To the Islands, Mon!
Photo by Gretchen Pelham
I was so bored waiting for Tennessee Valley’s hunt season to begin. I updated my iPad with the great Jimmy Buffett book, A Salty Piece of Land. It’s about a cowboy who rides his horse to the coast, and then puts himself and his trusty horse on a ship to a small Caribbean island. The horse rides out all the storms and waves without an ounce of seasickness. I was inspired. A Huntsman’s Horse could do that!
So after years of trying, I finally convinced Gretchen to let me go to the Bahamas with her. She and Bert take his boat over from the Florida Keys every summer. Bert has always had a soft spot for me. I promised him I would wear Easy Boots over my hooves to keep from scratching up his Boston Whaler. And wouldn’t you know it, he agreed!
The 17 hour drive to the Florida Keys was not fun in back of a hot F-250, but I listened to Lyle Lovett’s “If I had a Boat” on my iPod over and over to keep my mind focused on the better things that lay ahead. Then we got the boat out of the marina and started up the Intracoastal Waterway to Fort Lauderdale. I have to tell you I just loved standing proud on the bow of a boat with the wind in my mane, winking to all the crowds that gathered on the docks as we passed by! After we got to Port Everglades, we headed due east across the Gulf Stream. Gretchen said that the 70 mile crossing to the Bahamian Bank was gonna be the roughest, but it wasn’t so bad. The 1-2 foot waves were rolling, and felt like jumping a grid. When I got tired I just went to the stern of the boat and lay down on the beanbags. It was a little tight back there with Gretchen and me amongst all the coolers of my Rolling Rock beer, but I survived.
After we hit the Bahamian Bank, it was another 110 miles to our island destination: Green Turtle Cay. After seven hours in the boat, I started neighing when Bert pointed out the island! When we tied up to Government Dock, Bert said I had to stay in the boat with Gretchen until he got back from the customs office.
Well, all that neighing was heard by my new best friend, Joe. Joe has lived on Green Turtle for years. He’s a 15 hand Paint that gets to free range the entire island every day of his life. Ol’ Joe is in his thirties, so island life agrees with him. I’m so jealous! When he heard my whinning, Joe trotted down the main street toward me. No kidding! You see, the island is so small that most people drive only golf carts, so Joe is let out of his back yard every morning to wander the entire island until dark, and then he meanders home to his fenced-in back yard. Gretchen said I could jump onto the dock and go visit with him. I didn’t see her again for a week!
I can’t tell all that we got into. We were like two bachelors set loose in Vegas. You know, what happens on GTC, stays on GTC. But I have developed a taste for Kalik beer and conch salad, joined the Gully Rooster Band’s fan club and learned how to charm Goombay Smashes off the ladies. Joe is my hero. [Gretchen’s Note: Well, I sure hope it was fun, Hangover dude. It cost a few thousand dollars to repair Sundowners from the damage ya’ll did to the karaoke stage. And it took all the charm Bert had to keep the constable from banning us for life from the island after you DROVE HIS GOLF CART OFF THE WRONG END OF THE DOCK! Joe was lying – it was never a bridge! But the absolute worst was you falling in with Brendal. Yes, he’s a famous dive master who used to dive with Cousteau, but you are never to speak to him again. Poor little Claudia at the Green Turtle Club is heart broken, you cad.]
Whatever. This was almost as fun as hunting! Can’t wait for next year! [Gretchen’s Note: Keep dreaming, you potcake. You are never getting on the boat again!]
Ziggy Pelham, Tennessee Valley Hunt’s Sea-Faring Steed