We are here in the Abacos!

It was a very quick trip down the waterway – leaving Annapolis on Thursday 18th October and setting off from Lake Worth to cross to the Bahamas on Tuesday 13th November!   We would normally have gone a little slower, but with the engine work in Charleston and then pushing to make the weather window for that Tuesday, we hurried all the way.  We were “overtaken” by this guy kite foiling – my head can’t get around the concept of this thin little foil lifting the board and him out of the water and travelling at such speed.

These are a couple of pictures of us taken by Mel – we always see each other’s boats but never our own.

We had a lovely visit with Dick and Carol in Stuart and they loaned us their car to do the provisioning that we would normally have done while waiting in Lake Worth.   There are sections on the stretch of the waterway around Jupiter that have the most outrageously extravagant houses – they look like hotels!   (loved the trained creeper on that chimney).

There was a more modest house with the most enormous boat and tender parked outside – either he had his priorities right or else he leased his slip to the owner of the big boat – I imagine the rent for that would cover his mortgage; smart man.


We anchored overnight near the inlet at Lake Worth – an impressive row of sport fishing boats lined up here for easy access to the sea.


An early morning departure got us on our way.   It was lumpy in the beginning as you can see from the pictures of Mel and Gary’s boat – we were lifted out of the water and then crashed down as the waves passed.   They have a cat on board (Hobie Cat!) who was not a happy chap.   I wasn’t a very happy girl either.   But as the day passed the seas flattened and everything settled down.   We left at 6.30 am and got there around 4.30pm.    The gulf stream current pushing us northwards was very strong the whole way – 4.5 knots – and you have to steer considerably south of your destination in order to travel the straight line.    But we made it to West End, cleared customs and celebrated (along with millions of our tiny no-see-um friends who now share our blood)  with a swim in the pool, a Goombay Smash and Cracked Conch.



We waited for high tide the next day (Wednesday) to navigate Indian Cut and sailed over to Great Sale Cay.   Gary jumped in his dinghy and went looking for lobster – he caught two smallish ones and it was another Bahamas celebration with lobster appetizers that night.    The sunsets are amazing and the clouds make every one, in every direction, different.

From Great Sale we headed to Powell Cay – we had hoped to anchor there but the wind was not in the right direction and there wasn’t enough protection (fine at sunset, but you don’t want to find yourself in strong winds and seas in the middle of the night and have to move then!)   Gary and Garth went diving; Mel and I went beachcombing and swimming – perfect day, especially as the boys came back with two nice lobsters!  Gary also caught two lion fish – a non-indigenous fish which is taking over the local reefs.   They have lethally poisonous spines and you have to know how to handle them.   But once all that is removed, they are delicious eating.   They are small and you need quite a few to make a decent size meal, so finding and killing them is a win-win!   It was surf and turf night as Mel had some lamb chops she needed to use – absolutely delicious!!!!!




We headed to Green Turtle Cay after swimming – love it there!   Another spectacular cloud sunset.



It was Garth’s birthday on Friday and he wanted to spend it in Hope Town.   The waves around Whale Cut were big, but the wind was slightly behind us and we had a rocking and rolling and surfing down waves rocket ride around – averaged 8 knots!!    Once we reached calm water it was a glorious sail all the way down to Elbow Cay where the Hope Town Light beckoned.

We love being here.   It is a wonderful community – as you walk the streets and pass school children they all greet you and smile.   There’s a lot of talk about development and how things are changing – I’m grateful to have visited before it becomes too commercial.   There is a guy building a huge concrete house on the north end of the island – one of those that will never blow away.    How does he do it?   On island time of course, but this is how the concrete arrives from Marsh Harbor!


We saw another barge later on heading in the opposite directed that had a huge water tanker on it – that’s how it’s done!

We went to watch a flag football tournament – kids from all the different islands compete.   There’s no tackling, if your white flag is pulled off your belt then you are considered down.   Great fun and well supported.   The #13 Beckham jersey photo was taken for my nephew and special person Craig!

After that we went for a walk along the beach, finished with a swim (Garth in his shorts!) for the guys and a Radler (grapefruit beer drink) for Mel and I.


Walking home we saw that the habit of decorating early for Christmas had reached the islands!   With that amount of work, I am sure they want to get as much enjoyment for as long as they can.

Sunday was football at the Hope Town Inn & Marina – picture says it all!


We are early this season; a lot of places haven’t opened yet and some are not doing full weeks.   These people work so hard through the season to keep all of us visitors happy – they deserve the break they get.   We went snorkeling at Mermaid Reef yesterday (checking out all the potential spots for when Will and Penny come down at Christmas) and into Marsh Harbor for groceries, diesel and water.   This is a good life – although we miss our home, family and friends.   We are celebrating Thanksgiving on Second Sojourn with Mel and Gary and Muffin and Will tomorrow – we are certainly very thankful for the opportunities we have had in our lives.   Happy Thanksgiving to you all.


P.S. – hadn’t posted this, so include a picture of our most delicious ever Thanksgiving dinner!   Caprese salad followed by Cornish hens, stuffing, gravy, scalloped potatoes, corn; key lime pie for dessert – and of course lots of wine, rum and good company.

And here’s a pic of some of the signs around Hope Town – love that Queen’s Highway is such a grandiose name for a little lane down to the dinghy dock!

Intracoastal Waterway – Love It!!!

Life continues down the Intracoastal Waterway.   We have been gone for three weeks now and have been covering a lot of ground.    You see all sides of life as you pass through communities – from this guy who is making the best of being without a boat at the moment, to some magnificent, extravagant homes.  Many of them a stone’s throw from each other.

We love the waterway.   You slide through some totally remote areas where the beauty is unspoilt and completely natural.   Nothing happens.    The water in the Waccamaw River in South Carolina is dark brown – tannins leach from the fallen leaf debris.   Apparently it was believed to have healing properties and people used to travel to fill containers and take them home.    We saw turtles sunning on logs, but no alligators this time.   Wonderful birdlife.


We stopped at Georgetown SC and had hoped to anchor there for the night.   Two things against that – it was a Sunday and nothing was open, and the anchorage is right underneath a paper mill, which was belching noxious fumes.   It’s OK when the wind is blowing away, but this day it was not!    So we stretched our legs and wandered around this very pretty town.    When commerce was governed by access to water, it grew into a booming little town on the river with close access to the sea.   It was in the center of a rice growing area – they have a rice museum which we had wanted to visit – closed on Sundays.   The town has done a great job of revitalizing and it is a definite stop on our way back.

The Waccamaw opens up into marshlands and we spent the night at anchor in Minum Creek.   A very special night – not a breath of wind, a perfect sunset that was golden on one side and pink and mauve on the other; but the best was that flock after flock of birds flew over the top of us to roost (somewhere) at sunset.    It was as though they had laid on this show for us.    Herons, egrets, ibis, even some roseate spoonbills.   With swallows darting around at water level eating the bugs (but not enough of them as that is what eventually drove us inside with the screens in place!).


We were anxious to get to Charleston and get the engine work done – success!   It took a lot of clearing out of the back cabin to make room, and a lot of cramped bending double and working with no view of what his hands were doing, but Garth replaced the seal and all is good in engine land again!    Gary’s help was invaluable; and what were Mel and I to do but a little bit of shopping?  It’s a sad fact that it was only a visit to Trader Joe’s to pick up provisions – but in a cruiser’s life access to a good grocery store is way more satisfying than the standard retail therapy!   We were very grateful to Ben for driving us around.

The buildings in Charleston are amazing – every corner presents something photo-worthy.   I restrained myself as last time we came through I took hundreds of photos.

Love the green building – whose kids would ever know what dry goods and notions are??

Also, tons of great restaurants.   (Although Ben told us that some of the proprietors are having a tough time – so many people are moving to Charleston that downtown property values are going through the roof.   Taxes follow, and it is hard to find reliable workers and make the fickle restaurant business worthwhile.   Some people are closing their restaurants and selling their properties – the same money at the end for much less headache and hard work).   We had a great lunch at Jestines – a local institution serving low country food – corn fritters and fried green tomatoes, collard greens and okra gumbo alongside fried chicken livers and meatloaf!   Across the road was the Chareston Fire Department.   We poked our heads inside and were intrigued to see how prepared they are – shiny fire pole from the floor above, and their suits sitting with boots already in place (two sets right by the cab door!) so all they have to do is put their feet in and pull them up!     A trick from which I think many a schoolchild could benefit!


For those who have not been on our boat, I thought I would send a couple of pictures so you could imagine what our life aboard is like.   It’s very comfortable for two – everything you could need.   Kate, Will and Penny will be joining us for Christmas – it will get a little tight then, but worth every minute.  I hope then we will be living outside more than in.


Some more pictures of the life that happens every day ….. one would think that it would get boring and you would have to find things to keep you busy.   But somehow the things you pass are more compelling than a book; we love it.




St Mary’s Sound is at the bottom of Georgia, just before you cross into Florida.  There is a very large submarine base there – regular submarines as well as nuclear.     Mel and Gary were quite a way ahead of us, and messaged back to say that they had seen a sub coming up the river.   By the time we got there the patrol had contacted us asking us to wait for the sub to pass – right in front of us.  Not a problem!   It was fascinating – with patrol boats buzzing around, two large tugs came out and lined themselves up for the sub to pass between.   They then maneuvered to  lead it into its pen.   Not sure whether or not I was allowed to take photos, but better to ask for forgiveness than permission!   They then proceeded to escort us past the rear – fully armed, ready to shoot!

We stayed overnight in Fernandina Beach – a quaint town that although touristy has so much charm.   Sorry, again no pictures because I took them all last time.   The decision whether to take the camera or just go and enjoy the evening tends to favor the latter!

I can finally rest easy – I have my dolphin picture!    It has become a standing joke that no matter how many dolphins are around us, as soon as I pick up my camera, they dive down.   Every time!!!   But the other morning, at sunrise, this boy obliged and now I never have to worry about it again.

But better than that, at anchor that evening, there was a lot of stirred up water and we saw this group of dolphins doing something – couldn’t work out what.   I remembered a story I had heard about how the dolphins swim in circles and “herd” the fish closer and closer together until they have easy dinner pickings.   I can only imagine that this is what was happening.   In the first picture you will see four fins in a circle, facing each other.   And then lots of diving and writhing and snorting and spouting …. wish I knew more about these beautiful creatures.



Passing through Florida you have long, straight stretches – literally for miles.   You set your autopilot and keep checking every now and again but there is nothing you have to do.   The day was beautiful, the water was like glass.  Lots of dolphins and manatees – but they do dive when you get close.


We are now tied up in Vero Beach.   Just a quick stop to get fuel and water and get some laundry done and the boat washed down.   We believe that it will be a good window to cross to the Bahamas next Tuesday, so it is all systems go to get down to Lake Worth, do final provisioning and be ready first thing Tuesday morning.   We hope to stop in Stuart tomorrow and visit with our friends and RV partners Dick and Carol Tuschick.   If we don’t go on Tuesday, it looks as though it will be a long wait at Lake Worth for another weather window – we want to GET THERE!!!

Thanks for following – I see your comments but am often not in service range to reply.   I do this blog mainly to share the pictures and experiences with those who are interested, and as a record for ourselves.   I have no pretensions about being a writer!

We’re doing it again ….!

Goodbye Annapolis!!!!    Off to the Bahamas for the winter.   We had such a good time in 2016/17 and we decided that before our joints get too creaky, we should do it one more time.    This has been a very busy year and we unfortunately haven’t used the boat much on the bay.   With a lovely visit from Dave and Kat just before boat show, and then Garth working the boat show with AYS (can’t keep him away!) we found ourselves only one day beyond our projected departure date of October 17th.   We said a sad goodbye to Kate, Will and Penny and left Annapolis around midday on the 18th.     It has taken us this week to find our sea legs again – remembering where and how we stored things for our last trip, how freezer and fridge temperatures are critical, how SMALL the galley is – it all comes back.


We had an easy ride down to Solomons Island, passing the LNG (liquid natural gas) dock along the way.


We woke to “water smoke” and I took a great picture of Second Sojourn, our friends Mel and Gary Tisdale’s boat.   We are very happy to be travelling in tandem them again as we can bounce decisions about weather, water depth, anchorages etc. off one another, as well as enjoy a glass of wine together at the end of a long day!


From there to Deltaville, a familiar route.   The four of us had dinner with Anne Hutchings (Jonathan was flattened by the flu) and Pete and Louise Hoggins, who are also making their way to the Bahamas this year.    We went to a new restaurant called The Table – tell the world!! – fine dining has finally arrived in Deltaville!!     Not white tablecloth, but delicious, well prepared food with great ingredients and a funny, sharp server.   We had a great evening!

Next stop was a marina in Hampton for two nights to wait out a front that was passing through.    Had a great brunch with John and Denise McLinn and their group of friends on boats from Herrington Harbour.   We left Hampton early on Monday as we had a long day ahead of us.    May as well have slept in – we were held up for at least an hour and a half by two railway bridges that are normally open.    Many boats had holed up in the Hampton/Norfolk area and we were all caught – there was a group of about 15 boats all jockeying to be ahead when we reached the next obstacle, the lock at Great Bridge.   Fortunately we made the first cut – the boats behind had to wait another hour for the next intake.  The trip through the Norfolk shipyards is always interesting with all the war ships berthed there.


We wanted to stop at Coinjock Marina just a little further on (they sell a bumper sticker there that says “where in the world is Coinjock?”)   as they have an excellent restaurant that specializes in prime rib.    Because of the bottleneck caused by the bad weather, the docks were full but we were able to raft up to another boat and spend the night.   Next morning we were completely engulfed in fog, but it is a long, straight canal and so we set off at first light.   It started lifting as the sun came up and the sky and sunrise were spectacular.


From Coinjock to Belhaven, one of our favorite spots, where we enjoyed a superb sunset as the harvest moon rose behind us.   Sadly the town had suffered badly in Hurricane Florence and was still mopping up.

From Belhaven we headed to an anchorage at Cedar Creek where we again rendezvoused with the Herrington Harbour group and had a great evening in the cockpit of Dave and Sue’s Leopard catamaran.   Those cockpits are huge!!    Next stop was Mile Hammock Bay in the Camp LeJeune military area.  Kept my eyes peeled for another bobcat swimming by, but not this time.     Watched an Osprey helicopter practicing landing and taking off – fortunately it didn’t go on all night.


The travelling on this trip has not been as exciting as last.   For one, it has been freezing – Garth has been in four or five layers every day.   I huddle under the dodger and bring hot tea, coffee and food as required!    It has been wet.   It has been gray.    It has been windy.  And sadly we are seeing the damage wrought by Hurricane Florence – not as bad so far as what Matthew did last trip, but I don’t think we have reached the worst part yet.    There seem to be hundreds of houses with blue tarps on their roofs and also lots of damage to docks.

We are anchored at Caroliina Beach for the night (in pouring rain – we had hoped to get ashore for a long walk) and have slips reserved at the Myrtle Beach Yacht Club marina tomorrow.   We will get some laundry done and eat in their great restaurant.   We are hoping to get to Charleston SC by Monday evening and will stay there for three days or so.    Garth has an engine seal to replace which is a huge job but not so daunting when you are in a town that has a big boating community.   We are looking forward to seeing our good friends Ben and Sallie there too and Charleston is just so charming!    DSC09612



Long time no hear …

It’s because we are heading home, and moving fast every day.   And it’s also a huge conflict of feelings – sad that such a wonderful adventure is behind us instead of in front; it has been everything we ever dreamed of – and glad, because we are heading home to our family and house and friends and neighbors and all things familiar and missed.  Reviewing my photos for this blog made me realize just how long it has been since posting, so this one might be long.   It might also be the last – but we do want to do a wrap up once we’re home.

(Reality:   we are actually home now – but I had this blog all prepared and ready to go; couldn’t get a wifi signal sufficient to download the pictures, so you are getting it a bit late!)

Well, we were moving fast.   We have been in Hampton VA since Wednesday waiting for this big storm to pass.   Looks as though we will be able to move up the Chesapeake tomorrow.   Back to where we left off –

At the beginning of March I went home for a week.   Just sneaked in, didn’t contact anyone.   Needed to do some paperwork things and support Kate a bit.   Turns out my timing was perfect – both kids came down with the virus that had been going around Annapolis, and I was able to help look after them so that she could go to work.   I was also able to see the swans before they went back north, and was home when our Ospreys arrived back from wintering in the South.

While I was away, Garth kept very busy helping Will Heyer and Heintz restore one of the few old Winer Malone Abaco dinghies that are still in existence.  It was badly in need of repair.   Will took on the project and Garth helped him, laminating new ribs and replacing the old.   You can see where the new ones were installed slightly alongside the originals.   Once this is all done, the boat will be turned over and the missing and broken planks will be replaced.   A labor of love, but a great challenge and you all know that Garth loves a project!!  And it’s not bad working outside under a tent right on the beach!

Will sent us a picture of what he had done after we left – gunwales and new transom installed.   All ready to be turned and completed next year.

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As always, the flowers around Hope Town are glorious – I can’t resist taking photos.

Garth sailed Will’s Abaco dinghy “Mac & Cheese” in a regatta on the Sunday and managed to win all three races!   So his name (for the first time) and Will’s boat (for the second) will be on the Reingold Trophy – an honor!  He also sailed, with Denise and John McLinn, on Thomas’ ’95 Hinckley 42 called “Hope” – lots of fun but sadly no good result.

There was a promising weather window developing so we decided not to go to the Barefoot Man concert and headed straight to Green Turtle Cay on March 18th , staging to go to Great Sale Cay when the weather was right and then on to cross the Gulf Stream over to Florida.   We had a beautiful sunset at Great Sale – our last night in the Bahamas.


The crossing was a mix of everything – started out calm; the waves were big but long, so we weren’t being tossed around.   We were still sailing with the McLinns, and these photos show how their boat disappeared almost completely when we went into a trough!

We had mixed conditions all the way across to Cape Canaveral, with the wind and waves picking up after dark – we ended a tough night by tying up on a fuel dock at about 2.30 am.   We woke up to a view that confirmed yes, we were in Florida!!


Cleared customs and were on our way to Titusville to wait out yet more bad weather.    It was a treat being able to grocery shop using our credit card and paying American prices!!     We spent a night at Marineland then made our way to St. Augustine; when we went through the Bridge of Lions at 6.30 there were four Beneteaus in a row (including us).   A tribute to the company that nurtured us here in the US.    Then to Fernandina Beach (where the mooring field has been re-opened after the hurricane, you can land your dinghy but the marina is still closed).


Bugs!   Whether they are midges, no-see-ums or mosquitos, they are everywhere.   We carried bug spray with us wherever we went in the Bahamas and travelling through Florida you see that they have come up with a solution to being able to live outdoors without being bitten.

Of course, there are other ways (less restricting, but perhaps not as effective) of getting rid of them.


What I have realized is that I wasn’t taking photographs of everything as I did on the way down – partly because we were moving so quickly; tie up late and leave early in the morning – but partly because I took so many on the way down that it seemed repetitive.    So a brief summary – we went from Fernandino to Jekyll Island to refuel, then we went out into the ocean at St. Simons sound and back in at Royal Sound to head to Beaufort SC.   It was already late and we did four hours up the waterway in the dark, seeing day markers on the radar and the chart, and then finding them with a spotlight and moving on to the next one.   Stressful but we worked so well together!    Put down anchor in Beaufort at 4.30 am!!  A lovely day in Beaufort SC and a most delicious dinner at Wren restaurant (write it down in case you ever find yourself there!).    Then on to Charleston where we met Ben and Sallie du Buisson and caught up over another delicious dinner (it is diet, diet, diet when we get home!).

At one stage a group of paddlers approached us – as we went by they swung around and tucked in behind us – kept up with our 7 knots for a long way!


Having given up on photographing dolphins, I decided that pelicans were interesting.   Amazing watching them flying just inches above the water, hardly ever having to flap their wings.   And the way they dive bomb to catch fish!   We saw a most interesting event – a group were fishing on a small boat; we saw that one of them had caught something and as they were reeling the fish in, a pelican (in an amazingly well timed move) swooped in and grabbed the fish as it broke the surface of the water!!    The angler was equally determined to keep his catch and there was a struggle – the angler won!

At one stage we were looking for a green buoy – only as we got closer did we see that the white buoy had once been green – this is how it happens …


After Charleston we stopped at Georgetown and then anchored at  Butler Island.   This part of the trip is the most beautiful – the Waccamaw River winds through the Waccamaw River Heritage Preserve with fresh spring growth contrasting against the dark evergreens.

I spotted a turtle sunning itself on a log – had to run down and get my camera.   By the time I had it ready, the turtle was behind us – and I couldn’t believe it when I saw an alligator right next to it!

Very soon afterwards I spotted another one …

Makes you realize not all is calm and idyllic!    In this stretch of the waterway the water is almost black – a result of the tannic acid leached from leaves and other organic matter.  Were we crazy to leave the one for the other?

Ospreys were everywhere – it is amazing where they will decide to make a home –

From Butler Island we went to Myrtle Beach Yacht Club at Little River.   After MBYC we went past Wrightsville Beach.   Just after, where the sound came in the from the Ocean, at a point where we had touched bottom on the way down, we went hard aground!    There was a dredger working and a narrow gap between it and some docks; it was Saturday with tons of day-tripper boats, so it was two way traffic through this small space and lots of shoaling.   We went too far to the right and there was no getting off.   We sat there while the tide went out, and sat there while it came back in again – until 8.40pm (more than five hours!) when we could finally lift off.   Nothing to be done – the boat lay over almost on its side and then you realized there are two kinds of people in the world – those that barreled by, creating a wake that bounced us on the bottom (curses and shaking fists for them) and then those that were concerned and wanted to help (jokes and laughs with them).   On that stretch of water there is nowhere to stop, so we did the night time waterway thing – again – until we could find a place to anchor.

From there to Oriental, then to Belhaven for two nights for more weather passing by, and a meal with John and Denise at our very very favorite restaurant – Spoon River.  (Another one to write down – maybe a road trip for us one day)    From Belhaven to Coinjock, and from there to where we are now, at Hampton VA.   Lots of bridges – we had to time some of them that opened on the hour and half hour – but as we got near to Norfolk we were caught by TWO lifting railway bridges that are usually always open.   We learned that when they do come down, it’s a long wait!

Passing through Norfolk (in daylight this time) it struck me how children’s toys are modeled on real things (doesn’t that covered tower on the war ship in dry dock look like a robot you’d find on the toy shelves in Target?)

A huge container ship passed us by – imagine our surprise as we came alongside and saw this:

Jonathan and Anne came down from Deltaville – Garth helped with a job that Jonathan had to do in Hampton and we had dinner with them afterwards – and now we are waiting, again, for this gale force storm to pass by so that we can make our way up the Chesapeake and home again.

George Town – and back!

George Town was the southern-most destination on our 6-month cruise.   Our turn around point.   And we were finally there!    We had heard so much about it – many of the cruisers down the waterway go there first – it is said that the weather and the water is warmer in December and January.   Some people put down anchor and spend the whole winter there.   There certainly is a lot organized – yoga, water aerobics (I participated; it was a lot of fun), beach volleyball, bridge, swap meets, dances, happy hours, trivia evenings – you name it.   Some people call it “summer camp for seniors”.   Like anything, you can join in or not, according to your style.

Mel and Gary were already there, as were our friends John and Denise McLinn on Sloop John Dee II with their two border collies, Bella and Bing.   We anchored at Monument Beach (there are three main anchoring beaches – Monument, Chat and Chill and Sand Dollar – each with their own vibe).   At night the anchorage becomes a little mini-city as people switch on their anchor and cockpit lights.   One of the things we learned is that if you go ashore at night you need to leave an identifying light on in your cockpit so you can identify your boat when you come back in the dark!   Lots of strings of multicolored Christmas lights; many of those multicolored solar inflatable lights with a flashing program  …. Whatever it takes!

You can also anchor across Elizabeth Harbour at the town, but we found it easier to just dinghy across when necessary.   We had looked at the charts for hours while we were preparing for the trip, but it is quite different when you actually arrive and the names take on a reality.    John and Denise’s dogs are really well trained  – they will sit, lie, come, go, fetch etc. on demand and they can confidently take them wherever they go.


The town is built around a completely contained small harbor.  You approach through a gap under a bridge – you have to line yourself up for the entry so that boats coming out can see you and wait; only room for one at a time.   Once inside you park your dinghy on the floating dock – it is as busy as a mall parking lot!    There are no marinas with gas docks; if you need fuel you cross to the Shell dock and take your containers.   Everything is safe, nothing ever gets stole, and the boaters all look out for one another.  A great community.

The buildings, as you can imagine, are full of tropical color.   Where else would you find the town administrative buildings painted bright pink?  A blue and yellow municipal dock – and a grocery store without any signs – but there’s no mistaking what it is.  Garth was delighted to find a coffee shop that served him a good latte – and they also had great quiche, pastries, muffins etc.   He was home!


We had a bit of excitement when an anchored boat, without owners aboard, dragged in a strong wind.   Just missed Sloop John Dee, and five blasts on the airhorn by Denise brought a bevy of dinghies to help.   The boat had got caught in someone else’s anchor chain and it took some sorting out.   Garth managed to get the engine started – unfortunately the anchor windlass didn’t work in the “up” direction, so it took some strength and management to get everything untangled   and the boat safely re-anchored.   Never a dull day!

Eventually we decided that if we were to be home by mid April, it was time to leave.   We climbed to the top of Monument Hill and the photos we got just didn’t do justice to the wonderful view from there.  And a beautiful beach on the ocean side rewarded us for the climb!

We said a sad goodbye to Mel and Gary – they had friends meeting them in George Town and were not on the same schedule as us.   John and Denise left at the same time and we sailed up to our favorite – Black Point.   A visit to the great laundry where we sit outside and socialize while we all use the wifi to catch up with emails etc.; a visit to Lorraine’s mother who bakes the best bread; and a reality check as we watched the sharks circle as the fish were cleaned on the dock!

The next night was spent at Staniel Cay with the obligatory visit to the swimming pigs.   Sadly, the week before we were there, they had found seven of them dead.   There was a lot of speculation about the cause – evidently irresponsible people are known to feed them alcohol and other inappropriate foods.   But the inquiry revealed that it was because of the ingestion of excess beach sand.   People who bring food throw it onto the beach (I can understand that!! – I wouldn’t be holding my hand out) but it means that the pigs eat the sand with the food and it interfered with their digestive system.   It has never been a problem before but  the number of people coming over to feed them has increased and they are talking about putting restrictions on feeding them.   A sad tale of the demise of a fun event.

As we were dinghying over, a big noise and we saw this seaplane landing – right among the boats!   He motored over to the beach and cut his engine a bit too soon.   Never fear, Garth was near!!    He took a rope and towed the plane to the beach so that the passengers could be discharged – the pilot was very grateful.   A quick visit to the pigs, lots of photos, and back they got and took off again to the next attraction.


From the anchorage we could see all the big boats that had anchored in deeper water – they have fancy tenders that bring their passengers ashore, as well as a plethora of jet skis, speedboats etc. for their guests’ pleasure.    It was sobering to think about how much money was tied up in and around Staniel Cay!!


Another front was due to arrive, so we headed up to Cambridge Cay – our other favorite spot!   It is part of the Exuma Park where nothing can be caught or taken away, and so walks and rides are always interesting and rewarding.

We saw this little beach tucked behind some rocks and decided to investigate.   We were surprised to find a beautiful extensive sand flat behind the rocks.   The dogs loved it!

We had to scurry back as we saw rain clouds coming our way – lovely fresh water washed down the boat, and it was followed by the promising rainbow again.


All the time we had been in the Bahamas we had been hearing about this “other” Jabulani – could hear them calling and being called on the radio etc.   Finally we found them in Cambridge.   Apparently their first boat had been a catamaran bought in South Africa, so when they bought their new boat, they kept the name.  They had also been hearing about us, and so it was mutually good to meet!    (Our Jabulani wants to be their Jabulani when she grows up!!)


We were there for three nights – some Mexican Train domino evenings with friends – and then on the last night we went to a beach where there was an unobstructed view of the horizon – determined that we would see the green flash.   Do you think we did or not?

We left the next morning and made the crossing over to Eleuthera.   Tied up in the marina and had yet another spectacular evening on the beach watching the sunset.   It is going to be hard to leave all of this behind.   The marina is very close to the Cape Eleuthera Island School where high school juniors and seniors can spend a semester learning and practicing marine ecology.   It sounds fantastic and we were sad to be there on a weekend – would love to have taken a tour.

From there we sailed the whole of the next day up Eleuthera and through Current Cut – again – and back to Spanish Wells.   We are on a mission and moving quickly now.    Another couple of nights in the marina as yet another front moved through.   We were staging to cross back to the Abacos as soon as possible.   Still find these “pole sitting” birds so interesting.   The one on the right brings to mind a retired military type, with arms crossed behind him and knobbly knees extending from his big baggy shorts while he surveys the passing ship traffic – kind of like my Dad!!!!


At the moment the boat is back in Hope Town – we had a good crossing, big waves, but the wind was in the right direction.   You have to take advantage when the conditions are right or you can find yourself sitting for weeks waiting for another opportunity.   We hope to go to the Barefoot Man concert at Nippers on Guana Cay (apparently a not-to-be-missed event, but I’m not sure about 1000+ people shoulder to shoulder?!) and then head up to Green Turtle and from there make our way back to the mainland and up the waterway.   Hard to believe it will be over soon, but we are both ready to get back to “normal” life and our children and grandchildren – and home, and big showers with lots of water, and grocery stores, and dishwashers and double door refrigerators …………


Bahamian Dinghy Racing

We were lucky enough to be in the Exumas for the 5F’s – First Friday in February at Farmers Festival.   It is a three day affair.   I was told (but I’m not sure) that it was arranged by the Government in an attempt to get people from all the islands together in one place to celebrate – and mix up the gene pool a little!!    Perhaps “fornication” should be added to the 5 F’s – but don’t quote me on that!   Whatever the purpose, we had been hearing about it all the way down the islands.   When we were in Black Point we saw their entry “Smashie” and from then, our money was on them.   There were a couple of boats in various stages of completion; one had the keel plank laid and the transom starting to take shape; another had the planking all laid up and was ready for finishing off.  (You might need to click on some of the photos to see the detail).

We sailed down to Little Farmers Cay on Friday in an armada of boats all heading in the same direction.  We anchored near Oven Rock, a little away from the main beach; a long dinghy ride in, but it looked like a zoo down there.


The whole event took place off the beach at Ty’s Sunset Bar and Grill.   There was a DJ pumping out music at decibels that destroyed eardrums and the kitchen was churning out food with no let-up.   A great atmosphere, and by now we had met (or at least recognized from previous stops) many of the cruisers,  so it was like a reunion.

One race on Friday (I think it was a practice) and three on Saturday.   There was no wind for the Friday race and the start line was close to where we had anchored so  Garth went over in the dinghy and took some photos. We don’t think that much attention is paid to rules – some were rocking the boat, some were sculling – whatever took you to the finish!    Which was simply a mark laid in the water – no line to cross.

Some of the boats were well equipped – some were simply glad to be out there …

The winds were fresher for Saturday’s races – we went out to watch the start.   The booms on these boats extend way beyond the transom – we found a boat called H2O (same as our Harbor 20!) and helped them undo their sail as their support boat was bringing a different one.  The skipper of H2O was not a young man and I’m sure he brought lots of experience to the team.  They were certainly in there with the top guys.

There were numerous sail changes as the wind picked up.   Unlike the formal start sequences that we are used to, everyone just waits, anchored, sails down, in a (sort of) straight line until all the boats are ready.   There is a dinghy flying a Bahamian flag which runs up and down the line, the race officer shouting out the course to three or four boats at a time as he goes – once it seems as though everyone has their chosen sail on, and knows the course, he waves a flag in the air – and it’s all systems go.

Some go well, some go badly.    It seems as though the more competitive boats pull themselves forward on their anchors without raising their sails immediately.   This gives them some momentum and clear air, and only then do they pull up the sail.    For the rest, it is chaos!!!   The booms are so long that some hit the water as the sail goes up – the helmsman loses steerage and there is banging and crashing and shouting …..

dsc04622We zoomed down to the first mark and it was just as interesting.   So much has to happen and everyone is converging at the same time.    Boats coming up to the mark just yelling “starboard” continually, whether or not they have water on the mark – how there is not more damage or people in the water I’ll never know!    These guys are really good sailors.



Our Smashie was one of the better boats and came second overall I believe – we backed a winner!   This is all done for cash prizes and very impressive silver trophies, so they are all “in it to win it” that’s for sure.


The winner was Whitty K – we had chatted to them on the way to the start and they had seemed to be pretty confident.   We waited a while for the prizegiving but as it got dark we thought about our long dinghy ride back and decided it was time to go.  What a fabulous event.





Continuing South

WE have finally reached Georgetown!   Our most southerly destination – we have made it.   What have we done since I last wrote?

After waiting out the front that passed though us at Spanish Wells we had a wonderful day sail down to Rock Sound, which is at the bottom of Eleuthera.   You always have a mental picture of a place – and it’s never right!!!   The cruising guides had painted Rock Sound as a thriving community; what caught our eye was that there was a coffee bar with wifi – we imagined sipping a good cup while catching up with emails, banking and other communications.

It seems that Rock Sound has come upon hard times – a lot of the places are closed and things look very run down.   There was a most beautiful Anglican church right on the beach – imagining worshipping there??   There was free coffee and free wifi at the grocery store … not quite what we had been dreaming about!    So we went back to the boat and cooked on board.  The sunsets are equally beautiful no matter what onshore amenities there are!


Next morning we went walking around again.   They have a huge blue hole almost right in the middle of town.    We heard that they had done some dye tests and found that it opened to the ocean a couple of miles offshore!!   They have stocked it with fish that come swimming over when they see visitors arrive.


We had seen a sign showing the road to the ocean beach – and a bar and restaurant.   It said 1.5 miles – we decided to go.   After two miles (black tar road, extreme heat = sweating and sore feet!) we reached the beach road, but no sign of the restaurant and bar.   We turned left for a while and were about to give up when we saw another couple coming towards us.   They had been there before and led us – we were so close and if they hadn’t come along, we would have turned around.   So grateful we didn’t – we found Northside Cottages and Restaurant, Rose Gibson – Proprietor.   What a delightful person.   She cooks to order, and so started cracked conch and coleslaw from scratch when we got there.   She poured us some much  needed cold water and suggested we take a walk on the beach while she got ready.   Her view is just amazing and the water, when you get down there, is almost transparent it is so clear.


The other couple did the same – after we got back from our walks we started talking (as you do) and it turns out that they had spent four years in Annapolis, had bought their boat from us through Teta, and she had worked at Fawcetts when Kate worked there!!   What a small world.  They had spent a lot of time in Rock Sound and their tales redeemed the place for us.   The best was meeting Rosie.   She is a widow and has a home in Freeport but runs the restaurant and cabins in Rock Sound on her own.  She has 5 children, one son living in Freeport, the other son at college in Canada, the girls (all graduated from college) living in Canada, Australia and Switzerland and she travels around the world visiting them.   One of her daughters married a doctor who worked at a hospital in Johannesburg – her grandson was born there and she has visited a number of times!   What a surprise!   She showed us her photograph album – presenting flowers to the Queen, and also met Nelson Mandela on his visit to the Bahamas shortly after his release.     She said that she and her husband had been educators in Freeport – they must have been well recognized.   You can see from the photos that she is very ordinary in appearance, but she is so much more than you would expect when you meet her.dsc04364

Another surprise there was when she told us she had a piece of the space shuttle under her deck.   Garth went down and found this – we aren’t sure what it is, but Garth thinks it is titanium, a pressurized helium tank.   Perhaps from one of the ones that exploded?


From Rock Sound, we made our way down to the Exumas.   With fairly strong wind, we decided to head straight to Waderick Wells …. which is simply – paradise!!    There are just no words for the clarity and color of the water.   In the north mooring field, there is a deep channel which carves its way through sandbanks and you pick up there, according to your depth and length.   We waited there while a front passed through and were happy to share a cruiser’s happy hour on Saturday night.


There’s a whale skeleton on the beach – it died in 1995 as a result of trying to digest plastib bags.   Waderick Wells is in Exuma Park where you are not allowed to pick up anything that you find, or leave anything behind – no trash.   It is pristine and we went snorkelling on a coral reef with tons of fish.   We don’t have an underwater camera but took some pictures through our glass bottomed bucket – worked quite well I thought!

Garth walked to the top of Boo Boo Hill and left a piece of driftwood with our boat name on it – a cruiser’s tradition.

The next day we walked along another path and found equally beautiful scenery …

We were sitting on our boat late one afternoon when we saw the Loretta Anne come in and try to pick up one of the outside moorings.


Although they had a carbon fiber boat hook (!!!), it was not long enough to reach from the foredeck down to the mooring ball in the water.   After trying several times, and trying unsuccessfully to reverse up to the mooring ball, Garth jumped in our dinghy and went to help.   They dropped down their mooring lines and he was able to thread them though and attach a retrieval line.    Saved the day!!    They stopped by later with a pretty turtle bag with two bottles of delicious pinot noir to say thank you!    (Google the Loretta Anne, it’s pretty impressive!)  We shared the wine with Mel and Gary and their friends Dick and Kay when we went over to share a tenderloin that Dick and Kay had brought with them from Canada – so spoiled!!   Another wonderful evening on Second Sojourn and new friendships made.

We had other boats pass us by on this trip –


We went to Cambridge Cay – passing … Island, which is owned by the Aga Khan.   A bit of a controversy with the local Bahamians as to what the government is allowing him to do on the island, when they are trying so hard to keep it all natural and pristine.   His house is in the middle of the island with amazing views; a beach site ready for parties; and housing for his staff and boats.  Not a bad job if you could get it!!!


We left  on a very rainy day – multiple drenching downpours on our way down to Black Point.   Mel and Gary were ahead of us sailing into the black clouds.  We arrived in Black Point with God’s promise of no more!

We loved Black Point.   The local people are so friendly and welcoming – great local restaurants and a GREAT laundry – lots of machines and the owner bakes doughnuts and carrot cake!   (Your priorities change when you are cruising!!)  We stayed there for a couple of days and then headed down to Farmers Cay for the 5F’s – First Friday in February at Farmer’s Festival!   It was amazing and I took tons of pictures – a separate blog – soon!!!

After that we made our way back to Black Point to watch Super Bowl on Sunday night.   A wonderful experience with lots of locals who were even more vocal than Garth!!    With no skin in the game, we were rooting for the underdog which seemed like a great idea …. for most of the game.    Oh well, perhaps next year the Ravens will be in it.

Stopped at another beach on our way down to Georgetown – just too amazing.   And a picture of a ray that was next to our dinghy – you never know what you are going to find

So that’s where I’m leaving this blog – we are learning all about Georgetown (they call it day camp for seniors – lots organized activities!!!)   Will keep you posted.

Another one …. so soon?

I don’t mean to bombard you with blogs – just that I have more pictures and if I don’t get it sent while we are at a place with wifi, they just accumulate and the next blog takes forever!  Also, I want to say thank you to everyone who comments and leaves messages – I do see them but can’t load the blog to reply until the next time we get to wifi.   But I appreciate the support; it’s nice to know that friends are enjoying following along.   I get a bit bamboozled by technology – I don’t know how to get back to things – so please know that I am seeing and appreciating your input!

We knew there was a big front coming and decided to head a little south to Hatchet Bay, a completely enclosed harbor, and ride it out there.  You have to go through a narrow cut where the tide is extremely strong.  You’re supposed to go through at a slack tide but I think we miscalculated a little – our boat speed was 6.4 knots but the current was ripping us through at 10.5!!   As we came through the other side we were delivered into a beautiful sound with a sand bank, people paddling and incredibly clear water – you can see the bottom clearly at 20 ft.


The coastline is rocky and sheer – you can sail along very close to shore and the rock formations are amazing.   There was one house that we both decided we wanted – a great all round porch and a stairway down to the water with a ladder to get in and out.   I’m sure there are many lobsters down along that ledge, just waiting to be our dinner!  We almost went past the entrance to Hatchet Harbour – you will see how narrow it is from the sunset pics that follow.

We were hoping to tie up to a mooring ball to ride out the storm.   No such luck – they were in terrible shape, with no maintenance having been done for two years.   The guy in charge of them said he wouldn’t use one without having an anchor out as well!   We made the decision to stay overnight at anchor and then head back to a marina in Spanish Wells to ride out the storm.   The trip down to Hatchet Bay, although technically a waste of time, was an absolute gift because the next morning we had the most spectacular sunrise – not a breath of air and absolutely breathtaking.  And the “behind” pictures are just as special.




I couldn’t help imagining the gulls singing along to Y-M-C-A !!!!!

The day was perfect.   As we motored back to the cut it was so still that there was no horizon – two fisherman seemed suspended in air.   As always, I was drawn to the patterns in the water, and as always, there were interesting craft that passed us by.


Spanish Wells is a great little town.   We tied up in the marina and while the weather was still good, rented a golf cart and explored.   An interesting fact was told to us – unlike many islands where the young people move away, there are enough jobs and activity here to keep them, and you can sense this as you drive around and see neat homes and neighborhoods.   Down on the waterfront the buildings are fun ….

and water transport is used very creatively!   The cargo on the shrimp boat appeared to be scrap metal.   But they don’t take all the scrap metal away, much of it remains, rusting, all over the island.

We stopped at a beach bar, and saw some beautiful beaches, and even an osprey who was wintering here (not sure that the wiring on that pole would pass code in the US!!)


The marina filled up with like-minded cautious cruisers as the storm approached.   We were grateful to be tied up securely to a dock – the winds, as forecast, gusted to 50 knots and it was sustained at about 35 knots for a long while.   It poured with rain; we had thunder and lightening – everything on the boat got a good wash!

It is still blowing some, but we will leave today and go back to anchor at Royal Island  and then back down Eleuthera, heading to the Exumas by the end of the week we hope.










Land Ahoy – Eleuthera!!

After Kate, Will and Penny left we spent a few days in Marsh Harbor getting the boat straight (!!), re-provisioning and doing laundry. Only when you are cruising do you appreciate the appliances you have at home –large fridge, freezers and most of all washer/dryers to use at your whim. At $5.50 a load to wash and another $5.50 to dry, you think twice before tossing the slightly worn top or pants into the washing pile! Besides the expense, not many places offer laundry facilities because water is a precious commodity down here, so laundry day is a big deal.

There was a humdinger of a storm forecast for the 7th so we scuttled over to Hope Town to hunker down. It blew and it blew and it blew. After the big storm, the winds stayed strong and there was no chance of heading south for a while. So we explored Elbow Cay by golf cart for a day.

(The boat in the picture on the right is a Nicholson 31 – the same design as the Morgan 31 we were building in Durban in 1981 and in which we planned to cross the ocean with the two children – boy were we optimistic!!   Hats off to our parents for their support in that project – I’m glad things changed and our lives took the path they did!)

We golf-carted down to Tahiti Beach and had a wonderful walk as the tide receded – found three pretty baby conch which had been left high and dry and were waiting for the water to come back in; beautiful sand flats with amazing patterns left behind; and then, as always, on the ocean side: rugged rocks with wild seas.




On to Sea Spray Marina where we had a good lunch (we hear the names of these places every morning on the Cruiser’s Net – VHF Channel 68 where they give you weather updates, sea conditions and everything that is happening around the islands in the Abacos). The highlight of my day was when we stopped at Firefly Resort for a drink and found that there was a manatee at the dock!! He was huge and lumbering and not pretty, but so friendly and I could finally see what one looked like. Gary (who used to train dolphins many years ago and knows such a lot about sea life) went down to pat him, and when another guy on a boat reached out, the manatee flipped over, as though he wanted his chin scratched!! It was a very special day for me.



We did a Trivia night at Captain Jack’s, joined the Sip Sip Sots (which supports animals on Abaco), did a Bingo night, ate on the boat, ate on shore, watched football when we could – all passing time until the weather changed. We went to a great lecture about Wreckers – it was a government sanctioned profession in the 1800’s.  When ships foundered on the many reefs and rocky shores the wreckers used to go out to save the crews and salvage the cargo. A lucrative business all round as the government took a percentage of the spoils and it was a major source of income for the Bahamas islands. (It was different to piracy as the goods would have been lost had the wreckers not gone out – pirates were basically thieves). Looking at some of the coastline it is not surprising that there were so many ships sunk!

Muffin and the talking dog Lucy took us on a great walk along the lighthouse side of the island where no cars can go – she collects driftwood and shells and all kinds of bric-a-brac which she crafts into items for sale in support of various island charities. Her husband Will, owner of Mac & Cheese (which is anchored on the beach on the water’s edge so that the planks stay swollen and there are no leaks) helped Garth craft a step for our deep-drafted dinghy so that getting in and out was not as difficult.


Finally there was a forecast for a break in the weather! Time to go. We set off south and went into Little Harbor – one of the more famous, almost land-locked anchorages in the Abacos. In the 1950s a professor from Smithy College, Massachusetts, Randolph Johnston, decided he wanted to take his family away from the rat race (was it a rat race even then?) and headed South for the Caribbean and then to the Pacific. After spending some time travelling around the Bahamas he decided he didn’t need to go any further than the Abacos and anchored in Little Harbor. He and his family lived in the caves and set up a bronze casting foundry on the island – he is famous for his bronzes and although he has now passed on, his son Peter carries on the family tradition. It is a place that most people visit, with beautiful diving just outside the completely contained harbor.

Again, we went for a beach-combing walk along the ocean side – we were struck by the different rocks that make up the shore line.   It is very rugged with no delicate shells – everything gets smashed to pieces and only the strongest survive.

The sea creatures all have to cling on for dear life – but there is always beauty to be found in the minutiae!


We spent a night there and had to leave the next morning in order to get out of the entrance on the high tide. We joined the armada that had gathered behind Lynyard Cay – everyone had been holed up waiting for a weather gap to head south, and Monday looked to be the day.



At 6.00 am we heard the first boats on the radio as they were going through the cut in the reef – their report was “rolly, but no breaking waves”. We saw the lights of all the boats moving in the direction of the cut – I think about 15 boats left – we were off!  I don’t have a single picture of the crossing.  Although it was do-able, it was not pleasant. It was about a 50 mile trip – the seas had not laid down yet and the waves were 10’+, with winds constantly at 20 knots, gusting up to 25 at times. We had two reefs in our main and the genoa half way out – the boat sailed beautifully like that, but the waves were beam on and so we were riding up and falling down – the whole way! I was not feeling great – fortunately I had made some sandwiches and various things early in the morning and packed a bag for the cockpit. I sat and lay huddled for most of the way – Garth was a trooper and did it all himself. He took a number of direct hits from huge waves that left him drenched – fortunately it wasn’t a freezing day. Finally we saw land and soon we were in the lee of Eleuthera – seas calmed and we were there! We dropped the anchor at Royal Island and just chilled.
Next day we did some chores and then went ashore. There are ruins of a once-beautiful plantation that had been built in 1937 and then abandoned. It was so sad to see everything broken down and overrun with vines and graffiti. The thing that amazed us was the floors – tiles in all the rooms that were still there, perfect, grout intact and not cracked or chipped. Must have been some special craftsmen who laid them. We walked all over the island – enough exercise to make up for the completely sedentary day before!



This morning we sailed over to Spanish Wells. A commercial town that supplies more than 50% of the Bahamas with lobster and fish. The water here, despite the fishing boats and commerce, is crystal clear.  We will eat ashore tonight (about time!) and do some exploring of the island in a golf cart tomorrow. And from here, more heading south and seeing what we find. Another big front is expected this weekend so we will make sure we are somewhere protected.  In the meantime, the sunsets remain spectacular!!




Happy New Year

It’s 2017.   The dust is settling, the Christmas decorations are being taken down (hopefully!) and I hope that the new year holds happiness and health for all of our friends.

We booked a flight out of the Bahamas on December 10th so that we would be home in time to celebrate Penny’s 4th birthday on the 11th – should have been easy.   But there was a front coming through and low cloud here, so the incoming flight could not land.   After countless delays and uncertainty, they finally cancelled the flight that night – luckily we had our boat to go back to; others weren’t so lucky.   We finally left at lunch time on the 11th – to get to Atlanta and find that there were no seats on the connecting flight into Baltimore.   We went on standby and a couple of planes left without us.   Finally we were called up just as the doors were about the close.   As she printed the boarding pass, the couple whose seats we were taking rushed up to the gate (she had been “shopping” and lost track of time!)   Feeling bad, I grabbed the boarding pass, put my head down and scuttled down the boarding ramp, determined that we would get on that flight!    So we made Penny’s birthday, even though it was 8.30pm before we got there!

We had a whirlwind trip home – Christmas time is always so busy and we caught up with friends, spent lots of time with Will and Penny, and worked hard at doing all the things we needed to set ourselves up for being away again for another four months.   I wish I could be more casual about paperwork, but I had my nose in the computer for a lot of our visit.   That way I can relax now, knowing everything is “under control”.

We went to the school Christmas concert and loved it – each year the kindergarten class are the main characters.  So Penny’s group featured as bell ringers, and Will’s class presented Christmas songs with words and actions.   All so adorable –  St Anne’s is an amazing school.



We loved being at home – the swans arrived in our absence and Garth picked up his share of the feeding.  We are so lucky to have the privilege of having these beautiful birds in front of our house every year.   We counted about 95 at a time this year – with quite a few cygnets among the group.



Christmas was low key – I made the Beef Wellington which seems to have become our tradition.   The day was mild and beautiful – we were able to open the big door and weren’t cold at all!


We have great neighbors – we routinely meet on our front lawns with a glass of wine in hand as the sun goes down – Christmas day was no exception, and mother nature obliged with a humdinger sunset.


And then it was time for the big adventure!   Kate, Will and Penny flew back with us on the 29th to escape the cold and see in the new year.  Unfortunately our luggage never made the connection in Atlanta and so we lost a precious day waiting for it to be delivered.   The kids were not phased too much – we had to find them a summer alternative to their long sleeves and shoes and socks which was an interesting exercise – but they swam happily in the marina pool in their underwear and ate their first conch fritters with relish!


We wanted to spend New Year’s Eve in Hope Town so made our way over as soon as we could on the 31st.   We went to the Reef Bar which is on the ocean side of the island with a fabulous beach and the most incredible clear turquoise  water.

We had an early lunch – opposite a cemetery which had a very steep hill which was an irresistable invitation to run down with hair flying!   There was a gate a little way away, but they found a couple of loose planks in the fence and did what kids do …


There was a junior Junkanoo scheduled for the afternoon – we found a playground to keep them busy while waiting.   Will is at that age where he jumps and swings and climbs on everything possible.   Penny keeps up, but with an age-appropriate reserve!   The Junkanoo was small but full of energy and such fun!


Time to go back to the boat and take a nap to be ready for the celebration.   We managed to book the last table at the Harbour’s Edge restaurant for the early sitting.   A delicious 5-course meal – our entree choice was Surf and Turf with lobster – yum!   They provided headgear – Will immediately adopted a Humphrey Bogart persona – Penny wanted the man’s hat rather than the feathery crown which they gave for the girls!   Afterwards we went down to meet up with Mel and Gary and the boys sported the headgear I had bought for the kids while sharing some Franschoek wine!!


New Year’s Day – my birthday! – and it was time to move on.   We went over to Nippers on Guana Cay for their traditional Sunday pork roast buffet.   The children had seen our photos and were looking forward to swimming in the pool with the pirate on the bottom!  The water was freezing apparently and they got in, but clung to Kate – not sure if it was really that cold or whether they were beleiving Garth’s stories about the pirate getting them.   But they didn’t let go for a minute.

It became shoulder-to-shoulder crowded at Nippers so we moved down to the beach at Grabbers – more swimming, eating and drinking!   Will and Penny donned the wetsuits which Chris and Jean Humpreys had kindly passed on to them and went for their first snorkeling lesson in “real” water.   They loved it and we got some real surfer-looking photos!

Every day down here seems to end with a memorable sunset ….


Next day we set off to see the swimming pigs.   We had to go around Whale Cut into the ocean.  Fortunately the swell was reasonable and the passage unremarkable – except for a float plane which took off right next to us!   By the time I got my camera it was already in the air, but was an interesting experience for Will and Penny

Noname Cay where the pigs live was the highlight of the trip!   Craig Russel who takes official care of them had arrived with food, and they were eating from the trough.   There were a number of 7-week old piglets who were just charming!   After a little encouraging, Will and Penny both fed them some of our bread, and by the end were petting and patting with confidence!   Craig had brought some coconuts which he opened with a machete – not something that you would ever experience in Annapolis!   The kids ate coconut right out of the shell before it was given to the pigs – who cleaned them out!   They drink from pipes attached to a huge water tank – Piggyville is alive and thriving.


The tide was high and the water was pristine – more snorkelling for the kids and they saw fish swimming by.   Garth found a live conch and they were a little unsure about the animal living inside.   I thought it looked a lot like Kate …..

All round it was a gorgeous day, and a perfect end to a great visit.   From there we went back to Green Turtle Club – more swimming in the pool and then a delicious final meal together.   We loved having them on board – this visit was a highlight for us and we hope we instilled a sense of wonder, adventure and wanderlust in them – that the world is a place full of things to see and do and experience.

This blog has been all about family – from here we set off for Eluthera and the Exumas next week, to places we have not visited before and our own experiences to be enjoyed.