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Queen’s Ransom’s Atlantic Voyage
Queen’s Ransom III is a Najad 520 from The UK; exploring the Atlantic Islands
Beware of the Killer Iguanas...
12/28/2011, Highborne Cay, Exuma's, Bahamas

Wednesday 28 December 2011

I stand corrected.... Lizard Island is not called Lizard Island, but Allan's Cay. Ulric corrected me last night.

And I might as well admit to a second sin: I did feed the iguanas this morning...

This morning we decided to visit the Lizards (Rock Iguanas) on their little beach.
Our cruising guide mentions something about not getting too cosy around the iguanas because they might bite your ankles, thinking your feet are some tasty morsel.

Unfortunately Brendan got the idea in his head that these are some kind of.... KILLER IGUANAS... out to eat him for lunch.... In his imagination they became the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex... waiting to 'get him'.

I suggested that he could stay in the dinghy bobbing on the water, assuming we could anchor the dinghy on the beach. And so we set off...

There were few iguanas to be seen at first. Ulric pulled the dinghy ashore. Brendan (still in it) promptly had a panic attack. He took the oar, screamed: GET ME OUT OF HERE!!! and tried to paddle back to the mother ship. It was very comical actually.... (my third crime today: cruel mum!)

By then the rock iguanas started to show themselves but T Rexes they were not. Our boys are noisy and splashy and the iguanas were clearly more afraid of them than vice versa. So the boys splashed away and I offered the iguanas some bread crumbs to compensate for any inconvenience caused.

In the meantime the weather was changing and it was time to get back to Queenie. Quinn and Elliott decided to SWIM back to our boat. It was quite an adventure because the current was strong and the waves were high. They were determined to do it and they managed (we stayed close in the dinghy to supervise them). Even Elliott was not swept out to sea, though there were some anxious moents as the waves washed over his little face and spiky blond hair. Still.... This is the sort of thing that healthy boys should be doing.

By the time we were all back on board, Queenie was swinging alarmingly on her anchor chain due to the change of weather. We got too close for comfort to the nearby rocks and decided to motor out as soon as possible. Gusts of 27 knots and a great downpour, but we have now made it to Highborne Cay. Plan is to have lunch ashore, do some shopping and post two blogs before we lose reception again for another few days.

Ulric left his wallet out on deck last night. Maybe he was testing if there were pirates in the area. The pirates did not come, but tropical rains did, so now he is drying a collection of Bahamian dollar bills on the duvet...

Last night Ulric and I did some stargazing over a glass of whiskey. I was pleased to be able to put a name to most constellations in the Northern Hemisphere sky. It has taken me many nights out on Queenie's deck over the last two years to be able to do this. My husband however just uses the star watching "app" on the i-pad! Even so I had to still show him where the stars actually are because we had no internet and the i-pad is only as accurate as the last 'fix'. So location was wrong and the time of night was wrong. Ulric practically mistook Sirius for Uranus and I had a little giggle at his expense (my 4th misdeed: cruel wife!)

Ulric just tries to kiss Quinn in passing (Quinn is washing the dishes). Quinn yells: "I am being bullied! Get off me!" I think he needs at least another two years of intensive 'Kissing Therapy' Brendan....

But hey, at least the Almqvists were not eaten by the Killer Iguanas!

By Imelda Almqvist

A Beer with the Monkey God
12/27/2011, Allan's Cay, Exuma's, Bahamas

Tuesday 27 December 2011, Lizard Island, The Exumas

Last night Ulric left for shore leave with a huge monkey sticking out of his backpack. This is 'the new Monkey God': "Flamebo's Dad", Quinn's Christmas present.... (Flamebo is Quinn's most prominent money. He terrorizes the family on a daily basis...) The Monkey God decided to join Ulric for a beer in The Green Parrot.

From across Nassau Harbour, our mast lightning looks like 'a tall building or fancy skyscraper' (to quote Elliott!) My own observation was that our mast points right at Polaris, The Pole Star. However... our posh new lightning is dwarfed completely by the cruiseship just across the water, decked out for Christmas (or Junkanoo?!) in a whole department store worth of fairy lights. I said to Ulric: you just can't win, can you?!

Some of the conversations on this ship are surreal. Like Ulric saying: 'Sadly we don't have the glue to fix Brendan's poo' (one of Brendan's Christmas presents was a plastic joke turd from the Tiger Shop in Lewisham).

It is a funny existence, being thrown together like this in a confined space 24/7. The phrase 'all hands on deck' means exactly that: at the fuel pontoon this morning all five of us had a task. The Almqvist family works as a team.

Having said that... as soon as we have tied up or gone for anchor, Brendan climbs down again and says proudly: "I am off duty now!"

As I can't take an Omen Walk here (at home the school run is my 'omen walk' for client work!) I make a spectator sport out of reading boat names to get a fix on the day. The first boat I saw in Nassau this morning was called DOLPHIN ENCOUNTERS and I thought: WOOHOO!

The next boat I saw was called Mairi Read and I thought OH NO! because she was one of the most notorious pirates in the history of the Bahamas. She would dress as a man and seems to have possessed the nine lives of a cat, getting into many scrapes and shoot outs. No pirates on our path today please... maybe we can frighten them off by hoisting our own skull & crossbones flag?!

Today our destination was Lizard Island in the Exumas. We just watched the sun set behind Lizard Island. We will go and meet the lizards on the beach tomorrow morning. Brendan has already reminded us that we need to ASK FOR THEIR PERMISSION before we go ashore. Natural born shaman - that one!

Right now it is 6.15 pm. Darkness has cloaked Lizard island and we are safely for anchor in the horseshoe shaped small bay. Soon I will go on deck to greet the Moon and the stars. Ulric and I spent some time on deck last night with the new binoculars. It was fun zooming in on Uranus and Sirius, but even in Nassau there is a lot of light pollution.

Elliott has started writing a newspaper here on board, by the title of The Weekly Herald. It will report the news and have a comic strip plus the details of Elliott and Brendan's 'piano recitals'. It is going to cost about 75p a copy, Elliott is already touting for business. I have told him that Farmor is bound to be a loyal customer!

By Imelda Almqvist

12/26/2011, Nassau

Monday 26 December 2011, Boxing Day, Nassau

Early this morning Harbour Patrol arrived and requested, extremely politely, that we go for anchor closer to the shore. Apparently we had plonked ourselves bang in the middle of the 'traffic lane' here in Nassau Harbour, after dark last night.

Breakfast becomes more 'fast than feast' for every day, because we are running out of supplies. Let's hope one supermarket is open here in Nassau on Boxing Day...

We loaded the dinghy up with rubbish and family members (yes, in that order!) and Quinn piloted us ashore. The little marina that never answers the phone has no berth for us and they do not have a dinghy pontoon either. We were redirected to 'The Green Parrot'!

There Quinn dropped the lock for the dinghy in the water and decided to dive in to retrieve it. After a few attempts he managed (he lock had buried itself in the sand, not easy to find). And so four of us plus an extremely wet Quinn walked into town.

As it is Boxing Day, the great festival of JUNKANOO is on and we arrived just in time to watch the parade. I have always wanting to see a spectacle like the Carnival in Rio.

The origins of Junkanoo are unknown, though what has evolved is a musical tradition that is an enduring symbol for the country. Some claim that the name originated from the slaves that arrived here in the Bahamas during the 17th century. The Africans brought with them the legend of John Canoe, a fierce tribesman. Others claim that the word 'junkanoo' comes from "gens inconnu" (unknown or masked person in French).

Junkanoo is traditionally celebrated on Christmas because this was when the slaves were given time off. That plus New Year's morning. (If we are lucky we might celebrate Junkanoo again in Georgetown next week!)

Junkanoo is perceived as a pagan celebration of life - which is certainly how it felt to me this morning! The revelers wear masks and facepaint, but that is only the start. They also wear elaborate costumes and whole floats are created dedicated to certain themes. This morning I saw floats with a Chinese theme, a Warrior theme, an underwater theme (sea horses and mermaids!) and many MANY other concepts.

Many dancers carry musical instruments: traditional instruments such as the goombay drum (with a goat's or sheep's skin), cowbells, whistles and foghorns as well as brass instruments. This morning I saw trumpets, trombones, French horns and those really huge horns, the name escapes me in English, tubas I think!

The costumes are fabulous, it must take months, if not a whole year to make them. Lots of glitter and peacock feathers! The great thing is that normally it is 'not done' to go around taking photographs of people, but this morning it was positively encouraged! Every float, or set, is accompanied by a 'parade marshal' (a supervisor keeping an eye on things) and several of those marshals noticed my camera and invited me to 'go for it', getting the dancers to turn their faces to me and demonstrate their best moves.

This was pagan, folklore, anthropology and photography HEAVEN!!! In my most fanciful moments I call myself an 'amateur anthropologist... Pappa Ulric and the boys found a pizza place to hide in from the noise and fortify themselves, but there was no dragging Mum off the streets of Nassau. Mum was off with the band and her camera! Got excellent footage too... of little girls dancing and huge men banging huge drums... When things calmed down a little we even found a tiger float for Brendan to have his picture taken with!

All good things come to an end so we did make our way back to Queenie eventually.

Right now Ulric is fixing a leak. He opened one of the lockers in my cabin and I spotted daylight coming in. Not a good sign below the waterline on any ship... EEKS! He is out in the dinghy with a tube of epoxy. However, as we are still in the shipping lane, albeit more tucked out of the way, every time he squirts the epoxy in the hole, another boat passes and their wake knocks the epoxy right out again. So our captain is now contemplating doing the repairs after darkness when things calm down on the water... he is not the happiest of campers exactly right now...

This evening we are going to dine out at The Green Parrot! Plan is to bring a USB stick with all blogs written so far copied onto it, as we have not been able to post for nearly a week due to computer failure and complete lack of internet access.

My hardest task for today is going to be choosing a picture to go with this blog. Wish I could post 50 pictures instead....

I need to climb out now and keep my appointment with Father Sun. This is one of my traditions on the boat: everyday I sit on deck and observe the sunset from beginning to end and thank Father Sun for shining another day. Silly? As a shamanic practitioner I don't think so, someone has got to do it!

By Imelda Almqvist


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