May 20-23, 2013
0930: We stopped off at Glass Window on our way to Spanish Wells. Glass Window is a bridge that connects the northern and southern parts of Eleuthera. It used to be a natural bridge but has since been replaced by a manmade one. The island is only a few yards wide at this part of the island. The draw here is that you can experience the turquoise blue of the calm sound to the west while inches away boils the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean in all its dark, mysterious, and magnificent glory. Must see, right? It was definitely worth the “hassle” of getting there. You see, you don’t just “stop off” places on a sailboat…
Anchoring isn’t like swinging your car into the 7-11 parking lot. Anchoring has taken us up to 2 hours in difficult conditions and it’s not the kind of thing that can be rushed. Your car doesn’t float away if you park it kind of crooked (good thing Silverman, right?) So we carefully anchored the boats, launched the dinghies, forgot cameras, dinghied back, etc, etc, and found a clear spot to land. We now had to beach and secure the dinghies before trekking up a steep incline to the road. The road was actually a bit busy, so we had to keep a close eye on the six children, especially since they hadn’t seen roads or cars in quite some time. Funny how quickly we get used to a certain way of life. Imagine not remembering that it’s super important to look for cars when walking up a street?
We all loved the view from the bridge. Wendy and I climbed all over the rocks looking for cool angles to take pictures of both the ocean and the sound at the same time. It really is amazing how a piece of land can create enough of a barrier that it tames the fury of the ocean. On the east side of the island, the dark gray ocean crashed into the jagged rocks. On the west side of the island, the flat water lapped up onto the sand, calm as can be and clear as a glass of water.
Watching everyone getting back in the dinghies made me stop for a second and take pause. I looked at the nine people on the beach, all laughing and splashing and flopping themselves into the little boats. This is how we go places. In and out of the dinghies every day. I love living life this way. I love that we take a little inflatable boat to get from our home on the water to the mainland. I love that my children are so comfortable hopping in and out of Fire Bolt, our trusty little dinghy.
Our little detour could only last an hour. It was a clear and sunny day (about the 147th sunny day in a row, I think….), with 15 knot winds coming from the Southeast. But we had a 23 mile sail in front of us, and there would be some interesting navigation, including something called Current Cut. Yikes. Could they name it something scarier? According to our calculations, we had to get through the cut by 1200. Otherwise, the current would be against us. Didn’t see that one coming, huh?
We made it through just fine and only growled a little bit at Anything Goes when they were able to take a short cut (their catamaran draws much less than we do). We arrived in Spanish Wells, at the northwestern tip of Eleuthera, at 1400. We weren’t quite sure what to expect of Spanish Wells. We had heard conflicting reports. Actually, we had heard mostly negative reports, but it is pretty much the only jumping off point for going to Harbor Island, which was our next destination. We had to at least stop off there to pick up a captain, who would take Patronus through Devil’s Backbone (I’d really like to know who was in charge of naming stuff on this island). But I’m getting ahead of myself…
As we pulled into the harbor, we noticed a line of commercial fishing boats filling the docks. I leaned against the forestay and admired the well-kept boats and the brightly colored buildings along the shoreline. I got a really nice vibe and had a feeling we would enjoy this town. I was right, and looking back, we enjoyed it in a way that was very different from the many other places we had been.
We took a mooring and made an acquaintance with Bandit (yes, Bandit). He is the Captain who would help us get to Harbor Island in a few days. We took a dinghy ride with Wendy and Craig to check out the scene while the kids stayed back and did schoolwork. We motored slowly past the fishing boats again, which lined the harbor between Spanish Wells and Russell Island. We found the marina that supposedly had a laundry room, but were told that it was strictly for customers of the marina. The people in the marina office were helpful, though, and gave us a map of the town, pointing out the other Laundromat (don’t make the same mistake we did and get all excited. We didn’t take a picture of the “other” Laundromat but it was NOT. GOOD. And consider that we had become entirely unpicky when it came to Laundromats by this point.)
Luckily, Norma’s Take Away took our minds off our dirty laundry. We ordered cracked conch and french fries and munched on them while we dinghied back to the boats. I don’t remember the exact conversation we had while waiting for our food, but I remember that I enjoyed sitting with Chris, Wendy, and Craig and talking about things that mattered to us. We were in no rush. We were truly enjoying our time together. No one was looking at their phone (we had none). No one had anything better to do than to be with one another. I felt loved and accepted and interesting and important. Maybe that’s why I love this picture of Wendy and I so much.
The next morning, we woke to thunder and lightning and heavy rain. Wait. What? Thunder? Lightning? Rain!!!!!!!!! This was the first thunder and lightning we had since Hurricane Sandy. And while we had experienced a few “Caribbean sun showers”, this was our first real serious downpour in forever. I love rain. I love thunder. And I love lightning. I love all weather. I just sat in the cockpit and stared at it for hours.
Although I was happy to just sit and ponder the raindrops, the rest of our crews were getting stir crazy after lunch. So we made a run for it in the dinghies between passing downpours and took a walk through town to see what we could see. It ended up being quite an adventure. We found a very cool store that was kind of like a Five and Dime. We ended up getting very well acquainted with this store, since it started raining torrentially while we were inside and there was no chance of leaving. Some of the kids took the opportunity to look for birthday gifts for Porter.
We also visited a craft shop, which was located in someone’s garage; a quilt store in a barn, which was apparently out of business; a souvenir shop; and a tackle shop. The best stop of all was an impromptu visit to the Splash FM radio headquarters. We marched in, unannounced, all ten of us, classic AGP-style, and politely requested a tour of the radio station. One of Porter’s Cub Scout requirements involved visiting a radio or tv station and learning about communications. Our host, the owner of Splash FM, was a colorful character, who had lots of opinions he wanted to communicate, so we were in luck!
We were all rapt with attention as he showed us around the radio station that he had built with his own two hands. We heard about how he managed to single-handedly run the station 24/7 with just the help of his wife. It was wonderful to introduce the children to someone who had built his business up from the ground and who clearly had dedication, ambition, and a passion for his work. No matter what our children choose to pursue, I would be so happy for them if they end up with the same level of enthusiasm that our Splash FM host has.
Once back at the dinghies, we patted ourselves on the backs for being prepared and bringing our hand pumps. The dinghies were full of water from the rain. For those who follow the blog of Anything Goes, you know that the events that follow did not bring any amusement at all to our group. A porthole on their boat had leaked and everything in one of their cabins was soaked, all the way to the engine compartment. Things like this happen, and all we could do was sigh as they started the work of trying to dry things out in the 100% humidity of the thunder storm.
To cheer everyone up, we played a rousing game of Pictionary, complete with all the drama that comes with having 4 girls and 2 boys, ranging in ages from 6 to 13. It had been quite a day, and we were glad to be together. As we settled in for the night, we noted that several of our hatches were leaking as well.
The next morning, we woke at 0900 to more thunder and lightning. Sleeping on a boat in the rain is one of life’s sweetest pleasures. The dark mornings, the gentle rocking, and the patter of rain just inches above your head is so comforting. There is a stillness to the boat that invites you to have a quiet, slow day. To add to the yumminess of the day, Chris made Wendy’s scone recipe. The kids did schoolwork while Chris took advantage of the FREE FRESH WATER (aka rain) to clean the decks. I gathered all the soaking wet towels and other clothing and hung them up to “dry” between downpours. We were all beginning to be a little stunned at how long the rain was lasting.
Kate came over to play while Porter and Bryson went to Anything Goes to play poker. As the afternoon lazed on, I looked forward to getting a massage-my first in months, and very much needed after sleeping half sideways on a boat mattress for 10 months. After dinner, AG came over for another night of fun and we took one more look at the charts. For tomorrow was the day. Patronus and Anything Goes would take on….The Devil’s Backbone……