Adventures of s/v WILD HAIR


Our land life took on form, solidity, routine. We had mastery of a limited set of skills. We had habitual expectations of others and ourselves. Going sailing, we let go of our attachments to our roles, views, and rituals. We persist because we are growing in this shapeless and dynamic world.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Two Sides of an Island: Sweet Cay

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2010—Today we made our first landfall in the Bahamas at the western shore of Great Harbour Cay or “Sweet Cay” as it is known to the locals. After days of isolation on the water, an unknown, lanky Bahamian caught our lines and boasted, “Side thrusters will kick in now, mon” as he pulled WILD HAIR toward the pier.

Dinghy, our goodwill ambassador, surprised and delighted the marina administrator. She giggled, “I have a silly cousin named ‘Dingy!’”

Hours went by with us trapped restlessly on the boat, quarantined until the customs agent could come from the airport. Despite our eagerness to explore, it was illegal to wander ashore without clearing customs and hoisting the Bahamian courtesy flag. The paperwork took only minutes to complete when the uniformed official arrived after lunch. We were off.

It was raining. Opting not to rent a golf cart to tour the 7.5 miles of island road, we found ourselves happily wandering the newly paved street, stretching our legs. But time and again, drivers either honked and waved or pulled over to offer us a ride. Finally, we accepted a ride into town from two very large, dark men, one heavily tattooed with the phrase “Papa.”

We asked, “What do you do in town when you get there?”

They answered in their thick Bahamian lilt, “Drink, gamble, and eat—that’s what you do in town, mon!”

They were right. When we arrived we found everything closed but the grocery store and the bar/restaurant. Men’s voices boomed from inside, sounding as if they were cheering a cock fight. It seems the rain made the day unusual. Because nearly everyone worked outside, it was the island’s unwritten rule that no one works when it rains.

Standing like outsiders on a street where everyone grew up together, another stranger approached. Introducing himself as Benjamin, he offered an impromptu review of all the places to which we could walk and the houses that sell bread. “Just knock,” he urged.

After walking a bit and turning down a few more rides, we accepted a lift from two guys in a jeep. They were mechanics with the day off. Hearing we had newly arrived, they insisted on taking us to the airport for a peek. Next door, they encouraged us to get a drink at the Beach Club Bar claiming, “It is very popular with the tourists.” Despite the TV blaring an American soap opera, the location was spectacular and the cracked conch was crunchy and delicious.

Getting the hang of this island hitch-hiking thing, we quickly picked up a ride from a man named “Yellow.” Without prompting, he decided we needed to see High Rock—a vista for tourists under construction. Our ride was made slow by his troublesome fuel pump; we crept painfully, humorously up the hill to High Rock. Gazing out at the uninterrupted view, Yellow wistfully declared, “Sometimes, I come up here by myself and my mind goes crazy!”

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