Don't Worry, Be Happy Page 2

Cruising the Berry Islands, Part 2
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Part 2: Bahamas continued

By Capt. Bill Pike — July 2001
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: The Berry Islands
• Part 2: The Berry Islands
• Part 3: The Berry Islands
• Part 4: In Touch Down Island
• Berry Islands Photo Gallery

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My primary concern was weather, of course. When I arrived at Nordy's slip at Miami Beach Marina late Thursday evening, February 22, winds were southerly and light and supposed to stay that way through the following day, according to Walt Hack of Ocean Marine Nav, the New Jersey-based weather router I was using for the trip. But the Gulf Stream is a mercurial place in winter, and weather windows have a way of prematurely slamming shut.

And then there was the crew thing. I could see while walking down the dock that photographer/able-bodied seaman David Shuler and PMY Editor In Chief/first mate Richard Thiel were already busy onboard. Would these two guys, both friends of mine but heretofore unknown to each other, get along? There was no hint as I entered the saloon. Beside the dinette table, standing amid PFDs, half-opened electronic cartography boxes from Nobeltec and Softchart, and an odd assortment of unstowed galley utensils, Shuler was stolidly attempting to inflate an air mattress, his sleeping arrangements for the voyage. Thiel stood forward, fiddling with a maze of electrical wires at the helm, muttering quietly to himself while trying to interface a Compaq Presario laptop with a Furuno GPS and a Simrad Robertson AP22 autopilot.

"Evenin', gents," I said. My arrival seemed to most thrill  Merrill, who was also onboard and anxious to begin an all-hands tech tour before departing for California in the morning. Since I was officially taking responsibility for a new vessel without a shakedown cruise, I was looking extra-forward to this tour. The possibility of engine and other technical difficulties in the remote Berry Islands where we were headed was another of my worries.

Merrill was intense. By midnight we'd bilge-crawled Nordy's engine room and lazarette, plowed through a stack of tech manuals a foot high, wolfed down a few buckets of take-out stone crabs from nearby Monty's, and completed a practice anchor drop in the slip and a practice launch of our Mercury-powered RIB. Around one a.m., with Merrill seeming to get a second wind, Thiel deeply endeared himself to Shuler, as well as me, by tactfully submitting, "Jeff, it's way past Bill's bedtime."

Nordy took departure the next afternoon, after we'd hit a supermarket in South Beach, turned in two rental cars, and endured the kind of despair known only to those who load electronic cartography onto laptops via cellphones and West Coast tech support. It was Shuler who finally figured things out, maybe because he's a Californian. Anyway, Thiel cheerily offered,  "Dave...good job!"

Next page > The Berry Islands, Part 3 > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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