Embarrassingly, I wrote this over two weeks ago and forgot to post it. We’re on the move again so more to come soon.
The sun is rising over a pale sea. The waters are settled and the wind that we had been craving all night has failed to make an appearance. Sometime you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes you fire up the faithful old diesel and start driving. Last night was one of those nights. Not all bad since we made good time and the seas were never more than about four feet. Good sleeping conditions. The engine drones on and the only thing that keeps us from trusting the autopilot unattended is the occasional freighter. I set the alarm clock for a few minutes at a time to force myself to stand and scan the featureless horizon. The radar alarm sounds as soon as a ship gets close. Easy night watch. We decide that five hour shifts are better than shorter ones.
Not at all like the previous night. Then we had no wind, but also the bonus of seven foot seas breaking over the bow. Apparently the forward hatch wasn’t secured as tight as it could have been. The expensive new guitar got a free, salt-water bath. A freighter couldn’t tell which way we headed and countered our evasive turns by trying to steam right over us. A bright spotlight. Misunderstood words on the radio. Fitful sleep and dreams confused by the violent motion. No rhythm to the random movement of the boat. I rename the shoal near Acklins Island “the cocktail shaker.” A scheduled radio check-in with a vessel a few miles ahead told us that we could expect more of the same.
We started this small jump by leaving Long Island, Bahamas right after sunrise. The wind built as we rounded the cliffs of Cape Santa Maria; we hoisted sail and sliced into the oncoming seas but the party did not last. Within hours, the wind died out and the crisp report of full sails was replaced by the growl of internal combustion. I console myself that this is a great test-run for the newly repaired diesel. Soon we realize that we are in for a long slog. Sloppy seas slap us about like a child’s toy in a bathtub.
Dawn brings us close to an uninhabited Cay. We hide from the wind and seas behind her beaches. I sleep soundly as the sun bakes overhead. By dusk, all is calm and we press on. Another glorious night kept company by the stars rolling by.
As we close on the islands of the Turks and Caicos, I realize how lucky I am. A willingness to slow down to the ocean’s rhythms means a life lived without schedule. I have a partner always willing to take the dog watch. I look forward to the next sunset. Darkness holds no mystery. Bring on the night.