Trekking by Sail, Exuma Islands

By: American Sailing Association, Flotillas

Day 9

I just battled my way through customs at Miami International, dazed from an exhaustingly beautiful sailing trip with Out Island Explorers in the Exuma Islands, Bahamas. Realizing as I placed my shoes in the security tray that I still had some water in my canteen, I gulped it down before walking through the beeping arches. The rim was salted with the flavor of the Caribbean, and flour-fine sand stuck to my lips.

As we separated one by one on flights going every which way, I realized how much I’d come to enjoy the company of these people who I had never met until eight days ago. I arrived in the Bahamas ready to take some great sailing pictures and ride the warm wind, but had not expected to find the friendships that would develop over the coming week. So it wasn’t without a bit of sentimentality that I headed for my gate, humming “children in the back yard pickin’ in the sand…” (you’ll learn that one later).

As our tiny plane ascended over Georgetown a couple hours prior, I viewed in reverse the scene which had greeted me the previous week. The hot scrubby land faded as we rose to marbled fields ringed with white, set in lettuce-bright seas. The water from above was as striking as it was from any angle, a luminous, Bombay Sapphire hue, we had decided.

Reclining my seat and watching Exuma fade beneath me, the memories sharpened and stories started to take shape. The woman next to me remarked that “we create across gaps, and you always need a slight amount of distance in order to reach around an experience.” I thought, she’s right—it felt nearly impossible to put it to words when we were inside of it, but now, a sun-drenched watershed of stories collects on my desktop.

I hope you all can enjoy the trip vicariously from my posts over the coming weeks. But more than anything, I hope at the end of the day you’re curious what the slick skin of a nurse shark feels like, how high you’d be able to point a Sea Pearl into the hot breeze, or what hour-fresh grilled grouper tastes like under a flaming sunset. I dare you to read and resist it. Because I’m telling you, it’s all over once that Exuma sun wraps itself around your soul.