My four nights in the Spanish Wells Yacht Haven were delightful. For $2.50 per foot per night ($78 per night for HJ’s 31 feet), I had hot showers, a pool and easy access to the village to do some re-provisioning. In addition, my neighbors in the slip next to me are my newest friends.
In a future post, I’ll write about the rather minimalist approach I’m taking with cruising on Hazel James. At 31 feet, she’s on the small side compared to other monohull and catamaran sailboats cruising the Bahamas. However, Dana and Pat aboard the 26 foot “Sun Kissed” took it to a whole new level. It’s funny because while Hazel James and Sun Kissed occupied some very nice slips (places to tie up our boats), several slips away was a 120 foot “luxury” power yacht that appeared to be deserted save for a couple of crew swabbing decks and polishing stainless. I’m of the current mindset that pretty soon you stop owning things and they start owning you. Needless to say, I was a lot more interested in Pat and Dana’s gig.
Sun Kissed was built in the 70s and her beautiful sunset-orange hull was probably inspired by the avocado green and burnt orange kitchen appliances popular in the day. Besides her color and size, I noticed her hailing port “Kasilof, AK”. Like most, when I first read it I thought, “Oh how cute, they’re from Arkansas.” Then, I did the letter-math in my head and remembered that Arkansas is AR—so AK had to be Alaska. It was sort of like when Colleen, Jack, Emma and l were living in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon in the early 2000s and we decided to move to India. Jack announced at school one day that he was moving to India. One Jack’s friends told his mom the news after school, and she replied, “Oh honey, you mean Indiana.”
While Pat and Dana didn’t sail all the way from Alaska to the Bahamas, they did acquire Sun Kissed in Detroit several years ago and she’s gotten them this far with plenty of adventures and a few misadventures. According to Pat the acquisition in Detroit, “…was a Craigslist thing”. Both Dana and Pat work in civil engineering and road construction. As you might imagine, not a whole lot of that happens in the winter in Alaska so they decided to head south for the winters and sail.
In Pat’s first year with Sun Kissed, before Dana joined him, he and a friend sailed her across Lake Erie and entered the Erie Canal in Buffalo. According to Pat, he was the only school child to have never been taught the “Low bridge, everybody down” lyrics to the eponymous folk song. They then motored across the state of New York on Sun Kissed’s one cylinder, eight horsepower diesel auxiliary engine and exited the Erie Canal and entered the Hudson River near Albany. Given the minimum bridge height in the Erie Canal of 15 feet, in Buffalo they had to unstep the mast (take it down) and build a cradle to hold it horizontally on Sun Kissed’s deck for the voyage across New York.
Pat had never been to New York City before and he had some funny stories about pulling-up to the public marina in Manhattan, tying-up and walking the city. At one point he’s holding a tourist map and, like a good sailor, scanning the horizon trying to find the Empire State Building. He finally realizes that he needs to look straight up because he’s standing under it. Pat and friend then continued south across New Jersey both “on the inside” (motoring in the Intracoastal Waterway) and “on the outside” (sailing on the ocean), depending on the weather. Continuing on their tour of great canals, they took the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal from the Delaware River to the northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay. I think it was about that point that Pat had to get back to work as the ground was thawing in Alaska so they stored Sun Kissed for the season.
The next year, Dana joined him and they continued south, reaching Key West and the Dry Tortugas before launching over to the Bahamas.
On my last day in the Spanish Wells Yacht Haven I bought a nice piece of hogfish at the market and invited them over for dinner. We had hogfish chowder in Hazel James’ cozy saloon (cabin) and Dana brought some iced beer (and ginger beer). We shared these and other stories, and talked about boats and dreams.