Brad, Dan and Scott's Sailing Adventure

"There she is boys! The SS More Powerful than Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and the Incredable Hulk combined." This space will be used to post updates of our odyssey.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

While you were sleeping

We're back in the Bahamas. We made landfall on Great Inagua, a relatively large island, but with few inhabitants. The first day, we set out on our first snorkeling trip since April. Brad and I tried to frighten Forest and Josh with shark stories, exaggerating the risks and frequencies. But then we actually saw a shark. The biggest one we've seen so far. The crew's first snorkeling trip ended with the 4 of us huddled with our backs together as we swam the 75 yards back to the boat.

The plan was to leave Great Inagua soon after arriving. But the forecast was for a couple low pressure systems to develop in the area with the risk of becoming tropical storms. That's meteorologist talk for "the shit could hit the fan, so don't be at sea". So, the next day was spent playing dominos and cribbage on the boat. It rained most of the day and we pretty much spent it huddled in the cabin. The weather cleared up on Wednesday, so we rented a van with a sailing couple we had met. The island was not exactly suited for tourism, so we spent the day aimlessly driving around the salt flats trying to find an elusive group of flamingos (we did actually find them, but only from a great distance).

Having exhausted Inagua and hearing a favorable weather report, we have now embarked on a 30 hour, 150 mile passage that will put us in the even more remote Jumentos Cays.

Around sunset on the first night at sea we hooked an enormous fish, the strongest I'd ever fought. It was nighttime by the time we brought the beast alongside the boat. It was a beautiful yellowfin tuna, a prize among commercial and sport fishermen. However, this guy was huge- too huge. We knew there was no way we could eat or give away that much meat. After taking a few pictures, I reached down and released him. We watched as the behemoth swam back into the depths.

Almost immediately after the tuna left, a swarm of moths descended on the boat. We were 50 miles from the nearest landmass of Cuba. The wind was at times 20knots (23MPH), yet the moths persevered. Hundreds and hundreds of them flew just above the cockpit. At the same time, a thunderstorm appeared. I had recently had my first real experience with a storm only a few days before. I tried to feign nonchalance so that the new crew members would feel that they were being directed by competent, experienced captains. A couple days later I revealed to them that I had never been in a situation like that before and I had gone downstairs to read Heavy Weather Sailing to get some clues on what to do about lightning. That time, we had managed to sail around the storm. This time, the storm appeared to be everywhere. By 11:00PM, the lightning was all around us. On the radar, I could see huge blotches of storms everywhere, but the biggest was directly overhead. The lightning would strike about every 2 seconds and on long ones, it would light up the sea and reveal an ocean that had become very choppy with high winds and rain. It's a little bit scary to be sailing a metal pole through a thunderstorm 54 feet higher than any other object. I don't quite understand why we were not hit. As we passed through the other side of the storm, I could see many many lightning bolts hit the surface of the ocean exactly where we had been. Perhaps Neptune was thanking us for returning the monster tuna.

I started my shift at midnight. The thunderstorm had mostly passed, but unbelievably, the moths remained. It had already been a strange night, when I was minding my own business humming to myself to pass the time. Suddenly, BAM! Something hit me in the face/eye. Have you ever been hit in the face by a bird? Didn't think so, neither had I. So I wasn't sure what it was that had hit me, until I looked down at the cockpit cushion and saw a stunned finch-like bird convulsing. I picked it up and was able to have him stand on my finger. The bird stayed perched on my finger while I steered Kaleidoscope through the night. I named him "Heads". C'mon, that's clever. Get it? Like "Heads up!", what some one should have said before we collided. Like, our heads collided. Also, I thought it was a good compliment to my other pet, "Tails". Anyway, Heads kept me company and stayed perched on my finger for a whole hour while we made our way towards the Jumentos Islands before gaining the strength to fly off into the night.