21/03/2010/11:59 am, Georgetown, Exumas
We've been enjoying some of the best weather of the trip. Maybe spring means fewer cold fronts? The wind has stayed down (unfortunately that meant running the honda generator for a few hours on Saturday) and the skies have been sunny.
We went beach walking with Kathy and Mike (Sapphire) and both Kathy and I added to our store of palm fronds for weaving. I have finally learned to pick the right ones! The trunks of these are smooth, and the fronds don't go ZZZIP when I split them. It's worth splitting a frond whenever I'm plucking because the right ones and wrong ones are all mixed in together in the shrubbery. I'm amazed that we found any since there is such a weaving community here. Kathy's baskets are lovely intricate ones with a small tight weave, rounded and lipped and with decorative finishes - beautiful. I love the way each of us develops our own style. My baskets and those of the weavers I've learned from - Mary Lou, Nancy, Marilyn and Kathy - are all individual - finely detailed or chunky, round or oval or square, lidded or open, with and without handles. They hold breads, shells, fruit and vegetables. None of us is making the Red Bays kind that are so tight it is said they can hold water!
We have enjoyed happy hours and dinners in several places over the last few days. On Thursday we joined John and Jerie (Peking) at a happy hour hosted by Mary Lou and Bob (Cygnus). What fun it was to see those two again. Bob has shed his military style haircut and clean shaven look for a full head of snowy hair, white beard and a shiny earring in one earlobe - like a nautical Santa - without the belly! What a shift! He looks great and feels good after his heart surgery two years ago (shortly after we visited them at their home in the Chesapeake). Mary Lou is in fine shape too and has been having a busy time of it here in Georgetown. She was in charge of Children's Day at the Cruiser's Regatta, and is really into the swing of Georgetown life. We shared lots of laughs with John and Jerie including urging John and Jim to allow Mary Lou to pierce their ears. Neither one of them would accept the offer. Jib and Spinnaker, the two resident Yorkies on Cygnus were great fun to watch and play with, and Mary Lou once again helped me with my weaving. She was my original teacher and was able to give me some tips on making my baskets sturdier.
Mike and Kathy came over for dinner on Madcap one night. We made a stop at the Captain Ryan - a local boat fresh back from the fishing grounds - where we purchased some hogfish that I panfried and served with a spicy rice/chickpea dish. (We discovered that the rice was better cold the next day with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.) We had unearthed our last bottle of Jost l'Acadie Blanc wine from NS that tasted light and refreshing in the heat.
An invitation from Nathalie and Stephen took us over to Katmandu for dinner on Saturday. They were fine hosts and we enjoyed our BBQ pork along with BBQ sweet and white potatoes, as well as the chance to practice our French a bit. Nathalie has a really good linguistic ear and demonstrated the difference between English spoken with a French Canadian accent and that spoken with a Continental French accent. I'll have to listen harder now! Their children, Sabrina, Stephanie and Francis are lively, well-mannered and interesting and we enjoyed their company too. I have so much respect for families like this who are out here on adventures. They do home schooling (Nathalie had to make up her own curriculum for all three children), they learn to live together in small quarters (not an easy thing with adolescents and teenagers), they make friends with children and adults alike, and they share responsibilities.
We've each done some reading. Jim just finished "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and has moved right on to the next in the series of three, "Girl Who Plays with Fire". I enjoyed reading "Lost in Translation" set in China and nothing like the movie of the same name, and am now going back to "Guns, Germs, and Steel" until I have to have a fiction break again! I must admit, I'm more apt to pick up my weaving these days and listen to the radio than I am to pick up an "educational" book!
We took in the sights and sounds of the Heritage Festival during the afternoon on Saturday. Unfortunately the fine music is only in the evenings and we haven't gone over then, but we took in the corn husking and onion peeling contests and watched the children in their races among some other "people watching" on Saturday. The young men and women were "dressed to the nines" (as Mum used to say) with spiffy clothes, makeup, hairstyles - all out to mingle with their friends in the park. I bought some homemade cake from "Prince Trevor" and noticed that the champion onion peeler was "Lord Stanley". I need to find out whether these are given names or nicknames. I haven't quite wanted to ask the guys themselves, but I should have!
We're off to the beach again Sunday afternoon. The wind has picked up and there is no way we're going far in the dinghy. Each ride lately has meant soaked clothes and the life rails are full of washing - too bad Charles isn't here with his camera!
17/03/2010/12:49 pm, Georgetown, Exumas
We left Lee Stocking Island at 8 am and were anchored off Volleyball Beach in Georgetown by 2 - after a leisurely trip down the coast and in through the harbour. On the way we met and waved goodbye to Mary and Bill (Southern Vectis), saw Nighthawk but never got to meet them even though their name has cropped up time and time again as being really great Canadian folks, and exchanged VHF hello and good bye with Sundance V whom we didn't see at all this trip. Too bad! We also heard a new VHF radio exchange. A boat was calling the Exuma Veterinary Clinic. The Dr answered and an appointment was made. This is the first time we've heard a vet clinic with a VHF radio. I wonder if any clinics in seaside towns back home have them? It would be a good idea.
As we approached Volleyball Beach, a Bayfield 36 pulled out so we took its place! Unfortunately we were too busy to take note of the name but it wore the same colour trim as the one in Little Farmer's that had left before we got up to that end of the harbour to say hello. Maybe we missed our chance again!
With the anchor set, and a dinghy trip over it with the lookey bucket (clear bottomed bucket that all of us carry) to make sure, we set off to reconnect with old friends. Mike and Kathy (Sapphire) were a few boats over (with a big Irish flag flying in honour of St. patrick's Day!) and as we climbed on board, it did not seem like two years since we spent time cruising with them. After a non-stop catch-up conversation, we left them to their happy hour preparations and went by Cygnus just in time to say a quick hello to old friends Mary Lou and Bob as they arrived back. They were headed out again so we'll visit them tomorrow.
As part of the never ending round of parties and activities that make up the fabric of Georgetown life, there was a gathering at Hamburger Beach at 5, so we threw together a plate of food and headed over there. Unlike the gatherings of a dozen or so folks in other anchorages along the way, there must have been well over 50 people there! Culture shock! After meeting several new friends and some familiar faces, and chatting some more with Mike and Kathy, we stopped by Oz for a visit with Connie and Ken. We last saw them at a distance as they, Star of the Sea and Katmandu headed south from Warderick Wells when we were on our way there from Staniel Cay. Doug and Pat (Beltane) were already there; Peaches and Chris (Star of the Sea) dropped by too and Connie offered a tray of scrumptious bruschetta - with even the bread made from scratch. Mmmm gooood!
We'll stay here a few days to spend time with friends and do some re-stocking of the larder, the wallets (there are banks here!), and the water and fuel tanks. The Music Festival starts today so we'll take in some of that too.
16/03/2010/11:20 am, Lee Stocking Island, Exumas
We finally tore ourselves away from Little Farmer's Cay on Tuesday. We have friends to see in Georgetown so it's time we headed in that direction.
We had hoped to get up to Oven Rock on Great Guana Cay to explore the cave and the beach with Kolibrie and Solitaire but it was not to be. Despite Monday being a lovely day in the harbour, we could see breakers rolling in up north where we'd have to dinghy and none of us really wanted to get into that. Instead, we all did "housekeeping" things.
I got the last few postings up, but I couldn't get pictures to go through because of low bandwidth (or should that be "narrow"?) and didn't have enough time available to answer any e-mails. So - my apologies to all of you! It will be nice if we can get a chunk of time with a strong signal in Georgetown.
Dinner on Monday night was stewfish - made with the grouper Jeffery caught, and with his recipe - well sort of. He told me the basics of how he (or maybe his mother?) makes it and I went from there. Because neither of us used any measurements, it was one of those dishes that I may never get quite the same again - which would be a pity. The general idea is to make a roue of flour and butter, add some fish stock and seasonings, including enough hot pepper to give it a bit of a zing, along with onions and peppers. When that is nice and bubbly, add fish fillets and some potatoes and cook till done (as they used to say in the old recipe books.) Someday, I'll try to get that into clearer recipe form, but those of you who like to invent dishes can have a go at it from Jeffery's directions.
We stopped at Lee Stocking Island on Tuesday night but chickened out of going through the narrow channel to the anchorage in front of the research centre. When the depth was down to inches, we did a quick turn and dropped the hook just between the shoal and the corner of the island. There were three boats out there so perhaps others had reservations about the depth too. When we dinghied in later, the hand held depth sounder showed that we could do it at mid to high tide. We sure wish the Explorer charts were on our Navionics chip in the cockpit chartplotter. It is a lot harder to pick out a route from paper charts, and I have great admiration for the folks who always do it that way. Our chartplotter is great in Canada and the US but it leaves a lot to be desired here. Some brands have the Explorer routes and waypoints on them already. We enter the waypoints but have to figure out the curvy routes ourselves!
Ashore, we signed the required forms relinquishing the Perry Institute for Marine Science from liability if anything happened to us there, and went for a hike down the runway and through the bushes to Coconut Beach. Because we had forgotten to take water and had only our light sandals on our feet, we didn't hike to Perry Peak. We'll save that for another visit. The tours are offered Mon, Wed and Fri, so we'll have to do that another day too. On the walk back we enjoyed meeting Karen and John (Felicity) and were sorry that our paths crossed so briefly.
Once the tide changed and the boat stopped swinging around as it did when the current and wind were opposed, we had a beautiful quiet night. The Bruce anchor dug in really well and reset perfectly when the tide turned.
This picture is sunrise at Lee Stocking Island - so peaceful and beautiful.