My friend Amy introduced me to a saying that has almost become a mantra on our boat: “Take a cookie when the plate is being passed.” Another rendition, which my kids use any time there are treats around (thank you, Curtis), goes, “Life is unpredictable, eat dessert first.” In our gypsy life, you never know when an opportunity will knock, and you can almost guarantee that it won’t knock twice. We just received a potent reminder to “take the cookie” in the Bahamas.
We had planned to spend another month in the Bahamas, exploring islands we’d never visited (Raggeds, Jumentos, Cat, Long, Rum, Conception) and doing some cruising with our friends on Ally Cat, who we met in Washington D.C. two years ago and who just returned from the Caribbean. We had just arrived in George Town, Exuma, and had a merry reunion over fish tacos (Sam caught a Mahi), when Michael said, “You know, with the calm weather coming up, you guys should really be getting out of here and heading East.” That gave us something to think about (Kimberly and Ally may never forgive him for planting the idea). We have always said we are not in a rush, but we do have to think about the approaching hurricane season and where we would like to spend it.
Plan A was Grenada, but we’re a little late to be heading East, as the trades seem to regulate after the winter fronts are done and don’t slack until tropical weather patterns set in (sometimes bringing storms with them). Plan B was Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico, if we could find a happy place to plug in for the summer, and find good internet so Jay can work. Plan C was a default passage back to Florida. We never even talked about it, but there was a good chance if we goofed off too long in the Bahamas—familiar cruising grounds—we might not make it further, to do the cruising we bought this boat for eight years ago. The last time we made it to George Town, I was pregnant and we returned to Florida to have a baby and renovate the boat. That baby is almost five now, and with our oldest speeding toward fifteen, we feel like it’s now-or-never for this cruise.
So we decided to use the calm before the front, which would stop the trades, to motor-sail straight east (towards longitude 65) and then let the arriving northeast wind to blow us south toward the Virgin Islands. It was a big commitment (and a bit of a gamble) to make a week-long passage instead of the island hopping we had promised the kids after the gulf-stream crossing. But when we saw the irresistible cookies the weather forecast held out, well, we just had to take one. Cruising down the Eastern coast of Puerto Rico a week later, our only regret is that we had to leave friends behind.