Bonnie and Jim Miller sailed their Newfoundland-registered Victoire yacht ‘Vagrant Sea’ from the Queen City Yacht Club in Toronto via the ICW to the Bahamas
Sailing the Bahamas – Conception Island – ICW South part 5
We left Long Island a few days ago. It was an effort to tear ourselves away from the safe and familiar, to leave our Bahamian friends ashore and get back to some real cruising. We relinquished seniority in the sound to Snuggery (they are based in the Buffalo area, but have sailed for many years in Canada) and picked our way carefully out through the cut at high tide. We were rewarded with a lovely sail to Conception, a wildlife sanctuary. We feel as if we are closing some circles this week, i.e. Conception Bay, Newfoundland to Conception Island, Bahamas; a visit to the site of Chistopher Columbus’ landing at Cape Santa Maria on October 17, 1492 — a rather different shore from that of Cabot’s 1497 landing at Bonavista, which we commemorated last summer. And, in a somewhat more banal vein, tomorrow we take our small feline crew to Cat Island.
George Town, just forty miles southwest, has about 400 boats this week, awaiting the cruisers’ regatta which starts in a few days. Our brief visit in January will do for this time. Friends who escaped the crowd for a few days brought us scraps of news from the sailors’ mecca. The folks on that 43-foot ketch are heading back to Florida to sell the boat and buy a motorhome. One of the Turtledoves has gone home to the midwest and the other has a new sailing companion. A couple on a 50-footer had to cancel plans to go to Trinidad because the combination of unreliable generator and mere 300-gallon water capacity made it hard to keep the washing machine operational. They also have decided to give up being boat owners. He says he’ll bank the money and when he wants to sail he’ll call a charter company in the Virgin Islands, get the forecast for the week, and only then decide whether or not he wants to commit to a week on the water.
Yes, “Chicken Harbour” is living up to its reputation. Plans for cruising the southern Caribbean or the South Pacific go by the wayside. For some, revising the script for the trip of a lifetime is traumatic and disappointing. Others are more pragmatic, “We didn’t know what we were talking about when we said we wanted to do this forever. ” or philosophical, “Fifty years from now, who’ll remember whether I got to the Bahamas or to Barbados?” For us, the return trip north begins tomorrow. We aren’t sure how far north we will take the boat, or when we will resume cruising or what our next destination will be – back south next fall or winter, or on to Newfoundland in the spring of 1999… or something we haven’t even considered yet.
This afternoon we were telling a couple in their 60s that we have some more years of the working life ahead. They both said quickly, “But you have done the right thing taking this year for cruising.” The woman explained that she and her first husband quit work and went cruising fifteen years ago. After three wonderful years, he was diagnosed with a fatal illness. She said she will always be thankful that he fulfilled his life’s dream to sail. Jim and I walked along the sand and talked about how much this, our first great sailing adventure, has meant to us. We watched the other couple hold hands as they strolled the beach and felt very happy they have a second chance at this life.
Okay, enough with the sentimentality! We’ve got a few more months left in this trip and we hope to make the most of them. We missed the turtle breeding ground at the other side of this island, but we hear Cat Island has pineapples.
Fair winds and snug harbours,
Bonnie James – Vagrant Sea
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