2007/02/27

2007.02.27

It has been a few days since I've blogged...nothing new to report or am I getting lazy....
We've actually had some snide remarks ... "getting tired of the hummingbird"!!!!!

So now you have the beautiful turtle that Heinz has been feeding at his dock by hanging a fish carcase in the water ...

Since we last posted, anchored off Hopetown, we have returned to Grand Abaco Island but are at a different marina on the other side of the island... Boat Harbour Marina or the official name Abaco Beach resort and Boat Harbour ..it is a very protected harbour, which is why we came here, anticipating another "Norther" which did not really happen... or if it did we were so sheltered we did not feel a thing!!!

We really did enjoy Hopetown on Elbow Cay and are actually planning to go back soon.... the last time we were there we could not get a mooring in the harbour so we anchored out ..way out... as the tide was going down and we could see the bottom coming up we would move further out...and we ended up anchored in the middle of nowhere in 6 feet of water, which I happen to like....

We walked around this charming little town with again the same very colourful houses... the same but somehow each island manages to have its own style and flavour... we always wonder if we would like to buy a house on any of them but have come to the conclusion, for now, that as long as we can do it, we can enjoy them all from our floating home....






Hopetown has a very distinguished lighthouse which is ,we are told, one of the last lighthouses still lit by candle power and it is visible at over 20 miles.... must have some awsome lenses....we hope to visit it on our return visit.









David had a lesson in basket weaving 101... from one of the local experts but somehow I don't think he is ready for a career move...and then the guys just enjoyed the view and a few moments of "far niente"....







I did some laundry, we got soaked coming back from town in the dinghy as the water was very choppy, so everything we were wearing had to be washed and hung to dry in this beautiful Bahama breeze.. the water was a magical colour (and I HATE turquoise!!!!) and it really felt like we were cruising in the Bahamas



It's really amazing , I feel as if we just got here and I want to see so much more and cannot get enough of just hangining out swinging from our hook....

The dirty word on board is the "B word".... I cannot even think of going back... I miss everyone, our family and friends but not the life style...even though everything here is so much more labour intensive ....such as walking into town to do provisionning and walking back carrying it all.... the criteria before something goes into our shopping cart is its weight!!!!
But we still manage to eat extremely well on board both boats... we have only gone out for supper once since we left Westend (our first stop after the crossing).
This was last evening's dinner....






Salmon and Broccoli with Gratin Lyonnais and Apple, cranberry and pecan crumble...with a soaking of rum and a scoop or ICE CREAM for pud..... would you prefer ANOTHER sunset picture?

2007/02/23

2007.02.23

We are swinging off our hook off Hopetown, Elbow Cay... still have iffi wifi... so will keep this short.

I understand one of the reasons some people are not keen to post comments is that it appears you have to give all kind of personnal info....
Here is how to do it:

-click on the word comment (not the envelope!)
- the word comment will turn red and open a little window
- just type your message in that window and sign your name in the window too
-skip the rest and just go to the bottom
-click on "publish comments"

Alternatively you can always email us directly at dacs14@hotmail.com

That's it!!! good luck and we look forward to hearing from you now.

Will post more later.

2007/02/22

2007.02.22

We cannot believe that we are connected!!!! we are swinging off our hook off Elbow Cay near the charming little Hopetown and here we are wifi.... in Marsh Harbour, much bigger place I could not get any reception!!!!!

We had a lovely and short crossing over yesterday to Elbow Cay (where Danielle & Robert were supposed to come) and I spent the time below baking a pinapple, walnut yellow cake which we had last night liberally doused with the magic ingredient... rum!!!!!.... Soli's version of "baba au rhum".



The water is crystal clear here and quite shallow...I took this picture of this little guy (about 12" across) under the dinghy...











D & J are are about to go into town(!) to have their hair cut...made apointments yesterday after we ran into Sandy (from Willsboro) who pointed us in the right direction...

She also told us about a fish store where we bought huge crab claws for sups tonight!

We also talked to Whisper in the harbour ... we had met them in Savannah!!!




It is quite amazing how we keeps on running into the same people thousands of miles from the last time... it is as we truly are migrating birds on the same flight plan...

Do you think this cat is having a nap after having swallowed "Mr. Curly Tail" (local lizard)

Better post this before the cocunut telegraphs boots me out.

2007/02/21

2007.02.20

Well, we have all survived yet another big blow….gusting to 35 knots…some people said 49 but we never saw it on our wind speed indicator…

Today was just beautiful and although we were supposed to hop over to Hopetown on Elbow Cay, we heard at the cocktail party (The Royal Marsh Habour Yacht Club’s which sports four new members!!!) last evening and around the marina that EVERYBODY was going to Hopetown today so we decided to stay put… the Webers, on anchor did what they do best…. Heinz varnished and Jacqueline baked and the Allins likewise.. David washed the salt off Soli’s hull while I walked into town in search of an internet café so I could post some pix to our blog… ‘tis a mission I tell you!!

Right after breakfast this morning I went for a shower and then I stopped at “Curly Tails” … that is a bar but the bartender does not come in until 1030… the connection was non existent… next I stopped at “The Florance Café” (that’s the way they spell it ….not a typo) ….their cappuccino was awesome but their connection did not measure up …so I took the bull by the horn and went straight to the headquarters of OII (Out Island Internet), which is the wonderful provider we have joined as they supposedly work ALL OVER THE BAHAMAS !!!! Well… it was not their fault of course… it was MSN….. it was my wifi card…. Maybe my computer… he did not dare go as far as telling me it was ME!!!!

Anyhow I stayed there until I had done and updated everything…. By then it was about 1400… I then walked back to the boat and it was low tide….so I called David who pulled on some rope to bring her in so I could get on board.
I told him all my adventures and we walked back to OII so he could work as well… I then walked over to the grocery store bought a few things and walked back to the boat… by then it was really VERY LOW TIDE … I mean the boat was 6 feet lower than the dock and about 4 feet away….it has to do with the new moon, so I needed to pull on the bow line to bring the boat closer, but by the time I got to the ladder, the boat had moved away again… I have learned a lot of rope walking tricks on this trip ... but I would have had to be Mary Poppins to get on board on my own and D was still at OII so I went over and asked Tony (dock master) to please pull the boat in. … which he kindly did….

By then I was exhausted, so I tucked into “The Forest” by Edward Rutherford (the author of Sarum, which I finally finished) and had myself a little quality down time. Talking about books I hated to finish “The other Boleyn girl” which Fil had recommended… this is history and suspense wrapped into one most enjoyable book!!!!

We then dinghied over to L’Equipe for a cocktail/supper where we enjoyed some of the goodies that Karina had brought from Montreal with yet another magnificent Bahamas sunset….

Back home I always mean to “go for a walk” to exercise…. and unfortunately seldom do as I sit by the computer all day… here I have to walk all over the place to get to use the computer… that’s a much better formula, don’t you think?

Still waiting for my Corrie fix!!!!

A brief note from me (junior blogger) …… the docks here are quite different from those to which we are used – they do not float up and down with the tide which in this harbour is around four feet so as Catherine has said there is quite a lot of gymnastics to get on and off at anything other than close to high water. Since the lines must be slack enough to allow for this up and down movement it does mean that the boat is not always (read rarely!!) alongside the dock. Quite different to Lake Champlain or Lake St Louis!!

The cocktail party of the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club was, as it turned out, quite a lot of fun, only about an hour and a half, but free rum punch (which cannot be bad!!) and we met a lot of fellow cruisers and a number of old hands at the Bahamas. Some of them had been coming here regularly for as much as fourteen years and worked at various unpaid jobs, such as the local library and the informal cruisers net on the VHF. Every morning at 08.00. We are getting used to rising at 06.30 hrs to listen to Chris Parker for the weather and then tuning into the cruiser’s net at 08.00 hrs. The R M H Y C has a meeting on the VHF every Monday, Wednesday and Friday which is fun to listen to also.

As Catherine has said I spent a lot of the morning washing the hull of the boat and rinsing the salt off it, not sure that there is much point since we are in salt water and it will get salty again when we leave this harbour, as we intend to do tomorrow, but it looks very nice after it has been done and it keeps me busy!

It is a wonderful quiet evening now – quite a change after the howling winds of the last couple of days. Our drinks and munchies aboard “L’Equipe” were, as usual, fantastic. The harbour was flat calm , the sunset brilliant, a picture perfect end to the day. It seems that the weather may be changing and we are coming to the end of the Northers which keep everyone on their toes – let us hope so .

It is bed time, (22.00 hrs) - a last quick tot to help me sleep and tomorrow is another day!! G’d night !!

2007/02/19



2007.02.18

It is now Noon the following day and , yes, Mr. Parker was once again spot on….. it is howling out there, our anemometer is recording 30 knots of wind on a pretty steady basis and gusting to 35.

We had booked both “L’Equipe” and “Solitaire 1” into the same marina as we had left from, however when we got back here from Man of War Cay we found that there was no room at the inn for “L’Equipe”, because of their size, so they are swinging from a mooring in the harbour, whilst we are safely tucked up in the marina…having said that, they are very safe and comfortable.

As well as being windy and rainy it is also cold…!! Well O K ….. not as cold as Canada or even perhaps England but cold for us here - how cold you ask – it’s 68* and forecast to dip to 61* this evening and maybe into the high forties overnight – now that’s cold for the Bahamas!! We have actually had the heating on , another boon whilst we are alongside the dock and plugged into shore power.

Man of War Cay, as Catherine has mentioned was an interesting place – according to the guides there are 163 permanent residents of which the majority come from two families. These two families are the descendants of the original settlers who were Loyalists at the time of the Declaration of Independence. Being loyal to King George they left the USA and ended up on this small Cay. The main family, the Albury family runs amongst other things the boat yard and builds very beautiful boats, the grocery store, the ferry service, a trucking company, golf cart rentals etc etc…..we understand that there may have been a certain amount of inbreeding over the years, but as everywhere else the people were friendly and smiling and happy to see you.

The whole island is dry, no alcohol, no smoking and visitors are asked to cover up i.e. no bikinis or thong type swim wear. Pity !!!!! The entrance to the two harbours which are opposite each other is a tiny narrow gap and quite shallow but we managed to get through both arriving and leaving , without problem, on the high tide. I was not particularly happy with the mooring line to the buoy that we were on and this was the main reason for a decision to return to Marsh Harbour for this blow. I also was a little nervous that some of the other boats were on similar questionable buoy lines and that when it started to blow, if something happened there would be no time or space in which to take avoiding action, so again discretion became the better part of valour.

Next week is supposed to be nice so we shall be off again on our voyage of exploration to who knows where? I think that it has stopped raining so it’s time for me to get out and take a good hot shower. Binow!

We are truly hunkered down it is blowing and quite nasty outside… what better time to make bread!!! I have the dough rising in the microwave for a couple of whole wheat sour dough ciabattas with maybe some walnuts thrown in for good measure… also since we are stuck in port it is a good time to try and bring down our freezer level so I am also making some chicken cacciatore and a ham & cauliflower casserole… good winter comfort food!!!

The provisions on board Soli are almost embarrassing…. I may attach an excel list one day and give you all a good laugh… J and I are thinking of opening a depanneur!!!!



While I was boat bound waiting for the third rising (of the bread!!) D walked to the Abaco Boat Harbour, which is on the other side of the island and where their headquarters are located, to pay for our membership to the “Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club”… he came back with a fat envelop…a goody bag, containing amongst other things a membership card, a membership certificate…hysterically funny… I took a picture I hope you can read it, and last but not least a wonderful members cookbook entitled “More Marshed Potatoes” after Marsh Harbour no doubt!

The breads are done… they look alright but I am anxious to taste them…it is still howling outside … so I will snuggle with my new cookbook and a nice G&T (my mother in law’s influence) ….talking about that…I have not seen Coronation Street in months …I wish someone would tell me what’s happening …. In the UK or Canada… I am suffering from withdrawal… I need a Corrie fix !!!
2007.02.17

Is it already 5 days since I have blogged… the fact that we do not have wifi on as regular a basis as we would like is a bit of a deterrent … actually I got a little lazy… you know island time and all that good stuff!!


We are back in Marsh Harbour where I wrote from last week…. Where have we gone since!!! Well, we spent a few days here exploring …did some laundry…actually the machines were out of order so for an extra $2. a nice lady did it all for us wash dry and fold…it’s always nice to help support the local economy…

Then we had Karina’s birthday celebration… lobster and shrimp dinner on L’Equipe crowned by a cake baked by the birthday girl herself!!! The following day we took her out for lunch before putting her on a plane back to Montreal which was just about to experience the biggest snow storm this winter some 30 centimeters!!!

Then it was off to Man O War Cay…. A very different island from everything we have seen so far… we picked up a mooring buoy in the South East bay, after negotiating a very narrow and shallow entrance into what is or can be a hurricane hole, very wild and pretty with mangroves growing all around the bay….magnificent sting rays and very large star fish swam by the boat and could be seen very clearly as the water is like glass, but I did not want to bother the skipper who was concentrating on the depth sounder…




On the second day we took a dinghy trip to the northern part of the island where the village is and found a very pretty community with very nice homes, lots of lovely flowers, very clean, much more prosperous than the previous islands we had visited… the island is “dry” no alcohol is sold there at all … we could not find a place to eat lunch….
We walked all around to the other side where we discovered another beautiful endless deserted beach…. Now, believe it or not every day at 1700 all the black people who work on the island are ferried off to whichever island they live on because NO BLACKS ARE ALLOWED TO LIVE ON MAN O WAR KEY!!!!!

After two days we returned to Marsh Harbour which seems to be the hub of the Abacos .
This afternoon we filled out applications for membership to the “Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club”…no docks, no club house…. But you get a burgee and a membership card which allows discounts in many marinas etc….a sort of “virtual” club… we met the new commodore who was just installed last evening… they have a lot of get togethers, parties, potlucks, book exchanges etc…

We are now at a dock, anticipating “the big blow”…. Winds of 30 to 35 knots are expected… it is 2200 and so far not a breath of air…. Time will tell if the weather guru Chris Parker was right or not!!!!

2007/02/12

2007.02.12

We woke up this morning and tuned into Chris Parker's weather forcast at 0630... it stinks !!!

So we are going to give Man of War Cay a miss for now and head straight for Marsh Harbour in order to be tucked in safely to weather the squalls coming later on today and for L'Equipe to drop off Karina as she is flying back to Montreal tomorrow....also a top off of our water tanks and a good showers would be welcome... we have been doing what David calls his "ablutions" and I call "toilette de chat" for a few days now.






We went for the pig roast and walk on the beach yesterday.... just wonderful... we tried to walk off the calory intake and I actually took some pix of some "people" on the beach...




The questions most asked re our blog are :


1 - Where are the people ?

2 - Have you gone swimming ? (that one was from Deborah as a comment right after my picture of a shark swimming by the boat and eating the fish bait...makes one wonder don't you think!!!!)

2007/02/11

2007.02.11

Just a quick note while we still "in"(on line with wifi)...
Last night I could not get "in" with my laptop so I had to transfer my word document and pictures to a stick and plug it into D's laptop to blog..



We are soon going to dinghy ashore for a walk on this marvellous beach and partake in "Nipper's" famous Sunday pig roast...





We were there for Kaliks and conch fritters (still don't like them!) last evening and promised ourselves that walk for today....

We were treated to another gorgeous Bahamian sunset and drove home after a delicious supper (all the more so since we did not have to prepare it nor do the dishes!!!) under the most magical star studded sky... I thought Westend Grand Bahama Island (our first landing) was gorgeous but it keeps getting better and better !

2007/02/10

2007.02.10

We have wifi again so we have just done some catching up with emails and while David is cleaning up the office I will jot down a few lines…









We left Treasure Cay and sailed to Marsh Harbour which is a fairly well established community on Wednesday ….the shopping is great there but you may remember I was not allowed to buy another morsel of food so we just got milk!!!






We swung from a mooring buoy ( a free one yeahh) for a couple of days and then set off for Baker’s bay (named for Jacqueline and I no doubt!) on Great Guana Island…..another magnificent beach where we could clearly see our anchor in 10 feet of the most pristine water.

We had a nice cold supper of smoked salmon (purchased God knows where….supplies are going down!!!), ceasar salad and brownies with ice cream for pud….I felt I had to bake something given our location… I think I have handled more flour on this trip than I have in my whole life!!! Another joint effort from our galleys!!!!

This morning we moved a little down the same island and picked up a mooring buoy at Settlement Bay on Great Guana…. We have not dinghied ashore yet but it looks promising and there is supposed to be a great place to eat called Nippers where the skippers are taking the galley slaves for supper tonight!!!!

A custom on several of these anchorages is conch blowing…. I have not yet established the pattern !!!! will have to get one for David… conch fritters are a specialite of this area and although I have given them a couple of tries I cannot seem to acquire a taste for them… a little too doughy for my taste.

David just called me so I grabbed my camera and ran up top…. There had been a loud splash as a pretty big (about 3 feet across) sting ray had jumped out of the water… I took a couple of pictures of it as it majestically swam under Soli…. I cannot establish if they are dangerous or not…. The crocodile hunter died of a sting from one of those yet we see pictures in guide books of people actually petting them when they snorkel….

I remember years ago in the British Virgin Islands with Alec, when I was still young and foolish, snorkeling around the boat and seeing what looked like a marble on the sandy bottom…. I went to investigate and just as I was about to touch it, the sandy bottom under me started to move as a huge sting ray, whose eye I had just tried to pick up, came out the sand where it had buried itself….. let me tell you, I surfaced like a cork and was up that ladder and on the boat in less than 10 seconds!!!


Swim anyone??????

We just saw a J40 come into the harbour under full sails as only a J would do... but it was not Jem, we saw them yesterday in the distance leaving Great Guana headed for an ocean sail by the looks of things.

2007/02/06

2007.02.06

It is Christmas on board Soli again…. Through the good auspices of Fil, who braved blistering minus 30, went to our flat, sorted through our mail and handed Karina a bundle of Christmas cards and Cruising guide magazines to be delivered to us on Treasure Cay, Little Abaco Island.

Karina arrived today and along with our mail brought us a care package of wonderful goodies from Montreal that she put together with a lot of thought and care… it truly is Christmas all over again!!!

We have been here a week already… I cannot believe how time fly… we will be leaving Treasure Cay and its magical sandy beach tomorrow, we have a good weather window to move, the wind has somewhat retuned to a more civilized velocity.

Today was laundry day so we are leaving with a fresh bunk, clean clothes and a well stocked larder…. I am under strict orders not to buy another morcel of food !!!

Heinz had rented a car to pick up Karina at the airport today so we took the opportunity of visiting, or should I say driving through the other side of Little Abaco island this morning and it unfortunately is, like so many of these islands desperately poor… a lot of the homes were destroyed by several hurricanes over the past few years and no money was found to rebuild…there just does not seem to be many job opportunities, unlike New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay where construction seemed to be underway and a certain amount of relative prosperity was apparent….

We drove for miles and saw nothing but garbage which littered the side of the road to Jacqueline’s chagrin and some terribly run down shacks…on the other hand people, especially children, are waving and smiling… it never ceases to amaze us how apparently content people seem to be with so little. The thing we noticed though was that however desolate the villages were they always had at least one church and often several which were in remarkably good shape… food for thought!!!!

It is 2300, well past our bedtime…. David is reading the Gazette and the Globe and Mail on line which is a great when we have wifi and I will try and post this before we leave… but I have to wait until D is finished with the internet because although we each have our own laptop, only one of us can get on line at one time…after what we saw this morning I would not dream of complaining… we are so blessed!

We hear it is horribly cold back home and in most parts of the east coast…. we really feel for you and hope that the ground hog , who did or did not see his shadow (I can never get this right!!!) but apparently predicted a short winter, was right!!!

Good night.

2007/02/02



2007.02.01

Goodness !!! February already….where has the time gone? We started this blog on September 29th when we left Lake Champlain for a positioning cruise to Baltimore then back to Montreal for 3 weeks or so and then back to Soli…..we have been living on board since November 9th almost 3 months…When I used to tell people we were going away for 6 months, they thought we were insane … 6 months on a sailboat, no TV, no washer/dryer, no dishwasher, no car…. The one thing I was so insistent on when shopping for a boat was air conditioning …. We have not used it at all!!!!! I should like to take it out and replace it by a water maker… now, daily showers on board even at anchor, that’s real luxury!!! I cannot even picture myself in our flat…..it feels like another world… what would I do…. Sit at the computer all day and gaze out the window…I don’t think so!!!

We left Green Turtle Cay yesterday with a heavy heart… I do hope we come back one day… New Plymouth was a very endearing little place with more roosters than people… they have a contest at 0530 every morning and the last one to go hoarse wins… no wonder we go to bed at 2030, it’s been a long day!
New Plymouth, where everybody knows everybody, and they were starting to know us!!! Our daily visits to Sid’s (local grocery store) where we chatted to a nice elderly lady who just sat in there all the time it seems.
My last visit to the liquor store where I bought 10 bottles of wine and they gave me 2 “to try!!!” ...I carried the whole thing plus some groceries (actually Carlos carried 6) to the “Wrecking Tree Café” where David was “in the office” and the nice couple who offered us a lift in their golf cart (even though they were going in the opposite direction) back to the dinghy dock.
Where you can sit a a caf for hours sipping on a Kalik (local brew) or nothing at all while you are on your laptop working or talking to family on Skype ….and when we left the mooring yesterday, we told the guy at the marina office "we owe you for 8 nights and 4 showers so here is $92" and we hope to be back some day soon" …."that’s cool man" !!!!
Where other boats in the anchorage would come over on their dinghy and chat, exchanging experiences, tips and boat cards…quite a few have blogs…

I actually took very few pictures on Green Turtle Cay … it felt like we were home, not visiting.

Anyhow after a short hop, we left at 0730 at high tide to make sure we had enough water under our keel not to go aground in the channel to Black sound, we arrived in Treasure Cay and are now at a marina with water and power…. We only took power for today…$21 per day!!!!

This Cay is actually not an island at all but part of Little Abaco Island which we plan to explore, perhaps rent a car for a day or two.

The marina is very nice, the harbour is surrounded by condo units which are part of the resort and are rented on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, some are owned mostly by retired people who play golf at a course close by…..tonight was pizza night at the local bar and we felt like the “kids” just to give you an idea of the average age!!!

The beach is magnificent …about 3 miles of the silkiest, softest sand I have ever felt under my toes…. no seashells like in Sanibel though! Also a very nice pool overlooking the sea… not a bad place to spend winter when it gets cold in Montreal!

It’s 2230…way past my bedtime… the wind is howling outside….another “front” coming in which is why we are safely tucked away for a few days.