I believe I left you about a month ago in the Abacos on a lowering tide without a paddle? My apologies. At that time, we were making plans to store Echoes for the season and I was making calls to realtors to sell my parents’ condo in Marco when things spun wildly out of control. To make a long story short, we rushed to Fort Pierce, Florida, put Echoes on the hard, bee lined to Marco and sold the condo.
But I can’t end the adventure with mundane land lubbers details. I want to tell you about the end of the voyage.
We hopped, skipped, jumped, sailed and back tracked through some familiar Abaco islands and discovered some new treasures along the way.
We gunkholed in an estuary off of Treasure Cay with hundreds of juvenile sea turtles. There is quite a bit of mystery and research about where sea turtles go after they hatch and run for their lives down the beach and into the sea. Well, I’d say a good number of them hide in this estuary of warm water, delicious sea grass and plenty of mangroves to hide in with only a few sharks to contend with.
Hershel Turtle popped his head out and quoted, “Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.” James Bryant Conant
Many of our best Bahamian friends made a special visit to bid us farewell. They wished us luck, told us to hurry back and quoted from the best. For instance, these Cormorants quoted Vince Lazzara: “God only gives you so many days but the ones you spend at sea don’t count against you”
And holding that thought, perhaps Dominic Dolphin said it best when he quoted Sir Francis Chichester: “Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk.”
Or the pod in the following video who took turns speaking the words of John F. Kennedy: “All of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.” Return to us! cried the dolphins as the darted away.
At last, we ended up in the northern Abacos at the uninhabited Double Breasted Cay to prepare for our voyage home.
We decided that rather than making several overnight stops to notoriously crappy anchorages with bumpy water that we would ride those bumpy waters while making way. In other words, we decided to sail twenty-one hours straight from Double Breasted Cay to Fort Pierce, Florida, crossing the gulf stream. We would take four hour sleeping shifts throughout the night. We spent a quiet night in Double Breasted, gunkholed and enjoyed the cays the following morning and left for Fort Pierce at about two in the afternoon as we wanted to come to Fort Pierce’s inlet at slack tide in the mid morning. The sky that night threw us the very best going away party we could have asked for.
There are three stories I want to tell you about the crossing. The first is that it was so calm that we had to engine almost the entire way. This is just fine. We were hoping for and planning on calm seas. But, it was so calm, that for our first time while underway, we grilled and made wonderful pork roast dinner along the way. It was plain fun.
The second story is from my shift from ten pm to two am. I spent the first hour dodging enormous cargo ships. It must have been a busy cross section of sea at rush hour. I changed courses several times just to be careful. It wasn’t scary exactly, but it was engaging. Then they were all gone and I got bored sitting in my princess push pit seat watching the sky. The flag directly behind me began annoying me with its flapping and whipping me. And then it dawned on me, it was windy. Now, you know that I am just a daydreaming sea princess pretending to be a sailor and that Captain Capableandincommand is the brains behind the operation. And he is always sharing “teaching moments”….”Now you see the vector radius of the dominant sail has a collateral load due to obtuse wind velocity”…but secretly I’m not listening. I’m imagining musical formulas coming out of his mouth like cranky classical music and blowing away in the wind. What I’m trying to say is, Captain Engineeringlyverboseperfectionist teaches me more by having me watch and listen than do. So come back to me at midnight, alone at sea, bored and the wind has picked up. Say, I thought to myself, maybe I could sail. I have never raised a sail on my own, trimmed one on my own or sailed on my own. A angel in a jaunty sailor’s hat and a demon with a krakens body, life vest and snorkel stood on each of my shoulders. “Don’t pick the middle of the ocean, close to the gulf stream, in the middle of the night, to make your first solo attempt at sailing!” argued the angel.” “Do it,” whispered the kraken. I very carefully let out a little sail, trimmed it and watched. Then, I let out more and more and more until the full sail was out. I turned off the engine for a while but was not making enough way to reach our goal at arriving at slack tide. So I motored sailed the rest of my shift adjusting the sail as I went. Captain Sleepyhead popped his head up at two am to relieve my shift and said, “Look at that flag, I bet we can sail.” “Look!” I said pointing to the bow with a full jib bellowing. His head spun three hundred sixty degrees with his eyes bulging. The gesture was quite satisfactory.
Story number three is John’s story from his shift between two to six am. About three am Captain Observantandcurious was watching the radar. A very fast boat sped at unimaginable knots from one distant boat to another, many miles away. He could not make sense of it. Then, he watched with much trepidation as the crazy fast boat zoomed straight for us. They reached Echoes at lightning speed, stopped about a hundred yards off to our stern and shut off their lights. It did not give Captain Ohshit a good feeling at all. There are pirates in the waters and Captain Hairstandinguponhisneck hailed the boat on the VHF. “Boat one hundred yards away with your lights off, this is the sailing vessel Echoes, state your intentions!” There was a long delay of silence and then the boat turned on its lights and sped off without a word. Days later we met a merchant marine and a treasure hunter who lived on their boats at Harbortown marina. They said that, unquestionably, it was the coast guard making their rounds on territorial seas to see who was coming and going late at night. They want to stay incognito. But they scare the shit out of you. These guys suggested that the next time it happens we we call a Sécurité, which is a maritime emergency call. They said call a Sécurité to all maritime vessels and give our exact coordinates and state that a boat with erratic behavior was following us. That, they said, will get rid of them in a hurry.
I have run out of adventure and am (you won’t believe me) running out of words. Echoes is securely held in a hurricane cradle at Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce. It was hard to say goodbye to her. She feels like an extension of ourselves. We are slowly adapting back to the crazy pace and commercialism of the United States. However, we giggle endlessly as we pour scoops full of ice into our glasses filled with fresh, unsmelly water. We spend a tremendous amount of time on our large and comfortable toilets and standing under long, long, long hot showers. We are gaining whatever little weight we lost. I stand in the wine, produce and meat sections at the grocery store as if standing in front of a line of desperate, wanting men looking at me lustily… Cap’n Jack Sparrow, a younger Paul Newman, Jeff Bridges, Lenny Kravitz, Milo Ventimiglia, Brian Urlacher… and of course my Captain whom I always choose… but my point is that the abundant delicious choices available to us on a daily basis are staggering and mind boggling. I am not used to such bounty and convenience. I am reminded that we are blessed for it.
Captain Hasmyheartandmyback and I thank you for following along on our fumbling adventures. We are already dreaming up new plans for the Bahamas next year. Maybe it will be a little more comfortable? Maybe we will stay a little longer? We give you our gratitude for your enthusiasm, support and following. Until next year, may you find yourselves in fair winds and following seas.