We had a friend over for dinner last night. A beautiful, pixie cut blond named Dawn who had contacted me through Instagram after seeing my pictures of Spanish Wells, where she had been planning to vacation. She got here a couple of weeks ago. She is a self proclaimed introvert but has befriended half the island. It would be hard not to be enchanted by her, with her bright eyes and her quick laugh. She is a deep thinker and is always ready with her next question. Her interest makes one feel as though they are the most arresting person on the planet and she and I have had many an intriguing and absorbing conversation, at the lovely cottage she rented, 100 steps from the beach. I hadn’t had a working motor for over two weeks so I hadn’t been able to reciprocate (I wouldn’t put anyone else through the hour long row to the boat). Adam came home four days ago, so of course, the motor works now.
Today we finally got to have her out to the Talisman. Adam made bread, I made pasta. We had Rum and strawberries and spent sunset in the cockpit. All was calm and easy and lovely. On the ride back to land in the dingy I found out how adaptable and wonderful she truly is when a wave crashed into her face and she laughed like a little girl.
If you have been with me from the beginning you know this loveliness can not last…
After we dropped her at her golf cart (soaking wet) Adam and I turned around to dinghy back to the boat. As we drove slowly through the cut we chatted easily.
“I think I could master this solar cooker bread thing.” He said, from the last seat in the dinghy, his left hand loose on the tiller.
“It was so good babe,” I said over my shoulder. “Totally a hit.” I was on the middle seat but leaned against him with my hands behind me, to each side of him, on his seat. It was mostly cloudy but a few stars poked out here and there.
I saw it at the same second he did. It began as an apparition. We both tensed at the same moment. There was no moon. Both the sky and the water were black. We were in the channel, a skinny strip of water with small lights on each side to steer you safely through the cut. This was a no wake zone. This means that we would hear anyone coming from a long way off because they would have to be going extremely slow. I love it when it’s black like that on the water. We didn’t have our light on. We had had it on the whole way in to land and would have turned it on any minute. But we didn’t have it on for that one crucial second.
[Sailors feel free to comment on this below…]
Suddenly the blackness wasn’t as black in front of us. There was a boat out there. It also didn’t have any lights.
“Turn on the light,” He said calmly as I shot upright.
I realized it before he did. He thought they were going slow. We were in the channel. They should have been going slow. Extremely slow. No wake means no waves. Huge white plumes, like wings, spread out from the bow of the boat as it screamed towards us. Both boats were in the middle of the channel pointed directly at each other. The light was somewhere on the seat with me but I didn’t have time to find it. And I knew it. All I could do was blink.
“Turn on the light, turn on THE LIGHT, TURN ON THE LIGHT!!” Adam yelled rapidly with increasing panic as realized how fast they were coming. I didn’t even have time to speak. He wrenched our motor to the left. Our tiny, leisurely paced, four horse power motor chugged along like the little engine that could. Our boat turned slowly to the right. The black boat with white wings grew huge impossibly quickly. Adam had chosen the right direction. I don’t think they ever saw us but they just so happened to have a slight arc to their course and their boat flew by, at breakneck speed, a couple feet from ours. Soaking us and rocking us badly in their massive wake as we clung to the sides of Hemingway.
The whole thing lasted no more then five seconds. We never even heard them coming.
I turned on the light and swung it in an circle around us for the next 15 minutes as we drove the rest of the way home. Everything became ominous. Every absence of light in the distance became a large boat baring down on our position. I felt sick deep inside my belly.
“That is the closest we have ever come to dying on the water.” He said quietly behind me.
We were both shaking as we chastised them for shooting through the channel with no light and we replayed it over and over, like addicts. We had been scared. Profoundly, severely scared. But we didn’t have a light on either and that fault lay with no one but us.
Having said that, I think we may need to take a little break from the incredibly safe island of Spanish Wells.