We left Norman in unsettled seas to go about eleven miles south to Shroud Cay. We crossed into the Exuma land and sea park boundaries and entered area that you are not allowed to fish or remove anything at all from the land or sea. You can be fined $500.00 per person on board, have your boat confiscated and given forty eight hours to leave the Bahamas if you fish or poach in these protected marine breeding grounds. There is no cell or data service. It is the divine fish tank that you imagine God gazing upon after a hard day. We picked up a park mooring ball and went gunkholing in the mangroves and beach combing nearby.
The land protected mangroves were peaceful, still and teaming with restorative energy. We stopped the engine and floated in serene silence after a rough four days of howl and bounce. Turtles paddled by and waved at us with their fins.
Tropical Acrobats, a sleek white bird with eighteen inch long tail feathers, dove through the sky like, well, acrobats. We were instantly rejuvenated.
We met up with some friends on Soul Divers who we have been talking about this trip with for years.
Soul Divers’ Matt was our listing broker when we bought Echoes. Three years ago on our very first night picking up Echoes to move her to Marco Island, Sea Alice’s dinghy engine quit working at 1:30 am leaving us adrift. We had to call Sea Tow to come get us and bring us back to the boat. Matt drove us all over Coconut Grove for the next few days to get engine parts and help us sort out our problem. (He did not sell us the dinghy.)
We met his wife, Sadie, and an instant friendship was solidified over a crazy dinner where they were filming a latino soap opera at the restaurant and couldn’t have staff running around during filming. It took an hour for our first drink and three to get our dinner. Matt got the whole meal comped for us.
We have kept up with each other through the yrears and planned to meet in the Exumas. They had planned to cruise months before us but Irma beat up their beloved boat and permanent home something terrible.
They finally set sail with their second mate, (their cat) Toby, after over four months of boat repairs, insurance wrestling and living with a kind friend. We met again after three years in the middle of a mangrove on Shroud Cay. It is a crazy, small and wonderful world we live in.
Captain Hasanewnickname can’t believe I have not told you the story of how he go it, so here we go. We chatted with a couple at a marina, bid them farewell and went our separate ways. The gentlemen stopped me as I returned to our boat. He asked me, Why is your husband called the potato man? Excuse me?, I said, Come again? He explained, When your husband said goodbye earlier the last thing he said was, I’m the potato man. I’m the gin man would have made sense, but potato? I stood on the dock locked up and blinking like a dolt. So he went on, It is so unusual because I met a sailing potato farmer from Idaho just the other day and it’s weird that I met another potato man. I was still blinking and wracking my brain when it finally hit me. John has a heavy northern, Minnesotan/Canadian sounding, accent and this guy had a strong southern accent. The last thing John said to him was, I’m going to go pay the man. And that is how Captain Potatoman got his new nickname.