The Best Dorian Relief: Go Visit the Spared Bahamian Islands!

I’ve been struggling to write this, or write or post anything actually, here at HaveWind in the tragic aftermath of Dorian.  I can only imagine what it is like right now, boots on the ground, with fresh water and supplies running low, people injured and unable to get medical help, not to mention the heartbreaking decimation of so many beautiful houses, marinas, and restaurants.  Although Plaintiff’s Rest was mercifully spared, how can I post photos of us smiling, out on the boat, saying, look at us: “Just another great day sailing” [happy face] when so many others have lost so much?  I just can’t.  To be honest, other than sharing relief effort links and donating and contributing ourselves, I didn’t know what else to say.  Hence the recent silence and the last photo I posted anywhere:

But, thankfully, this is why I have Phillip.  My idea guy.  This is what he said:

“Tell them the best thing they can do to help the Bahamas recover and rebuild is to continue visiting the islands that were spared.”

Brilliant.  You can see why I love that man.  

I realized how insightful he was and how right.  Phillip was so right.  Many of the Bahamians who lived and worked in the Abacos are going to start migrating down to Andros, Nassau, the Berries, Eleuthera, and the Exumas and surrounding islands in hopes of rebuilding and finding work.  And, the economy in the Bahamas is supported almost entirely by tourism.  If we don’t continue traveling to the Bahamian Islands that were spared and continue to contribute to their tourist economy there, they will likely not be able to survive. While the loss of the beautiful Abacos, which—up until Dorian—Phillip and I had been planning on cruising again this coming season, is a tragedy, there remains so many places south of the Abacos that are equally breathtaking and that need our support.  This was a message we recently received from the Association of Bahamas Marinas:

Immediate relief efforts are imperative now to save lives and get people healthy and safe, and thankfully many people now are sharing various resources to help do that. Although it is exceedingly sad to know there are humans on the earth that prey on people trying to help in a time of tragedy like this, it is simply true, so please research relief organizations before donating.  Also, many try to go straight to the hurricane site right after the storm to bring supplies, but that can put them in a terribly dangerous situation fraught with the potential for injury, disease, and crime. Donations to the organizations that are providing supplies to Bahamians in need or helping them evacuate is crucial right now. But, I agree with Phillip that—long-term—to help save the Bahamian economy, tourism must come back.  If you had ever just fancied the idea to visit the Bahamas, please make it a priority to visit the spared islands in the coming years as they will need our tourist dollars to survive and rebuild.  

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you all some previews of the other wondrous places south of the Abacos that Phillip and I visited the last time we were in the Bahamas, that were thankfully spared from Dorian and that we look forward to sharing in more detail with you in upcoming blog posts (full of fun travel stories) because I feel we have to continue focusing on that, too: the excitement and wonder of travel. Hurricanes are horrible, but they cannot be stopped or controlled.  How we choose to spend our time, despite them, however, is something we are all able to control.  Our collective decision to continue to bring tourism to the Bahamas can help bring the Abacos back. My good friend Pam Wall, whom I will be speaking with at Cruiser’s University at the upcoming Annapolis Boat Show (please sign up if you want to attend our “Old Salts, New Systems” talk and haven’t already! : ) initially inspired Phillip and I to travel to the Abacos back in 2015. Thankfully, we did in 2017-2018 and got to enjoy those wonderful islands before they were decimated.  But, I will now join the chant Pam said so energetically to us to hopefully inspire you all this coming cruising season to: 

GO TO THE BAHAMAS!  

Andros, Nassau, the Berries, Eleuthera, and the Exumas and surrounding islands still have so much to offer and they desperately need your support.  Tourism is their lifeblood.  Keep it pumping!  Here are some of the breathtaking sights, scenes, bites, and drinks that await.  Phillip and I hope to see some of you there!  

Andros

I wrote extensively about Andros last time, showcasing all of the wonderful tucked-away treats that often skipped-over island offered up for us.  I’m so glad it was spared as we have plans to go back and stay in Fresh Water Creek and dive and spear-fish the great Andros Barrier Reef. The cost for cruising there (water and food) is much better as it is a bigger island, able to obtain and preserve more food and supplies.  

Here are some resources for things to do and see in Andros: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/the-bahamas/out-islands/andros

http://www.bahamas-travel.info/islands/andros.html

The Berry Islands

If you recall Phillip and I sailed there previously on our way home from the Abacos and met the wildly-memorable Steve and Pat who inspired my “People with Gusto” article in SAIL Magazine. The Berries offered Phillip and I some of the best spearfishing we have done in the Bahamas, and some of the bluest waters. 

They also have a world-class big fishing tournament.  Learn more about all the wonderful things you can do and see in the Berries here: https://www.bahamas.com/islands/berry-islands

Nassau

Phillip and wandered through the jaw-dropping Atlantis resort the last time we flew through Nassau and, for those of you who love the lavish, indulgent, resort-feel vacation, Nassau is an absolute dream.  Five-star dining, incredible shopping, and all still with the mind-boggling green-blue beaches that you can only find in the Bahamas.  We learned last time from our cab driver that Tiger Woods has his own golf course there, and restaurant that you can eat at.  

Here are some more resources for all of the amazing things you can do in Nassau:

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/a9261279/nassau-bahamas-travel-guide/

https://www.nassauparadiseisland.com

I also really liked what these fellow travel bloggers had to say about Nassau: https://finduslost.com/the-complete-nassau-bahamas-travel-guide/

Eleuthera

Phillip and I stayed for a while in Harbour Island, in Eleuthera, hunkering down as a blow passed through, and we really loved the community, the restaurants, and … for us … the kite-surfing! I wrote a fun blog post previously about our passage through the Devil’s Backbone into Harbour Islandand all of the fun things Harbour Island had to offer, from the pink sand beach on the North (where you can ride horses on the beach!), to the snorkeling, shelling, eat at Sip-Sip on the Atlantic Coast, and so much more!

Here are some more resources for Eleuthera.  Phillip and I barely scraped the surface exploring Harbour Island.  Next time we plan to rent a car and drive around to experience the entire island: 

https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/travel-dining/a14754507/just-back-from-eleuthera-bahamas/

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/the-bahamas/out-islands/eleuthera

Cat Island

Phillip and I have not personally been so I don’t have any personal photos to share, but I will tell you one of the reasons I knew I wanted to travel the Exumas and surrounding islands the next time we came to the Bahamas was because of a photo I saw that a friend posted of Cat Island! 

Here are some resources for things to do at Cat Island: 

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g147427-Cat_Island_Out_Islands_Bahamas-Vacations.html

https://www.bahamas.com/islands/cat-island

A fellow travel blogger also put together this nice travel guide for Cat Island: https://www.outislandlifebahamas.com/2018/08/a-mini-travel-guide-to-cat-island/

The Exumas

Thankfully, Phillip were able to make a quick jaunt over, from Andros, to the Exumas the last time we were there.  While we did not get to spend too much time exploring the Exumas (our plan is to do more this coming season), from what we saw we were spellbound.  They really are telling you the truth when they say you’ve never seen beauty like the Exumas.  We cannot wait to share more about these places we traveled to in the Exumas:

Higbourne Cay

With its picturesque marina, fun, fascinating snorkeling, and wonderfully-decadent Xuma’s Restaurant:

Here is more information on what Highbourne Cay has to offer: https://highbournecaybahamas.com

They even offer a snorkeling and diving guide for the island: https://highbournecaybahamas.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/WTD_Highbourne.pdf

Norman’s Cay

With its famous MacDuff’s Restaurantand sunken plane!

More info on Norman’s Cay:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman%27s_Cay

http://bahamascruisersguide.com/Exumas/Exumas/NormansC.html

Warderick Wells Cay

This was mine and Phillip’s favorite destination out of our entire trip to the Bahamas this last spring. Warderick Wells is a protected land and sea park so there is no fishing on the reefs, which means they are exquisite and so well-preserved!  There’s also a friendly neighborhood nurse shark that visits every new boat that comes into the anchorage, as well as a fabulous walking trail with blow holes and a signing tree.  I cannot wait to tell you more about this fabulous island, and the hilarious docking (or I guess you could call it balling … yeah you can make a comment about that ; ) balling debacle we had there!  Good stories lie ahead my friends!

Here is some more information about the beauty and preserved sites Warderick Wells has to offer: 

http://www.bahamascruisersguide.com/page75/page19/page19.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g147432-i7577-k605722-Warderick_Wells-Staniel_Cay_Out_Islands_Bahamas.html

And, these are only three of the dozens of islands that make up the Exumas, each with something unique and magical to share.  And, everyone who lives on those islands is hoping and praying for tourists just like you to come visit and keep bringing your support and important cruising dollars to their struggling economy.  Why hesitate?  So much beauty and awe awaits!  We hope his can help encourage some followers to set their sights on the amazing islands that still remain.  Our thoughts are with those in the Abacos working hard now to get safe, healthy, and out of there if need be.  Dorian was such a devastating monster.  But, the Bahamas will and can rebuild.  With our help.  Andros, Nassau, the Berries, Eleuthera, and the exquisite Exumas still await.  Our message to offer the best Dorian relief is:

GO VISIT THE SPARED BAHAMAS!

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One of the Bahamas’ Best Kept Secrets: Andros

Phillip and I had no plans to stop in Andros on our last voyage through the Bahamas.  Although we do have a good friend who told us (when we were planning our first trip to the Bahamas in 2017) that it is a great spot for kitesurfing, we got caught up like most do in our excitement to see the Exuuumas!  When most people write and post about the remote, untouched beauty of the Bahamas, they’re usually referring to the Exumas and surrounding islands. Places like Cat Island:

Staniel Cay with its famous James Bond Thunderball Grotto:

Or Little Exuma with its Tropic of Cancer Beach:  

Many Bahamas cruisers told us while the Abacos are fun and stunning in their own right, there is just something pristinely breathtaking about the Exumas.  So, when we left Bimini headed toward New Providence Channel all headings were pointing east, to the Exumas.  But, as you know from our last blog and my scariest moment of the trip, the weather forced us on a slight detour.  And, as is usually the case, Phillip and I were thrilled we took the detour because it revealed to us yet another new, exciting destination in the Bahamas: Andros. 

Although our mere single-night stay this last time proved to us Andros is a rare gem, with experiences and stories all its own, after researching further we have since learned Andros is one of the most cost-effective and well-stocked islands in the Bahamas.  Because it is so large, produce and water are often in much greater supply than the smaller islands.  As many of you may know, water can cost as much as $1.00/gallon in certain areas of the Bahamas.  With as much water as Phillip and I need to drink while sweating and dehydrating daily in the Bahamas and use for showering and rinsing the boat, the price for water in the Bahamas can start to creep into the budget.  

We also learned Andros is home to one of the best and largest barrier reefs in the Bahamas, the Andros Barrier Reef, which Phillip and I plan to dive and snorkel in the future. 

Ahhhh … it’s so comforting to see healthy reefs!

The spearfishing would also be good on the east shore of Andros as it drops right into the Tongue of the Ocean. Catching fresh fish to cook on the boat every night is not only delicious, it’s also not bad on the wallet either. All told, Phillip and I are planning to check out Fresh Water Creek and spend more time in Andros the next time we sail by. We know it’s worth another stop for more discovery because we got a personal, local peek into the island this last time when Phillip scored three-hour driving tour guided by a long-time Andros local and the Harbor Master, a wonderful woman named Kenedra (whose name I can only hope I’m spelling correctly) and her bubbly daughter, Diamond!  

We dropped the hook in Morgan’s Bluff rather early in the morning, hours before dinner time (and you remember what was for dinner that night! : ).

With the whole afternoon on our hands, Phillip and I decided to venture ashore to take a poke around and see what life is like at Morgan’s Bluff.  

I’ll admit it is just a beautiful little beach with a tiny little rum bar, but that sounds like heaven to me!  And, it was.  The beach there on the north end of Andros was nothing short of stunning. 

And, an ice cold Kalik and rum drink after the beat-down and fish battle we’d just been through was quite the reward. 

After talking with a local at the bar, we inquired about a potential tour of the island and he personally set us up with the Harbour Master, Kenedra, who offered to take us around the island herself personally that afternoon by car.  This was such a surprise and wonderful treat.  

Kenedra first took us to the huge rocky bluff on the northern tip of Andros.  It really is a steep ways up with a harsh rocky shore below. 

Legend has it, the cruel and infamous buccaneer Henry Morgan (you guessed it … THE Captain Morgan) had a hideout in a cave at this most northwestern tip of Andros.  He and his crew allegedly hid their booty, both gold and rum (that’s worth hiding!), in the cave because the bluff the cave is located under was a notoriously dangerous spot for ships.  Since most other sailors and pirates avoided this area because of its treacherous shore, Captain Morgan thought it was the best place in the world for his treasure. 

Kenendra snapped mine and Phillip’s photo in front of the sign commemorating the Captain Morgan legend on Andros.  

She told us, though, by the end of his career, legend says Captain Morgan was known not for his keen pirating abilities, but for his excessive drinking and weight gain.  Blame it on the rum … 

Kenedra drove us all over the island, stopping frequently to catch up with fellow Andros residents.  (This is very common in the Bahamas.)  Locals usually do not pass each other on the roads without honking and waving, at the very least, and often not without stopping and talking for a bit.  It never ceases to amaze me how connected they are, compared to people in the States who can go for days, weeks (months even!), without talking to any people in their neighborhood.  The sense of community there is truly heart-warming.  After the Bluff and Captain Morgan’s famous cave (and specifically in response to her daughter, Diamond’s, insistent urging) Kenedra also took us to a quirky little hotel, the Pineville Motel, where the owner has a petting zoo with an eclectic mix of animals, ranging from goats, to peacocks, to rabbits. 

 I wanted to pet (keep) them all! Thankfully, Phillip put the kibosh on it (or that would make for quite an interesting sail on Plaintiff’s Rest the next day! Phillip and I also posed for another cameo photo on the Pineville Motel’s Disco Stage.

[Strike your own John Travolta disco move now! That’s a HaveWind order!]

Yeah baby!

Kenedra also took us to an exquisite little bungalow resort on the island, the Andros Island Beach Resort, and introduced us to the owner who runs the rental units (adorable little cottages right on the beach) and the restaurant.  

Phillip and I were really surprised to see such amazing accomodations here, that would cost upwards of $500/night on the east coast of Florida going for a mere $200/night in the Bahamas.  Another reason it pays to travel.  

Diamond was cracking me up at this point. Over the course of the three hours she went from shy and unengaged to bubbly and inquisitive. Diamond and I became good little buddies by the end of it. She wanted to braid my hair. I should have let her!

Our last stop on the tour was the “Blue Hole.”  While we have since learned there are many of these in the Bahamas, the one in Andros carries all the way out to the ocean.  

The hole formed when a portion of the limestone island caved in, leaving a stunning blue water hole in the middle of the island fauna that is filled with cold, rainwater.  But, if you dive the hole, you will start to lower down into water with more salinity and you can eventually cave dive your way out of the hole into the Tongue of the Ocean on the east coast of Andros.  

How cool is that?  It was cool enough for Phillip to jump in!

I only hesitated (as you all know I love to jump from cliffs) knowing if I got soaked I’d have to drench Kenedra’s car with my wet soppy clothes and wild pile of hair.  Stinking hair … there are so many times I wish I was bald and more “quick-dry” like Phillip.  

The highlight of the Andros tour, however, was not a destination, but it was a big deal.  It was a dilly!  While we were chatting and driving around in the car, Diamond, happily jumping into our conversation the further we drove, suddenly blurted out “Have you guys tried a dilly yet?”  I wasn’t sure how to answer that.  I didn’t even know what a dilly was.  Is it a food?  Is it a dance?  A local handshake?  I could confidently say to Diamond, “No, I have not tried a dilly yet.”  With a gleam in her eye, her mom Kenedra (without saying a word) drove several roads leaning forward and looking up and out the windshield to the left and right, finally pulled off near a particular tree. No sooner than she put it in park, Diamond busted out of the car and started sprinting toward a very tall, bushy tree and began whacking at the upper branches with a long stick.  Phillip and I exchanged a fun “What’s the dilly-yo?”glance as Kenedra followed her daughter and started whacking too.  

Unfortunately, just as soon as it became clear to us they were trying to knock some type of fruit off of the tree for us to try, Kenedra said: “I tink dey all been picked ooh-vuh.”  But Diamond would not give up.  She kept scrambling, kept whacking, until we finally heard a muffled voice from within the cavern of the fauna.  “I got one!” Diamond cried as she came running out, her spoils in hand: a perfectly ripe dilly fruit.  Kenedra and Diamond eyed us as we eyed the fruit.  Diamond cracked it in half with her hands (a dilly is roughly the consistently of a firm kiwi on the outside, an almost ripe peach on the inside). The two halves were a bright, blazing orange.  

Definitely a fruit I had never seen before.  The word guava came to mind, but then I remembered those are green on the outside, pink on the inside.  This dilly was totally different.  But, the taste was very similar.  

Mmmm guava … I thought as the super sweet interior slipped down my throat.  Phillip and I ate both of our halves right there on the side of the road in Andros, getting all sticky-fingered without even caring, and we still note it as one our favorite “bites” of the entire trip.  

I think it was the combination of the surprise and newness Andros offered, the generosity of our hosts, and Diamond’s enthusiasm to share something of her local community with new friends.  All of it came together to culminate in the perfect sweet treat.  As we said goodbye to Kenedra and Diamond and dinghied back to our boat, Phillip and I agreed that’s what Andros felt like to us: the perfect sweet treat.  New, unexpected, and rewarding.  

Andros, we will definitely be back.  Next up, we’ll weigh anchor from (Captain) Morgan’s Bluff and make our way to our first island in the Exumas!  Man, so much work and effort has gone into bringing the boat to this point.  I still get thrills now just remembering and writing about it.  Stay tuned!

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Fish Off the Hook – MY Scariest Moment of the Trip

Do you see it in the photo? That fish is off the hook! Literally!  Looking back, I still can’t believe Phillip and I actually got that one into the cockpit, but the pics are proof: WE DID!

Ahoy followers!  After that stretchy sidebar, it’s now time to get back to our Bahamas saga.  When we last left our hapless crew, Phillip and I (well, actually I) had just accomplished my best de-docking ever leaving Bimini (and, don’t worry, there will be plenty more not-so-great dockings after).  We were heading out early in the morning after a five-day hunker-down (that’s a military term I think) in Bimini when we had some steady east winds upwards of 18 kts on us for several days.  While it did make for some great kiting in Bimini, after five days, most of the boats on our pier were ready to toss the lines and get going.  

The winds were predicted to be a light ESE, that Philip and I were hoping would turn more south than east. (And, I hope you’ll notice my clever “hope” foreshadowing here.  As is often the case when we try to predict the wind, we are wrong.  I would call it bad foreblowing as opposed to foreshadowing but I wouldn’t want to entice toooo many foul jokes : ).  The winds were nice enough to start.  We were hauling away from Bimini toward our entrance into the Great Bahamas Bank with plans to make an overnight passage to either the west harbor on Nassau or—if things were going well on the passage—all the way to the Exumas, which was our ultimate goal this first leg of the trip.  Always good to have planned “outs” and “plan Bs” at the ready.    

It was a brisk romp in about 18kts of breeze (not what we expected, so much for the foreblowing) but it was comfortable making our way toward the Great Bahamas Bank.  

Phillip and I are still very pleased with our decision to trade out our whopping 135% genoa for our 90% offshore working jib when we’re cruising island to island (or country to country) and know we’ll be doing a good bit of offshore cruising.  Unlike “Genny,” our little “Wendy” (aptly named by one of my HaveWind followers) is super sporty and rarely gets overpowered.  It was really a fun day sailing all the way into the Great Bahamas Bank and beyond.  

While I didn’t expect it, after spending only five days and four nights on the dock in Bimini, I had already missed offshore voyaging.  That may sound a little silly having just crossed the Gulf Stream to get to Bimini, I’m serious!  When you actually get going and find yourself weighing anchor (or tossing the lines) and getting the boat moving—to an entirely new location—every 3-4 days, 5 days starts to seem just one to many.  The moment you’re back offshore, moving again, you realize how much you missed it.  

And, it didn’t hurt that the stars over the Bahamas Bank that night were just decadent. A white smattering of them, like salt on the sky.  And, I remember seeing several shooting stars that evening (and making several wishes). That I cannot share!  (It’s a Star Pact.)

The next morning, I had the sunrise shift, which is totally fine with me.  I love the shift where the sky transitions from night to day.  It’s amazing to watch it change seemingly slowly at first and then so quickly.  It still stuns me sometimes—when Phillip and I are in work mode, doing all of our busy marketing and lawyer work on land, where we don’t see near as many sunrises and sunsets as when we’re on the boat cruising—that this still happens out there. Out there, every morning (when it is clear), the sky turns from this velvety purple, to mind-boggling magenta, to a warm welcoming pinkish-yellow.  Every day. Whether you see it or not.  It’s not like wondering whether a tree that falls in the forest makes a sound.  No. I’m confident every single sunrise is beautiful, exquisite, whether seen or not. 

But, that serene “Ahhh … life is wonderful” Annie-moment didn’t last long as we were coming towards the entry into the Northwest Providence Channel and the Tongue of the Ocean. In reality, it is a rather wide entrance.  But, when a barge is coming through at the very same time, it is a rather narrow entrance. Phillip had only been asleep about 40 minutes when I was debating waking him again.  Not that we try to be prideful, in not needingto wake the other crew member (known on our boat as the “other captain” : ) up—well, Phillip might be … a tad … he still is a Marine, or helpful, in letting the other person sleep more when we know they are tired.  

No.  On Plaintiff’s Restwe try to always follow the standing “When to Wake the Captain Rule” which I have written on before.  That rule is: It’s time to wake the Captain when you’ve thought: Maybe I should wake the Captain.  Standing rule.  Applies all the time.  

And, with a 600-foot barge coming toward the NW Providence Channel inlet the exact same time I was with a CPA (closest point of approach on our AIS) narrowing from 0.8 of a mile to 0.6 down to 0.3 in about 20 minutes, I knew it was time to wake my “other captain.”  While Phillip was not thrilled with his 40-minute-only nap, he is always very diligent in getting up and getting alert quickly when there is a potential issue. Although this one was a little embarrassing in that by the time we passed the barge just before the entrance, it was clear 0.4 nm apart is a perfectly safe distance in the daytime with everyone motoring along in calm seas.  The entrance to the channel suddenly felt monstrously wide leaving me plenty of room, which mighthave left me a little embarrassed for having woke Phillip.  But, I was not.  This is the very reason for the rule.  It alleviates the need to feel embarrassed or ashamed.  (And I like it that way.) 

But that little “adventure” was just the start of our harrowing day which turned out to be MY scariest moment of the entire trip.  I have written about Phillip’s before.  It was our “Auto Turn-Notto” dilemma before we left for the Bahamas (which, granted, was before we left for our trip) but that was Phillip’s answer when he was asked: “What was your scariest moment of the trip?”  That was his. This was mine.

As we started to make our way into the Tongue of the Ocean, things got a little bumpy.  The predicted “light” ESE winds were 18+ kts right on the nose.  While Phillip and I had been hoping they would turn south sooner as predicted, they had not.  And, ironically, although they had been blowing like stink dead out of the east for days, we would have welcomed an east wind now as it would have been more on our beam, rather than the nose.  But, nope.  We had those two kinds of winds that often occur together: winds of the wrong speed and in the wrong direction.  “My favorite!” said no sailor ever.

While we were … somewhat comfortable … it was a bit of a bash-around bumpy ride, and the thought of continuing in that fashion for another 6-7 hours to Nassau or (worse) another 18-24 to the Exumas was … not very appealing.  After some discussion, thought, and chart-checking, Phillip and I decided to pull into Andros.  We had never been there before, but a good friend of ours from back in Pensacola (Captain Jack if you’re listening – here’s your “shout-out!”) had highly recommended it as a more untouched part of the Bahamas and a great spot for kitesurfing.  Two things we love to find the most while traveling: tranquility and kite access. So, we decided to head for a new anchorage to us, a place we had not originally intended to go during this trip to the Bahamas, but NOT “going with the weather” was a lesson we had learned in the past.  

The wind and seas were telling us to get out of this mess, so that is exactly what we chose to do.  Morgan’s Bluff looked like a safe little harbor that would offer us awesome protection from the ESE and S winds for the evening while this stuff blew over.  

It seemed, from the info in the charts, there was not much to do ashore, but we didn’t care. Phillip and I can make a lot of fun out of “not much” if we need to, and that’s only if we need.  We are perfectly content to sip sundowners in the cockpit, cook aboard, and watch the sun go down.  So, it was Morgan’s Bluff or bust!

But, that also meant coming into a new, narrow entrance in some kicked-up seas with winds on the nose knocking the boat all around.  Good times. While the B&G chartplotter showed a nice little curve of an inlet with plenty of depth and very clear markers for it, that map was for FantasyLand!  In reality, there were no markers in sight.  Although this is common in many places in the Bahamas (they simply don’t have the government funding, or the need, to maintain navigation markers as rigorously as we do in the states), it’s often not a big deal because the Explorer Charts are soooo accurate.  If I haven’t stressed that point strongly enough, I’ll happily do it again: If you’re planning to go to the Bahamas, get and study the Explorer Charts before you go and use them while you navigate!  www.explorercharts.com.  

Phillip was at the helm while I was religiously trying to match the lats and lons on the Explorer Charts to what was showing on the B&G as we made our way into Morgan’s Bluff in Andros.  Maybe for some of you this is easy (following lats and lons on a diagonal).  Annie proved to be not so good at it.  To my credit, I asked Phillip to let me helm this time on the way in while he navigated (since I did such a piss-poor job of it when we made our way into Bimini) but he said he was “in the zone.”  I would have loved to have been in his zone, because I was totally screwing up my zone. I don’t know how else to explain it other than a brain fart.

For some reason I was watching and monitoring the lats just fine, counting each degree as one, but stupidly my brain decided to attribute ten degrees to every one on the lons so I had us coming in almost dead from the north straight toward Morgan’s Bluff as opposed to making a wide curve to the east and coming in inside the inlet.  

This is the actual, natural channel you should take into Morgan’s Bluff.
This is the haphazard path I had us on which was littered with little “x’s” on the chart to mark rocks. : O

Once I realized my mistake I could see we were weaving through some rocks along our path toward the harbor with no seemingly safe space to turn around, so there was just nothing we could do but hope the rocks were deep enough not to cause any problems.  That was one of the worst gut-wrenching moments I’ve had on our boat, feeling the boat rise and fall with the waves and thinking I might be the cause of our keel striking a rock.  It literally made me feel sick, and I hope I never have that feeling again (although I’m sure I will).  The only other time I’ve felt physically ill because of something that might happen to the boat was when Hurricane Nate was seemingly making its way to Pensacola in 2017.  Yuck.

I will also go ahead and admit here I didn’t disclose the full gravity of our situation to Phillip at that time for two reasons: 1) I knew we couldn’t change or improve it at that point so why worry him further, I thought; and 2) I became too distracted anyway when right as we were bashing through the hairiest part, we got a

FISH ON!!!

Isn’t that when it always happens?  Phillip and I had been trolling the entire time since we left Pensacola, all the way around the Florida Keys, across the Gulf Stream, and once again when we got into the Tongue of the Ocean, and that entire time fish after fish had bitten off our lure.  Phillip and I joked often—when people, in person or on Facebook asked whether we’d caught any fish on the trip: “Of we’ve done plenty of fishing,” we’d say.  “We just haven’t done any catching.”  And, it’s true.  We lost lure after lure to those feisty fish in the Gulf.  I had to laugh thinking all those hours we spent when we were sailing over tothe Bahamas, in calm seas just watching the fishing line hoping for a bite, reeling it in time and again “just to check” we’d say, and throwing it back out. Any of those times would have been the perfect time to snag a big fish.  But, no, Neptune has to throw one our way when we’re beating and bashing along, off of the safe path (thanks Annie), making our way into a new, unknown harbor.  That’s the perfect time to be hauling in a fish!  

So, haul we did!  I took the helm and Phillip started pulling slowly and steadily winding our hand reel in.  I will say I was grateful for the excitement of the fish in that moment to dissipate some of my boat nerves.  In that sense the fish was a blessing.  But, boy was he a monster?!  Here’s one quick little video of him popping out of the water.

The first time I saw him zip to the outside of the boat, breach the surface and sink back down, I knew he was big.  Phillip could tell by how hard he was having to pull—using his entire body to arch back to get some length in the line so he could then fold the hand reel over to get another 10 inches on the guy.  

It was a slow and steady fight but Phillip finally brought him close enough where I could try to gaff him, which can be very hard to do with a fighting monster three feet below you, on a bobbing, swaying boat.  But I finally got him right under the gills and by some wicked twist of fate it was at that very moment the hook came out of his mouth, which meant my gaff was the onlything standing between us and the biggest fish we’ve ever seen behind Plaintiff’s Rest.  I was terrified he was going to kick and flail and fight his way off—and, believe me, he tried—but I kept turning the hook in hopes it would hold—and, thankfully, it DID!  When I hauled that bloody beast over the lifesling (leaving a nasty bloody trail on it but I didn’t give a you-know-what) and flopped him into the cockpit floor, Phillip let out a “Holy crap, that guy is huge!”  And he was.  That was the biggest fish we have caught to date on Plaintiff’s Rest.  He was as long as my leg!  And, that’s not a tall fish tale.  We have proof!  

That photo, however, was the second picture I made Phillip take because I wanted to capture the full length of that guy before I hacked him up and, in trying to do so the first time, the fish flipped off my gaff right when Phillip clicked the camera. So, we captured a fish in mid-air!

It was such a wild, heart-pumping moment pulling that guy in while bashing our way into Andros, scary but fun, frightening but exhilarating.  Cruising often feels like that.  All the times between the leisure, lavish cocktails-and-bikini days.  How did my friend Pat define cruising?  Oh yeah: Serene, tropical days interspersed with moments of sheer terror.  Yeah, that about sums it up.  Oh, that and the fish!  I made a bloodbath of our cockpit cleaning that big boy up.  

But look at that filet. It’s bigger than my thigh!  (And I’ve got some meaty thighs!)

As Phillip and I often do when we catch a fish that big, we cut up equally-sized (to the best of our ability) filets and bag some for the fridge, but more for the freezer so we can enjoy fresh fish at any time during our travels.  The Mahi we cooked up that night, was probably some of the best fish we had during our entire trip to the Bahamas.  (I’m sure the sheer terror of the moment combined with the monstrous fight getting him into the boat, followed by the hour-long cleaning of the fish, then the boat had some impact on the flavor, but it was a well-earned reward).  

And, I kid you not, that fish fed Phillip and I, two filets each (at least, sometimes 2-3), six dinners over during our Bahamas trip.  It had to be 8-9 pounds of edible fish.  That guy was such a blessing!  A long-awaited one, and certainly a wildly ill-timed one, but a blessing all the same! 

Thank you Neptune!!

Next up, we’ll share one of our favorite new places in the Bahamas.  A spot Phillip and I never thought we would stop at this trip but one we cannot wait to go back to explore further: the beautiful, untouched, but well-resourced, Andros.  Stay tuned!

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Stretching the Love with Spandex Therapy

It’s like stretchy therapy for your heart and soul. Because life happens.  We all struggle.  Laughter helps.  But, spandex heals.  Hello HaveWinders!  I wanted to take a quick detour from our Bahamas tales to share some exciting news and one helluva inspiring story.  If Spandex Therapy is anything, it’s about sharing people’s stories.  But it is also my latest business venture!  This lovely (and very funny) gal here, Rachel, and I recently launched our Spandex Therapy website and swag at a Pensacola paddle board event!

When my friend, Rachel, first came to me with the idea, my face probably looked a lot like yours did when you read the title of this blog.  “What is Spandex Therapy?” you’re probably wandering. The funny thing is, YOU are probably a huge fan of what we call “spandex therapy” already, you just didn’t know it. Spandex Therapy is about inspiring and connecting people who get their bodies moving to keep their minds balanced and buoyant.  We share their stories because they empower us in the face of our own struggles, because everyone has a story.  Whatever you’re struggling with—whether it’s huge (the loss of a loved one or some other deep heartbreak or sorrow) or just the minor stresses of life that make us feel small, angry, stressed, disappointed, like a failure—it helps to step outside, move your feet, connect with nature and other people, and let the stress you’re dealing with start to pour out of you (like sweat!).  Spandex Therapy offers content and gear that inspires people to laugh a little, love a lot, and go work IT out.  It’s not exercise. It’s therapy … at your own pace.

You see? That’s some pretty empowering stuff. That’s why when Rachel asked me to be her business partner in launching this awesome platform, I said yes!

She sealed the deal with a unicorn ring. I’m a sucker for unicorns.

And, look at me.  Donning spandex right there!  I mean, I practically live in spandex!  

You all have seen me in so many different photos at HaveWind getting my sweat on in spandex (often not from working out, just from working on the boat) but that counts as therapy, too.  Whatever you do outside to stay active and improve yourself and your life, it counts. One of the reasons I immediately fell in love with Rachel’s Spandex Therapy concept was because it screamed of my own experience.  

I wrote a good deal in my book  Keys to the Kingdom about the years I spent in a bad marriage, practicing law to the point of busting an artery.  I was heavy. I was drinking too much.  I was hardly active.  And, I knew I needed a change.  While I did not know cruising the world on a sailboat would BE the change, I knew sitting in an office 8-10 hours every day working in front of a computer doing a job that made my blood pressure soar was not healthy for me.  A huge impetus for my own life transition was a desire to GET OUTSIDE and GET ACTIVE.  I wanted to travel, to try new things (which included sailing and kitesurfing and eventually aerial silks!).   All of those activities are therapeutic for me. They keep me balanced, happy, and whole. 

That is the reason I joined Rachel in her admirable cause, and because she is an exceptionally inspiring person.  You see, like me, Rachel also has a life-transition story.  While every other person I have met who understands Spandex Therapy has an equally empowering story, Rachel’s does stand out.  Four years ago, Rachel was not the person you see today: running 5Ks, doing open bike rides, marathons, triathlons, etc.  

She weighed over 200 pounds and was a smoker.  She had just gone through a wicked divorce from a man who was suffering extensively at the hands of his own demons, and trying to raise their young son alone as a single, working mother.  Her life was then thrown into a tailspin when her father’s son was rendered a paraplegic in a motorcycle accident.  He hit rock bottom, as did she.  

But, instead of crumpling, Rachel put on her sneakers instead.  She found strength (as so many do) in the supportive Spandex community.  She also got to witness first-hand the healing power spandex had on her ex-husband as he began racing in his wheelchair.  He is now much healthier, physically and mentally, and an avid wheelchair athlete.  He is an entirely different person, as is she.  Rachel went from doing 5Ks to 10Ks to a half-marathon, to a full, to finally a very dark year she spent training for Ironman, where she ran the last 16 miles in the pouring rain, but she freaking did it!  

Rachel finished!  She did a 70-point-freaking-3!

She didn’t find out until several weeks later, however, that Ironman did not agree.  When the official times were posted, Rachel saw a big “DNF” next to her name, which meant she “Did Not Finish.”  She missed the 17-hour limit by one minute.  One measly minute … 

But, you know why that didn’t have any impact on her? Because Rachel’s got one helluva sense of humor, which I think is necessary to get us all through this crazy ride that is life.  “DNF is better than DNS” she says with a smile. “Didn’t Never Start!”  That gal…  Despite the Ironman disappointment, Rachel is still an avid racer, runner, biker, etc.  “I just have to TriHarder,” she says.  Ha!  Because “triathlons make me wet.”  You’ll see a lot of fun taglines like these on our Spandex Swag, which I’ll be sporting often because:

Folks like Rachel and so many of her Spandex Therapy tribe members, as well my many other idols whom I’ve written about before—Pam Wall, my featured People With Gusto (Pat and Steve), my inspiring silky friend Nikki Beck—whose stories of happiness despite heartbreak, courage in the face of what would seem to be catastrophe, always inspire and humble me.  They remind me that whatever little stress or struggle I’m going through likely pales in comparison to someone else’s.  By sharing our stories we all empower each other to grow, laugh, and heal.  That’s what Spandex Therapy is about and I’m proud to be a part of the team.  Feel free to check out our platforms:

www.spandextherapy.com

www.facebook.com/spandextherapy/

www.instagram.com/spandextherapy/

And follow the journey.  Our whole goal is to:

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My Best De-Docking Yet!

Man am I proud to tell this story.  You all know what a stupidly frightening part of cruising docking has been for me. I’ve shared many times on this platform my worst fears in cruising.  Number one has to be hurricanes—the sickening feeling that everything we’ve worked so hard for could be wiped out with one callous sweep of Mother Nature’s hand (although I could never blame her with the unforgivable way humans have absolutely ravaged this earth).  Number two, however, used to be docking.  And, I do hope you noticed the phrase “used to be” there.  While I still think Phillip and I have a perfectly admirable healthy fear of docking, after this last voyage to the Bahamas, I think I finally knocked docking down a rung or two where it now resides under heavy weather sailing and running aground.  Number five is running out of booze.  Always has. Always will be.  

Ahoy crew!  When I last left you here on the blog, Phillip and I had just experienced our best and worst days on the trip in Bimini, Bahamas. Well, I have to admit this docking day would probably rank up there as well, at least in one of the top five best days of our trip for sure.  It was when we de-docked after staying five days in Bimini.  (And, I’ll admit I’m not even sure de-dock is a true word, but it’s an acclaimed one here at HaveWind, respected, revered, and used often!)  

Phillip and I knew, when we arrived in Bimini, that it was going to be a while before we could leave.  The GRIBS were telling us it was going to blow a hard east, southeast, upwards of 18, 20, even 25+ mph for days.  As leaving Bimini to travel anywhere else in the Bahamas would be a no-fun bash to windward, all five boats on our finger pier decided to stay in Bimini for a week to let the winds die down. And, this was no setback by any means. Bimini is a fun, funky place with several little restaurants and bars, good grocery stores (I mean, good for the Bahamas). If an island gets a boat in every week with fresh produce, you feel like you’re in heaven. There was also a stunning bluewater shore on the north side of Alice Town.

I would also be remiss if I did not mention Joe’s Conch Shack in Bimini. The fun “friendly” place, the sign says with a huge conch pasted on some even huger boobs. Yes, very friendly. But, honestly, they were. We had the honor of meeting Joe, himself, who told us his tale of how he got into the conch salad business, the many years he spent making conch salad roadside as well as table-side at fancy events, and all of the “running around” he did. “I’ve got twelve wives and fifteen kids,” Joe said. “I did my running around.” Ha haaaaa. Love that guy. And, watching him dice an onion into pieces smaller than my pinkie nails without even looking at it will blow your mind. I’ll be he’s cut somewhere north of a million onions in his life.

While it was howling, Phillip and I were grateful for the time it afforded us to really explore Bimini and immerse ourselves in the island culture. And, thankfully, when it blows, we know we also have another fantastic activity option: kitesurfing.  I will say, that is one of the best things about being a kite-surfing-cruiser.  Usually sailors like to sail in winds of 10-15, often downwind in the direction they want to travel, but we all know it’s not very often those two things happen: wind in the right speed and the right direction.  So, for many cruisers, days of winds of 20+ that would be on the nose, force them to stay hunkered down in their boats with little to do on the water. 

This is one circumstance where being able to kite-surf truly gives Phillip and I an exceptional alternative. When the wind is too rough to sail, it often lends us the perfect conditions to tear it the *bleep* up on the kite!  And, we do get a lot of looks from folks in the marina, biding time in their cockpits, wishing the wind would die down, watching us walk back and forth with all of our kite gear and, if they can see us on the water, watching us zip and slide while riding the kite—often with a face of envy.  I will not lie in saying Phillip and I kind of like that face.  It reminds us how much the work and investment we put into learning how to kite and acquiring the gear to be able to take it with us on the boat so we can kite while cruising was 100% worth it.  

In Bimini, we were lucky to have an awesome dock neighbor, Justin, docked right next to us at BlueWater Marina who turned out to be a professional photographer with some high-end equipment. He and his sweet girlfriend, Rosie, spent a couple of very fun afternoons capturing photos of me and Phillip kitesurfing, offering us some of the best pictures Phillip and I have ever seen of ourselves kitesurfing, and we were super grateful.  And, it seemed a fun way for them to pass the time on the dock while the wind was hammering us in Bimini.  Many thanks to Justin and Rosie for these amazing kitesurfing photos!

But, when many cruisers are waiting for the winds to settle down so they can make the jump to the next location, they often all seize the same weather window to leave.  When the forecast finally showed a lighter south wind day, all five boats on our finger pier decided to leave the following morning—some headed east toward Nassau and beyond, others headed west across the Gulf Stream back to the states.  The next day we were all gathered and walking the dock early, ready to help toss lines and make sure each boat got off safely.  I love that comradery and generosity among cruisers.  

The first boat off the dock was a Catalina 42 on the farthest dock out near the channel.  The winds were blowing a light ESE not expected to have much effect on the boats so we were all anticipating fairly easy shove-offs.  That was the idea anyway … 

NOTE: No boats were substantially harmed in this de-docking or the remake.

The Catalina came off the dock no problem.  With five hands on the dock helping to ease the boat out, everything was going very smoothly.  The captain then began to back the boat up a bit further and turn his stern to his left (the north) so he could then shift to forward and navigate his way out between the two finger piers.  

As he was backing up, however, the wind and current was clearly impacting him more than he anticipated.  The captain and his mate were waving and saying goodbyes not quite aware of how quickly his port side was nearing the dock.  Then we heard him shout, “The wind’s got me!” when he realized how far his boat had drifted toward the finger piers and pilings he had just escaped.  

Everyone on the dock immediately began running either to the stern of their own boat to fend off or to the end of a finger pier and we all began pushing on the Catalina anywhere we could—the toe rail, stanchion posts, the stern.  It was like a human assembly line working the boat off the dock at each contact point.  

And, despite a few light bumps, our team of five was soon able to get the boat moving safely back in the middle of the aisle between the finger piers.  

Whew! we all breathed collectively.  

Next up to leave was the Benneteau to the right (south) of Plaintiff’s Rest.  This was the boat owned by Justin and his lovely girlfriend, Rosie, who had taken our kitesurfing photos.  Phillip and I and the rest of our de-docking team were up on the dock and ready to help them with their lines.  Thankfully, again, everything went smoothly as Justin exited the slip.  He started backing up and turning his stern to the north to navigate his way out.  I remember someone saying, “Alright, this one’s got it.”  To which I responded: “It’s not over yet!”  

I didn’t mean to jinx them but, unfortunately, just as the Catalina captain had done, as Justin and Rosie were farewelling and saying goodbyes, Justin’s Benneteau was drifting perilously close to the dock.  When Justin realized how close he was, we all could see the whites of his eyes as the folks on the dock ran through the same drill we had just been through, fending the Benneteau off at every stern, finger pier, and piling we could reach and—again—it took a five-man team to keep the bumps light and get the boat moving safely again.    

Having watched both of those boats de-dock, I knew I was in for it.  Phillip and I had decided at the beginning of this trip that we were going to split helm duties 50-50.  It didn’t matter the conditions or if the various entrances, anchorages, or docks seemed trickier than others, if it was “your day to helm” it was simply your day to helm.  Sailor up and grab the wheel.  

Well, today was my day. 

After we saw the first two boats bump their way out of the marina, Phillip asked me if I wanted to let him take the boat off the dock that day and I said no.  I had to man up.  This was our deal.  And, I did feel much more confident in my de-docking skills at that point.  I mean, I haven’t side-skidded into a tiny slip with cross winds and current … yet, but I had done my fair share of some backing up and maneuvering—even in tiny spaces where the docking was not super easy.  Marathon, FL was one example where I had to make several circles before I could get turned the way I wanted to and docked on the fuel dock, and I felt in control and calm the entire time.  Primarily, I was now much better at using thrust, forward, reverse, and the rudder to move the boat the way I intended.  There was no getting out of it.  It was my day.  But, I did have one condition: “I want that beefy guy on the dock helping when we leave,” I told Phillip.  

That beefy guy is Scott. He and Heather from www.cheapasstravelers.com on s/v Amun-Ra, a beautiful 37-foot Endeavour, cruise with their incredibly well-mannered dog, Jetson.  

They were a lot of fun to hang out with on the dock while we were in Bimini and they’re both cockpit-fitness gurus, which Phillip and I can appreciate.  Cruising is a lot easier and way more fun if you’re fit, and they both definitely are.  But, with the number of boats left on the dock dwindling and Scott having shouldered the brunt of the boat-shoving that morning, I definitely wanted to leave while he was still there.  So Phillip and I checked the fluids, cranked, and readied the boat to leave while we still had some strong hands on deck for help.  I didn’t want to need the help, but I darn sure wanted it there if I did happen to need it.  

Thankfully, the docking debacles of the previous two boats that had just left had taught me a lot.  They are both able captains and were just surprised by the swift force of the current in the marina.  I definitely had the benefit of hindsight and experience. The lesson was: back way the heck up before shifting to forward and throttling my ass off to get out of there. That was my plan anyway.  And, it was one that would have served me far better had I done that during my most memorable (and emotional) de-docking: my first one, where I almost ripped one of our shrouds off and suffered a teary come-apart afterward.  If you haven’t seen that awesomely-raw footage, please feel free to view it, the first video in the article, here.  You’re welcome.  

I was not going to make that mistake again.  Nuh-uh.  No way.  Not Captain Annie.

I kicked it in reverse and the 2-3 folks left on the dock helped our boat off and tossed Phillip the last of the lines.  I kept backing up, backing up, and backing up, until I could see the whites of Phillip’s eyes worried I had gone too far.  I could tell he was trying not to say anything, but he finally caved. “Don’t go back too far,” he said.  But, I have to tell you I relished in this moment.  

There have been many times where Phillip was at the helm, and I was at the bow, feeling unsure of the boat’s movement, what hold the conditions may have on it, or whether Phillip had the control I desperately hoped he did.  And the reason I did not know any of that is because I was not at the helm.  Holding the helm tells you everything you need to know about how the boat is responding.  In that moment I knew.  I knew I needed to go a bit further back and I could feel the minute I put it in forward, the boat was going to start lunging back toward the piers on my port side.  It’s hard to explain, but I could just … feel it.  “Just a bit more,” I told Phillip.  “I see it,” referring to the boats and piers I was coming perilously close to behind me.  

When I felt I had got as close as I safely could to the finger piers behind me on starboard, I then threw her in forward and gunned the shit out of that thing.  

Brandon would have called me a “throttle jockey” and boy was I one that day! I’ve never throttled that thing so hard!  I revved her up, threw the wheel over hard to starboard, and rocketed out of that marina without hitting a thing.  

Scott, Heather, if you’re reading this: while I’m so glad I didn’t need you on the dock that day, I’m so grateful you were there.  This one goes out to all the cruisers who have run to help a struggling boat while docking or de-docking, because you know that is going to be you someday and you will want every hand on deck possible to wrestle your boat to safety.  

It was a pretty cool feeling that day to be the first boat that didn’t bump on the way out (thanks mostly to experience and hindsight, that always helps) and to be the only female among the boats that had left from our pier so far that day to do it.  Rosie the Riveter would be proud.  Phillip sure was too, grinning from ear to ear as we pulled out into the channel in Bimini, unscathed. Whew! Another de-docking behind us.  And, Heather from CheapAssTravelers was conveniently walking around at the north tip of the island, where we kited, as we motored by, and she snapped a few pics of us heading out that day.  Thank you Heather!  

Despite my small accomplishment in successfully de-docking, however, I cannot claim the Most Badass Female Award that day.  Ironically, while I thought it was quite a big deal I had got off the dock without a scratch—with five hands helping and a two-member crew—we later learned another female that morning had de-docked entirely alone, while traveling single-handed, AND sailed her boat solo across the Gulf Stream back to the states.  I mean … damn.  

It was such an honor to meet Jessie from Kate and Jessie On a Boat which was a very popular series in Bob Bitchin’s Cruising Outpost magazine in 2017.  Jessie is now married to a right and witty English chap named Luke, and the two of them had just completed their first Atlantic circle as their honeymoon which they concluded in Bimini.  Yes, you read that right: first two-crew offshore ocean-crossing + honeymoon. I mean … Yes, I had to keep saying that when I was around her.  Jessie is just so stinkin’ impressive!  While Luke had to ferry back to the states to check in, Jessie sailed herself ALONE across the Gulf Stream and into Miami.  She cracked me up with her reasoning: “I’ve sailed across the Atlantic Ocean twice, and Luke was asleep half the time, so I’ve practically crossed the Atlantic alone. I’m sure I can do this.”  That girl.  This one goes out to you Jessie, and your incredible feat!  You can follow Jessie and Luke’s continued adventures at www.instagram.com/jessiebrave and www.onaboat.net

We’ve got more fun Bahamas stories and lessons to share here with you next time at HaveWind.  Next up, we make our way across the Grand Bank and have one of our biggest scares and wildest moments (of course they happen at the same time) outside of Andros.  Stay tuned!

More photos from our time in Bimini – enjoy!

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Our Best Day and Worst Day, Both in Bimini

It’s a small boat, right?  I mean, I know it depends on whether you’re getting tossed around in some gnarly sea conditions. Then 35-feet is quite a small boat, way too small.  You’d much rather be on a 900-foot cargo ship then.  On the other hand, when you’re docking in wind or current and you’re barreling toward a slip that looks like the mere eye of a needle that you’re expected to actually fit your boat into, she’s quite a big boat then, 35-feet is way too big to fit in that tiny slot without hitting every piling and other boat on the way in.  But, there’s also another time the boat seems a bit too small: when you’re in an argument with your one other crew member.  

I mentioned this moment in my Birthday Tribute: 37 reasons (to match my proud 37 years!) why this past voyage to the Bahamas was one of our best yet.  It was the fight Phillip and I got into when we were navigating our way into Bimini. This was after a very (I hate to say it, but sometimes it just is – luck runs both ways) easy Gulf Stream crossing from Marathon, Phillip and I were making our way into the BIMINI entrance (as shown on the Explorer Charts – do not do the Bahamas without them) when things went sideways.  

As I said before, nothing needs to be re-hashed, but it was one of the most heated moments Phillip and I have had on the boat.  And, for us, those are exceedingly rare.  Honestly, in the six years we’ve been sailing together, I can count the number of arguments Phillip and I have had, where we actually raised our voices on the boat, on one hand.  And, that’s not meant to be boastful.  I know many couples vary greatly from us and many have their own dynamic, their own way of communicating and showing their love and passion for one another, and for conveying their anger or disappointment.  Many couples fight often (and often it’s lightheartedly although their words are still sharp).  Spats are just a part of their discourse and that works for them.  That does not work for Phillip and me.  

All evidence to the contrary, I am exceedingly anti-confrontational.  I get nervous and shaky at the thought of having to argue with someone I love, which often results in me doing a piss-poor job of standing up for myself and persuasively stating my position.  I know what you’re probably thinking.  But she was a lawyer.  I said “with someone I love.”  When it’s opposing counsel on the other side, just another lawyer just doing his job, too, then look the heck out.  I’m a tiger.  But, that’s worlds away from having an argument with Phillip.  With Phillip, I turn into a sniffly puddle of goo when I have to confront him.  But I’m proud to say I did not this time.

Bottom line was, I screwed up plotting the coordinates in real-time as we were coming in via the BIMINI waypoint on the Explorer Charts.  By the time I realized my mistake, I had us closer to the breakers to the south of the entrance than either of us would have liked. 

And, let’s see what you guys can make of this.  In my state of confused worry and fear, trying to convey to Phillip that I might have had him holding too much a southern line as he was sailing toward the entrance I said:

“You’ve gone too far east.  You need to go north.”  

Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?  What, really? That’s crazy talk??

Phillip’s face probably looked something like yours does now.  “We’re going east,” he said deadpan.  “East is the goal until we get into the channel.”  Then I blundered and muttered and tried to show him coordinates on the chart while he’s trying to hand-steer under sail into the entrance, a very wise time to put charts in front of his face, don’t you think?  Yeah, he didn’t think so either.  

Needless to say some harsh words came my way which I deserved but did not take well. But, Phillip and I know when to put a disagreement aside for a later date so we can (pardon my French) get shit done in the moment.  Despite my goof, we made it into the channel just fine and were navigating perfectly north through the channel into Bimini.  Now it was time to find our marina (we had decided to stay at Blue Water Marina, a nice middle-ground choice between Brown and Big Game we thought), hale the dockmaster, locate our slip, and get docked.  There would always be time to discuss our little tiff later.  So, that’s what we did.  

Phillip did a great job docking the boat, with great help from a very friendly chap on the dock.  The dockhands in the Bahamas are all so helpful and friendly!  Then, later, after some steam had worn off, I mustered up some goo-prevention strength and found the courage to tell Phillip, without sniffles, that I was just trying to keep the boat off the breakers to the south and that he had hurt my feelings.  And, he, rightfully explained how consumed he was in the moment and how my north-west mumbo-jumbo was, quite frankly, a disappointment.  But, we talked it out, then we made up, joined hands and sang Kumbaya. 

I’m kidding.  Although there is, and will always be, random song outbursts on Plaintiff’s Rest.  Ironically, we learned later that the BIMINI entrance on the Explorer Charts suffers from continual shoaling on the south side of the North Bimini Entrance Point. So, my blunder probably kept us off of that unknown shoaling to the north.  Oh the irony!  But, that is just another great example of the lack of any need to get flustered or high-and-mighty while cruising.  Mistakes are just par for the course and sometimes they prove—with the benefit of hindsight—to not even be mistakes at all.  Some turn out to be happy accidents that save your hide. Or hull, as the case may be.

But, what was most ironic about having a fight make that day—our very first day in the Bahamas (which probably had Phillip and I both silently worried about how the rest of this voyage was going to go) one of our worst on the boat was that the next day turned out to be our best day of the voyage.  Cruising is funny that way in how quickly things can turn good or bad.  I think that’s a huge part of what makes you feel so alive out there.  

Everything is so volatile.  Whether or not things are going to go as planned (when you can even plan them), whether you’ll get into some unexpected weather, whether you’ll be able to safely find where you’re going, and whether that place will be a total dud or absolutely obliterate every expectation you had for it is always up in the air. Every outcome is waiting to be lived to see how it turns out.  None of them can in any way be predicted.  I’m hoping that makes sense to those of you reading who have not yet gone cruising and are just in the planning and plotting phases of it. Because, to me, the unexpectedness of it all, the IN-ability to plan your days and adventures is what makes it even better.  

Case in point: our best day in the Bahamas was the very next day in Bimini. Phillip—my Paddington Bear, the best travel buddy you can possibly have (sorry, he’s taken)—surprised me with a booked charter dive our very first full day in Bimini.  “We’re going to dive the Sapona!” he said.  I had no clue what a sapona was, but I didn’t care.  I was going diving!  “Awesome! My first sapona!” I squealed, which made Phillip chuckle.  He loves me ‘cause I’m blonde. (Sorry, I’m taken, too.)  Turns out, there’s only one Sapona, so this was my first and last, but I learned all about the Saponaon the boat ride out to our dive spot and was fascinated by its rich history. 

The SS Sapona, a cargo steamer, was part of a fleet of concrete ships built at the directive of Woodrow Wilson for use during World War I.  After the War, it was sold to a Miami developer who used it initially as a casino, then later for oil storage.  It was then sold to another developer in 1924 who used it to store alcohol during the Prohibition, but with plans to turn it into a floating nightclub thereafter. Unfortunately, the Sapona ran aground near Bimini during a hurricane in 1926 and broke apart.  Now, sitting in only 15 feet of water and having amassed an impressive fish and marine life population, it is a popular dive spot for professional charter dive boats and cruisers in the Bahamas.  You can learn more about the fascinating SS Sapona here.