And reflections on our first trip.
We finished our time in the Abacos just a couple of weeks ago. Ed and I island-hopped our way up the Abaco cays for about a week after we left Hope Town, and then it was time for us to leave. We got treated to some very calm weather for a couple of days at Manjack Cay, and took advantage of the calm sea conditions to try our hand at spearfishing with our buddy boat. They managed to spear a hog fish, and I got close, but realized too late that the elastic band was too stiff for me to cock the spear far enough to shoot it (Hawaiian sling spears are the only kind allowed). I will get a lighter spear that I can use and practice with it before I try to spearfish again. That said, it was fun, and we can’t wait to try again when we return next season!
Our spearfishing adventure certainly matched the theme of nearly every activity and outing we did while in the Bahamas. The usual set up was that one (typically me) or both of us was trying something we hadn’t done before, we had some equipment but maybe not exactly what we needed, and we typically went into it without a lot of of research or instruction. There is something to be said for flying by the seat of one’s pants and leaping before looking, but I think I found myself getting more and more frustrated at “not knowing how to do anything” every single time we went off to do something new. Being constantly in learning mode can get pretty old, pretty fast.
I had not anticipated this aspect of cruising. I knew I’d be learning a lot of new skills, having a lot of new experiences, and having a lot of new surroundings. I don’t think I appreciated or understood how much having nothing but “newness” can grind you down emotionally. I also don’t know if there is a good way to describe what it’s like unless you’ve experienced it. I found myself eager to return to the U.S. just to have a little bit of a return to some familiarity (although I’ve never lived in Georgia, soooo….), and start getting some more boat work done to make our boat our home. I think we were also getting worn down by the end because how we were living was a step, maybe two, above camping. It’s fine for a while, but it’s certainly not our long term version of happiness. We were both getting pretty cranky at stuff that usually wouldn’t make us cranky toward the end.
I think I would have done a couple of things differently if I got to do it over again.
- We should have prioritized the fun aspect of things more than we did. We were so focused on getting the boat refitted more for sailing purposes (and seaworthiness is important) that we spent no time or resources into getting toys or learning how to do the usual activities of the Bahamas. We realized our mistake pretty quickly when we sometimes sat on the boat with little else to do (activity-wise) than snorkel or dinghy over to the beach (assuming there was one) in hopes of finding a trail to hike on. Even for something as simple as hiking, we didn’t even bring good footwear for that!! The boat did come with a paddle board, but we didn’t even bother to inspect it (it was cracked so we got rid of it), and the boat also came with scuba equipment, but neither one of us knew how to scuba dive (we did FINALLY get our certification done after a couple months). I didn’t even think to get an underwater camera even though I wanted to take a lot of pictures and document our experience.
- I wish we would have been much more proactive in buddying up with some other boats, and maybe trying to seek out a mentor boat. We spent So. Much. Energy. on reinventing the wheel on so much stuff. We are both pretty capable individuals, and we also knew we could get to, from, and around the Bahamas on our own safely (mostly). But…just because we could, doesn’t mean we should have. Ed and I do get a sense of accomplishment from being able to figure out most anything tossed our way, but we didn’t go into the cruising life to try and be like Bear Grylls or Survivorman. We also weren’t aiming to do “The Amazing Race–sailing Bahamas edition.” I think we got a little bit caught up in trying to prove to ourselves, each other, and those we met along the way that we might be new to a lot, but not THAT new. I wish I could go back and tell myself, “you have nothing to prove to anyone–including yourself. Find some people to work with and bounce ideas off of so you can HAVE FUN!” We eventually did meet and buddy up with some boats, but we needlessly drained ourselves before doing so.
Even though we operated quite “clunkily” at the start, we now have gathered a lot of information that will make our next season so much more enjoyable. We will also have time between now and the end of hurricane season to improve our boat, get more toys, and work on some more skills to really make use of, and enjoy, all the natural resources in the Bahamas and beyond. For now, we are taking a bit of time to spend with family and do a little binging on the abundance of…well…everything that the U.S. offers. Next week we will start digging into our boat projects which is mostly what the next blog entries will be about!
Happy almost summer, get your Covid vaccine if you haven’t already, and get out there with your friends and family!