As I live on a boat, I am reminded daily that what I see and experience isn't always what is. Light and dark frequently distort distance. Waves and wind have been known to distort our boat speed and sense of safety. Tidal and sea currents constantly impact course calculations, making passages either quicker or longer than anticipated. Charts and GPS sometimes don't coincide with the dead ahead reality and reckoning. Water color sometimes distorts depth and danger. Even recent attitudes and aggravations can affect better judgement and question experience.
When cruising through the Pipe Cay area in the Exumas, I imagined it a place where we could experience some of the Bahamas' best beauty. Reading about it; looking at the charts; listening to experienced cruisers and my own imagination, I envisioned Mystique actually in a location apropos of its name. We were nearing the Bahamas' marine park. The snorkeling would be extraordinary. The beach-combing would be exciting. The anchorages would be protected. The island hiking would be exhilarating. The navigating would be challenging. But of course, reality piped into the picture. The unexpected happened. Pipe Creek gave me many pipe dreams.
Sometimes an idea leads us astray. Sometimes our decisions dash our hopes. Sometimes our fantasies feel far-fetched. Sometimes realities defy possibilities. Sometimes our pride proves a prickly path. Sometimes humans hitch up their Rocinante and gallop off on quixotic quests. Sometimes "pipe dreams" lead us astray. Sometimes life is better than anticipated. Sometimes shit happens.
During our three days in the Pipe Dream Creek, Mystique ran aground and stayed stuck on a coral ledge for 7 hours, anchored 3 more times, whirled 360 degrees in a maelstrom in a cove of wind and tidal current, and then finally endured 6 hours of steady rain and a day of 25+ knot northwest winds. We also weren't able to visit the marine park or to snorkel because of the weather.
But we still enjoyed the surrounding beauty of the waters surrounding all islands and the We also had lots of fun meeting some of our cruising neighbors; spending some time together with Jerry (from Michigan and now the Neuces River in North Carolina) exploring the paths and cliffs of Thomas Cay, visiting Jerry on his new Polish-built catamaran (after he had crossed the Atlantic from the Canary Islands); collecting over 10 gallons of fresh rain water for the solar shower, having some great meals, spending time reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and when the wind clocked northeast, our deciding to sail 35 miles northwest to the other end of the Bahamas' marine park near Shroud Cay. We had our share of highlights and some to look forward to when we return. If there are benefits to every misstep, mistake or misjudgment, then maybe it is about time to acknowledge some fortunate features of faults, failures and falsehoods. Often mistakes lead to valuable lessons.
Here are most of mine from the last 5 months:
- Running a catamaran aground doesn't lay down on its side like a monohull.
- Leaving hatches open and discovering a soaked mattress reminds one to leave the boat more secure.
- Having strangers onboard can make all crew appreciate life more.
- Swimming ashore or snorkeling should always be done with others near by.
- Don't assume mechanics always fix things; they make mistakes and messes like all of us.
- Don't assume everything has been repaired or upgraded until it is proven to function.
- Checking the anchor from time to time is good exercise and can save lots of money.
- Catamarans always need a secure bridle, especially if you love to sleep soundly
- Securing the halyards after dousing the mainsail means not returning to mast when the wind starts howling at midnight.
- Secure the reeling lines so the wind generator doesn't get wrapped and jammed.
- Fish off the starboard stern so the wind generator doesn't get wrapped and jammed.
- Having spare parts and extra fuel can save time and effort and make life easier.
- Retie any dock or dinghy lines to your liking. Don't trust others to secure your boats.
- Things fall apart; repair or replace things that don't work as soon as possible.
- Buying parts in the Caribbean Is sometimes difficult and expensive. Flying back to the states to purchase the right part can be cheaper.
- Notify customs beforehand if you are shipping parts into the country.
- Make sure you check everything after an inspection.
- Land time is needed to restore one's equilibrium and meaningful relationships.
- Mystique isn't to be confused with Mystic, Miss-Stick or Mis-Stake
Sail Magazine's article on Pipe Dreams: http://www.sailmagazine.com/pipe-dreams