Camped out at the Peace and Plenty Hotel Restaurant in Georgetown, Bahamas with our computers Philip, Anna and I uploaded photos, sent email and checked Facebook. It was late and I was determined to upload our photos. Philip and Anna were ready to go but were being patient with the technical problems I was experiencing.
A man in his mid to late thirties, salt and pepper stubble, California surfer blond hair in a bathing suit and a tank top sat down at the table next to ours. He wasn't fat because he was tall but was definitely out of shape. He carried a bottle of rum and and bottle of vodka and placed them on the table with his computer. Clearly a tourist and a guest of the hotel he asked us if we were as well. We said we were not, that we were on a sailboat and there to use the internet. He told us he was from San Diego which was already evident by his frequent use of the word "dude." I could see that he was looking at photos from his vacation, photos of himself. I am vain. I am in love with myself but when I encounter these traits in other men I am irritated by their vanity and ego and determined to make them understand and accept how much better I am than them. He reminded me of someone who was in the Navy, I'd had a roommate who was once and they were eerily similar. The way they carried themselves, boastful, the way they immediately assumed I was interested in their lives. Someone who tried too hard to be cool. The things they tell you leaving you skeptical if it's actually the truth. When I asked what he did he said,
"Dude, bro it's complicated but I'll tell you I'm a Navy Diver. I search and locate undetonated explosives. Dude I get to travel all over and do some sick shit bro dude."
"Oh, but you're not a SEAL." Anyone in the Navy that is not a Navy SEAL is jealous of the SEAL's image. My comment was simply meant to knock his ego a little.
"Dude, I do shit SEALs can't do bro. I'm a specialist. Dude I have a lot of SEAL friends and they're even afraid of the shit I do dude bro."
"Well sure, but the explosives you're diffusing, there isn't any secret about them and you probably have a lot of information on the details of what is there before you get into it. So at least you don't have to worry about being shot at."
"Bro, I could blow up a huge area if I mess up in my job."
"A huge area of water."
"Yeah, dude, yeah bro."
After a few minutes of awkward silence he said, "Dude I went to this cave today up near Staniel Cay and well, this is crazy, I should never have done it, but I swam underneath and there was a pocket of air and I snapped this awesome photo dude." He picked up his computer and showed us a photo of his face, his mask on top of his head in what appeared to be a dark area.
"Was this at Thunderball grotto?" I asked
I looked at Anna, rolled my eyes and checked the upload hoping we'd soon be leaving.
"Yeah bro, it was nuts dude I just swam under, totally could have died bro."
"Oh yeah, we were there, lots of little kids snorkeling in and out of the cave."
"Oh you guys went there? Yeah we took this boat up there for the day, this guy took us out it was sick."
A woman, in her fifties, but fit and heavily made up came and sat down next to Dude and whispered something. I couldn't hear his response but could tell it was rude. The woman seemed irritated and started using his laptop. Now unoccupied he began to comment on the woman's wealth, that she had a nice car and that the Peace and Plenty was a shit hole compared to the hotels they usually stayed in.. She interrupted him to say, "I'm not that rich."
After a short time she left and asked if he was coming. He said that he wasn't, that he was going to hang out with us, his new friends. Anna, Philip and I looked at each other, none of us liking be blamed for him not returning with this woman and even more upset to hear that he considered us his friends. Annoyed she left and one of us made the obvious assumption it was his girlfriend and he said it was just a woman he knew, someone he took trips with. The words hooker, escort and slut buddy suddenly came to mind. Dude, now clearly inebriated said, "Bro, you got to see this crazy pic I snapped today of me in this cave." He turned in his laptop towards us and showed us the same picture of his face in what appeared to be a cave. We looked at each other confused. Could we be experiencing group deja vu?
When we left I apologized for keeping us there so long and we collectively agreed Dude was a major douchebag.
A day later Philip ran into the Dude and the woman from the night before at a bon-fire at Hamburger Beach. He said they bought him a few drinks but that the guy was still a douche but said the woman, he was with, Lana, was much nicer than the night before. In fact she'd confided in Philip that she was upset with the way Dude was treating her.
Elizabeth Harbor on which Georgetown sits is a big in terms of the Bahamas. It's dotted by protective islands, the largest of which, Stocking Island is home to a hotel, restaurant and bars. Desdemona was anchored off of Stocking Island, about two km from Georgetown, in front of a beach bar called Chat N Chill. From the galley I heard splashing followed by "Dude? Dude? Bro? Dude? You there dude?" Anna already in the cockpit looked down in the water and said "hello" while I was wondering how he'd located our boat.
"Just thought I'd swim across and check out this bar."
"Wow, that's a long swim." said Anna
"Yeah, it's not dude. It's what I do I swim so maybe for some people but not for me bro."
"Well if you guys want to hang I'm going to be over there for a while so just hit me up." and off he swam.
For some stupid reason or another we ended up at Chat N Chill that afternoon. At the open air bar was Dude and Lana. We sat down and ordered hamburgers. Philip didn't want to spend money so he made a salad on a napkin out of what he could find on the condiment table. Philip appeared to be spending more time chatting with Lana than anyone else which wasn't unusual.
I'd seen this behavior out of Philip before. Once when he was chatting with an older couple I'd seen him talking to before I asked him why he was so interested in them. He explained to me that he thought that it was possible that if he got to know them a little, the old husband might ask him to service his wife which he was now, incapable of doing. And though it seemed a long shot it almost worked out for Philip. One Friday night at the Peace and Plenty, Philip was dancing with a few older women in an effort to get the attention of a group of young girls and inadvertently got the attention of an older British woman. Large, unattractive and also married Philip wasn't interested but nevertheless continued dancing. After a while her husband casually asked Philip in a strong British accent "Philip, how do you feel about threesomes and foursomes and such?"
Philip replied, "Uhhh, I mean I guess they are whatever. I mean I guess they're alright."
"The misses and I are going to have a spot of cocaine and we'll be back straight away."
"Okay whatever." Philip said wanting to get out of the situation.
And while the British never returned for Philip I wondered if this was what he was up to now with Lana and Dude. So when we made it back to the boat and Philip announced he'd worked out a deal with Lana I wasn't surprised. It was when I learned what the deal was that I was shocked. Philip said that Lana's twenty one year old daughter, Aimee was dating some loser who lived at home with his parents, did a lot of drugs and was the father of a small child. Lana, like a clueless mother, thought if she voiced her disapproval Aimee would simply stop dating this guy. Not surprisingly, since daughters are programmed to like a guy more if their parents disapprove that is what happened. So like a mother with no parenting skills but lots of money she decided to buy her daughter off. Which is when he announced the plan, Aimee is going to come sailing with us for a month and Lana is going to pay her $1000 and pay us however much we decide. Of course Anna and I had lots of questions.
What if she doesn't like it?
What if we don't like her?
Where is she going to sleep?
How much is she paying?
But perhaps more than any other we all wondered "Why would a woman who has no idea who we are send her daughter to come live with us on the ocean?" Our parents discouraged us and here she is paying us to take her daughter away. She'd never even seen our boat. Philip told her we'd have to check with our other crew member and if we all agreed we'd let her know a price. When we asked Chris what he thought his response was "Is she cool?" We said probably not based on her Facebook profile. Still we agreed this was too interesting, if she would pay us $2000 plus expenses for Aimee's share of food and gas we'd take her aboard.
The next day when Philip was going to Georgetown I asked him to pick up a few bottles of champagne for Anna's birthday which was in a couple weeks. I wasn't sure if I'd find champagne in Long Island and preferred to buy them in Georgetown and keep them a secret. When Philip returned he told me he ran into Lana and Dude at the liquor store and that they bought us a bottle of vodka and a couple bottles of champagne for Anna's birthday. I thought that this was strange but shrugged as Philip hid the bottles he'd brought back. After lunch Dude swam to our boat pulling Lana in an inner tube. They were at Chat N Chill and wanted us to join them. We asked if they wanted to come aboard thinking Lana would want to see the boat her daughter was going to live on. They declined but invited us to Chat N Chill. None of us wanted to but we needed to tell Lana our terms.
At the beach at Chat N Chill Lana agreed to pay, she'd transfer the money directly into our account when she got back to the States. At least that is what she said at the time and we had no reason to doubt it. Sitting with feet in the water she opened a bottle of champagne and said Happy Birthday to Anna. I bought these for you. Anna clinked her plastic glass, confused as to why this lady was celebrating since her birthday wasn't for another two weeks and how this lady even knew she had one coming. "I saw Philip buying champagne for your birthday and I wanted to buy champagne for your birthday too." I sat in a chair behind the two of them with my mouth open at what she'd just done and used all of my effort not to drown her as she ruined the surprise.
While her and Philip made a few phone calls to convince Aimee I was stuck talking with Dude.
"I can't believe you swam all the way across the harbor, that's a long swim." I said trying to be nice.
"Naaa dude, I'm an Ironman, I do tri-s and that is nothin."
I knew he was a huge liar, the shape he was in, there was no way, he couldn't do a Pillowman.
"Really, you do?" I said staring at his ridiculous belly and oval shaped thighs.
"Dude. Yeah, I'm into it big time, big time bro"
Fine, I thought, maybe he fancies himself a better liar than me.
"I'm an astronaut." I said without blinking
"Dude, no way."
"Yeah. Ever heard of the Hubble Telescope? I designed it." Clearly this was impossible as I was nine when it was launched into space.
"Whoa bro! It's high five time." to which we high fived.
And then we sat there our feet in the water exchanging stories, none of which were based on a true story.
At first Aimee thought we were some kind of sailing missionaries. Her mom had tricked her once before into going to Costa Rica to what turned out to be a bible camp. "Are you guys like studying sea turtles or something?" she asked Philip
"No. What? Sea Turtles? No. We just sail around, get drunk and meet people."
Aimee reluctantly agreed to come. She was going to meet us in Long Island, Bahamas, our next stop. First she had to get a passport. Lana assured us, "My daughter is a huge pain in the ass. If you guys get sick of her just drop her off on an island somewhere. And if you need her to bring anything for the boat let me know, I'll send it with her."
Even the idea of Aimee brought the four of us together as a group. We couldn't say no to $2000 just to drag some little rich brat around the islands for a month. And we agreed that if she sucked we'd just get rid of her. Our cruiser friend Gary aboard S/V Cool Change, our friends Dennis and Diane on S/V Rendezvous and Alvin owner of The Hamburger Beach Bar were all excited about the new crew member. They'd met Dude and Lana and couldn't believe the deal she'd made and couldn't wait to hear about the drama that would ensue. At the large round table at Alvin's we talked about tricks we could play on her like telling her we didn't have sails that we had to paddle our boat to Dominican Republic. Gary suggested the first thing we do is call her the wrong name, "How about Sonia?" We agreed, from then on Aimee Lishamer was Sonia.