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Published: March 9th 2017
We recently passed our 6 month mark of this journey, and reflecting back, it is incredible what we have squeezed into 6 months! The other day, we were remarking how it seems like we have been on 3 different trips; each leg of this adventure has been so unique in it’s experiences. The trip through the great lakes and down the river system; cruising the east coast of Florida, across the Gulf of Mexico and into the Florida Keys, and then being here, in the Bahamas.
This week, we had another big blow which lasted six days; unusual to go on that long, from what I am told. For days, we were hounded by high winds and rain, deterring us from venturing out too far. In fact, we spent two days without even stepping out on the deck except to check something. But this time has given me the opportunity to reflect back on how far we have come.
It is hard to believe it was just over a year ago that we made the seemingly impulsive, faith based decision (what?? Us?? Impulsive?) to take a year off and go somewhere on the boat – preferably south. At the
The Big Blow
There were times we could barely see across the anchorage for all the rain!
time, we had little idea how we were going to make it work, or where we were going to go. But we knew in our guts that this was something we were supposed to do, and we were going to do it. By the grace of God, not even a week after we had made the decision, I was able to negotiate my contract to work remotely, and shortly after, Lukus was approved for his sabbatical.
Now, 14 months later, here we are (which, by the way, is still
in George Town – ha ha). I have had many people comment on how much they enjoy our blog, which is a wonderful compliment. But it also serves a great purpose for us; a way to keep a record and remind us of how much we have seen and done in such a short time.
As we are now on the “other half” of our year long adventure, we are now preparing to set out on our return voyage (ok, we have been saying that for a while, but we are seriously
beginning to plan it now!). We anticipate leaving the fair harbour of George Town within the week
– but don’t hold us to that; you know how we roll. Plans change moment by moment!
When we first heard of George Town (a number of our friends from home spend their winters here), we had a hard time comprehending how people could just bring their boat here and stop; just stay here for months. But the longer we have been here, the easier it is to understand. There is an amazing community here, and the more you become involved with activities and the people, the more appealing it is to stay “just a few more days”! A group of boaters has adopted us as “the kids”…they make us feel so included (and young – lol).
Despite the wind storm that has battered at us for the past 6 days, we have had opportunities to get out and about to explore. It is amazing that after 2 months here, there are still new things to discover and places to see.
The night before the winds hit (Friday), we were again invited to visit our favorite “pirate”, Bill, on his steel, twin mast, pirate ship, Flying Dragon. Earlier in the day, we had headed over to Red
Shanks to anchor as it is more protected. Bill ended up inviting all the boats in the anchorage to join the party. We met another group of wonderful people including a great couple from Switzerland on their boat Zwoi. They have been sailing for over 8 years already, and have been half way around the world. They plan to head up to Canada this spring, and so we (well ok, Lukus) began sharing information about navigating the great lakes and the canals.
A couple of days later, this same couple, Heidi, Rene and their guest, invited us to their boat to pick Lukus’ brain for more info. We spent the afternoon sipping wine and hearing about their adventures. Departing from Switzerland 8 years ago, they travelled through the rivers of France and into the Mediterranean. From there, they went along to Italy, Greece, Turkey, and the over to Spain and Portugal. Once out into the Atlantic, they visited Morocco, Senegal, the Canary Islands, and Cape Verde (to name a few), before crossing over to Brazil. The last few years have been spent cruising the Caribbean, heading over to the US during the summer, and then back down to the
Apparently this is a trend...there are people who have sailed these little boats across big water! A little too tiny for me!
Caribbean for the winter. We were treated to a slideshow of photos from their travels, as well as a video made in their hometown in Switzerland. All I can say, is I am now working on a plan how to get our boat across the Atlantic. Ok, to be honest, Lukus will have to take care of the “how”, I am working on the “can we go?? Can we?”
The following day, the winds had died down slightly, and we felt adventurous enough to leave the boat in the anchorage while we headed ashore. Another couple we have become friends with, Lo and Don, invited us to join them for a walk and to meet a local boat builder. The day before, Don had met a Bahamian who had asked if he wanted to crew for him in an upcoming regatta. He is in the finishing stages of building his race boat, and invited Don to take a look. Knowing that Lukus built his boat, Don thought he would be interested in seeing it too. As most of you know, I am always game for anything new; so I was happy to be included.
We roughed the waves
and winds and dinghied across to the main island. (Despite getting wet, I always love being in the dinghy when the waves bounce the boat around. It’s like an amusement park ride!). Once on shore, it was a short walk (which, by the way, can be a game of chicken, as the roads are quite narrow and pitted, there is no shoulder to walk on, and the cars drive on the wrong side of the road) to the yard where the boat was being built.
The boat itself was unlike anything you would see at home. It is called a Bahamian sloop and is made entirely of wood except for the lead that is embedded into the keel. The builder told us he had built it with no plans or blueprints, he just shapes it as he goes along and eyeballs things; sort of how Lukus built his. He then showed us another boat which is apparently the “champion” boat of regatta racing, his 12 year old son was last year’s winner. Before his son raced, he was also a racer, and his trophies can be seen in local shops around town and the laundromat!
This is one thing that has struck me about the Bahamas. Among the locals, it is like one big family. Everyone seems to know each other, and they can often be seen just hanging out in the local venues chit chatting and sharing stories. There is no “rush rush” here and they are more than happy to stop whatever they are doing to share with you.
Case in point, after visiting the boat yard, we wandered back to a small plaza just outside of town. There we met Mr. Hannah, who is a friend of Don’s. We had decided we wanted to take a walk and so he offered to join us and show us some of the plants. Mr. Hannah is a young 82 year old who has a lot of “old world” knowledge. He remarked how much the world had changed and how much has been lost of the old ways. As we walked he then pointed out various plants and trees that are boiled to make teas for different ailments. While he was difficult to understand sometimes (some of the Bahamians have a real slur that is hard to make out) the one take away I got was you never boil two or four bush plants together, only one, three or five; odd numbers only, never even numbers. When I asked why, his response was “that was what his mother and father taught him, it’s just the way it is”. Interesting how traditions can set in and we follow them without even knowing why! But now you know, never boil 2 bush plants together (there is your educational moment).
Yesterday, as the winds died down, we moved back over to Sand Dollar beach to anchor as Lukus had promised to help with some welding on a boat in the area. We also have friends here who were trying to make room on their boat, and so we were said we would take their paddle board off their hands. Yes, one more thing on our boat now…it’s getting crowded on here! But when you are anchored, these types of vessels become your “car”, your only way of getting to shore or to other boats. So now we are a three car family!
Being over here puts us closer to the “action”; the local boating community activities that seem to happen every day. Yesterday, I had a chance to participate in a “painting in a coconut” class; my second try at it. I figure if I get good enough (ha ha), I can support this travel habit! Earlier in the day we also attended a presentation by a couple who have taken the last 12 years to circumnavigate the world. We heard of their adventures through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific, through the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic. Listening to their experiences I am now planning how we can just do the whole darn thing. Ok, again, Lukus will have to do most of the logistical planning, but I will happily provide the enthusiasm and motivation!!
I have heard many people say that when you first live on a boat, you either learn to love it or hate it. Well, there is a great big world out there, and what better way to see it, than to be able to take your “home” with you! I can’t say this way of life is for everyone, but we are certainly on the “loving it” side!
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