Oh, there’s just so much to write about—let’s get started!…
In a much earlier post about Colleen, I had quoted Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Again I’m thinking about Dr. Seuss, but this time I’m thinking of his final book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! It’s a simple masterpiece—fitting for the time for several reasons. First, it’s a “hope sandwich”. While it begins and ends with hope, like all good stories, there’s a darker journey in the middle. The climax of the dark journey occurs in what Dr. Seuss calls, “The Waiting Place….” It’s where, “Everyone is just waiting.”
However, while some characters the dear doctor’s book are, “…waiting for wind to fly a kite,” Rhett and I are waiting for some strong Bahamian winds to die down a bit so that we can continue our voyage. The good news is that we are safe and comfortable in Emerald Bay Marina on Great Exuma Island. However, while the marina is nice and the staff are wonderful, it’s still a marina. We are itching to get going.
The second reason is that in the darker middle of the book the protagonist (who is the reader) finds her or himself in a slump:
And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, Dr. Seuss
I was talking with “David” in the marina, a fellow sailor whose boat is in a nearby slip. After some introductory pleasantries, he shared that his wife had died of cancer several years ago. He added he that after it happened, he didn’t want to go out of the house and that he, “…never expected to meet someone.” Then, he met his girlfriend and they’ve been sailing ever since.
My first thought was, Oh, that’s so sad. And then I thought, Wait! That (more or less) is my story! Maybe, just maybe, the fact that I can hear a story like that and can empathize with the storyteller without immediately being launched back into my past, is a good sign—a sign that the clouds are breaking—that my un-slumping process is making progress.
I have a lot to thank Rhett for when it comes to my un-slumping. She’s so open to hearing about Colleen’s and my past, and so understanding and non-judgmental about it all.
Speaking of Rhett, she’s added a short bio of herself to the About page of hjsailing! It’s interesting that she went to the fairytale aspect of things at the same time I was thinking about Oh, the Places You’ll Go! While not quite a traditional fairy tale, it’s certainly in the genre.
The third reason I’m thinking about that book is that I’m thinking about all the places we’ve been this past month. Aside from the blow that we had when we were in Chub Cay Marina and the blow we’re experiencing now, our weather has been near perfect. Before I devote the rest of this post to the month’s travelogue, I’ll finish this section by recommending a wonderful reading aloud of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
For those who know me well it might seem wonderfully odd that I’d begin the travelogue and end the travelogue with church. However, like a good referee, I’ve got to, “…call ‘em like I see ‘em.”
The day before we departed from Chub Cay we were able to attend church in the cay’s chapel. It was a beautiful albeit informal service as there was no official minister or pastor on the island. Ms. Stefanie presided admirably and lead the service. At one point she asked if anyone if they had a favorite hymn that they would like the congregation of 10-15 to sing. Rhett spoke up that she would like to hear, In the Garden. It was a poignant moment for me because, although we had never talked about it, it was my mother Ruth’s favorite hymn and was sung at her funeral.
The next morning we departed on our spirited 26 hour sail from the Berry Islands to the Exuma Islands (detailed in this post), we made landfall at Highborne Cay and spent several wonderful days at anchor exploring the area on Lil’ Dinghy.
Next we sailed to the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park. It was a beautiful sail to Shroud Cay within the park in mild conditions on the shallow Great Bahama Bank and we did our best to capture it in this video.
Since Shroud Cay was within the park, it was uninhabited and featured beautiful beaches. Also the weather and winds were perfect for sailing Lil’ Dinghy.
A few photos of another beach…
Conventional sailors’ wisdom is that it’s best to learn how to sail on a small and simple boat before trying to graduate to larger, heavier boats with more complexity. With that in mind, Lil’ Dinghy is perfect platform for learning to sail and Captain Rhett had the opportunity to take the helm!
In addition to the wonderful sailing, Shroud Cay had crystalline mangrove rivers that we rowed, sailed and waded. I love the following video, not just for its outright content but because of the nomenclature to which we all can relate. Do you remember as a child that when your mother called you by name, you knew that something was happening—it could be good, it could be bad. However, when she called you by your full name, you just knew you were really in trouble…she was serious. If you listen carefully in the latter part of this video, you’ll hear Rhett, in hushed tones, address me as “Daniel”…uh-oh!
After several idyllic days at Shroud Cay, we mad a relatively short but challenging daysail upwind in 20+ knot winds to Waderick Wells Cay. “Waderick Wells” is also within the park and is home to the park’s rustic headquarters. We radioed ahead to the park ranger and were assigned a mooring ball close to the park headquarters in a narrow cut. Every six hours Hazel would change direction as the tide ebbed and flooded.
The hiking on Waderick Wells was absolutely stunning. After a full day’s hike, I commented to Rhett that it had been my best day of hiking on a voyage—that says something after the hiking I had last year in the Virgin Islands.
Compared to U.S. National Parks (which I love), Bahamian National Parks have more of an element of “real” adventure to them, there’s no Disneyland-like veneer of adventure with everything underneath checked and double-checked for safety.
When we visited the ranger’s station we were given an 8 1/2 x 11 plain sheet of paper with a rough map of the island and general locations of hiking trails. However, the real orienteering happened on the hike, between the “cairns”. The cairns were picturesque piles of stones that would mark the trails. If you were in luck, from one cairn you could spot the next cairn and follow them like breadcrumbs. If your luck ran short, a bit of searching was involved to find the next one. We also found that the island’s lizards also liked the cairns. We think the high, sunny locations of many of the cairns allowed the lizards to both spot predators from a distance and warm their chilly, cold blooded bones on the rocks. As you might guess by now, I got a lot of “cairn and lizard” shots during the day’s hike.
We also happened into a sizable limestone sinkhole with a rather rickety ladder that an “intrepid” (read: foolhardy) hiker could climb down. Something you’d never see in a U.S. park. Actually, I think it made the list of “100 worst ladders to climb when there’s no Emergency Room within 100 miles.”
I could lie to you and tell you that Rhett dropped her handkerchief down the hole and, chivalrously, I volunteered to go down and get it, but that would be lying—something that I try to avoid from time to time. I’ll level with you and tell you that I just had to climb down and check it out…because it was there.
On our hike we also saw several Bahamian Hutias.
Finally, as relates to the hiking, here are a couple good videos. The first shows us completing Shady Tree Trail and opening up to the Exuma Sound. The second uses the GoPro’s “Time Warp” mode. I still haven’t learned how to put music to my videos, so…if you were a fan of The Benny Hill Show, please just imagine the saxophone from his theme music playing in the background on this video.
After several wonderful days in Warderick Wells we saw an opportunity to make a long (70 nautical mile sail) downwind in the Exuma Sound and position ourselves close to George Town on Great Exuma Island. I italicized “downwind” since the vast majority of our sailing so far on this voyage has been upwind. Also, we saw that a batch of weather was quickly approaching (it’s the weather that we’re still experiencing, a week later).
It turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to stretch the legs of our new asymmetrical cruising spinnaker that we had made for HJ this summer. It was wonderful day of sailing. As the hiking several days before was some of the best (the best?) of my life—this day and night of sailing was some of the best sailing of my life. In the afternoon, under the spinnaker, we spent several hours on Hazel’s foredeck (ahead of the mast), drinking tea (how refined) and playing ukulele and singing loud and proud.
Here’s a video of the spinnaker in action.
To close this travelogue…with church…as I promised I would. Rhett and I arrived in the marina Friday morning. We had been sailing the better part of the day Thursday under the spinnaker and arrived outside the marina around midnight Thursday/Friday then hoved-to for the rest of the night, waiting for daylight to enter the marina’s inlet.
By Saturday afternoon we were rested up and decided to have the marina call us a cab to take us to a beachside local restaurant for an early dinner. The “cab” arrived and a very nice gentleman stepped out of the well kept Chevy Suburban. He opened the door for us and we got in and he started driving and immediately we struck up a conversation.
Shortly into the conversation we asked for his card and saw that his name and title was, “Rev. Dr. Adam Brown—Marriage Officer”. This immediately started a whole new line of conversation that ended with our coincident arrival at the restaurant, and Rhett and me asking if we could attend services at his church the next morning. The Reverend said, “Absolutely!” and he added that we would be picked up at the marina at 9:25 Sunday morning for the 10:00 service.
9:25 the next morning rolls around and the Reverend’s car is waiting for us, but—even better—today, it’s his 73 year old wife Ms. Margaret who is driving. We knew she was 73 because the previous evening Reverend Brown said that her birthday was this past week and that there would be cake at the church after the service to celebrate.
15 minutes later, we were at the Ebenezer Union Baptist Church waiting for Dr. Brown and Ms. Margaret to start the service.
The service was beautiful, especially the singing and music (even with all of us distanced and wearing masks). To start his sermon, the Reverend asked both Rhett and me to stand and introduce ourselves to the other congregants. Finally, in the Reverend’s sermon he drew the metaphor of the lighthouse that allows mariners to navigate, to God’s love for all people. It was especially touching as I thought about Hazel James’s hailing port (home port) of Hillsboro Inlet, FL and the lighthouse that shines over it. Just 10 months ago, I was returning from my 2020 voyage to The Bahamas and the Virgin Islands. It was the middle of the night and I was “coming in hot,” doing 10 knots due to favorable winds and the Gulf Stream. When I was still well south of Ft. Lauderdale (about 2:00 AM of Mother’s Day 2020), I started to see the flashing of Hillsboro Inlet lighthouse—it’s visible from 20+ miles and flashes at a 20 second period. It guided me home those final miles after some 2,500 miles of sailing. That image, and the memories of Colleen, and the excitement of my new relationship with Rhett flooded my head as the Reverend spoke.
After the service, Ms. Margaret and Dr. Brown informed us that they would be taking us out to a Sunday brunch. After letting the Reverend take care of some church business we enjoyed another wonderful beachside meal.
Well, that’s all folks (for now). We can tell that although Hazel is comfortable in her slip though this blow, she is itching to get back out on the briny. She also knows that we feel the same way. Oh, the Places We’ll Go!
12 thoughts on “The Waiting Place”
What a beautiful blog post! Thanks for sharing your journey…fair winds to you both. 🥰
Thanks so much Leah. I hope that you and yours are well.
We are loving tagging along with you. Alice n Paul
Hanks so much for the note Alice!
Great update. Love the videos….
Thanks JJ. Good to know that the vids help tell the story. I’m (air quotes) “hip” so I say “vids” instead of “videos”.
Dan and Rhett the pictures and videos are breathtaking. Such a beautiful and inspiring love story.
Wonderful update, Dan! And such a pleasure to see the videos – you and Rhett look so happy 😊 Hina and Amelia send their love. Hope we get to catch up in person in the not-too-distant future if you ever end up bringing Hazel in towards the Chesapeake bay. We’re right by Annapolis.
Saad, Oh that would be great! Our current plan is to sail from South Florida to Charleston SC in one hop and then (maybe) another long one from Charleston to Hampton Roads and then up the Chesapeake. Will keep you post
Saad, Oh that’s right! We should be able to see you as we plan to be through the Chesapeake this Summer.
You’re having too much fun…
I have to say, that’s a true statement Mark!