My captain is on the foredeck on his knees, giving mouth to mouth to a giant blow up canoe. I’m in the galley with soapy hands, scrubbing the breakfast dishes, smiling at the spectacle.
It’s a Saturday morning but it could just as easily be any day. Morning is slipping into afternoon. Hours ago we decided we’d ‘get those canoes out’ and go for a paddle in this idyllic setting. And as it goes, ‘getting out those canoes’ morphed into half a day of digging, dismantling, climbing into tight, hot, extremely awkward spaces and rearranging everything from bicycles to big rubber fenders and bags of winter clothes. Deep down in the bowels of our boat. I faired well, coming out of it with spots of bike grease and only a few bruises.
Now we’re on the water, managed to get into the canoes without capsizing which in my book is an accomplishment. If we stop now I’ll still be happy. But no, we follow our buddies, 4 floating canoes, through the anchored boats and toward the mangroves ahead. I’m soaked minutes in, maybe I don’t quite get this rhythm with the oars, but each time I lift and dip I get a shower…
Nevertheless I am out here, doing this cool, exercise-eey type thing, in touch with nature and all that. We need a photo! “John! Take a picture!” Captain is prepared. Gets the waterproof camera out of the canoe’s dry compartment. And… and… oh shit. Battery is dead. So no pictures then. No proof I actually did this.
And then Al who’s in the lead, shouts back that he’s aground. Its low tide and if we want to go across to the beach – way over there – we’ll have to get out and pull our vessels through this shallow patch. Ok I think, no problem.
Wrong. Problem! As my oars touch ground instead of clear water and I step out to pull, my feet sink into a sludge stew of hot mud, rough long sea grass and chunks of mysterious under water monsters. I have no idea what each step will bring my feet in contact with. I could kill myself for forgetting my shoes. I want to go back. I’m fine with it. I’ve seen lots of beaches. I’ve had my exercise.
But no, everyone insists we carry on, and apparently my groans and yelps are amusing.
I’m the third one through this swamp nightmare. The others are ahead and behind me and I have no choice. And then, just as I’m getting to the end of it, where I can see smooth, clean sandy bottom ahead, I take a step and my foot sinks deep in the mud, right onto an evil spiked sea urchin, and I scream – loud – jumping forward, onto yet another one! This time I jump right into my canoe. I don’t care, I’ll spend the day beached right here in the safety of my canoe!
Captain can hardly stop laughing as he comes through and tugs me along, clung to my canoe, two feet further and we are out of it. I had no lasting injuries - except my dignity – so we carried on, got to the beach and walked through the glorious powder sand, around to the ocean side. Found some warm pools to lounge in between the rough rocks and reconsidered how rough my life was.
Now it’s evening, having survived the day. We have an early supper and head over to the Alley Cats for a pre-‘beach-bonfire-full-moon-party’ drink. Elsewhere it’s Easter weekend. Children will be searching for eggs and adults will be gathering to feast. Many will be in church. We will be on the beach, fending off biting no-see-um bugs, sipping local rum, meeting fellow cruisers over the flickering light of the bonfire. Easter will be a far off concept.
We will watch the rising of the blood red moon, in a clear sky, from Manjack Cay in the Bahamas. Today our home, tomorrow a wonderful memory.