Whoever is keeping up with our story, I would like to let you know that Katie and I are safely back in the states. After receiving some emails of worrisome followers, concerned about hurricanes and such… please know we have survived, and now are safely docked and secured back in America. Some very interesting things happened along our way home, and there are several stories coming about our returning. So please stay tuned, enjoy, and know that all is well. In the mean time…
THIS IS A LONG STORY- Hoffman’s Cay, Berry Islands.
This is when things turn down hill. When bliss balances with trial and tribulation. Yes this is me being dramatic, but hear me out. Last minute, we made an executive decision to cross over to Hoffman’s Cay in the Berry Islands. We had heard of a “blue hole” located there with our names on it.
It began with a morning’s relaxing cruise leaving Nassau. Later turning into a race against the angry skies. Fifteen miles out of Hoffman’s, we were surrounded by black clouds and lightning strikes that looked like a hollywood scene. Fake. Too fierce to be real. We zig-zagged around for an hour, trying to choose the wisest path. We actually did a great job as storm-avoiders, and wondered why there is such a thing as a storm-chaser. Our last couple miles we were moving at the speed of a spaceship. Which is fast. The wind stopped spinning in circles, and settled behind us, pushing us through the deep grey water. Both sails reefed. Heeled over at an almost uncomfortable angle. The wind and rain sweeping us right along. We were both anxious. Feeling inexperienced if the wind grew any stronger. So we decided to quit. We sunk the boat and went down with the ship. The end.
When we arrived at the anchorage, tired, and ready for happy hour, the wind didn’t care that it was anchor time. Essentially she gave us the bird and kept blowing full force while we were trying to set the hook. I was having a hard time holding us over small patches of sand, as the wind wanted to take me other places. Katie was having a hard time with the anchor chain’s shackle fitting through it’s eyelet in rough weather. Things just were not working out. The anchorage was not protected from current conditions, making the task super fun. Katie got her work out in, dropping and pulling up trow at least 5 times as we screamed back in forth to each other over the howling current of air. It was a classic show. By the time we settled, hunger triumphed fatigue. We popped open a can of cheese ravioli, and baked beans, close to an edible temperature thanks to the hot engine. Ate like barbarians. Later slept like insomniacs, as Louise plunged side to side as if she were trying expunge us from her belly. Chill out Louise, you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for us.
That was the prelude to the good part of the story. Pay attention now. Whoever said bad things happen in threes, was correct. And I commend them on their accuracy. The following evening, Katie and I spent our later hours sitting in Tara’s cockpit with Nick and Hil. For the next day, Nick and Hil had plans to head for Florida, and we didn’t. This meant we would finally be parting ways, a situation we had avoided for so long.
Anyway, bad thing no. 1. While chatting away in the cockpit, there was a citronella candle full of hot wax that got knocked over. It poured like Niagara Falls all over Reggie’s face, eye, mouth, neck, leg, etc, you get the point. In return Katie wanted to take him to shore immediately so he could swim, to soothe his skin from the burn. Keep in mind, it is dark outside, and we are not sitting in a pond here…we are still at an exposed anchorage. Katie and Reggie hop in Madbob and zoom to shore. With nothing but a little headlamp to keep an eye on them, they disappeared into the blackness. Nick, Hil and I carry on with conversation. Time had gone by, enough time for one of us to say, “Why are they taking so long?” Finally, we spot Katie’s headlamp approaching Tara. She dinghys up to Tara’s port side, with a face full of pain. Holding back her tears, she looked at me and said, “We need to go home now.”
Bad thing no. 2. While Katie was on shore, she lost her balance pulling Madbob off rocks. She had fallen full weight, onto a killer, spiky, sea urchin. When she held up her hand to show us why she needed to go home, it looked like a bomb seconds away from exploding. Blown up like a balloon, black spikes pierced through all of her fingers, blood trickling from each wound. Each spike went in one side, out the other. Twenty some spikes sticking out in every direction. Then she lifted her shirt, and sure enough, more black spikes piercing her side. We went back to Louise, got out the doctor kit and played doctor. I am a bad doctor. Good thing med school was never on my agenda. She was in so much pain, her hand continuing to grow like a pretzel sitting in a glass of water. Gross. All of the exposed spikes had cracked off, leaving the rest puncturing deep through her skin. Over the VHF, Nick educated us on these awful creatures, and how we would have no luck trying to remove each spike. If you tried to dig it out like a sliver, her body sucked them in further, her tissue closing around the foreign object, holding it hostage. Apparently, on each sea urchin spike, there are microscopic barbs all over the surface that grab hold of your skin if you try to pull it out the same way it went in. Like a fish hook. They are also hollow, making them extremely fragile, and breaking upon my inexperienced surgery. For Katie, I prescribed the rest of our aspirin, made up her bed, dinghy’d back to Tara and stole the very last of their precious ice cubes. We both knew how badly they needed that ice. Without it, the rest of their food will go bad. Now those are good friends.
Another insomniac night as Louise did her expunging exercise again. This time, she really seemed to want us out. The wind picked up, and rollers roared through a small cut between islands nearby. Side to side we rocked. The weight of my body couldn’t even keep up its motion. I wish I had a photo of my positioning. I was in the v-berth, sideways. My arms over my head, pressing against the starboard hull. My legs became tree trunks planted on the port side hull. This way, I could hold myself in place. Katie was in the living room. God knows how she was holding herself in place, she only had one hand. A rolling wave larger than the rest came and smacked the hull so good, that it hurt. Literally.
Bad thing no. 3. My Canon 40D with its big ole lens comes flying off the shelf above me, smacking me in-between my eyes on the bridge of my nose. For the story’s sake, let’s just say it hit me at its terminal velocity. Felt like a ton of bricks, not a camera. Well if I wasn’t wide awake already, I was then. I sat up with out saying a thing, but certainly it broke my face. At least I thought. I have never gotten socked in the face, and will now spend the rest of my life avoiding the possibility of such a thing. It hurts. For the remainder of the evening, my head ached like I have never before experienced.
The next morning, after another sleepless night…Reggie looked like he came straight from Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. Katie’s hand and side appeared to need medical attention. Not gonna lie, it looked horrendous. My nose the size of a clown, and eyeball starting to fill in with a beautiful array of greens, yellows, purples, and browns. I think they call this “a black eye.” I have no pictures of these events. No proof. You just have to believe me. But when my camera, whom I have always considered one of my best friends, stabs me in the back (or the eye) I really wanted nothing to to with him. I was so angry at my camera. How could he do that to me? After all these years. All these places we have traveled together. I barely touched the thing for the rest of the trip. To put it lightly, the three of us had a really crappy day.