January 12, 2006
When we lived on land and had regular jobs we rarely worried about being idle. We worked downtown in Canada's largest city and our modest apartment was in a high rise building only a few minutes subway ride from our places of employment. Our jobs demanded a lot of time and we had a number of volunteer commitments and social obligations that filled our non-working hours. Right in the maw of the Big City, there was never a shortage of events and attractions to attend if we found ourselves with a bit of spare time. We didn't even own a TV set; when would we watch it?
Just before we moved on board the boat full time and started cruising, we became concerned that we might not have enough things to keep ourselves occupied. We filled the shelves with edifying books we had always thought we should read, but had never started. We bought a bunch of games that would keep our minds sharp, such as Scrabble and chess. After much agonizing, we broke down and bought a very small DC-powered TV and video player.
After we cast off the dock lines, however, we found that we were as busy as ever, although engaged in a very different set of activities than before. Initially, most of our efforts were directed at not sinking the boat and getting from one place to another without launching divorce proceedings. As we got used to living on the boat and our cruising pace slipped into a more comfortable rhythm, we had time actually to enjoy where we were and the people we were encountering. There seemed to be so much to see and do, so many people to meet. Dostoyevsky remained undisturbed on the book shelf and our sad collection of video tapes gradually grew mildew.
We'd like to claim that we're still caught up in a dizzying array of exotic adventures, but the truth of the matter is that, despite our extraordinarily ebullient personalities, there are occasions when we are, well, just a little bit bored. Take, for example, last weekend when we were anchored in the yacht basin at Treasure Cay in the northern Bahamas. Treasure Cay is actually not a cay (or key, as a North American would call it); it's a thumb-shaped peninsula sticking out of the northeast side of Great Abaco Island. But it just as well could be its own separate island for all that it is otherwise connected to the rest of the Abacos. Treasure Cay is a planned community with expensive condos, a fancy marina and hotel, golf course, and tennis courts. On appearances alone, it could be located in Florida or just about anywhere else there are palm trees, sand, and rich white folks. Its main claim to fame is its three mile long beach, reputedly one of the ten best in the world (we haven't been able to determine the source of this rating; we suspect there are several hundred beaches on the planet that according to one set of criteria or another rank among the top ten).
We didn't go to Treasure Cay for the beach. When we got there on Friday, we enjoyed walking its length, but there are plenty of beautiful beaches in the Bahamas, and we tend to prefer the ones that are not dotted with million dollar homes and tiki bars selling hot dogs for $7.50 each. No, the main reason we went to Treasure Cay was because it has a superbly protected man-made anchoring basin and the weather report called for the arrival on Saturday of a strong cold front with 30 knot winds. We weren't the only ones there seeking shelter; our friends Dave and Toni on Seeker, Mike and Jan on Imagine, and Mike (another Mike) and Robin on Estrellita had preceded us.
Saturday started out much as predicted: overcast sky, plunging temperature, and rising wind. Eileen put on her fleece jacket and sweat pants. "Not a good day for the beach," she said glumly. David looked at the swaying trees on shore. He added, "We could hang out in the bar at the marina, but I think we'd have to mortgage the boat to pay for a couple of beer. Of course, this might be the perfect opportunity to crack open 'Crime And Punishment'..."
There was a knock on the hull; it was Mike and Jan in their dinghy. "Hey, would you guys like to join us on Imagine for a game of Balderdash? We've invited Seeker and Estrellita to come over as well."
David's not big on games; at least, he doesn't care for the games we have on board Little Gidding. The problem with most of those games is that they require too much serious thinking to win. If David loses at something like chess, he can't blame it on bad luck. He lost because he wasn't as smart as his opponent. David doesn't like losing.
"Actually, we were just about to get into some Russian literature," David started to explain. Eileen cut him off. "We'll be over in a couple of minutes," she promised.
We hadn't played Balderdash before. As Mike and Jan explained it, players must determine the definition of a word printed on a card. Unless you have the misfortune of playing with a group of lexicographers, competing well doesn't actually require an extensive vocabulary. The chosen word is typically so obscure that none of the other players will know its meaning; the main object becomes making up a plausible definition and convincing the others that it is the correct one, for which you are awarded points.
It turned out that David is a natural at Balderdash. He's been making things up all his life and trying to convince people that he knows what he's talking about. He won handily. He asked where Imagine had acquired the game. "Bought it for a buck at a flea market," Mike said.
"We should get one," David told Eileen as we climbed into the dinghy to return to our boat.
Eileen didn't feel the same need to acquire more games. While we were home visiting this summer, she discovered Sudoku. Sudoku is sort of like a crossword puzzle, but with numbers instead of letters in the squares. The forward to Eileen's Sudoku book asserts, "Solving a sudoku puzzle involves pure logic. No guesswork is needed -- or even desirable." David read that and immediately decided he didn't like Sudoku. At Eileen's insistence, he completed one game and then announced he was quitting while he was ahead.
Yesterday we sailed over to Bakers Bay at the northwest end of Great Guana Cay. It's a wide open bay with good holding and a long sand beach. There was another boat anchored there when we arrived in the late afternoon; it left as soon as we got settled. We seem to have that effect on others. "I guess we'll have to amuse ourselves this evening," David said.
As it got dark, the wind picked up and the wind powered generator hummed happily. Eileen would have been quite content snuggled up with her Sudoku book, but David suggested we watch a movie on the laptop computer. "We should take advantage of all that power we're generating," he said. The video player and cassettes -- early victims of a humid, salty environment -- have long been jettisoned, replaced more recently by DVDs. They're all pretty arcane, mainly because we only buy sell-off DVDs at near-giveaway prices. "Do you want to see the Palestinian social commentary with no dialogue or the Argentinean romantic comedy?" David asked.
We ended up watching an action flick that involved several people being dismembered or impaled and the hero predictably bedding down the at-first-chaste-but-later-passionate young maiden. Eileen was completing her second Sudoku puzzle by the time the credits rolled.
This morning's weather report predicted another cold front should march through this weekend. Bakers Bay is completely exposed if the wind clocks with a frontal passage. "We should head back to Treasure Cay," Eileen said. "I heard Imagine say they're going to be there until this next front passes."
"I wonder if they'd consider trading Balderdash for Dostoyevsky?" David mused.