Sunday, February 15th: We pulled up anchor just before dawn, knowing that the 40nm sail would take the better part of the day and that Norman Cay’s narrow channel and strong current required maneuvering in broad daylight. Jason very dutifully slogged 8nm directly into the 20k wind and its incessant barrage of choppy waves with the engine racing only to have Blue Moon make way at a snail’s pace. It was a bouncy, cold, unpleasant ride. I slept, showered, and poked my head out of the cabin just as we were rounding the tip of Eleuthera, where we were able to fall off and set the sails for a beautiful sail across the Exuma Sound, 15-20k on our beam. We were doing 8k! Go Blue Moon! (I realize if any non-sailors are reading this and have used the google to determine that 8 knots is only 9 miles per hour, they are thoroughly unimpressed. Blue Moon tends to sail around 4 knots, but often sails as slowly as 2 knots. With 15-20 knots of wind in your face, and waves breaking under your hull, I assure you that 8 knots feels very fast.)
Monday, February 16th: We went ashore for a run around Norman’s Cay. We’d run the island last year, at least a time or two, but extensive construction on the south end has changed the island significantly. The airstrip we used to jog across is now 5 times longer and fenced in. The road we used to jog to get to the north end is now two huge excavated pits full of water. I have no idea what they’re building, but it’s big. Somewhere between the dinghy, the construction site, the new detour around the airport, and the new bar we stopped at after the run, I lost the money I’d tucked away in my pocket. Jason had to run back to the dinghy (another 1.5m), dinghy back to the boat (and then row after the dinghy engine ran out of fuel), grab his wallet, dinghy back, and then bike back to the restaurant (on our folding bike he’d wisely grabbed from the boat), just to pay the check. Note to self: Let Jason carry the money.
Tuesday, February 17th. We spent the day at our favorite beach, swimming in the gloriously warm and clean water, eating a picnic lunch and reading great new books (Brita: Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor; Jason: Longitude).
We came back to the boat for a bit so Jason could make dinner and Brita could exercise. Mid lunge, I noticed a woman on the bow of the boat behind us waving and saying “Hello.” I said “Hello” back, but thought maybe she was waving at the boat behind me, so I didn’t pay much attention. Then I saw her pointing to a man about 200 yards off her stern in the water. He appeared to be snorkeling and did not appear to be in distress. But she shouted, “Current!” and I quickly understood that the man had gotten swept away from his boat by the wicked current that rips through here. I also got stranded mid channel last year in this current, trying to return to the boat after a swim to a small sandy cay with a single palm tree. Jason, thankfully, is a much stronger swimmer than I am (let’s be honest, Jason is a much stronger just-about-everything than I am) and was able to swim to the boat and bring the dinghy to rescue me. So when I saw the man far from the boat at max flood, I shouted to Jason that someone needed his help, and he sprung to action.
About half an hour later, Jason came back to the boat with quite a story. The man he rescued was in his mid-60s and had gone out to dive on his anchor to check its hold. By the time Jason got to him, he was bleeding, coughing, heaving and unable to speak. Jason manhandled him onto the dinghy, where he laid hunched over, completely exhausted. When he was finally able to utter some words, he said he thought he was going to die and was swimming with all his might against the current. The current was sweeping him away from the boat, but into land, with a shallow sandbar right behind him. If he’d just floated along with it, he quickly would have found himself on the sandbar or land, where he could have beckoned for help. Note to self: Don’t try to out swim a strong current; you will lose. And don’t swim without Jason ready at hand for a quick rescue.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent with hatches battened for the cold front that brought rain and lots of wind. Lots of cleaning, organizing, reading and board games, and a fair share of cabin fever. We’ll set sail tomorrow if the weather and tide allow.