Wednesday, June 21, 2017

1982 (6) – Just the Two of Us


To go to the beginning of this book, Tropic Moon: Memories, click HERE.

Back in 1982, people communicated from boat to boat by marine radio. While we had a VHF radio, we never had it on unless we were trying to contact someone. Without turning on the radio, we sailed into St. George's, the main harbor on Bermuda.  We picked a spot among the other sailboats, and dropped anchor. It was mid-morning, and we were so looking forward to climbing into our bunks and getting some uninterrupted sleep.  

While we were settling Tropic Moon, a man motored over in his dinghy.  He (someone who did keep his radio on) was aware - as were probably most of the other boats in the harbor - that Bermuda Customs, via radio, had been trying to reach us.  As it turned out, a boat wasn't allowed to drop anchor in the harbor without first motoring in to the dock and clearing customs.  During our time in the islands, we anchored almost everywhere we went, and only went in to the docks when we needed fuel.  Parallel parking a 42-foot, 20-ton sailboat at a dock was not overly high on our skill set.  Plus, we were exhausted.  Still, when Customs says, show up at the dock, you do it! 

A plane landing at Bermuda's airport.

We didn't have an anchor winch, so Ed hauled up the anchor by hand, and we headed in to the dock.  I was always at the wheel when we'd go into a berth, or alongside a dock.  Ed would stand in the bow, direct me with hand signals, and then jump off from the bow of the boat, to stop the boat from hitting the dock, and to secure the bow rope.  We tried it with me up front – once.  I didn’t have the nerve to jump off the boat till we actually hit the dock.  That left me at the wheel.  Over the years, I had gotten pretty good at following Ed's hand signals. 

There was a space at the dock between two other boats.  We did a good job of easing ourselves into it.  Ed jumped off the bow to the dock, and secured the bow rope.  I gathered the stern rope, and tossed it to a man who had gotten off one of the neighboring sailboats.  He pulled in on our stern line, and then cleated off the rope.  This man told me he had sailed from the Chesapeake Bay, with five other men.  He asked me where we'd started from, and I told him the Virgin Islands.  He looked at me, glanced at Ed, and then looked back at me, and asked, "Just the two of you?"  All of a sudden, all the discomfort and exhaustion from the passage seemed worth it.  I stood a little taller, and casually replied, "Yes, just the two of us." 

No comments: