Going to Sea
26 June 2008 | Lynyard Cay
Scattered Clouds. High: 86° F. Wind ESE 8 mph.
The time has come to say good-bye to my summer sail through the Abacos. I have been down here at the southern end of the sea of Abaco going into Little Harbor and enjoying beers and the company at Pete's Pub - and going out and anchoring off of Lynyard Cay and snorkeling and playing fetch with my dog Chip on the long empty sandy beaches. It has been a glorious five days.
I caught up with my friend on CIRCE and we got together with the folks on HOT LATTE-TUDES and snorkeled on the reef off the southern end of Lynyard. They found three conchs and that evening, we enjoyed a lovely dinner aboard with cracked conch, conch salad, rice and peas, fried plantains and fresh mango. I caught up with the ARTFUL DODGER in Little Harbor and together with Marlene, another solo woman sailor, we explored the caves at dusk with a flashlight spooking each other out. At Pete's Pub, I met Stanley from Cherokee who told me stories about lobster fishing and what it is like to stick your hand into a hole and have a moray eel clamp his teeth on one of your fingers. And snorkeling off a little protected reef, I saw a baby turtle with a shell about a foot and half across asleep on the reef, and when he took off on his slow and gentle flight it was magic. In the span of an hour, I saw him and a sleeping ray on the bottom and a pair of amorous lobsters enjoying their dark hole. And last night as I put my steak on the grill off the stern, a pair of dolphins surfaced and blew not two feet off my stern and they proceeded to swim circles around my boat as Chip barked at them. In the past few days I haven't written as much as I would like on the book, but I have lived well and gathered memories that will work their way into my fiction one of these days. A day spent on the reef is never a day lost.
So now my alarm is set for 5:00 a.m. when I will run the Intrepid Seadog to shore for his last leg lift and then I will hoist the outboard, hoist the dinghy in the davits and hoist the anchor. The cut through the reef here is only about a tenth of a mile wide and I'll have my laptop out in the cockpit on the seat with the GPS NavX running and I'll make my way out to the open Atlantic. The weather forecast is for only 8-10 knots of wind, so it may be a motor sail. I have a little more than 150 miles to cover. I've prepared everything I can think of and now I am enjoying an evening glass of wine and then to bed. It will be a 30-hour sail, at least and I'll see if I can stay awake and if I can coax the aging pup to pee on the boat tomorrow night.
I'm excited. My greatest fears? Ships and falling overboard. I have fashioned a line to trail that will be tied to the power cord to my autopilot. I always wear my safety harness, too. But I know myself. I got myself one of those fancy PFD harnesses for this trip. It's got this high collar in back. I hate it. I always start out with the harness and then as it gets hot and itchy, I often abandon it. I get cocky. I've sailed tens of thousands of miles and I've never fallen overboard. The thing is, nobody who ever fell overboard though that it would happen to them. It's always a surprise. I've considered gluing a piece of salami to the stand-by button on the autopilot in the hopes of teaching the Intrepid Seadog to go for the salami should I go overboard, but it hasn't worked out yet. In the meantime, I'm going to force myself to sweat it out with the harness. Someday, I think I would like to sail across an ocean by myself. Tomorrow's 150-mile sail is just the beginning.