FIVE MILE RUN
We had been in the Exumas, southern Bahamas for a few weeks on our way south to Georgetown and ultimately to Panama and the South Pacific. We were cruising in company with several other boats and for the most part we anchored each night together in the better-known anchorages at Allen’s Cay, Warderick Wells and Staniel Cay. Often, there were many other boats in these anchorages, too.
We like to be sociable when we cruise. The friends we have made along the way remain friends many years later since we share such special cruising and voyaging memories. But, now and then, we also like to get out and see new cruising grounds in the raw, to experience a new place without the hubbub of a crowd around.
One day, as we and our cruising friends were sailing south toward Farmer’s Cay, we passed the village at Black Point and thought about going in for the night. But there were already half a dozen masts in the anchorage so we sailed on. Not five miles farther south we saw a wide-open bay with good protection from the easterly breeze that had a long white beach at its head. It was empty of boats and beckoned to us, so we called our friends on the VHF and told them we were peeling off and would catch up with them down the track.
We anchored right off the beach and soon were entertained by flights of pelicans and egrets. We rowed ashore where we found sand dollars in the shallows and interesting bits of driftwood in the high tide line. All around us, shore birds scampered about unafraid. There were no other humans in sight. That afternoon, as we relaxed in the shade of the Bimini, two bottlenose dolphins paid us a visit. They rolled over on their sides so they could make eye contact with us and it allowed us to believe we were communicating with them. Maybe we were. Then they were gone.
Late in the afternoon a salty looking cruising boat sailed into the bay and anchored a good distance from us. The older couple on board jumped into their dinghy and went ashore to stretch their legs on the empty beach. On their way back to their boat, they stopped by to say hello. It was Gerta and Martin on Kennemer. We invited them aboard for sundowners and liked them so much and were so enthralled by the stories from their recent circumnavigation that we urged them to stay aboard for dinner.
As they were leaving, Martin said, “We knew we would become friends when we saw you anchored alone in the prettiest and wildest bay around. As we always say, you only have to sail five miles off the rhumbline to find unique places where you will make special memories.”
That became our five mile rule. To paraphrase Robert Frost, now and then, we like to take the road less traveled while cruising and that has made all the difference.