Monday, January 31, 2011

Cruising in the Tropics

After Jen and Jack left on Sunday we hung around Emerald Bay Marina for a few days waiting for the weather and for friends to catch up with us.  We had a terrific visit with Kolibrie (Pat and Wayne) and Azaya (Mary and Axel) and met new friends, Harry and Maryke on Aurora, an IP 380 they have sailed from Holland over the past 11 years.  We left on Thursday and travelled with Aurora over to Calibash Bay on the north west tip of Long Island.  On the way over we snagged a 36 inch mahi so we were able to invite Harry and Maryke over for dinner.

Long Island Mahi

Pam made a delicious dinner of grilled mahi with beans and rice and a great salad.  Calibash Bay, along with every other beach around here is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the Bahamas/Caribbean.

We spent a slightly rocky night and left the next day for Thompson Bay, Long Island.  On our way down, we were greeted by Long Island Larry – a dolphin, at just about the same time that we crossed 23 degrees, 30 minutes - the Tropic of Cancer.  We arrived with the “fleet” – about 25 boats came in on the same day for some reason. Sid and Bo – the Australian Shepherd (dog, that is) from Quest were here and we made arrangements to rent a car with them the next day.

Long Island Larry at the Tropic of Cancer
In the morning we had our coffee and went up to rent the car – a little tiny thing but great for three humans and one dog.  We drove down the island slowing at all the settlements – Salt Pond, Grays, Deadmans Cay, Scrub Hill, Hard Bargain, Clarence Town and many, many more.  We were looking for Deans Blue Hole, and finally, after we had given up, we found it – clearly marked by a road sign just as some locals had predicted.

Deans Blue Hole to the left

Watching divers entering the blue hole.

Deans Blue Hole is breath taking.  You should google it!  The ocean was pounding the shore but the blue hole is protected by a spit.  The blue hole is charted at over six hundred feet deep.  It is the weirdest thing, how you can get spooked out knowing that the water beneath you is so deep.  In fact, the whole shoreline is undermined by the blue hole.  Some divers told us that the visibility on one side is restricted as the sand falls off the side and pours down into the blue hole like a curtain.  This must be one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.

Swimming scared in 600 feet of water.

We left Deans Blue Hole reluctantly, but we knew we had more ground to cover before dark.  We found a benefit cook-out going on in Clarence Town – for Dorothy Knowles eye operation in Cuba – and supported the cause by buying conch fritters  (6 for a dollar) and dinner.

Lunch at Clarence Town

Father Jerome's church

After a tour through town (about 8 houses and a couple of churches) we headed on south until we hit the final stop sign at Gordons Beach – one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean.  After a short walk, we headed back and stopped at Max’ Conch Bar for a beverage and a conch salad.

Max's Conch Bar

It was only 6 when we got back to the boat but we were exhausted.  Watched a short movie and went to bed.

On Sunday we got up early and got our car for the four hours remaining on our 24 hour contract.  We raced up the island past the settlements of McKanns, Millers, Simms, Burnt Ground and Glintons to the Columbus monument, adjacent to one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and then headed back to drop off the car.

Columbus monument

Sorry for wiping out all the Lucayans

After refreshments, we headed back to the boat for a nap and to prepare Bahamian Boiled Fish for dinner.

We are at a crossroads… we don’t know where to go next… so we are going to stay here awhile longer until we are inspired to move somewhere else.

The ugly side of paradise!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sad, Sad Times

Good friends back home in Abbotsford (and we) have suffered the devastating loss of a beautiful, courageous young woman: a wife, mother, daughter, sister, dear friend, colleague and a hero to many. It has been difficult to engage in our normally lighthearted, goofy blog with all the sorrow back home. She was a superstar in all of her endeavours.  We are broken-hearted and thinking about our dear friends every day.

Cancer is an awful thing. Hopefully, our continued support of research will put an end to this horrible, indiscriminate disease.

Man, there is a lot of good stuff to get into!
Our daughter, Jen and grandson Jack flew here to George Town January 8th.  We are so grateful for their loving distraction during this sad time.

Our own coconuts!

This boat is so big it has it's own bathtub.

Chicks love my beach wear!

Mom teaching me to surf!

I'm pretty good at steering but I can't start the darn thing, yet.


Man, I wish they wouldn't put the good stuff up so high.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year in the Exumas

The last few days of Brad’s visit were cold and windy so we didn’t get much snorkeling done.  A front had come through and we were lucky to be on a mooring ball in Exuma Land and Sea Park in Warderick Wells as the winds peaked at about 40 knots.

Once the front passed we were able to sail and motor sail down to Big Majors Spot, just off Staniel Cay where Brad could catch the plane for Nassau.  Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as he left, the weather turned beautiful and we vegged for 6 days, enjoying the sun and beautiful water.  Each day we watched the progression of boats that came into our beach with their table scraps to feed the swimming pigs.

Bye Brad! Have fun in Mexico.

When pigs can swim...

Our days were filled with reading, dingying into town to buy bread from the lady in the yellow house, eating fritters at the Yacht Club and napping on the boat.

Our friend, Sid, from Anacortes on Quest, an IP 40 caught up to us the day Brad left and we were all disappointed that they weren’t able to meet.

Bo - Quest's ship's dog

We were there for the New Years celebrations and it was great to watch the races – especially the local Class A boats where the locals hike out on pryboards to keep the boats upright as they haul into the wind.

Tida Wave - from Staniel's Cay

All of the local boaters were invited into Staniel Cay Yacht Club for a regatta dinner – great conch salad, chowder, fish, the delicious macaroni they make from scratch, and endless rum punches with a punch.  Thanks so much to the Staniel Cay community for their warmth – it is a very nice place to visit.

Sandy Cay

Our private island!

We brought in the New Year – at least on Greenwich time (7 PM local time) with Roger and Bonnie from Kokomo, Sid from Quest on Conrad and Sally’s “It’s About Time, “ another IP 38 like ours.

We are on a mission now to get down to George Town for Jen and Jackson.   We stopped in at Little Farmers Cay to drop off the schoolbooks we’ve ferried from Florida.

Farmer's Cay schoolbooks

Also, the internet is pretty good there and we’ve been able to chat with our family and friends.  We’ve got another couple of favorite spots to see including Musha Cay (you really should google Musha Cay) and the castle on Darby Island before we sled down to George Town on Thursday to avoid the next cold front.

All the best for 2011 to everyone!  Talk to you from George Town.