The email’s subject line read: “Good times.” Attached was a picture of myself and three friends, 10 years younger, with wide grins, sitting bar-side in West End, Grand Bahama. Less-than-full adult beverages accented the photo. (Perhaps the inspiration behind the grins.) I smiled at the picture while recalling one of the most memorable trips of my 18-year marine career.
The four of us had met up in this yachtsman’s utopia for cruising, fishing, boat testing and fun. The plan: West End would be home base, and we’d head out each day. But the bite in the area had faded, so we decided to run the new 60-foot sport-fisherman to Chub Cay.
“The cargo net slid down the yacht’s prop tunnel and gave the wheel an unbreakable bear hug.”
An inviting sun, blue sky and calm conditions greeted us for the early-morning sojourn. We waved so long to West End and created a Pigpen-like sunscreen cloud in the cockpit while prepping for a day in the rays. Then we sat back in the mezzanine. In an instant, our vessel throttled up to 36 knots. We’d be there in no time. Only opportunity lay ahead.
That is, until our trusty steed came to a screeching halt about 15 minutes later. We went from cruise speed to zero in a nanosecond. Everyone was OK. The captain went over the transom with his mask and knife. He soon popped up with a less-than-optimistic report.
Someone had woven black polypropylene line into a cargo net that had found its way into the drink. It was submerged, just enough. The cargo net slid down the yacht’s prop tunnel and gave the wheel an unbreakable bear hug. We idled back to West End. The yacht and her captain limped back to Florida for repairs, hoping to return in a day or two. It never happened. We sat in rocking chairs, staring at an empty slip for three days. That is, when we weren’t at the bar watching the one 1980s fishing video looping on the TV.
But then the ribbing started. The laughs came fast and furious. And often. We talked endlessly about all our other on-the-water adventures.
It was a great voyage, minus the voyaging. The yacht was our common denominator, but the crew mates made it a trip.
A few months later, I went to the Abacos to test the same sport-fisherman. The morning we headed out, it was blowing 40 knots. But that’s another story.