Friday, May 2, 2014

What a difference a day makes!

Day 2 Bahamas: his beady little eye, a cold heartless button on his huge pale head, eyed us warily only a few feet away. His fin slapping our back ladder as he greedily tugged at our offering – a two foot barracuda caught earlier by our new master fisherman, junior captain Devon. I shrieked and scuttled back and forth on deck, Devon the brave on the bottom of the sugar scoop with the Go Pro camera on a short stick under water, and John nervously shooting stills from a safer distance.
This was the climax of a day where nature dazzled and amazed and scared us silly. A 6 foot lemon shark appeared in the crystal clear water, circling the bait of lifeless flesh we’d hung only moments before, a trail of fish blood guaranteeing shark attraction from up to five miles away.
After 12 minutes which stretched to near an hour in our minds, adrenaline pumping, he broke free with his prize and we rushed inside to view the footage. It is nothing short of amazing. Is this my life?! Filming sharks from within an arm’s length?
Apparently my life in the Bahamas also includes nearly sailing over a family of whales circling a mother giving birth, a huge cloud of brown-red blood staining the indigo ocean. Our crew bounced about pointing and shouting and imagining the carnage that might have been, had we sailed even a foot closer. A whale’s tail could throw our rudder aside, damage our hull, crumple Shiloh like a paper toy. But instead we were privy to this ever so private moment of the most regal creature. Just feet away.
But I should have known that the day would be extraordinary when it began with the send off of a huge group of playful dolphins as we left Mayaguana. It was the first time we’d seen so many, who played so long around our hulls. And later en route, it was the first time we’d caught a fish, reeling it in with glee and nerves pulsing,  jumping back as it surfaced – a barracuda with piercing black eyes and sharp pointed teeth. Then drowning the poor thing in cheap overproof rum instead of carefuling using a syringe into it’s gills as we’d heard was customary. It was the first time we’d come so close to whales, and a first ever to see them calving. It was definitely the first time we’d baited a shark and watched as it ravaged and twisted about literally on our back step.

The Bahamas is assaulting me with contradictions, from Mayaguana to West Playa Cay. My senses are alive and I’m now weary of showering off the back step. We have new reefs to explore here and maybe another fish to catch! There are countless miles of white sand beach here to cover…. and this is only stop #2 of near 1000 islands. Bahamas – bring it on!

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