Queen's Ransom at dusk off Wardrick Wells Cay, Exumas
I am writing this on the flight from Miami to Philadelphia. It is my first blog entry on this leg of Queen's Ransom's Atlantic circuit; from Fort Lauderdale to George Town, Bahamas. One of Imelda's tasks onboard is to be the chief blog writer; besides being the main reef spotter and dishwashing fairy. Imelda has been tremendous in getting used to this life which does not come natural to her. I have been impressed by her sturdiness of dealing with both fairly rough conditions and some long passages. We have covered a lot of distance in many senses of the word. We had some longish crossings; across the Straight of Florida to the Biminis and across the Great Bahama Bank to the Berrys. The latter was around 12 hours; both departing and arriving in darkness.
The main highlights were to explore the Cays of the Exumas and the sense of achievement when finally arriving after a long crossing or getting to places like Nassau or the Exumas. Warderick Well's Cay at Exuma Park was the clear highpoint. Quinn and Elliott could even use Sea Kayaks for free there. We had dinner in the cockpit many evenings in the glow of the oil lamp and I enjoyed my birthday present to myself every evening; the new mast lighting.
The Bahamas has got a reputation to be very shallow and not really a good cruising ground for other than catamarans and very shallow draft vessels. However, with careful planning, this is not really an issue. The islands and waters of the Bahamas are definitely tremendously beautiful. However, we have become spoiled after cruising the Kuna Yala, Central America and the Eastern Caribbean, so we weren't "completely blowned away". Imelda mentioned to me how she now realises the popularity of the Leeuward and Windward islands as pretty perfect cruising grounds being spaced out convenient short day sails from each other with reliable trade winds blowing on the beam.
It all started with some delays as usual to get going. Chris of Yachting Bliss had done an excellent job of getting her ready; a complete contrast to V&G Yachtsworks who gets nothing done. Nevertheless, there were some crucial things that we needed to get done before setting off. One was getting back the liferaft from service, another to get the wind instruments working which cable got damage as the mast lighting was installed.
We had not left Fort Lauderdale before some issues manifested themselves. There was still a bad connection for the bow thruster making the exit of Royal Palm scary and avoiding colliding with an extremely this margin.The replaced forward heads pump was very difficult to use and we still had water entering the engine room... More about this in the next paragraph.
Our most problematic issues during the leg was that the anchor windlass played up; the control on the foredeck was not working at all while the cockpit control needed to on button to be pressed five to ten times to activate. Given all the anchoring, this could have become problematic as the anchor is not easy to weigh manually nor an alternative system using the genoa winches easy to set up. We also had a leak. The seal around the main engine exhaust had given up. I temporarily repaired this with underwater putty which stemmed most of the water inflow.
We struggled with the computer communicating with the satellite phone for most of the trip, but got this sorted now. This is very essential as we will rely on this not only for posting blogs and communicating by email, but also receiving all essential weather information.
However, I am very pleased to report that Queen's Ransom is in much better state of repair departing from than arriving in Florida. The electrical issues are sorted out and the new autopilot is doing very well. She should eventually get ready for her return crossing on the Atlantic later this year. That will be more challenging than the West bound trade wind crossing. Hans has signed up for it already and maybe we also get some other crew members.
A big thank you to Imelda and the children for being so good this leg. Not always easy for them. Captain Hasting and the bear crew will now spend a few months in the plush Emerald Bay Marina. Anders and I should get back onboard in March. That will be awesome.
I am writing this post script on the night flight from Philadelphia to London, January 2nd-3rd, 2012. Americans call this flight the 'red-eye', for obvious reasons.
Elliott and Brendan are already fast asleep, curled up in their seats. I can't see Quinn from where I am seated, we are all spread out.
Before home life overwhelms me and re-absorbs me - inevitably - I want to reflect on this trip and what I take home from "Sailing in the Bahamas".
This trip has reminded me of what it is to be a human being: to lie on deck, sandwiched between Ocean and Milky Way.... Minute, yet opening to the immensity of the cosmos and giving it all a place inside me...
I have had time to catch up on sleep and to dream beautiful futures.
I have had time to weave golden webs of healing and prayer around those who have asked for this and the inspiration to write new prayers.
I have had the chance to dance with the stars and look in the Mirror of Life.
I was exhausted, shattered, when we boarded the outbound plane. Once again I had become a human DOING rather than a human BEING. It is the way of Mothers all over the world, I believe.
I admit that I allowed client work to engulf me and run away with me Autumn 2011 - I learned LOTS and attracting such an abundance of work means I am good at what I do! - but the time has come to set limits on time and energy spent on individual cases and on after care too.
I have realised all over again (but I know this anyway!) what a beautiful family I have. It has been a pleasure to observe all my boys (husband included!) more closely. Quinn (11)'s effortless charm, ease and self-confidence, wherever he finds himself in the world.... Enviable! Our Human Dictionary Elliott (10, Quinn calls him Big Brain!) so eager to learn and read and write... Author, professor, poet in the making.... Brendan (7) still remembers how to talk to animals and the stars.... Building Spirit Cities on every beach.... And asking BIG questions about Creation and The Universe. (Did God create human beings because he got bored one day?)
Then Ulric (will not mention his age to avoid 'domestic violence'!) ... won't he need a HOLIDAY to recover from this holiday???! Wonderful to see him unglued from his mobile phone (one day skin will cover it and it really will become a body part, ugh!)... Playing with the children.... Taking them on dinghy adventures in everyday reality while Mum dreams and journeys in other realms....
I have watched the sunset every day.... I learned when to expect the Moon to appear in the sky, growing a little thinner - then fatter every night, and retreating altogether for three days. I will miss that in London: this Intimacy with the Cosmos... this on-going Dance With All That Is...
I have missed my cello madly and played in my sleep. I have yearned for my paintings and studio time - this goes without saying.
The Bahamas are beautiful and the people there extremely friendly and welcoming. During Junkanoo in Nassau two elderly ladies (both wearing hats suitable for church!) said to me in the street: "We are so glad that you came to the Bahamas to experience Junkanoo... We hope that you will enjoy our beautiful islands and come again, GOD BLESS!" I don't give Japanese (or ANY) tourists walking around London with their cameras such a welcome, in truth!
I am grateful for time away and time to reflect. I return with a new set of dreams and priorities and some fabulous photographs for the Almqvist Collection... of three beautiful boys growing older and wiser (more handsome and eccentric) by the day! As for myself? I just grow... ever more grateful to be alive!
We welcomed the magical year 2012 in the closest place Planet Earth offers to Paradise: pristine... a reminder of what our Emerald & Turquoise Planet should be, from Pole to Pole. Let's hold that vision and make it reality!
Typing this up at Home Sweet Home: and now we are all going to go downstairs and listen to Quinn's first performance on his new electric guitar! THE ALMQVISTS ROCK!!! : )
By Imelda Almqvist
01/02/2012, In the air
Monday 2 January 2012
There was one really good blog title I had not used yet: SWEET ANGELS. This is what the waitress at Jaxson's called our boys a few weeks ago. She says that they are extremely well-behaved and 'we don't often see that in here, the American kids behave like wild animals'.
Two flights down and two to go.... Brendan keeps telling me very optimistically that we are halfway now because 'we have done two flights out of four' today, but those were local flights on Bahamas Air and we still need to do Miami - Philadelphia, Philadelphia - London. That is many hours of flying ahead of us.
I wish boats were like hotel rooms: walk out, check out. IF ONLY!
Leaving Queenie is STRESS FULL (double l intended).
Our neighbour was having a ciggie on deck. I admired his tattoos, then managed to foist all groceries on him, (the perishables like butter and cheese etc) TICK!
Then another guy appeared. Practically broke in to the big motor cruiser Bellissimo. Those cruisers must be fast asleep or not there at all - I observed, walking the lemniscate on a jetty. However, turns out it was Ulric this guy was looking for. He can't be much good at reading boat names, confusing a yacht and motorboat....Mmm... Apparently he is our next boat repair person. Another saga starts.... TICK!
I took Brendan for a walk as we will have many hours of sitting on airplanes. Suddenly Quinn and Elliott were out walking too, with a tray of reindeer cakes. Stored in the oven and very nearly forgotten... Fancy the smells in three months' time! The boys had their feast.
The taxi arrived late. I went to reception to chase it. Extracting Ulric from the boat took even longer - always the hardest job on the list. TICK! However, the REAL problems started at the airport.
The lady on check in desk was asked to verify our visa status for entering the USA. This threw her. She misspelled Belfast (where Ulric's visa was issued) and a long LONG line built behind us as she got nowhere at all. In the end she handwrote us boarding passes, making a point of not allocating us seats and not guaranteeing us a place on the flight. (Five places we had paid full price for, obviously!)
I admit that I made some sarcastic comments. I even admitted to Quinn that I felt some "anger management issues"! However, Quinn said, very matter of factly, "No Mum, that is mood swings! You never hit anyone and I have never seen you strangle anyone either!"
So that is OK then?!
Right... flight to Philly is leaving in 45 minutes. Ulric might pop to the business lounge and post one more blog. This blog is not uplifting and not interesting either, but it is a good excuse to post that picture of the bird that befriended us at the Warwick Cay islands!
By Imelda Almqvist