SpinSheet Magazine October 2021

Page 102

Bluewater Dreaming

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The Right Way vs. Your Right Way


efore I bought Ave del Mar, I had experienced an impressive oneweek stint aboard a friend’s boat on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in Florida and another solid 10 days on that same boat at anchor outside of George Town, Bahamas. I was curious about everything from navigating to anchoring, ship’s systems to dinghy etiquette, and through this meager sample size I crafted numerous lists of the right way to do things. Years later, underway in my own vessel, I learned that my lists were mostly all wrong. A major component of happiness on the water comes from learning the difference between the right way and your right way. There are some givens, of course, and this isn’t about those. We shouldn’t boat drunk. We shouldn’t hit other boats with our boats, and we should turn the radio on when we’re out. Things like these are

##The author finding remote lunch spots.

102 October 2021 SpinSheet.com

By John Herlig Right Ways, sure, several of many, but the path to happiness lies hidden among the murky middle. Crowded anchorages and cute towns “The anchorage is positively huge,” my friend told me over a text message, “but we were the first ones here, so guess where all the other boats have now anchored?” Right on top of them, of course, because we all seem to worry that someone out there knows things that we don’t. If the boats are all anchored over there, then over there must be the spot where you are supposed to anchor. I’ve spent time in many a crowded anchorage, but odds are you’ll find Ave tucked off by herself on the far side of the basin, swinging free, away from the hum of generators and the soundtracks of stereos and outboard motors. The crowd might not be wrong, but the crowd isn’t always right, either. The ICW is where two of my trips south took place, weeks of slow slogs from the majestic Chesapeake in the general direction of palm trees and warmer days. As you creep toward the lower latitudes on the inland waters of America’s East Coast, you don’t actually have to stop at every single scenic town you pass. I’m not saying you shouldn’t, but I am saying that a successful southward trek shouldn’t necessarily be judged on how many spots you visited along the way. My meandering ways don’t mean that I am rushing and don’t mean that I am ignoring the now for the later. They may mean that my right way includes sunsets from my cockpit rather than lowering my dinghy only to have to haul it up and secure it again the same day—all for a

trip to town where I probably won’t spend much money or time. I am the sailing poor, and the views from my home are priceless. I’m sorry I missed your favorite waterfront cheeseburger bar, but I am happy to let you know that you have my blessing to keep going there. Maybe this is all because I am an outlier—but aren’t we all outliers? Would we otherwise be whiling away on floating tiny homes, running from storms, living in smothering summer heat and bitter winter cold, and racing on the endless treadmill that is boat maintenance and repairs? How does one gauge a rebel among rebels? Beach volleyball and salty toes When I first made it to George Town, Bahamas, on my own boat, my friends were all quite excited. “Go to Chat ’n’ Chill!” the gallery screamed, eager for me to want to do what they had wanted to do. Well sure, volleyball beach is lovely, but I was already on the big island, having befriended a nice if not somewhat rebellious family from Martha’s Vineyard that had adopted me for a spell. We ran the roads virtually by ourselves, climbing through old, abandoned houses and seeking out little lunch spots in the middle of nowhere. We cooked massive breakfasts of eggs Benedict on homemade English muffins and played cards into the deep of the night sipping cocktails made from Haitian rum. Wandering north from George Town by car one day we stumbled across the legendary Hughrie Lloyd in Baraterre, at the north end of Great Exuma. Dried conch hung from the rafters of his cluttered workshop where Hughrie walked us