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Drinking Wine from the Bottom By Tom Garvey

We’ve all heard the sailor’s superstitions and bad omens such as “wearing high heels on board,” “going onboard with suitcases” and “departing on a Friday.” I’m sure there are several others, but here’s a possible new bad omen to consider. Anita and Tom Garvey’s boat, Aloha.

I

t was Bahamas cruise-planning time again when one of our members in our local sailing club here in the Pompano Beach, FL, area threw in the Berrys as a suggestion for a cruising destination. It was spring 1998 when we read a couple of articles in Sailing and other boating magazines about the Berry Islands. We all wanted to compare the Berrys with the Abacos, and the beautiful aerial photos of the anchorages in the Berrys in our chart kits provided eye candy for our cruising spirits. We were a hardy and able fleet, excited and ready to go: Norm and Anne in their pretty Rosebud, Richard in his Sybarite, Dick and wife Boots in Lorelei, past commodore Pat and wife Marty in Chateau Lafite, and my wife Anita and I in our Aloha. With provisions on board, and the latest essential navigational toy— the GPS—our fleet departed Key Biscayne very early in the morning in beautiful and stable weather. Crossing the Gulf Stream was uneventful as we cruised into the entrance in Bimini with sparkling weather as high pressure continued to dominate. All of us were having a great time doing that Bimini thing; strolling the main drag and stopping in at the Compleat Angler (funny spelling) after a nice

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fresh-fish dinner. The next morning, we left Weech’s Bimini Docks in Bimini for a nice sail down to the anchorage on the east side of Gun Cay, in the Bimini chain, stopping first at the sunken ship on the bank for a bit of snorkeling. We were all having a great time; the weather was great. We looked forward to our Berrys cruise since none of us had ever been there, and we had a good two weeks to enjoy ourselves. After setting our anchors on the Great Bahama Bank on the eastern side of Gun Cay, it was time to relax. While snorkeling in eight feet of water, we saw them. There they were, two pontoons from what appeared to have been a catamaran of about 28 feet in length that sunk lying on the bottom. Two or three of us were looking for anything salvageable. I saw what appeared to be a small white refrigerator, and that is exactly what it was. The door was facing upward, and my curiosity got the best of me as I opened it while a flash from an old ’50’s deep-sea horror movie freaked me out a little. Inside were four bottles of wine. At last! Treasure! We brought them up, threw them in the dinghy and raced to the nearest boat, our Aloha. We rinsed them off and put

them in our fridge to cool them off. What a perfect day! We decided to open the bottles at sundown and celebrate with potluck goodies when everyone arrives later. With a promise of a lavish sunset, they all arrived. How exciting! It felt as though we were giving closure in some way to the doomed catamaran on the bottom by toasting with the very wine she gave to us. With corkscrew in hand, I opened all four bottles of white and red. We poured, toasted while raising our glasses and drank. Our facial expressions changed. I, of course, could not see my own face, but I knew it must have been the same. Our taste buds revealed to us all that our special wine from the bottom was briny! Salt had migrated through the corks! We either poured our glasses overboard, or set the glass on the cockpit table. You could hear a pin drop. Then we looked at each other and laughed. That night was moonless as the anchorage was rudely awoken by very strong winds out of the east, which threatened to drive our boats on the lee shore. There were widespread anchor drills and loud voices in the wind and rain. Pat and Marty, anchored close to shore with their See DRINKING continued on page 76 www.southwindsmagazine.com

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