23 April 2020
It has been almost three weeks since the last entry. For my final post, it has been hard to sit down and write. We arrived back into Canada 10 days ago. From ‘door to door’, Bahamas to Canada, our trip took 16 days. With the exception of one full day in Charleston and one full day at the marina in Virginia, 14 of those days were 10-12 hour days on the move. On the move by sun-up and anchoring just before sun-down. We would have gone offshore again if the weather allowed but there was an aggressive cold front coming through so we stayed inland on the ICW (intracoastal waterway). In terms of the terrors I had imagined, with Covid ‘running rampant’ in the US, it was far less of an ordeal than we had feared. Most places we passed through were unusually quiet so we had lots of space to do our thing carefully and safely. Marina staff didn’t come near us and operated on a self-serve basis to help avoid cross-contamination. Our grocery shop in Charleston was the most high-risk thing we did. We topped up with fuel three times, had a handful of meal pick-up interactions, a few office visits at the Marina in Virginia and another handful of contacts with U-Haul and car rental exchanges. Most places we transited, people appeared to be practicing the physical distancing but there were certain areas, like Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, that appeared to be experiencing a different reality. As we motored north up the waterway on a Saturday, we were seeing, in boats and along the shore, that everyone seemed to be gathering in large groups and carrying on in close contact with each other. Our biggest surprise, though, was our border U.S-Canada Boarder encounter. Our boarder guard had no mask on, no gloves and no barrier between her window and us. Mark’s face was three feet from hers. They exchanged passports and talked for 5 minutes. Very strange.
We revelled in our last two weeks of the cruising life and savoured every sunrise and sunset. However it was also quite gruelling in it’s repetitiveness, exhausting decision-making and sheer distance we pushed to cover each day. There were ever-changing logistics to be worked and re-worked. We knew that the whole State of Maryland had ordered all its marinas to close. We thought the State of Virginia could enforce this Covid-related precaution at any time so it felt like a race to get to the Marina we’d booked for our haul-out. Then there were the details to sort through regarding car rentals. The marina we picked was very isolated because the location was strategically based on important factors like boat storage cost per month and sufficient shelter from hurricane regions. The compromise was in our car pickup location: 100 miles away:( Taking, for example, an Uber that far would be expensive and a health risk with regards to possible Covid exposure. We knew we needed to store half the contents of Jazzy Lady (including sails and dinghy) so we rented a storage unit. This was only 10 miles away. So we had a U Haul truck dropped off for us at the Marina and used that truck to retrieve our rental car the following day. We were able to leave U Haul at rental car pickup so it all worked out pretty smoothly...after what must have been hours of Mark online and on the phone in the previous days searching out the viable options.
As we drove away from Jazzy Lady in our rental car we went over and over all the questions everyone asks themselves at the start of a big trip. Were we sure we left all the hatches closed?, etc...we didn’t come up with any devastating details we’d neglected...UNTIL...about 3 hours into the drive. We realized we’d left about four cooking onions hanging in our fruit/veggie net😳 We didn’t leave a key for the boat at the Marina because they were closed when we left. We’ve since mailed them our spare key and asked them to dispose of the onions. They otherwise would have turned Jazzy Lady into ‘Stinky Lady’ for all eternity.
The kids had a lot of fun discussing all the fascinating adjustments that they would delight in upon our transition from boat life to house life. It started with Annie repeating, every five minutes in the car “I can’t believe how fast we’re moving!” Our average speed on the boat was 6 knots/hour, now we were hurling along the highway at 110 Km/hour! We enjoyed the anticipation of washing in fresh water, long, hot showers, running the tap for more than a millisecond without worrying about wasting tank water, and the use of a dishwasher, not to mention a washer and dryer in our very own home....that we wouldn’t have to put coins in. Baths have been a big treat for me. Our little tub here at the cottage is pretty crummy but I’m using it as a lavish luxury these days!
We are very impressed with the Ontario government, in checking up on us. When we entered Canada we had to give our phone number and mailing address of where we’d be quarantining. We had a call, a few days ago, from the province, ensuring that we are abiding by the rules, asking if we have any Covid symptoms and confirming that we have all we need without leaving our property. In addition, we had a peace officer call us from the bottom of our driveway, doing a random check. They asked for an Annie Marion Fray to be sent outside so they could see her from their car. The officer had a quick chat with her through his window and thanked us for our co-operation. Now, some may say this ‘Big Brother’ approach is a little creepy but, considering the virus we’re up against, I felt reassured that there is a solid system in place to enforce these Covid-spread preventative measures.
We are sad that our trip ended in such a frenzy and that we didn’t finish by sailing back into our Rouses Point Marina in Lake Champlain. Our cruising adventure was cut short by 6 weeks. We were supposed to take our time seeing all the spots that we were too rushed to stop at on our way south. C’est la Vie. We were fortunate to not be stranded in Bahamas and have had no hiccups on our way home. Our kids have grown in ways they never would have without this sojourn. They showed us their strengths and unique personality traits that we may never have seen without this opportunity. Admittedly, they were homesick more than we thought they would be but, sure enough, as the end of the trip drew near, they rhymed off countless things they would miss about their live aboard life. They are SO excited to get back to their Hudson life, yet they are also feeling lucky to hang out at the cottage for a whole month before getting back home. My partnership with Mark was tested too many times to count and, at the same time, our appreciation for each other, our bond to each other and our respect for one another has blossomed (for lack of a less corny word) in an irreversible way.
The number of people we have to thank for their supporting roles in our voyage would take up a whole blog entry. It has to be said that Mark’s Dad, Larry gave us an EXTRAORDINARY amount of support in SO many ways, i don’t know where to begin. His enthusiasm and expertise and volunteer time put in were second to none. Mark’s uncle Allan and Aunt Bev seemed ALWAYS to be there to answer our endless last-minute questions. This is not an Oscar speech but I just have to say, lastly, that Mark’s Mom and my Mom also deserve a lot of credit for being our pillars. If I recall correctly, they each went through a transition between being in denial when we first started talking about a sailing trip (and not really wanting to hear about it) to showing us their trust and encouragement when it really came down to it. After my Dad died I think my Mom knew she needed to be a cheerleader for us on his behalf and she absolutely pulled through with her blessing once she knew this trip was really going ahead. We were so lucky to have her visit and see us in action on our little boat home so she got to witness the skills we had developed in this lifestyle. Many more people to thank but I will trust these people know who they are.
Thanks for reading!
30 March 2020
Three hours long.
Keep an eye on engine temperature
Listen for any irregularities in sound of engine
Keep a visual eye out for other nearby vessels in case of collision risks
Watch the AIS, set between a 5 and 10 mile radius, for vessels passing in the vicinity. It provides information on the name of each vessel within said radius (in case we need to call them on the radio), the speed it's travelling, the distance at which it's path will cross ours (1 mile, min is acceptable...less than that, we alter course) and the time at which it's path will cross ours. We do not have the transponder that allows other boats to see us so we need to be especially diligent in our lookout for other boats.
We usually have the use of our radar too (except that right now it's not functioning properly) which shows us any blips on our screen of any kind of obstruction whatsoever. For example, something large floating in the water or any land mass, etc. Obviously our charts are always showing us the major land features we're passing so the radar is a bit redundant but it is reassuring to have because you just never know. Sometimes there are random towers or fishing structures out in the middle of nowhere which are not on our charts. In the pitch black of night they are invisible to the naked eye.
We have officially left Bahamas waters and are anticipating, any time now, feeling the boost in speed from the Gulf Stream. It should increase our velocity by 3 to 5 knots!
I would have liked to make more frequent blog entries but life got in the way:) So I am trying to squeeze in a few more before 'Sail Bahamas 2020' comes to a conclusion. This will be one of my last, as our trip home will now be rushed. We left Bahamas 10 days earlier than planned and, instead of taking 6 or 7 weeks to get home we'll probably do it in 2 to 3 weeks. We are very disappointed that we'll miss taking our time through all of the spots that we whizzed past on our way down, saying 'oh, we'll stop through on our way home'. Story of our lives though, right? We've had a hell of a run and can no longer be oblivious to the devastation that is ravaging most of the world right now.
The morning we left Nassau (two days ago) our plan was to do just a couple more island hops north before leaving the country but, literally, the second we'd lifted anchor a National Defence Force vessel pulled up alongside us and said 'You can't leave, all private vessels must stay put under quarantine for 6 days' We had previously been given permission by the government to go ashore only for provisioning as long as we were making a concerted effort to leave the country in a timely manner. They let us go but said we could not stop anywhere else in Bahamas. So we put our departure plan on overdrive and quickly adopted Plan B. Instead of a 30 mile day we set out for a 60 mile day (and wished we'd started 2 hours earlier). We spent that night on the Macki Shoal, which is the same cool place we anchored way back in December on our second night in Bahamas: the spot where there's no land in sight but the depths are only 15 feet and it's a low traffic area so safe to spend the night. You can only do this if wind and swell are almost non-existant and It happened to be calm enough for us that day. We had one final swim and wash off the sugar scoop (stern) just before lifting anchor in the morning and now here we are, 4:30 am, 20 hours later. We are aiming to be on the move until Monday afternoon so that'll be 3 days and 3 nights before we touch down in, probably Charleston. We shouldn't need any provisions so we will check in to the country with our customs app and carry on with offshore day trips or intracoastal, depending on the weather.
Today was a tough one for me, physically. It started with Mark hoisting me up a shroud to re-hang our radar. If we're going all the way to the top we use the windless to hoist us but, because I was just going to the first spreader, Mark winched me up manually. It's hard winching a human adult up 20 feet so o was trying to help by wrapping my legs around and party hoisting myself up. Add to this a strong breeze and not much purchase around these wires I'm straddling. I was swinging around them like crazy. And rocking with the boat. All this to say, my inner thighs are purple with bruises from shimmying up the shrouds. Then disaster struck this afternoon. I suppose it might have been karma. Perhaps we were getting a bit greedy with our fishing wish list. After our two dream catches of Wahoo and Mahi yesterday we were next in pursuit of a tuna. (Fish is in freezer, I promise it won't go to waste!) We had hooked a Bar Jack and we're planning on releasing it. I held the bucket for Mark to put the fish in before removing g the lure from its mouth. The fish flopped about and one of the barbed hooks caught my thumb. After much rational deliberation, we gathered tools (gin, peroxide and an exacto knife). Mark cut my skin until the barb was revealed, then he ripped it out. Next to childbirth, my most harrowing moment in pain tolerance. We are being diligent with keeping it open and clean for a while before letting it close up. Miraculously, there was not much blood and I somehow managed to not pass out. Much credit to Mark who had a steady hand! It was spousal team work at its best!
A sure sign of the times, yesterday we passed EIGHT massive cruise ships languishing at anchor on the Maki Shoal, in the middle of nowhere, presumably because there is not room for every single cruise ship in the world to be docked at one time. Quite a sight to behold. I've just had a Carnival Cruise ship cross my bow 2 miles away with a brightly lit message on her hull visible from 5 miles away: 'Sail Soon'. I wonder how soon...
It is just past midnight and we are snuggly anchored in Charleston Harbour....500 miles later. We were dreading three full days and nights in a row with no land in sight. Managed to make it 2 nights, just barely. Three full days and the kids were asleep before we anchored tonight so it'll be like Christmas morning tomorrow, having them wake up with shore in sight. Winds were definitely in our favour for the most part. Our max speed, at one point was 12.7 knots! Thank you Gulf Stream! It feels surreal to be in brown water, not turquoise and the smells are very different but we were greeted by dolphins here in the harbour tonight so there's still a piece of Bahamas with us. We will sleep WELL tonight!!!
Photo: we found two flying fish on our decks this morning
25 March 2020
Within my sight right now (10 mile radius maybe) I can see 14 cruising boats on the move. Usually at any given time we'd have two or three in sight. We've been told there are roughly 1,000 cruiser vessels still here in Bahamas as I write this entry. Mostly American and Canadian boats with a few dozen European, etc. The attitudes among the crews we've chatted with are divided as follows: Half feel their best strategy is to wait out the total pandemonium throughout North America and stay here as long as possible. A quarter have the strong instinct to rush home ASAP. The other quarter seems un-decided (us being one of them), one day feeling this is the safest place, the next day feeling the urge to move north quickly.
We are due into Nassau by the end of tomorrow where we'll top up our provisions for the last time in Bahamas. From there we'll make one more stop further north west in the Berry Islands before we jet into the Gulf Stream. Although we are at a much lower risk than all of you at home of contracting Covid 19 in this neck of the world, anyone with half a brain knows that ALREADY hundreds of cases have probably made their way here via American tourists, considering the fact that it ran rampant un-tracked for two months before the US became informed enough of Covid's MASSIVE impact on it's citizens (not including the President and his Congress who have been informed by Intelligence for much longer than they let on)...that's probably enough political speculating for one entry.
So I am quite petrified of the daunting task we have ahead of us: getting home without being infected. The prospect of provisioning in Nassau scares me and, of course the prospect of provisioning in the States horrifies me. We will order things to be delivered to our boat whenever possible and should only have to do the two stops for supplies: one in Nassau, one in U.S. The number of options we've considered for our homecoming strategy makes my head spin: Sail all the way north ENTIRELY offshore...pretend we're crossing the Atlantic and don't stop until we get there OR sail straight west to Florida and haul the boat at the first possible place...dump boat contents into U Haul and drive home. We even pondered a straight shot north east to Bermuda and then directly north all the way to Halifax to avoid America altogether but...that is just too crazy...and daunting. I'm not THAT good a sailor yet! Our favourite option so far is to get as far north as Deltaville, Virginia. This would be a reasonable middle-ground for leaving the boat, an attainable place to pick up from at some later date to bring JL all the way back to Lake Champlain. We have had a couple of loved ones IMPLORE us to leave Jazzy Lady in Bahamas and fly home. Well, that plane has flown now but when we were pondering it a week ago we agonized over the logistics of it. Even though we know that in a time like this money is no object it is still an excruciating thing to reconcile. It could mean saying goodbye to $75,000. We spent more than this on Jazzy Lady and we believe we could sell her for a bit less than this. Leaving her in Bahamas could mean saying goodbye to that investment. Everything in the boat would rot in this tropical climate (we've already been dealing with moulding items for months). We'd be throwing out most of her contents. Even though we had the luxury of doing this trip, we cannot do it again! We don't have the time or money to come back and sail her home at a later date. We could pay someone to sail her home...at an exorbitant cost. Needless to say, we did not close the latter option and hopefully we won't regret that.
We're heading for Berry Islands tomorrow and Freeport after that. I think, deep down, we are partly stalling for time, putting off the inevitable...inching our way north instead of just going for it and jumping across...nobody's perfect. From Freeport we'll cross over to the US coast but it'll all depend on weather as to how far north we get before checking in with U.S customs. We'll be able to do it with a virtual app so no person-to-person contact, hooray! Obviously our goal is to NOT set foot on land ANYWHERE in the US (no offense, my American friends and family). As spring progresses, the weather windows for offshore travel become bigger so here's hoping we have some favourable conditions to atleast make SOME of our decision-making easier. We've had fantastic encouragement and good wishes from an overwhelming number of people, which will give us great momentum on our quest homeward.
Photo: enjoying our blissful boat bubble while we still can
The Three Musketeers
13 March 2020
Mark has gone away for four week-long stints of work, one each month since December. The first time we had Tracy with us, the second time we had my Mom with us, last month we had Walden to play with every day after school and this month it was just us three musketeers:) So it actually felt like my first time really being on my own with A&A since this trip began. Although I was dreading it, I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a real treat having no one else to focus on and be distracted by. When we have company aboard or even if it’s just the four of us, I get so caught up chatting with the grownups and not checking in with the kids very often. So when I DO communicate with the kids it’s just to nag at them: ‘Do your schoolwork, get your clothes on, brush your teeth, wash the dishes, tidy your room, stop arguing, get your PJs on, brush your teeth, go to bed.’ But in our week as the three musketeers we sometimes stayed in bed until 10 am reading together. We did laundry, school work, scrapbooking, baking, science experiments, crafts and some beach exploring. The two kids together had some epic playtime, a phenomenon that, already at this age, is becoming almost extinct and downright miraculous at times since A&A are at each other’s throats a quarter of their lives now that Annie is 10 going on 16. They dressed up in bizarre outfits and made silly movies with my iPad, they built LEGO houses with an ongoing make-belief story line that lasted many days off-and-on (thanks, Jasper for the goods you left behind!) and they played Matchington Mansion on my IPad which has no educational value excep, I guess, to encourage co-operation because they are somehow able to play it together without fighting. Ultimately, we spent a week revelling in idle time that allowed for absurd banter, as well as questions and discussions on general topics that make the world go ‘round. Valuable snippits which, upon our return to reality, may become very scarce indeed.
Mark returned to us in Rock Sound a week ago...last Thursday. We lifted anchor first thing Friday morning and had a tremendous sail across Exuma Sound to Shroud Cay in the north end of the Exuma islands chain. It was a TWELVE hour day!!! South West winds of 15 knots but upwind the whole time so a 40 mile day with very gradual progress and plenty of tacking to keep Jazzy Lady on her toes. Big-time heeling! Being so close to sunset at anchor time, our hand was forced in choosing the first safe anchorage with just barely enough protection. We rocked and rolled from sun down to sun up. It was the most sleepless night we’ve had in JL. We had as many things falling out of place as we do on heavy-heeling sails. Mark and I slept horizontally across our little Pullman Birth because staying vertical would have had us rolling out of bed. We were on the eve of yet another major ‘wind event’ where the wind direction was doing a very abrupt 180 degree switch from SW to NE. With the Exuma Islands lying between two big bodies of water, we found ourselves casualties of the resulting turmoil.
After the disruption of our propellor woes, we had to face the disappointment of missing out on the explorations of a few key islands we had been really excited about. We missed most of Long Island and two much smaller, remote islands north of Long...Conception and Cat (for those interested in looking on a map). Instead of following our hearts’ temptations to sail the mere 25 miles from South Eleuthera down to Cat Island we knew the more sensible decision was to head back across to the Exumas. Although we were already in the area at the beginning of December, we skipped through it very quickly to get ourselves down to Georgetown for Christmas. Now we are taking our sweet time, ending the trip right by SLOWING down, again, to a snail’s pace and soaking up our surroundings. We are in a nationally protected area called Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. All line fishing and spear fishing is prohibited, even shell collecting is illegal. ‘Take only Pictures, Leave only Footprints’ So the snorkelling opportunities are the best in all of Bahamas. It covers roughly 160 sq miles.
We are anchored at O’Brien’s Cay right now and will head to Cambridge Cay tomorrow. After Cambridge Mark will be back to his Lobster spearing escapades and we’ll end up in Staniel Cay for his next work pairing....that is if Air Transat is still operating any flights by then....we were away from internet range for 5 days and, of course, in that time the Corona Virus transitioned from Epidemic to Pandemic. In the years leading up to this trip we always half joked with people that our soul motivation was to be away for whatever type of apocalyptic event (which, for decades, has seemed an inevitability) was going to hit the world. Now we’re looking at one. ....Of course this is in addition to the Climate Change apocalypse we’ve been living for decades already.... Now that we are back online we are learning new developments EVERY HOUR. It feels very surreal. Perhaps we will not cross back over to the US next month....we’ll see how long the situation continues to get worse before it improves.
Jazzy Lady bursts at the seams
01 March 2020
*This post starts while on the last full day of our trip, and ends a few days after our arrival home.
Well, it’s Kimbo here, as Guest Blogger and enthusiastic 🇧🇸Bahama Mama🇧🇸of the past 5 incredible days aboard Jazzy Lady!
👩🏻🦱 ☀️ ⚓️ 🕶 🐬 🗺
We arrived via Toronto to Nassau, and then caught a rickety 16-seater plane on Pineapple Air from Nassau to North Eleuthera, where we then got in a van with a dozen various locals (including a huge dog, a baby in a portable car seat, and a guy drinking a beer!); all bound for Spanish Wells, where Meg and family had spent the last 2.5 weeks. Jasper handled each leg of the journey like a champ, with every aspect being a “first”. First two flights of his life in one day!
When we saw Annie, Alistair & Mark waving madly at us from their dinghy, Little Lady, at the mouth of the marina - we knew we’d arrived at the right place, and it was a beautiful thing.
The small ferry left us and our bags at the tall docks, as Mark and the kids clamboured up the dock ladder and tackled us with hugs. 🤗 🤗 🤗
We dinghied down the channel, as Jazzy Lady came into view, and with it - Meg, too. She was a wonderful sight to see!
Before long we were off on foot from where the boat was docked, and we strolled through the town of Spanish Wells, shopped at the sizable grocery store and had our first toes-in-sand beach experience of the trip; and Jasper’s first time frolicking oceanside. The water of the Bahamas is known for its light turquoise colour, due to the shallow depths between the many islands and the nearly white sands beneath. It was breathtaking from the air, but being on the edge of that water, with the warm breeze and sounds of the surf was truly magical.
Having returned home 3 days ago - I look back on our trip as a thrilling whirlwind of activity and adventure; even when we were at sea for a 7-hour stretch one day, to get from tranquil Alabaster Bay (middle of Eleuthera Island) to Rock Sound, where Meg and the kids are now anchored until Mark's back from a work turn.
Much respect to Mark and to Meg, especially, who does the grinding and winding to adjust the sails, generally, and and while tacking - it's even more intense (most times with swearing involved!)! We were in winds of up to 34 knots if I'm recalling that right, and the boat was wildly rocking, constantly. My sea legs were tried and stayed true - with ginger ("Gravol" lite) tablets to keep Aaron, Megan and me from succumbing to seasickness, and actual Gravol was given to the kids, who were all knocked out cold for 1.5hrs on 2 separate occasions in 6 days. Along the way we saw a total of 5 dolphins just off the bow, and left them leaping at our stern; watched pelicans soaring while we walked on the beach; saw live jelly fish, star fish, urchins and many schools of tiny fish skirting atop the calm waters we anchored in!
When we dinghied to shore, each time was a new adventure. Twice we had beaches all to ourselves and once we had to share one with maybe a dozen other people, with loads of space between encounters!
We ate Conch Fritters with happy hour libations in Spanish Wells, had freshly-speared Crab (x2) and Lion Fish (x3) in Alabaster Bay, thanks to Mark for the catching and cooking and to Meg for the cleaning and filleting - off the stern stoop! The discarded Lion Fish innards almost immediately drew the attention of a Barracuda, only 5 feet below the surface, I'd say! We couldn't take our eyes off of him, it was an intense lurking and I guess a bit of a feast for him!!
We made trips on foot to places called: The Glass Window; The Ocean Hole; Cathedral Caves; and to an abandoned Naval Base that operated, from 1955 - 1985, a submerged sound surveillance system (SOSUS) for monitoring submarine activities during the Cold War. The sight was impressive and eery, and Aaron's research that evening found that it housed approx. 250 personnel at max capacity once upon a time!
All the while, 3 kids laughed, jostled, hugged, SNACKED, played, sang, danced, listened to The Wizard Of Oz audio-book, read to one another, played hide and seek, drew cartoons, talked in funny accents, swung in the on-deck hammock and kept us company in the cockpit! We were a hardy crew, on top of one another and happy to be so for 6 days of memories made on the Ocean blue.
Aaron, Jasper and I couldn't treasure our time aboard Jazzy Lady any more than we do. It was a whirlwind adventure sailing vacation we'll likely not have the chance to do again.
Meg - my admiration and esteem for all you do on board, and all you provide for your family while home-schooling and entertaining Annie and Alistair is beyond measure; I'm just so glad to have experienced it first-hand, to have felt that Bahamian breeze, warm sunshine and salty brine each day with you and yours was a true gift!
We thank you so completely!!! ❤️⚓️🇧🇸
Pic is of Cathedral Caves in Rock Sound
⛵️ Kimbo OUT. 😘
Still in Spanish Wells
21 February 2020
At home one of my favourite summer delights is lying in a hammock listening to the wind rustle through oak or maple leaves. Another audible treat is the smoother, lighter swishing of the wind through the needles of a pine tree. Here in Bahamas I am storing the audio memory of wind through palm trees. It’s a snapping of the plastic-like leaves against each other, a dull tinkling of warm breeze through tropical fauna....That is my meditation for the day..while I wait for a load of laundry to finish drying.
We’ve gained another group of pals: a crew of five aboard the Catamaran Walden. They have 3 kids, aged 8, 9 and 10. A match sent from heaven for our kids! (Apart from Oceo’s crew, of course). We met them last Tuesday and have played with them every day since:) The pattern has been to get our schooling and chores done in the morning and hang out after lunch. (Sounds like Laura Ingolls’ schedule in Little House on the Prairie). we’ve been snorkelling, boogy boarding, sand castle-making and bridge jumping! Last week Mark hitch-hiked to the North Eleuthera airport to pick up new parts he’d ordered for Jazzy Lady. On his way back he be-friended a large gang of Americans beginning their week-long stay at some rental homes here. Of course, by the time they parted ways, Mark had exchanged life stories with them, as well as a ‘road pop’ beer they’d given him.
This town of Spanish Wells is small enough that we ran into that same boisterous group of holiday-goers during our grumpy family walk the next day. (Our marriage was still feeling on the rocks after the rope in prop incident). They were in their rented golf carts and insisted we hop in to join them for a cocktail at their beach house. Desperate to escape our current painful family dynamic, our kids hopped aboard with these friendly strangers before Mark or I had even processed their invitation! Drinks turned into dinner (not to mention some well-deserved spacing out in front of the TV for Annie and Alistair and some long overdue adults-only time for us parents). Mark went back to our boat for food supplies...if you know Mark you remember he has a ‘Go big or go home’ spirit about most things, especially food, so you won’t be surprised to read what he pulled out of his sleeve last-minute: Duck Confit (a giant can he brought home from Europe 3 years ago....that somehow still hadn’t expired). We were storing it in our bilge for a......I’m not sure what type of occasion...He served it over a bed of cabbage and lettuce salad with potatoes he’d roasted in the duck fat. Our hosts were thoroughly enchanted by this French delicacy. I was partly mortified, partly delighted, and partly mystified...which pretty much sums up our relationship😂 And, just like that, after hours of un-winding, our marital woes dissipated and our love re-kindled through the telling of our past 6 months’ adventures to a mesmerized audience. There was even a token Canadian couple in the mix who characteristically trumped everybody else’s generosity by offering us the use of their house for one night, as they had to leave a day before their booking expired. When I told them it would be my second hot shower since arriving in Bahamas they looked like they might fall to their knees and weep🤣
My sister will be arriving tomorrow evening with her family. We will head south down the west side of Eleuthera Island and end up in Rock Sound for their flight home. It’ll be a much-welcomed distraction from our stagnant state since our arrival in Spanish Wells over two weeks ago. Even on a heavenly trip like this we put so much pressure on ourselves to go everywhere and see everything. So we’ve been very frustrated at being forced to pause here for so long while we waited for the boat to be fixed AGAIN. We want to provide perfection for our kids, laying this foundation of priceless memories, etc. But when we stop and reflect we realize the kids don’t care where they are most of the time. They have a FANTASTIC troop of buddies to play with and they ENJOY the routines developed after several days in the same place. Kids love adventure but they also thrive on having a certain number of predictable factors in their every day lives. Alistair has not mentioned being homesick for a whole 3 weeks now! (Turns out he’s our emotional heart#in-sleeve guy). While Mark and I fixate on seeing the hiccups as a time and money loss the kids are on cloud 9 for most of it, simply enjoying their surroundings.
Since we were up in the hard for a few days and then our Walden friends were hauled after us, the kids made a playground out of the boat yard. The pic of the day is an ice-cream break under Walden’s hulls.