08/03/2010/2:35 pm, Black Point Settlement
We came across the shallow bit from Staniel Cay at close to high tide on Saturday and saw no less than 9 feet all the way. This was in contrast to the trip in last Monday when we were barrelling along at 6 knots and the shoal kept rising and rising until I'm sure there was no more than an inch under Madcap's keel. As I watched the depth sounder and our track on the chartplotter, and grabbed the paper chart to see what was the matter, I realized we hadn't checked the tide and even though there was nothing on the chart to indicate we couldn't get through, it was sure heart pounding, gut clenching, dry mouth time! Our exit from Staniel Cay was far more conducive to healthy bodily function.
After getting settled, using our Bruce anchor for the first time in a couple of weeks, we dinghied over to see Phyllis and Tom on Cocoon Too. They used to live on a previous boat in a couple of familiar places in BC - False Creek in Vancouver and near the Second Narrows Bridge in North Vancouver. Because we lived in North Van for a number of years, we had fun resurrecting memories of shared places. (What WAS the name of that grill under the Second Narrows Bridge? We ate there lots and so did they but the name has gone!) Cocoon Too is a beautiful Krogan motor yacht, and we sailors enjoyed having a look at it.
Next stop was Solitaire for sundowners with nancy and Jim and a sample of the way cruisers find kindred spirits and maintain caring connections across years of time and miles of water.
Sunday saw the wind still blowing at a pretty good clip. We dinghied over to say hello to Marilyn and Bruce (Reflection) last seen at Georgetown two years ago, and then struggled through the cut at Fowl Cay to go down between the Majors and say farewell to Judi and Alain (Ramha) who are headed north. Alas, they had already gone so we called them later on the VHF to express our goodbyes.
The current was really strong all the way through, with quite a chop on the water so we were glad to get back home and into dry clothes for a while. That didn't stop us from going off in the dinghies with Nancy and Jim though, to have a look for conch and lobsters out beyond the rocky cays off Fowl Cay. It was hard swimming in the waves, and the few conch I saw were too deep for me to dive to, but Nancy is more of a pro and got several (and she shared.) At least I got some needed exercise. (The Jims kept the dinghies in close proximity for when we needed to climb aboard again.) It occurred to me as I was kicking my way along against the current with real waves, what a long way I've come in my comfort level in the water. A few years ago, I would never have done that. So maybe diving 10 feet is something I still might be able to learn to do.
Although the water was cool for here (about 24C), it felt really nice to get some exercise, come back, sponge off the salt, shampoo my hair and feel clean again.
Karin and Ed (Passages) had arrived in the afternoon and kindly invited the four of us over for pizza. It is always interesting to introduce new friends and old friends, and we appreciated their gracious hospitality. That pizza was delicious too. It is pretty high on our list of comfort foods and it hit the spot on a cool evening.
Boats started leaving the anchorage early on Monday morning, and we joined the trail around 1030 after coffee, eggs and the last of Brenda's hearty whole wheat bread. We were glad we waited because we sailed most of the way! We hadn't had the engine on for more than the half hour to move from the mooring to Big Majors, so we ran it for about an hour simply to charge the batteries and then turned it off and let the wind take us.
Those connections revealed themselves again when we saw Pat and Wayne (Kolibrie) waving enthusiastically as we dropped the anchor near them. Marilyn and Bruce (Reflection) were ashore when we got to Lorraine's Cafe and the six of us shared a table at lunch. Marilyn echoed my thoughts about the way we connect, as we remembered our shared hitchiking travel in Long Island, and beach walking in Georgetown two years ago.
Lorraine's little Joshua, at seven months, is an absolute darling and seeing him just added to the fun of being back here. I got to hold his snuggly little body for a few minutes but he wanted to go back to familiar arms.
The laundry had run out of water so all we accomplished there was getting Jim a haircut. Ida wasn't busy so she plunked him in a chair in the corner, misted his head and proceeded to snip away till he had a good looking coif.
We had contemplated doing some entertaining in the evening, but in the end Jim and I curled up with books and a light supper and then sat out under the multitude of stars for awhile before bed. Tuesday will be laundry day ... and who knows what else?
06/03/2010/11:36 am, Staniel Cay, Exumas
A heartwarming drama unfolded here on Thursday thanks to a dog named Rashka.
A call came out over the VHF early in the morning, asking people to be on the lookout for a dog on Big Major's Cay. She had taken off while they were ashore on Wednesday, and despite calls and searches, including a night spent on the beach, her owners couldn't locate her. We were moored near the SE point so we kept our eyes on the shores but no luck. George and Mo, on Passages (Vermont) had the sharpest eyes and spotted her in the afternoon. Then the fine teamwork really swung into gear. Corning (Blessed Spirit) was in his dinghy and along the rocky shoreline in no time at all. The waves were crashing and he was worried about how to get the dog into the dinghy, but Rashka was an experienced dinghy jumper so as soon as he was within a couple of feet of the rocks, and cried out "Come on baby!" she made the leap and landed securely. Mo and Corning both called for Unicorn on the radio but no response, and no one seemed to have the boat in sight. Then Jim and I got into the action and dinghied up to the west point where we could see a sole boat anchored. Sure enough, it was Unicorn, so we left a note onboard. We also found a dinghy ashore and left a note there too, assuming they were somewhere on the island continuing their search. It was Tom's (Cocoon Too) turn next. He and Phyllis were anchored between the Majors and he spotted some people picking their way along the banks. Having heard all the radio action, he figured it had to be Charles and Indi, so off he went in his dinghy to pick them up and bring them around to Blessed Spirit where Rashka was happily curled up on a special red blanket. It was a happy reunion for sure!
That night, in another example of Tita and Corning's party spirit, we all gathered on Blessed Spirit to celebrate the "Return of Rashka". Indi kindly gave us a lovely watercolour of fish and coral as a thank you. Thank you, Indi!
As the wind calmed on Friday, boats and people started emerging from hidey holes. The yacht club did a booming business at noon and we met up with all sorts of friends. Dave and Paula (Misty Seas) from Halifax, and Nancy and Jim (Solitaire) and Jim and I shared a table. Soon, Judi and Alain (Ramha - Halifax, NS) appeared, and Paul and Marianne (Knot-Ha-Gan - Halifax, NS) came along with Tom and Phyllis (Cocoon Too - Tofino, British Columbia). There is a huge Canadian contingent here including 4 or 5 Quebec boats too!
The Captain C came in before dawn and by 11, the stores had produce on the shelves so we stocked up again lots of fresh goodies and ordered a loaf of lovely bread from Brenda. Our loaves from last week have run out and we don't think we can wait till we get to the next baker in Black Point.
In the evening at the beach party, we met up again with Lynn and Peter (First Edition) and Christine and Rob (Celebrian - Bayfield ON), along with Jackie and Chris (Higheeled - ON) and Heather and Murray (Windswept IV) also ON. (Hey Richard! We finally met these friends of yours and we can see why you told us to look for them!) The eats were delicious, the rum punch went down well, and we all had a good time on the beach. It turned out to be in a different place than I thought so I'm glad we went up between the Majors or we never would have found it!
Today, Saturday, we'll move around to Big Major's Spot and tomorrow or the next day will see us headed for Black Point. It sounds like we have a week of nice weather ahead of us. Yippee do dah!!
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.