Cruising in Fast Forward
Cruising in Fast Forward
Jesse and I were both glad to be back in the Exumas and seriously wished that we'd had more time to spend there. We dropped the hook off of Norman's Cay, then enjoyed an amazing sunset and ribs on the grill. By now we were all settling into the rhythm of cruising—looking for the elusive green flash (Jacob and David didn't believe me. They probably still don't.), eating treats from the galley (thanks Jacob!), getting annoying songs stuck in each other's heads (that's all you, James), practicing celestial navigation (well, James and Amanda anyway) and peppering conversations with Captain Ron quotes ("…does not navigate, and in my opinion, steers badly.")
A huge difference that I noticed this time while in the Exumas is that the islands didn't feel quite as remote as they did the last time. Maybe it was because we got there so fast (we're in fast forward, remember?) or it could be that I rarely lost cell coverage. Either way. (I think that gone are the days of wandering a remote Out Island looking for the BaTelCo office in order to make a phone call. Which is a shame in some ways.)
The next morning, Jacob, David, Jesse, and I took off to explore Norman's pond, which has a downed plane in the middle of it, a relic from the island's seedy drug-running past. We chatted up some cruisers anchored there and learned that the next day started the George Town Cruising Regatta (that harbor was getting too busy for our new friends). Once we got back to the boat, it was time to head out and make our way to George Town. In order to time our exit from Norman's, our pass through Wax Cay Cut to Exuma Sound, and our entrance into George Town all in good light, we needed to leave Norman's around 4 p.m., have a leisurely night passage, and enter Elizabeth Harbour in the morning.
Of course the windex only points the direction that we want to go, so it was a night of motoring, but other than that, what a night it was. Rarely in my cruising life have I been blessed by the night watches that other cruisers rave about. My nights have typically been filled with squall lines and ships. But this night was different. When I awoke for my 0200-0400 stint, I was strangely full of energy. I went up to the nav station to relieve Amanda 10 minutes early and enjoyed one of my favorite night watches. Ever. Totally peaceful, with a crystal clear sky and a bright full moon (and great music—solo dance party, anyone?). It really was magical, and for the first time ever, I actually didn't want my watch to end. Since it was my last passage (I'd be flying out from George Town the next day), I decided that I'd wake up early to catch the moon set and the sunrise, so I slept for a couple of hours and then joined David on his 0600 watch. I even made coffee cake for the crew.
Entering Elizabeth Harbour, outside of George Town, brought back memories. The first time my husband, Green, and I sailed in there, it seemed such a remote, hard won, upwind destination, and this time, while still upwind, it just seemed easier. I was shocked when I'd realized that we'd only left Miami four(!) days before.
Jesse and I listened to the VHF chatter on the morning George Town cruisers' net—it was indeed the first day of the Cruising Regatta (volleyball games! pet parades!), which runs through March 8. Unfortunately, us crew (this was still a delivery) had some chores to do, so we weren't able to participate in the festivities. That night though, it being my last night and all, we all headed into town and went dancing at the Rake n' Scrape at Eddie's Edgewater, which was a perfect ending to my super quick cruising/delivery experience.
The morning, of course, came way (way) too quickly, and I was off to the airport to catch my first of five flights home. It was a brutal day, and totally surreal. Even now, as I'm sitting at my desk in Rhode Island on Friday afternoon, I'm wondering, was I really cruising in the Bahamas, like, four days ago? As I left the boat Tuesday morning, Jesse tells me, "don't worry, this trip is about to become a lot more like work. Your timing is excellent." Indeed, a few hours later, they shoved off and started making tracks to the Virgin Islands, which was about five days of light-wind close reaching away.
Fortunately, I heard that they got to use the sails for more than decoration.
(You can read about that part of the trip in David's post On to the Caribbean)
Check out a photo gallery of the trip.