24 May 2008 | Green Turtle Cay
Scattered clouds, chance of thunderstorms. High: 82° F. Wind South 11 mph.
The sweat slips slowly down the small of my back. My hair is damp and stuck to my head. Off in the distance, thunder rumbles, but here on Black Sound at Green Turtle Cay, not a whisper of wind ruffles the water. I've got my computer set up in the cockpit so I can work trying to catch whatever wisps of wind come my way. I'm on the dock.
It's not good policy for a sailor, but all my life I've been a procrastinator. I've lived on Island Time. I figured if there was a issue that looked like it might become a problem, the best thing to do was to ignore it and hope it would go away. I've been doing this for quite some time with two problems - my engine start button and my batteries. Of course, neither issue has done anything but become a more serious problem, so now here I am on the dock at Roberts' Marine in Green Turtle waiting for the attention of the most popular man on the island: George.
George is the electronics man. Abaco Marine Services will work on everything else, but only George and Donny are the battery guys. I started this little odyssey a couple of days ago by asking two local men who were sitting outside the grocery store at the Green Turtle Yacht Club if they knew anyone who looked at electrical systems. One fellow was large (or at least his midsection was) and white, the other slender to the point of skinny and black. Both had seen their years of sun and they squinted off across the harbor, then looked at each other nodding. "Ought to see Donny. You keep your radio on?" I told them I did and they said Donny would call me on channel 16.
I returned to the boat, put the handheld on 16 and went to work on the computer. At 6:00 when I quit, I noticed the radio's battery was dead and I didn't know when it had gone. The next day, Thursday, I motored from White Sound over to Black Sound at high tide, and started the hunt for "Donny." I was walking the dog through New Plymouth when a stranger came up along side me in his gold cart (the primary vehicle used here) and told me that Donny had been calling me on the radio and to get in. I grabbed the dog, jumped in and was whisked up the hill to the home of the most talkative Bahamian man I have ever met.
"Yeah, well, it might be yo batteries that have gone bad, but then again it might be that your solar panels are overcharging and then if it is one of your batteries that one cell will pull down all the others like it did that time with this fella's golf cart and you say you have the golf cart batteries..." and on and on. The man used absolutely no verbal punctuation and he shifted over to the weather and then local politics and it was hot and I was dying right along with my batteries.
Finally, he said he thought the real man for the job would be George. He would send George round to see me if I would go back to the boat. I escaped, returned to the boat and began to wait peering out, looking for the magical, mythical George. I turned on my radio and I began to notice that everyone on boats from all over the island was calling for George. No wonder the locals had suggested Donny. He might talk your ear off, but he has time to do so. George is the most popular man on the island.
Just before 6:00, a boat pulled alongside with a white fellow with long curly blond hair and bare feet. He had a shy young Haitian man with him. They introduced themselves as George and Eddie, and they said they would be back the next day to look at my batteries. The next morning at 9:00, Eddie came out in the boat, and he told me that George wanted me to move my boat in to the Robert's Marine dock, that George would look at my batteries then, and there would be no charge for dockage. I spent all day yesterday on the dock and no sign of George.
In the afternoon, I went into town with Eddie and I told him I was a writer. I learned about his 2-year-old daughter and his wife who was in the hospital in Nassau with cancer. Eddie ran for the ferry and Donny pulled up in his truck. He asked if George had fixed me up yet. I told him that I hadn't seen much of George and after a 10-minute monologue, he drove off saying he was going to call George and chew him out.
Now today is nearly gone and the only sign I have seen of George is when he came down last night about 7:00 and told me that he had heard I was a writer. He was a bit in his cups, and he talked about his work, about life on the island. He waved at all the boats in the sound. "There are a hundred stories on everyone of 'em." I nodded. I was tempted to give George my sad story of how much I wanted to get off the dock, out to cleaner water with a working electrical system that was needed to write my stories, but I've been told that George only does work for those he likes. I can't afford to make him angry. I don't have until Christmas. I'm trying to be patient, to be nice and to go along on Island Time, and hope that George will finally find time to get to me. Tomorrow is Sunday. I don't suppose I'll see George then. Maybe sometime in June.