Paul - "Better and Better", or "Crazy Lightning Storm"

There were plenty of times in Key West, when the repairs and insurance situation dragged on and on, that I really thought we might not make it to the Bahamas.  The time was getting short, the delays continued, and so many doubts went through my mind.  "Will there be a timely weather window for the crossing?" "Is it worth the multiple travel days to get to the Exumas with such a short time left for our trip?"  "How much time do we need to allot for tucking the ole girl in upon return to Ft Lauderdale? "How much time do we allot to drive back home, with some stops along the way to see friends and family?"  "Is it really worth all the hassle?"  Short answer…Yep.  Absolutely.  No doubt about it. We modified the trip a bit.  We are in the Berrys instead of the Exumas.  No problem.  It is beautiful here.  


Last night we had a crazy storm come through.  We knew it was due.  Then suddenly we found a need to go into the Marina to send an email (we had to reply to someone that is interested in Laeto Loco).  We dinghied in, flipped open the laptop right there by the dinghy dock, and it started to drizzle. Away goes into the laptop (inside the laptop case, which then goes inside a waterproof backpack…we definitely want to keep our only form of communications dry), and we found shelter in a small cafe. We ordered some conch fritters, because we felt we had to order something. Sent our email, and then watched the sky turn more and more black as we waited for our food.  Before long I asked the waitress if we could get the fritters to go, and could I settle the bill, because we had to get back to the boat.  We scrambled to the dinghy hopped in and felt a little frustration at the NO WAKE speed limit as the blackness became more intimidating.  By the time we cleared the marina, the drizzle was turning into a light rain.   Within 3 minutes it was a downpour with very high winds.  We had to cross a 1/4 mile harbor then go through a man made channel then into the bay for 1/3 mile to the boat.  The waves and chop in the channel were already tossing us all over.  By the time we finally made it back to the boat, we were in a full on storm.  Hoisted the dinghy, pulling the drain plug so it doesn't fill with water.  then scramble inside peeling off all our salt water soaked clothes.  The winds eventually hovered just under 40 knots for a bit.  But what was really impressive (in a bad scary way) was the lightning.  It was constant and close.  Everything electronic goes into the oven during a lightning storm.  Then we just shut off our lights and watched the show.  Back home I have always enjoyed storms.  A lightning strike in my house seems so unlikely and even then not so hazardous  (with the Fire Dept I have been to several homes that were struck.  It is always impressive what it can do.  But never seemed as if it was dangerous.).   Not here we are in a fairly large anchorage with only 2 other boats.  One was a tiny monohull so our mast was significantly higher.  The other was French family on another cat (Although at first we didn't believe they were French because they were fully clothed coming into the anchorage. Not nude). So only 3 big aluminum masts reaching up from a nice flat ocean waiting to catch a lightning bolt.  


The lightning hit everywhere. I just kept thinking, "C'mon, we just got here all fixed, we just can't get struck now".  We didn't, I don't know how, but we are just fine.  Eventually, the lightning passed, then just the wind stuck around for a bit.  Without the lightning, we enjoy storms on the boat…at anchor.  The wind shifted directions a lot so we spun all around.  We just sat in the salon reading, looking out once and a while to make sure we were indeed staying put. But the Bahamian sand made sure of that.  Our oversized CQR anchor didn't budge an inch (the 10:1 scope helped out too I am sure! We always let out a little more with weather in the forecast.  Adam was the one that put out the chain and he didn't want to have to worry when the winds picked up)


Today, the weather is gorgeous.  Not the best sailing as the winds are light; 5-10 knots.  But we made our way to Slaughter Harbor.  It is a small anchorage between two islands owned by the cruise ship companies.  One island is just starting to be developed, but the other was covered with beach chairs, umbrellas, DJs spinning records and lots and lots of pasty people trying to get some sun.  Parasails, jet skis, and all kinds of other water toys, and we just watched it all from a distance.  Then they all started leaving on their shuttles, time to go back to the cruise ship for dinner and setting off for the next port-of-call. 3pm and it was crazy quiet, 3:45 and all the workers left the island too.  I think there may only be one guy left (the one responsible for burning all the garbage left behind by the cruise shippers.  Thick black smoke billowed for hours…a lot of red solo cups probably.)  We beach combed, hung out on a tiny sand bar only exposed at low tide.  Enjoyed the tranquil waters, low winds and peace and quiet.  


It was just the five of us.  It was awesome.  It was beautiful.  I am gonna miss this life with my family.