07/01/2008/10:12 am, Great Guana Cay
The wind dropped on Saturday night; the sun came out and we changed our wardrobe from jeans and fleecies to shorts and t-shirts again. With our batteries charged up, we headed out of Black Sound on Sunday morning. Because we were about 3 hours after high tide and the entrance into the sound is shallow, Jim went first in the dinghy with a hand held depth sounder, and I followed along in Madcap. We must have kissed the bottom a few times but never got stopped and once we were through the channel, we loaded the dinghy, put out a sail and were off to see the Whale.
The Whale is an important piece of geography in this area, because in order to move further south, boats with our draft must go out through the cut between reefs and cay, along the outside of Whale Cay and back in again on the south side of it. It sounds like no big deal but if the wind and wave configuration isn't right, it can be a miserable and even dangerous few miles. Fortunately for us, the combination was just fine. We could see waves breaking on the reefs but there were no whitecaps in the opening so away we went. The swells were about 6-7 feet but there was no chop so we just rose and fell comfortably. We followed the waypoints in Steve Dodge's book carefully and they led us right through with no difficulty.
We had just a short journey to Great Guana Cay and once back inside, we put out a sail and drifted languidly along with the sun over our heads and that amazing blue-green sea below. We dropped our anchor in Fisher's Bay along with about a dozen other boats; Jim went swimming and dove down to push that CQR anchor into the sand. After a reasonable time to make sure it wasn't moving, we dropped the dinghy again and went in search of roast pig. Sunday is Pig Roast day at Nippers - a famous Abacos Bar and we were anxious to check it out. We could hear the music from the dinghy dock and were amused to see that the lane off the main road led toward the cemetery and then took a sharp swing to the right, ending in a compound of ice-cream coloured buildings and patios. A sign at the turn warned us that "The wages of sin is death ..." It seemed a fascinating juxtaposition... and we kept on around the turn to Nippers, returning safely to the boat later in the evening - unlike those who remained at the cemetery!
Fortunately there was pork still available. The pig roast starts at noon and when it is really busy, they have been known to run out by midafternoon. If you are in the neighbourhood - be sure to stop in; the food was delicious and at $20.per person for all you could eat, it seemed very fair. The music was loud 50's and 60's dancin'music. We met up with lots of cruisers - Princess and Kilissa, First Edition and Debra Lea, Celebrian (another Bayfield 36) and at the end of the evening we found Te Amor from Nova Scotia.
The sunset was just amazing, our sleep was reasonably sound and we woke up to find ourselves in exactly the same place! Only a boater can understand the joy that evokes. (Well, maybe there are others who have experienced that joy?!)
Monday passed by in a pleasant series of events. I made a giant western omelet for breakfast and we lingered over coffee and our books. In late morning we set off to explore this part of Great Guana Cay. We passed by a large building with a "Bakery" sign on it. Unfortunately it also displayed a "closed" sign, so I asked a man sitting across the street if he knew when it was open. He said "Yes". I then asked if it opened every day and his reply was, "Sometimes". I figured that was about as much helpful information as I was going to get, so we smiled at each other and Jim and I continued on our way. The question about what day things are open is a practical one. The Post office here is open Mon, Wed and Fri. The Laundromat is never open anymore. The grocery store is open 6 days a week, and I still don't know about the Bakery.
We had a long and luxurious walk on the beach - on the Atlantic side - where the breakers were rolling in and the sand was white and soft. We sat and watched them for awhile -one wave chasing another - big ones often swallowing up smaller ones - footprints made and erased - shells deposited on the sand one minute and swept away the next - everything part of the whole. The whitecaps were brilliant white and the sea was a dozen shades of blue and green and aqua and turquoise.
We met up with Mary Jo, vacationing here from her home in Cape Cod and she ignited in us again the excitement of this trip. It is really such a fine thing - we never get blasé about it, in part because we keep meeting people who say "Good for you!" Another thing Mary Jo and Jim and I saw eye-to-eye on was that there is nothing to be afraid of in the unknown. The directions we take from here, and where we make our landfall after this trip will all unfold in time, and the choices we make will lead us one way or another, but none of them will be wrong. There is immense freedom in this view of a journey, and it bears considering as a metaphor of life as well.
On our walk we met up with other familiar faces, stopped to talk with them, discovered that Jan and Cam of Te Amor know several of our old friends in Annapolis Royal, and got a lesson on spear fishing.
Back on Madcap, the chicken that had been marinating in a spicy lime and ginger sauce for a few hours went into the oven to roast along with some yams. We added a broccoli salad and opened a nice cold white wine for dinner. The wind had come up again so we tucked ourselves in the cabin where it was nice and cozy and went back to our books. Mmmmm ...Mmmm... the end of another dandy day.
We'll head out in the morning to Marsh Harbour.
05/01/2008/10:05 am, Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay
Let's start with the new: the weather has taken a significant change to cool and windy the last few days. It seems hard to believe that on Tuesday, New Year's Day, we were ambling around in t-shirts and drinking lots of liquid to keep hydrated. By Wednesday it had cooled some and we took a very comfortable long walk on the beaches to watch the surf on the Atlantic side and stretch out our legs.
The temperature kept falling and the wind blew harder. The thermometer in the last couple of days has been registering as low as 66 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind has been blowing consistently at 15 - 20 knots with some gusts up to the high 20's. Even inside our protected sound, we pulled and pulled on our mooring ball, swinging this way and that. Madcap is a heavy boat and we were sure giving that thing a workout, so kudos to Rick Sawyer for keeping his moorings in good shape.
Because of the high winds and the fact we've also been plagued by battery problems again (this is the old) we stayed put rather than go up to Manjack for a change of scenery. The power level dropped while we were back in Canada for 12 days and we could not seem to get it up by running the engine. So we were back to the same old solution of tying up and plugging in to get topped up again. The disheartening part of that is that both times the battery charge dropped (now and in early December) something happened to drain the starting battery too. Roger (Stout Wench) spent hours with Jim poring over the system and then used his dinghy as a tug to push us over to a dock. Once the batteries were up to full charge again, he spent more hours and the two of them could not find out what was wrong. Grrr. The good news is that Nancy and John (Panache) discovered a second generator in Marsh Harbour when they went to pick up theirs so we made a quick phone call to reserve it.
We tracked down and fixed a smelly head problem - there was a block in the air vent. We pulled up the floor in the salon and disconnected the vent hose to have a look at it. I thought maybe I would earn brownie points by being the one who crawled into the stern locker, disconnected the hose at that end and blew into it. Unfortunately, Jim got the points because he was holding the end that had been connected to the holding tank when the "stuff" blew out. Blech!! - he kept his cool and deserved the points. I dinghied over to do a load of laundry at the Abaco Yacht Services - enjoying a chinwag with Gail (Jabiru) in the process - and we made some inroads on the rust that appears with regularity on some of the stainless steel.
We also found time to read our books and socialize. Open these days have been Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay, Divisidero by Michael Ondaatje, The Race by Richard North Patterson, Crisis by Robin Cooke - all different and all recommended. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Macintyre's one day with Sandi and Steve (Princess) and their guest, Baird. (pineapple chicken with peas n'rice and plantains, cracked conch, macaroni, all appeared on various plates and went into various stomachs amid animated conversation. On Friday night, we discovered that folks gather at Dave's - otherwise known as the Liquor Store and Café. We had been in for lunch a few times, but hadn't known about the Friday evening gatherings. People started arriving around 5:30, and by 7 the place was packed. We all purchased our bottles of beer or wine or soft drinks there at Liquor Store prices, Dave produced glasses, a few people brought crackers and cheese and the standing room only crowd of locals and cruisers mixed and mingled. Those with wine left in their bottles had a choice of taking them home, or leaving them there for next time.
I talked with delightful Lana who has moved to White Sound. She and her husband cruised in the area for years, made plans to build a house here and then he died. She had a choice of living back in the States near her children but found that she had more of a purposeful life here, so she is staying. Another couple from South Africa has recently moved to New Plymouth. Yang is building a cabinetry business over on the mainland, Toni is gradually getting involved in community activities and their son goes to school in Marsh Harbour. He found a wonderful community of friends from Green Turtle so they decided to make this their home base. Jim and I are always so interested in the adventurous spirit and courage of people and we love these opportunities for conversations with friends old and new.
Pineapples continued to be another interesting stop. Many folks gather there for happy hour between 4 and 6 when the drinks are 2 for 1 and laptops are scattered around on the picnic tables. My "problem" is that I always find someone interesting to talk with and the e-mail and blog-postings take second place.
If the weather is agreeable, we'll slip away on Sunday morning from Green Turtle Cay - our home since early December, and head off to Great Guana Cay. It will bring to an end our long and pleasant visit here and leave us with a perfect place to come back to on the way north in the spring.
02/01/2008/9:57 am, Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay
Happy New Year!
We had an emotion-filled and rewarding trip back home to Nova Scotia. The Maritime tradition of having visiting hours along with a memorial service allows for valuable time to share stories and memories with friends and family - many of whom we rarely see. Dozens of people came to visit and it felt like we were able to truly remember and celebrate my mother's life along with mourning her passing.
We moved quickly from that intense time into Christmas and were grateful to be able to share it with the family at Mum and Dad's home. Alex and Liam flew down from Ottawa for the funeral; Liam returned there to celebrate Christmas with Amy and Olivia, and came back to us for a few days afterward. Alex stayed through the whole ten days, and Mary Beth, who lives in the area, was with us most of the time as well. Aunt Ursula (Mum's sister) and my sister and her husband were also able to be with us. We think it helped my dad to have us around, although we suspect he will value the quiet time now that he has his house back to himself!
Among the many rewarding things we discovered in this time was the compassion of both the boys' employers. Linda and Murray of Capital City Luggage and Roberto of Allegro Restaurant gave immediate permission to Liam and Alex to take whatever time they needed to be with family during this time and we are all grateful to them for that. The staff at Campbell's Funeral Home and First Baptist Church were exceptionally kind and professional, and the many friends who gave messages and cards, food and flowers, memorial donations and their time to be with us fill us all with warmth, appreciation, and even joy in the midst of our grief.
Jim and I flew back to Treasure Cay on Dec 30 and caught the ferry to Green Turtle Cay. It felt like coming home to "our own place" again, and I must say, it was delightful to leave the cold and snow for sun and sand.
We found Madcap safe and sound, and enjoyed a quiet first evening back as we sat on the deck under the stars. On Monday, it was grocery-shopping time, and we really noticed that food costs more here. We had to restock our refrigerator with the usual eggs and milk and butter and cheese along with some fresh produce. I was pleased to find lettuce and peppers, celery and broccoli, apples and oranges. The price was higher - yes, but the important thing was they were available! We bought more of that most wonderful coconut bread to make a perfect feast melding north and south on New Year's morning - French Toast made with coconut bread and maple syrup.
The cruisers enjoyed a potluck hors d'oeuvres gathering at Brendal's Dive centre over in White Sound and we were just delighted to reconnect with several friends we haven't seen for a while, as well as to meet new ones. Steve and Sandy (Princess), Patty and Colin (Island Song) both arrived in that very day, and we met Richard and Carol (Kalissa), and Mark and Nicki (First Edition?) and many others whose names I'll have to hear again! For the first time in many years, Jim and I were tucked in bed at midnight - thinking about getting up to go ashore for music and celebration but too tired to do it. The big Junkanoo celebration came on Tuesday anyway, and we took it all in.
New Plymouth was just full of people - cruisers, house renters, and boatloads of folks arriving from other islands boosted the local population. Restaurants and church groups had stands set up all along the street and were selling ribs and chicken and fish and desserts. We feasted on plates of conch fritters, conch salad, ribs, macaroni, and peas 'n rice, brownies and more than one glass of rum punch. I sipped my first goombay smash from Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar - deeelicious. The Junkanoo Parade wound its way down the hill and around the town and we loved the colour and sound and intimacy of it. The streets are narrow and people lined all sides and corners. The drummers and dancers in their bright sequined and feathered costumes moved among us, folks dropped into line behind them as they moved down Parliament Street, along the waterfront and back to the basketball court where Kevin kept the music going.
The sun shone, the music played. People - local residents and visitors, black and white, young and old, loud and subdued, all mingled in the streets for the whole day. We went back to the boat for a nap around 6 and then headed off in the dinghy to Pineapples for the fireworks display at 8. As we stood on the beach among friends, watching the display that went on for close to an hour and listening to the waves lapping on the shore, we felt once again that we are on a journey that feels remarkably right to us.
In one discussion during the day I found myself trying to explain my conviction that we must maintain a belief or a faith in all that is right. Just as our journey feels right to us, a day like this is one of those right things, and even if it is just one day in one little place, it is good and it is enough to hold onto as we look forward to the year ahead. It may well be a challenging year in big and small ways, in personal and global ways; it may well have destruction and mistrust and betrayal and mourning. It will also have honesty and love and respect and hope; it will have creativity and brilliance and compassion and celebration. I'm sure of it.