Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wind whistling in the rigging and tree branches lashing wildly in the gale …

Posted: February 11, 8:14 pm | (permalink) | (0 comments)
…and that’s down here! We’re getting the edge of the big storms that dumped so much snow 850 nm due north in Annapolis, and locals are complaining about the wind and cold. But in between the two storms was one perfect calm tranquil day, and we decided it would be an excellent weather window to head for the next island we wanted to visit – Eleuthera. At slack low tide a bit after 8 AM we headed through a narrow opening between two cays and out toward the deep ocean.

This trip would be fundamentally different than the sailing we’d been doing the last 2 months for several reasons, the most important of which was that for a while, we’d be out of sight of land. When we set out, we could not see our destination. We pointed the bow toward empty ocean, to a spot that the GPS assured me would become Eleuthera in about 7 hours if we kept going straight. Okaaay. We watched the land recede behind us until only the highest points were visible, and then they too were gone.

The day was as perfect as it could get for the trip, sunny and mild. Other than a few flying fish, we had the world to ourselves. The ocean here drops abruptly. On the west side of the Exumas where we’d been are shallow banks, almost everywhere less than 20 feet deep and the waters are turquoise and peridot. Here on the Exuma Sound, the ocean is over a mile deep in places and the waters are a deep sapphire. Our boat was in the center of a perfect crystal sphere, the bottom half deepest sapphire blue, the top half pale sky with streaky clouds, and the seam joining the two halves a slightly wavy line horizon in every direction.
Before we could see land, we saw its signs – a few birds flying, and the bottoms of the clouds were faintly tinged with green as they reflected the color of the ground below. A smudge on the horizon could have been the silhouette of a wave. A half hour later, it stayed constant and we could see its color was wrong for a wave, a dark grayish green. A half hour after that, another smudge and another, and then they merged into a continuous line and we could see the tall shapes of palm trees and structures and the ubiquitous cellphone towers and finally the buoys that marked the entry to the marina. We came in and tied up snugly to await Part II of the great blizzards of 2010, then opened a beer and toasted the sunset.
empty ocean
Photo: the empty horizon
(originally published 11 February 2010)

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