Wednesday, January 27, 2016

El Nino is making us play Hide and Seek for anchorages!

From the last blog, someone emailed me and asked what are sea beans which we try to find on the beach? So I will explain. They are a seed or a fruit that has made a sea voyage. They can come from the Caribbean, Mexico, South America and other countries. 
Various beans found and bracelets I made with the bay beans.

 The Sea Heart bean which we have found the most, comes from the long, twisting pods of the monkey ladder vine from the rain forests of the Central and South American tropics. People will sand the rough gray like substance off and underneath you get a beautiful shiny mahogany color. One of the beans we found is already quite shiny. People like to use them in making jewelry. 

The Hamburger bean looks like a hamburger, with a brown to reddish brown outer covering and a dark band around the middle. Al finds most of the beans and he found the one pictured. They a more rare than the heart beans, so we do not find many. These Hamburger beans come from a spiny pod hanging on long stems from tropical rain forest vines native to the American tropics and West Indies.
The one lighter colored pod is either a Coin Pod or an Antidote Vine. I am not quite sure but from looking in the book Florida's Living Beaches, they look the closest for identification purposes to those mentioned.
Hamburger Bean

The small beans you see are called Bay Beans. They are found in hot dog shaped pods growing on dune vines and are dull when fresh. The older beans are shinier. I made some bracelets with them.
People into jewelry making are those that desire the beans and pods. I have seen them for sale on the internet. So that is my explanation for sea beans.

We left the anchorage at Red Shank and went to the town side to get water and use wifi to do the last blog. By the time we got to Monument beach it was rather crowded and so had to anchor further out than we like. We did some rocking and rolling that night which I did not like, but it improved so we stayed. I got to go to water aerobics which was well attended as you can see. It is a very good workout!
A warm morning so lots of women and some men came!
In the afternoon we went for a hike and took notice of some wild life.
Ospreys are in the Bahamas too!
This osprey stayed put which surprised us when we walked by. We are wondering if it is one of the pair of osprey who had a nest on top of the monument at Monument Beach. The nest unfortunately blew down in the dorecho a few weeks back. It had two baby ospreys in it. One died and the other is being cared for and fed by a women at a nearby resort because the parent ospreys abandoned it.
On the same walk Al spotted this humming bird. Can you find it? It blends in quite well with the foliage.
Humming bird at rest.
Enjoying a night out at local resort for dinner and Texas Hold'em
That evening, Robin on Cookie Monster encouraged us to go to St. Francis Resort to have dinner and to play Texas Holdem. We had a group of eight of us and one of the couples had a business holding Texas Hold'em parties at various restaurants and bars all over the country and even went international. So with a few pointers from them and reading the rules on the internet before we left, we played our first time. I was very intimidated being a first timer and sitting down with all men at my table but two ladies finally came to fill in the 9th and 10th seat. With some help from the lady on my right with the coins amounts , I lasted to be the one lady with four men playing. Then when the five other tables were down with four players still in, they combined tables. I made it through the next round, I could not believe it. I got to be in the final round and by the end, it was me against one gentleman who looked like he played poker a lot! Well, he did win, but I came in second winning $55 which payed for our dinner, the $5 per person charge to play and our drinks. I had a great time and want to try it again, but I know that is was just beginners luck that I won my first time playing.

We hung out at Monument the next day expecting to go to an anchorage wide Happy Hour on the beach. We were already to go. I had a lovely hor deuvre to take and just before we got in the dinghy to go, Al and I looked at each other and said, “We should move to Red Shanks now before the anchorage fills up.” Nasty weather was predicted for the next four days. El Nino is just giving us so much west wind which is the worst direction for boaters down here. We got the last spot in a protected hole, so our intuition was right. Our friends on Escape Velocity followed us in but due to their 6 ½ ft. draft they had to stay further out. We went to their boat to share the appetizers we had made for the Happy Hour we did not go to, which ended up being our dinner too.

Walk and Talks on the beach.
So with the winds howling, we did get some walks on a beach. I called a Walk and Talk and several boats showed up. The women walking in one group and the men in the other. We just walked back and forth on the beach to get some exercise and to talk to someone other than our mates.

On one cloudy, windy day, I baked bread for the first time for this trip. I do not like the white squishy bread they often carry at the market. Once in a while they will get in Pepperidge Farm wheat or multi-grain bread at the grocery store but not always.
Baking bread once again.  I have not done it since the last trip.

I had some time to work on my story rug and my pine needle basket. Reading is always a choice too, which is what Al often does if doesn't have any maintenance to do on the boat.

Finally, a boat anchored nearby called Tattoo II invited us and several other boats for a Happy Hour. Even though it was blowing quite a bit, most people chose to come because everyone was getting “cabin fever” from being on their boats so much. It is the same feeling when there is a blizzard and after three or four days you just want to talk to someone other than your spouse! Those up north should know the feeling after this past weekend's snowfall. We had a great time and even danced in the cockpit and some down in the cabin. That is one thing the cruiser's are missing. The Chat 'n Chill bar and restaurant held dances once every two weeks that many of us enjoyed immensly. The owner said their aren't enough boats in the harbor yet. They did a boat count. There were 178 boats this year compared to 262 boats last year. The count is down but plenty for holding dances! Why is the count down? Well, some say because the Canadian dollar is so poor against the US or Bahamian dollar that could be the reason why. Some say because there were lots of fronts last year that it has deterred many cruisers too. Who knows for sure, but for whatever reason, it is down but still seems like plenty of boats to us.

Lisa coming to Blue Heaven with another rainbow in the sky.
We invited our friends, Ben and Lisa, from Saraid to come and watch the play off game. We were both rooting for Denver and so it ended well. We had a delicious veggie lasagna dinner with green salad and red wine and afterward played a card game called Sevens, which lasted until almost 11PM. That was a very late night for us cruisers, but a fun time!
Dinner with Ben and Lisa.
The next day we took up our anchor and finally moved. We went near town so Al could get water and I went to the meat market. There is this nice meat market which opened 2 years ago outside of town about 4 miles. They bring a pickup truck every Monday and Friday at 10:30 for the cruisers. However, they were not there at 10:55am so I said to Lisa, why don't we hitchhike? I was told it is very safe to do. We did, and got a ride almost immediately from a younger Bahamian gentleman who was very nice. We got to the market and the owner said they had been so busy that they had not had time to come and get us. So he filled our orders and then had an employee take us back into town with the truck and he was to pick up the rest of the people who were still there. Now we know how to do it, and if you hitchhike then you can go any day, especially the day after their meats come in!

We then moved over to Monument Beach. After lunch we went to Volleyball Beach to catch up with some of our friends whom we have not seen for awhile. We had Helen and Joe from Dejavu come for drinks and to catch up with what they have been up to the past year. We were surprised that they have their boat up for sail. It is 40' catamaran that Joe built himself in his back yard. It is lovely and I was surprised he could give it up! He said that it was on line and that they had 38 inquiries about it. That is amazing!

After water aerobics in the morning in which I wore my wet suit because the water was down to 64 degrees and a wind blowing, we left once again to return to Red Shanks for the next blow which is once again suppose to have west wind.
Can you see the front coming?
When oh when will this wind stop coming out of the west?!!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Long Island Devastation and a New Anchorage

The first day we got to Long Island we decided to take a walk with Jim and Bess on Destiny to the other side of the island to the beach.  On the walk over we saw a Bahamian Snowman made of of rocks which definitely gave me a good laugh.  Now this kind of snowman I can take or should we call him "Rockman?"

A Bahamian style snowman!
We also saw lots of butterflies enjoying the nectar of some of the flowering weeds.

Those were palm trees.

Furthermore, on our walk we saw  evidence of hurricane Joaquin from the palm trees that had no palms left.  Once at the beach we started looking for treasures of sea glass and sea beans finding some of each.  The beaches as you can see can be beautiful,
The beautiful white sand.

but they also can have lots of trash an especially plastics on them.  Due to the container ship that went down during the hurricane, we have found unopened jars of mayonnaise, hypodermic needles, flea and tick powder for dogs and more.  So the beaches seem dirtier than ever up above the tidal line but give an excellent place for finding sea beans. 

The trash filled sections of beach.
 That evening a dinghy drift happy hour was called and people off of boats but also some of the locals came out to join us.  It was nice to meet some of the homeowners on the island.
Homeowners and cruisers came out for the fun.

Getting to know some of the locals.

We were having so much fun, we stayed until the sun set!

Donations brought by cruisers.
The next day we got to see the remnants of hurricane Joaquin on Long Island first hand because we got a tour of the southern end of the island unexpectedly.  A call out went to cruisers  over the vhf radio for  a work day to help.  They asked cruisers to bring in any supplies they brought to donate, to the dock and they would have a pick-up truck and van to load them in.  One boat, Salty Turtle, brought dinghy load after dinghy load of clothing, toys, household items and bed linens.  Our friends who we sailed over with us , Jim and Bess on Destiny, brought a great supply of tools from his father's house which he had cleaned out before he left. We had brought the kitchen supplies for the home economics department at the high school.
We lined up the dock with all that was donated and filled the van and half of the pick-up with it all.

The van packed full of donations brought by cruisers.

The back wall is totally gone.  No one is living here now.
Then they asked if we wanted to ride along to take it to the distribution center and to meet some of the locals.  All ten of us wanted to go.  We got to see the devastation.  The homes closest to the water were missing there back walls or were totally demolished.

Where there were banana tree groves and gardens, all that was left was salty soil.  Most of the vegetation had died from the salt water, so you could see how much the sea had come up.
It is hard to believe that bananas grew here.

This lady had beautiful gardens and sold plants to homeowners on the island.  This is all she had left.  These were in the house in pots so that is why they survived.  Those who had some money are slowly rebuilding.  It is very difficult to get the supplies and so many still have homes with one section open to the elements.  The October hurricane Joaquin was the first hurricane in 85 years to have the sea rise so high and do so much damage on Long Island. It sat over the southern end for two days which also was a reason for so much being destroyed.  The only positive thing was that it rained for two to three days afterwards which helped dilute the salt, so they hope the soil will be able to produce food again.
After delivering our donations we went to Clarence Town to enjoy a nice lunch at the marina's restaurant,the Outer Edge Grill, which is up and running again.
Couples from the boats, Skeeter, Destiny and Ursa Minor who helped with the donations, enjoying lunch.
We started our day at 9:30am and returned to our boat about 4:30pm.  It isn't called Long Island for nothing!  It is 80 miles long, and the dinghy dock is about in the middle of the island with Clarence Town one of the furthest towns to the south. So it turned into a long but satisfying day!

The next day we headed back to Georgetown via the deep water route so that Al and Jim on Destiny could fish. Once again, nothing! Thank heavens there is a meat market in town!
Love the sky mirrored in the water!
We both decided to go into an area called Red Shanks. It is an enclosed area with very good protection because once again we were going to get winds from the south and west. It was our first time in and rather low tide so we anchored in the first slot of deeper water. We had a beautiful sky that night which I caught in a picture. 

The next day at high tide we moved over the sand bar into the next area good for anchoring. It was not a very pretty pretty day with some rain and wind so projects came out to be done. I totally finished my rug doing the whipping of the edge with yarn. 
It will be put away now until we get home.

My story rug of our vacations.
My next rug hooking project will take probably at least a year. It is about six feet by three feet and is considered a story rug. Again, I took a class in June, and started designing it last January. It is about all the places we have vacationed except the Bahamas. That could be a rug all on its own! I decided to do it by modes of transportation on how we got there. So it is divided by car, plane, chartered boats, cruise liners, bus and riverboats. It will be a wall hanging when it is finished. Don't hold your breath waiting for the finish, it will be a long time!
A close up of our river boat trips and our bus trip to the National Parks.

I finished another sea glass candle holder
Sea glass candle holder.
similar to the ones auctioned at Staniel Cay that got fifty dollars for the benefit.

I also am working on my pine needle basket making some progress adding decorative sliced walnut shells that I got when I ordered my supplies. It is a true learning experience, but it will get done, just slowly.
The base of a pine needle basket.
The next day was breezy but not enough to keep us cruisers from going to shore to get a walk in. We are anchored behind a private island that about six or seven years ago a resort was started to be built but stopped. We got a good walk in but got told by someone in a car on our way back (which we did not expect to see) “Did we know this was a private island?” Robin said yes, but all we wanted was to stretch our legs after being on the boat for a few days and he seemed okay with it. It seems there is work being started again so we won't be able to take walks there anymore.

The following day I got to do some kayaking to get some exercise. It is interesting to see some of the formations along the shore line and saw a few fish beneath the surface. 
You wonder how the soil stays in tack on the top.

The sand is a bit stirred up from all the wind we had

 Later that afternoon we went to a potluck on the beach on a very small uninhabited island nearby. It worked out great with a bonfire and all. We got to meet a lot more cruisers that we did not know. It was a great evening and I don't know if it was the bonfire or the cigars that the guys were smoking, but the bugs were not bad!
The Red Shank Beach Party
Enjoying the bonfire and potluck.

Lisa from Saraid, Bill from Cool Cat and Robin from Cookie Monster having fun!

Hoku learning how to do rug hooking.
The next afternoon I had Hoku, a twelve year old girl from Makana come over to learn how to do rug hooking. She had shown an interest in it the last time we were down when I showed my rugs at the art show during regatta. So I brought my small hooking frame and backing cloth for her and gave her a lesson. She did a fantastic job. I think she was better at keeping the loops even than I am. She hooked her own design of a flip flop and got it done except the background in two and half hours. She was very happy with it and so was I.
Hoku showing her flip flop she hooked.  She will finish the background on her own.
We plan to move closer to Georgetown and maybe back to Red Shanks at the end of the week for more west and south winds.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Once in a Life Time Happening, We Hope!

I did not expect to do a blog so quick but due to the unexpected happening this week, I thought it best to do so. Facebook followers may have knowledge of it, but there is a little more detail here.
With rain and sun we get lots of rainbows.

Our first few days in Georgetown were fairly uneventful. We were doing the typical chores of getting free water at the dinghy dock at Exuma Market, waiting for the supply boat to come in to get fresh produce, milk and bread and getting fuel for our outboard engine. Once again, NO BANANAS! Are we not in the tropics where they grow bananas????
We had some minor squalls come through when we were anchored at Kidd Cove on the town side and had a nice rainbow appear off our stern early in the week.

Putting my last few loops in the rug.
I finished hooking my rug which I started back in April 2015. I am very proud of it. I did 95% of the dyeing of the wool which consist of eight shades of each color. I was complimented by my teacher at the workshop I attended on my dyeing and the hooking of the roses.  It was designed by Pearl McGowan Flynn and called Rapture Plus Four. Now all I have to do is finish the border.

My first fine shaded rug.

We moved over to Sand Dollar beach after getting our food supplies. The next day was rainy and dreary but we had a bright spot in the day when a dolphin kept circling our boat. 
A single dolphin circling our boat and going under our dinghy.

Look how close they are and the dolphins liked it.
 Then about an hour later five dolphins were in the anchorage and people got in and they swam with the dolphins for about a half hour. They were not afraid of the people and came quite close to them. It was fun to watch and a really cool experience for the swimmers.

Later that night the wind switched causing some rocking and rolling in the anchorage, so first thing in the morning we picked up our anchor and once again went over to the town side to Kidd Cove. (We did not know what a fortunate decision this was until later that night.) Since we moved so early we were able to get in fairly close to be protected from the west wind but also from the north. Mid afternoon we went into town to walk because I had not been off the boat for several days. It felt good to stretch our legs. We got over to the other side of town where there is another small market. I said to Al, I just wanted to see what they had, and lo and behold, they had bananas!!!!The banana blight on Blue Heaven was finally ended!

As we were enjoying our drink before dinner celebrating the finishing of my rug and the end to the banana blight, we were commenting on the ominous looking clouds to the south of us and the dark skies to the north of us with some lightning behind all the clouds. We knew squalls were a possibility that day but never expected what we got! As I was just clearing the dinner dishes off the table a gust of wind hit that shook the entire boat. Al jumped up to put on the windlass (for you non-sailors- it allows us to raise the anchor), and start the engine just in case it was necessary. Another gust hit us which made the boat tilt at least 45 degrees knocking my glass of water (thank heavens I did not have red wine that night) onto the settee and some other small things to fly across the cabin. As Al was on the helm, I was trying to close the hatches. Did you ever try to close something when it was blowing 50 knots?! I finally got them closed and went up to be a second set of eyes to watch if other boats were dragging down on us. We saw up to 60 knots at one point with a steady 35-45 for the next two hours! Boats dragged all around us but our rocna anchor held! We love our rocna anchor!!! At one point we saw a huge catamaran which had been way up in the cove dragging down on us, and their anchor finally caught about three boat lengths away. We were so lucky. Others did not fair so well. The other side of the harbor where there are three main anchoring areas, Monument Beach, Volleyball Beach and Sand Dollar Beach had it much worse because they were more congested and were out in the open. We were in the lee of the island. The waves in the harbor were probably 4-5 ft. Someone on that side saw 90 knots on their wind meter. Boats dragged and damaged other boats or had to leave their anchors behind to get out of the way of dragging boats . Lots of dinghies were flipped or lost, as well as many paddles, oars, and fuel tanks. The good news was there were no people hurt! There were about four boats with lots of damage but that really is not many for what went on and for so long! What was this? The weather guru, Chris Parker, called it a dorecho. I looked it up and it said “It is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm that is associated with land-based, fast moving group of severe thunderstorms. It can cause hurricane force winds.” (Sorry I had no photos, but I was a bit busy!)
The next day dawned bright and sunny and people were out helping all those who needed help. I believe all anchors and the chain that people lost were found. When water can be this clear it helps.  
This is our anchor chain going from the boat, but you can also see our chain on the bottom half buried in the sand.

This photo was taken two days after the windstorm.  A lot of the small things people lost were found. One dinghy that had to be cut loose was never found but overall we are thankful nothing worse happened. All the sailors were saying, in all their years of sailing, our 42 years included, we have never experienced that much wind. A fellow sailor who said he was in gales at sea, only had 45 knot winds. It was a freak occurrence of two fronts coming together and it happened from Georgetown and north to Warderick Wells Land and Sea Park.

We are trying to get back to doing normal “Georgetown things.” I went to water aerobics to get some well needed exercise. There is no one to lead yoga yet, so water aerobics works. We anchored at Sand Dollar beach so were able to get off and walk the trail over to the ocean side.
Walking to the ocean side.
Passing the snacks around.
It is a beautiful as I remembered. Later we had a dinghy drift happy hour with a few boats at Sand Dollar beach. The bugs were too bad to be on the beach, so we just tied our dinghies together and passed the snacks around until dusk when the mosquitoes will find you anywhere!
Matt and Marty from Runaway joined the raft.

We  left to sail to Long Island. Long Island is one of the islands that was devastated by the last hurricane. They are in need of lots of supplies for the schools and for the people in general. Many cruisers are bringing books and school supplies.  One cruiser had his father's tools which he collected when cleaning out his house.  We have cooking utensils and supplies for the high school's home economics class that we purchased in Vero Beach to donate. It does not look like much, but every little bit helps. 
Our donation for the high school home economics class.
A fund raiser is in the process of being planned back in Georgetown by the cruisers to help out.  When we get back in a few days from Long Island, I plan to get involved.