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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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Spring Fronts bring strong winds
winds 15-25, cloudy and cool - 73*
04/07/2009, Exuma Park, Warderick Wells

Spring Front came roaring through. Winds in the 20's all day and waves have us rocking and rolling. When Judy came on this morning asking who was leaving, not one voice chimed in. Everybody stayed put today, and there were quite a few boats trying to obtain moorings for the day that just weren't available. There were some at the Emerald Rock anchorage but Judy told everyone, upfront, that with the winds today - it would be quite roily. I listened to quite a few people, on the radio, trying to find secure anchorages from the westerly winds and some trying to pick up moorings in the Emerald Rock area. I feel lucky that we were able to get in here when we did!

Today we're staying on the boat and hoping that the moorings hold. I think that these are probably some of the best in the Bahamas! A definite reading day today as long as we can read with all the motion around us. The boat, at times, feels like we're sitting in the bottom of an oscillating teacup. Think I'll have some tea to go with the motion.

The winds are blustering still and the clouds keep rolling over us. The waves look asymmetrical one moment, then symmetrical the next. As I write this I'm watching the waves crash into some rocks and small islands that surround our sheltered area. There are some impressive waves that bury the land from my sight. The wind generator has been going non-stop all day. At times, it gets so revved up, it sounds like it wants to take off.

Making pizza for dinner tonight...

Spectacular sunset

A day of comparisons
80s mostly sunny
04/06/2009, Exuma Park – Warderick Wells

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another lazy morning that I sat looking out at the beauty of the water and sand. I spent the morning reflecting on this place and where I come from. There's no resemblance between the two, and I wonder what it would be like to grow up in a place such as this as opposed to a place surrounded by factories and 8-5 jobs. It's snowing back home and I'm sure that everyone is bundled up, keeping warm, as they run from building, to car, to building. Here, we are the industry. Tourism is what drives the economy in the Bahamas and in talking with the natives business is down.

Two little bananaquits came by and chirped at me in the cockpit - little winged beggars looking for sugar! As much as I'd love to - I continue to resist feeding them on the boat. They seem to come by every couple of hours and fly on down to the next boat.

We took the dinghy to various places around the island exploring more beaches and sitting in the water - chilling (called liming in the Bahamas). On one beach I found large piles of charred remnants of conch shells that had been hunted and eaten. I was disturbed at this since this is a no hunt, no collect zone. It was obvious that someone had been using this spot for quite a while to hunt, collect, and eat conch around a fire, then perhaps thought they could burn the shells? Very disturbing. I hope these were collected before the park came into existence.

The tidal shelf/sandbar, by the boat, always dries in spots at low tide, so I couldn't resist taking a few pictures of Wayne standing in ankle deep water next to her. It goes from a depth of zero where I'm standing taking pictures, to a few inches where he stands, to a drop off of about 13 ft where Kolibrie is tied to the mooring.

After exploring we came back to the boat and read then I made dinner. It was kind of strange. Even though I had fried potatoes with the eggs this morning, I still had a taste for potatoes, so dinner consisted of sweet and sour pork with... mashed potatoes. Like I said, it was a little strange...

A front is coming through from the northern climes and we did get some wind back this evening. This is good. We're in a secure place, generate power, and get cooled off by a breeze too.

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...

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