23/03/2010/12:08 pm, Thompson Bay, Long island
What a lovely feeling it is to sail along in these clear blue/green waters. We never tire of it and always appreciate it. On the sail from Georgetown, we were joined for a bit by a couple of dolphins. (No pictures because we were too engrossed in watching them play.) What delightful animals they are. These two darted back and forth under the bowsprit like so many we've seen, but one of them was particularly playful. When "his" buddy tired of us and swam back to the coral head where they had been fishing, this handsome 7 - 8 foot fellow stayed with us, turning to look up at us several times and then once doing a 360 roll and speeding away. What a show! While we whistled and cheered, we could imagine him saying, "Yes! I showed them what I could do!" He soon returned, swimming along beside us, first to port and then to starboard. He must have been pleased with his earlier performance because he came in under the bowsprit and tried another roll. This one wasn't quite so successful because mid-roll, his tail struck the "dolphin striker" - the wire that runs from the bowsprit down to the bottom of the bow, and with a splash, he twisted sideways and zoomed away. Did it give him a scare? Was he embarrassed? Whatever it was, he headed back to his fishing grounds and we didn't see him again. We have always marveled at how these elegant creatures can time their moves so well that they are never caught by the bow as they play just in front of the moving boat. I guess they occasionally miss!
Jim compared our sailing vs engine time between this trip and the last one, and confirmed that we have done far more sailing this trip. Between Fernandina Beach FL and Thompson Bay, Long Island (arriving here March 21, 2008) he logged 222.9 engine hours. The trip over the same distance this time (and almost the same arrival date, March 23, 2010) he logged 141.1 engine hours. We have timed our travel according to the right winds sometimes, and have relied on the wind generator to keep our batteries topped up instead of motoring just to charge them. Today's trip was at 4 knots for part of the time, but with the longer days it doesn't matter!
There were 15 boats in the harbour when we arrived at about 1700 hours and we stopped at the outer edge of the cluster at the NE corner of Thompson Bay and settled down to enjoy the quiet evening. Soon after the dinghy from our neighbour, Seabbatical I, arrived back from town, Angie came over, calling, "Hello, Ottawa!" She's from Ottawa, full of enthusiasm and stories of her cruising experiences and the 6 weeks she and Clark have just enjoyed in the Jumentos. It was great to meet her and we were sorry they are moving on to Georgetown in the morning.
Wednesday will be a day for laundry, internet catch-up, groceries, water and fuel top-ups, and preparations for heading off to the Jumentos on Thursday. We haven't been there before, we're ready for a new adventure, and the weather looks favourable. So although we like Long Island and the little town of Salt Pond, we'll make this a short stay.
Sailing, sailing, over the ocean blue....
22/03/2010/12:05 pm, Georgetown, Exumas
For all my hopes of some regular internet connection over the time we've been in Georgetown, I have had less than usual. Other than one day when we sat in J & K Productions for several hours and I posted "Back in Georgetown", that has been it for internet. (J&K is a cute spot by the way - a small, low, green building with a doorway that almost everybody has to duck to get through. A long counter with some plastic chairs and a couple of power bars lines one wall. The middle of the store holds a large copy machine and printer, and the far wall is lined with shelves of convenience store-type groceries. The freezer at one end was being regularly raided for popsicles and the telephone on the desk at the other end was "rented" several times by patrons wishing to make both local and international calls.) We have a Bahamian cell phone but we use our minutes sparingly.
We haven't had any wifi from the boat, and all service was down in town for a couple of days. When we went to St Francis on Sunday it took so long to pull up Hotmail that I didn't even try to send anything. Very frustrating for a place the size of Georgetown.
The wind stayed up enough to make crossing the harbour a wet experience, so we remained on the Stocking Island side for the last couple of days in Georgetown. A brisk walk on the beach felt good one afternoon, and on Sunday we enjoyed a "chat" with "KB" Bowe at Chat'n'Chill (the bar/restaurant at Volleyball Beach) while we downed Kaliks (the "chill") and burgers. That chat was a sample of the remarkable conversations we've had with local folks in so many places. KB studied at University of Chicago - where he probably honed the natural abilities that make him so articulate, well-informed and interested in wide ranging conversations with visitors. His son, now an orthopedic surgeon in Nassau got his MD at Dalhousie Medical School in Halifax, NS after a first degree at McGill in Montreal, and his daughter attends Dal now - studying science. Dalhousie is about a 20 minute walk from our house! KB says most of the Bahamians who go abroad to study - and a great many do - return home to work. Because Canada is part of the Commonwealth, it is an attractive place to study. As in many of the conversations with Bahamians and Americans, US Health Care Reform was on his mind and he (like us) was both pleased that the vote was in favour of it and hopeful that it can be implemented in a way that is truly helpful and not divisive. Those of us who enjoy universal medical coverage have some difficulty understanding opposition to it, but that's a conversation for another day!
Our final evening "out" in Georgetown was aboard Sapphire where we enjoyed Bahamian style Mac'n'Cheese (firm, spicy and cut in squares) along with a tray of goodies supplied by Greg and Jo (Sympatico) and cornbread from the Madcap galley.
Off to Long Island in the morning - and with any luck, a decent connection to the rest of the world!
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!