Sunday June 16, 2013
Last night as Matt and I were cooking dinner,Â we could tell a storm was about to blow through the area. First the clouds highlighted to a soft but brilliant pink, and off in the distance of those clouds were faint strokes of lightning. While grilling up a few steaks in the cockpit, I enjoyed the show, wondering when the storm would actually hit. Soon after we sat down with hot plates in front of us the rain began, not even a sprinkle, but an instant downpour. We poked our heads out and looked around, but everything seemed more or less normal. Cutting into the very under-cooked meat in front of us (20 minuted on the grill for rare…really?), we felt some sudden wind shifts and threw on our cordless Raymarine remote to check the wind speeds. 28…32…36. Somewhat worried since we anchored on top of eel grass and we weren’t sure how well our anchor was holding, we tentatively went back to eating as our eyes zoomed in on the remote anytime we felt a gust. Soon, not only were the winds reaching 40 knots, they were well sustained there and still climbing. At this point it was really time to worry and I took position behind the chart plotter to monitor things like depth and the distance between us and the buoy marking the reefs directly behind us, making sure we were not moving, other than a little swinging from side to side.
We looked to be doing ok, as far as keeping our position, but the winds would just not die down. They were still holding in the mid to low 40’s but even then we’d see stronger gust from time to time. 47…49…..52. The highest winds we’d ever seen, much stronger than anything we’d encountered during Hurricane Sandy last fall. I think we were both silently cursing ourselves for not being to a suitable hurricane hole by the beginning of June when it’s possible for storms to begin forming, but that extra month out on the water traveling had sounded so much more appealing. Hearts beating fast, we were ready to up anchor at any moment, although I doubt I would have felt comfortable putting it back down in the storm, especially in the dark, and had visions of motoring around the small bay until first light. Luckily, it did not come down to that. The storm, as strong as it was, was also very quick and started to die out after 15 minutes. When winds finally dropped back in the 30’s, we let out a sigh of relief, glad we were back down to something that now seemed so insignificant. They did stay in that range for the rest of the night though, and even though we promised each other to sleep lightly that night and keep an eye or an ear out for anything that seemed strange, both of us were completely passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
This morning was a usual wandering of town. Getting a lay of the land, eating out at what we hoped would be steeply discounted prices (compared to Cayman they were, but not quite the dirt cheap we were hoping for), and wandered from place to place, trying to find a good internet connection. Strangely, the best connection we found was at Trudy’s, the hostel Nate was staying at. After running in to him there, we found out he had plans to check out a few restaurants and bars that night at the recommendation of new friends at the hostel, and lost in all knowledge ourselves, we tagged along. First was dinner at an Italian restaurant where some throng of insects must have just hatched, and these fine winged bugs tried to make homes in our hair, clothing, and even food. The critically acclaimed pasta was somehow worse than my cooking, and it wasn’t long before we exited the restaurant and were on our way again. Our next destination, a hole in the wall bar called Skid Row. Nate had heard about it from other backpackers staying at his hostel, and apparently they were famous for serving some kind of drink called Guifity, and even though I still have no idea exactly what made it up, the bottle it came in was full of leaves, herbs, and possibly dirt. There was of course, a challenge that came along with the guifity. For the cost of $10, if you could drink 4 shots of it, you were awarded a t-shirt, a symbol of pride to be worn around town, of either great braveness, or great stupidity.
I was bored, sober, and needed a little excitement, so I found a drinking partner (who shall remain unnamed) to partake in the challenge with me. I may have also participated because, well, my drinking partner was paying for me to do so. A girl can’t just pass up free drinks, even if they come from a bottle with dirt inside. (Have I mentioned I’m a cheap date?*) My heart pounded a little bit as my mini Solo cup was placed in front of me, I’m terrible at taking shots, even when it’s something I like. Our bartender with her bouncy blonde curls poured us each a shot, and I examined it through the opaque plastic. Stupidly, I asked if there was a time limit, and even if there hadn’t been one in place before, there was one for me now. 4 shots in 2 minutes.Ughhh. But there was a free shirt of my choosing at the end, and I couldn’t turn away now. Not allowing myself to even sniff the substance for fear that it would go nowhere near my mouth, I rose my glass to cheers my drinking partner, and threw the drink down my throat, doing a short little dance after where your face gets scrunched up, your tongue sticks out, and you run in place for a few seconds, sure this will make the horrible taste in your mouth go away.
One down, three to go. The taste wasn’t quite as horrible as I expected it to be, lots of spices such as cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, seemed to come to the surface. It still wasn’t an easy drink though, and I forced myself to take the remaining three shots before my brain could catch up with what I was doing. I had taken them all, and in under the two minute time limit. Success never tasted so…earthy. Given that both my drinking partner and I had passed the challenge, we went to the collection of shirts where we riffled through every size, color, and style, until we each found one that suited our taste. Surprisingly, I did not go for the pink tank top. Â It wasn’t long before the Guifity hit me full on, and I was a silly mess, changing into my new top in the alley next to the bar, and escaping both my chaperone’s gaze to wander down random docks and begin taking photos of nothing in particular. Â It was time to put me to bed. Â When Matt had gotten me back to the boat and tucked in to the v-berth, I rolled over and asked “What time is it anyway?”, thinking I’d finally cut loose and partied with the youngins. Â “It’s 8:30”, he replied. Â Huh. Â Not even out past cruisers midnight.
Â *Since some certain friends and family are starting to remind me that my life is beginning to sound like a never ending booze cruise, let me clear one thing up. Â I don’t drink much. Â Usually one, maybe two drinks, when I actually do drink. Â A wine here, a beer there. Â And since I don’t drink much….I’m usually past intoxicated at that point.
Hi Jessica. I appreciate this post so much because one of my biggest fears is that crazy sound the wind makes buzzing by the mast and dragging anchor! This post put wind speeds into perspective for me and made me realize that others are nervous as well! One other thought… Have you ever considered posting your location with your date stamp at the top of your blog post? It took me some time to figure out that you weren’t posting in “real time” but now when I read your posts, it’s hard to figure out where you are at the time of the post. Especially because I also follow you on Facebook and that real time does not match up with your blog posts! Just a suggestion. Hope you are enjoying Sud America! Are you planning on visiting Bolivia?
Drena, we used to have a location/date stamp on our page, but the one we had set up was quite a hassle, using GPS coordinates, and so finally I gave up on it. Right now I’ve resorted to ‘Currently in…’ on the right sidebar of our page. If you know of any good widget for locations though, let me know, I’d really be interested in adding it! (I know we both work wordpress, so they should be the same) What our future plans hold…we’re still not sure. There are talks of crossing to the Med next year, or just hanging in the Caribbean and maybe wandering down the eastern coast of South America. Only time will tell! 🙂
I’m with Drena, if the wind gets over 15kts I have a hard time sleeping well. Guess I better get over that soon huh?!? Do you guys use an anchor alarm? I tend to sleep a little better when we have ours set. It hasn’t gone off yet so I just tell myself that it WOULD if it needed to 🙂
Jackie, we were the same way when we started. Anything over 15 knots and we’d get antsy and have a light sleep because we were worried about dragging. But after using our anchor every night for months and months, and seeing the kind of winds it’s held up during, we don’t bat an eye now at anything under 30 (usually, it depends on where we are anchored). We do have an anchor alarm that we used to set every night, now I can’t remember if it goes on during a quiet, protected anchorage.