Stranded on a Sandbar
I feel I’m stranded on a sandbar
Stuck in my tracks like a street car
Playin’ it for all that it’s worth
I’m just payin’ for my sins on earth
Stranded on a Sandbar. Jimmy Buffett, 1979.
April is gone. She’s now a fading memory in the rear view mirror of my mind. Eleven days into May and I will find out the condition of my five fractures. Time was once my friend, a valuable commodity that I cherished. But the wait has made time warp like a dripping Salvador Dali clock in the hot desert.
I know for sure my perception of time has changed when I pay for two months of dock bills at my marina and don’t take out my boat once. That never has happened. I usually sail twice a week. I never get ‘island fever’ on Bonaire since I’m always off shore during these excursions. My sailing trips are short, usually 2-3 hours. But time on the water always takes me far, far away. It’s always about the sound of waves lapping against the hull; the whistling of the wind through the rigging; the pull of the tiller on my arms as I steer Kontentu to windward; the warm sun on my face as I look skyward to check sail trim.
I am unsure when I will sail again. But when I am ready, I will be facing the biennial task of hauling out the boat to apply new bottom paint. By the time all is complete, this is usually a 2-3 week endeavor. I can’t control many things these days due to my injuries, but this is one event that I can. I contacted a young sailor friend and asked him if he wanted to make some money. Next week, he will haul out the boat and do the maintenance. Then when I do sail again, this delay won’t interfere with my time on the water.
It was about two years ago today that I completed my first trans-Atlantic voyage. I was one of eight who sailed from Sint Maarten in the Caribbean to Portugal’s Azore Islands aboard a 1902 wooden, 2-mast schooner called, Coral. It was an adventure of a lifetime—16 days at sea covering nearly 2500 nautical miles. We encountered three fierce storms, repaired ripped sails and limped into the port of Horta with a broken bow sprit. But we also dined on fresh-caught mahi mahi, witnessed spectacular sunsets and sailed like mariners did hundreds of years ago. What an amazing experience. Through it all, grit, determination and accomplishment were the rewards. Little did I know then that all of these would help me immensely in the new challenge I now face of getting well again.
To kill the clock these days I spend time on the terrace looking out to sea from my hillside perch. I spend hours boat spotting, identifying local craft on the water. I especially check out the sailboats—Nawati, Compass, Amoray and Bowali and others. And there are the dive boats from Captain Don’s, Wanna Dive and Divi buzzing from one dive site to the next. If I’m really bored I look up the names of off-shore tankers awaiting to dock at BOPEC’s oil terminal.
But the best terrace time is near sunset. Parrots squawk as they fly by, heading to their night roost on the ridge. Goats bleat out strange sounds from the ravine below while grazing. And I softly hum Buffett tunes to match the sound of the trade winds blowing past my ears. With a glass of Mount Gay in hand, I gaze upward toward the heavens. I’ve been tracking the new moon from crescent to half stage. By the time it is full and yellow on the horizon, I will finally meet with an orthopedic surgeon and learn more about my fate. But in the meantime, I’m just stranded on a sandbar.