We ended our bahamas trip in the same place we started out. Great Sale Cay. Not only that, but we were stuck there once again waiting on good weather. I say stuck as if it were a bad thing. It wasn’t. It was a nice island. We did some fishing and met some really nice folks. And we actually ran into several people who had a boat exactly like ours. (Island Packet 31)
When we got to Great Sale Cay a second time, we were the first to arrive at the anchorage. 24 hours later, there were over 35 other boats that came in expecting to do what we were doing. We were all waiting on the right conditions to make the crossover back into the United States. We ended up having a few days to wait and get to know the other boaters. Now there are several ways you can get to know the other boaters. One is to just drive your dinghy up to them and say hi. Which we did. The other is to listen on the VHF radio and chat with whoever wanted to chat. Which we did. I will get to the radio part in a minute.
Right after we anchored, we went over to the second boat in and introduced ourselves. Keith offered to dive down and make sure their anchor was set good. It was. Then they invited us up for cocktails. This was working out pretty good. They were a very charming couple from British Columbia. Pierre and Carolyn on s/v Obsession. Their english was very good. Unfortunately our southern accent and euphemisms were a bit much for them to understand. Sometimes they would look at us funny, so we would have to explain what we meant. We made plans to get together again and went back to our boat, where we met the third boat that had just pulled in. Joe and Tammy on s/v Tammera Sue. Their boat was identical to ours, so we chatted and made plans to get together for cocktails with them as well. This was fun. This is what was supposed to happen much sooner in the game. Not our last few days there. But it happened and it was loads of fun.
We had planned on leaving out with Pierre and Carolyn but our plans had changed at the last moment and regrettfully we were not able to reach them on the vhf radio to inform them. I hate that we didn’t get to tell them good bye.
So lets talk about the VHF radio. Most of you know what this is, but if you don’t, its a marine radio that is used to contact the coast guard and other boaters. Here in the states, its strictly enforced. You call on channel 16 but when you reach your party, you switch to another channel to converse. In the bahamas, its supposed to be that way too, but its not really enforced like it is here. But most boaters will still abide by the rules. We used it at the anchorage to glean information from other boaters as to when they were going to leave, where they were going and such. One night while we were sitting in the cockpit having a beverage, Keith gets on the radio and this is how the rest unfolds:
Keith: “Great sale cay marina, great sale cay marina, this is sailboat Otter.”
(now keep in mind there is no such place)
Keith: “switching to channel 17”
Keith: “yes, I would like to request a room with a pool, and dinner and drinks and a turndown service.”
Mail voice on the radio: “was someone needing help with anything?”
Keith: “um, no, sorry that was just me being silly on the radio.”
New mail voice: “Yes, I’m coming in to the anchorage now, I don’t need any help but could I get a mint on my pillow?”
sometimes you just have to have fun.
I wonder how many of the 35 boats out there were listening. Its very common for others to switch their channels and eavesdrop on the conversation. I’m sure many of them were listening in. They must have thought we had lost our minds at this point.
The next night we had found out by listening to the radio, that several boats were leaving in the morning. We decided to be one of them. Several of them were actually going to the same location as us, so we figured it would be a good time to leave and tag along.
We were the first ones out. We were quickly followed by 4 other boats. This is called ‘buddy boating’. We all sailed the 9 hours or so, to the ‘bank’, where we make our crossover into the gulf stream. We couldn’t always see each other but we were fortunate to be able to talk to each other over the radio during that time. Once the first boat made it into the stream,(we were eventually passed) they radioed back and let us all know what the conditions were like. It was comforting to know ahead of time what to expect. As the night wore on, we all went different speeds and lost contact with each other. It was good while it lasted. We picked up speed once we hit the gulf stream. There were times when we were going 10 knots. Thats double what our boat usually does. It felt like we were flying through the stream, waves and all. I have been trying to convince Keith to buddy boat, and now that he’s finally done it, I think he enjoyed it more than he thought he would. I rest my case. Its good to be back in the states. Life is good!