Monday, January 30, 2012

MayDay! MayDay!

Chuck and Joan went fishing.  They reeled in two half-drown men.  There is a story here somewhere.

The skies were clear, the seas were calm and the wind was less than 15 knots.  The down riggers were deployed, five lines off the stern were loaded “way out there”.  It was looking good for a day of fishing The Pocket off Chubb Cay.  The drop-off from 150 to 5000 feet makes for great fishing opportunities as big fish chase smaller fish to shallow waters at the change of tide. 

Guests and crew of the 70’ Viking were hoping for Blue Marlin, a 100-pound Wahoo or two and maybe a Tuna.  Sunscreen, hats and visors emblazoned with the boat name, polarized RayBans, long-sleeved Columbia SPF 50 shirts and Sperry Deck Shoes completed the prerequisite fishing attire.  Chuck cracked open his first brewski of the day and Joan settled in with her current good read.  Fishing is all about being ready for the action, waiting for the action, and not dying of boredom until the action begins.  Leaving boat handling to the captain, Chuck and Joan were free to entertain themselves while the boat trolled up and down the edge-of-the-ledge waiting for a strike.

-Wait a minute, what’s that off portside?  Get the binoculars!

Cutting the engines to idle speed, the captain sounded the alert:
-Men in the water!  All hands to!

The action had begun.  Every available hand was put to reeling in lines.  Seven individual reels had to be cranked to bring in the tackle before a rescue could be attempted.  While guests did the reeling, captain and crew deployed the AR15, just on the off chance…, radioed position and circumstance to alert the coast guard and cautioned those aboard:
-We don’t know who these men are or why they are in the water.  Be prepared for trouble—it could be anything.

The decks now cleared of obstacles and fishing gear, the Viking cautiously approached the men overboard.  They were clinging to plastic-wrapped floating bundles of “something”.  Their go-fast vessel was capsized and partially sunk, drifting with the current, most likely loaded with LOTS MORE of what was keeping them afloat. 

Chuck and Joan had fleeting thoughts of pirates, drug-lords, mafia revenge.  Was this a ploy to grab their vessel?  Could they end up in the water as these two (and who knew who else?) traded places with them?  Did they have guns??? 

Terror filled the eyes of two men in the water, surrounded by certain death.

-Joan, go below and lock the door, the captain ordered.  She didn’t wait for an engraved invitation.

Letting go of their bundles, the near-drowned men reached for the life rings thrown towards them.  One after the other, they were dragged up the swim platform and aboard the Viking thru the “tuna door” in the transom.  One grizzled and grey, the other middle-aged, they were both hypothermic, shaking and barely able to stand on their own.  They said they’d been in the water all night.

It took 20 minutes to effect the rescue.  All thoughts of their fishing expedition gone, the Viking headed for port, post haste.  She didn’t even take the time to raise her down riggers.  Calling ahead to the marina, captain asked to have the Constable on hand as they made dock.  Now a whole new set of “action” came into play.  A Coast Guard helicopter was sent to locate the abandoned smuggling vessel.  It was found, already being looted by two other Bahamian vessels.  Narcotic Agents from Nassau had set out at the first MayDay call and they arrived as the Constable was taking the rescued smugglers into custody. 

That night at SunDowners, one fishing captain was recounting the fight of the big Blue Marlin his vessel had hooked into that afternoon, while the captain and crew of our Viking had more exciting tales to share.  

Lesson of the day:  Be prepared for anything, take what comes and share the stories.

ps.  Happy news to tell:  My story "How I Found My Bliss" is one of 12 up for votes at Canadian Family Magazine on-line.  Click the link and cast a vote in my direction if you think it's any good.  Thanks for the consideration.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Boat Chores

Lest you think living on a boat in the Bahamas is all fun and games, this post is published to educate you on the finer points of life at sea.

Here is the before and after shot of the brass clock and barometer.
After much elbow grease and hard rubbing....
ta da!
 Several coats of clear paste wax and a daily polish should help them stay bright for the season ahead.

These pictures of the "herb garden" are for K, who specifically asked to see them.  We aim to please aboard Steadfast.

We have Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Mint, Basil, Parsley, Chives and in the little box, 
Flowers:  forget-me-nots, johnny jump ups, and pansies.
Farmer on a Boat.

Today is Monday Wash Day.  It could be any day that we are in a marina with a Laundry Facility or when we decide things are ripe and we wash by hand or with our own tiny machine on board.

I rig a temporary clothes line between the stanchions on the fly bridge.  Things dry in about 20 minutes here.

When we were commissioning this vessel, Captain wanted a washing machine and I wanted a vacuum cleaner.  Instead of one or the other, we ended up getting both.  I am so glad we did because we use them both, but especially the vacuum.

Today, we pulled out the vent screens for the air conditioners, vacuumed and washed everything and put it all back together.  It was like cleaning dryer lint traps clogged with cotton batten.   Maybe I will stop sneezing now.  :)

Then of course, there's always the decks to swab, the windows to wash and ..... well the list is endless.  We usually work as little as possible, play as much as we can and always leave time for the art of leisure.

Nelson keeps lookout on the forward deck, or lazes in the shade, while we work.  He is a much happier dog now that we have access to a delightful beach for running, swimming and chasing balls and sticks.  They say a tired dog is a good dog.  Y E S !!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Black and White Wednesday

Made in the shade.
 85 degrees in the sun and time for siesta.

(This collage was made and titled using My Memories Suites - 3.)

You guys up North can have the snow.
We have become quintessential snowbirds!

Black and White Wednesdays come to you compliments of
Grab the link and join the fun!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Retail Therapy

-Would you like to join the ladies when we go shopping tomorrow?
-WOULD I??????

Living on a boat with a tiny galley means I take any and every opportunity to hit the grocery stores.  Here was a chance to reprovision at a big-box store, two grocers, the marine shop for specialty light bulbs a la Steadfast, and a video store.

Marty is from Northern Ontario.  We met at happy hour by the pool at the Grand Bahama Yacht Club.  She winters in an apartment condo on the island and drives a rusted-out nissan.  The car's original paint burned off by the tropic sun several seasons ago, leaving blisters and bald patches across the surface.  A pie bald pony for sure.  A gaping hole in the dashboard where the radio used to be attests to the selectivity of robbers.  Still, it gets a body from point A to point B without having to bake in the sun walking there.

Marty recounted her tale of falling unconscious into her dinner plate three weeks ago, making her over a month late in getting here this year.  Doctors couldn't find out why she was blacking out:  TIA, Stroke, Low Blood Pressure?
-Lots of tests and no answers.

Next, she advised us to sing out if she should fail to remain on the proper side of the road while driving.  It's like England here--they drive on the left, not right side of the roads.
-It's my first time behind the wheel this season.

Lastly, I swung the car door shut as I got in and could not believe how flimsy it felt.  Was this a Toy Car--small, light and totally unsafe???  It dawned on me that I should put on my seat belt and perhaps sit in the middle of the back seat.  Things could get interesting.

My "few things" together with Marty's beach chair filled the trunk of the little toy car.  The rest had their few things, combined, on the vacant back seat beside mine.  The groceries and ship's store behind us, we headed for the video store.

-Wait a minute.  Isn't this illegal?  Can we get arrested for this????
This was a video store like none I'd ever frequented back home.  ARE there stores like this at home?  I think the RCMP keep these kinds of operations on the hush-hush, down-low, as my daughter says.  A tiny hole in the wall, barricaded with metal screening, there was enough room for four of us in the store at once:  three of us and the sales girl.  White boards announced the three for $5.00 options, New Releases, Favourites and specials.  As I walked out with 6 New Releases for $20.00, I couldn't stop myself from looking over my shoulder for the Mounties.  Duty free shopping?

There is no way to rationalize what we did.  It appears to be legal in the Bahamas, in China and who knows where else?  Is it only in non-third world countries where copy right laws apply?

We have moved "down island" as they say here, to Chubb Cay, in the Berry Island group.  Rather green around the gills for most of the six hour crossing, I failed to reel in anything more than two barracudas--those wily bandits that steal my bait and sometimes my tackle, leaving nothing but the trouble of restocking and resetting the lines.  These bruisers carry ciguatera, a neurotoxin that only the locals are brave/foolish enough to risk ingesting.  Frozen pizza and a movie, compliments of the recent shopping extravaganza and off to bed.  Rest easy my fellow bloggers.  We'll hit the beach tomorrow.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Gender Imbalance...It's a Boy!

The Captain and I are proud Grandparents of three adorables,  5 1/2 to 2 years old.  It was with baited breath that we awaited the outcome of  yesterday's "definitive" ultrasound of Grand #4, back home in Canada.  Our daughter gave us the news over Skype today that she is officially 26 weeks pregnant (there had been some debate about the date), carrying a healthy looking, MALE fetus.  The boys are really outnumbering the girls in our family, but it's not because we are doing anything to make that happen.

At Christmas, this Crafty Granny Good Witch came up with two pairs of the cutest booties ever.  One pair for a boy and one pair for a girl.  Everybody got presents this year, even "New Baby"  :)

Maybe Mummy knew ahead of time.  Some women just know, or so they say.

This week, the Globe and Mail published articles about the Canadian Medical Association Journal calling for a ban on revealing the sex of a fetus by ultrasound until 30 weeks gestation, or later.  It seems that some immigrant groups in Canada are aborting unwanted female babies.  Even some second-generation Canadian couples are doing what their forefathers have done for a long time overseas.  We are not talking about China, India or's happening on our own home turf, IN CANADA!

As a result, studies are showing a gender imbalance in many areas of our country.  Words and phrases like "eugenics",  "violence against women",  "sexual discrimination" and "barbaric practices" are flying hot and heavy as the debate about abortion in general continues.

Last week, Steadfast met a lovely family from Australia who is expecting their third child.  They already have two sweet boys, 4 and 2, and have been trying every-which-way to conceive a girl, even consulting a Chinese herbalist.   What an ironic but refreshing change!  They are still a few weeks away from their 20 week ultrasound, still waiting to see what the luck of the draw has for them this time.  I expect there will be great hoopla and happy goings-on at the MyLittleDeers blog site when they get the news.

This "unbalanced" family, has four more months to wait to meet our new grandson.  Here too, you will read the celebratory recitals of the new arrival.  Every child is a wanted, loved, accepted and rejoiced-over child in our Canadian neighbourhood.

Any thoughts out there about this?   Reactions?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Black and White Wednesday

Palm Trees with Ripe Coconuts
January 2012.

Today's B&W's are up for Judging.  It's a photo contest.
Hop on over to LikeChristmasEveryDay and see who wins.

Monday, January 16, 2012

People Watching

A fun daily visit over to "Pearl, Why You Little..." got me thinking about people watching.  Pearl has the best stories of her encounters on the bus commute to work.

It's really too bad it's not acceptable to photograph strangers just because we find their faces fascinating.  I'd have a huge portfolio of mugshots worthy of Coffee Table Status by now if I could.  Like Pearl, I love watching people, listening to people and making new friends.  Travel makes it even more likely I will add new faces to my collection, because there are always new ones just around the corner.  I met four very interesting people today that I want to introduce you to.

This morning, The Captain and I had errands all over town in Freeport, Grand Bahama.  Coming by boat means we have to rent a ride for town excursions.  Our delightful taxi driver, Lakecia, had plenty of opportunity to share her life story with me as we sat in the van for over two hours, waiting outside the telephone company, the lumber and hardware shop, the office supply store and the electronics gizmos place while the man did his thing and us women had a good chin wag.

34 years old, Lakecia has been driving cab for 6 years.  She is a single parent of two and cares for her little 9 yr. old sister.  When she's not working, or at church, she is on the hunt for a husband.  The current matrimonial candidates are a 45 yr. old taxi driver she met at the taxi dispatch center, a two-timing brick layer who left her for another woman three months ago, and one of the "brothers" from her prayer group.  Her kids and her mother adore the 45 yr. old taxi driver with the big gut, but the church leaders do not approve of him.  I'd love to be around long enough to hear the outcome of this complex relational puzzle.

On the rounds, we stopped at a roadside stand, where Lakecia purchased two bags of peanuts.  She hadn't had breakfast yet and lunch hour was fast approaching.
-Hey, Johnny.  Git me some white nuts, two bags.  None of dem brown ones likes you gat me yes'day.  I no like dem brown ones, no way.

Yes, the official language in the Bahamas is English.  I often wonder what language people are REALLY speaking when the lingo gets fast and furious, slurring into a patois that leaves me in the dust.  What I miss in translation, I often pick up thru volume, gestures and facial expressions.  He shot her a big smile and handed over two bulging brown bags one usually associates with penny candy.

Johnny sports a full head of Rasta braids, twisted into a knot in the back of his head, and spilling over the collar of his leather jacket.  A colourful bandanna completes the do.  His face can't handle any more hair, as his beard is a designer special, dangling down to the middle of his chest.  Now Captain wears a neatly trimmed, all-white beard to rival Santa Claus.  I have nothing against a nice beard.  Johnny's though, was a one-of-a-kind--never seen anything like it, ever!  A series of ponytail elastics was evenly spaced out, bunching up round balls of beard in ever smaller circles of tight curls, ending in a curlycue.  Truly unique.  I wonder if his coif helps attract business, or does it warn off the competition?

While searching out a replacement charger for our Bahamian cell phone, I spotted an old lady.  She was hard to miss.  It's a cool winter day in the Islands and she was dressed for the weather.  Under her navy blue, felt slouch hat, her purple wig shot out from her bespecaled-face in scary angles. A tiny, stooped woman, she was almost swallowed up in a baggy jacket that hung to her knees.  Her ankle length skirt high-lighted the stockings pooling around her ankles and her ballerina flats with plastic bows on the toes.  Her wooden cane in one hand and a heavy bag in the other, she navigated thru the heavy front doors of the establishment.  I know it's impolite to stare and the Captain always pulls me away when I wander off following rabbit trails, so I had no chance to figure this lady out.  Is she a regular visitor to that shop?  Do people know her there?  Is she as crazy in her speech and thought process as she is in her personal attire?  She is one lady just WAITING to be interviewed and written up!

On to the BaTelCo office--the only one on the island--and a 40 minute wait in line to be served.  At last we were ushered into the cubicle of a very beautiful young lady.  There was one chair by her desk for customers.  I sat down with a plop.  (Cappy TOLD me not to wear those platform heels.)  The Captain GOT DOWN ON ONE KNEE to be on the same level as her desk and proceeded to give her the litany of our non-working cell phone.
-Looks like you are proposing to the lovely lady, I said.
-Proposing to get his phone working, for sure, she responded.

Even a stranger to the culture can pick out the educated, hard-working women who hold down good jobs here.  This beauty had her own hair (no wig for her) pulled back into a neat coil on the top of her head.  Her impeccably penciled eyebrows and colour-shaded eyelids spotlighted her oval face.  Her trim figure filled out a fitted two-piece suit.  The skirt's little pleats along the hemline flared as she walked sedately across the office in her four inch heels.  The jewelry at her throat was complimented by matching ear rings.  In her quiet, efficient manner, she worked her way thru the convoluted bureaucracy of the national phone company to make things work for us.  Captain was very impressed:
-She really stuck with it and worked hard to make it happen!
-I guess it was because you went down on one knee to beg for help!!!

The one thing I most enjoy about travel, is meeting new people and learning about the culture I am visiting.  There are so many people out there just waiting to make friends and share their stories.  Yes, Pearl, every day is a good day when we exchange smiles with the world.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Wind Turned Out of the NW and So Did We

Steadfast heading into the 4-6 foot waves leaving Old Bahama Bay Marina began her rocking horse imitations, but at the first waypoint, she turned to port taking the waves broadside.  Pitch turned to yaw—gulp.  Breath deep and hold on.  Suddenly she picked up her skirts and began dancing on her tail—not good.  Three minutes to the next way point.

Made it!  Course correction to port again and the seas were on our aft quarter.  Some better.

-Now hear this, now hear this:  This is your Captain speaking.  I am not looking forward to chicken meat balls for supper tonight.  Catch me some fish!
-Aye, aye, Captain.  The lines are rigged and ready to be deployed, answered the First Mate.

At the next waypoint, our new course put the seas to aft, the waves were a gentler 2-4 feet.  We slowed to 6.5 knots and began trolling for the pelagics.  Now that's more like it.

-Arn?  (Newfie for: are there any fish?)
-Narn.  (Nope.)

Back at Old Bahama Bay, the locals do their own kind of fishing, looking for spiny lobsters, conch and stone crabs.   I bought a 10 pound bag of the most succulent stone crab and split it with the Aussies we met at the marina.  5 pounds of heaven-sent manna all for me.  Yummmmmy!!  Cappie isn’t inclined to partake. 

The weather outside is delightful—a balmy 75 degrees.  The flowers are in bloom making one believe it’s not winter at all.  Herons and egrets hang out around the boats in the marina, birds we seldom see at home. 

-A strike!
-Get the net, I don’t want to loose it!!

We reeled in a small King Mackerel.  Just right to feed Cappie’s supper requests.  Any fish is a success and we are smiling.

This morning, we woke up to the boat rubbing the dock fenders in Port Lucaya Marina.  We had a free night’s stay left over from last spring and so decided to use it.  The two pictures below show bivalves attached to the under-docks at low water.  At low tide, the docks look like they are wearing frilly petticoats.

This is a noisy place, part of the tourist-trap Lucayan Village.  Reggae is pumping 24/7 and weekends are party central.  Most importantly, the internet is not good!!!  We will be moving across the water to Grand Bahama Yacht Club for the next two nights.  Number one on the chores list today is hitching a ride/taxi into Freeport to get our Bahamian Cell Phone sorted out.  Three months roaming fees on our Canadian Cell is just NOT going to happen.

Put on your hat and sunscreen.  Let’s go sight seeing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Old Bahama Bay

Lunch was the remains of the TooJays Gourmet Deli takeaway.  Soooo yummy. 
We settled up with the marina manager from River Forest Yacht Center

Down the St. Lucie River and through the locks, along with two of the biggest Manatees I've ever seen.  White Egrets and Blue Herons watched our locking techniques as we were the last to enter to Portside after three sail boats and the first to leave after the Manatees had a head start.
 Sorry, no pics of the Manatees--I was too busy holding lines and fending off the lock walls.

ooo...ahhhh...seeing how the other half lives....

Across the InterCoastalWaterway...

and out to sea.

The initial plan was to make the three mile limit, test the macerators, check all running gear and then head west to a Palm Beach marina until the next good weather window for crossing the Gulf Stream should present itself.

Two o'clock, calm seas, clear skies, light wind out of the East, and Captain says,

-Let's do it.
-What?  Right now????
-Why not?  If we don't go now, it will be several more days here.
-Do we have enough fuel to make it?  Isn't it too late in the day to start across?

And so, on to plan B.
A four - five hour crossing.
As the sun was setting in the west at 5:30pm,  the full moon emerged from the sea on the East.

Full dark by 6 pm.

-long pause-

We homed in on the flashing markers to Old Bahama Bay Marina at West End.  A helpful dockhand stayed late to welcomed us, catch our lines and receive a hefty tip.  We made it in time for a late supper of fresh fish and good white wine in the marina restaurant.  I think we may be eating too well so far.  Things tend to change as the larder gets bare over the weeks away from grocery stores, delis and restaurants.  We'll be down to beans on toast in no time.  (Don't believe it!)

It's quiet here, a gentle, peaceful beginning to our winter adventure.  Nelson has found the beach and is one very happy dog.  I have already found two new items for my annual shells collection.  Captain has begun his routine of boat chores.  
Everyone is happy.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Delis and Spontaneous Hair Cuts

Hurray!  We're on the boat!!!!!

That means many things to each of us: 

 Captain has spent the past three days in the engine room (a small space where even I can not stand up) either lying on his side or resting on his knees, plying heavy tools, relocating various and sundry mechanisms that mystify me and therefore I can not name, to make room for a new array of house batteries and a new isolation transformer (don't even ask!)

I have spent the same period of time seeking out the perfect set of deck chairs, buying, trying and returning ones that didn't fit.  New cushions from Home Depot will have to do on the same old chairs we've been nursing along for the past five years.  Then there were the four different trips to Whole Foods and Publix, the wine store, West Marine, and the very best Bait store.  My name is "Provisioner".

We have installed a five cubic foot deep freezer on the fly bridge. 
 (Arnold, can you say, "Papa Buz loves ice cream"? ) 
Those who seem to know, assure us that once it's up to temperature (or should that be down to frozen) it won't be too much of a draw on the inverter.  The reason this is super BIG news is because until now we have been making due with a small, under-the-counter freezer for all our meat and bait for fishing, for three months at a time.

I have planted my herb garden.  
I got a new waterproof, windproof, gorgeous West Marine jacket.
I sourced out the world's best Chopped Liver at TooJays Deli and didn't buy nearly enough.
I just happened to come across a "Hair Cutters" salon and got spontaneous.  (My hair grows so fast!)

We think we're ready.
Ready to face the marina manager and his long list of bills for services rendered.
Ready to slip the ties to dock and civilization as we know it.
Ready to stage for the next Gulf Stream Crossing.
Ready to fish, snorkel, beach and boat the Bahamas for the next three months.

Are you ready to come along?

ps. After this post, nobody knows from one day to the next when or where I will find internet connection.  Welcome to Third World Blogging.
Be assured, I will be thinking of you and reading your posts as it is possible for me to do so.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Post Holiday Blues/Chocolate Withdrawal

The tinsel and twinkle lights are packed away 'til next Christmas.
The cards, letters and photos have been sorted and cut up for crafts down the road.
The kitchen has been purged of holiday left-overs and...
New Year's Resolutions have been drafted.

The party's over--
Let the diet begin!

Hips and thighs have taken on a new, padded roundness, making jeans work extra hard at keeping the seam lines from letting go.  Muffin tops ooze over the belt line.  
Worse yet...
drools drip off the chinny-chin-chin while visions of mouth-watering truffles drop anchor in the forefront of conscious awareness, blocking out every vestige of self-control and abstinence. 

Hanging on by my toenails, I resolve to whittle off 7 pounds of flab before.... 
Who cares when?
Just that it gets gone good!

The time has come, AT LAST, for Hubby and I to head south to our beloved "Steadfast".
She's out of storage and waiting for our imminent arrival forth with.
Three or four more days of driving will have us there, ready to dive into full-time boat cleaning, maintenance and provisioning.

Burn those calories.
Good moves.

Sailing away from temptation will surely do the trick.  No stow-away truffles allowed.
I am visualizing a svelt swimsuit silhouette in my not too distant future.

How are you all doing in the Resolutions department?
Did you make any?
Will you keep any?