03/03/2010/10:00 pm, Staniel Cay, Exumas
How is it possible to have THREE cold fronts go through in the 8 days we have guests aboard??
We decided to move back to Staniel Cay on Monday. We needed to be here on Tuesday night so we'd be able to get Charles and Linda to the plane on Wednesday. Because another front was due to blow through, we wanted to get on a mooring ball again, and thanks to Corning (Blessed Spirit) and Solomon (owner of the mooring balls) we managed it. Jim had reserved one for Tuesday but reservations can be a little iffy, and we were a day early so, as we travelled, I called Corning (already there) to see if there were any empty ones. Being the helpful fellow he is, he offered to put a marker on one to hold it till we got there. Without that, we'd have been out of luck but we hustled along as fast as we could and picked it up (my worst approach of the season wouldn't you know) by 2 o'clock. Solomon came along shortly after and graciously allowed us to stay there even though he had another boat coming in. Because we had contacted him earlier we stayed, while a boat that had not called in got kicked off another ball. Good to know!
Alain and Judy (Ramha) stopped by for a visit. We hadn't seen them since Morgan's Bluff in Andros so it was a treat to see them again and catch up on their news. We knew Nancy and Jim (Solitaire) were in Big Major's Spot, and we wanted Charles and Linda to have a closer look at the swimming pigs there, so we made a late afternoon trip (20 minutes in our dinghy) up around the corner. One spotted pig came up to the dinghy, tried to get in and then swam around us grunting all the while because we had neglected to bring food. Sorry, piggy!
After a couple of fast photos we continued on to Solitaire. Oh - it felt so good to see these friends again. We spent a fair bit of time with them in 2008 and kept in touch off and on since then. We could hardly believe that it had been almost 2 years since we'd seen them as we climbed aboard. After introducing our "home friends" and "cruising friends" to each other, we drank a toast, watched the most glorious sunset of the year, and talked non stop until we really, really had to get in the dinghy and go home.
The winds came overnight but although we rocked and rolled, it was not nearly as bad as at the park and we all got a somewhat decent sleep. Jim and Charles made a few runs to the yacht club for water and a garbage deposit. (There is neither at the park) The cribbage games continued - with Charles and I emerging champs against Linda and Jim, and we all spent time with our books. Because we were worried that the wind might be worse on Wednesday, we took their suitcase ashore on Tuesday and left it at Isles General Store. (Wise decision!)
It was perhaps the hottest day of their visit, and even the wet ride back to the boat after lunch at the yacht club (another fish sandwich - my favourite!) didn't feel too bad. For our last dinner together - on our still full stomachs - I made conch salad from the conch I had in the freezer and fried up the plantains left from Andros. These two Bahamian dishes went together quite well as the last samples of local food for our guests. With the sides of our cockpit enclosure securely zipped up and our lantern on the table, we played a few rounds of Sequence - a board game they introduced us to on our August cruise together in Nova Scotia. This time, the guys soundly defeated the women.
Sure enough, the wind blew mightily on Wednesday and we were really glad we had taken their main bag in the day before. Although there weren't as many flights coming and going and Linda was keeping a sharp eye on the skies, we were quite confident that Flamingo would be flying. After a mega breakfast of French Toast (with Charles as chef) and some frustrating efforts to put pictures on a disc for them to take home, we packed the rest of their things into plastic bags, stowed a change of clothes in waterproof bags and headed ashore. Because it was much too rough to get to the Isles General dock near the airport, or even the yacht club dock, Jim ferried us over to the Thunderball dock in two trips. We all got soaked and changed our clothes in the bushes, and then set off for a walk around the south end of the island to pass the time till the plane arrived.
The 8 days passed so quickly, it was hard to believe it was time for these long time friends to head home. We waved as the little twin engine plane took off, and then headed back to our empty boat - getting wet again!
As we reflect on the visit, we're happy that despite the cold fronts and the wind, our friends were able to experience the warm hospitality of the Bahamian people in the Family Islands, and the easy and lasting friendships made among cruisers. We were able to snorkel and swim and walk the beaches. We had a few quiet and serene nights among the rocky ones so they had the opportunity to get a glimpse of the full gamut of cruising life. Jim and I loved having them here - both for the fun of their company, and for the opportunity to share our current life with friends from home.
02/03/2010/2:53 pm, Staniel Cay, Exumas
We've been having a grand old time - mostly in the Park - playing during the days and enduring wind at night - and are now back in Staniel Cay for a few days. Charles and Linda fly back to Canada tomorrow and we'll stay safely on our mooring till this next front blows through.
We've snorkeled and swam/swum? We've eaten well - played lots of crib (Charles and I are the reigning champs!) - enjoyed a few bottles of Kalik - added a board to the pile at Boo Boo Hill - read our books in the cockpit in the mornings and generally taken advantage of the delights of Bahamian life.
More over the next few days when we have to stay still!
28/02/2010/11:29 am, Warderick Wells, Exuma Land and Sea Park
With one front (meaning cold temps and strong winds) out of the way, we headed north to introduce Linda and Charles to the Exuma Land and Sea Park. We have never managed to get a mooring in the North anchorage before, so we said yes when Darcy offered #1. It didn't seem like such a mistake at first. We'd have been bouncing in Emerald Rock too, but ooooh boy.... However, I'm getting ahead of myself.
We tied up, dropped the dinghy and got ourselves quickly ashore. After checking in, we lingered on the deck to feed the bananaquits - those pretty little Bahamian birds that love to pick grains of sugar from our hands - and to enjoy the view. While we were there, Pat and Wayne (Kolibri) came along and of course we had to chat with these fellow Bayfield owners last seen in Vero Beach. We made our way down to the beach to check out the almost 60 ft long sperm whale skeleton (he died from ingesting garbage bags in the early 90's) and chatted with Wayne and Patti (Bum's Rest).
That first night was just fine out there at the entrance to the mooring field, and we all slept well. There were no mournful booo-hooos from Boo Boo hill from where the moans of lost souls sometimes drift on the wind; the wind behaved itself and the surge from the cut to Exuma Sound was minimal. Thanks to the kindness of our friends, we have a new sirius satellite radio so we were able to listen to our beloved CBC as we sat in the salon after dinner. Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe has always been a favourite, and it was especially sweet to listen to his stories after a couple of months of deprivation.
On Saturday, we enjoyed an exquisite day in the water. We headed out to the snorkelling site by the red buoy, floated above the coral, admired the variety of colourful fish and then, while Jim moved the dinghy, the other three of us walked all the way up the centre of the mooring field on the sandy shoal. It is just amazing to be able to walk along so close to where boats are moored in deep water. After another exploration of the coral, we dinghied across the channel to our favourite little "Turnabout Beach" where we picnicked and basked in the sun. (It was warmer this time than when we were there with Oz and Star of the Sea!)
We had thought we'd go ashore to the Happy Hour on the beach, but by 6pm, the seas were beginning to pick up and after much "Will we go? Should we stay here?" discussion, we decided that prudence indicated remaining on the boat. (An interesting little aside here - I hate to miss a party and I wanted to go, but I'm also averse to making potentially dangerous dinghy trips in big waves after dark so I had a lot of trouble making a decision here. The others were non committal, but when I finally said, "I think we should stay home" we all breathed a sigh of relief! Once the decision was made, even I knew it was the right one.)
The night got worse. We pitched and rocked and rolled in every possible direction. The mooring lines coming up over the anchor roller squeaked. The wind generator howled (while producing great power), a halyard flapped and the anchor lying on the deck slid around until I wiggled up out of the forward hatch and secured them both at about 3 am. (We didn't want to disturb our guests in the salon berth - as if they were really sleeping with all that noise going on? - and I fit better up through that hatch than Jim does.) After a night of napping, and some queasy stomachs, we decided we really needed to get ashore for some solid ground under our feet.
Fortunately, the waves laid down a bit and we managed to get ourselves ashore without getting soaked. We had a good chat with Bill and Judy (Jubilee) and set off to walk the trail to Boo Boo Hill to add our driftwood contribution to the Boat Board pile. Because the tide was low, the blow hole wasn't doing its impressive "blowing" but we had a look anyway. The walk along the beach on the east side of the island and over the sharp limestone rocks through scrubby shrubbery was good for all of us. On the way home, we stopped for a great visit with Lynn and Peter (First Edition) who had come in the day before, and whom we had last seen a couple of years ago on our first trip to these waters.
We had hoped that the next night would be a lot more peaceful, but those 3 balls out at the opening of the north anchorage are just not quiet ones, and even though the wind was down, we still moved around a lot on Sunday night. Dinner was pretty simple - pasta with a bottled sauce - followed by some mean rounds of crib and then just getting horizontal!