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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
-- Mark Twain

SS Sapona
We  had no control of the boat , John and I quickly dropped anchor after I cut the engine .  We had drifted next to the reef but didn't hit it , The design of the Trimaran had saved us again . The waves that night  were a light chop, wind light and variable  our dumb luck had saved us again,  we had a good laugh and proceeded to get the spare tiller out of the hatch. The guy we had bought the boat from had planned to do the very same thing ;(Sail the Bahamas)  but a Wedding ring  cut of his circulation, Dam ring is more dangerous than a Hammerhead ,   thanks Robert for the spare tiller !   Luckily we had a full moon and a candle  so I could work on the tiller.                                                                 With the sound of the  waves crashing on the reef  20ft away  we made repairs , the cable was rigged to hold the old tiller strait and the back-up tiller was dropped in place .   After  determining our position we realized that we had sailed 70 miles over the "Banks"  and  landed about a mile from Cat Cay using only a  compass the size of a baseball  . We then came up with the plan , motor  around the reef and drop anchor near the shore of South Cat Cay.  ,also our plans had changed for safety reasons    instead of leaving at first light we would  carefully go over the boat all day, even scrape barnacles  and make sure it was seaworthy and good/safe condition for the Crossing.    Crossing  is short for crossing the Gulf Stream, usually the most dangerous and difficult  part of a Bahamas cruise . When ever sailors meet up in Bahamian ports they question each other about  it, from  where did you depart ?  where did you land ?  how many hours ?  sea condition  and so on , the 5-7 knot South to North drift of the Gulf  Steam is your biggest variable                   We slept  late , the sun was already up  I started checking the  boat,  John and Mary went ashore to explore , beach comb and look for cigarette butts,  After a while I noticed them quickly returning to the boat , when they got aboard  , they explained   that we had stumbled on to drug runners !    With out pointing they showed me where to look, I could see a guy  in the tree line , he was standing next to what looked like a car sized cache under a tarpaulin , the guy was pacing back and forth  nervously, this would be a good time to (act normal)  and slowly pull up anchor and leave the area !   We would have to go a little more North than  preferred , the idea was hit Florida as far south as possible , I did not know of any  safe channels  North of Government Cut  ( where the Cruise ships leave) If we missed Government Cut  we might end up in Ft. Lauderdale.                                                               We motored up to Gun Cay   and anchored  200 yds from  the  SS Sapona  (a cement ship that wrecked in a 1926  Hurricane , also of  the famous Flt 19 of  Bermuda Triangle lore)   .    Oh I remember   Flt 19 the planes that made a practice bombing run on the SS Sapona  then headed for Florida and were never seen again   , how reassuring !  No joy on the boat that night ;out of cigarettes, vodka and  with drug runners in the area and   deciding to not clear customs , dinner that night was Spam white rice and warm water.  Sleep was impossible , I would sit on deck in the full moon and stare at the ghostly image of the shipwreck and wondered if our luck would hold 24 more hours .            The next morning it was all business with very little conversation  we were underway before sun up, (all wearing life preservers)  the heading was Southwest as long as possible , by late morning the deep 6-8 ft.  swells forced us on a more Western tracking . If the sea condition stayed as is  we would hit Florida late afternoon but where ? We  rode the deep swells all day  safely  with out incident and no hint of trouble in the sky,  late in the day conversation is always  "shouldn't we be seeing land ?" That's the most anxious time of the trip,  and the first sight of land is a big relief,  and every one's spirits are lifted , the next topic is speculating on landmarks as the land slowly develops and takes shape. We spotted land late in the day everyone started to relax and joke about food.                                                    The best case scenario was  find Key Biscayne and take  the channel near " Stilts-ville" . What appeared to be Key Biscayne light house was quickly to our South, the Gulf stream was hot that day likely a 7 knot Northerly flow ,and the swells did not allow   coarse correction. However an hour later we were a mile off Government Cut , the seas allowed us a head strait for it  at full speed we motored towards the Cut ,  no choice but to  burn precious fuel,  just when it seemed we might make it..... a Cruise Ship  came out of the Cut forcing us North.. I only knew of Haulover inlet and a fixed bridge over the inlet , would it permit  a sailboat  mast ?  we had no choice but to go and see.  The entrance to Haulover  inlet is very rough , we quickly determined  the fixed bridge  would not allow us, and made a turn in high sea swells  , a real  low point ,   no choice but motor  back to Government Cut.  It was now dark off the coast of Miami Beach motoring  full throttle  with no running lights in heavy boat traffic  we prayed a power boat would not slam into us.    Low on gas we would make Government Cut or die trying  ,  full speed ahead !  when we rounded the jetty to the "Cut" the  water was like  glass     the city lights shown brightly,    We made it !  Slowly motoring  South towards Coconut Grove,  we looked up at the condominiums and talked how great it would be to have "Creature Comforts".. TV, refrigeration, hot showers , cold beer and pizza, Well some day maybe. We were called many derogatory things in those days  "The boat people" is one of the few I can print, we had a different lifestyle,   is different wrong ?    for many months before and after today,  we had  taken a road less traveled ................  The End               I have to get back to farming now, maybe next summer I'll bore ya with some more old stories