Monday, March 29, 2010

I've Been Tagged!

My friend KD has tagged me.  Now it's my turn to list a trio of joys, fears, goals and obsessions. I guess this comes under the heading "Having Fun Blogging", or maybe "Getting to Know You", or "Let's See If She Can Do It".   Well, I'll give it a go.

Three Joys (my Grandchildren)




Three Fears


Becoming a Widow

Loosing a Friend

Three Goals

Loosing 10 pounds forever

Studying the whole Bible Precept Upon Precept

Living in Europe for six months, preferably Rome, but France would do.

Three Obsessions

Now, do I really have to list these?  You may begin to think I really am certifiable.

I Saw It! I Saw It!

It's been 9 years of watching, doubting, speculating and hoping. 

Watching sunset after sunset. 

Doubting that a Green Flash is even a real thing. 

Speculating Old Salts made up this cruising myth to amuse newbie sailors. 

Hoping to actually see one for myself.

This winter, I actually saw two Green Flashes with my very own eyes.  Yes.  It is real.  I even looked it up online, and sure enough, there's huge documentation, with pictures, videos.  You can now add my testimonial to the literature.

A Green Flash is an optical phenomena that occurs shortly before or after sunrise or sunset.  A refraction of light in the atmosphere, it can be a spot, a ray, or a flash of green light that lasts no longer than one or two seconds.  You have to be focused to catch it--no chit chat, no turning away, no interuptions.  (These could be reasons why it has taken me so long to succeed in catching sight of one for myself.  You know how I hate to sit still and stop talking.)

Check. It. Out.



Ta Da. 

It's really there.

  Supposedly it is even visible from the windows of an airplane.  All you need is a view of an unobstructed horizon on a clear day. 

So, you cruising buddies, have you see it yet?

What about you land-lubbers?  Has anyone seen this phenomena over land?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Following Seas

No land in sight.  The boat slews hard to starboard as we slide sideways down a six footer, then digs in hard to port in correction.  Making 14 - 16 knots uphill and 22.5 knots going down, the engines at 26 rpms, the autopilot fully engaged, our wake snakes ess curves from the stern.  The 3000+ foot depths of the N.W.Providence Channel are indigo-blue topped with white caps.  The prop wash foams a pale blue-green trail of our progress.  We scare up flying fish who break long distance records to stay well clear of our path.

Below decks, chairs topple, books fly off the shelves, drawers and lockers not clamped down spill out their contents.  Captain and crew swallow anti-emetics "just in case".  Nelson is not impressed.

We are heading north, endeavouring to make Freeport ahead of Monday's expected cold front.  Underway at 6:24 am, we slog our way through these turbulent seas for 81/2 hours before making landfall 114 nautical miles away.  If we could follow a straight line from point A to point B, the tally would be less, but the zigzagging, the up and downing, the oh, I'm going to barf now.....add to the miles.

Our safe arrival has landed us in Grand Bahama Yacht Club once again.  Hallelujah!

Sorry to report, word pictures will have to suffice, as our computer has turned up its toes and died an inglorious death.  I am posting from a terminal in the marina office in the meantime, no camera, no photoshop.  How  dependent one becomes on the technologies-of-daily-living in the 21st century!

Weather looks to be improving enough to allow for a Gulf Stream crossing by Wednesday.  The new plan is to make for River Forest Marina in Stuart and put the boat in storage until next fall.   I am sure to be able to post more before the ultimate "good bye".  Until next time, may you sail with fair winds and light seas.

Water, Water Everywhere

Wednesday was a dead calm day at sea.  Hazy, hot and humid--a dramatic difference from the 35 knots of wind just a few days  before.  Looking at the sky, we could see change was coming again, but for that one day, we revelled in the stillness.

Norman's Cay for breakfast and a snorkel on the downed plane.

Allan's Cay for lunch and an iguana encounter.

Highbourne Cay by low tide, with just enough time for a swim before dinner.

"Quick!  Turn off the water maker.  The props are churning up a ton of sand."  The poor Old Faithful had been at work for over 6 hours already.  Some guests eat.  Some guests drink.  And then there are those guests that use up the fresh water faster than we can make it. 

Cruisers' Midnight (9 pm) found us all snug in our bunks serenaded by the gentle patter of rain, small waves lapping against the hull, and oh yes, the rhythmic pulse of the water maker.    This was a FIRST:  making water while we and our aqua-dependent guests were sleeping.  One wonders how some people would survive in a desert, the dark side of the moon, or on a boat without a 16 gallon an hour water maker?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Wisdom for Living

"Grey hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-Loyal life."  Solomon

A grey-haired stranger has been greeting me in the bathroom mirror every morning for over a month now.  She refuses to go away.  Steely, strong, determined she is.  On every appearance, she frowns, then smiles, angles her head first this way, then that way.  She winks at me and turns away.

Where did she come from?

Who is she?

Western philosophy begins with "Know thyself".  It's been 60 years and counting, and I am still surprised at myself.  The frequency of being caught off guard when I catch a glimpse of subconscious motivations, or being brought face-to-face with willful rebellions, petty jealousies, or selfish ambitions astounds me.  Knowing I am so typically  human is not very gratifying, to say the least.  Would Plato have a "Step Two" to help me progress on the path to enlightenment?

Ancient Hebrew philosophy teaches, "the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom."  Now there is something I can get a hold of.  Learning that God loves me just the way I am, that I can do nothing to make Him love me any less, and nothing to make Him love me any more is comforting beyond words.

So that stranger in the mirror?  I will take my time getting to know her, and in the meantime, I will keep learning more about who God is and revelling in being loved and accepted no matter what I look like.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nelson Jumps Ship

Steadfast was greeted by a smiling welcome committee on Friday, as we came into Compass Cay:  old cruising buddies, dock master, dock hands, and Tucker Rolle  himself--friends and family all.  Nelson received special attention and was warmly welcomed also.  He took them literally.  Almost before the lines and fenders were set, Nelson jumped ship and took off down the dock, heading for freedom in the surf zone.

Let's face it:  little dogs have little brains, and little brains fixate on little things.

For some dogs, it's food.  Nelson barely eats once a day--he could care less.

Some dogs love going for walks.  Nelson likes walks, but that's not  his main thing.

Some dogs thrill to play ball.  Nelson grabs the ball and runs away with it, keeping it all to himself.

What is Nelson's all-comsuming passion?


No little thing really.  Like all of us, he has his favorites, but any beach will do.  He's very partial to the western side of Block Island and he never says no to Port Dalhousie beach at home, but his all time favorite beach is here on Compass Cay.

Since we've been to Compass 4 times already this winter, and have stayed for several days each time, Nelson has learned his way around the island.  On our last stop, he escorted the visitors walking him.  He lead the way, showing which paths to take, which way to turn at intersections and exactly how to find the most beautiful beach in the Bahamas, all by himself.

"Give em an inch and they'll take a mile" seems apropo  here.  During our last visit, we had dispensed with the leash and allowed Nelson free run ashore.  This time, he heard "Welcome Home to Compass Cay" and he was off .

AND he's been off twice more!

He's now called  "Admiral, the Runaway Child" by people on the dock who are getting adept at intercepting and waylaying his escape attempts. 

Our baby is growing up.  (That's what people in denial say, refusing to face the fact that they have totally failed to train an obedient animal.)

What do you say?  Is there any hope in getting this canine to obey?  Should we call in the experts to do home interventions?  Please comment to inform, encourage and support this woe-begone dog owner.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Another Fun Friday Follow Frolic

Thanks for stopping by.  Stay awhile and snoop around, get to know us aboard Steadfast--we love making new friends.  Today is the third Friday Follow I've been able to participate in.  Loads of fun.  Meet new people and blog sites.  Garner a few new followers in the process.  Enjoy.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cherry Pie

From head to toe, she is a Bahamian Woman.  Nappy curls cap her head, pulled out in short spikes in front with industrial strength hair gel.  Her whole head glistens in the sun.  Ebony eyes rapidly focus from here to there and back again, giving the distinct impression of hurry and anxiety.  She is busy and wants to get on with it.

Her smile, like that of most island women, has to be coaxed out to shine.  Life is not easy for the female gender here.  Momma is the head of the family.  Momma brings up the children alone while Daddy "moves on'".  Momma works where and when she can to provide for her brood of babies.  Momma disciplines the boys, scolds the girls and makes what she can of a life for them all.  Single partenting in this matriarchal society, amidst third world poverty, in a  nation in recession is deplorable.  Cherry's children are grown and living independantly in Nassau now.  She and her husband live together in a staff cabin, on-island where they work.  Her lot is better, by far, than the norm.

That day, Cherry sported her regular uniform:  docker pants and a marina logo tee shirt, stretched tightly over her ample frame.  Discounting her gold rings, braceletts, necklace, she is almost androgenous.  If one is from off-island and doesn't know who's who, one could easily mistake this harried woman for a man.

"Hello, Cherry!"  She swung round to face her caller.  Her eyes flicked over the tourist hailing her.  "Our mutual friends send their regards."  hmmm......  "Do you remember me? (it's only been 3 years and you see hundreds of tourists a year)." 

The corners of Cherry's lips lift marginally.  "Yes, yes.  I remember you.  How you doing?"

Finally, a small smile, together with a hand pressed under her left breast.  "Are you in pain, Cherry?  Maybe you should take a coffee break and rest a bit."  Having been up since before the sun, she had had no time for herself.

Two weeks later: "Hey, Cherry!  Are you feeling better?"  Today she is wearing a bright yellow shirt and her hair is newly done.  She has a spring in her step and takes a break for a lengthy chinwag.

Big grin.  "I'm good, thanks."  The sunshine of her smile blazes on me gloriously. Another day in paradise, another encounter of island hospitality, another beautiful smile--a joy to the heart.

At Anchor

Our 4 guests got off for an early flight home Sunday morning.  This family had been our very first guests aboard Steadfast when she was brand new, right out of the box.  Their one week visit was rendered the benchmark for all subsequent visits:  idyllic weather, incredible snorkling, a plethora of beautiful landfalls, and of course, Buz's 5* BBQ steaks.

They say you can't revisit the past--it will never be just like it was--you will be disappointed.  Even though we never heard one word of complaint, I can't help wondering if 4 days on one cay and 2 days on a second was a little less than they had expected.  High winds and rolling seas curtailed our itinerary significantly. 
Three of the four went home with the very darkest suntans it is humanly possible to acquire, and the fourth with the fair complexion, left peeling and red, thus re-enforcing the Gumbo Limbo alias as "The Tourist Tree" due to its distinctive red, blistering bark.  They seemed happy with that.  What was missed in souvenir sand dollars was made up for with over 600 photos, sand in their shoes and damp, salty laundry.

At lunch in the S.C.Y.C. later that Sunday, people were running inside out of the rain, hoodies, jackets and shivers in abundance.  The weather is all anyone talks about:  how this has been the most windy and cold winter of the decade, how the water is too cold and rough for diving, how crews are making one mad dash after another to find safe anchorage between blows. 

Tidal Flats Highbourne Cay
All today's photos are courtesy of Josh Neal

We found a snug spot, close to Dog Beach in Big Majors Spot late on Saturday, and even though we couldn't coax an internet connection in with our extra long antenna, we enjoyed the next five days quietly riding the anchor, rocking to sleep in our cradle and relishing our Bahamian Cruiser's Lifestyle.  The way I see it, a fabulous day of fishing very couple of weeks, a swim now and again, even one truly amazing find on the beach makes it....."Better in the Bahams."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Fishing Report (read: Gloating)

The day dawned clear and still--the first day without gale force winds in the last 5.  Captain Buz took the guests by dingy to Rocky Dundas to make a splendid snorkling dive.  I stayed back to vaccum, throw in a load of wash and generally take it easy on my own for a change.  Buz was threatening to recycle his underwear and I am at the climax of a great novel, so it was my time.

Not 15 minutes after everyone had vacated the premises, my old buddy Gail came calling.   "Quick! change your clothes and come fishing with me.  The tide just turned.  We have to go now." 

Those who know me well, understand that I simply can not turn down a chance to get out the rods and make for the Sound.  Besides that, with guests onboard and no grocery store in sight, coming up with a free meal is a bonus at any time.  As Nelson, the loyal Havanese and I gathered the gear and headed over to Gales 17 foot skiff, I saw Sam and his buddy just coming in from their fishing expedition.  Sans les poisons.  Hee hee. 

"Good.  Luck.  Girls," he chuckled ruefully. 

Gail's husband, Dennis, was equally as grim on our chances of success.  "They won't catch a thing" is what he told the guys on the dock.

Taking it slow and steady in the flat-bottomed skiff, we headed out Joe Cay Cut and thru the rage.  The rage is where wind and tide are on opposing missions, one coming in and one going out, confusing the waters and making things turbulent.  Out the cut, we headed south towards Staniel Cay, and into deeper water.  There are a few things I have learned over the 9 years I have been fishing here:
  • troll the boat at as close to 6 knots as is possible (who knew her skiff had such a tempermental throttle?)
  • look for structure, drop-offs, the edge of water colours/temperatures/clarity/depths (we guestimated today as we had no depth-finder or chart-plotter)
  • tie your rod to the boat...just in case (I have had to replace a costly one lost overboard once--never again!)
  • keep your lines from tangling when fishing with a buddy (easier said than done, especially today)
  • don't forget the cheap booze (don't waste good rum) to baptize the fish once onboard (today it was Vodka--to pour into the gills and put an abrupt end to the fighting fish syndrome)
  • look for and follow birds, pads of floating seaweed, other fisher men catching fish.
I know it's impolite to GLOAT and so I will just show you the pictures of our triumphant return and you can make comments appropriate to our status as "Best in Show" today at Compass Cay

Count them: one, two, three!
Fillet and release.
Mahi Mahi, super yummy!

I cleaned the fish, Gail cleaned the boat.  Then we had to clean up ourselves and the dog.  There was blood and Vodka everywhere.  By the time we were done, there was quite an audience on the dock to give us our due.  The men were good sports about it, clapping, cheering and taking pictures AND lining up for shares in the abundance.  The whole dock will be dining on fresh fish tonight.   Oh happy day!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Very Private Island

Whipping winds, lashing rain and chilling cold are keeping us tied to the dock on Highbourne Cay.  Our guests are becoming inventive at entertaining themselves.  Stuck in one place instead of the pre-planned itinerary they had envisioned has been a bit of a challenge.  One thing they have quickly learned though is to stick to the lee side of the island.  They will never forget Highbourne Cay!

For myself, I've assumed the role of investigative reporter, snooping for an interesting story to share with my readers.  Louis Lane I'm not, but then, anyone could write stories about the antics of Superman.  Every island has its characters.  Today I met Jeff, Steve and Eric; humble folks all of them and not a red cape in sight.

Jeff lives on H.C. 6 weeks thru the winter months.  He hails from Cape May, N.J.  An extremely polite gentleman in his early 30's, he is good looking in his baseball cap and jeans.  Jeff is oh so reserved and quiet and disappeared quickly when one became distracted and turned away. 

Mr. and Mrs. Geriatric Sailors were desperate to get off their boat.  The wind was pushing them off the dock, their boat was being tossed back and forth by the waves and their arthritic hands couldn't pull strongly enough on the ropes to close the gap and make a jump for it.  By the time I had both them and their gear ashore, Jeff had vanished.

Steve is a most congenial fellow.  It's difficult for me to judge, but he looks to be maybe 40-something.  He has one daughter in college prep and one who is only a year old.  "You pay for your mistakes" he told me.  There a few grey hairs curling around his ears.  His warm smile and laughing eyes are most engaging as he recounts stories from his past.

Born and raised on Eleuthra Island, he graduated in Hotel Management, specializing in food and beverage.  Right out of school, he took a job at a resort on Rock Sound, where he met and was snapped up by Mr. Paul __, a Canadian bigwig who wintered there. 

Thus began Steve's life as a butler.  "It's in my nature to help people" he said.  His mother was in service all her life.  It's in his blood.
He warmed to his tale as he told of limousines, private jets, shopping expeditions in Nassau and life in the fast lane.  He hob nobbed with the rich and famous for more than 3 years.

Today, Steve is one of the several dock hands in the H.C. Marina.  Since the first week of January, his main job has been rebuilding the docks, one plank of lumber at a time.  So far he has finished less than 1/4 of the whole--a big job.  No wonder he walks around with knee pads on.

Eric has been Dock Master here for the past 12 years.  His home is on Spanish Wells, where he will be retiring at the end of May this year.  He sports an elastic support stocking on his misshappen left leg.  A collision with a pick-up truck while piloting a motor cycle left him battling osteomylitis for the last 20 years.  It's a chronic condition that flares up unpredictably.  He is resigned to it, just happy to have the leg at all.

"How is it living here, on a small island like this" I asked? 

"Quiet.  There's no town.  You close your door, go to sleep and that's the end of it.  It's an okay place if you don't have problems."

"Problems" I prompted?

"I don't like to say" was his response. 

He looks away, out to sea, avoiding my eyes.  Like I said, I am only playing at the investigative reporter role and to press this issue seemed nosey and rude.  "You keep your nose out of other people's buisness."

"Ah huh."

I changed the subject to land for sale on H.C.  "No way" he said.  "This is a private island"  Purchased outright 50 or 60 years ago by a Philadelphian, from the original generational owners, it is now owned by more than one individual. 

"How many? Are there plans to develope the island?"

"I don't like to say"

"Who governs the running of the island?"

"The managers."

"Would that be the individual owners?"

"The managers."  Man! It was like pulling teeth.  Reminds me of trying to chat up a farmer in Vermont.  Taciturn men at the best of times.

He did say this is a private island.  That would be CAPITAL P, CAPITAL R, CAPITAL I. V. A. T. E.  Louis Lane would have to be stranded here for way longer than 3 days to get past the privacy issues here and learn the juicy stories.

The guests are back from a 4 hour excursion.  They decorated a "shoe tree" from singletons washed up on shore.  Their camera is full of pictures and they have big, hungry smiles on their faces.  Did I mention that guests eat alot?

What do you think?  Would you be able to live on a small island like this?  Would you "have problems" and if so, what do you think they might be that would be so secretive?  For me, a boat is a good way to move on when things get a little out of hand, one way or another.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Between Storms

New guests arrived in Nassau  to spend this week cruising with us.  Once the wind calmed down enough to manoeuver out of our tight slip, we made our escape--couldn't wait to get away from the incessant noise and dust.  Nelson had found the mother lode of tick infestations, making daily walkies an exercise in zoology.  I think our neighbours were glad to see the last of us, as our departure necessitated the repositioning of three other boats to avoid scrapes, dents and law suits.  "Good to go" all round.

Although the wind was clocking 25 knots, we were taking it in following seas and we enjoyed a pleasant 3 hour ride south.  Highbourne Cay is our first stop.  Since we found it so delightful on our last stop, this oasis has become a "must see" for our visitors.  

Making hay while the sun shines, we used up every minute today getting sunburned (guests who don't believe in sunscreen),

giving the underwater hooka a test run,

running around in the dingy, visiting the wild iguanas on Allen's Cay,


 spotting beached whales and 91 pound Wahoos (trophy fish in the local Wahoo tournament). 

What a day!  Another big blow is expected to start tomorrow midday and so we will be off the dock early to reposition for the duration.  This will mean missing a stop at Wardrick Wells Land and Sea Park, but as one dock mate says, "Nobody's missing's all good here."