Last days at sea   Leave a comment

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I was so, so ready for the passage to be over when Lee and I finally made it to Grand Cayman yesterday afternoon. It had taken us longer than we’d hoped to get here and the sun, heat, and thwomping sails as we rolled downwind had gotten really old.
That said, I did try to savor my last hours at sea on Pirat for the time being, especially at night. When things are relatively calm, warm, and its not too hard to stay awake, night watches really are my favorite time. It’s so peaceful. There are so many stars and so few sounds other than the boat creaking and the waves swooshing. Lee and I both had a tough time staying awake on our watches this time. I think the journey is starting to wear on us.

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The sail from Jamaica to Grand Cayman brought some new experiences. We left Montego Bay at dusk, happy to leave the busyness of land for a few days. There was a sizable fire in the hills and it rained ash on us as we headed out to sea.

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I guess it was sometime the next morning when the bird showed up. It came with several others like it – small, dark brown birds with yellowish breasts. They swooped around the boat, which was well out of sight of land at this point. All the birds moved on but one, who swooped down to land on Pirate’s foredeck. It stayed there for a while before taking off, flying a little ways away from the boat, and then landing on Pirat again. This went on all day with the little bird landing in different places on deck each time. It perched on the lifelines, the jib sheet, and right on the deck. It wasn’t scared of Lee and me and got quite close to us. Occasionally it let out a few little chirps.

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I was pretty sure the bird was going to die. It was either too weak to make it back to land or really smart and just wanted a free ride to a new island. The bird seemed to be getting weaker as the day went on. Then, after dinner, another guest arrived! A second bird of the same type landed on the jack line right under the wheel. The original bird had sequestered itself to the aft part of the cockpit where we keep a spare diesel can and the propane tank. It was clearly on its way out. The second bird fluffed up its feathers, chirped at us a little, and rested on the jack line all night.

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Lee gave our original little stow-away a burial at sea in the morning. The night time passenger left in a rush and flew off towards Little Cayman. Those birds provided us with hours of entertainment. When I wasn’t watching them, I was finishing one book and starting another. I read all of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor during the second night and last day. That wasn’t the best thing to be reading as we sailed through a nearby part of the Caribbean to where the story takes place.

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Grand Cayman is very different from what we expected, although it does live up to Lee’s expectations as far as clear water is concerned. After docking against a very sketchy cement pier to check in with customs and immigration, we headed out to one of the free moorings overseen by the Port of Georgetown. Our mooring is in 20 feet of crystal-clear water – some of the clearest we’ve seen – with rocks, coral, and fish shimmering beneath us. I don’t usually like to snorkel but as soon as I got in the water and got over the initial feeling of euphoria that cool water gives, I just wanted to swim and swim and never stop. It felt to good to move and not be hot. I dove down to check out the sights underwater and swam laps around the boat. It was wonderful. I found myself wishing I wasn’t leaving in a couple of days.

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I am leaving, though. Tomorrow I fly home to SF so today I’m trying to put things in order on the boat, pack my bags, and enjoy my last few hours in paradise. Lee’s dad arrived today. Lee is meeting him at then airport while I write this post in a laundromat.

Posted April 19, 2013 by Rachel in Uncategorized

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