(Slaughter Harbour, Berry Islands, Bahamas)
First things first this morning, we needed to make our arrival in the Bahamas official. Which means we went ashore to the local Customs and Immigration Office and cleared ourselves, and Oceanna, into the country. Paperwork and cold hard cash were exchanged and we were legal.
Upon entry into a new country, a boat must fly the quarantine flag (a yellow flag) from their starboard spreader (part of the mast). This custom comes from way back when boats would fly this flag as a sign that they were free of disease and requesting clearance to come ashore. After you’re cleared into the country you fly that country’s flag (or courtesy flag) in its place.
After we were made official we raised the anchor and set off for the Berry Islands. Crossing the Northwest Providence Channel, Oceanna was once again a sailing beast. Full sail we were barreling across the ocean when all four of the fishing reels started to scream. Ziiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnggggggg! Holy hell what do we do now? We got the tension tightened on them all and attempted to set all the hooks. Greg began battling with one while I turned the boat more into the wind in an attempt to slow our speed. As Greg continued his current battle I reeled in one of the smaller rods to find the lure clean busted off the end. The next rod I tried had no fish on it either. Evidently I’m not the best fisherman. Greg on the other hand managed to land a beautiful Mahi Mahi, get it in the cooler, and jump right into the fight on his next rod. This one had him cursing our good luck with such favorable wind and had me turning the boat even more into the wind to slow us down.We even furled the jib to really bite the speed. Eventually he landed yet another Mahi Mahi even bigger than the first. No one was going hungry on this boat for a long time.
Vast is a word I’ve used in the past – the ocean is vast – but never did I truly understand, or respect, the magnitude of the word. Never before did I have such an unnerving and incredibly small feeling that went along with it. It wasn’t until this evening, as the sun was setting, and I was willing the Berry Islands to come into view, did I understand. The ocean is vast.
There is a well-known cruising rule: never enter an unfamiliar anchorage/harbour at night. The consequences could be dire. There could be breaking swell, reef, or any other multitude of obstacle. It was our second night in the Bahamas and we were looking to do just that.
As we inched closer to the inlet I couldn’t imagine a darker night. We had decided to roll the dice and take a chance at it. Call us kids of technology (or just plain ignorant), but we probably have too much trust in our GPS. With Greg driving by GPS and me shining as many feeble lights as I could hold off the bow, we creeped ever so slowly into Slaughter Harbour (what a name to top it off!)
The minutes it took felt like hours and by the time Greg said we were in the clear, I finally started to breath normally again. Kinda. Anchor set, it was time to sit down.