Auto Jumped Ship
Nature Charts Now
Norman Cay to Little Cistern Cay
Tues, May 24, 2016
Few bugs, but repellant came in handy as I could hear their hungry buzzy bodies outside my two portholes and hatch. When the wind blows, the bugs disappear, so the night breeze just wasn't strong enough at first.
When a northerly blew through during the night, the bugs, humidity and the threatening thunderheads left me and Mystique all by ourselves. Some drizzle and drops snuck through my overhead hatch woke me early, but after nature called, I was soon fast asleep again until dawn awakened me hours later.
The new day arrived with very high wistful, whispery cloud cover. A northerly zephyr painted the morning sky and sea with serenity. So my invitation to practice consciousness seemed to be clearly signaled. A calm day ushered me to the foredeck with logbook/journal and camera to observe and absorb the light-ness of being in these opening hours. I went upfront in a celebratory mood as if the early hours spoke gratitude and congratulations for our having made it to the northern Exumas.
I wrote how in awe I was at how nature had navigated us this far. Here seemed like an ideal spot to start my southern passage through the 90 miles of Exuma cays and cuts. Again I thought we might have reached Highbourne Cay, a few miles north of Norman, but nature moved us to this more advantageous location instead.
Too many natural forces were at work to deny their complicity in what and how they had contributed to our first 6 days. I could not help feeling how well nature's orchestration had conducted Mystique and me thus far. Little did I know at the time how this prelude would introduce a full blown symphony later this day.
Mostly I meditated and stretched for that first hour. Then anticipated I would stay anchored here west of Norman Island where a drug lord once ruled with a heavy hand. This felt like a perfect place to rest, relax and reconnoiter. But like Mickey Singer had so often reminded himself in the Surrender Experiment - stay open to what life presents next and respond in kind.
Little did I know that this day had other plans and many pleasant surprises in store for the two of us. As it would turn out, a shift in the weather, the today's sail and the next anchorage would all conspire for a spectacular day. That is stated without hyperbole! This day was scripted out of something from beyond. Like I was transported and suspended in some kind dream world. I would experience a few things I had never experienced before and found myself by the end of the day in a location I could not have chosen better if I had been my movie director. And nature moved me there almost if I did not have my hands on the helm.
As I was reflecting on my good fortunes on the foredeck at Norman Cay, the wind moved and then shifted us. The northerly seemed to be filling in mid morning so since I was headed southward, setting sail seemed to beckon and made sense to take advantage of this favorable development.
I turned on my instruments, raised the anchor and then raised the mainsail when I realized that my autopilot was not responding. This meant I would be steering all the time; no more 2-3 hour catnaps on long straight stretches. But as much as this development was initially disappointing, I realized I had previously requested a sail without electronics. So this was just a bigger challenge that would tes my multi-tasking abilities. All I needed to do was jury-rig a steering device so I wasn't glued to the wheel.
I wondered what else was on automatic. Nature was on automatic, but so was I. My breathing, my heart beats, lungs and body organs, my thoughts, my steps. I could not function well without their self-regulating and monitoring abilities. Hum?
I motored a mile or so, raised sails and the wind shifted dramatically to the south and then lightened. I left the main up anyway in case the wind returned and then turned on both motors. Motoring past the shallows and dries of Shroud Cay, I noticed a dark squall building from the south. But then I saw something I have not surprisingly seen before. Two water spouts were building in the distance. Like water tornadoes, I did not want to encounter them. But after a couple of hours, it was obvious, they were heading for Mystique. I could see the surface water about a mile away from both of them about a mile a part and directly south where I thought we were headed - Cambridge Cay about 12 miles ahead. Ah, but that was not our destination.
Both of the water spouts were churning up the surrounding water like they were plowing a field and the overturned surface water looked formidable. I was not close enough to see it suck up and toss fish, turtles and sharks, but I tried to imagine what would happen if I got caught in one or both of them. So I doused the main and secured sheets for what I anticipated could be strong winds.
Meanwhile the sky looked so nasty aggressive, I altered course eastward away from open water the water spouts and into a eastward serpentine route around shallows and in between some small islands. As soon as I committed to the east, both water spouts disappeared. I could not believe they vanished so quickly after I had been observing them build strength and grow closer for upwards of two hours.
I noticed my GPS chart showed a small island up ahead with a recommended anchorage - Little Cistern. It appeared on the chart like a perfectly comfortable and secure location as the storm approached. As we approached the protection, I noticed the water depth was 10-12, swinging room for one vessel and wind protection from all directions...and no indication of ocean surges which surprised me being so close to the ocean.
Once we got securely anchored, Nature decided to to test its holding power. Within a few minutes the heavens opened up with all the force and fury of a gale. 25-30 knot gusts and sheets of horizontal rain blanketed the sea around us while the thunder and lightning scared me a number of times. Sonic booms and crashes surrounded us, but we felt no effects and with all her bluster the storm passed by and we remained secure and safe in a most idyllic little cove. Nature's version of the 1812 overture was unreal.
I could not believe how beautiful this spot was and how it showed up in the nick of time. I could have stayed there much longer, but again, I was only first mate and following the conductor.
The next morning's music:
Waking to Little Cistern
My boat floats on sea sounds
Gulls caw-cawing to an early morn
Fish frolic, splash-dash gone
Breezes exhale, rattle-rigging on and on
Waves lap-wap my hulls' awakening
Bowing, water-ripplings, spigot-drippings
Tidal surges clap-slap coral crags
Sandy-soaked tanned shores pulsate, applaud