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The Adventure Continues...
Staniel Cay All Age School
04/09/2012, Staniel Cay, Exumas

Sometimes it just feels good to be fortunate enough to live our lifestyle. We met a couple (Bev and Arne on Scandia) way back in Ft. Myers Beach whose plans had changed and wouldn't be able to sail to the Bahamas and asked us if we would deliver a large box of school supplies to the Staniel Cay All Age School. Of course we said yes. Maryann has delivered supplies in past trips to the Bahamas to Black Point settlement, one of her favorite islands. Funding is sparse and supplies are sorely needed.
The way schools work here is that all the island kids attend their local school until they are high school age. Then they ship out to Nassau to attend the only high school in the islands. They live with relatives and come home on the Mail Boat whenever they can.
The one room school is just that, reminiscent of the US one room schools. Very primitive, just pencils and computers, labs or other frills. But very tidy and the kids were all in crisp, clean uniforms and stand when you enter shouting out, "Welcome visitor!" in unison.
The picture is of the kids and their teacher with us and the supplies. They seemed very grateful, or maybe they were all fidgety because it was time for their lunch break?! Anyway you look at it, it was a good day.

Big Major's Spot & the Pigs
04/09/2012, Big Major's Spot, Exumas

We left Fresh Creek and headed for the Exumas through the abandoned Navy Decca Channel, assuring us there were no reefs on the route. We traveled overnight on a beautiful calm evening and arrived at Big Major's Spot by 2 in the afternoon.
Big Major's is a large and sandy anchorage and it was quite busy when we arrived. Being Easter week brought out a plethora of mega yachts and even a couple of giga yachts like we have never seen before! An eyesore for us and earsore too as their jet skis and power boats buzzed around the mother ship like nats.
Everyone was there to see the wild pigs on the beach. Some of you may have seen them yourselves or seen our pictures from previous years. It is always a giggle to see the big sows swim out to the dinghy and hold their well-trained mouths open for cruiser treats.
Sometimes there are goats and cats on the island as well but this year was surprising in that there were a bunch (gaggle, flock, whatever) of piglets. The picture is of Maryann feeding the little piggies. They were quite endearing.
Depending on when you arrive at Big Major's, one day there are X number of pigs and the next there are X minus one. Then there is usually a radio call announcing a genuine island pig roast with a charge attached to eat the very pig you were feeding a few days ago! Who said the Bahamians aren't enterprising?!?

To Fresh Creek, Andros

Next morning, feeling refreshed, we headed for Fresh Creek, Andros Island. It was a glorious day with the wind aft of the beam and we raced south at a pretty good clip. It was the kind of sail you remember for a long time, just beautiful conditions.
Andros is the largest of the islands but with very few people in only about 3 settlements. The land has an abundance of fresh water which is surely an anomaly in the Bahamas. In fact, until recently they provided all the fresh water to Nassau via water barge. Mennonites live inland and farm produce they sell locally.
Fresh Creek itself is the largest settlement and is home to the Androsia factory. Androsia is like Batik and is still made the old-fashioned way using wax and stamps of popular figures like dolphins, palm trees and flamingos. The photo is of the small shop and shows the riot of bright colors Don was so impressed he bought a bright RED shirt! Of course Maryann had to have a shirt as well.
The people were cordial and since there aren't many boaters who pass through this remote island they seemed genuinely glad to see us.

Leaving the States
03/29/2012, Key Biscayne, Fl

As we prepare to leave the US, we have been anchored on the south end of Key Biscayne in beautiful Bill Baggs State Park. The lighthouse in the picture looks over Cape Florida and was restored to its current beauty in the 70's when lighthouses became in vogue everywhere. The park is an oasis, away from the big city of Miami and all that goes with it. We've seen many birds, dolphins and a LARGE manatee today under our dinghy.

Today we walked to 'town' to stock up on fresh produce and replenish vitamins and were astounded by the highly coiffed, made up, liposuctioned and perfumed women, many of them with their maids in tow! We were on sensory overload!

We are crossing the Gulfstream tomorrow morning and will write when we have internet again.

03/30/2012 | Bruce
We (Bob, Jason, Linda, Jamie, et. al.) are all pulling for you both as you FINALLY find all the conditions--not just the weather but everything else--such that you're actually getting to leave the US and live the dream. Love you!
We Escaped Marathon!
03/27/2012, Key Biscayne, Florida

Finally, at long last we escaped Boot Key Harbor after 2 months of waiting for the right weather window. And just under the wire too! We mean that literally!!

When we departed Saturday evening at dead low tide there were probably 150 boats who also wanted to depart, had departed and some who could not depart. Why, you ask? Well, the entrance/exit to the harbor is through a now-defunct fixed bridge whose center section has been removed. Above the section are wires that lead over to an island. A tall masted vessel hit the wires recently and they began sagging down across the opening. Day by day the wires drooped lower and lower and day by day nothing was done about it. Several boats trying to escape also hit the wires making it worse. So, when we say we escaped just under the wire we mean it! It was tense going but we made it and did not run aground (low tide) in the process.

Our plans were to head north, anchor out near Rodriguez Key and cross the Gulfstream on Monday. But, when we stuck our noses out there on Monday morning the conditions were worse than forecast and not to our liking (or the cats). So, being prudent mariners (and basically wanting flat seas for the treacherous Gulfstream crossing) we turned back into the more protected Hawk Channel and headed north for Key Biscayne.

So, I couldn't get the Google map photo of where we are currently anchored to upload but we are protected by the island for the strong winds expected today and tomorrow. We will try to cross again Thursday. Ain' t life grand?

Tropical Party
03/19/2012, Boot Key Harbor, FL

We threw a themed potluck the other night. We decided there were too many of us here that want to be in the Caribbean, are dreaming about someday going to the Caribbean or generally would like to be anywhere but here. We've all been harbor bound due to the weather and have a bit of cabin fever...if that is possible when you live on a boat.

So we hosted a tropical party. Each couple we invited was told to dress in something tropical (some did not quite get there) and to bring a tropical dish. About 20 of us enjoyed great food ranging from Caribbean Chicken to Jerk Fish to peas and rice. We even had ice cream with coconut rum on top!

After listening to reggae and steel drums on iPod speakers the crowd drifted off to dream of getting out of here. A good time was had by all.

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The crew and boat
Who: Maryann Timon & Don Mack
Port: Baltimore, MD
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