What’s SUP?

Tuesday March 26, 2013

(photo courtesy of Rode Trip)

So that sleep that I desperately needed after ladies night last night? I didn’t get it. Around 5:30 am some nasty thunderstorms rolled through with high winds, but what woke me up was at 7 am when I could hear Matt pacing around the salon. With the storm came a big wind shift of close to 180 degrees and now we were uncomfortably close to the catamaran next to us. Just like the time we got too close to a cat in Beaufort (or more accurately, they got way too close to us) someone now had to be on constant watch in case winds shifted even more and immediate action needed to be taken. After thirty minutes of watching and checking the weather to find out that these were the direction that winds would be hanging out in all day, we had the engine on and were all ready to re-anchor when we started following the line of our chain and realized it led to directly under the cat. So now there was no way we could even re-anchor unless they were to move out of our way. It was still early in the morning and we didn’t see any movement on board, so we thought we’d wait awhile before hailing them. Matt let out a little extra chain just to be safe and went back to bed while I stayed up to keep watch.

We still hadn’t seen any movement on board the cat after Matt got up and we ate breakfast, so we called our chauffeurs on Rode Trip to come over and help us figure out the situation since we needed to go into town but didn’t feel comfortable leaving the boat the way it was. As they were coming to our boat, the owner of the cat called them over, apparently having hailed us on 68 just after we talked to Brian and Stephanie (does no one use 16 here?). Brian explained the situation a little but said that he wasn’t the boat owner and would have us call them once he could pass on the message. Giving a ring over to the cat, Insatiable, I talked to the owner and relayed that we did in fact want to move so we wouldn’t be so close, but that because our anchor was now under them there was no way to do it without causing a collision. I asked if he could pull in his chain for a few minutes while we got our anchor and got out of their way. We all agreed on this, and I was behind the wheel ready to bring us forward while Matt was at the bow. In the end though we never did have to move, because while Insatiable was bringing up their chain they decided it would be easier for them to just move and let us keep our spot. Have I mentioned lately how great cruisers are?

Now we were free to leave and roam around town without crashing into another boat, and the sky even started to clear up and let the sun come out. The four of us made the long ride from Stocking Island over to George Town, and after getting rid of all our trash at the dumpster, Stephanie and I went to a little restaurant in search of internet while the guys tried to track down a welder. They found us a little later with no luck on their part, the guy wasn’t even around, so we continued to sit outside at a shaded picnic table catching up on all the things we didn’t have access to before. Let me just say that trying to work from the touch pad on the boat is not the same as being able to do it on my laptop, and sometimes when I try to get things up on the website they go a little…wonky. I spent the next hour just trying to go back and fix all those mistakes, as well as get one pre-written post up. The Bahamas may be beautiful, but they are definitely not conducive to work. When I was at the point where even my now slow moving laptop was about to make a trip over the railing and on to the ground below, we decided it was time to move on with our day. This led us to our first provisioning trip in the Bahamas, and leaving the grocery store with only about 3-4 items at the cost of $18. ($5 for a half gallon of milk?!) A quick stop at the hardware store gave us a jerryrig solution to the davits until we can get them properly fixed, although I’m pretty sure the dink will just stay on deck until we can actually find a welder.

The ride back across the harbor had us facing directly into the wind and waves, which meant they were constantly splashing over the side and leaving us just as wet as if we had decided to swim back instead. We figured why not spend the rest of the afternoon in the water anyway since now the sun was out in full force and there were plenty of water based activities to take advantage of. The guys went their own way in the dinghy, in search of a little snorkeling and a tour of a blue hole. Stephanie and I were going to take advantage of some leisurely ‘on top’ of the water sports, which meant kayaking for her, and after getting permission, the use of Asante’s stand up paddle board for me. I had never been on one before so I had no idea what to expect, and part of me just wanted to see what all the fuss was about since over the past few years it has now become ‘the water sport’ to do. Having a quick convo with Brittany and Scott as they passed us on Rode Trip in their dinghy, on their way to do a little exploring of the windward side of the island, Scott said he made sure the board was completely inflated, the paddle was sitting in the cockpit, and to have a great time with it.

When they left, Stephanie and I were now sitting on Rode Trip with the kayaks as transportation. Asante was sitting right next door, so my initial plan was to swim over and get the SUP that way, but then I had a bright idea. “Hey Steph, you think I could sit on the front of your kayak and you could paddle me over?”. Matt and I used to do this all the time with our kayaks in Lake Michigan when I wanted a quick effortless ride, and I didn’t see any reason that it wouldn’t work today. Getting it positioned in the water, Stephanie hopped into the seat and I gently lowered myself onto it’s bow. Straddling each side caused a little bit of wobbling at first, but then we were on our way. Making it the few hundred feet over to Asante I was determined to now get on board to grab the paddle and then onto the SUP without ever getting into the water. Not because I was afraid of getting wet, but because it was an impossible feat for graceless me, and I wanted to see if it could be done. Coming up to the stern that I was going to make sure to properly use this time, I was excited to see a small knotted rope hanging from the davits, probably placed just for the purpose of steadying yourself on one of their three water crafts, and I grabbed it to pull myself up. Upper body strength is not a strong trait of mine, so there was lots swinging back and forth and almost tipping Stephanie over, but somehow I was able to get myself upright and get both feet on the transom. Grabbing the paddle, I placed it on top of the board and while still on the stern, untied it from the davits. Getting on my hands and knees I crawled onto the surprisingly steady board and stood up. All without ever taking a dip in the drink. Success!

Making our way over to the hurricane hole, I paddled my way face first into 15-20 knot winds. I’ve heard paddle boarding can be a fantastic exercise, and let me just say that no one was lying about that. There was a point where Stephanie even stopped to talk to another boater for 10 minutes while I continued on, and it took her less than three minutes to catch up with me. Once we were close to shore the winds died down and I was able to paddle with much more ease, actually feeling progress with my strokes. It actually turned out to be a really fun activity, giving you the feeling like you were walking on water. When we did find the guys in the far reaches of the hurricane hole, I did a quick switch with Matt so he could also try the paddle board, and while in the dinghy I used his mask to stick my head underwater to view the blue hole. It was an amazing sight, an underwater cave that let from one side of the island and out the other. There were also plenty of colorful fish swimming around, but a large No Fishing sign posted just above. Guess our easy target practice will just have to wait for the good fishing waters of the Jumentos.

Later that evening we met back up on Rode Trip to plan our next day’s departure to Long Island. It was pretty straight forward, so after glancing at the charts the boys were off to play poker while Stephanie and I hung around Rode Trip, ready to dive into a bottle of Sauv Blanc I had brought over, except, we’ll let’s just say their corkscrew is a little less than desirable and neither of us could get the bottle open. That’s ok, there were still Sands laying around the boat to drink. We hadn’t even gotten through one bottle when the guys were already back. At first they tried to put us on, telling us that they were out after only two hands, but then the truth came out that the game was booked and they just didn’t feel like sitting around to watch others play. Remembering that Scott said he caught a few fish right off the side of his boat the other night with his hand reel, Matt went to grab ours in the hopes that we might actually catch something too. For a long time his line lay still while Brian would catch little snappers that weren’t worth the effort to clean or cook and kept getting tossed back in the water. It wasn’t until one had swallowed a hook and was on death row anyway that I asked for fish cleaning lessons.

Getting out all his tools, Brian showed us how to stab them in the brain with a pick to finish them off, scale their skin, gut them, and finally fillet them. After about 5-10 minutes of work, there were two nice little fillets sitting in a Ziploc bag for the two of us to take home. It was right after I was told, “You get to clean the rest of them” that both lines started jumping to life. All the fish we caught were small to ok size snappers, but there were a few worth keeping and a few more that just happened to swallow the hook. I went to work scaling and gutting, and coming out with very pathetic size fillets since I wasn’t getting close enough to the bone. But the fish kept coming and there was no end to my practice. While we still had 3-4 in the bucket, Brian and Steph had to run away to grab some new charts from a boat they had been talking to on the net, and assuming they’d only be gone an hour, we told them we’d stay and continue fishing and cleaning.

By my fourth fish I was getting a little tired of my practice and needed a nice distracting break. It happened to come in the form of Scott, who was on the way back from the poker game and stopped to talk to us. While him and Matt went on about water makers and boat bits, I grudgingly kept cleaning the fish, tossing guts into the open water next to where Scott was standing in his dink (Sorry Scott!). Deciding I really needed a break from it, I put all the tools down and washed my hands, finally filling up my glass of wine that had been opened once Brian and Matt had come back from poker. It was a beautiful night to sit outside and chat, and once I got back we changed the topic to more Jessica friendly things like touring Long Island and what it had to offer. When the sun went down and all the cruisers were blowing their conch shells, Scott made his way back to Asante and I went back to the fish. Cleaning in the dark wasn’t as enjoyable and I finished as quickly as possible, not even caring much how my fillets turned out anymore. Our Ziploc was filling up and there was definitely enough for a meal the next night. Washing down all the tools and the deck, the wind had picked up to where it was now too chilly outside and we waited for Brian and Steph to come back while hanging out below. Our days must be really starting to fill up with sun and fun, because by the time they did come back to get us, both Matt and I were passed out on the settees below.

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