12/29/2011, Warderick Well's Cay, Exuma's, Bahamas
Elliott and Brendan inside the skeleton of a sperm whale
Thursday 29 December 2011
We have just arrived at the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.
Here are some notes I made last night:
Brendan is on deck wearing a miner's headtorch. He is on anchor watch!
We narrowly escaped disaster just earlier: the anchor buoy and anchor buoy rope wrapped themselves around the rudder. This happened because of the tide changing. At that point Queenie (and all other boats) swing around and everything else swings too.
Queenie somehow moved herself on top of the anchor buoy line...
Brendan is now using his miner's headtorch to signal to the stars overhead and he gives them a little wave. Then he gets busy pegging out all the wet clothing on the guard rail. He has decided that he loves this job so much, that from now on he will deal with all the wet laundry at home as well!(He is going to regret that!!!)
Ulric has appointed Quinn to be 'on Brendan watch', so he is on deck as well. Life aboard is different from London Life...
Blog continued on Thursday.
At about 9pm last night Ulric was diving (into the freezing waters) in complete darkness... to hunt for the anchor ball. Quinn was in the dinghy shining torches - to little effect. We may want to invest in a decent under water torch for future reference.
All attempts failed so we agreed on a watch system for the night. Problem was that this rope, stuck and rigged the wrong way, could pull out the anchor and we might then find ourselves drifting on the nearest rock, or crashing into the nearest boat...
Quinn took first watch, 9 pm - midnight with the DS, coffee and a packet of crisps. At midnight I climbed out of my bunk and pulled on my leggings and anything warm I could find - but just then Quinn came down from deck and reported that the anchor ball had untangled itself and reappeared (rather miraculously!) on the correct (safe) side of the boat. RESULT! So I never had to do my midnight - 3am watch, quite a relief. What a competent and cool 11 year old we have!
This morning all was well with anchor balls and boys and monkeys and husband. The weather was not so great: overcast, cold, rain. I said to Ulric: 'If I didn't know better I'd think we were on our way to the Isle of Wight...'
We have picked up mooring ball nr 10 and we will go see the Park Rangers after lunch. Lunch is guacamole, lettuce and carrot wraps, courtesy of Dad.
The boys now did a trip to the park rangers' office and beach. They tell me that there is a little museum there. It features the 52 foot skeleton of a sperm whale. He died in 1995 because of eating plastic carrier bags that he took for jellyfish. There was another skeleton that belonged to a pilot whale called Stinky. He was stranded, along with three other whales, at Norman Cay...
Brendan is deep in his book about OCEANS that he got for Christmas .... He tells me that dolphins sometimes play with plastic carrier bags.... A dangerous came, clearly....
This too is part of Project Song of the Whale: learning how whales die because of rubbish dumped by human beings...
The boat moored closest to the beach is called LIFE IS SHORT. Ulric liked the name but misquoted it as 'Life Is TOO Short'. Elliott set him straight and said: SHORT or TOO SHORT - there IS A DIFFERENCE DAD!!! A world of difference (and wisdom) indeed!
Four of us just made another outing ashore. Quinn stayed on board with the hand held VHF, in charge of the boat. When it was time to return, he switched on the mast lighting to pilot us home!
The little beach was deserted as the sun prepared to drop below the horizon. The boys showed me the skeleton of the sperm whale, mounted on the beach. Brendan showed me his Sand City.
Ulric showed me the walking trail to BOO BOO HILL. The story is that a ship was wrecked here and everyone on board perished. Lore says that they were shipwrecked here, surrounded by water but with not a drop of drink (rain and fresh water being a scarse commodity here). On nights where there is a full moon apparently you can hear the souls of those wretched people crying and howling for help and water. Hence the name Boo Boo Hill... (Sounds like "someone" needs to do some psycho pomp work around here!)
Elliott and I used two conch shells as walking stones and drew a lemniscate on the beach. Then we walked it - but he kept overtaking me. I am sure there is some kind of symbolism in that!
Brendan was concerned about his Sand City: would high tide sweep it all away? 'No, Brendan!', says big brother Elliott: 'The tide will come and it will be an underwater city LIKE ATLANTIS!' Brendan is at peace with that...
Brendan is pegging out wet laundry once again. Ulric offers him a headtorch. We just had a glimpse of the moon. She waved at us before hiding again behind a dark cloud. New Moon still, first quarter, so no ghosts howling nearby. The stars are appearing one by one as I am typing these words.
Big fishes are circling the boat and Ulric saw a lot of stingrays earlier, near the floating dive pontoon. The water is so clear, the wildlife so abundant.... This is how all water on earth should be, far from pollution and overfishing... magic and life-enhancing...
The park rangers have two kayaks available: you can borrow them free of charge. Elliott has just invited Quinn to go kayaking with him first thing tomorrow morning. Dad can follow in the dinghy and supervise. I am going to beg Dad to stay here for another night, - or at least another morning! - it is the closest to Paradise we got on our Cruise in the Bahamas. I have changed my mind, it is nothing like the Isle of Wight, it is much closer to.... Atlantis!
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
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