Blessings of Staying Put
16 December 2007 | Green Turtle Cay, Abacos
Beth - Weather: 82 F, humid, sunny, winds: SE 10-15kn building to SW25-30 Sunday night
We've been pretty sedentary these last couple of days and have much to show for it.
On George's request, we moved in to Black Sound on Friday morning, tied up at the wharf and plugged in to get a full charge on the batteries. We're relearning that using the tides greatly increases our options. (We have been used to using them to make timing decisions, but we forgot about using them for destination choices.) On our first look at the charts, we had discounted Black Sound. But after talking with David and Catherine (Solitaire I) we took a second look, and after talking with Kevin (Dockmaster at Other Shore Club) we didn't worry a minute more. The charts and books give mean low water levels, and the tide here is about 3 feet. That makes a world of difference to a 6 ft draft boat. We like the easy atmosphere here and the convenience of having a short walk to New Plymouth. It is also possible to walk to White Sound so we can reach both ends of the cay with no sweat. Oh, I take that back - there is always sweat - it's hot here!
I must say that it is a treat to be able to just walk off the boat and up the dock. I think we appreciate it especially because we spend very little time on a dock. The house and starting batteries have finally been all topped up. George came by and he and Jim did some more problem solving. We think that one thing that happened was that the batteries got so low it was hard to get them back up. It took hours and hours. (Note to selves - we need solar panels.) Another issue seems to be the automatic combiner and whether it is doing what it should when it should. George came back on Saturday to run a sensor from the battery combiner to the starting battery so the combiner will sense when it needs to isolate the starting battery. We spent another night on the dock while we saw how the batteries looked after a night of draining. (I'll report on that next time) We will look into supplementary power sources over the Christmas break.
I've spent part of the days writing and doing a wee bit of Christmas shopping; there is a beautiful gift shop in New Plymouth - Native Creations - and a couple of other shops with toys and clothes. The prices at the gift shop don't appear to be higher than in other such places, but I think the women's clothing is a little more expensive. One line carried here is Fresh Produce - beautiful colours- and a top I looked at was $39.00. Perhaps it's just wishful thinking, but the same sort of thing was less than that in the US, I think. I finally discovered that there is a good free Internet connection at Pineapples Café - just up the hill from here so I have become a habitué there for an hour or so each day, checking e-mail, posting blog entries and making Skype calls - this morning there were four of us scattered around the tables. There still never seems to be enough time unless I settle in for hours, so forgive me if your welcome emails have gone unanswered! We really do appreciate getting them.
Jim and I both took a lovely long walk up island - dodging out of the way of golf carts - the most common method of travel - and various pickups and other cars. Folks drive on the left side of the road here too, so we needed to remember which way to dodge! Once we got to the beach it was wonderful to ramble along, looking for shells and wading in the water. I found a beautiful cowrie - I think. I really need to pick up the little book I saw at the grocery store to help with ID.
We attended the Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Friday night - a most interesting experience. We walked there in moonlight, thinking that the roads were not well lit out this way, and then it dawned on us that none of the houses had lights either! By the time we got to the administrative office lawn, we found a number of other people milling about in the 6:30 darkness, and shared some laughs that they might have lit the tree early and blown a fuse. (Power outages happen frequently here.) Eventually, everything flashed into brightness again and word spread that there had been an accident on the mainland, knocking over a pole. Chairs were lined up on the lawn, lights twinkled on the buildings, children wandered around while adults sat or stood.
It is pretty clear that there is no separation of church and state here. This was an event sponsored by the Bahamian government with speeches from the local Council member and the Administrative Officer of North Abaco, noting what has been done in the past year and what is planned for next. There were also prayers, scripture readings, a sermon and some singing of Christmas carols - all singularly Christian and heavily flavoured with exhortations to "follow Jesus". The elderly "Sister Jennie" who prayed at the end had a voice filled with such warmth and love that I'd like to have heard more from her and perhaps a little less from "Percival". Two different choirs sang - our favourite was the Miracle Church of God; the 6 or 7 women had fine gospel voices. We found the experience fascinating because it is so different from any community event that would happen in Canada these days.
During the service, we could see women inside the building dishing up food into styrofoam containers, and our mouths were watering. Sure enough, at the end of the service, little Paulette plugged in the tree, Santa arrived with goodie bags for all the children, and the invitation was issued to come up for food - children to the back door, adults to the front. This seemed to be a gathering of mostly local people but the lady who told me about it said we were all welcome, so Jim and I joined the line and received our boxes too. Oh - it was delicious Bahamian food. The government bought it and sent it to the best cooks for preparation, and then it was given out with no charge. We devoured tender chicken, smoky ham, Bahamian peas'n rice, spicy mac&cheese, and coleslaw, accompanied by pop or water and cake.
We went off next to Pineapples Bar in Black Sound for music by Kevin (keyboard and voice), Juice (saws) and Brendal (guitar). Their music was lively, happy, danceable. Kevin - of Gully Rooster fame - has a beautiful voice and a great way of communicating with his audience. Couples danced along the edge of the pool, clusters of people gathered at the bar while lights twinkled in the trees and water lapped on the beach nearby. It was pretty fine!
We attended another community event on Saturday night. This one was a fundraiser for the Grade 6 class field trip and great numbers of the local and cruising community were there. It was held at the basketball court, and involved a golf cart decoration contest, hula hoops and limbos for the children, delicious food again - a choice of fish, chicken, or burgers, with drink and cake for $8.00. Because they were a little late starting (like an hour) Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar did a booming business across the street. We sat with Judy - a local part time resident who had us laughing between mouthfuls with her stories of living on a sailboat in Puerto Rico while she played piano at a local resort. After dinner we joined a group of other cruisers for lots of good conversation under the stars and with the laughing of children in the background. They were still going strong when we headed off in various directions to dinghies and winding lanes to make our way home.
We'll move off the dock today and onto our mooring to be secure for the coming wind; there is a strong cold front headed this way with SW winds 25-30kn forecast for tonight. We've been reading up on water collection so we'll try to get some of the expected rain into our water tank too. It wouldn't be a good time to be out in the bay so we're pleased to be tucked away in Black Sound.
Staying put has turned out to be a true blessing.