01 April 2012

Drifting to Bimini


JOY on the glassy sea
Flat calm today.  The moist airs are balanced with the dry airs, the cold airs are balanced with the warm.  No wind.  No sailing.  No point  in hoisting the sails even; we could just weigh anchor and drift to Bimini--or somewhere else depending on the current.  But we have enough water for another day or two (and room for more garbage than that), so we aren't in a huge hurry to get back to the States.  All the more time to play on the little pocket beach by our anchorage.

But first, a bit about yesterday…

After our second attempt at anchoring (we were dragging quite a bit on our first try), our empty tummies compelled us to abandon ship in favor of a trip to the Great Harbour Cay Marina in search of lunch, or rather breakfast.  The marina is well tucked away in The Bay of the Five Pirates (which five they do not specify).  So much so that we almost didn't find it.  We headed for the only brightly colored building surrounding the harbor and hoped for the best.  It was in fact the marina, but the advertised dinghy dock was nowhere to be found.  So we tied up at an empty slip sans ladder (which proved to be a crucial error on our part--stay tuned) and hoisted ourselves onto the dock.  Not such a great height at high tide, but of course that wouldn't last.

mom and baby
Just as we were about to inquire at the marina office for directions to the bar and grill, a guy came over to us with great urgency saying, "look at the manatees, look at the manatees!"  Unbeknown to us, we are exactly the type of people who look like they will drop everything for the chance to see a family of manatees.  Having never seen uncaptive manatees before (or maybe never before at all; we couldn't remember), we were in fact that type and  rushed over to see what he was talking about.  He pointed out the mother, her young calf, an older female sibling and the father.  "It's their mating season" he told us.  "The older one is old enough to get pregnant so the male is trying to turn her over so he can mate with her."  Eewww, my first thought.  But then who am I to impose human morals on other species.  "They come back here every year,"  he said concluding his introduction to them.
dad and older sis

"Well, you don't see that every day," we agreed and dropped our assortment of bags to grab our cameras and snap as many shots as we could.  Eventually they swam away under the docks and out of sight, though clearly not out of any sense of modesty.  We resumed our search for the restaurant.  

Our cruising guide which must be more out of date than we'd realized said it was a hopping place.  Crumbling was more like it.  Despite our now even more loudly growling stomachs, we decided to take a pass and head not-sure-how-far-down the road to the other bar and grill.  It took us a while to realize we'd taken a wrong turn and by the time we backtracked to the marina, the shabby marina restaurant wasn't looking so bad.  Just a round of drinks and an appetizer to fortify us for the walk to the other place, Jane suggested, and I quickly agreed.  The decor was a little dreary, for sure, but the conch fritters and rum punch drinks were just fine.  So back down the road--the other way--to get lunch.  

Sometimes I'm sure I know my wife.  Sometimes I am so mistaken.  Sometimes I'm so happy to be so.  We were walking along, on an actual sidewalk if you can imagine, just remarking on how many lizards there were--none of them curly tails, when a pickup truck slowed down and asked us if we wanted a ride.  "N--," I started to say, while I heard my wife say  "Sure, we'd love one!"  Okaaay, then.  A few minutes later we were at the bar, another establishment past it's prime, sadly, and had a new set of drinks in front of us.  

Somewhere in the middle of our meal, a retired couple came up to our table and asked us if we knew what the barge several miles offshore was doing with its load of boulders.  "Beats us, we're new here," Jane remarked.  

"Where are you from," the woman asked.

"We live on our boat, so wherever we happen to be," I answered smartly.

"Where were you from before that," she probed, quickly tiring of the game.

"The Midwest," I replied reluctantly.

"Us, too."

"Oh, where," I asked, happy to be on the inquiring end.


"Where in MIchigan?"

"Outside of Detroit."

"Where outside of Detroit," Jane asked, taking a turn.  "You mean like Mount Clemens?"

"No, Dearborn."

"Oh, which one of you worked for Ford?"  Back to me.  She pointed to her husband.  Set, match, and game.

"We've been watching that barge.  First it dropped off the boulders, now its picking them up.  Most interesting thing that's happened around here in three weeks.  You should come back tonight for dinner.  Ruby makes good food."

"We would, but I think we have to get back to our boat, I think we're drifting," Jane replied by way of begging off.  With that they sort of wafted away, as informal in their good-byes as in their hellos.  A few moments later, Ruby herself came by to reiterate the couple's invitation.  Clearly they were hurting for business.   But we were out of cash and they didn't take  credit cards, so all the rest was moot.  Back to the road we went, happily full of rum punch, sure we wouldn't even notice, much less mind the walk back.  But it was not to be.  Again a vehicle stopped for us, again Jane said "sure" and before I knew it we were in Ruby's SUV.  "Everyone's so nice here, it's hard to get any exercise" I said when we were dropped off at the marina.  The manatees were still slipping about, so I went off to take a few more pictures of them while Jane uploaded her blog post, having begged the wi-fi password from the lady at the marina office.  

"Give her ten dollars" Jane said to me.  "To say thank-you."

"We don't have ten dollars; we only have three."

"Well, we can't give her that, that would be insulting."

"Right," I agreed.  Jane finished her email, we packed up our accoutrement in our dry bag and headed for the dinghy now farther from the ladderless dock as the tide had gone down.  "You'll have to go in," I told her.  "If you fall in it will suck; if I do, I'll drown.  I'll hold the dinghy" (who's been reincarnated recently and is now named 'Pineapple').  Down Jane dropped onto the bow of our inflatable with both feet and for a moment all was well.  Then I watched in slow motion as she fell back into the water, her spray jacket billowing up around her, her sunglasses floating, momentarily, nearby.  "Get your sunglasses!" I shouted.  We'd already lost a pair of hers overboard.  Obligingly she dove down and found them.  Not half bad considering she needed them to find them.  She tried to hoist herself back into the dinghy, but couldn't.  But once again (or perhaps I should say "as usual"), we were saved by a guy who just happened to be nearby.  

"Here," he instructed, indicating a sport fishing boat docked at the next slip.  "I'll pull the dinghy under the dock and you get on this boat and then get on yours."  That worked perfectly.  Amid much embarrassment on Jane's part and chagrin on mine, we remembered to ask the man his name.  

"Chester," he replied.  

"Thank you, Chester," I said, "for saving my wife."

"S'alright," he said, or something equivalent to that.  At that we motored out of the marina and back across the Bay of the Five Pirates with our outboard between our legs, as it were, and back to JOY.
Today was much better, or if "better" seems overly harsh, then at least less accidental.  We took down Pineapple before breakfast and headed over to the pocket beach, coffee in hand.  Our intention was to get in an early morning game of rallyball, but there were so many life forms, both odd and familiar, that we never got around to it.  Here's Jane harassing a "plantimal" (plant?  animal? not sure which.) with a beer bottle (not ours; we pick these up and recycle them--the beer bottles, not the plants or animals).

She also happened upon an unwary  lobster who hid under a rock at her approach.  I was waiting for him to get brave or bored enough to come out so I could get a photo of him when a crab swam by my foot.  But the "catch of the day" was this.  A manta feeding off tiny little fish in the shallows that stealthily buried itself in the sand to wait for pray.  Neither of us could believe it let her get this close.

An hour or so later, it was time for breakfast, so we dinghied back.  We had to make a brief trip to the marina to get an updated weather forecast, but not before Jane went in to check on a couple of underwater things (our prop and transducer) and bring me a couple of the creatures that I don't get to play with.
looks like a bowling ball; feels like a sponge.  you decide.

We had intended to take a brief, expense-free (due to the no cash-on-hand sitch) tour of the nearby Bullocks Harbour, but a cursory "drive-by" convinced us that we'd already seen the best that this part of the Berry Island group had to offer.  Just as well, with 5-10 knots predicted for the next couple of days, we were looking at a overground speed of 2 to 3 knots (or about as fast as a person can walk).  The sooner we got underway, the better.  And so we weighed anchor and set our sails, pointless as that turned out to be.  As it happened, we couldn't even maintain 2 knots without the engines (which we don't like to use, especially the starboard engine because, as everyone now knows, it heats our water which makes the thing blow a hose and spew our precious fresh water into the bilge).  At such low speeds we lose steerage.  We were two hours and six nautical miles out, looking down at waveless water when we decided to give up.  With only 9 foot depths, it was an easy matter to drop the hook, even in the middle of not-exactly-anywhere.  We still had a little time before nightfall   We did a few chores and I took 37 pictures of a glorious sunset.

The end of another day (trying to be) at sea.

"Goodnight, sun.  Goodnight, moon.  Goodnight, stars.  Goodnight, clouds.  Goodnight, wind--oh, never mind."


  1. Another fabulous day! You wouldn't see any of that stuff in Detroit--except the people of course. Will we see you in Southport this year?
    Deb and Dan

  2. Hi, guys

    Great to hear from you. We were hoping we'd see you in Key West, or Marathon, or even Miami or St. Augustine. We don't envision going that far north.

    We think of you several times a day when we use the flashlight you gave us. Still on the same battery (but have a spare for whenever). We'll be in Florida for at least all of April.

    How's the house? How's the boat? How're Belle and Henry?