Shark caught in the light from our boat
Friday 30 December 2011
When you find yourself in Paradise, poems flow because everyday language does not suffice.
Those poems are like photographs of fleeting moments: exquisite, ephemeral, light dancing on water, rainbows dancing on the beach...
Late last night two sharks swam figures 8 around our boat. I only spotted them because of the new mast lighting.
This morning we were all on the beach by 8 am, to claim the kayaks that belong to the park rangers.
When we returned the boat, a small bird sat in the cockpit, eating the crumbs of our breakfast. He hopped onto the steering wheel to greet us, completely unafraid.
The best thing of all? There is no reception here, so Dad has become un-glued from his mobile phone!
Dance of Infinite Flight
Direct dial to Paradise...
A sudden sound: I am not alone in the main cabin! The little bird has flown in to talk to me. Shortly after the boys arrive back by dinghy. Says Dad: we must get that bird OUT! Says Quinn: 'No way Dad, that bird has the right to decide where it wants to live ... and it wants to live on board!'
THE SOUNDS OF PARADISE (On deck, around 10 pm last night)
A sudden urge
The Sounds of Paradise
Faint echoes of Atlantis
Big fishes circling our boat, doing belly flops
The Song of the Moon
The Pleiades right over our head, perched at the top of our mast
Two children asleep, their dreams breeze around us
But I sense
Quinn's wakeful silence
A mother's instinct
Added to the Symphony of Mother Night
In total silence
Two sharks arrive
They too have their place
They too add their song
To the Sounds of Paradise
NEW MOON DIARY
The Orange Moon, appears in the night sky as a luminous spirit ship
A Golden Bull, briefly
The Great Birdman in the sky
Before dropping back into sacred mystery,
Below the horizon of Mother Night
BACK TO BLACK (in tribute to Amy Winehouse)
To think that
While we sleep
Sharks swim inches from our heads
About that man-make shark
The size of a whale
But where is the dorsal fin?
Candied orange peel Moon
Plunging all of Creation into darkness
Husband listens on my i-pod
To BACK TO BLACK...
THE SOUND OF MORNING
So this is the sound of morning
A flying fish walks towards us on its tail
Like a silver ballerina on tip toes
Not quite taking flight
As the wind speed registers as 0.0
The clouds acquire a pink lining
A puddle on the beach turns bright pink
Heralding a birth
Half the Sun
Reflected in a puddle on the beach
So many sparks!
Delivery of a "pecan crunch" granola bar
Elliott gets "chocolate chip"
Yesterday the depth alarm sounded
Because a huge fish
Passed under our boat
We suspect a Manta Ray
THE SYMPHONY OF MORNING
Of waves rolling in
And the Sun riding up
Of birds talking on the beach
Children squabbling below deck
The song of morning stars unseen
Of Mars and of Saturn
Of Berenice's Hair
And the Herdsman in the Sky
Invisible but present
They too sing their song
I comb my mermaid's hair
On deck, on deck
THE SYMPHONY OF MORNING
ON THE BEACH AT 8AM
A brandnew morning
The beach swept clean
To welcome another day
Only the tiny footprints
Of a rodent
By Brendans' small footprints
The Dance of Life!
Brendan's Sand City
Was swept away
Only conch shells remain
We need to dive
Who says Atlantis does not exist?!
The Dance of Life!
Not far from here
The Bimini Steps rest
Ancient sacred mystery
A shark noses around
Sharks don't need steps
And neither do dolphins
The Dance of Life!
Brendan sets himself the task
Of rebuilding Atlantis
The skeleton of the sperm whale
Grunts just once
The Big Brothers in their kayaks
To enter the harbour
One oar is used
To dig a moat
The morning sun
Lights the Bimini Steps
The Ocean sings
Rebuilt in a day
And that night
Once again washed away...
Dad paddles out to sea
In a bright green kayak
And orange top
That says WORK LESS
Shall I take a photograph
To show him
The statement he makes?
Can he read his own tracks?!
GLYPH IN THE SAND
I draw a lemniscate on the beach
Use conch shells as walking stones
As the tide comes in
Waves lick the glyph
Reclaim the ground
Moves between worlds
In the sand
The glyph shifts, dances, exists
Outside space and time
SAVE ME (NOT)!
Elliott in kayak
Paddles out to sea
Disappears behind the headland
He can't get back
by the strong current
Dad to the rescue
In the dinghy
Elliott in kayak
Reappears from behind the headland
Raising his oar as a weapon
Can't be saved from themselves...
By Imelda Almqvist
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