We have been back in Abaco for over three weeks. It has been a busy three weeks. The first two were spent preparing for our visitors – a thorough cleaning of Blue Wing, scouting out of marinas, places to snorkel, and cays to visit, several trips ashore in Marsh Harbor to provision, many loads of laundry, and repairs to the dinghy, which was leaking so badly it was like going ashore in a floating wading pool. We also had to check in with immigration during this time and get our cruising permit extended for another three months. A whole lot of this was done in the rain, a whole lot of rain, under overcast skies, with a couple of days high winds, but it was all ok, we had our very first visitors coming! I was so very excited!
When we were sailing in Eleuthera I had mentioned to another sailor that we had guests coming. He told me he was sorry and that he hated visitors. I understand his feelings to an extent. One of the pleasures of this life is to be able to go and do as you please with no worries about anyone except maybe your sailing partner. Guests, especially non-sailors, add a whole new concern to the sailing experience. Are they comfortable? Are they having a good time? What happens if we have bad weather and are trapped in a tiny boat unable to go anywhere for days? What happens if we get into a dangerous situation and the guests panic or become scared?
I followed a forum post on a sailing website once about a captain, sailing in the open waters of the Atlantic somewhere off the coast of Bermuda, who decided to abandon ship. The boat was taking on water and had other problems. The crew (the captain’s wife and guests) panicked and urged him to call for help. The rescue was a disaster, which almost cost the captain his life and destroyed the boat. The captain maintained that the problems were not that severe and could have been fixed at sea and that he should not have caved to the pressure of the guests to leave the ship. The comments to the post continued with discussions about whether one chooses their marriage or boat in this type of situation. There were votes on both sides of this debate.
At this point in our sailing careers, I don’t plan on sailing anywhere with guests where we could get into such dire straits. But this incident illustrates the different perceptions of circumstances from the guests’ point of view and the captain’s. We have endured plenty of uncomfortable times on Blue Wing and have found ourselves making quick decisions in order to avoid bad situations, but this is our life – we are not on vacation.
Still, I want to share this incredible experience with my friends just like the experience was shared with me 12 years ago. The Sea of Abaco is the perfect place to do this with short day sails in usually calm waters to a variety of different islands all with their own unique atmosphere. Greg and I feel confident enough to be able to avoid scary situations and to “motor” right through them if they arise. The weather, of course, is all luck, but I am lucky – I have lucky friends.