Challenges? Opportunities? Blessings!
After New Years 2018, Lainie and I flew to Miami to ready Mystique for our voyage to the Bahamas. A few weeks earlier and a couple weeks after Hurricane Irma, I had flown down in late September to restore Mystique. What unfolded in our three months was one surprise after another. While the challenges kept piling up, we stayed afloat on our catamaran, Mystique.
Opening her windows, re-rigging the jib and mainsail, servicing her two engines and restoring the electronics and the water-maker became highest priorities. Mystique was located in a safe place so re-anchoring wasn’t necessary. Cleaning her inside and out - her hulls, salon and 4 staterooms was certainly important and part of my long to-do list.
While some Miami boats simply disappeared from Irma, I was ecstatic my 40' catamaran Mystique survived unscathed. And when I returned to Miami, somehow it showed few effects from the over 150 mph winds, tidal surge and torrential rains. Though while I had left my cat secure, I had also left it for almost a month all closed up. Hatches, windows and any openings in cabin had been sealed shut tightly. So it needed some airing out. Some breathing room and rooms!
So while preparing for our voyage, we watched and waited for the best weather window to cross the Gulf Stream. The forecast would in essence determine our departure. Eager for this adventure, I knew we could leave once we were fully stocked and fueled. Mystique was almost ready, but instead life had other plans for us. Seemingly, I had to be reminded no matter how well-prepared and ready two simple souls may think they are, there are always going to be surprises. Sometimes, this time in fact, many more!
Let’s just call them reminders.. Educational opportunities, overestimations or underestimations would be appropriate. But lessons, wake-up calls, ah ha moments or epiphanies might fit best - listed below are examples of what and how we addressed each. We did not always immediately recognize the blessing - our awareness and their impact usually came later.
Blessings: Jan to Feb 2018
- Most of our mold/mildew inside Mystique disappeared. Scrubbing and cleaning rescued the inside of the boat.
- Lanie reorganizes stores and cleans galley; Mystique becomes Feng Shui.
- Roach Motel eliminates cockroach population.
- Just before we bought groceries in Key Biscayne, Henry drops his wallet at gas station only to have someone pick it up without turning it in. The police did not pursue because they labeled the theft an ethical action, not a robbery. As the stress of no credit cards and lost funds dawned on me, I replaced all with a few phone calls.
- As we refueled for our voyage, I mistakenly filled the port side engine with diesel, the port engine room filled with diesel fuel at Crampton Marina on Key Biscayne. Delaying our departure a week because of the fuel accident, we became even more ready.
- We ran aground in the dark of Bimini Harbor after our 13-hour 56-mile Gulf Stream crossing. Safely grounded until morning with high tide floats us off.
- Three days later anchored on Mackie Shoal in 10 feet of water 30 miles from land for three hours. With tidal current and wind suddenly creating a whirlpool effect, Mystique was battered up and down and side to side. We woke after only 3 hours of restless sleep to weigh anchor in the dark and motor eastward. From North Cat Cay we stayed awake for 27 out of 30 hours sailing/motoring before reaching Chub Cay harbor. Arrived around noon, anchored in a placid outer harbor, and sleep until dinner time.
- Running out of water, Henry forgot to turn on watermaker. Purchases and retrieves 20 gallons of water for $5.00 from Lyford Marina on New Providence with two dinghy trips. We then had enough H20 to prime water pump and to fill Mystique’s two 150 gallon tanks.
- Starboard engine water pump fails to suck water so we used only one engine in 30-mile / 13 hour motoring directly into the wind to Little Ship Channel Cay in the northern Exumas. Suspect the impeller has gone bad and don’t have a spare.
- While anchored at Long Cay main halyard shackle pin somehow falls out on deck and disconnects from head of mainsail. Halyard tangles into Gordian Knot dangling 55 feet above deck. Lainie hoisted up the mast to disentangle and then retrieve main halyard. When we discover halyard does not respond, we decide we need to sail to Nassau for replacement impeller and help with stuck halyard. We eventually find impeller was not the problem.
- Our windlass fails to raise our anchor so our departure to Nassau under only port engine power was delayed. Spent hour rewiring connection in forward locker. Sailed with only jib and makeshift spinnaker made out of two sunfish sails tied foot to foot. Averaging 4 knots during our 9-hour sail to Rose Island, 6 miles east of Nassau.
- The galley faucet collapsed so we shut it down.
- Anchored too close to sandbar at Rose Island’s Bottom Harbor so bumped and bounced twice during night - sleepless 3 1/2 hours. Moved in morning when we could better see other vessels.
Then we often received unexpectant gifts:
- Maikel Yanes' help with electronics, new solar panel above dinghy, fuel overflow of engines before we left Key Biscayne, Florida
- Lainie catches a holy Mackerel which we ate for a dinner.
- Tide lifts us off Bimini's Alice Town shallows.
- Tied up at Bimini marina for hour without the dock master charging us a fee.
- Anchored in crystal ice blue water south of Bimini.
- Hiked through Alice Town and Radio Beach
- South Bimini becomes first of many beachcombings and shell-collectings
- 8-mile sail to Gun Cay and then next-day sail to South Cat Cay and returned to North Cat Cay for nighttime anchorage.
- Every morning at breakfast we read A Year of Living Consciously and How Yoga Works out loud to each other every morning.
- Lainie’s tasty cooking and meals
- Dinghy ashore at North Cat Cay for ice, a few groceries and a weather forecast.
- A night of blissful rest in Chub Cay’s calm harbor
- A few days rest at West End, New Providence
- A Valentine’s Day 5-mile dinghy ride to Lyford Marina for lunch, grocery shopping, water and WIFI.
- Dinghy ride to see Buddha and snorkeling
- The almost daily incredible sunrises and sunsets
- An amazing collection of shells.
- The kaleidoscope of watercolors - white - ice blue - turquoise
- The dinghy ride to Spirit Cay beach
- The snorkeling and fish life and coral at Lobster Cay
- Planting an avocado nut onboard
- The dinghy ride to Tea Table Cay and the photo opps.
- Slept most of morning after sandbar grounding
- Re-anchored near Rose Island