My plan was to fly home to Annapolis, where my daughter and the baby would arrive from California and my mom from Michigan. An east coast blizzard changed all that. No one arrived on time and we finally re-booked our departure flights to extend our stay – either that or abandon the trip altogether. My ten day trip became a two-week absence.
Goldwin had stayed on the boat, on a mooring in Hopetown. We had limited communication while I was in the States – the boat has no phone and no internet – I could contact him through email to a friend in Hopetown, who would then radio my husband. Which is much like the old party line phone service – everyone in the harbor can listen.
Baltimore, my arrival airport measured 30 inches of snow; instead of arriving on Friday, I spent three nights in cheap airport hotels in Atlanta. (But I had hot water and a TV and internet – upgrades from the boat.) When I finally landed in Baltimore Monday afternoon, I found my street well plowed and the house happily had not lost electricity.
It took all day Tuesday to unbury my car
and find the driveway.
A generous neighbor made me breakfast and gave me beef stew for later and a dozen of her chickens’ eggs. To eat with bread I’d brought from Vernon’s.
My daughter and four-month-old bundle of happiness and joy arrived Wednesday and my mom on Friday. The baby – our first grandchild – had grown so much since I’d seen him last. I was grateful for this time with him and his mom and my mom. In celebration of his four-generation visit to grandma’s house, he rolled over for the first time. He’s adorable and precious, and also demanding. Or maybe I just couldn’t give up one second with him. We had a grand visit. One I will cherish.
I was the last to leave Annapolis. A bumpy flight from Baltimore back to West Palm. But I was smiling when we landed – no snow here. Glad to be almost back, I rushed to the gate for my 12:35 p.m. Bahamasair flight into Marsh Harbour, dragging an overstuffed duffle bag of boat goodies.
Oops, the crew was late. Okay, I’d miss the 2 p.m. ferry. Next was a mechanical problem. I was hoping it was just a lightbulb, but no, they were removing the cover from one of the engines and appeared to be waistdeep into it. Yikes. During the wait, the Marsh Harbour passengers got to know each other: a woman from California who raised horses and lived exclusively in hotels; a man who lived with his family off the grid in northern California, the roof of his bar and gas station entirely covered with solar panels; a man who had been coming to Marsh Harbor for 20 years and knew everything about everything; and others. It was a long wait. I was comforted by texts from my daughter, now in California, and by emails from a friend in Hopetown who is very good at that sort thing.
When we were clearly going to miss the last ferry, Bahamasair was convinced – or maybe they just offered – to charter ferries to Guana, Scotland and Elbow Cays. After a smooth flight into Marsh Harbour – about four hours late – we shared taxiis to the ferry dock and waited. And waited – five adults and a small boy headed for Hopetown. There was no one else there and the office was locked. We’d all gotten up in the middle of the night to make our flights into West Palm and were tired by now. Plus, since leaving the States, I’d had no way to contact my daughter or my friend – or Bahamasair or the Albury ferry. I had paced myself for a long day, but now I had that alone, abandoned, worn-out feeling that comes from travel gone wrong.
Finally a ferry arrived; it must be our ride. No, the captain told us, this was our boat, but our captain was coming later, from Hopetown. “Sorry,” but he let us get on the ferry.
Now we were anxiously sitting in the ferry, in the dark, as it lurched into and away from the dock in the strong east wind. Tired, my eyes roamed the interior of the ferry, barely registering the small boy racing along the seats, his mother trying to keep up, the pile of luggage, two women talking, the blue glow of the VHF radio – forward, over the captain’s chair, the – wait – the radio? Suddenly I was engaged, smiling again. No longer alone; no longer abandoned. I looked around – who would care? I hurried forward and switched the radio to 68, the hailing channel: “Motu Iti, Motu Iti; Reef” – our grandson’s name – “Reef.” Seconds passed, then: “It’s you,” came the surprised, relieved voice. “Up one,” I said, so happy to hear my husband’s voice at last. Thirty minutes later we were entering Hopetown harbor. From the back of the ferry I saw my dinghy tied to the Lower Public Dock and then my husband standing on the dock – arms open wide, holding a sign: “Welcome Back, Nancy.”