Partying on the decks while rafted up with three other boats was so different and so much fun…..only, while sitting on the boat the bugs were increasing, becoming a nuisance.  They would fly in our face, we’d swat them only to have another back in your face. I’d see one crawling on the deck.  I’d use my hand to sweep it away into the water only to see it land in the water, turn around and CRAWL back up on to the boat.  Something I had never seen before.  After awhile of everyone fighting off the bugs, we decided to call it a night and plan for an early start in the morning.  The Flying Dutchman didn’t have any framed screens for the hatches and we had used a wind sock above our hatch in our stateroom to catch any breeze to stay cool for the night.  Michael had a large section of cloth screen that he placed over the hatch and used a heavy line to hold it in place.  Even after we retreated down below, we still had a few bugs flying around.  They were such a nuisance that I lit a mosquito coil to get them to go away.  It was one of those moments when you know the coils are toxic, but there was a fine line between toxic and going insane, so I chose toxic.  It seemed to work and we were able to fall off to sleep.

3 AM, Michael’s making  a stir.  He’s grumbling out loud, sitting up in bed, smacking the covers over and over.  In my fog I’m trying to figure out what is going on.  Michael yells ” There’s something crawling in the bed, I woke up  hitting myself in the crouch, these things are everywhere!”.  I could feel something crawling over my hands, up my arms, across my neck and over my face. Oh they were everywhere!  He turned on the light to discover the screen above our heads had collapsed by the weight of these bugs, EARWIGS!  They looked like a lightning bug with pinchers on their back-end.  Then the dance began.  I was out of bed in a hurry.  Did I mention there were hundreds of them? They were swarming! You couldn’t just hit one or two of them and they’d be dead.  You would have to “whale” on one with everything you had just to kill it.  We spent the next 3 hours fighting off these critters.  We could hear the crew on the Aruban Queen next to us, bumping around and yelling also. We knew we weren’t the only ones fighting off these things.

 After the sun came up, things seem to settle down.  We were under the impression we had killed them all and were exhausted from a night of terror.  Coffee wasn’t really in order this morning because our heart rates had been flying for hours by now.  Everyone was out of their boats by now grumbling and bitching about the bugs. So we got our gear in order, untied our lines, pulled up the anchors and headed the hell out of there.  As the boats poked there noses out into the Gulf of Mexico, we could hear other boaters talking to each other over the VHF that weren’t in our group.  They were saying things like “ MAN! Do you have these things on your boat? They are everywhere!” 

It was a relief to get out into the Gulf of Mexico, pull out the sails and get underway, only I noticed that as the sails came unreefed, I’d see an earwig come crawling out from underneath a seam and run to another place to hide.  I didn’t give it much more thought.  The wind picked up and our towing companion put up their sails, dropped their tow line and were off and running once again. It turned out to be one of the best sailing days I had ever experienced.  The wind was just perfect! We made 17 knots in the Florida Bay, underway that day all the way to Marathon Key.   On the approach the Aruban Queen once again sailed over to the Flying Dutchman, we threw her a line and tied her off to assist in getting her closer to the island without so much tacking.  It was  mid to late afternoon and  we had a little time to kill before making our final approach to the island.  The ladies onboard the Aruban Queen were in various places on the deck sunbathing and as forewarned, Lucia was on the bow pulpit only wearing her bikini bottoms.  The towing line was long enough that we could barely make out the people on  deck.  We were all feeling punchy after being up all night and the jokes over the vhf back and forth were getting raunchy. It was then that Michael got an idea.

Michael had created the ideal water balloon launcher.  He used a long piece of surgical tubing, cut it in half and tied each end to a large 8″ red funnel.  Then we filled the balloons with water.  The other end of the tubing was tied to the back stays and the only way to get the funnel to stretch long enough to launch a balloon any distance, was to pull the funnel down thru the back hatch and walk part way towards the front of the boat.  Several attempts were made to try to hit the crew on board the Aruban Queen to no avail. Lucia would jump up and down laughing and waving her arms each time we went to shoot off another balloon.  And each time we missed she would jump up and down again waving her arms.  Then they’d call us on the radio and report where and how the balloon missed the deck.  In the mean time, Jim’s wife had just fixed Jim ,who was at the wheel, a bowl of tuna salad.  As she handed Jim the bowl she warned “be careful,  they are shooting water balloons and this is the last of the tuna“.  Jim responded “He will never hit us, it is a one in million chance that he’d ever reach this far“.  No sooner did the last word leave his lips, “SPLASH“, the next balloon hit the side of his salad bowl shooting tuna and mayo all over Jim and his wife, all over the wheel and the decks.  Lucia ran back to the radio in hysterics.  With her french accent, I could not understand a word she said.  She was laughing so hard all I could get was high squeaking sounds, a long draw in of breath and then another reverberation of squeaking noises.  It must have taken 10-15 minutes before she could compose herself to tell us what had happened.  And to say the least, Mrs. Aruba Jim was not happy with us at all. Ooops!


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4 Responses to “Invasion”

  1. Terri Says:

    Great story did you ever get rid of all the bugs??

  2. Zen Says:

    You are lucky to be alive. Those earwig’s crawl in your ears and eat your brains!! Did you not see that movie!?

    • wenchhandle Says:

      Oh Yes! I got to thinking, how do I know I’m not a host after all. Don’t think I’ll give that one much thought. 🙂 Good to see you Zen !

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