Monday, February 28, 2011

To Long Island and then north!!! back to Georgetown

We have had some Internet issues so haven't been able to post for awhile.

We also had a darn good time in Long Island. We sailed there on Wednesday, actually motorsailed, on a lovely warm day.

It was spectacularly beautiful, rocky keys, translucent blue waters and we were travelling with a couple of boats we knew quite well: Skedaddle and Painkiller.

We set anchor at Thompson Bay and meet up with some friends that night for cocktails and stories.

The next day we arranged to rent a car because while Long Island is not only long - 80 miles - but tricky to navigate for our deep draft boat. We had an mile ride in on the dinghy - a wet one too with a 1 to 2 foot chop, five people jammed in our 9-foot inflatable and gear to boot. We were drenched in salt water but most of us changed in washrooms at Long Island Breeze, a great new restaurant and cruisers' hangout with laundry, etc.

We drove to Deals, a settlement where we had heard that Dooner Misener from Port Dover had a place. Sure enough, we no sooner had parked the car than I saw Dina Misener walk across the road with Vaughn Anstee. I had gone to school with Dina and said hello. They've got a lovely spot there and Dooner brought back another load of Port Doverites, including Diane and Bill West to stay at his beach bungalows. It was a hoot. We had a great lunch and headed back.

The next day we drove down to Clarence Town and then headed to Deans Blue Hole where we snorkeled in an amazing 660 foot blue hole just steps from the beach shore. We could have been there all day.

It was gorgeous.

We drove back to the boat and readied ourselves to head to Georgetown. Our first northerly trip since August 23. We had a great sail back just in time to register for some regatta events.

This week promises to be terrific with racing, parades, parties and socials. More pics to follow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Happiness is....

sparkling seas
sunny skies
warm winds
pink sand
having our family together again

We said our goodbyes to my mom and dad, sister, husband and sweet Stella last night and headed out of Georgetown as they did the same early this morning.

We motorsailed in the coral strewn passage between Great Exuma and Stocking Island and headed out to Long Island, about 30 miles south.

I stood on the bow and watched the bow carve through the turquoise waters and realized I was suddenly so happy. Not that I haven't been happy on our journey but it was a complete contentment along with happiness. I realized it was because it was our first day travelling as a family, just the five of us, on our boat heading to an exotic island.

This is what I had always dreamed of.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The visits

We haven't posted in several days as we've been busy visiting with family and sorting ourselves out in Georgetown.

Reggie arrived safe and sound and has officially moved aboard. Scott's parents Jack and Molly escorted him here and we had a great visit with them. We ended up renting a car for a week and basked in the deliciousness of showers every day and free laundry, wifi and a gorgeous marina complex as we stayed at Emerald Bay Marina north of Georgetown while Jack and Molly stayed at the Palm Beach Club.

We took a drive to Williamstown and to the north end of Great Exuma and we also took a water taxi like a tourist to Stocking Island.

Georgetown has plenty of services and a few interesting shops but we were a bit taken aback as it wasn't as picturesque as other places we've visited in the Exumas. In addition, we've spent the last few weeks in small villages or remote anchorages so the hustle and bustle of vehicles and the hundreds of cruisers in the harbour take some getting used to.

Lisa's parents Terry and Lesley and Lisa's sister's family, Allison, Mark and Stella came to visit with a two-day overlap with Scott's parents. Lisa's family stayed at February Point.

Lisa's dad rented a 17-foot boat for a few days and that's made getting back and forth from our anchorage much easier. It's hard to get too close to the Georgetown shore with our keel depth. The harbour itself is beautiful with lots of neat little islands and coves including Stocking.

Only two more days with Stella and gang and they fly home to the frigid north.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A holiday from the holiday

Rachel from Sisu giving Elizabeth a ride
So we're still at the Marina at Emerald Bay. There is a forecast of strong winds from the northeast and if we move down to Georgetown, there's a good chance we won't get to shore for four or five days because it'll be too dangerous in the dinghy. So we've rented a car for the week, during which time Lisa's mom and dad and Lisa's sister Ally and her husband Mark and little Stella will come here. This way we get to still see them as we can drive down to their villas.

It's a bit tough saying goodbye to all of our friends, and the kids' friends too as they make their way to Georgetown but we'll get there by the end of next week anyway.

The snorkeling here is fantastic and this is such a fabulous spot, it's not hard to stay.

Molly and Jack came, bearing gifts of Shreddies and Rice Krispies - real treats here given their cost. Elizabeth-Anne and Aidan had also saved up Christmas money and other money they had brought and had ordered an iPod touch and a PSP Go.

Elizabeth's new iPod has a feature on it called Facetime. She called her Aunt Shauni and Rebecca on Rebecca's iPod it was so cool - better quality than Skype.

It was great to have a face to face conversation with them.

Well, back to school work today, a Saturday - we're trying to get up to date before our family arrives so we can miss a bit of school when they're here.

Reg is registering to get online with his courses so that's working out well too.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nirvana for cruisers

The anchorage at Lee Stocking Island
We left Lee Stocking Island yesterday morning, home to the Caribbean Marine Research Centre, a division of NOAA, the U.S. meterological office.

They were going to give a tour but we wanted to be under way so we left at first light and headed out to the Exuma Sound, on the ocean side of the islands.

There was a gentle swell and the water was a clear blue. Once again Scott put out his fishing line and once again, no luck.

It was so tempting to stop along the way at a cay here or there, it was so gorgeous. We had to motorsail, first time in a while actually, but we had Emerald Bay Marina to look forward to.
Boy were we thrilled. This marina has everything and more, at $1 a foot ($2.25 if you want electrical plug in). Free laundry, free wifi, free trash disposal, free shuttle to the market nearby (I nearly swooned at that) plus fuel and water (not free of course). On top of that, the propane truck stopped by and we got a tank filled.

Best of all though, the staff are incredibly warm and we have so many friends here, and the kids do too - there were several watching movies last night in the sailors' lounge (air-conditioned, four rooms with DVDs, magazines, two flatscreen TVs, galley, and billiards' room all in a fabulous decor).

It's been well over a month since we've taken a dock so it's been well over a month since we had a hot shower with a continuous spray of water. I nearly wept at the joy of the hot water and soaps in the gorgeous washrooms. No bumping elbows here.

Usually we take a solar powered shower quickly in the cockpit or if we're desperate, we use our shower in the head but it's a bit of a mess to clean up and we hate bringing too much water into the boat where it will cause mildew, etc.

So we're getting ready to have Reggie move aboard, that means a big clean today and a sorting of clothes. Scott and Aidan have been re-rigging Aidan's pilot berth with a new cushion donated by Pirate, a fellow cruiser. We're also installing crew bags to hold small stuff and trying to sort out clothes and whatnot to send home with family. We are very excited to finally have Reg back and he's getting himself oriented with his two online courses he's taking for school. He's also taking a CYA course by correspondence and maybe SCUBA with Aidan, so he'll be busy!

We think we might stay here until Scott's parents and Reg arrives as we're only 10 minutes from the airport and it's easier to move Reg aboard if we're at a dock.

It is blissful here and it's so funny how all the cruisers walk around with big smiles just because everything here is so easy and accessible.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hello Friends!

On Friday we were just getting ready to head into town for some festival activities here at Farmers Cay when we heard our friends on Folie a Deux on the radio, heading for the cut to come here!

We had met Tim, Tracey, Eric, Brian and Lucy in the Chesapeake last fall and we all get along so well. We finally met up with them, caught up on all of our news and shared dinner that night. The kids went ashore for a bit and then we gathered them up and just had a blast.

Yesterday we took them to the caves, we headed into the village again for lunch at Ocean Cabin and there were still races going on, a band playing and all kinds of activities, although no one seems to have a schedule or any clear idea of what's happening from one hour to the next. Last night was games night. Today Folie a Deux has decided to travel back south again for a bit to Lee Stocking Island where there is a marine research centre that does offer tours, so we'll try for that tomorrow. Tony and Tess on Endurance, and another boat Nrivana Now are also travelling with us.

We then plan to head to Emerald Bay where we will go to the marina and scrub theboat in anticipation of our family visiting us. It's then just 10 miles to Georgetown.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Indiana Jones eat your heart out

We had such a terrific day yesterday. We're anchored at the west side of Little Farmers' Cay - a tiny island inhabited by about 60 people all descended from a free slave who settled there many years ago.

The island has a big festival tomorrow - the 5 Fs - first Friday in February at Farmers' festival.

We had a good day in the morning at school then a wonderful couple from Newfoundland, Marilyn and Vic on Whisper had invited to explore caves with them on Big Farmers, just near us.

We ran around the island on our dinghy to meet up with them and Vic told us he was taking us first to see an Osprey nest - it was huge, about three feet tall and maybe two in diameter. It was perched on a rock outcropping from Big Farmers, which is uninhabited. We then beached our dinghies and walked along a beach absolutely made by shells - big, little, some perfect, some not, it was amazing in itself. The shore was rocky with thin slabs of limestone and coral rocks. We really have to research Bahamian geology, it's so different.

Anyway, we headed on a small trail that led inland and Aidan saw a bright green gecko perched on a bush, so cool. We saw the osprey on a post as well. Then Aidan said it looked as though the little valley was ready for Halloween - the soil and the bushes were all orange and black. Vic and Marilyn and their friend Kathleen were great company along our hike.

We almost missed the entrance to the cave but we grabbed our flashlights. It was hot outside and as we descended into the cave, it got steamier. The cave was amazing, with deep still pools of fresh water and stalactites and stalagmites. It seemed as though no one else had ever been there. The cave went way deep into the island but we stayed near the entrance and the light. Scott and Vic explored a few of the crags further in. Someone had left a pail to catch the drips maybe 50 or 100 years ago and it was becoming covered in limestone.

We decided to keep on hiking after the cave, so we went over the ocean side where there was a beach and we looked in vain for sea beans or hamburger beans, small brown beans that some say travel in the ocean all the way from Africa. Then you can polish them and they look terrific in necklaces, etc.

Aidan and Elizabeth did find old green bottles in the tiny cove where some were swimming. They cleaned them up and brought them back to our very crowded boat.

Today we have friends coming into the island for the festival so we're looking forward to that and to exploring the tiny village itself.

We are planning on heading to Georgetown this weekend to meet up with our visiting family and Reggie.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sand, sand everywhere - what's left at the beach???

I've decided there's nothing I hate more than sand in my sheets. This Bahamian sand is remarkably like cement, clumping and dumped from one end of the boat to the other.

One cruising mom I talked to yesterday told me that when they returned to Kingston last summer, they had imported about a ton of sand. Whoopee. My job today is to try to fight the good fight and take the broom to the cabin. I've almost given up on the cockpit.

But then, I could be shoveling snow.