“I need to see a doctor.”
That sentence doesn’t cause much of an issue when you’re living in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area. Just pick up the phone, or drive over to a doc-in-a-box. But when you’re anchored off an uninhabited island 43 miles from West End, Grand Bahama, and your potential ailment is one which your ophthalmologist suggested you go to an ER for if it recurred when you were away from home, it’s a different matter altogether.
When the wind whipped my hair into my eye while Rick and I were doing the overnight crossing from Florida, all I did was curse at the sting and move on. But the following morning, when the sunlight caused my eye to tear uncontrollably, and I had to hide down below in the dark, I knew that I’d suffered a corneal abrasion. (I’m prone to them due to dry eyes and allergies.) Should the abrasion become infected, the consequences could be dire if I didn’t get prompt treatment.
Easier said than done.
We were anchored at Great Sale Cay. Uninhabited. No cell signal. No internet. Needless to say, no doctors.
Seclusion has it’s upsides, of course. A gorgeous sunset from Great Sale Cay, as well as a special dinner (accompanied by that precious Hendrick’s Gin) to celebrate our first night at anchor on our own boat in the Bahamas.
With some minimal research in an out-of-date cruising guide, I asked Rick to point the boat towards the Grand Cays in the Abacos, which the book said had a medical clinic with a doctor on duty. But there was no phone number so we couldn’t check. No number for the marina there either.
Miraculously, Rick’s phone got a single bar of signal as we started heading towards the Grand Cays. I thought about calling my ophthalmologist, to see whether I should take the antibiotics in my medical kit, but didn’t have her number. Called my optometrist, but he wasn’t available. Got the ophthalmologist’s number by calling information (remember that? How old school!). But when I called the office, I realized it was SATURDAY. Days of the week kind of blur together when you’re living this life.
Finally, we called Harriet and asked her to do some minor research for us. She found out there was no longer any clinic on Grand Cay, but maybe one in Foxtown, Little Abaco. Rick called, but there was no answer, so we knew that there would be no medical help available on a weekend. So we pointed the boat towards the more populous Abaco islands, where we had no plans to be this soon, in the hope of finding a clinic on Monday.
At last, my optometrist called back (Thanks Dr. G!) Concluded that at least for now, I had no infection, and talked me through treating the corneal abrasion in the meantime. My mental relief was almost instantaneous; the physical relief came a few minutes later.
Since we didn’t need to get back to civilization that day, we slowed down a bit and headed to Allen’s-Pensacola Cays, at the north end of the Abacos chain. A snug anchorage with plenty of opportunities to explore (lots of little beaches, both on the Sea of Abaco side as well as the Atlantic Ocean side), and the peace and quiet we’ve been seeking in this journey. We hiked, and left evidence of our having been there at the Signing Tree on the ocean.
On the Sea of Abaco side of Allen’s Cay, there are several calm beaches, as well as a hut assembled of jetsam and flotsam for hosting impromptu parties.
On the ocean side, the Signing Tree invites visitors to leave evidence of their having been there. Rick added a float with Calypso’s name carved on it.
The ocean beach on Allen’s Cay wasn’t too bad either!
On Sunday, we headed to Green Turtle Cay, where we’ll likely spend a few days. The town of New Plymouth offers a clinic and supplies (our grill has already failed, and there’s nothing like rough crossings to show you all the leaks on your boat). We’re on one of Donny’s mooring balls ($10/night, plus another $1 for WiFi) in Black Sound. We’ve been here before; even if it’s been 8 years, the Abacos haven’t changed much over the years, and it feels like a second home.
The Goombay Smash, the official drink of the Bahamas, was invented on Green Turtle Cay. A visit to the birthplace, Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, is on the agenda. But this version, at Pineapple’s, hit the spot in the meantime.
We’re going to the government clinic today, to check on my eye.
Even if we’re not worrying about snow and Christmas shopping and traffic on the B-W Parkway; and even if the weather here is pleasant and the beaches are beautiful; there are still obstacles and challenges to life. While I can alleviate my stress with a Goombay Smash, it’s stress nevertheless. So far, this lifestyle aboard Calypso has been a dream come true, but there are plenty of challenges.