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Retirement to Bahamas
Mike and Judy have been sailing for some 25 years. We have dreamed for years about retiring and sailing to the Bahamas and Caribbean. We are living our dream!
Ann and Harold's Visit

Many of you readers know our wonderful friends Ann and Harold Raper. They are long time members of the Fredericton Yacht Club and well travelled cruisers. Well, Ann and Harold are more than that to Judy and I; in many ways they have been our cruising mentors and are much like older brother and sister to Judy and I.

Ten years ago, we were invited on their boat, Rumpot, to sail with them in the Bahamas. We joined them, here in Georgetown and sailed with them back to Nassau as they began the slow return of their boat to Canada. We had a wonderful week or so with them and had vivid memories of the warm, azure blue waters, interesting communities and of course their warm companionship. This rich experience fuelled our desire to do the same thing and here we are ten years later.

So, it was particularly poignant for us that Ann and Harold would join us for a visit.

Unfortunately, the weather did anything but cooperate - we had very strong winds virtually all the time they were here - winds always in excess of 20 knots and gusting to well over 30 on occasions. So, it made leaving the relative comfort of the anchorage not practical. But, we had fun nevertheless.

Harold is a very competitive guy and also a terrible tease. When we were down ten years ago (and I referenced this competition in an earlier blog posting) we'd play cribbage in the evening for bottles of rum. Ultimately I lost six bottles the last time. I figured it was time to even the score! Well, Harold certainly has not lost his edge and I think the final reckoning this time was me owing Harold eight bottles!

Despite our being boat bound, we had lots of fun. We spent time with our neighbouring boats, did a great taxi tour of Exuma (will be covered in a subsequent posting), did beach walks, snorkelled, played volleyball, and generally thoroughly enjoyed their company.

Ann and Harold, thanks for joining us!

The Life of a Georgetown Cruiser

Rather than chronicle each day of our stay here in Georgetown. I thought I'd generalize by giving you a snap shot of this lifestyle in this cruiser friendly place. There are two nicknames which I think illustrate what this place is about:

Chicken Harbour - many ambitious cruisers, with designs of sailing the world, the Atlantic or even more locally elsewhere in the Caribbean, use Georgetown as an intermediate destination; a place to rest a bit, provision and socialize before they forge on. Well, many, many of these never make it past Georgetown. It's just so comfortable here and there are big seas, very challenging passages and far fewer boaters as you move on. So, folks, "chicken out" of their cruising ambitions and spend weeks here only to return happy, content and safe back to the US to return again next year. We had no plans to go further south so we don't have to accept the "chicken" moniker.

Summer Camp for Cruisers - There's something for everybody here. There are lots of events, socializing, competitions, lectures, parties, challenges. And these cruisers, for the most part retired couples between 55 and 75 revel in the adolescent charm.

So, a typical day on Sea Sharp. I usually wake around 6:00 and read until 6:30. Then get up and tune in the short wave radio to Chris Parker's weather broadcast. Won't go into details but this guy offers a service which provides cruisers with precise, timely and relevant weather and his accuracy borders on uncanny. Around 7:00 I may go back to bed to read for a while more or do some chores (there are always chores to do). I put on tea (for me), coffee (for Judy) and food (for Chopin) then listen to the 8:00 cruisers net.

This event is the centroid of the cruisers' activities. It is a moderated forum on the marine radio, where announcements from local businesses are posted., information about the Regatta is provided (I'll explain more about this later), cruiser community events are announced, specific requests from cruisers are posted, weather forecast is broadcast, new boaters can self-announce and it always ends with a "thought for the day". It is very well done and informative. In addition to the information about what's going on, there is virtually no part, repair, advice or help you cannot get by broadcasting your request on this "net". For example, we've had problems with our virtually new inflatable dinghy and put our a request for some plywood and a jig saw. Immediately after the net, we probably received ten calls offering assistance. We rounded up the stuff, did the repair, and continued to get casual questions of concern from cruisers who recalled our request as to how we made out. It is very comforting to have this huge network of support.

So, after cruisers net, we have a light breakfast then over to the beach (a two minute dinghy ride from our boat) for beach Yoga. Quite often Judy will swim over and back while I take the dinghy.

After Yoga and chatting with our Yogaites on beach, back to Sea Sharp where we plan the rest of the day. If the harbour is not too choppy and we need stuff in town, we'll take the often-wet ride across to town. In the afternoon, we have a potpourri of activities to do; some organized some not. We may go over to Volleyball Beach for, guess what? Volleyball, or to partake in various other events including but certainly not limited to: art, basket weaving, dominoes, bocce ball, bridge etc. etc. If we're not in the mood for organized stuff, we'll take a beach walk or hike one of the trails on Stocking Island - sometimes we do both, - walk the beach and return by trail.

If it's Thursday, Judy will go to Beach Church Choir. And, if it's Sunday, we go to Beach Church at 9:30.

We almost always take Chopin for a walk later in the afternoon when the wind settles down and he's in need of some off-boat activity. There is a small but very nice beach just off our boat, so we load Chopin and me in the dinghy and Judy swims over. From there Judy takes him an a hike through his favourite path to an even more private and sheltered beach. I sit on the beach and read.

There is almost always a happy hour somewhere - sometimes organized sometimes a specific invitation. So we assemble some hors d'oeuvres and a couple of drinks and dinghy over to either the beach or the boat hosting the event. Back to Sea Sharp and cook supper (sometimes not if there have been sufficient munchies) where we watch the sun go down. If there's no evening event, we start to think about going to bed around 8:00.

We usually do some chore each day, be it laundry, boat cleaning, maintenance, blog update, etc.

All in all, while it may not sound like a filled day, there just doesn't seem to be any spare time and when evening comes, we are almost always ready for sleep.

02/20/2009 | Janet Trenholm
Basket weaving?????
Social Butterflies

Cruising can be somewhat solitary and intimate, anchored off in quiet little harbours, often with few if any other boats in sight. However, the life in Georgetown is anything but solitary; there is constant and frequent interaction; some formal, some informal and many impromptu. As you can imagine, Judy loves this aspect, as do I. There are many hors d'oeuvres and happy hour get-togethers, lots of chatting, various organized parties and lots of chatting with fellow cruisers as we go through our day. One thing we were advised in terms of provisioning before we crossed to Bahamas was to stock up with lots and lots of crackers, biscuits, munchies, etc.; both because they are pricey here but also because there are so many potluck events.

So, a few of our memorable get-togethers.....

We had a wonderful evening on an impressive Island Packet 440 called Charmed. We had met Craig and Debbie, primarily on VHF radio, way back in the Chesapeake. We brought a piece of rope for them from Nassau (they broke their furling line) and finally caught up with them here in Georgetown.

Our boat buddies Kathy and Darius invited the NBers and friends to an evening on Breeze Hunter. So a dozen of us assemble in their commodious cockpit for a great evening of mirth and chat.

We and many others were quite boat bound from the incessant winds so a couple of us boats at Sand Dollar Beach so we organized a "Breaking Wind" happy hour at Sand Dollar. Probably 75 cruiser attended and many boat cards were exchanged, old acquaintances renewed and new friends made.

We attended a fantastic Valentines' Day Party at the Chat and Chill, the beach bar off Volley Ball Beach. The weather was fantastic and we danced the night away on the beach. (Well, dancing the "night away" in cruiser terms means the dance started at 6:00 and ended at 10:00 - cruisers go to bed very early).

We've had numerous other get-togethers and met tons of people. Our collection of boat cards (like business cards but with cruisers' information) is burgeoning. There have been few days when we've not been invited or have invited some cruisers for some libations and chat. As you can imagine, Judy revels in this place and there have been times albeit rare, when Judy wants to be alone.

02/19/2009 | jerry b
hey its me in haines city, florida, 20 miles sw from orlando. thanks for the updates on the blog, so i can get my blog fix. flying back friday night 2oth. came down monday morning.
enjoying the nice weather like you ...sort of
Catching up in Georgetown

I realize it's been a long time since we've provided and informative post but the combination of a long stretch of very windy weather, limited internet access and just being busy has gotten in the way. So I hope to do several posts which will fill you in on our activities of the last two weeks. I've decided to break the posts down into four segments; Ann and Harold's Visit, Social Butterflies; Georgetown and Great Exuma Island; The life of a Georgetown Cruiser. May not be able to post these for a few days but please be patient.

02/17/2009 | Mary B.
this picture is deceiving, when did you get so tall?????
02/17/2009 | Sarah & Norman
that photo brings back memories with Bonnie & Mike. So glad to see all are having a great time just like in Grand Lake with same sailors.
all the best.
Quick Update

Sorry dear readers, we have not had a chance to update the blog since we've been in G'town. We had nine days of strong winds and could not get internet. Anyway, just to let you know we are fine and warm. Weather now is fantastic. Will compose a more lengthy series of posts soon

02/15/2009 | Janet
Wondered what you were up to. Glad all is well.
02/21/2009 | Brian and Frances Lemon (Baccalieu V)
Hi Mike and Judy
Greetings from St. Lucia. Glad to hear to hear you made it south after your ordeal. We are headed to Georgetown in early April and would love to rendezvous with you if you are still in the vicinity. We sailed from Beaufort in early Nov; arrived in St. Thomas 9 days later. We spent 21/2 pleasant months in Virgins with frequent company. We sailed down to St. Lucia and are planning to work our way back thru island chain to G'town by early April. We too are amazed at number of Quebecers in southern islands but not many from Ontario or Maritimes other tha n few multi season residents. We'd enjoy hearing from you. Email or care
Brian and Frances
Birthday Girl

It's Sunday, Feb 1, Judy's 40th birthday for the sixteenth time. The weather is somewhat settled and after having been boat bound all of yesterday, we're hankering for an active day. We get up early and first off take poor Chopin for a long walk on the beach. He's surely happy to be off the boat for a while.

They we're off to Church on the Beach. This non-denominational service is held right on a fantastic beach. Judy joins the choir, we sit outdoors in the sun and sand and listen to songs, hear readings and casual sermons and meet new folks. It is casual but very meaningful. Judy and I think about our life, our families but most importantly, our dear brother John. There is a meet an greet after the service and we meet many new friends.

Back to Sea Sharp for a short while then to the beach where we rendezvous with Breeze Hunter and Audacious for a fantastic hike around Stocking Island. Mike an Bonnie, having been in the Bahamas for so long, are great interpretive guides, pointing out the floral and fauna and geographic features.

Judy is very content in her own skin and loves birthdays; especially hers. So, I know we need to make a "fuss" over it. So I invite the aforementioned boaters over to Sea Sharp for a potluck birthday party for Judy. It's a great time with good food, lots of laughs and good music. I don't have a present for Judy but do assemble a musical collage of songs reflective of aspects of her life. It is good fun and Judy is delighted.

Judy keeps saying that this is the first time in her life that she's been in a warm climate for her birthday and she's quite delighted with this.

02/04/2009 | Suzanne, Geneviève et Alexandre
Happy Birthday Judy! Looks like you had a great day. We love you.

02/05/2009 | Janet Trenholm
Happy Birthday Judy.... I had meant to send this on the exact day and... guess what... I forgot! Looks (and sounds) like you guys are having a blast!
02/05/2009 | B, Bill and Boys
Happy birthday Judy, sorry we're a couple of days late.
02/08/2009 | Connie Munro
Hi Mike and Judy. Just catching up on your blog. Happy belated birthday, Judy! Sounds like a good time was had by all. And congrats on finally spending a birthday in a warm climate!
02/08/2009 | Mike & Deb
Hi Judy & Mike (&Chopin)

Really enjoy reading your blog...the kind of extreme details...cruisers can get into..haha. Well, sorry to have missed your birthday...yet a few days...hope it was a good one...and unforgettable as it seemed to be.
love to you both,
Deb & Mike(& miss meow)

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Preparing for Retirement Trip
Who: Mike, Judy and Chopin (the boat cat)
Port: Douglas Harbour, NB, Canada
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