Swing Set

Aug 21, 201312:55 PM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Finding It Hard to Leave Staniel Cay

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As the evening wound down, we were not only invited back to a birthday party for Catherine from Charlotte, Mark had told the owner of Mestre Belo that I had worked at a beer factory and had brewed his favorite brand. Apparently, he wanted to meet us, so Mark invited us to join the whole gang on board the sailing yacht. We were inclined to decline the invitation, but the boat is so magnificent, I wanted to see it close up, so we stopped by on our way to our dinghy just to say hello.

The cockpit of the yacht had about 25 people on it, all gathered around the owner, and what looked to be his favorite son, who was “entertaining” the group with guitar playing and what some would describe as singing. Mark invited us aboard, but since we arrived mid-warble, no one interrupted with any greetings. We were told to “wait here a minute,” just on the outskirts of the cockpit, while Mark went over to the owner to announce our presence. Meanwhile, we did make the acquaintance of a giant who introduced himself as “Shark.” He appeared friendly enough, but I got the impression that he was just checking us out, maybe for weapons. Again, who knows?

As we listened to the singer butcher Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” slurring over the line “burning out his fuse up here alone,” (Hasn’t he seen that commercial?) Mark went over to whisper something in the owner’s ear. Soon, we were given an apology that the owner didn’t have the inclination to grant an audience at the moment. Rosie and I exchanged knowing looks, thanked Mark for the invitation, and then we made our exit. We didn’t want to make anyone feel any more uncomfortable than they probably already were, with all those noses stuck up their butts and all.

Not to generalize, but we figure celebrities and the very affluent get jaded by being treated with so much deference, and if they weren’t messed up from the first, they soon get that way. Great, now I’ve insulted the sailboaters and the rich folks. There will be no one left to read my blog.

We were late getting back to Swing Set, maybe the latest we had been out in a long, long time. Holly was so glad to see us, and we were glad to see her, too. Our dog may not really love us like we think she does, but her treatment of us is many times better than that of indifference from complete strangers. We could lose faith in our fellow man if it wasn’t for things like what we learned the next morning.

Linda, on Mercy, had changed crew on Sunday. Ellen, her old neighbor, had flown out of Staniel Cay, and her cousin, Nancy, took Ellen's place. Nancy was on board to make the trip back to Florida. You see, Linda’s mother passed away a couple of weeks ago, and she has to get to Panama City to attend a memorial service in early September. She understands, like we do: What’s the hurry? Anyhow, Linda had gotten up near midnight while we were over on Mestre Belo, and she noticed that our dinghy was gone. I would have guessed that our dinghy had been stolen, but Linda thought we were out stranded somewhere, so she went looking for us in her Whaler after midnight. Who does that?

Not finding us, but seeing a large group gathered on the deck of Mestre Belo, she rightly figured that we were on there. When she told us about her concern, we were nearly driven to tears. We thanked her profusely, but no thanks were needed. Then, she asked what we were doing for the day, as her and Nancy were going lobstering. We were a bit “under the weather” and were only going to make a trip to the grocery store, and then chill out for the rest of the day. We were able to “pay it back” to some degree by offering to pick up some things for her and Nancy at the market.

Later, we dropped off a loaf of coconut bread and some tomatoes for the crew of Mercy, and they wanted to pay us for the items. We declined to take any money, and I told Linda she owed us nothing. If you remember, Linda brought water in jugs out to us when we were anchored off of Big Pine last fall.

After an afternoon of reading our books, Linda and Nancy came by in the Whaler to tell us they caught one lobster that afternoon and to see if we wanted to join them for a Pina Colada at the Yacht Club. We had some spare ribs we were getting ready to grill, so again we declined the offer to go for cocktails. Then, we were invited over to their boat to have surf and turf the next night, and again when I made some lame excuse about not wanting to plan “so far ahead,” I could see Linda was put out a little, and when they left, I felt like a heel.

It’s a legitimate statement that we haven’t had dinner with other people since the start of our journey. We did have breakfast with John Neely and his girlfriend back in Nassau, so it’s not like we won’t dine with others. I don’t know why I declined the dinner invitation out of hand, I guess it’s just my nature, but I began to anguish over my decision.

Sometimes, people ask other people to do things, not for the people getting the invitation, but they ask because they just like to and it makes them feel good. What’s the big deal about accepting a dinner, or other invitation, when it may mean something more to the person doing the asking? After talking to Rosie, I decided to tell Linda that we would be delighted to join them for dinner if we could at least bring a salad.

Linda and Nancy soon came roaring back in the Whaler while we were grilling our ribs. I waved them over, and when they pulled up, I said that if the invite was still open, not only would we like to join them for dinner, we would also like to go lobstering with them in the morning if they wanted. Weather permitting, we agreed to meet at 10:30 the next morning so we could add to the “surf” part of the “surf and turf” menu. We were able to make them happy, which in turn made us happy. Much easier than fretting about the matter for days, and more fun in the long run.

Even with a threat of rain, Linda and Nancy picked us up in the Whaler, right on time. We spent about three hours hunting for bugs, and only Linda had success at finding and catching one. The time was not spent for nothing, though. We saw rays, many fish and even a barracuda followed us at a distance for a bit. We had a nice day.

Our dinner that evening was even better! Nancy had flown in from Miami with some delicious steaks. We brought the promised salad, and they made fried potatoes (with onions), and Linda divided up the two lobsters for us all to share, complete with a sauce of drawn butter, garlic, lemon juice, and small pineapple chunks. We ate like royalty! We might have gotten off to a rocky start, as Nancy began to say a very short "grace" while I had a mouthful of salad, but like I said, it was short and she topped it off with a toast. We all clinked our beers, and I escaped damage, or they did. Depends on how you view it.

We left their company as the sun was setting. They’re plans were to leave early in the morning to begin their slow trip north, but none of us felt like we were saying goodbye, just “see you later.” I’m fairly certain we’ll run into Linda on our way back, but if not, we know where her house is on Ramrod Key and will most likely visit from time to time.

Our visit back here at Staniel Cay looks like it will turn out to be at least a two week affair, but we have no reason to leave. Why get back to the waters of the U.S. when we won’t find clear water there like we have under our boat right here?

Our anchorage is popular. While Elizabeth Harbour is more of a sailors haven, the big yachts and other powered vessels tend to come here, or to Highbourne Cay. As we lay about reading our books, we can look outside and see not only the best views you can imagine, but we like seeing the big boats come and go. We wonder where they come from, and where they might be going. We also wonder if they even give our little boat a second thought.

Sometimes a dinghy, or tender will leave the “big boats” and motor past us on the way to the beach, and the people aboard won’t even deign to look over so we can wave hello, let alone for them to say hello. Their loss, we think. Over the years we have never known when we’ll meet our next friends.

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