Madcap In Between
04 March 2008 | Black Point Settlement
Beth - wind still blowing
The children left on Thursday morning and we have less than a week now before our friends Charles and Linda arrive from Ottawa to spend a week on the boat with us. We moved Madcap over to Big Majors Spot for more shelter, and enjoyed a fine ginger-chicken stirfry dinner with Mary and Blair on Strathspey.
On Friday we moped around and went ashore (getting soaked in the process) to make sure everyone got home OK. We had a fine conversation with Andrew of Samaria II from Kingston, Ontario, and a visit with Bob and Mary Lou on Cygnus.
Saturday was a big day in Staniel Cay. Captain Rolly Gray, (1922-2008) an "elder statesman" passed away on Feb 17. Because Staniel Cay is too small to accommodate the hundreds of people wishing to pay their respects, a memorial service was held in Nassau last week and his funeral was here at "home". We had decided to stay in the area to be part of this event and it was a good decision. He was a remarkable man and this was a remarkable funeral.
Captain Gray was noted for being a champion sailboat racer and the grand master of the Mailboat captains. He sailed over 500,000 nautical miles on the mailboats and just resigned his last captaincy - on the Grand Master - in 2004. Many of those miles were at night and without modern day GPS assistance. He won dozens of awards in the regattas on the Tida Wave, the Lady M and Sea Hound and raced in A, B, and C classes. He still holds several records, and is the only person to have been champion at least once in every decade for 5 decades. A high point was when he took Prince Philip sailing on the Lady M.
Besides these nautical accomplishments, Rolly Gray was a family man and a respected citizen of this community. The service booklet listed 5 sons, 5 daughters and 9 adopted children. The list of extended family filled a whole page and included grandchildren, godchildren, great and grand nieces and nephews and family groups from this and other Exuma Islands. Family is important here. Captain Gray owned or administered most of the property on Staniel Cay and from what we have heard, it was necessary -or at least important - to get his permission/blessing on what one wanted to do here.) Miss Flo at the Pink Store said people really respected his opinion and he was able to resolve most disputes that came to his attention.
The funeral took place at the Mt Oliveth Baptist Church at 11 am and people started gathering long before that. Four mailboats arrived in on Friday night; the streets and verandahs filled with friends and family members who had come home. Both men and women were all dressed up on Saturday morning. Crisp white shirts and black suits were standard for men and boys. The women donned beautifully tailored black or white dresses and suits; many sported elegant hats. The little girls were stunning in very fancy long dresses. These are extremely handsome people. Standing along the fringes (and feeling welcome) in the tents with wide-screen TV's outside the church, and at the burial site, were the cruisers in whatever respectable clothes we could muster.
The Tida Wave and the Grand Master were tied up at the wharf right beside the church. The lawns and building were filled with people for the service. We joined them for part of it - the tributes and hymn singing - and mingled with people drifting in and out of the area - taking cover in the rain showers and wandering off to have lunch. Jim laughed that this was the first funeral during which he was present for 45 minutes, left to have lunch and got back in time to witness the end of the service. We followed the procession down the main street to the cemetery where the coffin was placed into a crypt that had been carefully constructed during the week. The last coats of paint were applied to the cement just the day before. We were fascinated to see that the wheelbarrow, cement, and cement blocks were right there among the flowers. As the assembled crowd sang hymns and wailed, the opening was closed up. Blocks were put in position, the level laid on to be sure they were straight, mortar applied and the next layer placed until the job was finished. Captain Gray's body was installed in its final resting place while, as noted in the order of service, his spirit continued on his "journey to meet his ancestors."
Conversation was lively as we reunited with Peter and Gail (Jabiru), Evans and Roger (Stout Wench) and met Ron (Freedom) and Fred (Casa Mare) for lunch at the yacht club.
On Sunday it was time to move, and move we did! We flew out of Big Majors Spot and down to Black Point Settlement, clocking winds up to 23 knots. We found a spot to settle and swing, and got cleaned up and organized to entertain Kilissa, Strathspey and Cygnus in our cockpit. Because the wind was blowing hard and squalls threatened, we put up most of our cockpit enclosure for the first time in many weeks.
This gathering seemed to get us back into the swing of things and out of our "mopey" state. It was a top-notch cruising happy hour. Folks brought yummy things to eat; we talked non-stop and found all sorts of shared connections among the 8 of us.
Monday was laundry day, and just like last time we visited Black Point Settlement, we had a lot to do. After Jim and I dumped load after load into washers, he sat down in Ida's chair for a haircut. With his scruffy look gone, he headed over to Lorraine's Café for some Internet time while I tended to drying and folding between conversations with Rob and Christine (Celebrian), Mark and Julie (Rachel) and Beep (Midwatch).
We joined Cygnus, Kilissa, Celebrian, and Rosemary and Ross (Sundance V) for lunch at Loarraine's - delicious grouper sandwiches and conch burgers - and then caught up on a little email. Lorraine announced that there is no charge for the use of the wifi and computers in her Internet Café and was met with a rousing round of applause. Of course we are all happy to purchase her good food, bread, and to drop a bill or two into her donation box. She and Ida at the Rockpoint Laundromat have created a destination spot here.
I spent a couple of hours at the after school program run by Sharon and Charles. They are doing excellent work at helping children (referred by the school) to boost their math and reading skills. It's a wonderful synergy they have created here. They saw a need for one-on-one tutoring, and combined it with their connections to the cruising community. As Sharon told me, "We could volunteer ourselves but that would be two of us. By creating this program, we engage many more people in the effort." The time is 3:30 - 5:30 M-F. The place is the Education Centre - east of the Government Dock. Call them on VHF 16 - Providenza, or show up there a little before 3:30. It is a good thing to do. No experience necessary - just a desire to help and an interest in the children - well, that and elementary math and reading skills - its nice to stay a step ahead of the kids!
We made a stop at Celebrian - a Bayfield 36 - on the way home and had a great time looking over our sister ship, seeing all the customizing that Rob has done in his 20 plus years of ownership and the personal touches Christine has added. We were intrigued by their water collection system (a Y-valve that allows them to collect rainwater through the aft port scupper) and impressed by the beautiful varnished woodwork all freshly done up during their leisurely stay in Pipe Creek.
One more windy, howling night (but very little rolling) and we are finally caught up to Tuesday. Boats are clearing out of the harbour - some heading north to Pipe Creek and Cambridge areas, some south to Little Farmers Cay or Georgetown, some starting the long trek northward and home. There is a SW wind coming on Saturday and this beautiful big anchorage will turn from a gentle place to a choppy, rolly one. We'll head out this afternoon or tomorrow to Little Farmers, from where we'll make a water- taxi/rented car trip to Georgetown and back. We have a list of assorted errands as long as an arm. From there we'll head back to Staniel at the end of the week to be sure we're in position to meet the Flamingo flight on Sunday.