Sunday 25th January 2009

It is now two weeks since we added to this narrative, so here goes !

Life on board the good sailing vessel “Solitaire I” continues to be very peaceful and quiet although work on and around the boat continues as ever. Recently we replaced the fresh water filter, which we thought would be a brief affair….. wrong !!! in order to get the filter out we had to remove it entirely and then found that it had been put in incorrectly so my trusty admiral read the instructions and we battled with it for two hours, finally getting it back, this time fitted correctly We had to trim one of the hoses and use slightly larger screws but once all was back together and the pressure pump switched on, it resumed working perfectly and no leaks. This was a major operation since without it we would have not had any running water.

Last Thursday we took the boat across to Marsh Harbour, the “big” town, anchored in the bay and went ashore to do some shopping. We had gone across with our friends on “Dovelena” so Hannya and Catherine did some major grocery provisioning and then I met them and we restocked our wine and spirit cellar before returning to the boat. Once stored, we raised the anchor and went across to another small island named Man of War, one of the oldest settlements in the Abacos, dating back to 1753.

It has a very narrow entrance channel and is very shallow so we entered close to high water , Hannya and David who had arrived earlier, came to greet us in their dinghy and escorted us to a mooring. We invited them on board for sun downers and guacamole and munchies and then spent a very quiet night. The next day we got into the two dinghies and explored the north end of the island, landing on a beach at the Narrows. This is so called because at that point the cay is only wide enough for one golf cart to pass down the road.. On the way, through the crystal clear and very shallow water we were able to observe numerous large star fish as well as many sea biscuits, etc. We walked up the road towards the north end of the island through some very beautiful and lovely gardens . No lack of cash here obviously!

After a pleasant walk it was back along the beach to the dinghies we went back to the settlement for lunch. I couldn’t resist the hamburger which was every bit as good as you can get in North America.

With the tide rising we decided to leave for our base at Hope Town since we were invited for lunch this weekend with Susan and Rolf who have Jacqueline and Heinz staying with them. We have just come back from that lunch and what a spread they put on…. A delicious salad nicoise made with fresh asparagus rather than the usual beans and fresh baked focaccia .

This, by the way is the latest thing…. And Catherine has been making it as well, once we got fresh flour, since the flour that we had left on board was alive with tiny little weevils and could probably have walked off the boat if allowed!!
It is a focaccia type, flat with olive oil and rosemary and is just delicious, we have to thank Susan for this recipe. We will be eating this most of the time I fancy since the bread that we can buy in the stores here tends to be rather too sweet for our taste.

After lunch we all went "glassing" (pick up sea glass) on Rolph and Susan's beach..

Jacqueline and Heinz are old hands at it and we now have a couple of new afficionados, Catherine B and Clem.

We have walked the beaches here on most days and still find it enjoyable and good exercise. We do not always walk fast but tend to wander and look for sea glass or other treasures, like my sea bean (I have not found any more I am sad to say, but shall keep looking). The acknowledged master is Hannya (Catherine call her “magpie”) who finds all kinds of interesting bits and pieces. She has found four bottles with messages in them including one dated in 2004 and tossed over the side of a sailing vessel somewhere between las Palmas in the Canary Islands and Barbados. Everything inside was in good condition including a picture of the boat and a message from each member of he crew with their e mail addresses. She has tried to contact them but I do not believe has had great success.
On one of those walks Catherine had a very daunting experience on one of the windiest days that we have experienced here. On this occasion, after a long walk on the beach she was walking back down the road with a couple of girl friends when there was a loud crash maybe six inches from her as a coconut came crashing down from a great height. Doubtless she would have been severely injured (or worse) if it had landed on her head…. It gave her a great fright. Apparantly these coconuts alongside the road are supposed to be pruned to avoid just such things happening but this one clearly was not. Catherine, since this episode walks firmly in the middle if the road… not so dangerous since the main mode of transport here and on most islands are golf carts either gas powered or electric.
We do however have a pet coconut which I have not been allowed to break open, named “le Mousse (?)” and we have “the killer coconut” which is still in its shell and which I shall have go at opening tomorrow so that we can start feasting on fresh coconut flesh, which we enjoy.

I think that this brings you all up to date with our life here in the beautiful Abacos. Before closing we would just like to wish my brother-in law, James a very happy birthday tomorrow. Many happy returns James … you are now the oldest member of the family, for at least three months!!!

G’d night all !

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