Guest Shots

It has been almost two weeks since we last posted to the blog. Some of you might think that our silence might mean we don’t have anything interesting to write about –  but that couldn’t be further from the truth! The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, some awesome, some ridiculous, but all of it fun. I’ll start by posting a ton of photos that our friends Sean and Shannon shot when they were visiting.

(I really enjoy when guests pull out their cameras, it gives me the opportunity to see the Bahamas from a different perspective. Unfortunately, in the rush to avoid the storm we failed to get Kathy’s photos before they flew home. But I’ll add those when we get back to the States.) 

After our sail to Cat Island, (when we caught the mahis from the last post,) we spent the night in Fernandez Bay. The beautiful bay was very pretty, but unfortunately there was a surge rocking the boat constantly. We did some snorkeling the next morning near Fernandez Bay and found a nice lobster. We decided to find a calmer anchorage and moved south to Old Bight. Another couple snorkeling excursions that afternoon didn’t yield anything else for the dinner table, so the lobster became sushi for cocktail hour. We still had plenty of mahi, and Sean treated us to several different preparations of the fish over the next few days.

From Old Bight we headed to New Bight where the famous “Hermitage” is located. The Hermitage of Father Jerome is located on Comer Hill, the highest hill in the Bahamas. Father Jerome was a jack of all trades who built many churches in the Bahamas. He resided at the Hermitage until his death in 1956. We also visited the last church he built which was the Church of the Holy Redeemer located down the road in New Bight.

During our hike around New Bight I found a coconut on the side of the road. We haven’t had much luck with coconuts so I really wanted to harvest this one. What followed was a tough sequence of events where I used a tree stump to break off the husk with Sean’s help. Then when we returned to the boat I used the back of a machete to open the nut. The nut hadn’t spoiled and it was worth all the work to open it up. We passed around coconut shavings and all had a sample, even Nermal checked it out.

New Bight anchorage was a little rough, so we motored JV back to Old Bight to anchor on Sunday night. The next morning we left Old Bight and fished the entire way to Calabash Bay on Long Island. Other than a couple of hits we had no luck fishing, but that night we enjoyed a great dinner at the Cape Santa Maria Resort. Tuesday  morning we snorkeled all over the reefs in Calabash Bay and saw some very interesting coral and fish.

We had planned ahead properly for the forecast winds and had a fantastic sail back to Georgetown from Calabash Bay on Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday afternoon Sean and Shannon had to fly out, but we still had time to hike up to the Stocking Island Monument for a view of the harbor Wednesday morning. Afterwards we dinghied past Volleyball Beach and then made a quick trip to Fish Fry Village for lunch before they had to catch their flight. We were tight on time after lunch, but luckily a local businesswoman gave us a ride back to town.

We bid farewell to Sean and Shannon that afternoon at 3:00 after squeezing about as much as possible into their trip here. We had a blast and we’re very happy that we had a chance to explore a new island with them.  Before they left I really wanted Sean and Shannon to write a full guest blog post, but when Sean started off with, “Day 3: I was finally allowed to shower…” I put an end to that idea. 🙂

Thank you Shannon for the great photos and we’ll see you soon on the Bay!

 

 

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Cat Island

Our friends Sean and Shannon flew in on Thursday afternoon. We hung out in Georgetown that night, went to the Rake n’ Scrape at the Peace and Plenty, and made plans to head out first thing Friday morning. Our destination? Cat Island. We decided on Cat Island for the simple reasons that we’d never been there and the forecasted wind looked good for the sail. The wind turned out to be FANTASTIC for the sail, and we made great time, even extending the trip farther north to Fernandez Bay than our anticipated landfall at Old Bight.

Late morning a reel started singing, and Sean brought in a nice sized mahi. At that point we weren’t really ready for the fish, but we got her aboard without incident. I filleted the fish and cleaned the cockpit while Sabrina trimmed the fish below. The wind built more than we expected, and the seas got a little choppy, but it was fun as our speed increased accordingly.

At lunchtime, Sean braved the seas to make delicious mahi sandwiches in the galley. (We had debated for a long time how best to eat our catch, and it was decided that mahi sandwiches and then mahi fillets for dinner would be best.) I had just been handed a sandwich and took my first bite when the second reel started screaming. I shouted with a full mouth for Sean to forget the sandwiches and come reel in a fish. A BIG fish.

We were sailing at over 7 knots now, so I rounded up quickly to slow the boat. Sabrina and I furled the genoa, and finally we stopped losing drag on the reel. This bull mahi was a fighter, but luckily we were well practiced at this point. A few minutes later, I gaffed the bull and Sean and I tossed him into the cockpit. Shannon was there with the camera to capture the action, something Sabrina and I never have a chance to do.

Now we no longer needed to debate when or how we were going to eat the mahi. We finished our sandwiches, and had thick mahi steaks off the bull for dinner. Sean prepared an excellent dish of seasoned brown rice, spinach, and sauteed mahi with lemon and capers. (I was very disappointed that I forget to snap a picture of dinner but I forgot as soon as my gorgeous plate arrived.) The 46″ long bull provided enough fish that we’ll have enough fish for the rest of the Sean and Shannon’s visit!

It was a great start to the trip, and now we have to see what we find when we explore Cat Island.

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Two Wild and Crazy Guys!

On January 31st, Sabrina flew home to visit family and my former college roommate, Stretch, flew into town. (He earned the nickname “Stretch” while playing drums in the Ohio University Marching 110, and since his real name is Brad, it’s easier when we’re together for him to still use it.) 

Stretch lives in northeast Ohio and was more than happy to escape winter and spend some time with me in the Bahamas. The weather was a little difficult while he was here, but we still made the best of the situation. We went sailing and fishing one day, played volleyball and softball, and explored Georgetown the rest of the time. Unfortunately, I was a little lax in getting pictures, but I did have the camera with us for a couple of those days.

While he was here, Stretch learned that he had been selected as one of the winners of Akron Life Magazine’s “Single in the City – 2013.”  Unfortunately, I was unable to find a link to the actual magazine article, but here’s a photo of the article that one of Stretch’s friends posted to his facebook page:

He's a celebrity!

He’s a celebrity!

In the spirit of his contest victory, I’ve assembled this photo essay of our time here in Georgetown, consider it “Single in Georgetown – 2013.” [And in case you’re wondering, I posted this with Stretch’s permission.]

Like me, Stretch is a proud graduate of Ohio University.

Like me, Stretch is a proud graduate of Ohio University.   “O!”

U!

“U!

He enjoys long walks on the beach, and views of crystal clear water.

He enjoys long walks on the beach, and views of crystal clear water.

Stretch prefers an active lifestyle, for instance - mountain climbing...

Stretch prefers an active lifestyle, for instance – mountain climbing…

...or snorkeling.

…or snorkeling.

He's not afraid to stop and take time to contemplate the beauty of his surroundings.

He’s not afraid to stop and take time to contemplate the beauty of his surroundings.

But he's also got a sense of humor.

But he’s also got a sense of humor.

He's also sensitvie, if there would have been a baby bird in this nest, Stretch totally would have nursed it back to help.

He’s also sensitive, if there would have been a baby bird in this nest, Stretch totally would have nursed it back to health.

He's also a blossoming underwater photographer.

He’s a blossoming underwater photographer.

See how he majestically captures the play of light and water on the bottom?

See how he captures the majestic play of light and water on the sea floor?

His greatest fear would be haunted ship wrecks.

Strangely his greatest fear is haunted ship wrecks.

If anyone wants to know more, feel free to email me. I’ll send you Stretch’s email address, phone number, home address and social security number. 🙂

We had a fun time hanging out here in Georgetown, and I hope the shock of returning to winter in Ohio wasn’t too rough for Stretch. I was glad he could come down to visit and keep me company while Sabrina was gone. It was too long since we had got together, and hopefully I’ll see him again soon.

Enjoying the Overlook

Enjoying the Overlook

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What are the Odds?

My buddy Stretch left on Tuesday, February 5th after a fun day of softball, beer drinking, and hanging out. Sabrina would be flying back in on Friday February 8th.  Accompanying her on her trip back would be her brother, Chris, and sister-in-law, Kathy, to visit us until February 17th. That gave me a few days to get the boat cleaned and ready for new guests.

So… I set to doing exactly what you imagine me doing. I cleaned during the day and went to various jam sessions and bonfires at night with the new folks I’d met playing softball. The weather was calm, so I was flying around in the dinghy at high speeds, jumping across Elizabeth Harbour to wherever the get-together would be.

One night when crossing from Stocking Island back to Kidd’s Cove (where JV was anchored) I came upon a hard Walker Bay dinghy afloat in the middle of the harbor. It was a dark night and I was upon the dink instantly and unexpectedly. Worried, I immediately checked to see if someone had fallen overboard while rowing home. Upon further inspection, I noticed the oars were stowed so I figured it had just come adrift. I had a handheld VHF, so I put out a call on 68 and got limited response. Finally a friend’s brother said he thought he knew who it belonged to. He met me in the harbor and towed the dinghy back to it’s owner. The owner had been at the same party as me and apparently hadn’t secured the dinghy well upon his return.

Friday morning I was putting the finishing touches on getting things ready for Sabrina, Chris and Kathy. I made a few jerry jug runs for water early, got the dirty laundry gathered, and then blew off doing the laundry to go spearfishing with my friends and then dutifully headed in to do the laundry. On my way to go spearfishing do laundry I was flying along in the dinghy going very fast in calm water when I “spun” the prop. The resulting instantaneous deceleration of the dinghy was really painful as my shins crashed into the seat that I was standing behind.

(For those unfamiliar with outboard propellers, they have a rubber circular bushing between the shaft and the prop that is a fail safe to keep the outboard shaft from shearing if you hit something. If you run aground, the bushing shears, hopefully keeping the motor and shaft intact. But this can also happen at almost any time based on wear and tear. Since most of my experience is with inboard engines, all of this was explained to me by my buddy Jeremy who just had this happen to him too.) 

I was a little confused at what happened, but I continued on to my friends’ boat since it was a lot closer to their boat than back to JV. The dinghy was limping along slowly, but I made it across the harbor. Jeremy explained what happened, and then provided me with a smaller prop to limp back to JV. Knowing that Sabrina was flying back in from the States in a few hours was frustrating, if the prop had “spun” 24 hours earlier she could have brought me a new one back with her. I headed into town with the broken propeller in hand and didn’t have any luck locating one in town. But as I stepped onto the dinghy dock a guy from the softball team saw the prop in my hand and suggested I call a boat that might have one that would work.

Returning to JV, I placed the call on the VHF to the boat in question who had lent the prop to another boat to test it out. Unfortunately I couldn’t reach the other boat on the VHF. In the meantime I “repaired” the broken propeller with a few large bolts and swapped it out so I could limp along at a faster rate. I returned the borrowed prop to Jeremy and researched alternatives to get a new prop in from the States. It would be a special order, but I could probably have it in time that our friends Sean and Shannon could bring it down when they fly in on February 21st.

During all this I was keeping Sabrina informed of everything via email. She was able to check her email during her layovers and she thought she might be able to get a prop during her two-hour stop in Miami. She called the local prop shop… but they didn’t have one in stock. Bummer.

The flight was arriving at 4:45 and I only had a dinghy running at about 75% of optimum. At 3:30 I made one last call on the VHF… and got an answer! I hurried over and met a nice Georgetown snowbird in Stocking Island Hole #2. Miraculously, the propeller was the exact one I needed! (It’s for a 9.8hp 2-Stroke Tohatsu, so that was surprising.) We headed to the beach and had it installed in 3 minutes. From there I headed to the propeller owner’s boat, where he said he’d bought the prop at a yard sale, and only charged me half of what it would be new!

So, relying on dumb luck, a couple of friends, and an  impulse purchase at a yard sale, I now had a great new propeller! I went from limping along for 2 weeks waiting on a special order from the States, to being fixed and fully operational in 5 hours – at half the cost, apparently the good karma of helping others paid off!

When Sabrina arrived I gave her the good news and she was amazed. She wasn’t even upset that I didn’t have time to get to the laundry that morning since I was dealing with fixing the propeller all day.

(We’ll just keep the fact that I was going spearfishing to ourselves.) 

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Making Friends

My buddy Stretch flew in on January 31st to hang out with me while Sabrina is gone. (Currently I’m working on a longer post to talk about what we did during his visit.) Yesterday morning before Stretch flew out we heard that there would be a softball game at 9:15. We figured, “Hey, why not?” and proceeded to dinghy in to meet the other softball players. It ended up being one of the best decisions we made. We met a lot of other young guys that are here in Georgetown, and we hung out afterwards.

Today there is a happy hour and jam session scheduled, and most of the guys I met said they’d be going. This morning when they announced the happy hour on the VHF net, the announcer said, “Wear your Michigan colors, and let’s meet all the Michigan cruisers!”

This irked me for some reason, maybe it’s because she didn’t call it “School Spirit Night” or “Wear Your Favorite Sports Team Night” but “Michigan Night.”

So I quickly decided what I would be wearing:

Go Bucks

Go Bucks!

Now if only I could get someone to quickly print on the back, “I’m a cat person, please keep your yippy dog away from me” and I’d cover all the folks I’m trying to avoid.

🙂

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Blending In

Georgetown is famous (infamous?) for the community of cruisers that has blossomed here in Elizabeth Harbour over the years. Some people come back year after year, some people plan to stop over for a few days and end up spending a few weeks, and some people just leave their boats here and fly in. There are all sorts of activities going daily: potlucks, vegetarian potlucks, fun volleyball, competitive volleyball, volleyball instructional clinics, bocce, softball, exercise walks, yoga, SSB radio instructional luncheons, conch horn lessons, sushi lessons, cruising talks, weekly beach church, and programs from the tourist office about Bahamian life. (And that’s just now during the slow times, at the end of February they hold the “Cruisers Regatta” which has all these activities times 10!) Many people rightfully joke that Georgetown is like summer camp for cruisers.

But in addition to the activities, Georgetown offers some great amenities. There is a very well stocked grocery, Exuma Markets, which also provides a large dinghy dock for the cruisers that includes a spigot with free RO water. (Water runs 30 cents or more a gallon down here, so that’s a very big deal.) You can get a propane bottle filled, there are hardware stores, liquor stores, and restaurants. Georgetown is also close to some very cool cruising grounds, in a day you can sail to Long Island, Conception Island, the Jumentos, or up the Exuma chain – depending on which way the wind is blowing. Lastly, it is relatively easy to fly in or out of Georgetown, add up all these reasons, and this is why we’ll be in the area for the next month.

But the community isn’t all just about the afternoon arts and crafts. Every morning there is a VHF Cruisers’ Net where they discuss all the activities listed above, but they also provide a time for cruisers to contact the other boats in the harbor. People call in if they need a spare part, advice on a technical issue, or a helping hand with a big task.

A couple of days ago I helped a young guy out with a dinghy ride back from Georgetown to Sand Dollar Beach. The shroud on his MacGregor 26 had parted and he had hitched a ride into town earlier to find the necessary hardware. Now he needed a ride back so he could install the new stay. After dropping him off at his boat, he beached the MacGregor and some other cruisers and I gave him a hand lowering the mast and rigging the new stay. It was near happy hour on the beach, so of course there was plenty of help from the folks that had gathered to watch the sunset. The job was successfully completed and the small crowd pushed him off the beach and he anchored before dark.

Yesterday while Sabrina was doing laundry I was dinghying back to JV with a load of full water jugs when I noticed a loose dinghy behind the sailboat next to us. I looked to the sailboat to see a boy frantically waving at me, and his dad ready to do a swan dive off the deck to try to catch the dink as it rapidly floated away. I waved back and sped over to take the dinghy in tow. Unfortunately the reason it was floating away was because the tow eye had come loose, and there wasn’t a painter tied to the dinghy. I had to quickly rig a temporary tow line from what I had on board as we drifted downwind in 20 knot winds through the Kidd Cove anchorage. I made it back with the dinghy in tow and the father thanked me profusely, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Both of these times I had fun lending a helping hand, I met some cool people and also ran into some folks that we’d met last season. Personally I’d rather provide some assistance and get to know new folks rather than go to a potluck and try to make friends.

When I picked up Sabrina from doing laundry, I filled her in on my day and the people I’d met while filling water jugs in town and towing the dinghy. Later today Sabrina flies home for 10 days and my friend Stretch flies in for a week. I joked that by the time she gets back, I’ll be so entrenched in Georgetown I’ll be the morning anchor on the Cruiser’s Net!

Sunset over Georgetown from Kidd Cove.

Sunset over Georgetown from Kidd Cove

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Enjoying Georgetown

We’re taking care of some chores here in Georgetown, and I found some wifi. Here are some photos from the last couple days.

Sunset from Rainbow Cay on Eleuthera

Sunset from Rainbow Cay on Eleuthera

Clear sky and a gorgeous evening

Lots of boats here in Georgetown

Hanging here in Kidd Cove looking at the entrance to Lake Victoria.

Great view, and close to town

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