July 12, 2008 – Saturday – Catching Air

By Randy Davis

After an uneventful passage from Grand Turk, Tuesday evening we set out to look for a good path past the reef to the wreck site. After several exciting sorties through the waves in the inflatable boats, Levardo finally decided on a way in. Jack and I followed Levardo and Joe, now in the TT Anwar, but we knew we only had an hour to anchor the boat and get back to the Explorer before dark. We’d already decided that if there was any doubt, we would leave Joe and Levardo overnight on the catamaran. We had no desire to jump 12 foot near-breaking waves in the dark.

TT Anwar Temporarily Anchored

Luckily, anchoring the TT went as planned and we all headed back to the pass where we could exit the reef. I was driving the boat and Levardo was using his local knowledge to guide us through the cut. Time was not on our side and the sun was only a sliver as we approached the line of breakers. It was high tide, so the pass was deep, but the waves were still large–at least 12 feet–and there was little time between sets.

We got over the first big wave and then I noticed two more right behind that one. I gunned the engine while everyone yelled” hit it”, all the while remembering that JF, the Explorer’s captain, was reluctant to let us use his boat as it is his only rescue boat. We sailed over the wave and were airborne for a few timeless seconds and then landed flat behind the wave. A third was still coming. I throttled up again, and although this was not near as exciting as the last, it still got our attention. We sailed free of this one and once again landed safely. On arrival at the Explorer it turned out there was one casualty—Levardo’s sunglasses. I promised to replace them.

Today was sunny and much calmer…the remnant swells of Bertha are no longer an issue. Don, Jack, Joe, James, Levardo, and I went to the wreck site in two boats loaded with dredge pumps, hose, extra anchors and air tanks. Today’s plan was to move Levardo’s boat into its final position, set up the dredge, and test it for full scale excavation tomorrow. The day went about as well as could be expected and Levardo rewarded us with some homemade Turks and Caicos conch chowder—the best I’ve had.