Pat and Darnell, friends sailing with Kashmir, spend most of their time aboard their own boat, a Pearson 424, Island Dream. which they keep in the Bahamas. They really have it tough, ten months or so on their boat, and a couple of months back home in Louisiana tidying up affairs there. Living the cruising life is their dream, and they are making it happen. They have a solid good ole boat, outfitted to suit their lifestyle and capable of taking them pretty much wherever they want to go. For them, these warm tropical islands are the place to be, and you surely can’t criticize their lifestyle, one where they meet new friends, explore new places, and breathe in the clean sea air free of city smog and all the noise that go with it. Joy and I are working on just that kind of a lifestyle.
From the Restaurant Caribe we decided to wander back to the boats and we all chose to take different routes to wind up back at the dinghies. Larry, Faith, Joy, and I took the coast road. We had swallowed enough dust on the walk down and had no desire to repeat the performance. The 25 knot breeze whistled in over the water making it seem much cooler than it really was, and there wasn’t as much traffic on the waterfront, so the only dust was what we happened to kick up. Somehow we managed to find ourselves at a dead end, but we could see the main street inland off to our left. Rather than backtrack for quite a ways, we decided to cut though the brambles on a little path we saw. Before I knew it, Joy took off at full speed down through the overgrown and abandoned yard, and the next thing I knew, I was watching her tumble off the scooter in slow motion as she rode over a rough patch. Before I could catch her, she had landed on her left side in a patch of cactus and brambles, her head cocked up against a clay flower pot. Ouch. Her neck and back were pierced with thorns, but she had only a small scratch on her cheek. Thankfully, nothing broken. After we helped her to her feet, I decided we should walk her down to the main street; enough excitement for the moment. In no time, she was smiling again.
As we began our wet dinghy ride back to the boats, we took a breath as we saw the full power of the waves breaking against the reefs. These huge breakers in the background were towering over our boats. We knew we wouldn’t be going anywhere in the morning, so we made up our minds to watch and wait. The forecast for the following day however, called for a little change in the winds, so we contacted the Port Captain, Jorge, and asked if we would be able to pick our our clearance papers in the morning, just in case. As long as we arrived before 7 AM, we could do so, he said, but he had to leave for Chetumal at 7:30, so we needed to be on time. The papers were ready, the cost minimal, and if the winds allowed, we could leave the next morning.
By morning, the winds were down, just a little, but the waves were still much bigger than any of us liked. The weather forecast however, called for a lot more wind the next day, so it was now or, most likely, never, for the rest of our trip south. Joy asked me if I was crazy, and I replied, with just a little quake in my voice, “We’ll be fine”. I asked Joy to watch the range behind us, and told her to hold on tight. The surf rolling in the pass was massive; we never could have come into the pass in these conditions, but we managed to make it out. Kashmir and Hasta la Vista had gone first, and both had all they could do to make it over the rolling surf. The worst conditions lasted no more than a minute or two, but time seemed to stand still for those precious seconds as we ran at full power plunging the bow into the breakers, and crashing down into the trough on the back side. There was just one big monster, and its open maw scared me half to death, but our Angel took care of us once again, as I knew she would. Truthfully, these moments were the worst I have ever seen in 34 years of sailing. I vowed never to repeat them.