23 April 2011
April 23, 2011
First, thank you all for your comments on our blog. We check it daily (when we have internet) and love hearing from our family & friends. Unfortunately, the blog does not allow us to respond directly to comments; otherwise we definitely would!
It has been quite a week. Last Monday I turned 29, again!! J I spent the day (our last day) at Honeymoon Beach, Water Island hanging out at the beach. Savannah played with her friends, I hung out on a lounge chair in the shade chatting with friends, reading and checking on Holly. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday.
Holly Klaas is our friend from Mississippi and a talented artist. She is painting a mural on the bottom of Jethro’s sailboat that was washed ashore last year during a hurricane. The sailboat directly blocks the view of Joe’s Beach Bar, plus, it just makes a wonderful place to paint; if you are the creative type.
Before I go on, it’s important to tell you how hard Tom and Wally have been working to get us all ready for our trip to the Bahamas. Wally is the captain we hired to help us sail these long passages to the Bahamas. He arrived on April 4th and has quickly become a good friend. The two of them have spent hours everyday checking everything on the boat, Wally climbing the mast, making trips to the marine store for necessary and, “just in case” items. Wally has done more than I ever imagined he would and Tom is right there along with him.
Early Tuesday morning (the 19th) as the sun came up, Tom & Wally put up our sails (and started the motors… not much wind at all) and we headed off toward Puerto Rico. This was the first leg of our sail to the Bahamas. Savannah and I rolled out of bed around 9:00 a.m. just a few minutes before we picked up a mooring ball 20 feet off the beach at Culebrita. Culebrita is a small island of Puerto Rico, just east of Culebra. We spent the day & night there building sand castles, walking on the beach and swimming. We were so close to the beach, in just about six and a half feet of water; the dogs even swam to the beach.
Wednesday morning at 2:00 a.m. Tom, Wally and I awoke, put up the mast and began our first overnight passage. Tom and I were noticeably nervous. The moon was peeking in and out of clouds, it rained for a short time, we made it past several large, shallow coral reefs and soon we were sailing just north of the coastline of Culebrita and eventually Puerto Rico. At about 4:00 a.m. I went back to sleep only to be awoken by Tom at 6:30 a.m. asking me for help. He said he had a fish on the line & needed some assistance. I woke up Wally in time to watch Tom fight and reel in a 24 inch Wahoo! What a way to start the morning!! Wally, as he does, immediately began cleaning and filleting it off the back step of the boat as Tom sailed on.
There was no going back to sleep after that adrenaline rush. Then at 10:00 a.m. Tom caught another one! This Wahoo challenged Tom and I watched him struggle more than ever to wrestle this big old fish to the boat. This 35 inch Wahoo weighed about 30-35 lbs. In Tom’s words, “I saw him hit my lure and break the surface of the water jumping several feet into the air before I even felt pressure on the fishing rod. It was surreal!”
At noon on Wednesday Tom and Wally dropped off Savannah & I in San Juan, Puerto Rico. They topped off the water and fuel and we gave hugs and kisses good-bye. This is the first we have been apart since mid December! A first for our family.
Tom & Wally plan to sail, “Island Spirit” to the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caico’s and then to Mayaguana, Bahamas. This involves several overnight passages and probably 100 hours of sailing. The adventurous side of me did not want to, “ditch” for this part of our trip, but the practical, overprotective mommy side of me weighed in heavier. Savannah and I will travel by air and eventually meet them in the southernmost island of the Bahamas… Mayaguana (pronounced My-iguana!)
With a knot in my throat, my daughter, two carry-on’s and a backpack each, Savannah and I made our way through the marina to find a cab. We went into the Sizzler (I didn’t know they were still in business) and I asked the cashier for the telephone number of a taxi. It was then I was again reminded how I should have studied harder in college Spanish. He said, “No comprehende” and I’m thinking, no doubt about that! Finally I spotted the marine security officer and he, without hesitation, called a cab for us. See, the police aren’t all bad!
For our stay, Tom suggested we use his hard-earned Marriott Points he accumulated while traveling. No problem there. Savannah and I checked into the Ritz-Carlton, San Juan along with dozens of others who were filling this hotel to capacity that night. I must admit I was very, very excited to be staying at a Ritz-Carlton and just as excited about a long, hot shower. So it’s just before Easter weekend and apparently some kind of week long holiday in Puerto Rico. The hotel was filled with many families and as beautiful as we expect one of these hotels to be; however, like many others, we waited over three hours for our room to be ready.
We spent two nights there and enjoyed room service, “On the house” the last night due to our wait and several other minor inconveniences. As the hotel staff wheeled in the cart of food I heard Savannah say, “Whooa!!!” After dinner we sat in our comfy, white duvet covered bed and shared an enormous piece of 14 layer chocolate cake. It’s always the small pleasures in life that bring a smile. J
Friday morning we caught the painfully early, 6:00 a.m. flight from San Juan through Fort Lauderdale to Nassau. Now I need to preface by saying the Bahamas are expensive and as sailing goes we aren’t sure if we’ll be waiting on Tom and Wally for four days or two weeks. With that said, I held my breath the day I booked online at the Arawak Inn. In retrospect, it was stupid to expect much at all for a place costing only $ 75.00 a night. I knew we were in trouble when I told the cab driver at the airport the name of the place and he didn’t know where it was and then once he remembered said he hadn’t taken anyone there in 10 years!
I had a knot in my stomach as we exited the cab and hauled our bags to the safety glass window for check in. The older Bahamian couple who own the place were as friendly as can be, but our room was well, nothing short of scary. As soon as we walked in our room I was praying, “God, please let me be able to access the internet so we can find somewhere else.” He answered my prayer. As I searched online Savannah told me how cool she thought the place was. I said, “Savannah, don’t unpack. We’re not staying.” She then informed me that, “Just because nothing matches doesn’t mean it’s not alright to stay here.” I didn’t have the heart to explain to my sweet, practical daughter that I was worried we were getting bed bugs as I spoke!
15 minutes later I explained to Lloyd we weren’t going to be able to stay; that we had expected something, well, bigger… yes, bigger. He was understanding, refunded our money, called us a cab and 15 minutes after that we checked into the Hilton. Yes, the Hilton, just one night. Thank you Lord!
We, or should I say I happily checked over the room and then Savannah and I headed around the corner to check out the touristy, main street of Nassau. Being now close to 4 p.m. and Good Friday most everything was closed. Savannah was starving (as usual) so I said, I know a fun place we can go. We marched around the corner to Senor Frogs. Savannah ordered a corn dog, I ordered a beer and we listened to a couple poor souls sing Karaoke on stage. I guess it had been awhile since I hung out at Senor Frogs because next on the agenda was, “Free shots for the ladies who dance on the bar.” I look over at Savannah who is now wide-eyed and taking in more than any seven year old should. O.k., time to go. We were up and out toward the door so quick I barely noticed a waiter following us, probably thinking, we were dining and dashing!
It’s now Saturday afternoon. We just moved into the Sheraton, from the Hilton (just not in the budget L ). Savannah asks, “Can we actually unpack here and put our stuff in the drawers, mom?” Yes, I tell her. These gypsies are staying for awhile!
All for now. Rhonda