagua at 8 am. Although this anchorage was nice because it was directly in front of town, there was no protective harbor to pull in to, just the island in front of you and the open ocean behind you. Since we were on the west side of the island and winds were predicted to still be constantly out of the east, we didn’t see this as an issue as long as the winds did not shift or a storm did not roll through. Getting everything tidied up and put away as we always do just after anchoring, we let ourselves go back to bed for a few more hours while we waited for Rode Trip to arrive behind us. We were bright eyed and bushy tailed by the time they got in, ready to go in and explore. Since they did not get the rest that we just had, they opted on meeting us in town a few hours later after they had their own chance to clean up and fix a meal. Jumping in the dinghy we rode it up to the government dock which happened to be blocked all the way across by large boats that couldn’t fit themselves all the way in the basin. Seeing us come up, members from two of the boats took poles and pushed away from each other, leaving a five foot gap in the middle for us to squeak through.
Getting up to the main road we walked into town, which was actually quite large compared to most of the Bahamian islands we’d been visiting. Much bigger than Duncan Town of course, and surprisingly even bigger than Thompson Bay, although maybe everything was just more spread out there. The morning was already quite warm and when we walked through the doors of the grocery store we were greeted with ice cold air conditioning and Faygo soda to the tune of only $0.60. Quenching our thirst as we walked the streets, we were now in search of internet since I figured that three weeks was now quite a long time to be away from it. Walking up to a BTC building, a woman outside pointed us to a little shack on the street telling us that we could connect to the office that it sat in front of. Our guide book made it sound like you had to pay a hefty fee for internet on the island and I almost jumped for joy as I found that not only were we actually able to connect here, but that it wouldn’t cost us anything. First letting know our families that we were still alive and that Serendipity was still floating, I began to connect with all the friends we had now been out of touch with for so long, and starting clicking through the 96 emails in my inbox. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking the paved roads and actually getting lost because there were so many of them. This town may not be as big as I’m used to back home, but for the moment, it’s exactly what I needed.