Before we ever
got to the boat we could see bottom. Rocks and sponges raced under us and once
or twice the leeboard tapped and lifted. A good way to sound your way through
thin water, Herreshoff had said. The men in the lifeboat stood and stared
whenever their boat lifted high enough for them to see us.
We tacked right
in under the bow, hearing the sea roar and break around us, and out to deep
water again. We let the dog out of the cabin and then sized up the huge rollers
coming into the main ship channel. A minute later we were in the first ones and
the boat began to lift and work and pick its way through the big green
haystacks as they raced at us. The boat made such a premier performance in
these conditions that we were suddenly able to let down and enjoy it. The waves
coming from seaward were so big, we were afraid to look at them. Instead, we
waited to feel them lift the boat, then watched their backs as they raced,
roaring, away from us toward Key West.
Then the main
ship channel was behind us too and we were sailing the blue-green waters inside
the reef toward Boca Grande. We were actually having fun. We had sandwiches.
Our son fell asleep and the verities of the eternal sea did not seem to be the
same verities that have brought us salami or penicillin.
We rounded Boca
Grande in early evening and anchored in a little channel that offered us a bit
of lee. I laid two anchors on a good scope of line. The Meadow Lark pitched and
hunted about but, in all, we were comfortable. We went below and ate
sumptuously. Just at dark, two young Cubans who had a crawfish camp on the
island rowed out to us with great effort and asked if there was anything we
needed. We said that there was not and thanked them, rather moved by this kind
of frontier courtesy.
We lit the oil
lamps in the cabin at dark and talked till late about our personal greatness as
adventurers. I read a few chapters of Herreshoff's The Common Sense of Yacht
Design and we all fell asleep in the howling wind.