Kamis, 01 Januari 2009

New Years in Green Turtle

When we woke up this morning we found that the anchorage had cleared out during the night. I was sad we hadn’t left too, I was anxious to get to Green Turtle. I decided we should leave right then. We packed up, and headed out. The wind was out of the west, and later switched to the North West. It pushed along at 5.5 to 6.5 knots. It was a great sail. We went from Sale Key to Green Turtle in 11 hours, which means we had an average speed of about 5.5 knots.

By the time we got to Green Turtle it was dark. We knew the channel was very narrow, and it was a little windy, so we decided we would anchor outside with the other boats, despite the waves. We made popcorn, cuddled up close, and started to watch “Galaxy Quest“. Before the main plot line of the movie picked up my patients was worn down by the waves. We were rocking like crazy. The bow of the boat was even getting wet. I didn’t have to say anything to LeeAnn, and she didn’t try to talk me out of it, we both just started making preparations.

After we had cleared the deck, and locked the cat in the bathroom, I walked to the bow of the boat to pull up the anchor. It was pitch black, I couldn’t even see the anchor line with out shining a light on it. The waves were hitting us hard, I didn’t have a chance to pull up the anchor by hand. LeeAnn sat down at the helm and put the engine in gear. The boat veered off far to the right, tugging at the anchor and point us in the direction of the other anchored boats. I called back to her “steer us to the left!” The next thing I knew we were pointing far to the left, tugging at the anchor. I called back to LeeAnn, “back to the right!” and as we came close to pointing towards the anchor I called back to her “straighten her out!” From then on we quickly adapted to that system, I would call back “a little to the left” or “back to the right.” We stayed on course enough that I simply had to pull the line on deck and wrap it up.

After we got the anchor secured we turned our attention to the more daunting task of safely arriving at the entrance to the channel. I navigated on the fly, quickly taking our lat and lon from the GPS and plotting it on the paper chart. LeeAnn was my eyes, keeping a look out for boats and watching the depth sounder while I kept my head bent over the chart.

Once we were close enough to the flashing channel markers, I abandoned the navigation. LeeAnn used our spot light to shine for the channel markers. We would pick up a green marker and head for it, then we would find it’s corresponding red. Once close enough to these markers, LeeAnn would start the search for the next set of markers. She would have to keep shining back to the markers we were passing to be sure we were still in the middle. When she took the flash light away for searching, I was flying blind. Then we would pick up another red, or green, I would head for it, and the process would start all over again.

We crept on. Suddenly we caught a break. A ferry boat was coming up behind us fast, shining his headlight. Kindly, he started shining the channel markers for us. He guided us past a few markers, then past by us. At this point, we were nearing the boats in the anchorage, we were technically still in the channel, but I didn’t want to go forward. Then wind was high, and it was very crowded.

We dropped the anchor right behind some French sailors, very near the shore, with barely enough water to float, but we made it. Exhilarated, and with adrenaline pumping, I rushed back to the cockpit where LeeAnn was standing and gave her a big hug, “We did it!” I exclaimed with a big smile on my face. She didn’t share my excitement.

I didn’t understand her attitude. We had been presented with a challenge, and we rose to it, overcame it. The anchor was down and our success was certain, what was there to be upset about?

We took in our surroundings. There were lights in the distance, and music from several parties drifted to our ears. Music that varied from happy island music with steel drums, to Cher. It was clear that many parties were underway in celebration for the New Year. LeeAnn began to dwell on her homesickness, and again I found myself mystified by our differences. Sure I missed my friends and family, and I would have liked to be at one of the happy parties, but I was just as happy, here on my boat. Reveling in our moment of success. For me, the challenge we had just over come was far more satisfying than spending the night partying somewhere. Parties are a dime a dozen. And I’ve spent so many New Years celebrations at stereotypical New Years parties. I enjoy the laughs, but the are quick to be forgotten.

The emotions we had just felt entering the harbor would be burnt into our memories. Of all the New Years I’ve experienced, and I’m sure for many to come, this one will be one I will distinctly remember. Yes we are alone, far from home, and the happy music we can hear is only salt in that wound. But we are writing the story of our lives, and parties make for boring stories.

Pictures of the New Years Day parade:

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