Well, we're still here in Brunswick! The wind just keeps coming out of the south, the direction we're headed. All the weather models and the weather guru, Chris Parker, who we listen to on the HAM radio every morning say we get it out of the north on Friday, but it's gale force--no thank you! It looks like we may be able to leave on Saturday, but who knows! The good news about all this southerly wind is the temperature--upper 70s to low 80s!! At least we're getting Bahamas weather.
Other good things about the delay:
We've had more time to do provisioning in shorter not quite so heavy-laden trips with shorter stowing times.
I've enjoyed ZUMBA classes daily at a great studio I found here, Body By You, owned by Ronique Thomas. I'd be willing to bet that Ronique has the BEST, most infectious smile of any ZUMBA teacher anywhere! ZUMBA is FUN and a great work out! Claire went with me the first two times so I wasn't the only ballerina trying to fake it through the cool Latin dance moves, but then we had to put her on a plane back to Texas and Baylor.
It was hard to say good-bye; I miss her!
We've had more time to get to know Geoff, Linda and Nellie, going out to eat pizza with them and joining them at "The Confederate Station" for the monthly bluegrass/gospel/country music show that is held there.
It was great to hear the Scottish music that Linda shared during the open mic part of the evening. Geoff said that he kept looking at Mark and me and we had a smile on our faces the whole evening. There was a lot to put a smile on our faces not the least of which was a 93 year old man who kept getting up to dance a jig to songs that inspired him.
I also couldn't help smiling while I listened and watched the 12-year-old lead guitar and banjo player. He was truly a prodigy! He seemed so laid back, hardly even tapping his foot as he played, but his mouth worked just as much as his fingers as he played that banjo!
We've been blessed by attending College Place United Methodist Church again. I've been reading the Mitford Series by Jan Karon, and the pastor at College Place reminds me of Father Tim in these books. That's a good thing!
This doesn't really fit in the category of things that are GOOD about our delay, but I went up Nancy Lu's 65-foot mast to do a rig inspection today.
The setting was not as beautiful as the last time I did this in Maine, but it WAS just as thrilling.
I spent an extra long time at the second spreader due to Geoff stopping by and talking with Mark. Two sailors together always have A LOT to talk about. I wasn't bothered by the loss of Mark's attention; I used the extra time to take a bunch of pictures (I had the camera up there to record parts of the rigging for Mark to look at after I came down).
If Geoff and Mark had had their conversation while I was at the top of the mast, it would have been a different story. Those last 20 or so feet make a huge difference.
I did find a crack in the block through which the spinnaker halyard runs. It will need to be replaced, but it's not critical before we sail.
Hopefully, my next blog will include sailing tales instead of just marina tales!
It is a rainy, chilly, Sunday afternoon on Nancy Lu in Brunswick, GA. Claire and I are enjoying the warmth of our cozy cabin while Mark is up at the marina lounge watching RGIII. We've settled back into our sailing lifestyle pretty seamlessly. As we were climbing aboard Nancy Lu on New Year's Day, Claire said, "It feels like I never left!" Habits for living aboard that we developed on our first expedition kicked back in, naturally.
For a few days, as I did tasks, I didn't have the mindset of "living" on the boat. I rather had the mindset of "visiting". For example, when I took some clothes out of the dryer up at our marina's lounge and they were a bit damp on the waistline, my initial thought was that I better put them back in so that they would dry fully so as not to mildew on an abandoned boat. Then I remembered we're "living" here now--Nancy Lu will not be abandoned any time soon! I've gotten more of a permanent mind set now.
I think that part of what was keeping me in the "visiting" mode was the knowledge that Claire really is just visiting. She will be going back for her second semester at Baylor University at the end of her Christmas break. Lately, I think I've slipped into denial about that fact. She's such a big part of our "Nancy Lu lifestyle"; it's hard to imagine what it will be like without her here. We'll be forced to find out one aspect of sailing without her sooner than expected. Our plan was to sail down to West Palm Beach, Florida with her help. It's about a 48-hour passage. We had a return flight to Dallas booked for her on the 10th from WPB. The wind and weather is not cooperating with us to leave in time to get down there for her flight, though. So we've changed it to a return flight to Dallas from Jacksonville, Florida, which is only an hour away. We'll put off our sail down to WPB until after she's gone and the weather is favorable for sailing south.
Since the day we arrived here in our trusty Suburban, the Nancy Lu experiences have begun. As we were bringing our belongings onto the boat,
our Scottish boat neighbors, Geoff and Linda, greeted us and called our attention to the 3 dolphins that regularly swim up the river where our marina is located
They seem so big up that close. What a great way to be welcomed back on Nancy Lu and welcome in the new year!
It was sunny and warm on New Year's Day when we arrived, but since then it's been chilly and we've had two rainy days and two not rainy. Rainy is NOT the best condition for living on a boat.
The first rainy day, I mostly worked on menus, a provisioning shopping list, and inventorying for the first leg of our expedition this year (now through May in The Bahamas). My legs were actually creaky when I finely walked off of Nancy Lu that afternoon! I'm hopeful that I planned well, and won't have to do a lot of grocery shopping, and still eat well in The Bahamas.
The next rainy day, was the first of two times (so far) we've eaten at Willie's Wee Nee Wagon where their slogan is "We Relish Your Bun"!
They make a TRULY DELICIOUS pork chop sandwich, and great hot dogs, of course! I bought a t-shirt so that I can get a picture of myself wearing it in The Bahamas, and then I'll give it to Claire so she can take a picture of herself wearing it at Baylor, and then they'll put it up with all the other pictures of people wearing their t-shirts around the world--FUN!
On the first not rainy day, we had the wonderful experience of meeting up with George and Marianne, our Canadian friends that we buddy boated with for a while last year! Mark has kept in touch with them through email. So we knew that they were headed in their car down to their catamaran, Wet Wings, for their winter holiday in The Bahamas. We had pizza and a good long visit with them!! We look forward to buddy boating some more with them in the Abacos before heading down to the Exumas. Before we saw them Claire said, "This will be the first time we've ever seen them in warm clothes!" I said, "Of course, George will probably say, 'You call this cold, aye?' " Claire replied, "Yeah, he'll probably be wearing that same old Hawaiian looking shirt with surf boards all over it!" ☺ After we left them that night, Claire told me that times like that with new friends that seem like old friends is what she loves the most about living aboard Nancy Lu.
On the second not rainy day, I went shopping for all the canned and packaged foods on my provisioning list. I got a lot of it done, but not all. I'm glad we have our suburban here and we have some time to spread this shopping and stowing out!
True to our last cruising expedition, Mark consults with our friend Peter about weather and gets his valuable advice for our sailing plans. Claire met Peter and Beth's friends, John and Missy, who have their boat here in Brunswick in the laundry room the other day. Mark and I had met them the last time we came to check on Nancy Lu. Mark told Peter the news that Claire had met them later that day on the phone, and Peter said that he'd already heard all about it from Beth. Of course, Beth had heard about the meeting just minutes after it took place from Missy's phone call to Beth! We hope to see Peter and Beth and John and Missy in Maine this summer!
Today, we're back to rain! We attended College Place United Methodist Church. It is the church that our Scottish neighbors, Jeff, Linda attend with their 13-year-old daughter, Nellie. It was a good Epiphany Sunday service. We celebrated the Lord's Supper with a congregation of our brothers and sisters in Christ here in Brunswick and were encouraged to seek Christ alone as the Wise Men of the Gospel did long ago. Visiting churches along the way continues to be one of my favorite parts of traveling on Nancy Lu! I always think of my home church fondly and with thanksgiving, but have even greater thanksgiving for our gracious God through whom we all have life!
See the photo gallery for more pictures
We're driving through Mississippi on our road trip to Texas and home! We started the road trip Friday, April 28. We had planned to leave at dawn, but that plan was foiled the day before with another running aground incident reminiscent of our only other one back in December when we were leaving West Palm Beach for The Bahamas. This time we were just rounding the pier to move to the slip where Nancy Lu will be docked for the next month. We couldn't believe it, especially since we had asked the Tow Boat Us boat stationed at our marina if we had enough depth to move around and because of the fact that we'd been docked just about 10 feet from where we ran aground for the last 2 weeks. Anyway, thanks to our membership to Tow Boat US it cost us nothing but 4 hours of valuable time that we had planned on using to pack the car and ready Nancy Lu to be left empty for a month. I did manage to cook a nice meatloaf dinner while we were stuck.
We piled into the rental car about 10:00 the next morning after Mark did several last minute boat storing projects one of which necessitated a trip to Home Depot, and Claire and I loaded the last of our stuff into the car while Mark finished securing the dock lines. Mark actually had to walk a plank that the Rybovich guys rigged up for him from Nancy Lu to the dock since he was the only one left on the boat after securing the last lines. Once he was finished, Nancy Lu was too far from the dock to step off. Needless to say, Mark did a very thorough job of securing her.
Our plans for our last weeks on Nancy Lu and getting home changed considerably from what I mentioned in my last blog entry. We ended up being at Rybovich Marina for over 2 weeks instead of a couple of days and we decided to drive from there instead of fly from Norfolk where we had planned on leaving Nancy Lu.
Nancy Lu got her generator reinstalled which works perfectly now, and she received additional attention in the engine room from Tommy, our meticulous mechanic. We tried to enjoy our extra time at Rybovich. They actually have 2 separate yards. Ours is for boats comparable to ours and the south yard is for MEGAYACHTS!! We had total access to the fancy south yard though.
One night we attended a party where you could buy TOMS shoes and custom paint them. Claire and I enjoyed doing that, and Mark enjoyed the complimentary food and drinks.
We also enjoyed relaxing at the fire pit by the pool. We scoped out their 5 star accommodations including a lounge, gym, beautiful bathhouse with complimentary towels, restaurant and media room. We couldn't resist eating at the restaurant a couple of times. Mark and Claire drove over to take showers in their bathhouse one night, but all other times we showered in our slummy bathrooms--the worst of the whole trip. Claire and I watched prime time TV for the first time in 9 months at the TV room at our marina, and we went up in the afternoons sometimes to knit and watch The Waltons.
We got more yarn and knitting tips from a yarn store in West Palm Beach. The ladies there were as nice as all of the other knitters we've met. Between the two of us we've finished 3 hats and started 2 more during our time in West Palm Beach.
We got a wonderful surprise one rainy Saturday afternoon when Joe and Cindy from our yacht club back home at Cedar Creek Lake surprised us with a knock on Nancy Lu's hull! It was so nice to see faces from home! They had been on a short trip over to The Bahamas on their friend's powerboat whose homeport is in West Palm Beach. They said they tried hailing us on the VHF everyday while they were in the Bahamas, but found out from reading our blog when they got back to West Palm Beach that we were here the whole time! It was so nice to visit with them and their friends on Nancy Lu!
Even though our plans changed for how we are getting back home, we still got to see PETER AND BETH!! We had planned on seeing them 2 weeks ago in Norfolk, but we ended up stopping by their catfish farm and spending two nights with them in Alabama!
It was so great to see them again! Our trip would not have been the same without all of their input and the time we spent with them in Maine and buddy boating down the foggy East Coast with them. Mark has consulted with Peter all along the way, and they are our new lifelong friends! In Alabama, we got to meet 2 of their 3 kids, visit for hours sipping coffee on the front porch and tour their farm--what a perfect ending for our first Nancy Lu adventure!
We just crossed the Mighty Mississippi into Louisiana getting ever closer to home. It's hard to believe that tonight we'll be sleeping in our own beds in our own house--our "land house", that is, because Nancy Lu has truly become our home.
MAY 21, 2012 AMENDMENT:
Our plans changed yet again! We made it to Monroe Louisiana around 1:00pm on April 30 so we decided to make the hour and a half trip on to Arkansas to see my parents and grandmothers.
It was well worth the delay!! We spent the night with Mama and Daddy and hit the road again early the next morning and dropped the rental car off in Dallas. Our good friend Kenny picked us up, and we had a nice lunch out with him and Ethan. We made it home that afternoon to our slightly musty smelling home and found no major problems--just a few minor ones. By that very evening, Claire and I were up at the Church paying a surprise visit. Good to be home for a while!!
Since our first day home on May 1, we've gotten back into somewhat of our normal "being at home routine". The house has been cleaned from top to bottom (lots of throwing out), most of the minor repairs have been made, we've watched Ethan GRADUATE from college (we met up there with our friends from S/V Nina who we made in The Bahamas. They had a niece graduating the same day), he's had a promising job interview at a hospital, I've gotten back into my exercise routine with my friend, Katrina, Amy and both sets of our parents have come for a visit, and we've been welcomed back into our church family!
Mark and I will be going back to Nancy Lu to take her to Georgia for hurricane season in a week. First, we'll take Claire to college for the first summer session. Mark will go check on NL from time to time, but we don't plan to head out again until January. By that time, Claire will be settled in at school. I might blog from time to time, but since my blog was primarily to keep in touch with friends and family back home, you will hear from me most when we set out again in January!
See the photo gallery for more pictures
It's been hard to get motivated to work on a blog entry during the returning leg of our Nancy Lu adventure. I'm feeling many conflicting emotions. I'm excited to get back home to see family and friends; to take a shower without either packing everything up and trekking to the bathhouse at a marina or using the water in short, guilty spurts while trying to balance in the tiny shower aboard Nancy Lu; to simply reach in our refrigerator at home and get a can of soda instead of digging everything out and getting a stool to reach down to the bottom of the fridge where the sodas are on Nancy Lu. I'm excited to get back to my home church where I have relationships with so many great people instead of only spending one Sunday morning in a church with people I wish I had more time to get to know; to DRIVE to Sonic to get a DIET DR PEPPER; to simply let Timmy out the front door to do his business and not have to lean overboard to scoop sea water with a bucket to wash it down or get a paper towel to pick it up and drop it overboard; to simply flush the toilet rather than pump 15 or 20 times...I could go on and on.
...BUT THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS THAT I WILL MISS!
Today, we're at Rybovich Boat Yard and Marina in West Palm Beach Florida. They are reinstalling the generator that we had taken out here back in December. We left the Fischer Panda generator in Florida to be fixed while we were in the Bahamas. Hopefully, when we leave here in a couple of days, the 9 mos. generator saga, which started in Maine will be over! We'll keep, for back up, the little Honda generator that has been serving us so well, but requires us to carry extra gasoline and has to be stowed and unstowed every time we use it among other minor problems.
We also acquired a solar panel in the Florida Keys when we first got back to The States. It is awesome! After all this, our battery charging and electrical consumption should become a lot simpler! Believe it or not, battery charging can even effect how much sailing versus motoring we can do. Anyway, we're keeping our fingers crossed that everything works out the way we think it will.
Our stay in Marathon, where we got the solar panels installed, was much longer than we expected it to be due to various things related to the installation. I'm glad we left The Bahamas when we did even though we thought it might be a little early.
Our trip back included an overnight anchorage at Great Guana Cay with a dinghy ride into Black Point for dinner at DeShammon's just like old times and another overnight anchorage at Highbourne Cay, but before we got there we stopped off to anchor near Rocky Dundass to snorkel.
This is something we really wanted to do in February with our friends George and Marianne, but the winds would never cooperate. The place really lived up to our expectations. There is a small, mostly underwater opening in the rock that opens out into a cave complete with stalactites and stalagmites. There's a big hole in the top. The place has the feel of a cathedral, and the coral and fish life around the rock is beautiful. I could just hear George saying, "Well, this is ever neat, aye?" Our last stop in The Bahamas was Morgan's Bluff on Andros Island for another overnight anchorage.
I cooked up some Wahoo there that I had frozen, and it was excellent if I do say so myself! Mark even took a picture! We woke up the next morning and were off to cross the Grand Bahamas Banks and eventually the Gulf Stream on our 36hour passage back to the US. The passage was uneventful -the way we plan for them to be by closely watching the wind and weather.
We did catch a little Atlantic Bonito, but we threw him back after we read in our fish book that it was not great eating.
I was sad to leave behind the beautiful waters and difficult yet simple lifestyle that is the Bahamas, but it was somewhat exhilarating to be back in the USA. We can use our cell phones!! I ordered DR. PEPPER at the marina restaurant!! We went to a movie theater and saw The Hunger Games!! The Marathon Community Theater even reminded me of the movie theater back on Cedar Creek Lake--very quaint! To me, the Florida Keys are like a cross between The Bahamas and the Cedar Creek Lake area. We enjoyed renting a car and visiting Key West one day. Actually, we had to drive down there within 24 hours of getting back to The States to check back into the country with Customs and Immigration.
We entered our home waters with our yellow quarantine flag flying, but now we're back to flying just our tattered American Flag.
Our poor Bahamas flag has found a home among Claire's keepsakes. It was HOT in The Keys!!
We made good use of our tent-like contraption called a shadetree. Thank goodness for it. We had to use the few screens we have in the Keys, as well, because the noseeums and mosquitoes were everywhere at dusk. The screen over the companion way was not effective in keeping out the local marina cat, however! One morning, Mark woke up to find him sitting noiselessly on a ledge in our bedroom! Timmy never once barked at him--never even knew he was there! Another time, he showed up while I was alone practicing guitar in the salon. He just appeared at the companionway after silently jumping aboard; it was a little creepy!
Our 20 hour trip from Marathon to West Palm Beach was also unremarkable. We just barely made our weather window. We pulled away from the dock just minutes after the solar panel guy stepped off Nancy Lu. We had taken down the shadetree that morning and gotten everything else that we could ready to go. Well, the passage wasn't entirely unremarkable--we saw a shark when we were out about 4 miles (we just saw its fin gliding above the surface; I don't know why, but it was eerie--we're used to seeing dolphins not sharks). A little later, we received some sad news from Mark's brother, Alan. They had to put our beloved Golden Retriever, Chester, down. That was especially hard to hear so close to our return home.
At dusk, right after our clam vermicelli dinner, we were boarded by the US Coast Guard for the second time in about 5 months. Also, for this passage, we were sailing with the Gulf Stream instead of across it so we were flying with the current! On my midnight to 3:00 am watch, I logged us going between 9.5 and 10.2 knots.
We're working on eating everything that we have on board Nancy Lu, but it's a temptation to eat-out here in America! When we leave West Palm Beach, we will do a non-stop passage to Norfolk in the Gulf Stream! It could take anywhere between 3 and 4 days depending on how fast we're able to sail. We're looking forward to seeing our friends and mentors Peter and Beth while we're there. They'll be headed back for another summer in beautiful Maine. We'd love to go too, but we have lots to do to get Claire in summer school at Baylor and other obligations. It's the end of our time on Nancy Lu for a while. We catch a flight back to Texas on May 1 where our friend, Kenny, will pick us up from the airport! Right now, I'm off to dig a Diet Dr Pepper out of the fridge. BTW, we made it back to Florida with 4 rolls of paper towels left. Yay us! Our goal was not to have to buy any in The Bahamas because they're so expensive! I also made it back with hazelnut flavored General Foods International Coffee to spare--my favorite!
See the photo gallery for more pictures.
03/28/2012, Georgetown, Bahamas
The sun is down and the horizon is deepening from pink to purple as I type. There's just a sliver of moon tonight. So far the only real stars visible from my seat in the cockpit are the planets Venus and Jupiter, but the anchor lights from our boat neighbors in Georgetown are already shining brightly. As I enjoy another twilight in the Bahamas, I can't help thinking about the fact that it is also the twilight of our first Nancy Lu adventure. Just as I was starting to register my slightly melancholy mood, people started coming over the VHF radio saying goodnight to Georgetown. This is a regular occurrence in Elizabeth Harbour and usually ends with someone saying "Goodnight, John Boy!" That normally makes me laugh, but tonight I just smiled.
We've arrived back in Georgetown after our time on Cat Island and Conception Island. What a difference 20 days makes. The annual regatta is over and lots of boats have left to head north. That's what we're going to be doing very soon. Captain Mark is studying the weather, tides and charts to plan the best day to start our 1,200 plus mile journey back to Norfolk starting with 362 miles to Florida.
The last blog entry was posted from the gas station in New Bight, Cat Island right after Claire and I got back from spending the morning at New Bight Primary School.
We had a great time with the kids reading to them,
listening to them read, and
singing with them.
Claire has improved by leaps and bounds at playing the guitar--so much so that she felt comfortable enough to play for the kids. I was very proud of her!
A couple of days after our time at New Bight Primary, we motored around a point and spent a few days anchored outside a resort at Fernandez Bay. We did a lot of snorkeling there.
Our next stop was Conception Island. We finally caught a Mahi Mahi on one of the lines we were trolling on the way to Conception, but it got away just as Mark was reeling it in.
When we got anchored, one of the other boats in the anchorage brought us over one of the 3 Mahi Mahi they had caught on the way over that day. I guess you would have to say our luck fishing is not that good unless you take into account that we've now had 3 fish given to us already cleaned and filleted! The next day, we took our generous neighbors some chocolate chip cookies that Claire baked.
Conception Island is uninhabited with few visitors.
One day, as Mark and I were exploring on shore, I realized that he and I were the only people on the island.
What a beautiful place! We enjoyed swimming and hiking while we were there.
We arrived back here in Georgetown Friday afternoon, and have spent time in town using the internet at J&K Productions (Mark has to duck to get through the front door☺), doing laundry, grocery shopping and getting my hair cut and colored.
It was a unique experience to have my hair done in a salon/fish shop! Tourists and locals came in every few minutes to look in the cooler and choose from the conch, lobster, grouper or snapper that the hair stylist's husband had caught! Some of the tourists were quite tentative as they walked into what was obviously a beauty salon, but was not so obviously a fish store to purchase their fish. Sunday, we spent the afternoon relaxing on Volleyball beach. We were disappointed that Beach Church is over until next year, but we were happy to meet a few new friends who were on an excursion to Volleyball beach from a resort in Georgetown. We were especially happy to see our friend A.J. I finally had one of the conch salads that he makes at the conch salad bar. It was DELICIOUS!!! We were unable to say good-bye to him the last time we left so we were glad to say a proper good-bye this time and exchange facebook info.
We had a nice surprise while grocery shopping in town--we ran into Lara, Bill and Isobel from Sunrise! We had met them way back in Annapolis and hadn't seen them since.
They invited us over for lunch aboard their boat so I had a chance to return the plate that they left on Nancy Lu when they had dinner with us back in October! How nice!!
While we were having lunch, we were treated to an unexpected visit by a mother dolphin and her child. They swam slowly around the boat for as long as we were there. As we were leaving, a friend of Sunrise's decided to take a swim with them. I would have loved to do that, but we didn't have our snorkeling gear with us. It turns out they were feeding on worms in the sandy bottom. We've had a big sea turtle hanging around Nancy Lu so maybe he's doing the same thing. It seems there's always something new to see!
After lunch that day, I picked up some pendants that I had a local shop owner and artist make from some of the sea glass I've found. They turned out great!!
One of them looks like a sailboat!
Check out the photo gallery for more photos.
We've left the relative hustle and bustle of the cruisers' community where we were anchored in Elizabeth harbor between George Town, Great Exuma Island and Volleyball beach, Stocking Island (cruisers just shorten the place name to Georgetown) for the slow pace of life on the Bahamas out island, Cat Island. I've been looking forward to sailing here ever since I met Mr. Ramsey, the principal in Bullocks Harbour Settlement on Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands. He grew up here as did the actor, Sidney Poitier, and his pride was evident as he told me what to look for on his home island. I've not been disappointed. As with anywhere in the world--even your own hometown (maybe, especially your own hometown) you have to appreciate your surroundings for their uniqueness. Cat Island grows on me every day we're here. It's becoming one of my favorites!
When we first arrived, we were seeking a protected port for a cold front that was predicted to bring very high winds. We opted not to be in Georgetown when the front came in with its 200+ boats that could drag anchor and hit us (we learned via email that this happened to our friends George and Marianne) or vice versa. We took advantage of a weather window and sailed to Hawksnest Marina in "deep south" Cat Island.
It's a somewhat desolate place, but it has nice beaches with hammocks, great showers, a laundry, and WI-FI which could be accessed sitting comfortably on Nancy Lu as opposed to sitting in a restaurant/bar for hours or under the carport at a gas station as Claire and Mark did earlier today! We could ride old complimentary bikes up to the seemingly deserted resort,
but we had to look both ways before crossing the airstrip. The only fresh fish that I've cooked the whole time in the Bahamas were given to me at this marina. One of our big power fishing boat neighbors gave us some Mahi Mahi and another one gave us some Wahoo. They were both delicious! As I was emailing one afternoon, I heard the engines of a jet that had flown in just a little while earlier revving. I jumped up and scrambled off of Nancy Lu and onto a bicycle. I peddled as fast as I could to watch the jet take off. I saw it rise above the brush and veer left out over the ocean,
but by the time I made it to the airstrip, it was once again deserted. All I could hear were birds singing and the wind in the mangroves--peaceful! It turns out that the jet had come to take home the owner of the yacht that later gave us some Wahoo. He left his captain and one-man crew aboard next door to us.
Claire practiced her guitar playing a lot here, and Mark helped her with some strumming patterns for a T. Swift song. I think Mark was really getting into it!
After 5 nights and the wind decreased slightly, we decided to put up our storm sail and sail 10 miles to a big bay called The Bight. We left at 8:00am shortly after high tide. That was critical for us with the depth of our keel so that it was deep enough to get out of the shallow marina entrance.
There was quite a current and the winds were still pretty strong, but we were ready to leave our remote yet peaceful marina. We saw wind between 30 and 35 knots on the sail, but we knew via VHF radio that some friends from Arkansas who we met our second time in the Berry Islands were anchored comfortably in The Bight off of the town of New Bight. We made it here just fine; although, it was our bumpiest sail yet!
The water in The Bight is clear and beautiful.
I've enjoyed swimming off Nancy Lu.
We have a wonderful view of the Hermitage, which is probably Cat Island's main tourist attraction and a real treasure. Claire and Mark hiked up to it the first day we were here with Gary and DeLynn from Arkansas. I decided to save my visit until another day and relax at anchor and hang out our bedding to dry as a hatch was accidentally left open on our salty sail over. I could see Mark and Claire up there through my binoculars.
The next day, we met Gary and DeLynn on the beach to share a rental car and explore the island that way. We drove (on the left side of the rode) the whole 45 mile long island from north to "deep south". They wanted to see where Hawks Nest Marina was so we drove all the way out there. I have to say that traveling the unmaintained road was much more enjoyable by bicycle than car. During our stay at the marina, I had peddled all the way from Hawks Nest Marina 5 miles upwind along the coast to the settlement of McQueen and back. Traveling on a bike; although slower (only a little), was a lot more pleasant, quieter and less bumpy than by car. It's a lot easier to avoid rocks and potholes with two thin tires than 4 thick ones! A bike ride also lent itself better to contemplation and the enjoyment of listening to the beautiful songs of the birds and feeling and hearing the wind and surf.
On our car trip, we were introduced to a young couple from Colorado who Gary and DeLynn had met earlier that week. They are running a resort in northern Cat Island--quite an undertaking! It was interesting to get a tour of the reverse osmosis system for water purification that they installed and use for the brackish well water they have on the property.
We stopped for lunch at what looked like it might be a restaurant; though, there was no sign in the settlement of Knowles. On Cat Island, Timmy has been welcomed into both restaurants where we've eaten because tourist's patronage is greatly appreciated, and I don't think there is much of a health department presence on this "out island". Although, I didn't enjoy the fast paced, bumpy car tour that much, I was glad to drop off our dry, but still salty bedding at a laundromat that has wash, dry and fold service. The highlight of that stop was meeting another cruising couple and the little daughter of the laundry attendant who was attracted to Timmy and we saw later as she passed the offering basket at church on Sunday. I also enjoyed catching glimpses of ruins of Loyalist homes (the former residents were from the losing side of the American Revolution). They are all over this island.
We also got out of the car and investigated some plantation great houses from that era
and the ruins of the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic church built by Father Jerome.
Father Jerome, born in 1876, was in this order: an architect, an Anglican minister, a rebuilder of Anglican churches destroyed by hurricanes in the Bahamas, a catholic priest, a missionary to Australia, and a monk who lived out his last days and is buried at The Hermitage, a miniature replica of a European Franciscan monastery, which he built with his own hands at the age of 62. I visited The Hermitage with Mark and Claire as my tour guides since they had already been. It's about a 20 minute walk from the beach where we anchored our dinghy.
Even the first part of the walk was interesting as we passed barely discernible gardens on the side of the rode that the locals cultivate between dead trees.
As we looked up towards The Hermitage from the road, it seemed as if we were looking up at a medieval monastery or castle in a fairy tale.
There is a portal built by Father Jerome that is inscribed Mount Alvernia where you leave the road and start climbing the hill
past the Stations of the Cross built along the way. I felt as if I was going back in time the closer I came. The hill gets steeper as you get closer and steps are cut into the limestone. It is truly a place that evokes worship for the One who this monk so clearly loved and revered.
I went back by myself today while Mark and Claire sat outside the gas station working on a Baylor housing application and corresponding via email with Claire's summer school adviser.
She's so EXCITED about starting Baylor!
We attended Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, also built by Father Jerome, on Sunday. It was a wonderful service! Holy Redeemer was not the church we set out to visit, but it's where we ended up, and I'm sure glad we did!
Sunday morning, we anchored our dinghy on a pristine beach that is the backyard of the New Bight Primary School while we attended the worship service.
Today, Mark dropped me off by dinghy at that same beach while he and Claire headed to the gas station, and I talked with the principal, Cosette Johnson, about Claire and me coming tomorrow morning to read with the kids. Even before I got out of the dinghy, some of the children outside were waving and calling to me!
They led me to where Mrs. Johnson was critiquing a group of children practicing a song they will present at a retirement celebration for their retiring superintendent.
What a treat for me to watch them sing and dance as two little boys accompanied them with percussion! The last line of the chorus was (I'll try to use spelling that reflects the pronunciations they use, which gives the song it's great island flavor):
"You wuk so haahd aroun' deez islands;
so lady go home ahn enjoy retahment!"
The song had several verses, and I think it must be an original composition. Anyway, it was awesome!
I've chosen to read to the kids a book that Beth, our friend with the cottage in Maine, gave to Claire--Miss Rumphius. I think it will be perfect for them! I can't wait!
Mark will do the tedious job of posting this blog entry at the gas station while Claire and I are at the school.
You can find more pictures in the photo gallery.