04/01/2012, Paris, France
So you saw in Wayne's blog that the Admiral went to France for a short trip. So for those who think that Wayne gets to have all the fun while I work (and for the most part it's true), but I do get to do some fun things. I had the opportunity to go to Cannes for a major real estate investment show in March to promote some large projects in our City. First off, I asked the Captain if he wanted to go with me. We have travelled throughout many countries in Europe, but France was not one of them. He reluctantly said he didn't want to leave the boat, so I invited my friend Lynn to go along. She has never been to Europe and so jumped on the chance to join me. The show was 4 days and so we took a few days on either side to explore France. We flew into Paris, explored this incredible City for a day and a half (not nearly enough time) and then headed south to Cannes. We had rented a car so that we could explore the countryside, get off the beaten track and truly see the country. France is a large country by European standards. We drove 975 km from Paris to Cannes, stopping mid-way in a 14th century town called Chalon-sur-Saone and stayed in a lovely French inn. On our drive south, we saw the Swiss Alps, the French Alps and the Italian Alps and hundreds of vineyards, castles, churches and cathedrals dotting the countryside. It doesn't get any better than this.
The time spent in Cannes was busy and productive for me. I have been in the Economic Development field for over 25 years and never in my life have I seen a trade show and conference like this one. There were almost 20,000 delegates and something like 4,500 exhibitors. In four days, I had 31 meetings including a very interesting "speed dating" for hotel investment. It was incredible and I feel so fortunate to have had this experience.
At the end of the show on the Friday afternoon, we jumped in the car and drove to Nice. While Cannes was OK, Nice was incredible. The blue of the Mediterranean ocean was what I had envisioned the French Riviera to be. An incredible mosaic of colours awaited us as we drove along the waterfront. Breathtaking views from the hilltops and lunch in a 16th century square rounded out the side trip to Nice. Saturday morning, Lynn and I jumped in the car and started our trek back north, but not before heading west along the coastline for an interesting drive through hairpin turns, up and down the cliffs all the while dodging cyclists. It was crazy, but a blast.
We drove for about 6 hours and stayed in a small town called Macon. On the river Saone, this beautiful town of 36,000 is the wine centre on the Saone. While many French towns had churches dotted throughout them, Macon had very few because 14 were destroyed during the Revolution. We enjoyed our side trip to this lovely town and Sunday morning continued our journey north. We both wanted to see the Palace Versailles and arrived about 1:00 in the afternoon. The opulence of this estate was mind-boggling. The palace was started by King Louis XIV in 1668. Gold covered gates, incredible paintings on the ceilings of each of the rooms, the hall of mirrors, libraries and over 400 acres of gardens made this stop worth seeing.
Alas on Monday it was time to head back home. It was a wonderful trip and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Lynn. It would have been wonderful to have the Captain exploring the French countryside with me, but perhaps we'll get there together some day. Besides, he would have missed those bathing beauties! It was too cold in France for swimsuits.
04/01/2012, Man-O-War Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
I suppose that many of you that follow this blog think, wow, here's this old guy roaming around the tropics while he leaves his wife at home working. Well, maybe that's true but it's not like she's sitting at home pining over me.
Just a couple of weeks ago the Admiral went to France and didn't take me with her. Yes, she went to the iconic City of Lights and then meandered through the French countryside without me. What kind of romantic goes to Paris without her lover?
While she was cavorting on the French Riviera and dipping her toe in the Mediterranean I sat dejectedly here on the boat patiently awaiting her return. I became so lonely and despondent that I had to seek out some solace from others and finally decided to join a local bowling team to help me put in the lonely hours. You might be interested in the team photo that I used as the lead picture above. Each team member has been carefully picked for their high skill level.
I continue to "harbournate" here in Man-O-War Cay using a mooring in this protected harbour as a base from which I head out to some of the other islands during nice weather. A few days ago I went up to Great Guana Cay for the annual Barefoot Man concert. The Barefoot Man is a local singer-songwriter that has a cult-like following here and he put on a three-day concert at Nipper's that drew huge crowds. The "bowling team" is actually part of the celebrating crowd at the concert.
This week cruising friends Lionel & Joan Teed from Douglas, New Brunswick (on Snover, a Saga 40) and I ventured down to Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay. We spent a couple of ideal days anchored off the shore near a white sand beach that grows four-fold during low tide. You can walk the sands of the beach for nearly a mile and pick up fresh shells deposited with each new tide. The shallow waters provide ideal swimming for adults and kids for hours on end. Snover's crew tore themselves away only because they had to start heading back to the States while I returned to my safe haven.
This week I'll go over to Marsh Harbour because I need to meet up with a technician that can repair Leeway's refrigeration which stopped operating while I was at Tahiti Beach.
So is "harbournating"fun? Sure. But, it'll be a lot more fun in a couple of weeks when the Admiral arrives. Or, is that "le Admirale"? C'est la vie. Au revoir!
03/01/2012, Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island, Bahamas
We left Hopetown on Thursday the 23rd after a week's stay. Our stay started out being weather related but was stretched out because it is just a truly enjoyable place to visit and relax. We left on high tide rising about mid-morning to ensure we would have enough depth out the shallow channel and were greeted with a delightful breeze that took us effortlessly under headsail only out past Parrot Cays, around Set Point Rock and into Marsh Harbour. We anchored towards the head of the harbour not far from the Jib Room Restaurant in about 7 ft. of water well out of the unmarked channel that the Bahamian Defence Force routinely makes boats move out of at all hours of the day and night.
Marsh Harbour is the largest settlement in the Abacos and the third largest in the entire Bahamas with about 5000 population. The harbour itself has good holding and has room for lots of boats while the town provides the best opportunities for cruisers to re-provision; do some banking; and access a wide range of other services. It has two large groceries stores, a couple of well-stocked hardware stores, local government offices, several good beer and wine stores, and oddly enough, two of the major Canadian banks. And, we took advantage of the opportunity to make the most of all the services available and made repeated forays to town for supplies and sightseeing. I even got my haircut seeing as my barber (the Admiral) was still in Canada.
On the weekend of the 25th was Marsh Harbour's annual Junkanoo (see lead picture) with juvenile teams competing on the Friday evening while the adult teams competed on Saturday. We passed on the youth teams because the evening was rather miserable and we thought that the better show would come from the adult teams the next night. So on Saturday night we dinghied in from the boats for an 8pm start but as everything here is on island time the parade actually got started just after 10pm. But, the wait was worth it to see the effort these groups put into both their costumes and their performances. We were disappointed that there were only two groups competing while on Friday evening the youth groups had nearly a dozen groups showing off their talents. But, it was very interesting to see a true, down-home Caribbean junkanoo in its native setting.
We enjoyed Marsh Harbour for a couple more days and met a lot of cruisers from different parts of the world that are attracted to this hub of the Abacos.
All too soon though it was time for Tranquility to start moving back north and begin the trek back to the States. So on Feb 29th Laurence and Joan weighed anchor and headed out the harbour towards Treasure Cay and the northern cays of the Abacos while Leeway waited a couple of hours for the tide before heading to Man-O-War Cay. Tranquility and Leeway had travelled together for nearly 8 weeks and had a lot of fun together but it is the nature of cruising to say regularly say goodbye to new friends and hope that your paths will cross again in the future. Fair winds Tranquility.
Leeway moved over the Man-O-War Cay and took a mooring in the Settlement Harbour from which I will venture out of nice days to play around the islands while waiting for the Admiral to arrive in mid-April. Also at Man-O-War are TJ & Kaye on Shearwater and Lou & Jean on Both Sides Now who are long time friends from the International Alberg 37 Association. So stay tuned for more adventures.