Monday, May 26, 2008

our first offshore sailing experience, pt. 2

(continued from here)

getting there

Our plans to get to the Bahamas were comprised of a patchwork quilt of airlines with flights landing in and taking off from all sorts of cities around the US before depositing us into Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island. The keystone flight in this byzantine plan was from Denver, CO to Ft. Lauderdale, FL on Frontier Airlines. 5 days prior to leaving, Frontier Airlines cheerfully notified us that they were no longer flying into Ft. Lauderdale and therefore, cancelling our flight. Always happy to help, Frontier generously offered to refund the cost of the flight, never mind that we now had an North America-sized gap in our itinerary. Continental Airlines rolled it's eyes at Frontier and stepped in to save they day. The Continental agent booked us on flights from Seattle all the way through to Marsh Harbour without fuss or fanfare.

Lesson learned. Frontier == the suck. Continental == way better.

We landed in Marsh Harbour on Saturday afternoon and were met outside the airport by a pre-arranged taxi driver holding a sign with our names on it. I've always wondered what it's like to be one of those people who have drivers waiting specifically for you. Especially drivers who are sweet and pretty and smile and talk and laugh with you while she drives. This really ruined all of my past body-odor-and-pine-sol taxi experiences.

man o' war cay

We were whisked off to the Moorings marina where we were met by Christy's dad, Carl. As this was the first meeting with either of Christy's parents, I took particular note of the fact that Carl had just recently purchased a machete. "For opening coconuts", he said. I'm not nervous.

Carl led us down a maze of docks towards the end where Bright Ayes awaited. She's a beautiful shiny Caliber 47 LRC (Long Range Cruiser), cutter-rigged and center cockpit. After introductions with the owner, Wayne, we went through a briefing on the boat and stowed our gear in the forward stateroom. Afterwards, we shoved off from the dock and quickly anchored out in the harbor. We all hopped in the dinghy and ran to shore to grab the last of the required provisions from one of the few, good grocery stores in the Bahamas.

Bright Ayes at anchor.

Upon arriving back at Bright Ayes, we made ready for sail. Both Wayne and Carl were in the Navy aboard nuclear submarines and Wayne runs his boat with a few holdovers from the Navy days. The etymology of the name Bright Ayes goes back to the Navy tradition of responding to a command by repeating the command followed by "aye". So after each command given, we were to repeat the command back followed by "aye". We fell lockstep into this pattern and now, two weeks later we still "pass the salt and pepper, aye".

I took over the helm as we raised anchor and Wayne guided me from the bow via radio headsets.

Wayne: "Steer two six zero."

Me: "Steering two six zero, aye."


Wayne: "You went passed 260, didn't you?"

Me: "Um, aye?"

We motored out of the harbor and raised sail on a quick reach across Abaco Straight towards Man O' War Cay (pronounced "key", not "kay"; only yokels pronounce it "kay", ask me how I know).

"Machete" Carl hanging out in the cockpit on our sail over to Man O' War Cay.

We were headed to Man O' War Cay where friends of Carl and Anne (Christy's mom who will make an appearance later in our story) have a beautiful compound-esque house looking out onto the Atlantic Ocean. Man O' War Cay is a small island east of Marsh Harbour where the only transportation is golf carts.

Being welcomed into the harbor at Man O' War Cay.

Wayne wrangling the dinghy.

Lest we get lost, a map!

The main transportational arterial on MOW Cay, also known as The Queens Highway.

We settled into the Dune House portion of the compound which sits (surprise!) on top of a dune. The upper deck looks out over the Atlantic Ocean which makes it a great spot of for sunrises. We scrounged the neighborhood for coconuts and found three good candidates for whacking. Apparently, Carl really did buy the machete for opening coconuts. I totally wasn't nervous.

The lower room in the Dune House.

Deck overlooking the Atlantic.

Coconut harvest.

Carl showing us how to get into a coconut with a machete.

Christy giving a coconut what for.

sandy cay

After spending a relaxing evening in the Dune House, we dinghyed back to Bright Ayes and got her ready for a sail south to Sandy Cay. Our plan was to kill off the day snorkeling at a reef down in Sandy Cay to give some weather north of us time to clear out. Around dinner time, we'd start the journey back north - destination: New Jersey. After a great three hour sail south, we arrived at Sandy Cay. A quick lunch and then we all threw on snorkel gear and hopped in the water. First sea life we see when we approach the reef? A shark. Did I get a picture? No, of course I didn't.

This particular ship didn't quit make it past the opening in the reef between the Straight of Abaco and the Atlantic. Apparently, it's been there for the last 18 months.

Here's some coral and... uh, other stuff.

Here's a fish.

Some more coral. I think. Or maybe it's a mushroom. What am I, Jacques Cousteau?

Christy getting her snorkel on.

We saw three of these guys flying in formation.

Carl cruising the coral.

Wayne just hanging out.

UP NEXT: the mighty Atlantic Ocean and how she made us her bitches. Stay tuned!


Jack Tar said...

I made the cay vs. key mistake too. Took me awhile to figure it out - wasn't sure, so I avoided using either word for most of the time I was in the Carib.

Lovin' these posts!

Anonymous said...

We're loving this post, Jason. We'll add a link to it on our blog!

Bright Ayes

Jason said...

Ahoy, Bright Ayes! I'm so glad you guys stopped by!

Anonymous said...

Enough of the fluff, more details about puking on Christy pleeeease!!