Archive for March 2011
I wish I could think of a clever, cute title for this post. It deserves a better title but I can’t think of a way to sum up the past week’s events in a few words.
Transformative would be a good word.
Exhausting is also very descriptive.
Things were chaotic at times.
Overall, the mood was festive and happiness prevailed.
I was occasionally frantic but Lee was very supportive.
Our families and friends were very generous and we are so thankful that so many of then came.
St. John was beautiful, frustrating, and inspirational.
Taxi’s were (not so) wonderful.
Concordia was amazing and sometimes irritating.
We ate our fill of delicious food every day.
Okay, enough of that. I won’t go into detail about every day on the island. Lee and I have been here since last Monday. Guests started to trickle in shortly after we arrived and then a whole mob of people arrived a couple of days before the wedding. Rather than messing with a welcome letter and other, more conventional destination wedding flourishes, I attempted to greet every single guest in person when they arrived. For the most part, I was successful. Lee and I met my mom and Doug at the Cruz Bay ferry on Tuesday and intercepted my aunt’s taxi at the resort when she arrived late that night.
Our tent was often full of friends. My mom’s was just across the way but the amount of steps up and down it took to get there made my calves sore for the first few days. I spotted many new arrivals from my mom’s balcony above the main walkway
Our friend Becky, me, and Lee.
We didn’t do much in the way of organized activities. I quickly realized that rounding everyone up was as futile as herding cats. On most days, some people stuck close to the resort, snorkeling and relaxing at nearby Salt Pond Beach. Others hiked nearby trails in the coolish mornings and a few groups explored the island by car, bus, or taxi. Waterlemon, Honeymoon, Cinnamon, and Maho Bays were popular destinations for snorkeling and general beach enjoyment.
One table of the rehearsal dinner.
We ate some fabulous meals, both at Concordia and at restaurants in Coral Bay. The rehearsal dinner at Shipwreck Landing was the first wonderful occasion that brought everyone together. Then, of course, there was the wedding itself!
All day long on the wedding day people commented on how relaxed I was. Lee and I chose to divide and conquer that day – him with his family and me with mine. We both enjoyed some good beach time and returned to the resort in time to get ready for the big night.
For me, getting ready meant a solar heated shower from the hose nozzle eco-tent shower. My cousins did my hair and helped me apply the absolute minimum amount of makeup. All my primping and dressing preparations took place in the air-conditioned office/pantry near the pavilion. There was no mirror and a tablecloth on the floor protected my dress from the dusty floor.
Of course, our time to proceed out for the ceremony snuck up on my dad and me despite rehearsing it earlier that day. He and Peggy had put together a beautiful selection of music, some of which was meaningful and some just nice to listen to. Lee’s brother and my friend Lindsay, the best man and maid of honor, walked out. Lee’s parents followed and my brother walked my mom down the aisle. Lee was waiting for me next to the officiant when my dad walked me out. There were lots of faces watching, cameras flashing, and sun in my eyes.
The ceremony is kind of a blur. I remember watching Lee’s mouth and seeing my reflection in his sunglasses. The officiant made proclamations in the booming voice I imagine a female deity might have. Lee and I looked out at the island and the ocean. The wind wrapped around us and blew my hair in my face for all of the pictures I’m sure. Lee’s ring was too small (which we’d known since he’d tried it on earlier in the week). I could barely get it on his finger. Mine slid on perfectly. It sparkles and I love it.
Kissing in front of a crowd was strange. Eventually we got more comfortable with it, as all the post-ceremony photography took place in full view of our appetizer munching guests. Lee and I stumbled around in a daze. Did we feel different? Is married a feeling? I think yes.
The reception progressed. Appetizers gave way to dinner, which was fresh, simple, and good. The band had arrived and begun playing during the appetizers but we had to wait till after dinner and dessert to really get things started musically. The dad’s and Lee’s brother, Matt, gave wonderful, thoughtful toasts.
I chose the time for the cake cutting. It was a bit awkward at first. Lee and I had never cut a wedding cake before (of course) and we didn’t really know what to do. The photographer gave us some pointers and we sliced a HUGE piece of the enormous, round, one-level cake. Lee wanted to slice another but I insisted that we share the first piece. We tasted the sweet banana custard, rich yellow cake, and buttery, coconut-flecked icing simultaneously. There really is something beautiful about that.
We almost finished our gargantuan slice but had to remain lively enough for dancing, which followed soon after cake. I think we were both nervous about the first dance but it went off without a stumble and I took a few turns around the dance floor with my dad next. The band was awesome. Their happy Caribbean music was perfect for our crowd and there was quite a bit of dancing despite the heat.
Still, the party didn’t last all night long. It lasted just as long as Lee and I typically last with things like that. The band cleaned up by 9. Stragglers danced while I threw the bouquet straight into my cousin Jenna’s arms. I’m sure Lee and I were back at our tent around 10. He carried me across the doorstep. Awww…
Everything about that evening is hazy and wonderful in my mind now. It was so much fun to have everyone there and truly enjoying themselves, I think. I know I felt special (and I’ll admit it – I like to feel special). Being a bride for a day has to be one of the most fabulous feelings on the planet.
The wedding faded slowly, letting Lee and I down gently. We all had brunch at Concordia the morning after the ceremony and then continued our St. John frolicking. I’m so glad I got to spend some time with everyone who came. It wasn’t nearly enough time but I tried to give myself a good-sized serving of each guest.
Ahhh, I fell behind before I even posted this. Now we’re back in mainland USA, more specifically California. All I can say is Lee and I need some serious down time and we’re going to get it here over the next week. I’ll catch up on the post-wedding events and everything else in my next post. Now I’m going to go fix dinner in a real kitchen!
Ah, there’s nothing like a long day of travel to make you appreciate a soft bed and a roof over your head, even if that bed is two mattresses pushed together on the floor and the roof is a tent.
Lee and I staggered in to Estate Concordia Preserve just before the registration desk closed last night. Our flight to St. Thomas was uneventful and we didn’t encounter any problems picking up our marriage license. The ferry to St. John was another story. We would have made it to the 3pm ferry, if, as we had been told, such a ferry existed. It turned out that the next ferry wasn’t till 5:30 so we found a bar with free wifi and half price beers and waited.
Leaving Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas on the ferry.
The ferry ride was scenic and smooth. We pulled into Cruz bay just in time to hop on Vitran bus, which took us despite our luggage. The bus bounced and wound it’s way to the other end of the island while we hung on for dear life. It was dark and I was starving by the time it dropped us off at Concordia.
Unfortunately, the cafe is closed on Mondays so Lee and I called a cab to take us to the closest restaurant, Shipwreck Landing, which we think is the location of the rehearsal dinner. We sat at the bar and chatted with the friendly bartender. The outdoor atmosphere was very welcome after all the air-conditioned travel spaces and the food was delicious. The bread was amazing, partly because it tasted like it was toasted on the grill. My garden salad with grilled Mahimahi was exactly what I needed and Lee devoured his favorite salad (the taco variety).
Our eco tent is awesome! It’s huge and comfy but not too comfy. These accommodations are genuinely energy conscious and environmentally friendly. I think our wedding guests will get a good idea of what it’s like to live on a boat.
Now that Lee and I have had our run, showers, and breakfast, it’s time for some last minute wedding stuff and then a trip back to Cruz Bay. I want to pick up some groceries there and we’re going to try to meet my mom and perhaps Lee’s friend Doug at the ferry landing.
Shroud Cay, The Bahamas, from the airplane. We visited this cay on Pirat.
With that, here’s Lee with some travel advice for our wedding guests based on our experience getting here.
Getting Here Annex
It was a little bit of a challenge to get to Concordia. We took an airport taxi into Charlotte Amalie for $16 for two people and two bags (they like to charge for bags it seems). From there, there is a ferry that leaves at 10 am, 1 pm, and 5:30 pm for $12/person plus $2.50/bag. The ferry is blue and white and stops in a yellow plastic fenced in area on the waterfront in the middle of downtown. The other option is to go out to Red Hook by airport taxi and there is a ferry there that leaves hourly 6am to 11pm, $6/person $2.50/bag. When we go back I’m going to ask if I can just carry my bag and avoid the $2.50. One book lists the standard taxi fare for the airport to Red Hook as $15 for one person not including bags. Red Hook is a 20 minute ferry, Charlotte Amalie is a 45 minute ferry.
When you get to St. John, there are taxis and a bus. Concordia is basically as far away from the ferry terminal as you can get.. The book lists the taxi fare as $20 for one person. The Vitran bus leaves either every hour or every other hour, depending on how they feel that day and is only $1/person. The may or may not allow luggage, for us the allowed it. The bus ride took about an hour is a motion sickness inducing thrill ride through the park – if you get a younger driver (the old drivers are reputed to be slow).
Also we haven’t been to the grocery store yet, but the better ones are likely to be in the town with the ferry terminal. We’ve heard that “Dolphin” and “Starfish” are good, with Dolphin having lower prices.
Here are the rest of the pictures I’ve been hoarding. This album includes Lee’s fish, the Coconut Run, and other odds and ends.
I’m so tired. I’m sitting in bed in a cold, dingy hotel room in Maimi. I had a mediocre (at best) veggie burger and wilted green salad for dinner at the chain restaurant next door. I’d like to welcome myself back to America.
Lee and I left Pirat at 6am today and spent more than 7 hours in the Nassau airport in between flights to Maimi. It’s amazing to think that we crossed the ocean we sailed over the course of months in just a few hours today. The best part of today was when the water taxi driver gave us a free ride across the harbor because we’re getting married.
Pirat is safe on a mooring in Kevalli Cove on Stocking Island, Exuma. We slipped into the hurricane hole there on a 7:30am high tide the other day. Lee drove and only hit bottom once. He backed off and tried again with success.
We spent the next few days cleaning up the boat, packing, and hanging out with our boat friends from Forest and Fin. Crossing the harbor to George Town was a pain as usual. I was disappointed that there were no papaya trucks to be found in town. Papayas filled with yogurt are one of my new favorite things.
Kevalli Cove. At the base of the bluff to the left is a blue hole (an underwater
cave that goes all the way under Stocking Island).
Going from a sailboat in the Bahamas to the Maimi airport in a day is quite a shock. Lee and I are overwhelmed by the chaos and ridiculous things like the freezing cold air-conditioned hotel and all the crap on TV. St. John will be a welcome relief from all this…”civilization.”
The wedding is less than a week away and we’re going to St. John TOMORROW!
Lee on the sail back to George Town.
Before I get to the topic hinted at in the title of this post, lets talk about more pleasant business. Lee and I are back in George Town. Actually, that’s not particularly pleasant except that it means it’s almost time for our wedding! We sailed here yesterday from Rum Cay. It was the longest distance we’ve sailed for a while (50+ miles) and we actually got to sail downwind for once!
Rum Cay provided some new and different experiences. After our first night there, the only other boat in the huge anchorage left. We had the place to ourselves for the rest of our stay. The bay was gorgeous and dotted with impressive coral reefs. Lee thought about searching some of them for lobster but never got around too it. We were too busy scoping out the town of Port Nelson and relaxing on the boat.
The town seemed sleepy and otherworldly. An occasional goat or horse grazed in a vacant lot and residents greeted us from their porches. The cemetery occupied beachfront property and was filled with limestone headstones ( probably from as far back as the 1700’s) that seemed to have melted from the top down. On one trip in, a dog befriended us on the beach and watched us row away with his sad-dog eyes.
Lee decided he wanted to hike across the island so that became our final day’s mission. Only one road seems to cross Rum Cay. It connects Port Boyd on the North side with Port Nelson on the South. Port Boyd was probably used during the island’s plantation days but now it is simply an uninhabited beach with a protecting reef. The five mile walk there took us a couple of hours. We followed the sometimes paved, sometimes dirt road over mostly flat terrain and past stone wall ruins. We passed the airstrip and old salt ponds. The road was littered with cow pies from the wild cattle that roam around the island.
The cool wind from the ocean was a welcome relief when we finally made it to the beach. We ate our peanut butter sandwiches and Lee explored while I poked around in the sand. After a quick swim we were back on the road for the return trip. Lee worked on toughening his feet by walked barefoot the whole way back. It took another couple of hours but we eventually tumbled into our dinghy on the beach again.
The beach at Port Boyd.
We sailed our of anchor the next morning – quite a challenge when it’s blowing 15-18 and you have to avoid coral heads. After blasting out of the harbor under only our main, we unfurled the jib and started working our way downwind. On the rare occasions when we’re sailing downwind, our destination always seems to be dead down wind of us, forcing us to either sail wing-on-wing or jibe back and forth. Yesterdays conditions eliminated the wing/wing option, as the seas were quite large and the wind gusting above 20. We chose to reach off for a bit and see how we did. Pirat was blasting along at 8+ knots a lot of the time.
Lee and I sat in the cockpit, watching the dinghy (motor off, oars off, plug out) skim along behind the boat, and guessing at how big the waves were. We just sat there and watched as the dinghy first flipped over on a wave, then nose-dived and ripped off the towing bridle. Uh oh. Now what?
Lee hit the man overboard button and then announced that we were heaving to, which almost brought us within grabbing distance of the dinghy once it drifted downwind towards the somewhat stationary boat. When that didn’t work, we furled the jib and sailed after the dinghy with just the main. Pirat rolled and pitched like crazy in the huge waves and we ended up doing an accidental gybe. By then we were downwind of the dinghy, which was surprisingly easy to spot upside down on the wave crests. We motored into the wind, dropped the main, and I struggled to get a sail tie around it while the boom tried to buck me off. I drove Pirat alongside the dinghy and Lee hooked it with the boathook. I switched on the auto pilot, hoping the boat would stay pointed into the seas, and helped Lee drag the dinghy aboard.
We stood in the cockpit, hearts racing, as I pointed Pirat toward our destination again. It had to happen sometime, that inevitable dinghy towing lesson. Many people we talk to have horror stories of losing their dinghies while towing them at sea. We were much better about bringing ours aboard for our sails when we first started out. The Exumas made us lazy about towing the dinghy. The water was always to flat and the wind relatively mild. We never towed it with the engine on and it always seemed to ride along behind the boat pretty well. Now we couldn’t tow it even if we wanted to! The bridle attachments ripped off so Lee will have to order some replacements. I’m sure we will be packing up our dinghy most of the time from now on anyway. We can just turn it upside down on deck but it gets in the way of setting up the solent and anchoring.
The rest of the sail back was uneventful. We went fast and sailed right up to our old anchorage in Elizabeth Harbor at around 6pm. Now Lee is measuring the tides and doing a final survey of our path into the mooring basin. Tomorrow morning at a super high tide we’ll hopefully drive Pirat in and pick up a mooring. Then it’s time for laundry, packing, and flying to St. John!
Me, in sailing mode.
It’s been a while since I uploaded these pictures so I’m a little behind. Still, I wanted to share this album with everyone because the Bahamas are beautiful!
Sunset at Port Nelson, Rum Cay.
I think I’m done trying to do yoga on the beach in the Bahamas. The no-see-ums were there, even if I didn’t see them at first. I left the beach in Calabash Bay with a new batch of itchy bites and a renewed fear of tiny bugs.
Lee and I had a nice stay at our Long Island anchorage despite some adverse conditions. On our first day, Lee brought the bikes ashore and we rattled our way down Galliot Cay’s dirt road to the main, paved road that runs Long Island’s length. We rode a little ways down that road in each direction, stopping at Pratt’s Convenience store for a cold drink and taking in the rural Bahamian landscape. The sparse settlements were made up of weathered concrete houses with various boats, animals, and sea debris in their yards.
Our friends were circumnavigating Galliot Cay in their sailing dinghy while Lee and I biked. On our way back, we met them at the Cape Santa Maria Resort (the cape was named after Columbus’ boat, which supposedly sank there). After some lounging in the shade and lunch for our friends, Lee and I headed back to our boat with our new machete, “The Ork Slayer” (a wedding gift). Lee went to work on his coconut stash on the beach and I watched our friends slowly make their way down the bay in their sailing dinghy.
It was past sunset by the time they got to Pirat so we towed them around the corner to their boat with the dinghy. We joined them for tea and a tour their awesome little boat and then drove back to our own for a late dinner. Driving back in the dinghy, I could see the bottom in detail below us – an even weirder sight at night than in the daytime.
The next morning’s weather forecast brought news of a front moving in that evening. Lee and I spent most of the morning trying to decide what to do. Should we stay where we were? Should we try to get into Joe’s sound where our friend’s were anchored? Should we move somewhere down Long Island? Should we try to sail to Rum Cay? We gradually eliminated all the options except staying put. Everyplace else we could get in to anchor would not be any more sheltered than our current spot and might have worse depth. The cut to get into Joe’s Sound was too shallow and we were worried about getting stuck when the swell came up and made the entrance even more perilous.
With the front moving closer, we spent most of the day close to the boat. We went for a pretty strenuous run in the morning. Lee brought the bikes back onboard. I baked bread, which is an all-day process when I forget to start it the night before. We planned to leave for Rum Cay the next day but were torn by the prospect of staying to spend one last day with our friends. It was a long, rough night as the front passed and brought wind and swells into our anchorage.
The next morning was just as rough but we decided to stay. Lee and I walked to the tip of Galliot Cay, where the sailing dinghy ferried everyone to a protected beach on Hog Cay. We all spent the day on the beach – playing cribbage, picnicking, swimming, and chatting, The two guys went on a quest for lobster but returned empty handed. I had a great time just hanging out on the beach with the girls. These particular boat friends lead fascinating lives and are quite inspiring.
The crews parted ways late that afternoon, as Lee and I needed to check on our boat and the conditions would make it tricky to gather for dinner. Hopefully we will see our friends again when we come back to Goerge town after the wedding. If not, there will be plenty of opportunities to visit in other places.
Yesterday morning Lee and I packed up and sailing out of our anchorage (fun!), bound for Run Cay. Sailing off the anchor isn’t as hard as it sounds most of the time and we want to start doing it more. It was an upwind sail to Rum Cay (or course) and we were out in the unprotected waters where ocean swells roll through the islands. With the solent a a reefed main we were occasionally under-powered but made it to Port Nelson, the anchorage at Rum Cay, with time for a quick run before dinner. It’s become kind of a joke that we only sail places when the passage will be upwind. We don’t do it that way on purpose. We just don’t wait around for downwind conditions.
Port Nelson is a large, open bay with a reef along one side. The town has a few restaurants and stores as well as picturesque little houses overlooking the beach. I managed to do yoga on deck this morning and it felt wonderful. Now I’m ready for a day of bread baking, exploring ashore, and hopefully some shopping at the Last Chance grocery store. My supply of absolutely heavenly papayas from George Town is almost exhausted, as are the fresh vegetables.
Elizabeth Harbor had its beautiful moments. You can barely see how the bottoms of the clouds reflects the turquoise water on the banks.
George Town was madness. In fact, I’m sure the madness continues as I write this, I’m just not around to witness it. As I’m sure I said before, I’ve never seen so many boats in my life. What’s amazing about it, though, isn’t the number of boats but the fact that they all have people on them and almost all of them sailed to George Town from some somewhere far away. The networks of cruising friends are impressive and the range of boats amusing. Lee and I never get tired of chuckling at ginormous catamarans with min-masts and I’m always interested to see what the heavily outfitted cruisers have on deck.
George Town also introduced us to a new style of dinghy driving: lets call it the George Town Stand-up. This behavior is usual exhibited by lone dinghy operators but may take place in boats with multiple passengers. The person driving the dinghy stands in about the middle of the boat, facing forward with legs spread for balance, and holds their outboard motor tiller extension in one hand. The non-driving hand grips the boat’s painter/bow line for stability. It’s really doesn’t look that stable, though. In the rough conditions in Elizabeth harbor this past week I thought for sure I’d see someone fly backwards off their boat as it launched over a wave. No such luck. My theory behind why people drive like this is that they don’t want to get their butts wet. The middle of the dinghy it usually the driest place and who wants to show up to cocktail hour with soggy shorts?
Lee and I spent a week in our anchorage off Stocking Island. We almost left yesterday but had a lot to do that morning and would not have made it to Long Island in the time we had left. The day before, Lee put on his scuba gear to search for our friends’ anchor. They had lost one of their two anchors when they pulled them up to move to the other side of the harbor. With the help of the GPS coordinates of their anchorage, Lee found the missing ground tackle in less than 15 minutes. He used the rest of the air in his little tank to change Pirat’s zincs.
The most important goal of our stay in George Town was to find a place to moor Pirat while we fly to our wedding. After a little hunting, some pestering, and some reconnaissance snorkeling, we think we found a place. We’ll have to get Pirat over two tight spots depth-wise, once of which is very tight. The mooring basin that would only require one sketchy passage is full. We’re pretty much crossing our fingers that we can get in to the farthest basin. The only alternative is an extremely over-priced marina.
This morning we got up at our usual early hour but had to forego our usual puttering around or exercise in order to get out of the harbor at a reasonable hour. The 20 something mile sail to the northern tip of Long Island was straight upwind. 15-20 knots of breeze with substantial swells and wind chop made this a solent day. We got enough spray over the deck to wash of some of the sand that has been accumulating. I, inevitably, did not feel well. It’s been a long time since we’ve done any sailing in real ocean conditions! I did manage to bake another beautiful loaf of bread, despite the conditions. It wasn’t actually ready until we dropped anchor in Calabash bay but it sure was a good after-sail snack.
We’re anchored in a rather open bay with a long, sandy beach and not much protection from wind or swells. Still, it’s not too uncomfortable. A boat friend of ours is anchored in Joe’s Sound, just around the corner from us. We might try to get in their tomorrow, although it’s probably too shallow for us. The beach here looks good for yoga and Lee promises to wait for me to establish whether there are bugs around or not before he rows away and leaves me to be eaten alive.
I couldn’t resist the alliteration. Once again, I’ve let too much happen since my last post. It’s not like everything I have to write about is particularly interesting. I just feel somehow obligated record it.
Boats anchored along Stocking Island in Elizabeth Harbor, George Town.
I last reported in from Black Point, Great Guana Cay, which was such a nice place that Lee and I stayed for several days. Our friends, who were in a hurry to reach George Town, left the day after we arrived. Lee and I opted to wait a while, spending a few days running around the island, doing laundry, and catching up on computer business. The laundromat (spelled “laundermat” on their sign) in Black Point was very big and clean but expensive, as I expected laundry to be out here. Fortunately we’ve been wearing the same dirty clothes over and over again, for the most part, so there wasn’t as outlandish of an amount to wash as their could have been, considering I had not done laundry since Florida.
There were quite a few cruising boats anchored at Black Point and a few turned up in the little restaurants in town. Lee and I hung out at Lorraine’s Cafe a little bit to use the internet. I spent a few hours there while Lee went on a coconut expedition down the island. He caught the coconut bug, so to speak, and was determined to figure out how to climb a palm tree, retrieve a coconut, and hack into it’s delicious center. This was all easier said than done, although he did eventually climb a tree and snag quite a few young coconuts. The young, green coconuts have softer shells but tougher husks. The meat inside is also softer. tastes different from the coconut we’re used to, and is supposedly very good for you. We now have 4 young coconuts on the boat, just waiting to go into smoothies and the like.
Strong winds from the southeast kept us in Black Point longer than we intended. When the wind finally abated, we took off through the cut and tacked upwind towards Little Farmer’s Cay. The cut (narrow opening between two islands that connects the banks with the sound on either side of the Exumas) was rough because the tide was going out against the wind but once we got out a little ways the seas calmed down and we settled in to a pleasant, 10-15 knot beat.
Lee put his fishing line in the water, as the sound is where everyone’s been catching Mahimahi. It seemed easy to snag a fish out there but we didn’t get our hopes up. Imagine our surprise when the line zinged out against the clutch and the pole bent over. Lee was convinced we’d just caught a hunk of seaweed but we hove-to anyway and Lee started reeling in our catch. The line came in so easily we thought maybe we’d lost the lure. Then I noticed a fish splash near our bow and the line went under the boat. Oops. Now we had a fishing line in front of our rudder and there was clearly something on the other end. There were even a couple of huge Mahimahi swimming next to our boat!
At that point Lee got in the dinghy, which we were towing, and starting pulling the line in by hand while I cranked the reel. A big, shiny fish finally appeared alongside the dinghy. I handed Lee a bucket, pliers, and bottle of aftershave (we’ve heard that alcohol kills fish when splashed on it’s gills). He slung the fish into the dinghy and it flopped around for a while until the aftershave or the gaping hole from the hook was too much for the poor fish. We took a few pictures and stuck our Mahi in a plastic trash bag in the fridge (it barely fit). We then spent the rest of our sail wondering how we’d clean and cook our catch.
I ended up cleaning the fish. It wasn’t really too bad but that fish sure was a lot bigger than the trout I’m used to cleaning in CO. I cut open the trash bag and used it as a tarp on the cockpit table for my cleaning surface. There’s no need for gory details. We managed to gut the fish and cut it into steaks and filets. I marinated the steaks in some soy sauce and fresh ginger and Lee cooked them on the barbecue. It was a long, messy process but the reward was worth it! There is nothing like feasting on fresh Mahimahi you caught yourself!
We only spent one night at Little Farmer’s but it was a beautiful place that I’d like to go back to at some point. George Town called and we knew we had a day of calm wind before some nasty weather moved in. We motored most of the way to Great Exuma and navigated through Elizabeth Harbor’s shoals in the late afternoon. A mis-programmed waypoint and some rapid shoaling led to our first grounding in the Bahamas. Luckily the bottom was sandy and we were off before long. I spotted a sea turtle as we felt our way into the harbor.
The sheltered anchorages along Stocking Island were brimming with the largest collection of anchored boat’s I’ve ever seen. As we learned later, every cruiser in the Bahamas had descended on George Town for the annual Cruising Family Regatta this week. We passed our boat friends on the way in but anchored a little ways down the shoreline and hunkered down for the rain squall that followed. Lee managed to collect 5 gallons of rainwater, our first.
After dinner, we joined the party onshore at the Chat n’ Chill, where a few of our friends were hanging out. The regatta kickoff party was going on and the free drinks were filled a crown of cruisers with exuberance and energy. Young and old took to the dancer floor. Entertaining costumes abounded. Lee and I took it all in for a while and even danced a few dances before heading home to bed.
DInghies lined up and ready to go.
Our team blasted off the beach with a huge lead!
The following morning was the Coconut Run, an event in the regatta where teams of four paddle inflatables with swim fins on their hands in a race to collect as many floating coconuts as possible. The four guys from our group of friends teamed up in a dinghy and prepared for the race. Everyone started with their boats onshore, clambering into them when the race began. We girls cheered from shore and took pictures as our team blasted around the little bay. They were by far the fasted boat out there but they didn’t quite gather the most coconuts. They did, however, win the coconut bowling competition, part of a series of events held after the initial race.
That’s a lot of coconuts!
That afternoon Lee helped search for our friends’ dinghy, which had drifted away from their boat the night before. They didn’t find it that day but someone else salvaged it and got it back to them a few days later (minus the ruined engine). Lee did some windsurfing. I did some relaxing. We joined the group for a delicious potluck aboard one couple’s boat that night. Everyone in this circle is such a great cook – we always have yummy meals.
The next day Lee and I went for a run in George Town, on the main island (Great Exuma). We picked up some fresh groceries in town and got drenched on the upwind dinghy ride back to the boat. That afternoon we checked into moorings for Pirat during the wedding. We found a place we like but getting in there is only vaguely possible with our draft (we probably found a better spot today). After a little hike around the island Lee took to the windsurfer again and I hung out on the boat. The wind continued to howl at 15-20 knots this whole time.
Whew! That finally brings me to yesterday!
Lee and I took the dinghy across to George Town again yesterday morning. A friend hitched a ride and took part in our second dinghy soaking. We didn’t have much luck finding internet in town (one reason for coming in) but we managed to pick something up outside the market and took care of some important business online (like ordering Lee’s wedding clothes).
Lee windsurfed again and I went for a run on the beach. Last night the whole gang ventured ashore to a restaurant some friends knew about where a band was playing. Lee and I had dinner there and we all enjoyed an evening off the boats.
Here we are, finally, at Sunday morning. We fly to St. Thomas for our wedding in exactly two weeks. It’s time to get out of George Town and get some sailing done before we have to leave! Our friends are continuing south today and tomorrow and we may be ready to go by tomorrow as well. We’re still figuring out a mooring for Pirat and we need to fill up on propane, water, and gasoline for the outboard. Now we’re off for another expedition ashore to get some of those things done. Fortunately the wind has calmed down quite a bit so we should stay drier on this trip.
Next stop: Long Island? Rum Cay? Cat Island?