Island Notes 60
I take my first step in the ink black water and a small fish jumps in front of me, and then disappears from sight. I move further in the cool sea under a moonless August night.
Usually, I am not aboard Kontentu after the sun goes down. A few times, I have arrived back at the mooring in the dark with just a hint of light on the horizon. Misjudged ETA.
But tonight I simply want to swim to my boat. It has been a long hot day, one fraught with uncommon land-locked demands that kept me away from sailing.
I board the stern ladder and feel the newly sanded teak steps on my bare feet. I look below at 20 feet of water, shimmering faint blue from onshore lights. Fish swim leisurely below. I lie down in the cockpit and stare to the heavens.
There are two movements on the boat tonight. One is a rock & roll, left-to-right that happens every so often when a set of waves rolls in. Staring above, I watch the mast and rigging sway to and fro. But most of the action between the wave sets is a gentle motion made expressly for shore side lullabies.
The other movement is Kontentu swinging ninety degrees, pivoting with the breeze from her mooring lines. I have the centerboard pulled up so the boat dances happily upon the water. This motion gives me a nice sweep of the stars above. I see Venus burning brightly in the southwest, leaving a star light path that extends from the black line profile of offshore Klein Bonaire directly to my starboard. Starboard–appropriately named this evening. The planet shines brighter on the water than the onboard lights of a nearby cruiser bobbing on a mooring. As we swing away on the next breeze, the Southern Cross comes into view. It is upside down on this sultry August evening, sitting on its head. But the famed constellation continues to diligently point south in spite of its upheaval. It is my celestial talisman.
The breeze blows soft and cool tonight and easily dries the salt water from my body. There are no mosquitoes out here. I only hear the lapping of waves on shore. That holds true until Aquaspace cruises by, a futuristic-looking metal catamaran that at one time served as a research boat in Jacque Cousteau’s fleet. Tonight, however, is disco night on Aquaspace. Heavy bass notes boom from the decks. A psychedelic light show is projected on the overly large foresail. The jib looks like a pulsating Grateful Dead T-shirt with its glowing tie-dyed patterns. Rum-soaked laughter travels across the bay. The tourists are happy.
This is not the only light show this evening. Erratic beams of light bounce off the sea bottom as two divers explore the coast’s nocturnal underwater creatures. Miles away to the south, the sky is lit up by lightning storms high over the Venezuelan coast. I sink back down in the cockpit and contemplate my mast. Back and forth. I nearly fall asleep. Shore side lullabies. I slip back into the cool water and swim home.