Sometimes all you need is a pile of socks and a few rum punches to help you decide where to go next.
Ryan and I were ecstatic to be doing laundry at Ida’s in Black Point, Great Guana Cay because 1) it had been three weeks since we’d washed our clothes, 2) Ida offers laundry, showers, free WiFi and haircuts, but also conch fritters, carrot cake, coffee, coconut bread and pretty much anything to make me drool, and 3) we’d run into Dave and Alex from s/v Banyan over at Scorpion’s bar, where we went to enjoy two-for-one rum cocktails while we waited for the spin cycle to finish.
And though 3 weeks of laundry weighs about as much as Ryan, it seemed like a good idea at the time to bring our laundry back to the bar so we could carry on drinking rum with our friends until the wee hours. After all, there was a DJ playing tracks like Gangnam Style for those crazy half-Koreans like me on the dance floor.
The next morning, though, we woke up with so many questions like, “Did we go swimming last night?”, “Why are our clothes all wet?”, “Where’s your other flip flop?”, and “Why are there no sheets on the bed?”
It took a late afternoon dinghy ride over to Banyan to solve the mystery, as they answered, laughing, “Yep, you went swimming…Tasha jumped in when she dropped her sunglasses in the water…then Ryan went in after her…Tasha found her glasses…then Ryan lost his shoe…you don’t remember?!”
No, we don’t remember that. But we do remember quizzing Dave about sailors like himself who rush out to sea every time a northern gale blows through, while sailors like ourselves duck into safe harbors and hide. Apparently — as Dave explained it — though the north winds bring brutal waves to some harbors, you can also ride those winds south, since they’re strong enough to penetrate the easterly trade winds. And you can use that force to carry you clear through to the Dominican Republic and beyond. Which made sense, since we’re learning more and more that the farther we go under sail power, the more we conserve our engine, our fuel and our energies because we spend less time fighting the elements and more time going with the flow.
But it takes some understanding of the weather to do this. Which is why those sailors in the know catch the strong northerlies as early in the year as possible. Because the later in the year it gets, the more those winds die down, and then you end up fighting off the easterlies as you motor forth with the trade winds on your nose.
So having learned all this from Dave over rum punch #3, we went back to Ida’s to pick up our laundry from the driers and discuss this idea. And as we sorted our socks, we got to talking about what we should do in the spring. As hurricane season approaches in July, we wondered whether to take Hideaway back to Fort Lauderdale for the season or whether we should push further east and get the boat to Grenada, which is below the hurricane zone as far as insurance companies are concerned.
It seemed like a long way to go before July, though, considering Grenada is about 1300 miles southeast of Georgetown, Bahamas. And it took us over four months to cover 1800 miles from New York to the Bahamas. But then again, if we rode on the coattails of those north winds, it would surely be a lot faster than motoring down the ICW.
“But how many stops are we talking about between here and Grenada?” I asked. Which prompted Ryan to recreate a map of the islands using our laundered socks.
Looking over the socks, I scrunched my nose and thought about the route we’d come through. I was trying to imagine what it would be like to retrace our path back to Fort Lauderdale before hurricane season. “I don’t know. It just seems like such a shame to backtrack after covering all this distance,” I said. “What do you think?”
He smiled. “I think you just made the decision for us.”
And with that, we scooped up our sock map, headed back to the bar, and proceeded to drink our way towards swimming for my sunglasses and losing a flip-flop. But we’d made a decision we couldn’t forget: we were going to Grenada.