“I think you would like swimming with sharks,” he said.

We have made it to Georgetown, The Exumas, Bahamas. As the bird flies, out of the ~1000 mile trip we have sailed about 700miles of it. That leaves us with nearly two more weeks until we reach the coast of Florida, landing in Miami. We could make the trip with greater speed, but as the drunk (sage?) in the street just told us, “take your time, take your time.” And although I am anxious to get home, and JB wanting to spend as much time in the crystal clear waters as possible, we are finding a good balance, I think. Once in Miami I will likely go home (Delray Beach), while JB makes a couple day sail around The Keys to Fort Myers. Perpetual seasickness renders me useless for long trips (trip over 60/70 miles). So my departure in Miami saves me from the nausea, and JB the sympathy. (Maybe one of JB’s friends want to go with him? –I’m soliciting here).

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Sailing somewhere.
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Diving some pretty reef before leaving Turks & Caicos

From the Turks & Caicos we hopped to Mayaguana; the nearest Bahamian island, where we had to unwillingly spend 3 days due to inclement weather. There is nothing more foreboding to a novice sailor than seeing a freshly laid up boat on the reef which near you are about to anchor. I saw caution. JB saw salvage. Combining the poorly protected harbor and unfavorable winds concocted the perfect seasickness recipe for me, and I was laid up while JB explored the salvage project. A monohull, deemed The Sound, had fallen victim to a sleeping captain who got on the reef, never to get off. JB had his eye set on a wind generator (with the approval of the Customs Administrator), since we have misplaced the blades of our KISS generator (they were on the boat…but now they are not…). However, after mounting the new equipment on our boat it didn’t work, so it is stored away to receive new parts once home (it will be relatively cheap to fix the $2000 piece of equipment).

Once the wind lightened up and clouds parted, we left the dreariness of Mayaguana behind for the most beautiful spot yet (I wonder how many more times I’ll say that), The Aklins Islands. We had the anchorage all to ourselves, as has been the case at many of these spots. Upon arriving I knew we would want to spend a couple days there.  See for yourself… There were a plethora of over-sized stingrays and baby sharks in the mangrove estuary.

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model face
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Enjoying the beach all to ourselves

Since one pays for a fishing permit with the cruising permit, JB wanted to get his full of spearfishing, he uses a Hawaiian sling. He didn’t do much spearing in St.Thomas due to lack of fish, and prevalent ciguatera toxin. And we didn’t pay for a permit in Puerto Rico or Turks and Caicos, so now was his time to hunt. Which didn’t completely upset me since I would rather eat the minimal tofu and tempeh we can get our hands on. JB eats mainly vegan with me, except for the occasional purchase of milk, yogurt or eggs.

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JB’s grouper friend. He likes fish friends.

Ever since I met JB, almost 3.5 years ago, I have heard stories of sharks, particularly in the Bahamas: encounters from his previous sailing expedition. Unprovoked attacks are rare, but now we are stepping into their territory, taking their food right in front of their eyes (or whatever sense it is they use to detect dead and dying fish). I cry “be safe” as he hops in the water, he promises he always is. Spear fishing with a keen partner would be a great advantage to him, for physical safety, and me, for mental stability. I do not fulfill the requirements for an adept partner, and usually remain in the dinghy or on the boat with binoculars. But I promise, he is as safe as one can be in the inherently dangerous endeavor. He also takes pride that acquiring his food is not without danger; the fish has as much of a survival chance as he does, as they are both just a link in the oceanic food chain (certainly not at the top of it when under water).

Cleaning his fish quickly draws in a 5 foot barracuda, a surprisingly daring fellow, making JB think twice before rinsing his catch from the sugar scoop (back steps of the boat). It takes about an hour before the largest nurse shark we have encountered started swimming right up to the dinghy and scoop, inquiring. And the slowest of all were a pack of three reef sharks (we think) coming in to partake in the fun. We had four sharks surrounding Ahimsa, a nice time for an evening dip? I have some better videos that I wasn’t able to transfer to my computer via Bluetooth, so I will post those later. Jb said it was the coolest shark experience he has had, probably because he resides above in the realm of air, instead of beneath it the shark’s domain.

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The anchorage also provided an unfinished cabana, which was an optimal yoga spot and I was able to indulge in the full Primary Series (a specific set of yoga postures) for a couple days. Practicing asana (postures) of the Ashtanga method hasn’t been accessible many days of our trip, but it has taught me patience and contentment in a way I haven’t experienced before with a gentler form of yoga. Our days of full sailing leave me feeling very weak, since I don’t eat for the day and spend it contemplating “to puke or not to puke?” It takes about a day at anchor for me to recover from a full day of sailing, this is also a patience test for me: my body wanting to rest but my mind wanting to move. I spend much of my time reading and re-reading, we downloaded volume 1 of 100 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

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view from the yoga dock

We didn’t want to, but knew it was time to move on by day 3 in our lonesome harbor. A parting gift of conch was bestowed on JB by a local fisherman, and we set sail to Long Island. We planned on provisioning and doing laundry in XXX but apparently all amenities that were listed in our cruising guide (for $7) were taken out by Hurricane Matthew. So after a day stop in Calabash Bay, off to Georgetown in the Exumas we went. I sit in the Laundromat now writing, giddy with the thought of clean sheets and underwear; it is the first time we are laundering since leaving St. Thomas. Jb has been wearing the same pair of boxers for about 2 weeks now, an antimicrobial pair gifted to him by his brother and sister-in-law. Other people are more aware of how unsanitary JB is, than JB is of himself. Although, it’s not really unsanitary, it’s more a matter of not lavishing in the common luxuries of men. But he is happy for clean underwear too.

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these fellas.  Royal terns

Tomorrow we leave to island hop up the Exumas, I’m particularly excited to stop where the pigs swim at Staniel Cay.

It is likely my next post will be from a reclining chair in my dad’s house.

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2 thoughts on ““I think you would like swimming with sharks,” he said.

  1. Kristen, Gary says you write pretty damn well for a chemical engineer ( a compliment from a former chemical engineer turned attorney). Your witty, articulate writing keeps us so entertained while reading from our comfortable abode while wishing we were there (minus the seasickness and dirty laundry). Wishing you fair winds, smooth seas and a safe journey home.

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