Most of us are born with five toes on each end of two legs. With those two, we gradually learn to stand and walk. Though in our early years, we often crawl, stagger wobbly-hobble, maybe even swim a floor to find our balance and equilibrium. We have to explore the world around us. To stand and withstand a vertical posture, we need to become more upright.
As we become grounded, we move along terra-firma, hold on as we cruised household furniture. In fact, we hold on to anything seemingly firm and stable; a mother or father's leg might have been enough to stand apart and together. Somehow our five toes help us gain our footing. ruing that growth spurt, no one ever once felt we needed more legs or toes to find our footing. Each step was based on what we had; not on what we were missing. As each piggy went somewhere in our childhood, we never questioned their number or destination. Five seemed like enough to stand on and walk. Though each first step may have questioned our stability as a backstop strengthened our legs. Eventually we moved forward more confidently. Sailing progress is like that, especially ahead to windward or foreward. Moving upwind is always a zigzag affair. Moving forward can be arduous, but the effort makes us stronger in body and soul.
Most five-toed and two-legged beings have yet to step afoot onboard a sailing catamaran. And as this is a rare experience for the general population, it becomes unique. I, for one, in six decades of sailing have never experienced six tows on four legs. And as such, as if it actually mattered, it is entirely possible no vessel in hundreds of years of maritime history has ever needed much less carried two bedraggled and beleaguered souls with four soles, four legs and six tows home. I imagine few, if any, have requested four legs and six tows to return over 150 miles through international waters to reach our safe port.
Our four legs and six tows spanned almost the whole month of March 2018. Except for two days when I used both our two engine throttles and her two sails, Mystique was stuck in the Bahamas. Steering without rudders was indeed challenging, but without our tows, we were going nowhere. I gave Lainie the options of flying home, but she refused to leave my two-legged, five toes behind. My 40' catamaran may have been injured and handicapped, it was still seaworthy and we were still healthy and eager to complete our voyage. Of damage did not depress or define us; if anything it inspired us to be more vigilant and strengthened our resolve to be a team.
While I'm still clueless about how five human toes contribute to one's walking ability or why a foot needs five, On the other foot, we needed each of our six tows to return to Florida from the Bahamas. Each was imperative for Mystique and us to make it back to the states.
Toes must have a reason for being. Doesn't everything? If not, why not one? Seems likely only one toe would suffice. Of course, one-toed would be the same as a foot. While the reason for five toes at the end of each of my legs may escape me, but the reasons for our six tows does not. We needed each to return Mystique to be safe and to get repairs.
Our six tows:
West Cay, New Providence beach to anchorage: 1/2 mile
When STUART DIVERS came to our rescue, Mystique was grounded at West End, they needed six full-throttle pulls to drag our catamaran off West Cay’s sand bar. Once off, their towboat rushed rudderless Mystique to a new anchor position about 100 yards from where her bridle and anchor chain link broke. Without her original 55-pound Rocna anchor, she licked her wounds for two days until we prepared her and readied her to travel another 35 mies rudderless.
SPEAR's Northwest passage to Chub Cay anchorage: 3 miles
At dusk, we made a MAY DAY distress call 1-2 miles south of Chub Cay. At nightfall a 23' fishing vessel named SPEAR rescued our disabled Mystique and towed her into Chub Cay anchorage.
Chub Cay anchorage inside to their marina: 1 mile
a small motorboat with three crew emerges from Chub Cay Marina around 9:00 am and pulls Mystique in near the fish dock. The previous night we had tried to plug a hole in our stern to prevent water flooding our starboard engine room. I decided to jump overboard and wrap and tie a tarp around the damaged stern to We bailed for hours but lost that battle.
Chub Cay Marina dock to Richard L Becker: 1 mile
Ten days after our distress call, rescue and nightfall tow into Chub Cay, Captains Ben and Thomas arrived via the Richard L Becker to tow Mystique back to Florida - 130 miles away. Their appearance at noon on Saturday March 24th meant we finally could breath a sigh of relief. When they eventually found us, we were safe and my boat seaworthy, yet a week and a half earlier, we were not.
Chub Cay Marina to Ft Lauderdale: 130 miles
As Ben surveyed Mystique, I told him about some of our ordeal a week and a half earlier. By the time, he asked “what happened?” the details seemed almost superfluous. By the time we spoke we had been towed into into a calm marina with a major leak in the aft swim steps. It had taken a number of hits against the 30 knot winds, pounding surf, hard sandy beach and shore stone wall at West End, New Providence some 35 miles away. Soon after we had been brought into the marina, we stacked about 30 thirty-pound sand bags on Mystique’s port side to tilt my catamaran starboard side high enough so the stern quarter was raised out of the water. about what we had hired a marina repairman to fix the hole in our flooded starboard stern engine room.
Ft Lauderdale to Miami - 20 miles
Once we were transferred from one towboat to another, I called them on our VHF radio and spoke with Capt Jeff and Capt Sean. I praised them not only for their proficiency but their professionalism. They were throrough and responsive to what Mystique needed for a safe return. They had dove on our hulls to inspect their seaworthiness; they had tied us with a bridled and shackled 250 foot tow line; they kept the 22-hour 130-mile tow to a comfortable 5-6 knot speed. They transferred us and left us with another coastal craft under Capts. Sean and Noah took us another 20 miles to chaotic Miami and into the tranquility of Marine Stadium.
Answer to the riddle of the Spinx: man