Coming to the Berry’s was not the greatest idea. Sure, the blue hole was great, but everything else that came in the package, not so great. Trying to leave the Berry’s, was a worse idea. Chub cay was only 14 miles away, how bad could 14 miles be. HAHAHA.
The moment we rounded the southern tip of Bond’s Cay, entering the cut that leads you to “the tongue of the ocean” things got a little freaky. And by a little freaky, I mean the most scared we have ever been in our lives. Sure we have been in scary storms, high winds, uncomfortable seas, but waves double to triple my height? Nope. Over the course of a mile, the ocean floor drops from 20 feet to 6000 feet, and on this particular day, created swells so large and so close together, Louise just about disappeared in-between each wall of water. In-between each wave, I was certain one of us was going overboard. The glassy anchorage behind us, had us cringing to turn back. But I was too scared to turn around. I was too scared to continue. What do you do when both options looks like death. I kept the most comfortable angle to conquer the mountains, and was terrified that if I turned us around Louise would get smacked the wrong way, knocking us over within a 180 degree turn. I death gripped the tiller, and we carried on.
I wanted to go home. I wanted to be anywhere in the world but where I was. Katie and I were silent. She got out the life jackets, put Reggie inside, velcro’d our Spot GPS to her arm, and had the VHF in hand. We were not tethered onto Louise, all though we should have been. Our goal was to get to deep water, with hopes the swells would be farther apart, and more pleasant to ride. The two knots we were making and the single mile we had to get through first, felt like an entire day. Louise did so great. She sliced through the waves like it was no big deal, meanwhile Katie and I making eye-contact every once awhile, still silent. When we were able to change our course towards Chub, we surfed the waves instead of fighting them. By that time, we managed to hold our bodies in one place, started to sing disney songs as a distraction, and poured out our last precious Budweiser into the ocean asking the sea gods to protect us.
I worked the tiller for hours, letting it push and pull naturally with the waves, trying not to fight it. Our tiller, and our rudder, contain small cracks, greatly accentuating the terrifying factor. My muscles hurt. But driving calms me down, and it stressed Katie out. So it wouldn’t have worked any other way. My mouth was so dry from nerves, it tasted like chalk. When I had to pee, I dropped my underwear right there, and peed on the cockpit floor. There was no other safe place. I kept my eyes ahead, ignoring the massive waves that consistently came up from behind. Katie kept her eyes astern, warning me every time there was a particularly huge one. At that time I would close me eyes, and just let the seas do as they please with us. We reached 9.1 knots surfing a wave. I cheered because my eyes were fixed on the knot indicator, while Katie’s face went blank white while witnessing the reason for our speed.
The only thing that kept us going, kept us from turning around… was the thought of our Uncle Tari and my dad being on board. My dad, would have been completely relaxed in the cockpit smoking a cigarette, while Uncle Tari would have had a massive smile on his face, bouncing as he laughs at mother nature, and enjoying watching us be that uncomfortable. That alone, was the reason we continued.
Fourteen miles of hell. We knew we were not going to die, we knew we were okay. We were just really scared, and had never seen swells like that before. Pulling back into Chub Cay after a month of being away, we felt at home. We were so proud of Louise, proud of Reggie, proud of each other. I’ve never been so happy to be safety anchored… ever. We sat in the cockpit and talked non stop over cinnamon whiskey after an entire day of silence mixed in with singing. We talked through different scenarios, situations, what we would do if this happened… or if that happened. Thankful to be safe, thankful for each other, we slept like children.