We sailed into Abaco not realizing that it was so shallow. When the depth indicator started beeping and I could see the shadow of the sail on the bottom, the time to relax was over. My boat has a 5′-8″ keel which cuts into the wind very nicely. It does however require a little studying of the tide tables when coming ashore. It was an hour or so after lunch, and my first mate had located an interesting place to drop the hook and spend the night. Ahead, was a sandbar that extended into the path of my present tack. I played the strong wind like a game of chess. Tighten the sails, pull tighter into the wind… adjust for a shift in the wind… get it back… almost there… almost dead into the wind! CRUNCH!
We ran aground on what my navigator identified as Porgee Rock. I quickly started the diesel, left the sails full for the keel angle, and by some miracle… backed it out. The sails were whipping back and forth and I released the tension from the main sheet and furled the head sail. We motored into deeper water. (Not a lot deeper.) We dropped the anchor, fixed an overdue lunch, and took a long nap.
I didn’t want to be sitting out here overnight, so I motored toward a big red and white light-house. “This is Hopetown.” said my first-mate, “It says the channel is 6′ deep at low tide. We should have no problem since we are mid-tide.”
“Good enough.” I stayed in the darker water until I was on a lineup approach to the channel. I idled slowly watching to stay in the deepest areas. The channel was narrow with no room to reverse course. Passing a boat leaving the harbor would be really tight. About the time I was standing at the helm, leaning from the bimini to see the full lighthouse… CRUNCH! The boat was still moving but was cutting a trench in the soft sand bottom. I revved the diesel and continued pushing. The water became deeper and I came around the curve toward the bay. There were only a few boats in the bay so I found a comfortable spot, dropped the hook, and let the chain run out until I felt the anchor grab. We secured the sails, put a snubber on the anchor chain, and dropped the RIB into the water. We took the dinghy to the south side and walked on the small roads into a residential area. A small boy walked beside us and kept looking at the tall American with a beard. I glanced down and saw a bent piece of wood that he was carrying like a gun.
“What is that?” I asked
“It’s my gun!”
“GUN!” I put my hands up. “What are you going to do with a gun?”
“Shoot you!” He laughed.
“If you try to shoot me… I’ll have to put you in jail.”
The boy was confused and looked at me for a while. “Sir… what is a jail?”
While we continued walking, we talked to a few other people… adults… and found in fact they didn’t have a jail. On the way back to the boat, we saw what looked like a large shed. Inside was a gulf-cart fully outfitted for fire-fighting. On the glass of the door it said. “In case of fire, get the keys from the grocery across the street.”
Safely back on the boat, we took another nap and woke as the sun was setting. More sailors had anchored around us and we could hear laughter from a bar on the docks. We grabbed our money, a few towels for the dinghy, and all of our old paperbacks to trade for new ones. We headed for the dock.
We walked into the bar and found a table along the wall. Several people had ordered before us, so we had several drinks before our food arrived. We ate, talked, laughed, and yelled across the bar at a Canadian captain that was making jokes about Americans. More drinks were served and we sat picking at our Dirty Bird Pie.
It was late. Anyone with family was already gone. We paid the tab, picked up our cloth bag of paperbacks, and checked to make sure the keys were still in my pocket. Normally, when we return to the boat, we have to sort through the tangled knots of 10 or 15 dinghies to find ours. Tonight there were only two or three. The bar lights illuminated the dock, but out in the mooring area a thick fog had settled.
I motored slowly toward the fog. The masts of the sailboats looked like a forest of dead trees. The rotating light of the lighthouse gave us a short glimpse of the hulls shrouded below them.
“I have to pee.”
“Good grief! You couldn’t have taken care of that at the bar?”
“I didn’t have to pee at the bar. Hurry up.”
I idled into the fog and almost broadsided a dark blue sloop. We were within a few feet of the passing boats and I could see ours ahead. I went past the stern, flipped the outboard to do a 180 deg. turn and brought it to a stop against the scoop like a pro. While I tied off, Ayrn left everything on the dinghy and jumped onto the sailboat. I started gathering up the books, the towels, and a pair of heels.
“David.” She whispered.
“Is this our boat?” Her eyes were wide open, and her sobriety had returned. I glanced down at the name on the transom. About that time…
“HEY, I HAVE A GUN!”
“Shit!” Both of us started laughing and as she fumbled back into the dingy, I started the motor and got away from that, boat. We cruised up and down the mooring field, from one boat to the next, reading all of the names and laughing. We finally found ours. By the time I got out of the head, Ayrn was already asleep.
We decided to spend another day in Hopetown and have dinner in the bar again the following night.
The music was loud, the voices were loud, and the Heineken was flowing. “YEAH! Last night some drunk sailor came aboard my boat after midnight and pissed in my cockpit.”
Ayrn and I just smiled across the table.
#Islands #Sailing #Transportation #Bar #Hopetown #Weather #Aground #Drunk #Bahamas #Lighthouse #Adventure #Boat #Vacation