By Mike Crawmer
Last week I spent five days with my brother and sister-in-law on their sailboat off Great Exuma Island in The Bahamas. Nothing especially interesting happened. One day was like the next: one fabulously empty white sand beach after another, waters that went from aquamarine to deep blue, all of it under an endless sky of blue by day and star-sprinkled black by night. So boring.
Yeah, right! If this was heaven, I was ready to move in. Up before dawn every day, I would slather myself with sun blocker so I could soak up the rays without burning my winter white skin. I learned to snorkel, drank my first Dark and Stormy (rum and ginger beer) at a sundowner (boaters’ version of a cocktail hour), and gathered sea shells along the shores. Sunset meant a couple hours of card games, then early to bed. The only radio on the boat was the ship-to-shore type, and there was no TV. I didn’t miss either, but I did miss my daily newspaper (well, for the first day or so).
Boaters like Fred and Rose--and there were a couple hundred of them anchored in the many coves of Elizabeth Harbor--are an interesting breed. Most retired early and are now cheerfully spending their grandchildren’s inheritance. They leave their northern homes in early fall, returning tanned and white-haired in the spring. Between sailing, fishing, maintaining their boats, checking the weather forecast and visiting one another, they don’t have time for much else, and certainly no interest in what’s happening beyond their pleasant little world.
I learned how happily out of touch they are one night when I was trying to discuss current events. Imagine how amused I was when Rose mentioned that they’d heard something about some actor or actress dying. At first I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. Then I had a “duh!” moment: of course, it had to be none other than Anna Nicole Smith.
When I mentioned to folks that I was going to The Bahamas, I was immediately asked, “Are you going to the funeral?” (I do not exaggerate; even my dentist asked me that.) Anna S. was the topic of the day (seemingly every minute!) for weeks up here; down there, on the beautiful blue waters off Great Exuma Island, the late, much-lamented (well, by some) celebrity was less than a footnote.
As a news junky, I usually could be counted on to utter a tut-tut at poor, clueless Rose (I say that with love and respect; she is a MENSA member after all). But in that setting, on their boat, it simply didn’t matter what was happening “up there.” The sun, the sky, the beaches, the impossibly blue waters were all that mattered. Ignorance, I found, is just the icing on the cake of true Bahamian bliss.