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The Whale and The Flood
by
Esther Arosemena

Captain’s Log:

Once upon a lifetime in a Galaxy close and near...

Key Largo, Fl, July 2004

It was the perfect cap to a perfect day.  We had waited for the heat, of a July day in Florida, to subside then hopped in the dinghy in search of the islands beach.  Following hints from local folk, we had gone out the day before looking for this alleged piece of Eden but were unable to find it.

This time we discovered it.  Far from Eden yet charming, it featured a small sand bank, receding mangrove, and small blue crabs.  Before we could explore it further, a squadron of Kamikaze (AKA fierce local mosquitoes) attacked us and we left in haste.

Amidst a number of unnamed islands, we anchored in Black Water Sound (just off Key Largo) for a swim.  The water was warm and the dip refreshing.  With some difficulty, I crawled back into the small craft.  We proceeded to drift along in the sunset and chuckled remembering the first time I climbed into the dinghy.

We were at Allan’s Cay in the Bahamas and Derek had convinced other boaters to come along to snorkel off a reef he remembered being rich in sea habitat.  The armada consisted of three or four dinghies equipped with miscellaneous climbing devices.

 Not ours.  Being a rock climber Derek is a "mountain goat.”  Not I.  I looked for a step to emulate the other women who had so gracefully climbed into their dinghies.  There was none.  I looked at Derek and questioned him with my glance.  He was puzzled.  "Come up, kick hard using the fins and climb over,” he says.  "Yeah, right,” I though.  However, I am a trooper so I tried nevertheless.

After my third attempt, he grabbed the back of my bathing suit and pulled me in.  I went in the dinghy all right - Head first, face down and feet up in the air.  To make matters worse, we are laughing so hard that neither one of us do anything to help me out of this position.  I do not resemble a certain large mammal; however, I felt like one.  A huge one - hence, this narrative of the "whale" in the dinghy became a legend aboard Unity (our home).

There is a second funny tale in the chronicle of our lives.  This time the stage is Staniel Cay and we remember it as the Legend of the Flood.

It was noon and we zipped in the dinghy to shore and the Yacht Club for lunch and a beer.  From a nearby boat, a man waved for us to approach.  We did; he and Derek engage in a long-winded discussion about nautical charts.  I smiled gracefully not having much to contribute on the subject.  Slowly, I noticed that there was more water in the dinghy than usual and that the water level is increasing by the minute.

Not wanting to interrupt the men’s avid nautical “chat,” I grabbed the big sponge we use to bail water out and started sponging.

Sponge...wring...sponge...twist...sponge...squeeze.  Regardless there was more water coming in than I managed to sponge out.  Finally, I said - “Honey, I think we’re sinking.”

Derek remained cool, our new friend panicked and I, not knowing what else to do, just sat there.  "Oh,” Derek said, "there is a logical explanation.  I opened the plug on the back of the dinghy.  If we close the water drains – we will be OK - See the results.”  With the drain plug replaced water stopped coming into the boat and I was able to sponge it dry.  

Lesson learned do not panic until it is necessary.

As the lights of the day were dimming, further, we ceased reminiscing and started back to the marina passing the beach quickly before the Kamikazes caught up with us. 

 

 A shadow in the last gold of the afternoon, we spotted Unity, (our boat and home) resting from adventure (for now).  Not us – we were wishing for more days like this.   

 

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