03/02/2012, Georgetown, Bahamas
I just woke up from a short nap after competing in the 32nd annual Georgetown Regatta! Claire and I were part of one of the 26 teams entered in the "Coconut Challenge"!
We were the only all girl team, and our team name was "Mad Dogs aka Mothers and Daughters"! We teamed up with Brenda, one of our Canadian boat friends and her 28 year old daughter, Ashley, who is visiting this week. We had a lot of fun practicing and competing together. Let's just suffice it to say we didn't come in last!
Since I last blogged, we've met more amazing people and had more great times in more amazing places.
We really enjoyed our time in Black Point. It's a small community with only a few cars--no gas station. Gasoline is shipped from Nassau in 50 gallon drums on what Bahamians call the mail boat.
This cargo ship comes once a week bringing whatever has been ordered from cars to fresh produce for the small local grocery store and the few restaurants on the island. It can also bring people. There is a mail boat for all of the islands that make up the Bahamas. There's kind of a festive atmosphere on mail boat day! Volunteering at Black Point All Age School that I wrote about in the last blog entry didn't work out, but we did have the pleasure of meeting the missionaries, Charles and Sharon Vassallo, introduced to us by our friends George and Marianne. They have been in charge of arranging for cruisers to volunteer at the school in the past, but no longer head that up. Charles and Sharon are former cruisers that decided to come back to one of their favorite Bahamas Islands as missionaries with the missionary organization, Crossing Cultures. They train local people to be leaders for Christ.
We had a great visit with them on their front porch, and Sharon invited Claire and me to join the church choir to practice for their Easter cantata, Once Upon a Tree, at their regular Friday night practice time. We jumped at the chance! Sharon gave us the music and we met her at the school promptly at 7:00pm the next night. Everyone else started trickling in around 7:30pm (island time). It was sooo much fun to sing with the choir, which is learning how to sing SATB parts! We had 7 ladies and 1 boy besides Claire and me show up. Mrs. Young, the principal at the school, sang bass!! The lowest I heard her sing was F below the bass clef staff! After practice, Claire and I felt perfectly safe walking down the street after dark, which was pretty alive with people visiting in the street and driving by on golf carts, especially around Scorpio's bar since it was Friday night.
We joined Mark at Deshammon's, the restaurant we patronized quite a bit, for homemade pizza.
Earlier that day we joined other cruisers and the whole community for a fundraiser at the school. The moms cooked barbeque chicken and the two side dishes that come with every Bahamian meal, rice and peas and baked macaroni and cheese. It was a lot of fun.
The kids got out of school at noon, and there were games and even a little dance party in one of the rooms after everyone went through the food line. Timmy was a big hit with the kids at this event! Sharon and Charles were there.
We attended Sunday school and worship service at the church where Sharon and Charles work. We really only intended to make it for the worship service, but since we got there a little early, "island time" made it where Sunday school was just getting started! We didn't step out the front doors of the church until about 1:30pm. Pastor Kevin who is also the local policeman taught Sunday school, but Terrance, who owns the awesome laundromat there in Black Point preached as part of his training with Sharon and Charles. It was a great service!
I would have been happy to stay in Black Point longer, but we wanted to head on south towards Georgetown where we would meet up with Marianne and George, who had left earlier, and others who we've met along the way. I really wish we could be back in Black Point for Easter to sing in the cantata, but we need to be back in Florida by the first of April.
We had a quick over night stay at Little Farmer's Cay. We got there late in the afternoon, and took a short walk through this community of 70 people.
We met J.R. and bought one of his woodcarvings that he sells out of his home and also all over the world in his role as an ambassador for the Bahamas. The government pays for him to go to different countries with his craft. He said he's been carving for 57 years!
We also met Denzel who invited us into his home to look at the hats that his girlfriend knits along with some of the basket weaving that she does...more amazing people and places!
The next morning we were on to the much anticipated destination of Georgetown! Actually, we are anchored off of Stocking Island that is east of and runs parallel to Great Exuma Cay where the town of Georgetown is located. The huge Elizabeth Harbour is between these two Islands. At this time, during the 2 week long Cruisers Regatta, we are anchored among 257 other boats in the harbor! This harbor is an established cruiser's community. There are activities on the beaches everyday. One beach is even named Volleyball beach after its three volleyball courts that see organized action every day. We've enjoyed the Wednesday evening get-togethers for hors-de-oeuvres on Sanddollar Beach,
afternoon knitting on Volleyball beach,
hiking, shelling and playing in the surf on the ocean side of Stocking Island with George and Marianne,
meeting A.J. who works in the conch salad bar on Volleyball beach. He loves all animals, and Timmy is no exception.
He introduced Claire and me to his "pet" stingrays, Sasha and Sunshine. They come up and rubbed against our legs just like a big playful dog would do! They're so soft underneath!
Claire's had a guitar lesson on the beach with Hugh, an amazing guitar player from Charleston, SC.
Since it's regatta time (theme--"Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits"), there are even more activities than usual such as the coconut challenge I mentioned.
We had a blast at the opening night "no talent show" and free hamburger dinner and dance!
We find out about everything going on through "The Net". Every morning at 8:10 there is an organized information time on a designated channel of the VHF radio with one person acting as controller. There are several categories of announcements including: community, regatta, local businesses, housekeeping, general, thought for the day, and arrivals and departures. After "The Net" you can contact boats for further info. or if you're interested in something they said. That's how we contacted Hugh after he got on the net to announce that he'd be happy to give lessons on the beach to anyone interested. One day, I got on "The Net" during the general category and asked if anyone had a pair of dog nail clippers we could borrow. Sure enough, someone came on and said they did. We went to another channel and arranged to pick them up!
I had already met a nice lady the day before at the Regatta Pet Show in which Timmy participated who said she would cut Timmy's nails if I was able to borrow some clippers. I just got on the VHF radio and arranged to meet her on Volleyball beach, and Timmy got his manicure!!
By now, you're probably getting an idea of what a unique place this is. There's even a Beach Church!
It is a non-denominational Christian church with it's own doctrinal statement. You can even join by signing a paper! After hearing about choir practice on "The Net", Claire and I decided to go on Saturday afternoon. We sang in the choir on Sunday morning. It's the first time I've ever gone to a choir practice in a bathing suit and sung in a choir with barefeet!! Each week someone different volunteers to give the message.
Last week, it was a 15 year old girl from the motor-vessel Three@Sea. Wow, it was amazing! My favorite part of Beach Church was holding hands at the end and singing The Lord's Prayer a capella as a benediction. They do this every Sunday. As we sang the last part, "for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever", we all raised our clasped hands. It was beautiful!
We plan to stay here a few more days and then head off to some other amazing place where I'm sure we'll meet more amazing people! We'll continue to travel with George and Marianne.
Look in the photo gallery if you want to see more photos!
We're Cruising with Canadians!
We left Nassau for the fourth time on February 4th about the same time as a bunch of Canadian boats that we met at Nassau Harbour Club Marina. We were all headed for Highbourne Cay that day and have continued to travel south together.
Some highlights of the last 2 weeks from Highbourne Cay to Black Point, Great Guana Cay with our Canadian friends include:
We've done more pure sailing. Since we aren't picking up any more guests, we haven't got as much of a schedule to keep.
We were boarded by the Royal Bahamian Defense Force.
One morning while anchored at Highbourne Cay, this military group alerted the anchorage by VHF radio that they would be boarding boats throughout the morning. We were about the third or fourth boat to be boarded. Boats with dogs were instructed to have them secured before they boarded. Timmy was a very good dog and didn't bark very much at the handsome young men with weapons. The Royal Bahama Defense Force men were a little intimidating with their oozies and other weapons, but they were very polite and talkative. We learned from them that a lot of the big mega-yachts that we see are chartered.
Claire and I did a sand dollar collection snorkeling expedition off the beach at Highbourne Cay.
Claire found 11 and I found 10. We have learned how to treat them with equal parts glue and water to make them a little less fragile. I just love them. I also found a sea biscuit, which is like a puffy sand dollar on that snorkeling trip. Most exciting of all was my first sighting of a huge Spotted Eagle Ray! I didn't realize how thick they are...what graceful swimmers!
We took a day trip with all our new Canadian friends on the Canadians, Peter and his wife, France's trawler to Allen's Cay where the endangered iguanas live.
The guidebook says not to feed them. We fully intended to follow those guidelines, but while we were there, a tour boat from Nassau showed up with a bunch of people and a bag full of grapes. When they got through, they gave the bag of leftover grapes to me so I shared them with the rest of our group, which couldn't resist putting them on the end of sticks and letting the hungry iguanas finish them off.
We explored a beautiful newly discovered (to us, anyway, even though we've been there many times) coral head at Highbourne Cay with Canadians, George and Marianne from Wet Wings, who have become good friends!
They took pictures of us in our "super hero suits", which George calls pajamas. They sure are comfortable on an overcast, coolish, windy day!
We had fun snorkeling around an almost fully submerged airplane and beachcombing at Norman's Cay. This plane was used in the drug smuggling activity that was big in the Bahamas back in the 70s and 80s. The plane was new when it sank back in the 80s when Norman's Cay was the center of the drug smuggling business in the Bahamas. We saw all the Canadian boat's dinghies anchored at a picturesque little island close to the plane wreck and enjoyed beachcombing and visiting with them.
I found a lot of shells called Sunrise Tellin (I call them butterfly shells) there.
We dinghied from our anchorage off of Shroud Cay with George and Marianne early one morning through a river which cuts through to the deep ocean side (as opposed to the shallow banks side for which the Bahamas is famous) of the Cay. The river is lined with thousands of Mangroves. We were treated to a gorgeous beach on the other side. It was a magical experience when a rain shower passed over as we swam in the ocean off that beach.
Timmy was even forced to join in the swim. The tide turned while we were there and the current was tremendous as the river emptied into the ocean. Being quite the daredevil and fun seeker, George rode the current out.
Of course, Claire and I had to join in the fun! Later, Claire said, "We never would have done that if we were there by ourselves." I'm really glad we were there with George and Marianne! Marianne, who is a great beachcomber found a couple of neat shells, but since Shroud Cay is part of the 22mile long Exuma Land and Sea Park, she just took pictures and left the shells there.
We've enjoyed "get togethers" on each other's boats.
We had an especially good time with George and Marianne on their catamaran for dinner at our anchorage off of Compass Cay.
I was glad to reciprocate with a spaghetti dinner on Nancy Lu the next night and also invite Wes and Sheryl from Merlin, a boat that we met early on in the Berry Islands. They had us on their boat in early December, and we just now caught up with them again as they're heading back north.
We did some GREAT beachcombing at Compass Cay!
Since Compass Cay is just south of the Exuma Land and Sea Park, we were able to take our finds with us!
We also touched tame Nurse Sharks there and swam in more gorgeous waters off a pristine beach!
We've enjoyed some more spectacular Bahama sunsets! Mark and Claire enjoyed one of those sunsets with all the Canadian boats around a campfire on the beach at Great Guana Cay. I'm told that George and Marianne even treated everyone by singing a song together! I wasn't there because I was feeling a little under the weather. I was awakened from my nap by someone coming over the VHF radio talking about the beautiful sunset. I couldn't resist getting up to watch and take pictures. Not surprisingly, I felt better afterwards!
We are still at Great Guana Cay. Today, we did laundry, which is what everyone does here since the town of Black Point has an awesome laundromat facility. We celebrated Valentine's Day here yesterday with a swim to a beach where we did some Valentines sand art. That night, we had a nice dinner with friends (yes they were Canadian) at a local restaurant.
To our surprise, we saw Whistling Cay (an American catarmaran with 3 kids that we met back in West Palm Beach, Florida) motoring in yesterday afternoon. We dinghied over to catch up with them. They're on their way back to Alaska.
We saw them at Valentines dinner, but didn't get to sit with them.
Tomorrow, Claire and I plan to volunteer at the Black Point All Age School. There is an organized program for boats to volunteer time to help with tutoring in different subjects. If I understand correctly, it's run by a retired missionary that George met here last year and really "loved the guy!" (in George's words). I'm excited about the opportunity to volunteer in another school, and I'm looking forward to meeting the missionaries! George, who professes to be "not religious", and can say some pretty "not religious" things was asking me about a scripture that indicated that the Old Testament was still to be used by Christians. I gave him the verse, 2 Timothy 3:16. On a dinghy ride to say hi to us this evening
(during another spectacular sunset), he told me that he ran into his missionary friend on a walk with Marianne this afternoon and they had a long talk on the subject. George told me that his friend said the verse that I had given him wasn't an appropriate verse for the question; although, Marianne seemed to disagree. I hope I get a chance to meet George's friend and we can all three have a good conversation! I love meeting and befriending such diverse and interesting people, especially people like George and Marianne who take such a genuine interest in others as well as being so interesting themselves, aye!? ☺
Go to the photo gallery for more photos.
I'm sitting in Nancy Lu's cockpit at Nassau Habour Club Marina waiting for my hair appointment across the street at the Windermere Salon where I got my hair done last month. This is the 4th time we've been here. The plan was to arrive Sunday afternoon from Morgan's Bluff, do all the chores we needed to do and leave Tuesday morning early. Well, we got all the chores done with each other's and Claire's help (My part: laundry, laundry, laundry, cleaning the outside of Nancy Lu, cleaning the inside of Nancy Lu and grocery shopping;
Mark's part: refueling, changing fuel filters, changing the transmission zinc and looking at fishing gear), but we didn't leave because of the high winds. We plan to leave tomorrow morning. Since we've had a couple more days and all the work is done, we've just been relaxing. I've searched the internet for information about preserving sand dollars and identifying shells we've collected so far and the ones we're hoping to add to our collection as we travel south. I did an extra project yesterday that I've sort of been putting off.
I soaked the cabin curtains in bleach water and laundered them to remove the mold stains they got from the condensation created when we ran the heater in Maine and on the way down the East Coast....it worked--no more stains! It seems like a long time ago when we needed a heater. It's ironic that a lot of that time was last summer, and now we just let the nice Bahama winter breezes blow through the windows!
My last entry was typed back on Andros Island right before we dinghied up to the dockside bar to use internet and eat our lobster stew for lunch. Well, the old gentleman, Monroe, who was going to cook it for us was nowhere to be found, but another man, Sholam was there. He told us that he had seen Monroe at the clinic working out something to do with his healthcare check and gave us the message that he would be there shortly. I had a sneaking suspicion that the Morgan's Bluff definition of shortly was different from ours.
It turns out that Sholam (I'm not spelling it wrong, but it's pronounced like Shalom) is sort of the dockmaster at the harbor there. According a cruising guide that he showed us, he's the "go to guy" for any information you need about Andros Island. He had us sign a notebook that served as a kind of guestbook that he's been keeping for the last 30something years. We asked him about the Mennonite farm that we'd heard about, and he offered to take us in his car for a fee. We decided that this was a good idea so Mark dinghied back to Nancy Lu to get some granola bars to tide us over while Sholam left word at the bar for Monroe that we'd be back "soon". It turned out to be a great excursion. Sholam pointed out things of interest on the 30minute ride to the farm, and we learned quite a bit about Andros Island.
The Mennonite farm was really interesting.
I bought some broccoli, green beans, tomatoes and STRAWBERRIES just picked that morning!
As we checked out, I told the young man helping us that we had a Mennonite community where we're from and asked him if he happened to know the Erbs, our electricians at home. I wasn't really surprised to hear that he did! In fact, David Erb's brother was this young man's 6th grade teacher back in Missouri! What fun to meet someone with a connection to our "home port"! We were sorry to hear that David Erb's house had just burned down the day before, but Clarence, the young man we were talking to, said that their church was rallying to help. Well, after learning of our common bond, Clarence asked if we wanted a tour of the place.
We enjoyed learning about how they gather and process the honey from their beehives and seeing where they do it. We also saw their woodworking shop and repair shop.
On the way out, we stopped at the gate to buy the last loaf of bread that the lady was selling along with other baked goods...she also knew the Erbs and her brother is also a part of the Mennonite community back home! Sholam got a huge kick out of the fact that we came all the way to his island and found people who know people that we know from home! I think he was happy that he was somewhat responsible for allowing us to have this experience!
When we got back, Monroe was out on the bar patio, where he does his cooking, working on our lobster stew.
An hour later, around 5:00pm, we had our wonderful dinner. I'm glad that things worked out the way they did and that all of us on Nancy Lu are pretty flexible with our plans!! I was happy to give Monroe the much-needed business!
Look for more pictures in the photo gallery.
"Berry Islands-ah. We love you today-ah!"
That is a phrase that Claire and I heard while walking down the street in Bullocks Harbour Settlement back in December, the last time we were at the small town on Great Harbour Cay where we were anchored again last Friday through Wednesday. On our previous visit, a church group was hooked up to a PA system at the public playing field blasting out their message. Now, Claire and I can hardly hear the words Berry Islands without repeating that phrase!
We stopped back in the Berry Islands after our visit with my parents in Lucaya. It was a much more pleasant trip down here this time than our last one...no seasickness. I like coming back to someplace I've been before. It feels a little like coming home.
The stars were beautiful our whole time anchored off Great Harbour Cay and continue to shine brightly where we are now as there is just now a sliver of moon. The first night of our Great Harbour Cay anchorage, we had a huge fishing boat as a neighbor. It worked all night long with smaller boats coming to tie up to it. (I guess, to drop off their catch for processing?) It was lit up with big flood lights, but I could still enjoy the stars when I woke up to go gaze in the middle of the night (actually 10:00pm...I went to bed at 8:00). The fishing vessel was gone in the morning and didn't come back. We saw it again on the passage to where we are now. The next night, I got up after I heard Mark up on deck. He told me that he had been hearing dolphins all around Nancy Lu and that there was bio luminescence in the water. It was somewhat eerie to hear the dolphins make a small splash and hear them blow through their blowhole as they came up for air on this still, cloudy, starless night. We shone the flashlight all around, but it didn't reach far enough into the dark to see them. When we shone the light into the water, we could see the bottom even more clearly than in the day! Because of the way Nancy Lu had drifted, we could shine the light down and see perfectly how well our anchor was set. We hadn't snorkeled out or dinghied out with the looky bucket to see yet. Every so often fish would swim by, but mostly the ocean was empty around us except for some sea grass and rocks. Until that night, I had always seen the bioluminescence trailing behind in Nancy Lu's wake or when we made some sort of disturbance in the water, but this time (I guess since it was so calm), it twinkled like fireflies on an Arkansas summer night.
This time, while at Great Harbour Cay, we attended the St. Bartholomew Anglican Church located close to the commercial docks where we tie our dinghy when we go visit the town. It was an interesting and worshipful experience. There was a mix of "high church" liturgy with clergy dressed in cassocks and beautiful robes, processions, incense, chanting and corporate readings from the Book of Common Prayer together with foot tapping and sway inducing singing of familiar hymns such as "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" and "Only Trust Him" sung with clapping and an island beat. As soon as the priest, Father Double D, as we were told he likes to be called, started his sermon, he had a style that was much less formal. He came out into the congregation, peppered his message with "HELLO" when he wanted to get an affirming "Amen" from us and would occasionally do a sudden clap and dip of the knees with a brief pose to emphasize a critical point. The good-sized congregation was attentive, participatory and very friendly! I think we got a hug from every single person as we Shared the Peace, which probably lasted a full 10 minutes! It is always nice to worship with other believers and experience the common bond that we share, and this service was truly a joyful experience!
The next day, we came back into town to eat at Coolimae's, the restaurant that we really enjoy, and I stopped into the school to ask if Claire and I could volunteer the next day. The principal, Mr. Ramsey, was gracious enough to have us come back on Tuesday to spend some time with the preschoolers. I don't think we were any help, but it was a great time!
Ms. Kielan's class was learning the letters C, H and the number 6.
The little girl, Kyla, who we had met at the airport last month and I wrote about in one of my blog entries was in the class (she was also at church on Sunday).
When I saw her name written on a sign in front of her place at her table, I realized I had misunderstood it at the airport (I thought it was Kayla). The class had a snack that they brought from home around 10:30. They were instructed to go wash their hands and get their bags and a placemat from the pile of plastic placemats that Ms. Kielan told me were donated by another boat visiting from Vermont. They all put their hands together and recited a prayer of thanks. Lunch was brought in by a vendor from the town around 11:30 as it is every day. That day, it was pizza.
Government Schools are much different from our public schools in America; they use a Christian curriculum, and religious training is part of their school day.
I was full of questions for Ms. Kielan, who is from Guyana, and I think she was happy to answer them all. She even took me into the home economics room next door so I could see what the teens were working on. She asked me about living on Nancy Lu, and I was happy to answer all of her questions. I was able to point Nancy Lu out to her at her anchorage in the bay from the classroom window. Ms. Kielan told me that the kids have been practicing for their student led "graduation". I noticed from the writing on the dry erase board that two little boys were going to lead the National Anthem. I asked if Claire and I could hear it, and they were eager to perform for us. At Ms. Kielan's instruction, they stood up, pushed their chairs into the table and put their hands by their sides as they'd been taught to do. When Ms. Kielan asked, "What do we do when we stand to sing?", all the kids said in unison, "No itchin' and no movin'!" I LOVED it!
After our time at G.N Gomez Government School for All Ages, we walked across the street to the other half of the campus where Mark and Timmy had been waiting in the shade talking to the man who had played the electric piano Sunday in church. We met for lunch at Coolimae's with a couple anchored close to us who we met through a conversation that Mark had with them on the VHF the night before. They happened to be from Arkansas!
Now, we've left the Berry Islands ("Berry Islands-ah; we love you today-ah!...I just can't help it.), and are anchored at Morgan's Bluff, on Andros Island, We're here with another sailboat, Grace, which we met at Great Harbour Cay and two other catamarans that we met here at this anchorage.
Yesterday, we all dinghied up to the beach
and explored a cave where the pirate, Henry Morgan, was supposed to have buried treasure. Claire did some further exploring and discovered a beautiful view of the channel from which we entered this harbor.
So we all followed a 19 year old up through the wild and rocky terrain to take in the view. Thank you Claire!
Last night, we all gathered at the "regatta village" (sort of like a fair ground) on the beach for a potluck dinner and met a couple more cruisers. Afterwards, while we were using internet up at the harbor bar, we arranged with a Bahamian man that cooks outside the bar to have him cook 3 lobster lunches for us at 1:00pm today. That's where we are headed now!
There are more photos in the photo gallery under the same title.
01/18/2012, Lucaya Bahamas
My day today started with a guided three-mile walk on the beach with Mama, one of Nancy Lu's namesakes, and two other resort guests!
Mama enjoyed meeting her walking partner, Nancy Marie! We're at Taino Beach Club Resort where my parents have come to spend a week. We've really enjoyed having a visit with them after so long. We checked in here at Grand Bahama Island back at the first of December so we're somewhat familiar with our resort surroundings.
We celebrated the beginning of 2012 in Nassau between visits from Amy and Ethan and Kenny and Kay. Mark and I were already in bed New Years Eve when it sounded like World War III began right outside of Nancy Lu. The fireworks show was the best and closet that I've ever been to, including the biggest single firework I've ever seen. It was one of those weeping willow types, but so gigantic that it stayed lit all the way down to the water! They were shooting them from a barge so close to our boat that I had to clean Nancy Lu up the next day from the fireworks debris.
January 1st was on Sunday so they postponed the famous annual Junkanoo parade until around 1:30am January 2nd instead of 1:30 am January 1st like normal. I'm glad that we woke up from our 9:00pm nap and went with our marina neighbors.
This parade was featured in the same James Bond movie that featured the grotto where we did some great snorkeling with Amy and Ethan and we were looking forward to visiting again with Kenny and Kay! Junkanoo lasts from 1:30am until 12:00 noon, but we only stayed a couple of hours. It was an exciting experience! Timmy did not miss out; he went in a backpack!
We had a great 10day visit with Kay and Kenny.
They both adapted well to life on Nancy Lu from climbing on and off the dinghy from the boat
to bathing in the ocean and rinsing their bodies off the stern of Nancy Lu!
Kenny might tell any of you that know him that he had a brush with death on one of our snorkeling expeditions, but Mark and I were the real ones at risk while executing our rescue operation as he was wearing a life jacket and we weren't :D!
Their time with us was one of lots of laughter,
games and fun together. It was a privilege to share this lifestyle and part of the beautiful Bahamas that we've discovered so far with the two of them. We followed the same path that we took with Amy and Ethan so we were able to spend more time at our favorite places. We love Warderick Wells Cay, the headquarters of the Exuma Land and Sea Park, so we spent 2 nights there. This was Amy's favorite place, and I missed her and Ethan while we were there the second time. This was our first snorkeling stop with Kenny and Kay.
The place we chose to snorkel first (the same place where our three kids snorkeled) had an extremely strong current, thus Kenny's "brush with death experience". We found another spot that didn't have a current off of Emerald Rock so he enjoyed that snorkeling expedition much more!
We all enjoyed our hike up to Boo Boo Hill where we added a sign to the collection there.
Mark remembered to pick up some driftwood from the beach at Highbourne Cay, which was our anchorage before Warderick Wells Cay and where Claire, Kay and Kenny found 26 sand dollars on our return trip to Nassau.
I wrote our boat name and the names of all who were on her during both trips on the driftwood Mark found with a sharpie and added it to the huge sculpture like pile.
As with Amy and Ethan, we anchored at Big Majors Spot with its swimming pool blue water and pigs on the beach. We visited Thunderball Grotto after the obligatory viewing of the James Bond movie, which was filmed there in 1964. We also visited Staniel Cay.
By our trip to the grotto, Kenny was accustomed to snorkeling,
and the girls were pros!
We saw lots of colorful fish and coral. The yellow and black sergeant majors that Kay and Claire called bumblebee fish swam all around us hoping we had something to feed them. We forgot to bring frozen peas to the grotto when Kenny and Kay were with us like we did when Amy and Ethan were. They ate right out of their hands.
Unlike last time on Staniel Cay, the local lady known for her homemade bread was home so we enjoyed a loaf back on Nancy Lu. It made an impression on me that when we knocked on her door, her nephew invited us right into their small kitchen where we chose our loaf and paid him for it.
The next day, Kenny treated us to a second loaf made by a different lady from the pink store, which is just down the hill from the blue store. Claire was struck by the fact that the frozen section at each of these stores is the top compartment of a regular old home refrigerator!
Some of our passages to different Cays were great sailing!
On one of them, we flew our spinnaker sail for just the second time since we've owned our boat--very exciting! This time I stood up on the boom to add to the experience. I saw one dolphin off in the distance, but it didn't come close to Nancy Lu. We were sad to see Kenny and Kay go, but we were looking forward to seeing Mama and Daddy!
We said goodbye to Kay and Kenny at 9:00 Thursday morning and cast off for Grand Bahama Island just 30 minutes later!
We had a good sail all day and into the night. We were delighted to have dolphins join us again, but it was disappointing that Kay and Kenny weren't there to experience it with us. We drifted off shore from about 12:30am Friday morning until we had daylight to make our way through Bell Channel to the marina. It was like déjà vu; it was so similar to our first time here. Mama and Daddy arrived later that night.
Since we are docked at their resort's marina, they walked right over to us, and we had a nice visit on Nancy Lu. Saturday morning, I heard Mama outside Nancy Lu asking for permission to board. Daddy treated us to lunch at the resort restaurant where we had eaten lunch the day before. I had conch fritters for the second time (the first was when Kenny treated us to lunch on Staniel Cay). I've decided I don't care for them that much; however, I love cracked conch!
After lunch, we came back to the boat so we could get photos of Nancy Lu with Nancy Rae...and Daddy.
Saturday night, we took a bus to Grand Bahama Island's Junior Junkanoo! The school children from preschool to high school performed. We all enjoyed it very much! Of course, it was not as big as Nassau's Junkanoo parade, but it was great to see the pride that the teachers and kids had in their performances. Plus, they were so cute! The hours (6:00-1:00) of the parade were quite a bit more reasonable than Nassau's grown up Junkanoo! Timmy went with us again in the backpack! Sunday morning, the resort provided a shuttle to a grocery store so Mama and I went shopping (we also went back the next day to get things that we forgot the first time around). It was fun to have meals together this week either on Nancy Lu or in Mama and Daddy's resort room. Claire has enjoyed walking up to her Grandmom Nancy Rae's and Granddad Larry's room to have coffee most mornings. She's spent a lot of time in their room! Yesterday, we took Mama and Daddy out for a sail. They both do great on the boat! I'm so glad that they've kept in shape so that we can share a little bit of our boat life with them!
Today, we went on a dinghy ride in the Lucayan Waterway where our boat is docked to see what we could see. A couple of days earlier, Mark and I had dinghied this way and just happened to see the "Dolphin Experience" attraction doing their final performance of the day. To add to the excitement, the trainer let two of the dolphins out of their tank, and they jumped out of the water right by us and swam right under our dinghy on their way to the tank to which their trainer signaled them to swim.
We couldn't recreate that moment today, but it was still fun to see the dolphins from afar!
I'm finishing up this blog entry from Mama and Daddy's room after dinner while watching the season premier of American Idol. I think we are going to be leaving Friday--the day after tomorrow, which is the same day that my parents leave. I'm so glad that they came all this way to see us, and I'm thankful that the weather/wind worked out that we could arrive when they did and could stay as long as they did!!
This next sail will be the beginning of the totally unscheduled part of our cruising. We plan to head south again and use Georgetown on Great Exuma Island as our base for the next three months. Claire and I are planning on doing a lot more handling of the sails during this time.
Click on the photo gallery for many more photos under the same title as this blog entry.
12/26/2011, Staniel Cay, Exumas Islands, Bahamas
I'm typing this blog under the best circumstances possible. All 3 of our kids are on board Nancy Lu, and I'm sitting out in the cockpit surrounded by clear, stunningly turquoise water. Claire is making herself some breakfast, but the other 2 are still in their berths sleeping.
Christmas fulfilled all of my expectations. Christmas Eve, we let Linus recite the true Christmas story for us as the kids watched a Charlie Brown Christmas and I listened as I knitted. Before the movie, I recited a scripture passage that I traditionally read for the family every Christmas Eve. It is Philippians 2: 5-11. I've memorized it during our time on Nancy Lu, and I've been looking forward to sharing it from memory on Christmas Eve!
I awoke early to arrange the stockings after staying up late to finish knitting the spa cloth that was to go in Amy's stocking.
I also had to wrap Timmy's 4 presents, which we get a kick out of watching him open every year.
Later Christmas Eve, while the kids watched Elf, I made our traditional spinach/sausage pie dish for brunch, but we decided to save it for Christmas dinner and just have blueberry muffins for breakfast
so that we could make it to Mt. Olivet Baptist Church for Christmas morning service.
It was while loading into our dinghy Christmas morning that I was first struck by the stunning blue of the water at this anchorage at morning time! Claire and I especially enjoyed the service at the only church on the island! All of the women were dressed to the nines including fancy hats. The best part of the service was the praise and singing at the beginning. The lady leading it, accompanied by the pastor on the electric organ, a young man on the drum set and an older man on the electric bass gave the little boy and girl in the second pew who were also dressed as fancily as their parents tambourines to pass out to the quieter guests visiting that day. I was given one of them and had a great time playing it on a very lively version of O Come All Ye Faithful! I kept tears in my eyes almost the whole singing service as I was reminded once again of how God is present and at work in the lives of all his children around the world! Claire said afterwards that she also teared up during the song leader's eloquent prayer as the other ladies chimed in with repeated phrases and amens. It was nice to look down the isle and have my whole family there with smiles on their faces as they sang and clapped along.
After church, we ate cheeseburgers at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club's open-air restaurant. We headed back to Nancy Lu, donned our swimsuits and dinghied to the near by beach where we could check out the pigs living there which are known to swim out to receive food offered from your dinghy. I took carrots, but I decided to feed the one skinny pig there as we were leaving in case he would bother us the whole time we were there knowing we had food to offer. We had a good time.
Mark met another dad/captain who was from Texas,
and the kids and I got a kick out of the pig and Timmy.
As Claire and I were wading out in the shallow water, we turned around to find Timmy (who HATES the water) swimming out to check on us! What would we do without our ever vigilant boat dog?!
Before we made it to this anchorage off of Big Majors Spot (close to Staniel Cay), we visited Atlantis, the huge resort with an aquarium, waterpark, casino and much, much more! If we stayed at their marina with its huge motor yachts, we had complimentary access to the aquarium, swimming pools and waterpark. It was a good deal for us!
To get to the marina, we had to go under 2 bridges. We were a little nervous about it, but it was fine.
We enjoyed the park for one day. Timmy did fine left on Nancy Lu this time. The next day, we got an early start to Highbourne Cay where we spent the night. We joined many of the same mega-yachts there that we had seen at Atlantis. One of them shot off fireworks from their decks (did not rival the stars on that moonless night!!).
These yachts have a captain and crews of 3 to 5. We saw all the crewmembers of each yacht scrubbing on them as their owners enjoyed the day at Atlantis. That night, at our anchorage off Highbourne Cay, we watched the DVD of Thunderball (the 1960s James Bond movie). We had ordered it from Amazon and had it shipped to Amy. She brought it to us. The reason we wanted to watch it is that there is a scene shot at an underwater grotto off of Staniel Cay that we wanted to see before we visit it ourselves. We're going today!
We hope that your Christmas was wonderful! We'll be staying here another day and then we'll make our way back to Nassau by way of Highbourne Cay in order to drop the kids off and pick up two other passengers that we're excited to spend time with, Kenny Emerson and Kay Parry! We will spend more time at Highbourne Cay exploring on our way back. We may visit some other Cays along the way, as well. Later today, we are going into town to post this blog entry. Wifi is very hard to come by lately!
Happy New Year!!!
Lots and lots more photos in the photo gallery!