…in open water on the Galliot Bank, with the tide coming in. I was dressed in a gold lame’ bathing suit, Chanel sunglasses and I had my Louis Vuitton beach bag on my head, like those African water-carriers you see in The National Geographic. I was holding the tepid remains of a bottle of Marilyn-Merlot in one hand and a fruitless cell phone in the other.
The Galliot Banks is a reverse oasis – a long stretch of sand island that comes out of the water at low tide in the middle of the Exumas Sound. It is my favorite place in the world to collect mollusks and observe the microcosm that crawls, undulates and burrows on a miles-long Bahamian Brigadoon.
Captain Wayde had left me there for a long walk at waxing tide. He took off with the boat to Farmer’s Cay to collect fresh lobster (smoke a doobie; share my beers?) from his cousin Ally. Let me describe the locale a bit more, so you fully realize how unsophisticated this plan was on my part. First, look at the photos. As far as the eye can see is water. Farmer’s Cay is eight miles away as the crow flies, there are a couple of hazy, distant, deserted islands visible and there is nothing else. We did not test the phones for service. As Wayde drove off he shouted, “Just call me if you want me to come get you, sweet girl!”
I said something like, “Does this thing go completely under water at high tide? It’s coming in kind of fast…” He shook his head NO over the engine noise and was gone. A private plane streamed incongruously overhead, but all else was quiet. I got my shell guide and my bottle of wine out of my bag and left the rest of my things in the middle of the Bank and walked to the far end of the island.
As I turned to walk back, I was shocked to see the tide had raged in and my necessary items were almost under water. I sprinted back to move them, and that was when I noticed the rivulets of water coming together at the narrower parts of the sand bar and the distinct water marks on the wider sand indicating it did go under water at high tide. There was no sign of Captain Wayde on the horizon.
I think I said, “Fuck,” aloud.
My cell phone said NO SERVICE, and I formed a desperate (drunken) contingency plan – If Wayde didn’t come, I would stuff my money in my bathing suit, abandon my bag, and SWIM to Farmer’s Cay.
Obviously I’m still here. Wayde pulled up as I was taking the last slug of wine and preparing Poseidon Adventure style, to swim to safety (remember Shelly Winter’s having a heart attack and dying heroically in that water filled tunnel in the upside down boat?).
We laughed. But when I think of it now, I panic. What if he hadn’t come? What if the boat had broken down? What if pirates had happened by? What if I’d had to spend the night, SOBER, standing waist deep in sea water where sharks are very prevalent? Would I really have tried to SWIM? Eight miles?
But in those days we laughed. At this crazy thing called life. At another day living on the glorious edge…
Today I’m not drinking because I actually don’t know why I’m not drinking – I’m longing for some dangerous behavior…
How come you’re not drinking?
Galliot Bank (Bahamas)Is at an elevation, typically located on a shelf, over which the depth of water is relatively shallow but sufficient for most surface navigation in the country of Bahamas.
Its center lies at a latitude of 23.8833300 and longitude of -76.2666700and it has an elevation of -9999 meters above sea level.
Its currency is the Dollar (BSD)