It happened in slow motion. The harder I tried to ignore the guy the more I knew it was inevitable. Oh no, he just caught me with a surreptitious sideward glance and now I’m his “Brudda”. I’m not up on the latest soul handshakes so this is going to be awkward. The last time I had any confidence in a quality contemporary handshake had to have been about 1985.
My new “Brudda” is so drunk I really don’t think he knows he’s a white guy. Kinda loud, kinda brash, that’s when I notice he’s got a hole in the seat of his dry suit. I say,” Yo Brudda, I think something bit you on the butt.” Now he really thinks I’m his best friend. Saved by the ferry horn, we gotta go.
We shared the upper aft deck of the Bo Hengy II ferry with two women cruisers, one of whom has her 150-ton Masters License, a couple of Japanese tourists and an incredibly loud drunken extended family of at least a dozen or so souls and the largest cooler of beer I’ve ever seen.
Like just about everyone who has the responsibility of keeping their vessel floating free in this thin Bahamian water the four of us were studying the circuitous course out of the Spanish Wells Harbor that our Captain was taking, especially over the Devils Backbone. The loud drunken family…not so much. The Captain had us twisting and turning, sometimes right next to the beach barely a boat width off the sand.
We four decided that it was better left to local pilots. I couldn’t help but notice that the extended family had a pretty nonchalant attitude about piloting but great focus on the cooler.
Ah, Harbor Island. I guess you could say I’m a sucker for a quaint tourist trap. Lots of beach life, straw huts and woman cleaning the day’s catch and whacking conch.
Our friend Annmarie managed to get an email to us right before our phones went mute recommending Angela’s Starfish Takeout up on the ridge. After a few abortive attempts we finally got directions from someone who actually knew where the place was. Best fried conch burger I’ve ever had but I can’t say so much about their lumpy landscaping that would allow only two chair legs at a time to interact with the ground, which meant the thing would slowly start to lean in the sandy soil putting us in an Arte Johnson trajectory. (Ask your grandparents.)
Next we intrepid sailors took off for what we thought might be towards the beach. With a little help we made it but found it sadly lacking in ice cream vendors so we crossed the ridge back to town, eventually finding some at a pizza place.
I have to say that for some reason we never seem to have any of those maps, you know those cute little ones with the cartoon buildings that you see everyone else with…well, the people that seem to know where they’re going anyway. Spanish Wells is out of them and they don’t seem in a hurry to get any more. Harbor Island has tons but apparently you have to ask the right person for one.
On the way back to Spanish Wells we couldn’t help but notice that the drunken extended family was a bit more subdued but the cooler was a lot lighter. We were more determined to read the water like a true Bahamian. Even more inscrutable, the skipper had us dashing here and swerving there. The cruiser with the captain’s license said she was going up to talk to the ferry captain. Professional courtesy, I guess. When she returned we were entering the harbor and she told us that the ferry, which is quite modern, has four engines but they save hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel by only running three. In fact, they sold the propeller!
Welcome to the Bahamas.