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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Mega-yachts and kids - I'll go with the kids
04/05/2009, Exuma Park Warderick Wells

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Lazy morning. I didn't sleep much. It was hot and the fan was blowing not on me but over me. Loud little thing. I tried to adjust it in the port, so that the air would blow on me but the way it was set up, it came crashing down and I had to sit it back up so that it was just barely blowing over me. Some air is better than none. I hate when it's hot with no movement of air but it could be worse. Elaine and Holly indicated that, back home, they're expecting 3-7 inches of snow after having nice spring temperatures.

I caught up on reading my emails, updating my blog, then finished Grisham's book "Playing for Pizza". Not his normal genre but entertaining. Then I watched a shark circle the sand bar and swim under the boat. It's a little nurse shark about 4 ft. All the kids in the immediate area had to check it out. Maria (the Canadian youngster that we met when we checked in) herded it towards the sandbar, next to our boat, so the other kids could look at it. She's a cute kid - one that's a born leader. Wayne and I have both noticed that there's a difference in the kids we meet in the boating community verses the kids back home. These kids are very outgoing, articulate and seem much more capable (self sufficient?) or maybe responsible is the word I'm looking... I'm not sure how to explain what I mean - it seems they're more apt to reach outside themselves to others - less self-absorbed? I can't imagine kids back home walking up to strangers and chatting and becoming quickly acquainted with everyone. It's just not done, not safe.

I was going to take some books up to the office to trade in for some other ones (at the book exchange) but forgot that they close at noon on Sundays. Even closed, Judy still mans the radio for the park. She had a busy day trying to fit the boats into the different mooring fields in the park. She's an amazing person with the patience of a saint. I was sitting down in the cabin and looked up and out a port because I heard a boat coming in next to us. A 150 ft mega-yacht was coming in looking for the swim platform (???) that they were supposed to moor next to at Emerald Rock (the next anchorage south of us). Talk about a panic! The captain drove up next to the office, churning up sand and probably coral) and radioed that they couldn't find the swim platform here... This was disturbing because there is no swim platform here. After talking to Judy on the radio, they finally figured out that they weren't at Emerald Rock, but at the North Anchorage. Wayne and I were both dumbfounded, as I'm sure everyone in the anchorage was, that they couldn't figure out where they were. These mega-yachts have got very sophisticated equipment and for them not to be able to find Emerald Rock on the charts was amazing... I couldn't believe they made it in here and were able to turn around and go back out without damaging their boat, the coral, or anyone else's boat in passing everyone in the channel/mooring field (it's very narrow). The captain should have let one of the kids have access to the maps...

3 natives came snorkeling by the boat later in the day. They were picking up conch from beneath the water, diving for them, bringing them up, then throwing them towards the rocks in piles - Some of the conch shells cracking on the rocks. I called the headquarters to see if they were doing a conch count or collecting them (for tagging?) or something, and was told no, and then asked where at? I told them near mooring 14 and was told that someone would be down. The 3 men chatted and looked towards the headquarters, then started snorkeling away from us back to the beach and then towards the headquarters as the ranger came down to the beach. Cute. It was three members of the Bahamas Defense Force (that resides here to protect the ranger and the park). Sigh...maybe they were just counting and piling them for their own amusement like the kids I'd seen do before - who can find the most little ones? Only they were playing - who can find the most big ones? We didn't see them take any, so this is good :)

I made some BLT's for dinner and we had a sundowner as the conch horns blew, heralding away the remnants of the sunset. Pretty reds, purples and orange tones streaked the sky again tonight as the anchoring lights all began winking on, one by one in the park. Time to go below and turn on our anchor light...

Turning Northward again
04/04/2009, Big Majors (N24*11.062, W76*27.581) to Warderick Wells (N24*23.658, W76*37.949)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Listened to the weather forecast from Exuma Park then waited for the 9am radio call to see who was leaving and who was going to be able to get a mooring ball and in which part of the park. We heard Judy giving out assignments and one person wanted to move closer to the Park Headquarters so she moved them up to mooring 14 - our old one that I was hoping to get - drats! She did hail us and we had a mooring reserved though so I couldn't complain. I'm looking forward to having Internet access again and seeing if there's any news from back home.

Wayne hoisted the main and we lifted anchor and headed northward toward Warderick. The winds were lighter than predicted and we had a slow sail to the park. As we approached and got our mooring assignment I was shocked when she told us we'd be on mooring 14! We'd both heard her give it to someone else and weren't sure what happened to them but figured they moved up to the next one closer to the headquarters. Another boat was coming in and was asking for assistance picking up a mooring ball. He explained that he had an all female crew hence they had short arms and needed assistance "you know..." We chatted about how mega yachts always liked to have female crew - it's good for business. I was a little incensed at their captain's comments though and had to laugh when Wayne said yah - I've had an all female crew for years! It was definitely easier coming in this time and we picked up our mooring with no problems. Kind of like coming home... As soon as we picked up the mooring ball, 4 bananaquits flew into the cockpit looking for sugar. This reminded me to take the bag of sugar up to the office with me when we signed in.

As we signed in, Wayne commented to Judy - you know that Captain that required assistance because he had a female crew? I've had one for years! Judy said "and she picks up a mooring ball with no problems either". We had to laugh. Met a young lady here with her grand parents (there are a lot of kids here this time - must be spring break). She must be about 12 years old. Articulate as all get out and very outgoing. She and I chatted about the bananaquits and I explained how they like sugar and she talked about giving them breadcrumbs and kayak wars too. Her name is Maria, Larry and Kathy are her grandparents.

Once we got back to the boat I was extremely hot and changed into my suit, grabbed my fins and mask and jumped off the boat and swam about. I did a quick survey of the hull and it looks pretty good. There are some black spots where the mooring balls took off the top coating so the bottom layer was showing through. The zinc plate still looks good, and we have relatively very little growth. After snorkeling around I grabbed a shower, then Wayne and we discovered that the wash down pump is not working. The amps climbed up to 10 but the pump never kicked on so I have some water to bail out of the tub.

It looks like they were having another potluck on shore tonight but we didn't make anything to take over and stayed on board and made dinner (pork tenderloin, broccoli and apple sauce). Maria kept coming by the boat having kayak wars with other kids next to our boat (for my benefit?) while all the adults were having their get together on the beach. Good size crowd there tonight, the beach is packed with dinghies. I cannot believe how hot it feels here. There is no breeze to speak of and the humidity is pretty high. We had a glorious sunset and toasted it with Gin & Tonics as the conch horns blew.

This place is so beautiful

04/06/2009 | Holly
I am so jealous of your weather. I am sitting in my classroom watching a blizzard outside. I've heard around 5 inches of snow today. More snow up near Jackie.
04/06/2009 | Pat Aben
Wow! You guys didn't have a snow day? It's hot today - we cooled off by sitting for a couple of hours in beautiful aqua water. We love this place! We're bringing the warm weather back for you!
Swimming Pigs
04/03/2009, Big Majors Spot (N24*11.064 W76*27.599)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Wild night last night. The winds shifted to a more westerly direction and we rolled quite a bit throughout the night. I listened to the halyard slapping for quite a while and dozed off for awhile, then about 2:30am it started kicking up. The waves were really rocking us and I couldn't sleep. Wayne started dreaming and I felt bad about waking him up but he can become quite animated and verbal sometimes. When he went back to sleep, I finally got up, got some cookies and read for an hour then went back to bed before dawn.

We can pick up the weather from the park from here but had to relay a request for a mooring tomorrow through Sallie A. I remember them from Georgetown. They were also requesting a mooring for Saturday (today was full). After the weather and mooring requests we thought we'd check out Staniel Cay. Some parts look better protected than here. The bad part is the depth getting in there. We'd need to go in and out at high tide with depths of 5.6 at low tide especially with the waves kicking up. It was a boisterous dinghy ride and several dinghies were at Thunder Ball snorkeling into the grottos/cave. The best time to get there is low tide. After looking around we decided to stay where we are. The better sheltered areas are in the shallows and if we'd need to wait for high tide to get back out, we'd never make it to Warderwick at a decent time tomorrow while waiting for high tide.

We dingied back over to Big Majors and landed on the beach and the pigs all came running over to investigate us. These were good size porkers, and leeeeean.... I gave them my bread scraps and vegi cuttings and as I suspected, they don't care for oranges. We walked the beach and studied the skeletal remains of someone's double hulled boat on the beach and noticed that Sapphire came into the harbor.

We stopped over to say hi and chat awhile. Mike's mom and sister are visiting (that's who was with them at Lorraines) and flying out of Staniel Cay tomorrow and their daughter is coming in to visit. We got the scoop on how to make and blow a conch horn from Mike (YAY) and it looks like they're getting pretty good at making baskets on Sapphire too! His mom had 3 made already.

Had tuna sandwiches and chips for lunch and I'm now ready for a nap. My sleepless night is catching up with me and it will probably be more of the same tonight.

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