No need to include our position today...we're at the dock at the Conch Inn in Marsh Harbor. I'm sitting in the cockpit with a fresh cup of coffee. Beck's 'Sea Change' album is on the radio. It's very calm today, after the wind circled the compass last night while we are dinner with the passage of a weak cold front.
We first sighted land about 8 miles offshore yesterday around 0900. The plan, if the conditions were right, was to aim for Little Harbor cut, a small break in the reef 20 miles south from Marsh Harbor, and the spot where Randolph Johnston and his family set up shop after sailing their schooner 'Langosta,' down from Mass., searching for a simple, artistic life. Johnston was one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century, and essentially ran away from his post as a professor at Smith College to 'escape the maddening rush of civilization.' They lived in caves while building their shelters ashore, and eventually set up a foundry for making bronze sculpture. And he stuck to it, living out the rest if his 40 years there. His son Pete is still there, operating an art gallery and his namesake pub near the shore. Check out the book 'Artist on his Island.' Great story.
The conditions were right. After motoring for six hours through a calm on Sunday night (and worrying whether we had enough fuel to motor the remainder of the trip), the wind freshened from he SW and we reached the last 50 miles or so on port tack at close to 7 knots. It was calm enough at the reef break to attempt the entrance. Back in 1980, my mom and dad had attempted the same cut alongside two other boats (this is before GPS obviously), and played the Beach Boys' 'Lets Go Surfin Now' over the VHF as their little boats surfed the swell through the cut. We had calmer conditions with the perfect wind direction and sailed through, the anchor ready to deploy just in case.
We followed the narrow, shallow channel north and continued under sail, winding our way now inshore after six days offshore, navigating the changing water color by eye and dodging coral heads and deserted beaches. I think we managed every point of sail on each tack as we weaved our way north, sailing all the while, one last hurrah before hitting the dock. Our luck ran out when we finally rounded Matt Lowe's Cay on the last leg into Marsh Harbor and had a dead-upwind stretch into the harbor, our first time close-hauled since leaving St. Lucia two weeks ago. So we powered the last mile or so, tidying up the boat and getting ready to go ashore.
The beer restriction was lifted after we cleared the reef cut, and by 8pm last night we had full bellies of lobster and grouper and conch, and brains slightly hazy after our week-long prohibition offshore after those first couple drinks. I usually say it is strange to spend that first night asleep without the boat moving, but the passage was so easy and calm that I could hardly tell a difference at the dock. Kevin is already gone now, having met his taxi at 0600 this morning. I determined yesterday that this was my 14th passage of at least 500 miles, and it was easily one of the best.
Here's a big thanks to Kevin and Tom, two excellent sailors and (more importantly) excellent company. You guys are invited back any time. And thanks to my Dad for expanding his own horizons and bringing me along for the ride.
Signing Off, Andy, Dad, Kevin & Tom
PS: Lots of photos (courtesy of Kevin), and the video of Wilson the Whale to come, once we get better Internet. Tom, Dad and I fly home on Thursday, and Dad and I will return in late March to sail Sojourner the rest of the way home to Annapolis.