Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Friday!

Two more sleeps until Hubby gets back from his 10 days off-island. 
he's bringing our daughter, Niels and the baby with him.

Yes, I have missed him, but as you can see, I have had diversions.  Because I have been the mouse at play while cat's away, now I need to buckle down and clean the boat, do the wash, make some bread and get in provisions.  The party's over--the party is about to begin.

Have a wonderful weekend, Everybody.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What A Difference A Day Makes!

The SE Wind has been strongly belying the confidence-inducing sunny skies. Air conditioners have remained at rest and only the fool-hearty have braved the seas to fish. I smiled up my sleeve, observing grown men stagger to shore and straight to bed, refusing to meet my eye, totally green around the gills. I am not the only one, woman or man, to succumb to the “reversible stomach syndrome” it seems.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday morning walks on the beach found Nelson and I slogging through heavy, wet sand and shallow beaches. High tides, together with the full moon and continuous tumultuous seas, had pushed huge amounts of litter, flotsam and jetsam ashore.

Monday’s morning mile was a stormy one, even though the skies were sunny and clear. The surf was thrilling, waves lashing the shore, one on top of another, racing wildly to lick up the sand. Undertow dragged heavy portions of beach back in its grip, the sea greedily reclaiming what she felt belonged to her. Nelson gave it all a very perplexed scowl:

- Where have my running, digging, wading grounds gone?

What a difference a day makes!

Tuesday morning, the winds had evaporated. The Sound was flat and calm. Gone were the “charging elephants”, the mountainous humps of waves on the horizon. The thunderclap of waves hurling themselves onto the sand was silenced. Today, gentle wavelet’s whispered ashore and sighed against the beach. Nelson had his open spaces of sandy heaven once more.

Wanna go fishing?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tagged Again...and...On the Flats

Thank you to  Debra Elliot  for tagging me in the Seven Facts Award game.  These things are fun from time to time, and we can learn interesting facts about people this way.  Of course there are rules:
Thank and link to the person who tagged you.
List Seven Facts about yourself.
Tag 7 others.  ( new, modified rules, cause I don't have 15 friends LOL )

Here goes:
1.  I have been blogging for one year and one month.
2.  I have three wonderful grandchildren that live far, far, too far away.
3.  My husband and I have been married for 36 years, come November.
4.  I am a registered nurse.
5.  I have lived in three different countries.
6  I have visited 23 different countries.
7.  I am a terrible disciplinarian (read: my dog has me well-trained.)

Here are seven sweet friends:

Keeping with the theme of Steadfast Ahoy, here are some shots from yesterdays excursion at low, low tide.
We had a ton of fun getting up Pipe Creek, doing the "African Queen Thing" (dragging the dinghy when it got too shallow to motor it) and finding new, living creatures.

This is the first time I've seen a living Sea Biscuit.  So many quills, he looks like a porcupine gone wild!

We thought this squid was dead, but realized he was playing possum when he lit up like a Christmas tree as I stroked his back.

Did you know that Sand Dollars are even prettier on their insides than they are outside?
And just one that comes from the island, not the sea....
This critter is a Hermit Crab.  As they grow bigger and bigger, they leave their too tight shell  and look for another to move into.  This big boy was definitely looking to move on to roomier accommodations!
Nelson found him on one of our walks.  He nosed it, jumped back about 3 feet and started barking wildly.  The biggest hermit crab we've ever seen.  (You'd think we were in Texas, or something!)

Tell me what grows in your neck of the woods?  Any creatures lurking in and around your environs?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Let's Go Swimming!

Friday again, already!
Let's do a blog hop and then hit the beach.

It's a great day for the beach! 
Some of us require a little more encouragement than others though.

Motivation certainly helps....

Eureka!  That's it--I'm otta here.

Swimming here is like being in the world's largest, clear water swimming pool.

Some of us stay in until we turn "pruney".

How about you?  Are you a "plunge right in" kinda kid?  Or do you wade in slowly and painfully?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Winter in the Bahamas

Photos compliments of Chrissy Nickerson

Well, not exactly, but someone is definitely doing the snow thing. Back home, people are checking out likely spots for an August wedding in the mountains.

Wasn’t it just a day or so ago that we were “suffering” in 95 degrees and melting in the humidity?

On Friday, the sea was like glass, not a breath of wind, no-see-ems feasting on our exposed flesh and QUIET was the theme of the day. The worm has turned. “The wind has clocked”, as they say here and we are now “in a blow”. At 9 am on Saturday morning, Jim, out dinghy-fishing on the Sound, reported seeing a waterspout. Around 10, the skies turned black and like someone had opened a faucet, the rains came down in unrelenting torrents. It rained so hard for so long, it was enough to fill the bottom of our dinghy with 10 inches of water. The Fleming 55 next door garnered 10 gallons of fresh water to wash his boat (silver linings in the clouds).

After the rain came the wind--from negligible to 26 knots in no time at all. Steadfast is lashed to the dock pilings with 6 lines and still she is moving back and forth, the fenders rubbing and squishing between the hull and the dock. From inside the aft cabin, the creaking sound of the ropes under tension sounds like an old boat lullaby.

What to do when it’s no fun to go outside to play? For the past three days, I have been holding morning medical clinic onboard: antibiotics and immodium for the cruiser with an Intestinal parasite and dressing changes on an injured hand.

Yesterday, four of us had an artsy afternoon eating grilled cheese sandwiches, drinking pink champagne (funny what some cruisers have stowed away for a rainy day) and making Valentines.

Tonight, a Pot Luck dinner has been planned. Did you hear about the catamaran that pulled into the dock around noon? When they received their invitation to dinner, all 6 of them broke into big grins.

-We have run out of food.

-Today is your lucky day. We will feed you, at least tonight.

The poor captain of their boat was chagrined. He had under-estimated the provisioning requirements for crew and guests for the week. He has earned himself a new name:

Sailbad the Sinner.

What is your favourite rainy day activity?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


There is a danger that people will begin to, or already have begun to hate me. I am not really flaunting my good fortune, writing and showing lovely pictures of life in the sunshine, while the rest of you are suffering the wilds of Mother Nature’s winter weather.

I am wallowing in it.

I am loving it.

I am reveling in it and want you to share my joy.

Thank you, to those who wish me well and are happy for me. For the rest, well….this won’t last forever and I am sorry for your suffering.

To give you something else to focus on, something you can enjoy at home pretending you are here too…I give you:

Morgan Freeman, my new best friend!

Did you know that Morgan is an accomplished sailor and that he is in love with the Caribbean? My kind of man. When Hurricane Ivan ravaged the island of Grenada in 2004, Morgan solicited friends to co-operate in a fund raising scheme to help rebuild and restore one of his favourite haunts. Ta Da:

Here in the Bahamas, ceviche is made with conch, or sometimes fresh fish. The islanders use citrus fruits, tomatoes and onions in their version. Personally, conch has no lure for me, but done well, a fish ceviche is superb. I love Morgan’s recipe the very best. I have made it twice, to rave revues! If I could get more fresh mangos, I would have it non-stop, until I got over this infatuation. Try this yourself. You can thank me later.

Welcome to my galley.  I am writing out the exact recipe for you as per the book, but I did not have all the ingredients at hand and had to improvise.  You will have access to a grocery store, I hope, and will do a better job than I did.  It was still so over-the-top delicious, people actually asked/begged for the how-to.

Grenadian Tropical Fruit and Shrimp Ceviche with Crispy Sweet Potato Chips.

Sauce: 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
½ chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh ginger (I used the candied ginger I have onboard)
2 ripe Mangos, peeled and cut into large cubes
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. minced green chile pepper (Veronica, you will use this, but I left it out)
½ tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups mango nectar (here I just squeezed the pulp of one mango)

Ceviche: 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed (I had frozen onboard, so I used 1 cup of shrimp for glamour, and used fresh caught Wahoo for the meat—yummy)
Juice of 6 limes
½ cup peeled, cored, chopped pineapple (canned works too)
½ cup peeled, chopped mango
½ cup peeled, seeded and chopped papaya (don’t laugh, I used canned peaches)
½ cup chopped tomatoes
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (again, none found here so I used romaine.)

Chips: vegetable oil
2 large sweet potatoes

To make the sauce: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft (do not brown). Stir in the mango, brown sugar, chile pepper and cumin. When the mixture starts to boil and looks like jam, reduce the heat and stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes to let the flavours blend. Add the mango nectar and cook for 10 minutes. Transfer to blender and process until smooth. Strain and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

To make the Ceviche: In a large bowl, combine the shrimp/fish and lime juice. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then add pineapple, mango, papaya, tomatoes, onion and cilantro, toss to combine. Stir in the fruit sauce and serve chilled.

To make the sweet potato chips: In a deep fryer, heat the oil to 360 degrees F. (182 C) Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, slice the sweet potatoes as thinly as possible. Slip the slices into the oil and fry on both sides until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

To assemble the dish: Arrange the ceviche in a martini glass or on a serving plate. Garnish with sweet potato chips.  I have tried most unsuccessfully to persuade Captain B that sweet potatoes are good to eat, delicious even, and will not kill him .  You can see from this photo the evidence of my total and utter failure in that regard.

Let me know how it works for you.  "This is a good thing," as Martha Stewart would say.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dinghy Tenders

People often ask us why Steadfast has a boom. Because she looks like a trawler, the kind of boat that plods along at a top speed of 6 – 9 knots, they assume the boom is for a steadying sail. When a boat is moving slowly, it tends to be pushed around by waves a lot, giving an uncomfortable ride for those aboard. Yes, our mast and boom have tracks for a sail, but because Steadfast is an express cruiser, travelling 15 – 18 knots, with a top speed of 22 knots in calm seas and no extra weight, a sail would be superfluous to her design. We use our boom as a lever/crane to deploy our dingy/tender.

First, we attach the three-point harness.

Then we raise the dinghy from the chocks.

Next, we outhaul the dinghy to the end of the boom.

The boom swings to a 90 degree angle and the dinghy is lowered over the side to the water.
Before we got smart (read: dead tired and lazy) we had to take turns cranking the winches by hand.  Such hard work.  Two seasons ago, Captain B purchased a heavy-duty, battery operated drill with a winch attachment to do the grunt work.  The batteries didn't last long.  As the season wore on, they got more and more tired and finally burned out--just like us.  This season, the super smart Captain B got a new electric drill with an extension cord.  Instant, never-ending power.  We are in buisness!

After ten years of almost daily practice, Captain B and I have become pretty proficient at the dingy drill. Back in the day, when we were newbies, we did have our little episodes of dangerous, frustrating and hilarious trials. There was the time we dropped the whole thing overboard. And the time we wiped out the transom door and flag staff with a wildly swinging 375 pounds. It didn’t take long to learn the fine art of holding on to it, while standing clear of it at the same time. Flying dinghies are a force to be reckoned with.

In the cruising life, the dinghy is equivalent to your family car at home. Imagine living on the farm, 12 miles from town and not having a trustworthy means of transportation. We have a love/hate relationship with our little “Roe Boat”. We treat her with tender loving care, being meticulous about triple tying her at night to Steadfast’s transom and raising her in stormy conditions to prevent chaffing or loss. Like a car, we have to scrub her, fill her with air and fuel, and pay attention to depths so not to ding the propeller. Like at home, I have had to learn to drive the dink myself, learn how to deal with the fuel line that likes to come undone and leave you stalled at sea, and learn how to fish from its 11foot confines without snagging a bare hook in the inflatable sides.

Nelson has had to learn the rules too.

Must wear a life jacket.

No jumping from a moving dinghy.

No hanging onto Mama’s bare legs with your toe nails.

Come when called, or the dinghy will leave without you.

Since we taught him how to jump in and out on his own, we have often found him sitting in the dinghy all alone, silently giving us the message that he wants to go ashore.

That’s it for today’s installment.

There will be fresh-caught Mahi Mahi fingers for cocktails on the Compass Cay docks tonight, compliments of the Steadfast Crew. Join us for Sundowners, watch for the Green Flash, and share fishing stories of the day.
See you there!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rocky Dundas

With East winds and an ebbing tide, our snorkeling expedition to Rocky Dundas in the Exuma Land and Sea Park was a bit of a challenge. It was really “rocky” and rolly too, but we lived to tell the tale, and had a good time doing it. We managed to get a couple of not too blurry pictures that will give you the idea of what we saw. This cave is open on one side at low tide, and has lots of stalagmites and funny coloured coral formations.

After fighting our way against the current, back to the dingy, we ventured further. We wanted to see a sunken wreck by the old Decca Station from WWII on the west side of Pipe Cay.  

This is the infamous site of Gary O’s walking on water. (Amazing what the human body is capable of when faced with imminent death by shark attack…or perceived imminent death…or imagined shark attack…or a grey, cloudy shape in the water.)

Enroute, we hit the flats and had to do the "African Queen" thing...note the big toe of the Big Cheese riding in the dingy, being pulled by slaves into deeper water.

Back at the Compass Cay marina, we got some great shots of a queen trigger fish off the back of the boat  and Tucker Rolle's pet sharks too.

Heather couldn’t believe the size of the star fish we found. It didn’t take much to convince her that they do not bite, sting or pinch, and are safe to touch. She was very careful to put it back, right side up when the photo shoot was over.

Fishing has been fun as always, but not always with the best results. Only the die-hard Bahamians (with the emphasis on “die-hard of ciguatera”) eat Barracuda. We throw ours back when we are fortunate enough to get away with all fingers intact.

Sundowners at Compass is a delightful time of camaraderie at the main dock. It’s potluck hors d’oeuvres, introductions , re-connections and story time.

This one's for you,  Denno.

Heather's visit is almost over.  Too soon.  We are so happy to have had this opportunity to share our favourite people and places with her.

What are your favourite places, and who are your favourite people?  Isn't it the very best when we get to put the two together?