04/25/2012, Man-O-War Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
We always say that our plans are firmly set in jello - you know, shifting, moving, flexible. It's a good thing that this has been our philosophy for cruising because this winter was not what we had thought it would be. I was planning on getting to the boat for a couple of weeks in February and then again in April/May but my work commitments made it impossible for me to travel to the Abacos to meet up with Wayne as we had hoped. After what seemed like an endless winter, I finally got away on Thursday, April 19th and flew to Miami and then on to Marsh Harbour, Abacos to meet up with my Captain. Both flights were on time and at 1:00 pm, I was walking down the dock, backpack over my shoulder, my heart racing with the anticipation of being with Wayne again. He had anchored in Marsh Harbour the night before and then moved the boat to a dock at the Harbourview Marina the morning of my arrival so that he could get things shipshape for the Admiral's inspection.
It always feels like home the minute I step on board and this time was no different. The familiar feel of the boat is what I look forward to each and every time. We took the afternoon to catch up and then went for a swim in the pool. Palm trees swaying, drink in hand, floating around the pool was my idea of heaven. We ended up staying another day at Harbourview so that we could put on some provisions. Wayne had done extremely well on the provisions we had put on board at Christmas, but there wasn't going to be enough for the two of us for 2 ½ weeks. Marsh Harbour is an excellent place to re-provision. With our cupboards, fridge and bar restocked we were ready to leave on Saturday morning to get to Man-O-War Cay ahead of the forecast high winds.
Wayne was eager to point out all of the islands and places that he had traveled over the winter and after a lovely 1 hour motor from Marsh Harbour and taking in the sights, we settled onto the mooring that Wayne had rented at Man-O-War Cay. I was anxious to explore this little island, so after lunch, we jumped in the dinghy and headed to shore to explore. I'm sure that Wayne had every street memorized, but I wanted to experience what he had over the winter. Man-O-War Cay is a very quaint island with the most friendly people. Everyone waves when they pass (on their golf carts - there are only about 6 full-sized vehicles on the island) and are very helpful. We wandered up and down the streets looking at the well kept houses and stores that dot the island. We picked up some gifts for our granddaughters and then headed back to the boat for drinks and a lovely dinner.
Over the next few days the wind blew at about 25 to 30 knots, but we were well protected and enjoying our time together. We went to shore again on Sunday and walked over to the ocean side to see the surf and then went over to the other part of the harbour to meet up with Vince Purcell (a guy Wayne had met earlier who keeps his boat in Indiantown as well, is from Halifax and a single-handler) and invited him over for dinner the following night. This is the best part of cruising - making new friends and meeting up with old acquaintances. Even though our boats spend the summer in the same marina in Florida, we had not met Vince. Monday afternoon Vince arrived and we had a great time getting to know him over some rum, wine and a lovely dinner. It's always great to share stories and hear of other's experiences.
We had intended to leave Man-O-War on Tuesday morning and start making our way back across the Sea of Abacos to West End Bahamas, but both of us were feeling a little under the weather. I think that we may have picked up some bad ice at the marina. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. We thought we had a good long weather window to get over to Florida and could take our time getting to the West End, so we weren't worried about spending the extra day. Little did we know that our weather window was closing in and we would have some long days ahead. But that's what cruising is all about and again, those plans set in jello certainly help keep us from getting stressed out when things change.
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!