Nine days after ordering our steering parts “express” we received a call that they had arrived by plane to South Bimini (where we were anchored off of) but were delivered to a shipping agent on North Bimini. So, we dinghied to land, walked two miles and caught a ferry over to North Bimini to meet Pedro at the North Bimini ferry dock. After an hour of waiting and asking around, Pedro the garbage man stopped by in his fully loaded garbage truck to hand off our prize package. Locals wear many hats.
Back to the anchorage we went and installation began immediately. What Captain Notoriouslyunderestimatestime thought would be a three-hour project took probably ten. In all fairness, modifications had to be made to adjust a modern part to a twenty-three-year-old boat. He did a great job.
It had been nine nights, ten days and an entire bottle’s worth of Alka-Seltzer chewables on this roly-poly, quiet anchorage. Mostly, we spent the time with logistics and prepping the enormous steering project. Captain Tossalineinsteadofhiscookies did fish a bit. Not much was around. He has a chum bag that he fills with last night’s dinner waste. He drops it over the boat on a tether to attract the fish and then throws a line out. The chum bag attracted two Queen Triggerfish. Triggerfish are intelligent creatures. They usually eat slow invertebrates, like sea urchin. They are notoriously hard to catch because of their tiny mouths, strong jaws and skin like armor. Most fishermen spear them. They are delicious. These two stinkers would swim up and chew all the goodies right through the little holes of the chum bag. (They don’t like spinach.) Then they would nibble at the tails of artificial bate at the end of Captain Ohcomeon’s line. I became enamored with them. Then they became my pets. Then they became off limits as fair fishing game. They hung out by the boat and I fed them every day. Other than a successful installation and renewed steerage, they were the best part of that week and a half.
The steering cable, plate, and chain were installed in very tight quarters, with very strong language and very much effort. It was a race against the weather that we won. Had the installation gone more smoothly we were going to use the calm weather window to sail to a five-star marina at West End, Grand Bahama, sixty miles away. But since it turned into a two-day project, we needed to tuck into a marina around the corner on South Bimini, two miles away, before the winds came. Up went B.P. and off we went steering in crazy squiggles for the joy of it and to test it.
Unfortunately, we had to follow our tracks over the exact spot where we grounded and did the damaging battle with the mighty Kraken. The seas were far more settled but still, I was nauseous and spooked. As cool as Captain Cucumber is, I could tell he was feeling it, too. We were jumpy. I stood on the foredeck visually sighting and Captain Easynow helmed right over that quadrant of the sea that I will never forget in my life. We successfully passed it and crept into the cut to the marina with six inches under us and hearts pounding. First, we fueled up and then we went to tuck into a dock. Not my favorite activities. I was gazing at my wits’ end even though things were going well.
There was no one to help us with the lines for docking so I had to jump off the boat and onto the dock with the docking lines and secure them quickly. I jumped off of Echoes with a midship line in my right hand and the bowline in my left. I singled up the midship line on the first cleat on the dock and pulled the line tight and hard to help slow and secure the 22,000-pound fat ass boat. Much to my great surprise, I ripped the cleat right out of the dock. This sent me flying backward and fairly high into the air. I flew inelegantly across the dock and into the sea with an enormous splash and quite a bit of seawater up my nose. I at least had enough wits left to save my expensive prescription sunglasses. A fellow boater came to our rescue and checked first to see if I was ok, which I was, and then to secure the boat. I floated with a hand on the dock as there were no ladders to climb out on and I could not pull myself up. The man said calmly as he worked the lines, “Now don’t be alarmed if you see a shark as I saw a nurse shark a short time ago. All he will want is to be petted.” I have scuba dove with nurse sharks in the past and know they are harmless. It was more the bull, lemon, and hammerheads that I spoke of in the previous post that were running through my mind.
With the boat secure, Captain Giggling (I’m sure it was a funny sight to see) shut off the engine and lowered Echoe’s ladder for me. I climbed out dripping sea water and snot and this is when Captain Thatpartofthebodywherewasteiseliminated made his terrible mistake. He began one of his long, technical “teaching moments” on how I should have noticed the rust on the cleat’s bolt and chose the next one down. What he didn’t know, that I pointed out to him, was that if I had followed his advice, Echoes’ nose would have been three feet deep in the concrete dock. But he must not have heard me and it did not deter him from a long dissertation on brittle compounds and staying alert. I interrupted him sharply to put an end to the speech. I expressed my feelings more fully to Captain Don’tpushyourluckbuddy in private later that evening.
The winter weekly rate at Bimini Sands Marina is $100.00 for a week. That is the cheapest we have ever come by. By comparison, the five-star marina I wanted to go to would have been $250.00 a night. But I bet they have handsome dock hands and that their cleats don’t pop. None the less, we are happily and lazily regrouping. The winds are blowing. Let them. We will stay here snugly until we have a most perfect weather window to venture the next sixty miles to West End.
I know I have been wordily indulgent but my mom likes my stories. So here is a very fishy story.
Trip and Pulltha Triggerfish had been married for many years. They lived in a reef near the cold Atlantic and hunted in the adjacent bay during the day. One day, a huge, strange, sea creature came to rest in their bay. Behind the creature was a bag full of delicious delicacies. How fortunate that the tiny holes in the bag were too small for other fish but just the right size for Trip and Pulltha’s teeny tiny mouths. It was like having free, fine dining in their backyard. They visited the creature several times every day. Eventually, the creature stopped sending out the bag but began to poop out new scrumptious morsels like shrimp tails whenever they swam close. This was even easier and better. Num, num, num! But then a day came when the sea creature slowly swam away. They missed their sea creature very much.
Much to Trip and Pulltha Triggerfish’s glee, another huge, strange sea creature came to rest in their bay. They quickly swam over to the creature and waited for it to provide a bag or poop. Sure enough! The creature pooped out a small piece of shrimp. Trip, being the faster of the two, swam over and opened his tiny mouth as wide as he could and swallowed the shrimp whole. But that is not all he swallowed. Hiding inside the shrimp was a hook that lodged into his belly.
Pulltha watched with fascinated horror as Trip thrashed and struggled only to disappear up into the sky above the creature. She shuddered a bit and sped away to safety. Then a slow and wry smile began to play at her lips. Trip had been an abusive bully and also made her sleep in the cold Atlantic where she shivered every night. She swam toward the warmer bay shallows with a wiggle in her tail.
When she found the temperature that suited her she began to search for a nice hidey hole to call home. She spied a narrow door that led into a dim coral cave. She entered enthusiastically and yelped in surprise when she bumped into a napping, strapping, dapper Triggerfish named Happy. Startled, he opened his eyes wide. Well, pinch me. Am I still dreaming? He said. For you are even more stunning in reality than in my dreams! This made Pulltha blush an even more beautiful blue as she smiled an enormous smile with her teeny tiny mouth.
And they lived happily ever after.