On-board Diary: Nerves of steel at Green Turtle Cay. Sunday, April 24th 2005

Author: Paloma Larena
Date: April 24, 2005



1:00 a.m. Although we spent the night anchored at Great Salt Cay, for security we continue the night watches. The weather forecasts continue to be good, but an intense wind has picked up. The plan for the Oceana Ranger is still to set sail again at dawn.

1:30 a.m. Someone broadcasts a radio message asking for help, but it's impossible to understand. It repeats once, and then there is absolute silence.

2:45 a.m. On the verge of finishing the watch, I cast a last glance around. Not a single light on the horizon toward land, except those that mark the position of a half dozen sailboats and a catamaran that looks like a toy next to the Ranger.

Like Oceana's vessel, they are anchored for shelter at this key, uninhabited like most of those that comprise the immense archipelago of the Bahamas: 2,000 islands and islets of which only 270 are large enough to be habitable. The Bahamas are still a wild paradise; of the 270, only 25 are actually inhabited.

8:00 a.m. We pull up the anchor and head for the island of Abaco. But the news isn't good. Checking the motors, David the mechanic discovered that the oil in one of them was mixing with water. "And this is not a minor problem," Carlos explains to Ricardo. An unexpected problem can change the plans of the Transoceanic Expedition.

Green Turtle Cay

6:00 p.m. The docking operation at Green Turtle Cay has required, as they say, nerves of steel. A narrow entrance between mangroves and palms gave way to a tiny port with several dozen sailboats, which we have had to maneuver between, avoiding just barely, almost to the millimeter. As we pass, the owners of the boats poke their heads out. "You have to be cold-blooded to do this," says Bibi, once we are moored. But Nuño dismisses his feat. "I've seen worse."

As soon as our connection is restored, Ricardo sends a message to Xavier Pastor, Director of Oceana Europe, to bring him up to date.

"I'm writing from the entrance of the port of Green Turtle Cay in Abaco. Today we anchored in the port and tomorrow, once we've passed customs, we'll tie up at the dock. We have a problem with the port motor, but we don't know how serious it is. In Florida we fixed the rupture that was mixing the fresh and salt water in the refrigeration circuit. Now what's happening is that the fresh water is mixing with the oil, forming a `mousse.'

Until we can talk to someone tomorrow we won't know the scope of the problem. If it is serious, it could keep us here longer than we planned, which was 4-5 days. It's also possible that some of us could get off here, and others continue with the Ranger another 20 miles, to where there is a greater population center, to complete the repairs.

As soon as we know more I'll let you know."

"Ok, thanks for keeping me informed. Good luck with everything and I hope it works out." Xavier also tells us that today we were on the Spanish television channel TVE 1 at 9 in the evening. With images of kelps, the sharks of Coco's island and a few other things (lobster and the flounder burying itself in sand). Also, he managed to talk about shark finning and the goal of restricting trawling by 40% in EU waters by 2007. Fantastic! Mission accomplished.