Tonight marks the first night we will no longer stay on the boat and it’s quite a surreal feeling. We have the delivery captain coming in the morning to take the boat back to Florida and we’re staying two nights on the island before heading back on Wednesday.
It’s been a long trip and a short trip all at the same time. Long in the sense that we’ve been away from "home" and friends/family for what seems like forever. But short in the sense that we stayed in each place for probably an average of 1.5 weeks and feel like there are so many places left to go.
Many of the sailboat cruising community always seems to be on the move – going to the next anchorage, moving to the next spot. And along the way, they hit all the highlights – and many of them come back and get a deeper cut into each area year after year. We’ve found that our trip has differed quite a bit. Part of it was our personal limitations of what we could not live without on the boat (how long can you go without a hot shower? how long can you go without internet, laundry, water, fuel, etc?). Many of the larger boats have most, if not all of these amenities close at hand. We had workarounds and made due when required, but ultimately, pulled into the marina much more often than our fellow sailors.
As a positive by-product of our crusing "style", we found some really great and really deep experiences at the places we stayed. We really enjoyed immersing ourselves into one spot until we’re absolutely done. And really, at each stop along the way, we reached the absolutely done point in all but one spot. That spot is where we are now – the central exumas – Sampson Cay, Staniel Cay and surrounding area.
Through good fortune and some persistence, we’ve had an amazing time here – to the point we’ve probably made some lifelong friends and will be back via boat or other mode of transport. It’s quite a different place – if you need something and can’t find it – it feels like you’re on the most remote spot on the planet. Everything comes via mailboat or private plane. Yet, we’re ~200 miles from the coast of Florida. Caribbean islands more than 1,000 miles away are more developed with much more to offer in terms of groceries, services, etc.
It’s like the people that know and continue to return here have a secret that no one has cracked. If you really want to get away from it all – you don’t have to go as far as you think. The population amongst the islands is so sparse and the visitors so loyal that it is common to walk into a bar and people on both sides of you are reconnecting with each other after days or years apart. Locals and tourists, tourists and tourists, locals and locals – all enjoying stories of years gone by and making plans that will undoubtedly lead to stories for the future.
We’ve now collected a little bit of each – stories and friends – and will be counting down the days until we walk into Staniel Cay Yacht Club or wander over to Sampson Cay late night and see familiar faces. To talk about the engineer/spearfisherman/underwater ballerina who can dive down on a coral head and come up with 3 lobsters before a normal person could even get a mask on. Or the internet guy giving us local resident internet access because you’ve been at the bar with him so many times it just wouldn’t be right any other way. Or the impromtu concert with guitars, harmonicas, bongo drums and a bag full of instruments for everyone else at the bar to play along.
One of the folks mentioned above repeated the modified quote to me, "the world is not ours, we’re just passing through enjoying it." The funny part is that I would have typed "passing through trying to enjoy it." But I remembered it clearly because there was no "trying" in the quote – we are all really enjoying it and he wouldn’t have said "trying". There is no try here. Up and downs are all included. Life is full of choices with consequences – but really feeling the joy of what is being offered to everyone that lives on our blue sphere is a mesmerizing experience.
Until next time…I’ll leave you with one last story told to us by a local friend:
Celebrities and big name folks like to come here because they can do what they want without being bothered (fact: Johnny Depp, David Copperfield, Tyler Perry and others own islands around here).
Bill Gates was visiting and walking along the beach in cut-off jean shorts and had scraggly hair, a local walked by and Gates said to the local, "this is a beautiful area, how much does land go for around here?" The local looked him over and said, "Way more than you can afford buddy – but it is beautitful."