This is the island formerly used by the Columbians to run drugs. Last year, I described a plane which had crashed in the bay during the drug-running days,slowly deteriorating from the salt water. The island still has an airstrip used by private planes to fly in for a holiday. Apparently the bullet holes don't cause a major problem since five planes on the tarmac for New Year's Eve. The island-style buffet cost $12 and included ham, roast beef, mild and hot wings, potato salad, slaw, and rolls. Dinner was served at 10:00 p.m. followed by fireworks on the beach at midnight. The night was balmy with a light breeze and a zillion stars. The quality and amount of fireworks were impressive, lighting up the sky in a kaleidoscope of colors. We could see Nassau forty miles away when their fireworks went off. If you didn't know it was New Year's, you might think they were being bombed! Most people were casually dressed, but a few were decked out, some with only a nod toward formality such as the gentleman with shorts and shirt, barefoot, wearing a cummerbund. The proprietor Mc Duff had long blond hair somewhat unkempt and was unusually clad in a formal white bow tie, black tuxedo jacket, and thong. The next day, an announcement was made over the VHF that there would be a free pig roast at 5 p.m., attendees asked only to bring a covered dish. We took a dish and went at 5:00. The packaged kit included a pig in a metal box, inside a wooded box with a grate for charcoals on top. The pig wasn't put on until 1:00 p.m. and was checked at 5, 5:30, 6, 6:30, and 7. We finally left about 7:30 to go home and prepare dinner. Don't know if the pig ever got done enough to eat. It was a nice thought but apparently the first such effort to roast a pig in a kit. Problems were that they had the box sitting above ground so that the wind was cooling it and the directions said not to open the box which they did so frequently that the heat kept escaping. Back at the boat, we complied with tradition and ate black-eyed peas with ham, can't really do hog jowl on the boat.
From Norman's we went to Staniel Cay, home of Thunderball Cave. We spent 3 nights there, waiting for a weather window to continue south. On our way out, Bob caught his first fish. Was he ever excited! It was a jack, really good eating. We had Sam and Jerry over for a community dinner. Sam brought fries, Bob grilled the fish, and I prepared a salad and lemon squares. Great meal. We spent two nights at Galliot Cut and then left the shallow turquoise water of the Exuma Bank to head into the deep blue Atlantic to George Town where we arrived on Friday, January 8. The weather was beautiful, the water turquoise, the sky bright blue, and during the early afternoon, it was HOT! The Bahamian water was truly amazing. In Ft. Lauderdale, the water had a yellowish tinge, as if someone forgot to flush. And this was the city water we used in the kitchen and the bathroom! Bahamian water was crystal clear.
George Town is small with two grocery stores, a bank, and various restaurants and small businesses. Chores to maintain the boat such as laundry, groceries, phone calls, and such must be done during the day when businesses are opened. Last year at the peak of the season, there were over 400 boats here, scattered among various anchorages, a marina, and a boatyard. Many people schedule activities such as volleyball, yoga, walks on the beach, potluck dinners, etc. if a person is inclined to get involved. We are anchored at Hamburger Beach so we have about a 20 minute dinghy ride to shore.
At night, it is pitch black dark except for lights along the far shore and the anchor lights. The anchor lights make the respective harbors look like a fairyland with the lights rocking gently atop the boats in the black of night, like hovering fireflies with the nearest ones reflecting pale streams of light across the water. The distant twinkling stars in the black sky provide yet another panorama of lights.
We have a new toy, a sailing dinghy eight feet long and only big enough for one person. It has one sail and is very tipsy. It could even be a bathtub. You can stay dry, more or less, depending upon your skill at sailing. It is very restful to sail about the anchorage, leisurely looking at all the other boats. There's a world of difference between sailing a big boat on the ocean where you just set the sails and stay on the same tack and sailing a tiny boat around in circles in fluky breezes. Sailing the little boat teaches you the skills to handle the sails on the big boat, so they say.
We made arrangements to have the engine parts shipped and to order new lifelines since one of them had broken. Bob finished installing the solar panels and the wind generator so we had auxiliary sources to charge the batteries in addition to the engine. He also secured the microwave and the new freezer so they won't slide around when we're underway. The water maker had a problem but now it's fixed. At the moment, the only thing not working is the salt-water wash down at the windlass for the anchor. It's always something, but Bob is amazingly adept at repairs. Then wind generator malfunctioned so we had to wait for another part which necessitated another week or two in George Town.
After four weeks in George Town, the part for the engine arrived, but did not fit. The part we needed had to be ordered from England. It finally arrived but they sent the wrong bolt and washer. Fortunately the old ones, though damaged, could be used to attach the new pulley.
We are now at the docks provisioning, getting the propane tank for the stove filled, doing laundry, receiving and sending e-mail, getting fuel, and generally preparing to leave. We spent Friday, February 11th, here at the dock then went to anchor at Fowl Cay to "stage" or prepare to depart the next day, weather permitting. Last year, our friends Dick and Kathy on Arianna made the trip we're facing. We copied all of their e-mails and made a "book" which we are reading as we prepare to head out.