Monday March 25, 2013
High and low tide change just a little bit every day, and this morning’s high tide was scheduled to be somewhere around quarter after 7. Setting the alarm to go off when it was still dark out, we waited for just the faintest hint of light in the sky before raising the anchor to make the ½ mile trip up to Dotham cut. Everything looked calm as we approached it and I just followed the magenta line on our chart plotter, avoiding the shoals on the southern end. Everything was so calm in fact that while we were just entering the cut I turned to Matt and asked him if I should bump up the speed a little since it felt like we were moving quite slowly and I wanted to get through it as quickly as possible. I hadn’t even looked at our speed up to that point, and both of us now glancing down, found that we were moving at over seven knots, with the last bit of current pushing us from behind. The transition through the cut was smooth and without any kind of incident. Soon we were into the Exuma Sound, with depth dropping off to over 1,000 feet in a matter of minutes. Just as predicted, the winds were blowing from the east and as soon as we felt we were far enough from shore, we turned the boat south and let out the sails. Moving on a nice broad reach, we coasted down the sound averaging 6.5-7 knots the entire way. Although spending most of the trip heeled over around 15 degrees, it was well worth the wait for the right winds.
Making great time and coming up to the entrance to George Town and Stocking Island around 3 in the afternoon, we entered all the waypoints that would guide us around the coral that littered the entrance. When we were safe of that and in the main channel I hailed Rode Trip to see where they were anchored since there are nearly 15 different coves and beaches to anchor in this harbor. Finding out they were at Volleyball Beach, we searched for their yellow kayaks on deck during our approach, and found a somewhat open spot a few boats down from them. The guidebooks were not joking when they said this was a crowded area, and probably our most stressful anchoring yet, maneuvering through others sardined into the anchorage, hoping that we didn’t nick anyone as we claimed our own little spot. After a small argument on board of where to actually drop hook among the chaos, we had the anchor securely down and Brain and Stephanie were already in their dinghy and on their way over to greet us. Taking a few minutes to catch up and Stephanie bringing up right away, “What’s up with the black eye?”, it wasn’t long before we all decided that the beach and a beer at the Chat n’ Chill were looking pretty good. Hopping into their dink since we didn’t want to take ours down until the davits have been fixed, we beached ourselves and walked barefoot through the sand until we got to the bar to order ourselves a cold beer.
Back on the beach we were wading through the water when Stephanie saw a familiar face in the crowd and brought me over for introductions. The person I was going to meet was Brittany from s/v Asante, although her and I had actually talked numerous times online, usually me bugging her with questions about the cruising lifestyle since her and her husband Scott left from Lake Michigan to go cruising two years earlier. It was nice to finally meet in person and we spent a few minutes on the beach chatting before she had to relieve her mother who was visiting, from keeping an eye on her daughter Isla. Continuing down the beach a little further, Brian brought us to a spot where there were a few local stingrays that would come up near shore and let you touch them. We took turns sticking our hands in the water and let them skim across the neoprene like surface of the stingrays as they swam by. Shortly after that we were joined by Scott who also wanted to take a turn playing with the stingrays, and that gave me an opportunity to take Isla, who had just been given to him, off his hands for a few minutes to play with her on my own. She’s an adorable little girl that’s just learning to walk and talk, and would squeal and point her finger to the water where everyone was playing, while babbling in her own little baby talk.
Eventually she was passed back to Brittany and everyone started making their way back to their dinghies and their boats to prepare dinner. Getting dropped off at Serendipity, it was just a quick costume change and grabbing a bottle of wine and a few beers before we hopped back in with Brian and Stephanie to go have dinner on Rode Trip. Brian makes an amazing pizza crust that I still need to steal the recipe from at some point, and the four of us hung around in the cockpit as the sky turned black, each grabbing a few slices of pizza as they’d come out of the oven. It was so great to be among the company of friends again, but even better in beautiful and warm surroundings. When we had our fill of pizza and beer/wine, the boys and girls split ways for the night. Stephanie and I were headed to the beach where we were meeting Brittany and a few other girls, and Matt and Brian were going to be picked up by Scott to spend the evening on Asante. Taking my remaining half bottle of wine plus a few Lime-a-Rita’s and two single serve wine bottles, we jumped into the dinghy to make our way to the beach even though we couldn’t see or hear a soul there.
Beaching the dink we started to wander around in the sand thinking that maybe we had missed it all already when there were faint voices accompanied by a candle at a little table a few hundred feet from us. Sure enough, the other girls were already there and already a few glasses into their own wine. One of the first things they asked as we came up was “How loud are we being?”. When we answered that we couldn’t even hear them as we first got up to the beach, a huge wave of relief washed over the three of them, certain that their most personal information was being broadcast around the harbor. Now knowing that being loud wouldn’t disturb anyone, Stephanie and I jumped right in, with loud and drunk being one of our specialties. I was introduced to the two other women at the beach, Genevieve and Karina, who were also cruisers, but also like Brittany, had small children with them. We all shared stories of our cruising lives up to that point and future plans. Then just as the doctor ordered since I’ve been stuck with only Matt for the past few weeks, we talked everything ‘girl’ under the sun. Before I knew it, the half bottle of wine was empty, the Lime-a-Ritas were gone, and we were now dipping into the box of wine brought by the other girls.
Although I don’t think any of us were ready for the night to end, we realized it was after 1:00 and husbands might start to wonder what’s become of us. Stephanie and I dragged our dinghy back out to the water, and assuming the guys would need a ride back from Asante, headed in that direction. By this point we were by no means quiet in any way and came up to the blue hulled boat in full ruckus. I can tell my mind wasn’t working properly by the next two things that happened. 1. The boat was completely dark and it was obvious that no one was awake on board. That did not stop me from climbing right on to check it out. 2. In my mind at the time, I thought it would be hilarious to begin speaking my limited Spanish. This was me climbing over the netted lifelines and stumbling into the cockpit: “Hola!! Busco Matteo. Esta aqui?”. Yeah…..no bueno. So as I’m doing this and Steph is hanging back in the dinghy, we see a flashlight shinning from Serendipity meaning that the guys had obviously already gone back and we should leave before we woke Scott.
Too late on that count. Even though I’m sure he was in a nice deep slumber he graciously came above deck in his PJ’s to tell us that yes, the guys had already been brought back. At the same time though, Brittany was now being shuttled back by Karina and now climbing over the lifelines on the other side of the boat. Just as she’s trying to make her way up and I’m trying to make my way back down we both have Scott looking at us saying “There’s an open transom, why is no one using the step on the transom?” Half straddling the lines now I have no idea what to do since Stephanie is trying to pull me down on one side and Captain Scott is trying to get me to use the proper exit on the other side. It was literally a dance I did about five times where Stephanie would loudly exclaim, “Climb down here!”, so I’d put a leg over the lifeline, and then Scott would call, “No, use the transom step!”, and I’d go back into the cockpit. Finally sure I was about to lose my balance and go for a swim at any moment I jumped inside the cockpit and ran to the back telling Stephanie to move the dink and pick me up back there while yelling, “Sorry, Captain’s orders!”. Getting back to my boat and climbing on was much easier since I was just able to throw a leg up on deck, and it wasn’t minutes before I was passed out in bed. Good times always followed by a little chaos. I love ladies nights……
“Too shallow, that’s ok guys, I got it!!’