26/02/2011/12:38 pm, Georgetown, Exumas
This week has flown by and although the wind has picked up in the last couple of days, it's sunny, hot and "friendly".
I haven't been back over to town until tonight when I went to pick up Jim, but I have been busy! The evenings have been social and gustatory experiences. Barb and Bill (Suncast) from Toronto invited me for dinner on Thursday and we feasted on BBQ'd steak and potatoes with salad topped with bright red, juicy tomatoes from one of the little produce stands in town. The next night, I was out again - this time joining Mary Lou and Bob (Cygnus) for a creamy and tasty chicken/broccoli dish accompanied by salad with Mary Lou's special caesar dressing. I laugh when I get home each night because folks always want me to call on VHF to let them know I'm safely back. It's like being 15 again! I'm glad the runs have been short the last couple of nights because the waves are higher and in a situation like that I run the risk of bouncing right out if I get up on plane with just me in the dinghy. Instead of roaring along, I plowed along, in and out of the waves.
My daytime hours have been filled with work and education. I cleaned the interior of the boat from top to bottom and bow to stern - getting rid of accumulated dust and paper, and reorganizing drawers and lockers. Then I tried to tackle a job with a higher "yuck factor". We have a stronger than usual "odour" in the cabin after the head is pumped and I tried to get the floor boards up to have a look. Some of the screws did not want to come up, so after much grumbling and a few choice words with no results, I left it for Jim to take care of when he comes back. My inspection by flashlight wherever I could get a peek didn't reveal anything bad so maybe it just needs a really good pumping out.
On earlier walks this year, we've found some nice pieces of sea glass and I took some pretty bits over to Mary Lou on Thursday. By the time I arrived there yesterday, she had transformed them into lovely pendants and earrings. Her work is distinctive and beautiful. Rather than wrapping the glass with wire, she attaches little charms or else just uses a simple silver bail and I really like the look of my beautiful new jewellery. If you'd like to see her work, find her on Cygnus (currently at Sand Dollar Beach) or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connie (Oz), Peach and Chris (Star of the Sea) and I along with 50 other folks jammed into a room at the St Francis resort this afternoon to hear Chris Parker in person. He is the weather guru to whom we all listen eagerly 6 mornings a week at 6:30 on the Single Side Band radio. It was a real treat to hear his weather philosophy, and to get a better handle on understanding the forecasting process. He is a weather forecaster, not a meteorologist, although he has studied meteorology, and most of what he has learned has been from flying gliders and sailing. I loved his statement, "I would rather give you information that means you won't be surprised by what you get, than be "right". He said the goal of most forecasters is to be "right", but he would rather be overly cautious than right on the nail. I hadn't realized just how much of the process is watching trends and making educated guesses. No wonder we are sometimes faced with wind that is not just what we expected. One good nugget of information concerned wind along coast lines. He told us that wind tends to parallel coasts so if we are expecting a NW wind and we are going N up the coast of Florida this spring, we will probably get a N wind instead - right on the nose. That situation is exactly what we have found on many occasions when we've been cruising along a coastline.
On Saturday afternoon, I took a walk up over the hill at Sand Dollar beach. The view was spectacular out over the ocean and sparkling over the harbour too. It was perfectly lovely to relax on the bench at the top, chatting with Valt and Sandi (Amber Isle) before continuing along the ridge and back down to the sandy beach. The report today was that there are 184 boats here. I was astounded to hear that there are 52 in Thompson Bay, Long Island; we haven't seen more than 20 there in other years. Now I know why we didn't see as many boats up north - those who are still able to cruise this year are spending their time further south.
By 5 o'clock it was time to head to town to pick up "Captain Madcap". He arrived in a roundabout way from Ottawa, ON with a smile on his face and Cuba charts under his arm. He also seemed to bring a dark cloud with him and we took shelter under an overhang and chatted with Ralph - another Nova Scotian. We were lucky enough to make it across the harbour without getting wet and before long, that big black cloud moved clear away. An omen for the next few days, I hope!
24/02/2011/9:00 am, Georgetown, Exumas
There are more boats here than we've seen before, and at night the mast head anchor lights look for all the world like those of a city. I heard a rumour that there are more than 320 of us in Elizabeth harbour - that open area of water between Stocking Island and the mainland. It is a huge area so boats aren't crowded unless they want to be. As one cruises north to south, we pass by Monument Beach and Hamburger beach, then tiny Honeymoon Beach, and then the centre of action - Volleyball Beach. Tucked in behind that are the "Holes" - #1,2,3. Further down is Sand Dollar Beach where we stopped, and over on the other side is the flock of boats off Kidd Cove just outside the entrance to town, and south of that is Red Shanks - another tucked away little area.
We picked the Sand Dollar area because we wanted lots of space around Madcap for when the wind picks up later today and, being south of the town, we aren't in any risk of sticking out in the channel where the freighters come in. We don't get wifi on the boat, so it means a trip across the harbour to town or up to Volleyball beach to connect. Because it is a long trip across an open stretch of water, we have almost always gotten wet here, but things are better so far this year! Our new 9.5 ft AB dinghy with its higher sides, our faster Yamaha 15 hp outboard, and the calm wind in the last few days have meant very pleasurable crossings. While we used to take 20 minutes to do this crossing, we can fly across in 10 now. (A note about dinghies and motors here: We are so very happy with our new and improved models. We went for cheaper before and made do OK, but it is SO much more pleasant with the combination we have now that I would never advise anyone buying them to skimp on these two items.)
We pulled in right next to Kolibrie and were immediately invited to join them and others at a potluck on the beach. It was fun to see Bill and Barb (Suncast) and Diane and Ted (Boatel I) and to meet Axel and Mary Claire (Azaya) and Marsha and Chris (Endorphins) along with our Bayfield 36 pals, Pat and Wayne (Kolibrie).
We did more visiting on Tuesday, mingled with water jug filling at the dinghy dock and internet at Pet's Place - a new and convenient little cafe in town. On our way in, we passed a boat with a big Nova Scotia flag flying so of course we had to stop by and meet Peter Henneberry from Eastern Passage. He had amazing tales to tell of his trip down here and was also able to give us first hand information about Cuba. He has been there already this year so as we chatted, I wrote down everything he said! There must be a dozen Nova Scotia boats here - it's really fun to see them and meet them. Interestingly, it seems to be the Quebeckers and the Nova Scotians (Madcap among them) who fly our provincial flags along with the red maple leaf.
Mary Lou and Bob (Cygnus) are just a bit behind us. We haven't seen these old friends from MD since our brief visit to Georgetown last year and were delighted to join them and their friends Judy and John (Luna Sea) and Sandra and Chuck (Eliora) for Happy Hour. Sapphire left early in the morning, so although I had a quick chat with Mike, we'll have to wait till later to see them.
Jim had an early morning flight out of here on Wednesday and was able to share a taxi with guests of Boatel I, so we all assembled by the market at 6 am to see them off. During the rest of the day, I picked up water, checked out the grocery store, and ordered new Cuba charts from Bluewater Books in Fort Lauderdale. Apparently there are brand new ones for the North coast (NV charts) and since Jim has to overnight in Washington, they will send them there, saving us some shipping costs. A number of boats in the area are planning March trips to Cuba from Ragged Island and it is exciting to connect with them and make some plans - still etched into soft sand of course!
Chris Parker (the weather guy) arrives here on Saturday and will be giving weather seminars all week, so I joined the hoards of other boaters in registration line at St. Francis conference centre. I plan to attend Basic Weather on Saturday, and I've signed Jim up for the one on web weather and grib files when he returns. (Hope he thinks it's a good choice!!) We'll be here for the first few days of regatta this year so we'll take in a few other events too.
Last night was Happy Hour at Hamburger Beach and after debating whether I'd go or not, I decided to head on up there and I'm glad I did! The food was fine and the conversations many. I met up with the crews of Oz and Star of the Sea, Cygnus and Luna Sea, and met Ann and Joe (Short Walk) and Jane and Gary (Dream Catcher). Just after dark, Connie helped me push the dinghy off the beach and Ken insisted that I call to report a safe arrival home. Mary Lou and Bob offered an escort if I needed one. I have to tell you, it was so thrilling to captain my own little dinghy through the anchored boats and then plane down the harbour outside the city of lights and under the stars. While I love cruising with my great partner, Jim, his trips back to Canada this year have allowed me to experience the thrill of doing things on my own and being solely responsible for Madcap. It is wonderfully reassuring to know that I have good friends nearby who offer company and support whenever I want it, and so far, there have been no challenges, so I am one contented cruiser.
Now ... off to start another day. I have jobs to do, places to go and people to see!!
22/02/2011/1:04 pm, Georgetown, Exumas
We arrived in Georgetown Exumas yesterday after another fabulous sail across from Cat Island. The pic was taken at a bonfire on the beach last night - you might be able to pick out Axel (Azaya) and Pat and Wayne (Kolibrie)! We'll be here a week so I'll update later!