by CHARLIE SCHULER
How many of you have attended a wedding on a boat? I would guess not many at all. Well, we didn’t plan on it. It just happened.
We were cruising in the Exuma Bahamas, on our 42-foot sailboat. Nassau is due east and a little south of Miami. The Exumas are way south of Nassau. It is a fantastic area for cruising. The weather, the people, and the pace of life are perfect. The water is so clear that you can see your anchor in thirty feet of water. It makes for great spear fishing. You do not need a fishing license in the Exumas, but you cannot use a spear gun. They only permit a “Hawaiian Sling” for spearfishing. A Hawaiian Sling is a fiberglass pole about five feet long with a spear point on one end. The other end is connected to a circular rubber tube. You put your hand through the circle and hold the pole. To fire the spear, you pull the pole back a few feet and as you release the pole the rubber tube springs the pole forward, hopefully spearing the fish. Sounds complicated but it works and gives the fish a chance of not being shot. Anyway, it is a great sport and puts fresh fish on the table. We loved the Exumas and were always ready to share the adventure with friends and family.
Our son Brent, his college roommate and both of their girlfriends were invited down to the boat for a week. The plan was for them to fly into Nassau where we would meet them and go cruising. We were in the southern part of the Exumas when it came time to start back to pick them up. We had found a couple of nice cays we planned to return to. When we arrived in Nassau we checked into a marina. Then we took a cab to the airport to rendezvous with our guests. Once back on the boat we assigned them their cabins. They changed clothes and attitudes to Bahama time As Jimmy Buffet said, “there is a change in attitude with a change in latitude”. He was right.
We spent the next day in Nassau. There is plenty to do there. We walked all over, including Paradise Island. This is on the other side of the harbor connected by a seventy-foot-high bridge. They have gambling and entertainment on the island. Of course, there are many places to eat. Each couple decided they wanted some time alone, so we parted and agreed to meet for dinner.
Departing Nassau, we sailed down a series of cays, anchoring and using the dinghy to get ashore. The dinghy we had was an inflatable, with a vee keel, hard floor, and an 8HP Yamaha outboard motor. Six on board were a little overloaded. One of the cays was noted for the Iguanas reptile and we stopped there. The Iguanas were large, approximately two to three feet, and they were a little aggressive because the people had been feeding them. This is not smart because they lose their fear of people.
Another cay where we anchored had a seaplane upside down in the harbor and abandoned structures on the land. We figured it was a drug hangout at one time. We skin dived and dove until we were exhausted. The time flew by, and we prepared to return to Nassau the next day so they could catch their flight.
A cold front passed by that night and the wind shifted to the north. It made for a perfect but rough long day sail. Most of our guests were seasick on this passage. When we reached Nassau, we went to the same marina.
We could not believe it when Brent and Donna asked if they could get married on board the next day. We were flabbergasted and most agreeable. They had made the arrangements beforehand. The papers were signed, and a pastor was set to perform the ceremony. The best man and maid of honor were set. Donna had bought a beautiful dress which matched her birds of paradise flowers. She really looked beautiful as brides do. Everybody put on their best clothes for the occasion. The boat got washed and the flags that my father had made for us years ago were rigged from the top of the mast to the bow and stern. The Seagull II was ready for this very special occasion. All the people in the marina came by to watch the ceremony. It was very special. Oh, we all got a motel for the evening, and the bride and groom had the boat to themselves.
The people in the area started calling our sailboat the LOVE BOAT.