Dearest Mark;
It is with great pleasure that we received your note on Wednesday. It sounds like you are doing well, working hard, and perhaps the poor weather and another onset of your seasonal affective disorder are causing you to be crankier than usual. To remind you of what you wrote.

Thank you Jeezus. Finally, a rough patch of irritating anchor alarm and Waaaaah my solar panels aren’t charging my batteries b/c the ground wasn’t correctly affixed to the terminal. Was tiring of the perfect beaches on the Kingdom of Donnelly. SUFFER LIKE THE REST OF US FOR A CHANGE! They’re calling for icy, snowy, who-knows-what mix here saturday evening. But by all means continue to write about perfect sailing, 75 degree weather, Rachel’s bubbles (or Carmen’s or whoever has the bubbles), snorkeling, & conch fritters. Really, not bitter. Not bitter at all. Nope…….

Again, the tone is not your usual bubbly happy tone that we have come to expect. Since your joy seems to be inversely proportional to our good sailing days (i.e. your bitter face comes out in our happy days), thought I would relay the events of the day after you sent us the lovely note. This should bring joy to your day; our string of exceptional days came to a screeching (and smelly) halt.

I think you would have approved of our plan for the day, Mark. It was to head out at 0800 at high tide to get through the cut and into the big bad atlantic without having to run up and down huge wind/current driven waves. Because we don’t like waves. But the forecast, unfortunately, was for waves. 1 meter (Mark–that is three feet) when we start, falling to 2 feet by the time we get through the 30ish miles to Georgetown. Wind would not be a big help. Wind was coming out of the East, maybe a bit southeast, so at BEST we could motorsail; turn on the engines and throw up a sail and hope we got a push. The waves were off our port quarter; better than hitting them head on or a stick in the eye. But not by much.

And we always had the option to head back into the cut if we didn’t like the conditions and wait another day…we’ve done that before.

So at 0745 we pull the anchor up and get in a long line of sailboats all heading for the cut. Apparently the conversations last night about staying put were mostly words–there were a BUNCH of us heading out; either this was a good plan or we were going to die with the other lemmings. Mark–you do remember lemmings right? Furry little creatures from someplace imaginary that follow each other everywhere–including over cliffs and into the seas? That was us.

Mahi was just ahead of us and we watched them bounce merrily into the cut and then into the ocean and we knew it was not going to be a fun day. Their boat, bigger than ours, was disappearing behind and between waves. Too soon we were in the cut and then pushing out into the ocean.

And Mark, humor me, if you will. A short sidebar on waves and wave prediction.

They suck.

I mean both of them…the prediction and the waves themselves.

Waves are given in feet for the significant wave height. From the NOAA site: “Significant wave height is the average height of the highest one-third of the waves (measured from trough to crest). The height of highest waves can be nearly twice as high as the significant wave height.” Note that last sentence–the highest waves can be TWICE as high. Gah.

So today we waded out into ‘three foot’ waves. And there certainly were some three foot waves. Like two. And some that were quite a bit higher. I’m not a trained waveogropher nor do I play one on TV, but I know that we have gone through many sets of seas that had waves breaking over our bow. Those were big enough. But today we had waves that broke over our bow and BACK into our cockpit! Fortunately the plastic on my side was in place, but Jan got hit by some salty water. And there were some salty words.

Mark–if the waves weren’t bad enough, the wind was salting the wounds on the trip; they were close enough to good to be annoying. We needed to hold about a 130 degree course to make it to the cut to the entrance to Georgetown. But that put the wind at like 20-30 degrees on our port side and we couldn’t hold that line…so we kept motorsailing closer to shore and when we couldn’t stand the thought of washing up onto rocks, we would tack to the left, heading out into the big, bad Atlantic for a couple of miles. Then tack back to the right and get back on a line that would ALMOST take us directly to our cut, but would instead dash us on the rocks if we didn’t tack again.

All of this at a whopping 5-6 knots. Fortunately Mark, like you at work, we weren’t alone. There were a ton of boats making their way southeast towards Georgetown and a bunch doing a step to the left and a step to the right (thank you Rocky Horror Picture Show). It wasn’t particularly fun. Mark–imagine you are getting ready for a big meeting at work. Go ahead and spin in a circle about 100 times. Then run yourself into a wall a couple of times. And repeat. Then head into that meeting and see how you feel!

Whilst this excitement was going on, we noticed that a light that was in our bathroom that we thought was purely decorative was, shockingly enough, actually working! The light? It was the ‘holding tank full’ light. Our reaction to seeing it blazing away?

“Holy crap! The light is on!” I mean we have had this boat for awhile now and we though for SURE that the thing didn’t work and how cool it is to see something that doesn’t need to be fixed.

Followed immediately by the reaction:


The second reaction was the understanding that the light signifies that we have close to (or perhaps just above) 30 gallons of human waste in a small locker on the starboard side of our boat. And it needs to get out. We have a pump on the boat to send the wast overboard when we are far enough from land and we have used it successfully in the past, but today? Of course not. Normally, when you pump the poo pump, you get a pretty instant reaction to the activity. And it is spectacular (and gross). For example, when we got into the big, bad Atlantic on the way from the Berries to Nassau, we pumped out.  And Google apparently was taking a picture from the satellites in the sky and I got a screen capture below:

Nassau Trip with annotationBut today, nothing comes out of our boat other than a God-awful stench. And that stench follows us the entire day. Not only are we getting pounded around by waves, we have a waste cloud around our boat. Mark, your words of encouragement have worked their magic–we are in hell.

So a quick conference. A feces focus group. Poo Party. We need to empty this holding tank, but the seas are way too rough for troubleshooting. There is one marina on the way to Georgetown and they advertise a pump out (unusual for the Bahamas); we would try there.

So we called the marina but they didn’t answer their phone. We got them on the radio when we were close, pulled into the fuel dock and wouldn’t you know it? Their pump out was broken. So we decide to get some fuel, get a slip and troubleshoot the pump. And maybe enjoy a night in air conditioned bliss as well. We pull into our slip, tie up and immediately walk up and down the docks saying things like “did someone break a sewage line?” and “whoo it certainly is fragrant in this part of the Bahamas” hoping to throw people off the proverbial scent. And we leave to get a quick bite for lunch off of our boat.

Back to the boat after some sustenance, we pull off the hoses to the pump and verify that the hoses aren’t plugged and manage to get the pump to start doing its job once again. We pretty sure it will work, but we don’t want to let it rip in the marina; tomorrow we will have an opportunity on our way to Georgetown.IMG_2869

In closing, Mark, we have finally had the day of which you have been dreaming. Glad to know that we are in your thoughts and remember that we still have a crew position open as long as you can make your way down to the Bahamas. Or first task, when you get here, is to clean out the bilge. I’m afraid that some of the tank’s contents may have overflowed.

And I know we have been negligent in writing of late; we will catch up on our posts that got us to where we are today, Georgetown.


S/V Serenity.