Hope Town 26.03 2008

Well, we are still here once again on our mooring in the middle of Hope Town harbour. The weather is cool for this part of the world but still a lot better than most of our families are enduring !!

Today we said a sad farewell to Marcel and Gilles on “Northstar” as they are heading back North, Heinz and Jacqueline on “L’Equipe” went with them as it is always much better and safer to travel with at least one buddy boat. It feels strange not seeing L’Equipe moored at the entrance of the harbour as she has been most of the winter but it was time for them to go, they need to have some work done on the boat under guarantee, we chose to remain behind and go our separate ways.

Our plans for the future are now taking a much more firm outlook, after much thinking and discussing we have basically decided that the boat will go back to Thunderbolt, in Savannah for the summer.

We had really wanted to take Soli to Maine for the summer but then realized that as well as spending time and catching up with our children and grand children in Montreal, Toronto and Quebec City we also had plans such as a couple of weddings, one in the South of France and the other in New York City that we would like to attend, then return to the Abacos next winter… it just made no sense to bring her 2000 miles North and then 2000 miles back when we would not have that much time to spend on her over the summer. So our plans for Maine will go on hold until the summer of 2009.

We are presently thinking of leaving here towards the middle of April, weather permitting, and making our way back to the US mainland and Thunderbolt.

Thank you Alice and Jim, (“Arcadia”) for giving our names to Claudia and Peter Hornby of Plattsburgh, NY……. We met them at Hope Town Marina this morning and spent a very pleasant half hour chatting with them. They left today, but we have plans to join up together, possibly on the way home as we are both going in the same direction and particularly for the crossing of the Gulf Stream….. there’s always safety in numbers for that particular stretch !! We are not worried however as there should be other boats going in the same direction as ourselves in the next few weeks.

So what have we been doing………???? Well beach walking is a large part of our day and we have been spending time with David & Hannya from “Dovelena” (means holiday in Croatian) a British couple who live in Bournemouth, my old stamping ground and an area that I know very well. Also Reg and Val from “Aquabella” another British couple from Cumbria, who leave their power boat in Green Turtle for the summer. The six of us had a delicious Easter lunch of grouper at the Abaco Inn on Easter Day ( sorry no lamb here! ) and then walked a different beach in the rain….then back to Soli for a nice cup of tea!

Catherine, on Tuesday went to a ladies lunch at Hope Town Lodge where she learned all about chocolate from a chocolatier … I have yet to see the results !!!

Over the past weeks we had been growing more and more concerned about the state of our batteries so on the Saturday before Easter we took the plunge and ordered another three from the store in Marsh Harbour. They were delivered to the Marina there in thirty minutes ….. a most impressive record for the Bahamas and I was able to pick them up courtesy of the two Joes (“Highlander” and “North Wind”) who just happened to be going there to pick up Jim from “ Legacy “ . Back on the boat I was able to remove the old batteries with the help of Marcel’s muscles and connect the new ones.

We docked at the marina on Monday and spent two days thoroughly charging the new batteries and we now hope that our electrical worries are over for the couple of years or so !!! These batteries do not have to be filled with distilled water which is a good thing, as both of us were notoriously bad at remembering to check the water levels, perhaps one of the reasons why our last ones did not last as long as they might have.

On Easter Monday, courtesy of Joe and Margaret of “Highlander” about ten of us went to Little Harbour and Pete’s Pub for lunch. We sampled “Blasters” three types of rum and various fruit juices …… very delicious !!!! A good lunch and a tour of the foundry completed the day…… there is something special about careering over the water at twenty plus knots in a small 22 foot boat…. You cover a lot of ground (or should I say water) quite quickly, compared to the stately way in which “Solitaire 1” covers the same distance … we watched a heavy rain storm and much lightning and possibly even a mini tornado over Marsh Harbour and were thankful that we were going in the opposite direction at full speed. We later heard that some boats briefly saw sixty knots of wind in the harbour which surely tested the ground tackle!

I think that I have just about shot my bolt so far as blogging is concerned and will now leave it to my editor and chief blogger to finish this up, possibly with some pictures, but am not sure of this.

A happy birthday, once again to my baby brother…… still not in the sixties like the rest of his siblings !!!!! Binow and over to CMA.



Wow, haven’t posted anything since Feb.27… definitely getting worse!

Let’s see what has happened since then.

Marcel and Gail joined the Hope Town harbour, beach combing and glassing community

Suzanne has come and gone, she was in for a board meeting and a Bahama fix...she went home to another record snow fall… all the flights were delayed 5 hours and more, but she got home safe and sound.

We entered a conch blowing contest... highly discriminatory, the women and men had to compete in the same class...now we all know guys are much bigger winded,,,,now you may not recognise Steve (Sea Echo) ...the last time you saw him he was half naked!

I managed to win for the best looking conch....wonder if Jim being part of of the panel of judges had anything to do with it?

Carol embarassed herself (well, maybe just me)by wearing socks...really now, socks, in the Bahamas!!!! but she sounded pretty good.

We had another festival... heritage days, the children sang songs and I took a picture of my favourite post mistress Miss Nora...

We went fishing with Truman…what a day that was. It started off with the ladies up on the flying bridge with Truman while the guys were below anxiously waiting for a line to trip off one of the outriggers….meaning we had a bite….then it’s in the chair to do battle.

David and Heinz caught 2 mahi-mahis at almost the same time one a bull a little over 30 pounds and the other a cow a bit smaller….maybe a couple…too sad to even think about that.

Then I don’t recall the succession but H caught another Mahi they both got barracudas, witch Truman kept for his boys…. Some of the natives eat them, they apparently are delicious but about one in a thousand is poisonous …so how do you know? Feed it to your cat, I have been told is a good method to weed out the bad ones…I chose not to believe this nasty rumor!

David also caught a young tuna, “a tender” and it certainly was…. I have never eaten fresh tuna, not very inspired by the red colour….well I can tell you I am hooked now (Freudian slip) one minute per side on the grill and the whole thing just melted in our mouth! I have another filet in the freezer and may try to do a tuna cerviche…Fil, how about that recipe again… I’ll just have to substitute something for the pomegranate seeds!

And that's how you get ziplock fish...oh I forgot Truman beautifully cleaned the fish for us.

A good day was had by almost all, unfortunately after a while Suzanne got quite sea sick, I think she felt bad for those gorgeous fish we were pulling in and I must say I sympathize with her and them! The crew from L’Equipe came to Soli that night for supper and we had salade ni├žoise with CANNED tuna…. I don’t think she could have eaten any of the fish we caught that day.

Last Tuesday we actually left the harbour to venture a little further south… we went to Lynyard Cay and hoped to take a quick trip into Little Harbour.
It all started off very well we had a nice breeze and pulled out the genny and motor sailed for a while.
All of a sudden David noticed that the automatic bilge pump was going on with increasing frequency … he asked me to take the helm and went below to see what was causing it to go on. “oh s..t” are two little words which I almost never hear from David so I knew it was serious….
By then the bilge pump was on all the time… what had happened was the one of the jubilee clips securing the rubber sleeve over the propeller shaft had come undone and water was pouring into the boat at a rather rapid rate…
I had , of course, shut off the engine so David would be able to try and fix the problem without getting his hands chewed up. So I was under sail only and sailing closer and closer to a lee shore with very shallow bottom AND I did not even think of tacking away….that is assuming I could have done the sheets and the helm by myself…but the scary part is that I just did not even think to do it!
Needless to say I got quite an earful, deservedly so, and my confidence in my sailing ability is now at an all time low…. David trying to make excuses for me, somewhat later, when he had calmed down, said that after living on a floating condo for months on end, I had forgotten how to sail it the b….y thing!!!
We took the dink to shore to explore the Cay and picked up 3 sea biscuits….dead ones…. There were hundreds of live ones which of course we did not touch… I am looking forward to going back to Green Turtle to hopefully pick up some sand dollars….. I gave all the ones I had to the family in the UK.
After a restful night for David, not so much for me, as we had come around 180 degrees on our anchor as the tide had turned and I was worried that we were dragging anchor…. So I was up a good part of the night checking our position on the chartplotter and eyeballing it with the other boats that were anchored in the same bay.

By the morning the wind had come up… L’Equipe went to anchor near Little Harbour to see if they could take the dink into shore but they found it too choppy and came back to Lynyard Cay… by that time it was choppy there too and we lifted anchor and headed north.

Beauty and the beast....who's who again?

We ended up in Marsh Harbour as we had some maintenance and provisioning to do… David topped up the batteries with distilled water….

We changed the impeller on our macerator pump AGAIN…I think we can now do it with our eyes closed and are getting, hopefully, better at it each time….what do they say “practice makes perfect!”

We cleaned out a whole bunch of little critters that had elected residence in the paddle for our knotmeter...no wonder we could not register any speed!
We patronized a couple of our favourite restaurants Mangoes and Curly Tail…

We had Mister Madison Cooper aka “Browntip” dive under Soli to scrape the algae and a few barnacles that had attached themselves to her bottom as well as change the zincs on our prop and shaft….they were almost gone!

After a couple of days we were ready to move on. The cruisers net again predicted all kind of nasty weather so we high tailed it to …you guessed it HOPE TOWN…”welcome home” said Rudy. And of course the weather has been GORGEOUS!!!! !@!@@%%^$$%%^$

We have been eating some of our delicious mahi mahi which David cooks to perfection on the grill.

Yesterday we walked to the Abaco Inn (about 3 miles in a most humid heat) with Pat to see an art show. Pat is from Texas and like David she loves heat… I on the other hand I find that as I am getting older my window of temperature comfort is shrinking rapidly… 2 degrees up and I turn into a puddle, 2 degrees down into an ice cube… the Bahamas have a lovely temperature and an almost constant wonderful breeze…but NOT ON THAT ROAD!

We had a very nice lunch (and lots of water to rehydrate yours truly) under the gazebo by the ocean and remarked how the vivid colours of the water in the art work we had just seen were indeed true to life….very sorry I did not bring my camera.

A young couple with a 2 year old shared the gazebo with us and we were treated to a serious Bush bashing session… he started off with apologizing for his government when he found out we were Canadian and then was off to the races… we fortunately go a lift back for most of the way, some nice people on a golf cart took pity on us….

Today we went to the beach to do some “glassing” (looking for sea glass)… I had brought my snorkeling gear and found a few nice pieces…

Came home for lunch and then I thought I would go and take the dink over to l’Equipe (actually it was David’s idea…he thought I needed the practice!!!)… I got there uneventfully and hung on to their dink while we chatted, feeling safer not too close to their boat. When it was time to go back to Soli , I put the engine in gear, the wind had come up and was pushing me towards L’Equipe and her mooring ball, with the dink from hell with no keel=loss of control, I goosed the engine to try and get some steerage on to get away from the boat... and...in a bit of panic turned the tiller the wrong way and ended up crashing into L’Equipe at full speed… I fell back half in the water from the impact, with the prop still turning, and all I could think of was “did I scratch the boat?”… I somehow regained my balance and throttled down and put her in neutral and got myself back to Soli…. It all happened so fast.
H & J just came by to see how I was, aside from a very sore back and a sorer ego I am fine…. Heinz said I was very lucky, he had a similar incident a long time ago and almost lost his toes in the prop.

That’s about it folks….except that we are now seriously talking about when to back and where to go back to… It had to happen eventually!
Oh I almost forgot ...the shaving brush tree is in bloom....gorgeous innit?