Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sailing On

Due to poor conditions and few fish, we decided to hoist anchor and sail towards greener pastures on another nearby island. Talk of reefs, archipelagos and permit echoed throughout the hull as we hashed out the plan. It was decided to sail through the afternoon, arrive in time for dinner and then fish the next two days on rented dinghies that we'd use to get from flat to flat.

Kicking back during the journey.

Anchorage for the evening.

We pulled up at a rock with a restaurant on it. They had, awesomely, placed some underwater lights along the dock. We watched perhaps a hundred tarpon meandering through the light as we ate our ridiculously overpriced cheeseburgers.

That night, Mark and I again climbed into our hammocks strung from the headsail to the main. The wind was insane and neither of us slept a wink. It was miserable.

The next day found all 7 of us fishing a single, huge reef flat. There was a drop-off, a coral section, a turtle grass sections and mangrove shoreline. We spread out and took up positions at lower tide. Mark, Adam and I were hoping to ambush a permit.

After an hour of impersonating herons, we saw a massive storm system, appear through a gap in the islands, 5 kilometers east of our position. With it came a wall of rain.

As the system raced towards us, the mountains disappeared behind the wall of falling water. Lighting struck. We were in a pretty bad predicament. The wind was howling, which made shouting to each other useless. I kneeled in the knee-deep water and laid my 9ft lighting rod on the turtle grass bottom. I tried to motion to Mark and Adam, 200 meters distant, to do the same. I hoped they understood my frantic waving, but they didn't get down.

That doesn't look so promising...

The rain enshrouds all.

The storm overtook us in a fury. Mark and Adam disappeared into the mist. I picked up my rod and began to trudge towards Mark's last known position.

Adam disappears into the rain.

Amazingly, Adam had the same idea. All three of us had walked towards a spot equidistant from each other. We appeared to each other simultaneously and then sat in the water, feeling safety in numbers.

We sat there, amazed at the fury of the rain that pounded our backs. We looked around but couldn't see a thing.

Then, miraculously, a figure appeared at the limit of my vision. It was Alex D. piloting the dinghy and Stefan H. signaling to us from the bow! They couldn't see us, but were motoring along the drop-off, hoping that we'd see them. It worked.

We raced towards the shape in the background and threw ourselves into the small boat. We learned that Stephan and Alex H were taking shelter in an abandoned building on shore and that they were safe. We high-tailed it to the mothership for some form of shelter.

Once the rain subsided enough to see more than 30ft. Alex went in search of Stephan and the other Alex. He found them and returned everyone to the mothership. We appraised our situation and decided that we had had enough of the crap weather. We were all water-logged, Adam probably more so than any of us judging by his sick hands, and thought that a nice, warm bed in a stationary and enclosed building would be nice.

We again hoisted anchor and made for home, disappointed that we got in to so few fish but content in the knowledge that we would not be giving up for the remainder of our month together.



Anonymous said...

Nice photos, I would be a nervous wreck being out there stuck in the rain.

Feather Chucker said...

Wow, that looked sketchy. Glad you guys were safe. I bet sharks were roaming in that turbulent water.

Learn to sail said...

It sounds scary but at least you guys came out safely.although it was a horrifying adventure,you have an experience to share with us.