This update covers the most relaxed period of the cruise this year.
I felt a little guilty leaving Rebecca in town by herself for the last night of her visit. But when she called to make sure I got back to Lucky safely in the dinghy, she was at the bar of the Exuma Yacht Club and making more friends already. I’m sure she will find wonderful things to do in her retirement when it starts in a few weeks.
The winds remained high and we watched many more of the great movies that Rebecca had brought down as gifts for us. Often Jim and Lynda came to watch them with us. I recommend The Imitation Game, about the British genius who broke the German Enigma code in WWII, also Boyhood.
We were still in Red Shanks and most mornings I got up before 6:30 a.m. to listen to Chris Parker predict more wind at 25 to 30 knots. Richard made breakfast and cooked many suppers. I made bread. Richard baked it. I worked on writing Book III, while Richard watched violent guy movies, wearing his headphones. When it wasn’t too windy to get off the boat, we walked back and forth on and in the white sand and turquoise water of the beach nearby. Gabe and Gail of Sea Wolf and Jim and Lynda usually joined us. We got used to the wind howling night and day and slept through it. Most evenings we shared supper with Jim and Lynda.
We missed the opening night show of the Cruisers’ Regatta. The entertainment, by all accounts, was wonderful, but the wind blew cold through Regatta Park. The four or five hundred people who arrived on Elvis’s taxis at 3 p.m. in shorts and tee-shirts had to stand or sit on the wall or the muddy ground for the show, then wait two or three hours to get rides back to their boats in one of the (3?) water taxis.
The six of us went the back way to town in our dinghies the next day, then crossed to Volleyball Beach to see the small boat races. The last day of the regatta we climbed to the ridge near the monument on Stocking Island to watch the Round the Island Race. In earlier years we raced, and I participated in the art show, but this year we didn’t have the wherewithal to race what had become our home, and the high winds kept us in Red Shanks and discouraged me from organizing an art show. Besides, an art group never really coalesced this year. (Or a Scrabble group, for that matter.) But one day I took all my paintings to Volleyball Beach just as Beach Church was getting out and set up my easel to paint. A couple of paintings and two books found new homes and I met and visited with many really friendly people. A great day.
There were two volunteer yoga leaders with different styles, and Lynda and I enjoyed both of their classes, when we could get there in spite of the wind. Richard and I went to three or four parties and enjoyed dancing and listening to the music. But by nine or ten p.m., we were both ready to go home to our V-berth.
We showed Gabe and Gail of the Kroegen the way to the Loyalist ruins on Crab Key, and went snorkelling in sheltered spots with them one day when the wind was high.
Our boats had now been in the water for two years. As fast as Richard and Jim cleaned the bottoms of the boats with scrapers, the grass grew back, and they had to go at it again. They could have hired a guy to do it for a dollar a foot, but Richard was having none of it. He still could do it himself, thank you very much. But he was glad of the help he got from Jim. I even helped a little, but got a lot of bites from little creatures that floated out of the grass I was scraping off on the waterline and got caught under the edges of my old bathing suit.
We saw lots of sea life this year – a two-foot-long red-finned pipe-fish with jaws full of sharp little teeth, the odd squid, and countless starfish and stingrays. Later we even had conch salad from a conch Richard found one day in the Darbys.
I managed to get about five pages of Book III written this winter, as well as the updates.
On March 15, the wind finally died down, and a week of calm was predicted. Off we went to Kidd Cove in front of George Town to reprovision and refill the tanks with water. Even though the number of boats in the harbour had dropped from 379 to 177, there was a long line-up of dinghies at the water tap on the dinghy dock behind the Exuma Market, where we got free reverse osmosis water. A day later Richard and I went to visit Helga, the German woman we met last year, who lives on Elizabeth Island. My favourite thing there: she has a rule – no bathing suits allowed on her lovely little beach.
Finally, on Thursday, March 19, we headed over to Kidd Cove to meet Jim and Lynda, who would lead us out of the harbour. Funny thing: As we were passing a boat anchored a little farther out, I saw the name Blue Streak on the side and as the stern became visible, I saw: Chatham, Ontario. I yelled that I was from Bothwell, and the couple on board said they knew the Kerrs from Bothwell (also sailors) and had read my books, loaned to them by the Kerrs. Small world.
Every day I look around at the clear azure 90 degree F water and swim in it, feel the warm air and go to sleep in the gently rocking boat, thankful that I’m here and not up there in Ontario. We go to town and the Bahamians are cheerful and helpful, and the kids are polite and charming. But there are more tourists and cruisers every year too, so I’m glad to have been wintering here since 2000, when it wasn’t quite as busy as it has been more recently.
We more or less followed Morningstar out of the harbour. After a couple of hours of slow sailing, there was a zzzzing on the fishing line we had been trailing with a flashy plastic lure on it. Looking back, I could see the stunning greens, yellows and blues of a large dorado (a.k.a. dolphin fish or mahi-mahi). Richard wound it in while I ran to find the net and gaff. Richard pulled it into the cockpit. It was fought until Richard poured rum into its gills. Sadly, when we posed with our four-foot catch, its beauty had faded to a dark gray. Jim cleaned it at our next stop, the old research center, now closed. Two big meals for four of us.
The water was much clearer there than in George Town and it was hot so we spent a lot of time in the water. We also went ashore and walked around. No one was living there and there were big piles of junk everywhere – a sad waste.
Heavy wind was called for, so we continued on the shallow route on the banks, followed by Hug, a Norwegian boat that was trying the shallow route for the first time. They drew 5 feet, same as us. Higher winds were called for so we took Lucky and Morningstar into a small anchorage between the Darbys, a well-protected spot where we could raft together. Jim and Lynda’s dinghy was continually springing leaks, so they came in our dinghy to explore. Richard had known the caretaker’s father in the old days, so we were cleared to visit the green mansion on top of the hill and other places of interest, despite the signs that said we would be taken to Fox Hill Prison in Nassau and our passports seized until our trial if we trespassed. But revisiting the green house was depressing. It was once a beautiful structure, but the rebar and steel beams are rusting and big chunks of concrete are falling through the floors. It has become dangerous. The new American owner is probably right to throw trespassers in prison. He is likely only concerned for their safety.
Some Bahamians have suggested that the reason most grandiose plans for resorts and the like never come to fruition is that the islands are purchased with money made by nefarious means and will eventually be resold to launder the money. The government goes along with this because so much employment is promised for locals, but often the project halts after a short time. There are a few successes. Emerald Bay is a notable example.
Two big catamarans came in and tried to anchor in this place, but no one uses two anchors anymore, and there is not room to swing there on only one. We had a total of seven anchors on our bows and sterns.
On March 30, we left this little haven and resumed the trip north, stopping at Little Farmers Cay and the secluded little bay south of Hetty’s land. Now we are in the pretty little village of Black Point and will continue to explore it today.
I have lost my address book, so if I sometimes phone you, could you please email me your phone number? Thank you.
Sharon and Richard on Lucky