This was written in January, just before “Alone in the Bahamas, part 2”
It is sometimes difficult to explain how I became alone in the Bahamas. It started with a couple of years of complaining about dry cracked winter fingertips and the weather induced co-malfunctioning of joint and muscle. Idle threats of journeying to warmer climes were a seasonal ritual. Chapel Hill winters are not bad compared to places like Maine, Minnesota, or Boone even. Everyone has a point of reference. Fifteen degrees above zero is cold enough for me to start preening my sailboat for an imaginary southerly migration. Up until this last fall, every sojourn was a round trip. We were always dictated by the ‘half-way’ point Every time we reached that point, I would privately lament the 180 degree tack back to our slip in Oriental, North Carolina. We had many discussions about our homing pigeon sailing. Maybe instead of returning to our slip, we could advance the boat beyond the forbidden zone and leave it till another weekend when we could return and advance it even further. Our two person think tank determined that logistically and financially that was not doable. That did not stop us from visiting this same idea over and over again. Finally we came up with a plan. Just go. It was really as simple as that. Maybe we would only reach our furthest best or maybe we would reach or furthest best and go beyond. I honestly did not think we would get very far. From the moment we said GO, I left Chapel Hill and spent three weeks preparing the boat. We enlisted the help of two friends as crew to improve our chances of reaching Florida, our halfway point to the Bahamas. Kay had cleared her calendar for a two week period from beginning to end. In the beginning we were not ready, but we left anyway. In the end, we proved we were not ready, but by a good measure of luck and perseverance we made it to St Augustine Florida. We had a blown head gasket, a blown head sail, a broken autopilot, a non-retractable drop-down keel, plus some other maladies. Up until that point, I anticipated that the most likely scenario would be a pigeon move. Willow did not want to go anywhere, forwards or backwards. My fate was decided by Willow. I had to stay with her in situ and feed her replacement parts until she was full enough to move once again. That coincided nicely with Kay’s next two-week chunk of time off. Even though our pie in the sky goal was to make it to the Bahamas, too many round trips had conditioned me to believe otherwise. Yet here we were, well positioned to make it to our destination. Were we ready to go? No, but we went anyway. It is easy to forget that things did not happen as planned, that what happed became the plan instead of the other way around. Kay’s two weeks came and went, and again, Willow found things for me to do. She kept me bound to her. This time she had me to herself for a month. With that month I made her more dependable, more comfortable, and more beautiful. Kay returns in less than two weeks. After Kay’s next two-week chunk of time concludes, I will return Willow to Oriental where she will be proud of the journey she took and the transformation she experienced.