Meet Hartmut Scholl

As we moved north after our week in Georgetown, we thought a stopover at Lee Stocking Island, the site of the abandoned Marine Research Center, would be interesting since it had been a few years since our last visit. Not much has changed, there are new, larger “No Trespassing- Keep Off” signs that are largely ignored, most cruisers are simply curious. The island is quite interesting, and affords abundant hiking opportunity on the roads which have yet to be reclaimed by overgrowth. In fact, it’s clearly evident that someone is actively maintaining at least the grounds of the facility. Most of the buildings are falling into disrepair, recent hurricane activity a large contributor to that decline. It’s also evident that there has been activity that has likely prompted the posting of the signs, as much of the infrastructure has been vandalized or scavenged for scrap. Aluminum high voltage cabling removed, transformers stripped of copper, wiring stripped from buildings. Abandoned. As night fell, the silhouette of the buildings melded eerily into the dark, not a single point of light visible from the island. Only the sound of the water slapping the ironshore.
Since the winds were creating a bit of a washing machine in the anchorage, we decided to have a short morning hike then continue north. As we prepped the dinghy to lift it for our open water travel, we saw a fellow approaching on a paddle board, or SUP as they’re called. He was a bit out of breath, and as he approached we could tell he was just tuckered. Some quick conversation and we invited him to come aboard, he wanted to take a break from his paddling and replenish his diminishing water reserves. He had come that morning from Brigantine Cay or thereabouts, a distance of over 5 miles, all against wind and current in some rather sloppy conditions.

Meet Hartmut Scholl.

Meet Hartmut Scholl!
 
 

Meet Hartmut Scholl!

Gear on board
 
 

Gear on board

Hartmut is from the north of Germany, he is in the Bahamas on what might be characterized as an adventure vacation. He thought it would be a great experience to travel in the Exumas on his inflatable SUP board, camping style. His experience turned out to exceed his expectations. He had all the gear he needed, he didn’t expect it to all be wet. He didn’t anticipate the currents he would encounter, as currents across the banks and around the cays can be formidable, particularly if you’re the only power source! We invited him aboard to catch his breath, have a shower, coffee, replenish water, and as our conversation evolved, we extended an invitation to bring his gear aboard and travel with us northward where he might have less challenging conditions. He happily accepted. We brought the SUP board and his gear on board, stowed it in the walkway, and as Hartmut rinsed and organized his gear and had a warm shower in the cockpit, we lifted the dinghy and prepped to get under way.

SUP board on board
 
 

SUP board on board

Hitchhiker!
 
 

Hitchhiker!

Once underway, we settled into cruise mode and lots of conversation sharing family details, learned of Hartmut’s interesting business and how his trip keys into his philosophy and business concept, and shared some quick cruising education regarding weather, currents, tides and how that relates to the SUP endeavor.
Hartmut flew into Atlanta from Germany, then a flight to Georgetown. He booked a room in Georgetown, and a ride to Barraterre where his SUP travel began. His plan was to travel northward along the cays to perhaps Staniel, then retrace his route back to Barraterre and home. It seems he was unprepared mostly for the currents, and the degree to which the winds impact the waters. His paddling was limited to kneeling, so progress was slower and required much more energy. When he encountered us, he was about tapped! We admire his perseverance! We discussed how the currents and weather in general can hamper his efforts, and offered some of what we’ve learned in our time cruising. Perhaps not expert counsel for his particular endeavor, but experience that he could draw on to his benefit. He was in awe of the comfort in which we travel on the ocean, no small wonder coming from a SUP board in 18 kt winds!!
We learned he camps at night with a tent and air mattress that fits on his board. Carries a stove that can generate heat as well as a small amount of power for USB charging. He has a solar charger, but has determined that it has limitations. There’s also the issue with saltwater and those devices. He set up a charging station to take advantage of our power to charge up all his devices during our run. He has enough pre-packaged food for his trip, it’s prepped with hot water, and apparently is not gourmet. He was quite willing to accept a roast turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on toast! A small oasis on his journey!
He accompanied us to Black Point, and bid us farewell as he headed for the back side of the cay for his overnight. Staying on board would be antithetical to his purpose, however tempting! Armed with some fresh insight on how to time his progress with tides, he determined he would become acutely aware of slack! We wished him safe travels, and offered our phone number if he needed any backup. We also discussed bailout options, and that he could likely find a source for a boat ride back to Georgetown if the weather soured and he ran short of time to make a safe return. Refreshed, he pressed on! What an interesting visit!

Epilogue-

Hey, doesn’t that look like a paddler coming our way? We’d been at Black Point for two days, doing Black Point stuff- laundry, easy dog walking sans sand! And just enjoying the location. In the distance, we spotted a form paddling, “think that’s Hartmut?”
“Who else would it be??”

It's Hartmut- again!
 
 

It’s Hartmut- again!

Well, it was. He just wanted to stop by and thank us again for the lift and the help. He did indeed cross Dotham Cut, one that can be quite challenging for even blue water trawlers, but he timed it at slack, and it was a huge difference! He related camping on the beach where he had company from a big iguana, and then spent a night at Staniel, visited the Yacht Club for a beer, and is now planning to head south for his remaining 8 days. We reviewed some charts, highlighted where civilization might be encountered, and Hartmut was on his way, flashing us a thumbs-up and a huge smile! Zupah! We wish him safe travels and high adventure!! We’ll follow his blog to see how the story plays out, and look forward to hearing from him after he returns home!

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