The Sea Wants Everything Back-- blog post by Captain Trav

Swimming in a cave in near Little Farmer's Cay See my face?  This is the euphoric face of a cave junkie.  I love caves, but SWI...

Swimming in a cave in near Little Farmer's Cay

See my face?  This is the euphoric face of a cave junkie.  I love caves, but SWIMMING in one? This was one of my favorite experiences, ever.
This is Hud snorkeling through a sunken plane off Norman's Cay.  The plane was enormous, and eerie as hell.  The island had been an infamous locale for drug runners, and Trav pointed out that except for the pilot's chair, all the seats had been removed.

This shot better shows the fuselage.  It was really spooky!
Hud the spear fisherman.

Viv sews up the hole in her beloved monkey.

Petting sea turtles on Little Farmer's Cay.  This is our friend, Kimball, who we met our first day there.
Trav took this awesome sea turtle shot.

At Little Farmer's Cay

Getting ready to dive into Thunderball Grotto, made famous by the James Bond movie.  You dive through tunnels to enter and exit, and it opens up into a huge open "room" inside the rock.

One of the entrance tunnels into the grotto

Moog was scared at first, but she swam through the tunnels, holding onto Trav's back.  We were really proud of her.

Petting nurse sharks at Staniel Cay

At Bahamas Land and Sea National Park

One of the famous swimming pigs of the Exumas

Moog tentatively feeds the pigs.  They are pretty tame, but big and pushy.

Atop "Boo Boo Hill", Warderick Wells, Exumas

Thanks to our great new friends, the Mills family of Rhode Island, Hud has learned to wakeboard.  He's obsessed!

Viv collects ton of stuff on every beach and she wants to keep it all.  This was her reaction when we told her she couldn't keep this pile of shells and fan coral.  It was an epic meltdown.

Comforting the distraught shell collector

Making friends at Black Point Settlement.  

The sea wants everything back, and I am consistently reminded of that fact every day.  I think the moment one lets that fact slip from the forefront of their seafaring consciousness, they are goners.
Allow me to explain my theory (which I have had plenty of time to mull over, you always have time on a boat to think).  Let’s head back to Mr. Stewart’s 10th grade biology class (feel free to substitute your high school teacher, if it adds to your visualization).  For the most part during my biology days, I kept my head down to avoid direct teacher-student eye contact with the occasional eyes down nodding of approval when one of my more studious comrades would make some scientific statement that provided proof that they had done the assigned reading that I of course had not.  My goal was to avoid at all cost the nightly required hours of assigned reading and at the same time fool all that had into thinking I had taken on my fair share of reading torture (the exact functions of mitochondria is reading torture).   Learning something was completely secondary.  At some point, during one of Mr. Stewart’s lectures, we discussed evolution. He discussed that all life on the planet started in the sea and on one special day some sort of slimy form of sea life grew some legs and in the quest to find a less confining existence crawled out of the sea to start anew.  The Sea, like any egocentric entity that was the womb of life for the planet was pissed off, for it had created life and was not entirely pleased with sharing it with the other side.  Think of that 80’s duet song by Human League “Girl don’t you want me? You know I can’t believe it when you tell me that you don’t need me”  The gist is the guy starts dating the girl when she is waitressing in some club and now he believes that she owes him some sort of eternal debt, even going so far as to take up most of the song questioning her leaving…I always wanted to hear more from her.  What was her take? I am guessing he was an asshole.  Anyway, that guy never got over the girl leaving and I think the ocean kind of feels like that “Hey, I gave you life but I know you don’t respect me so I am going to take you back”.   The sea is a little more persistent then the dude from the song. 

The sea applies three distinct tactics in its quest for returning all things wrongfully taken from its womb.  First: It straight up sucks everything down into it, stop treading water and you will soon get the picture.  Yes, even balsa wood will sink once it is tired enough to stop treading water.  Second tactic is a more Chinese water torture-esque corrosion. Everything near or on it is constantly being eaten.  All the “stainless steel” on my boat would be gone in a month if I stopped rubbing off the sea and applying wax to ward off the assault (Yeah I know, wax is the best I can do to defend my property from the big angry sea…good luck, right?)  Just look at any piece of heavy machinery that operates within a hundred miles from the Caribbean and you will see that rust makes up a majority of its being.  The people operating it don’t even seem to put up a fight, it will all rust out in three years so why fight it? 

By the way, all of these components have a compounding effect in that they all create a need for the most expensive and complex equipment and tools to fight off the inevitable.  Anything that is stamped with the label “Marine grade” cost five times as much as its land-based cousin and any job takes five times as long on a boat as it would on land.  I call this the rule of fives. The rule of five is a less direct attempt the sea uses to square all (eventually financial ruin overtakes and the said item is deposited in the sea when the owner gives up the fight and lets it rot into the sea ).  And finally, the last tactic the sea employs is brute force and power, and this last one is the inspiration of this blog post.  The sea, given the chance, will bludgeon anything to smithereens and return it to its bosom.  We are presently in the Exumas.  The Exumas are a long, idyllic sand clad sub tropic island chain that runs north to south and separates the Great Exuma Bank and the open ocean Atlantic (the Atlantic is a bit more foul-mouthed and spiteful with its constant swells and trade winds that will shake the puke out of the toughest of individuals).   Sometimes when the Bank side meets with the Atlantic it gets nasty. 

So we were anchored off Little Farmers Cay and after five days it was time to move on.  In order to move further south we need to head out to the Atlantic side as the shallow depths of the Great Bahama Bank prevented us from traveling south in the lee of the Exumas.  Throughout the Exumas there are breaks large enough to safely allow a vessel to pass from one side to the other.  I checked the chart prior to voyaging out and noticed that it made no mention of tidal passage conditions.  I had been warned by my much wiser sailing friend, Green, that waves can build on an ebbing tide (when the tide drops and the Bank drains back into the Sound, the Atlantic/Sound beats the piss out of the sea for leaving in the first place…my best guess).  The chart book mentions that at all the cuts south of Farmers Cut “Current Rips on Ebb”.  It makes no mention of “Rips” on the Farmer’s Cut description.  So I wrongfully assumed that we could pass at any time on the tide schedule.  Well, its one of those things that once you start there’s no turning back.  We flew through the cut in what I believe was the record time of the day.  We shot directly down the center of the “Rips” for about a half mile.  The boat was bucking up and down in a manner more fitting for white water raft than a 43’ sailboat.  Below deck we could hear all of our stuff banging around, including our kids.  We yelled to the kids to hold on and stay in their beds.  I focused on keeping the boat headed straight out to channel and into the waves.  Several times, as we descended a big wave the bow would submarine into the next and the bow would dive completely under water only to blast out moments later.  The deck received a thorough washing.   I avoided thoughts of,  “What if the generally reliable engine decides to eat crap now?” I avoided those thoughts by smiling.  A whole lot of smiling later, we steered out of the roller coaster and into the quieter ocean.  Jen turned to me and calmly said, “That was invigorating!” (This from the lady who wakes up in the middle of the night when the anchor chain gently rubs against the hull and asks in a panic “WHAT WAS THAT???”)     The rest of the sail south, we tried to avoid the cuts by veering off shore a few miles, but we still were not able to fully avoid the “Rips”.   I think I might send the author of the charts a note suggests changing “Rips” to “Big Ass Steep Scary Ass Confused Rapids That Range From 8 to 12 Feet That Come At You In All Directions”.   

The lessons keep coming at me and I keep learning them the hard way.  Its all fun, as long as the Ocean keeps letting us slide by.  As I say, I guess its wanting a little more respect.  And I keep obliging. 

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  1. Based on this post, keep a good eye on French Pass as something "invigorating" to do once you get to New Zealand!

  2. Replies
    1. Ha! More like steep learning curve. Thanks for reading, old friend!


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