I am blinking wildly at my reflection in the mirror. Doughy red rimmed eyes stare back at me under a mop of salt caked, matted, sweat soaked, unbrushed hair. My skin is at once shiny and dull, like I’d been having far too much fun with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken in my sleep.
The reality is far more banal. In the three hours of restless sleep I’ve had, I’ve sweat like an Olympic athlete. The heat. The heavy, cotton wool air of a boat cabin in 35 degree Celcius weather, without a breeze.
This annoys me and I frown. Immediately I’ve scared myself. I look like Eileen Wuornos – famous serial killer. Though I’ve only been killing mosquitos. Hundreds and hundreds of mosquitos. It’s becoming the norm these days.
By day, sunshine interrupted by billowing, encroaching bursts of darkness then thunder and rain. Between, there are flies. Lord of the Flies in number. We start the culling process with a rolled up paper, but it’s futile really. We are no match for the fly swarms of the Bahamas in August.
Then come the no-see-ums. The tiny, wretched pin pricks of the insect world that have us jumping like somewhere someone is stabbing at our own personal cursed voodoo dolls all day.
We don’t have sufficient netting/screens to keep the mosquitos away, but even the two we do have are no match for no-see-um stealth.
Suddenly, being rocked to and fro by an alarming side swell on the boat, I realise through my haze why I’m awake. I’m lucky to be supported physically by both sides of the tiny head/washroom. Only a few inches each side of me as I grip the edge of the basin. I splash a bit of water on my face and carefully dart up the three steps to the lounge, Shiloh’s main room, to see what’s going on.
It’s 5 am and our drag alarm has started. JW sprinted up immediately to assess.
It’s dark and the wind is howling and as far as we can assess, we are closer to the rocks behind us. The ripping current in the channel where we’ve anchored is fighting the wind and we are caught at a strange angle with waves slapping at the side and setting us a-wobble.
“I’ll have to stay up and watch” says my brave and stoic captain.
“Ok, call me in 30 minutes and we’ll trade off” I say casually and bound back down the stairs to the stifling comfort of my bed. How times have changed. An incident like this in the past would have signaled my adrenaline and I’d be in high anxiety, action mode. Now I am calculating the number of hours of non-quality sleep I’ve had and will have if I manage to get this 30 extra minutes in…
We’d been up til 1:30 trying to kill all mosquitos that had infiltrated the fortress, and preventing any others from entering. It was a team project – I spraying the two mosquito nets we own with poison and JW fitting them to the hatches with duct tape and a bit of imagination. Our little Black & Decker hand vacuum has become our weapon of choice and life saver in insect attack situations. The morning after finds the semi translucent bulbous middle of the device pocked with tiny blood stains and a twitching mass grave of insect matter. It’s disgusting and I want nothing to to with cleaning the aftermath. Not my job!
Turns out the drag alarm must have been a bit confused by all the currents and rocking and we didn’t have to re-anchor.
JW now snores gently down below, trying to make up for lost sleep. The sun is shining and smiling all around us, oblivious to the struggles of the night.
Outside is paradise. An extensive sand bank is forming, as it does every low tide, the turquoise waters slowly ebbing and parting so the snow white sand can take the spotlight for a few hours at a time. It beckons. Swim swim!
The water here is a vibrant and lively ecosystem as well. Stingrays, numerous sharks, pencilfish and thousands of clear gelatinous jelly fish are everywhere. They swim under us, around us, with us even.
One such gelatinous mass nudged me yesterday as we lounged in the shallow waters. I think I jumped the length of a swimming pool and let out a yelp that was heard throughout the Bahamas. Oops.
I admit - we are loving paradise in a selfish way. We’ve left the comforts of civilization, the sounds of blasting music and the bikini clad crowds of the southern Abacos behind, and we are trying to enjoy the remote beauty of these out islands before heading into the whole new world of the USA.
|The bikini girls of Southern Abaco party life|
|We are right there at the top - at Double Breasted Cay|
Our hair is unwashed, we wear the same salty clothes, we are feral, living wild. Alleycat caught us a fresh mutton snapper for supper. There is nothing like it. Out here on our own, eating fish from the sea.
But we miss fresh milk and veggies, and who invited all these bloody creatures to paradise???!!!