Thursday, March 19, 2009

Galliot Cay and Pipe Creek

We left Georgetown on a breezy Saturday morning leaving a fleet of hundreds of sailing vessels behind who had moored up for the season. The following week, the total number of boats in the harbor will balloon in preparation of the Georgetown regatta. My best guess is that there will be over 500 boats in the bay; based on all the traffic we saw heading there on our way up the Exuma chain.

Our sail started out a little spirited with six-foot seas on the nose while we beat our way out of the bay. Once outside, we veered north and made our way to Galliot Cut. As the day progressed, the sea state improved to the point Phil could throw out a line. Just as we were approaching the cut, he caught a large female mahi mahi on one of the lures he designed and built. How awesome is that? We invited friends from two other boats over for a sushi dinner aboard the Adamo.

The anchorage we were in behind Galliot Cay had a small beach tucked into the rocky coast. Erosion has carved the rocks into an overhang that spans the entire bank-side coastline of the small island. The north point looks like a giant stone iguana at low tide. At high tide, the rolling waves slap the bottom of the rocky ledge producing a soft sloshing sound that does wonders for nighttime sleeping.

On day two of our stay at Galliot, we had a cookout on the small beach.

Earlier in the day, Phillip took Susan for a dinghy ride to check out the waters around the cay. While they were motoring around she got a vibe and told Phil to check for lobster right under the boat. He put his mask on and took a look. Sure enough there was a large lobster. He plopped in and brought it back to the surface. “Here you go Mama!”

In the morning, the wind began to clock around. We knew it was time to move to a more protected anchorage.

We motored back out of the cut and sailed 20 miles north to Pipe Creek. On our way we hooked up with a good-sized bull mahi mahi. Phil saw the fish coming and darting from bait to bait. There was a lot of excitement in his voice as he said: “we are about to get a hit!” The rod bent down and the reel began zinging. “Fish on!”

When we reached Pipe Creek, the tidal currents were quite strong, so we dropped two anchors off the bow to form a Bahamian mooring. The first anchor is dropped in front of the boat, while the second is dropped behind the boat with a slack rode leading to the bow. As the current shifts between ebb and flood, the boat stays in the same spot regardless of which way the current is flowing since the front and rear anchors take turns holding the boat in place.

Phil and I explored the creeks and cays from the dinghy. Sue stayed on the boat to run a load of laundry. After our exploration, we returned back to the Adamo to prepare fresh mahi for dinner.

The front began pushing through that evening; the next few days were overcast and very windy. Phil spent much of his time working on home school. I did minor repairs and maintenance on the boat. Susan cooked and read.

As we were working our way up the Exuma chain of islands, our thoughts began shifting towards home. We were only two days worth of sailing from being back in the United States. Much had changed there. Much had changed with us too. One and a half years at sea calling on foreign countries and cultures changes you. It’s a journey not only of discovery of places and other people and cultures, but also of yourself.

We mingled with some of the wealthiest people on earth with their 200-foot mega yachts in the chic French islands of St. Martin and St. Barth, as well as some of the poorest people on earth living in straw and wooden huts on the Manamo river in Venezuela. We met cruisers who had circumnavigated the world. We had dinner with other adventures that had lived in all corners of the earth; global vagabonds who managed to make a living regardless of where they ended up. We met honest people and we met conmen. We spent time with welcoming people who would go out of their way to help us. We met people who where fascinated by what we were doing; living on a boat and sailing from country to country. We met people who were too busy to be interested in what we were doing.

Perhaps the most profound change for me was the realization that the things we American’s take for granted as normal are viewed as unusual or even bizarre by other cultures. I had spent all of my life living in first world countries in Europe and America. People work hard to live in large houses and drive what in third world countries would be considered fancy cars. We fill our homes with lots of stuff. When we have too many things, we put them into storage, a concept that is almost incomprehensible in some countries. Stress is high. Everyone is trying to get ahead. In contrast, the Warreo Indians had no real possessions and were perhaps the happiest people we met. Yet, that is changing with Venezuelan president Chavez handing out Yamaha engines to them. Now they will have to get money to buy fuel and parts to keep the engines running. They’ve never been in need of anything they could not produce themselves. That life style will be lost forever.

We live a privileged lifestyle in the US. But there is a price. We are always on the go. Time is the most precious resource and most people just don’t have time to fully enjoy all the things they accomplish. I would not advocate changing your lifestyle other than taking time to enjoy what you have accomplished and spending time with the ones you love.

On Easter Sunday April 11th, 2004 at the age of 37, I had a stroke that was caused by an undetected birth defect in my heart. I was mentally paralyzed and was unable to speak, read, or write. Over time, I was able to make a full recovery, but it was an eye opener. No one lives forever and you don’t know when your time will be up. You have to live your dreams while you can. Mine was sailing and I’m thankful that Susan and the boys indulged me and that our families supported our decision. Words simply can’t describe my gratitude. Many, many thanks.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Long Island

One of the things we wanted to do while in Long Island was to go to the grocery store and to the fishing shop. The stores are about 5 miles from the marina. It’s too far to walk. Catching a ride is easy if you just walk down the main road, but with a load of grocery bags on the trip home, we thought it would be better to rent a car. We only need one for a short time. We inquired at the marina about renting a car for a half day, but they would only rent a car out for a full day.

Next I went down to a bar/resort called Rowdy Boys. They agreed to rent us a small Jeep-like car for a half day, though I never really settled on the price. The owner simply said she would work with me. I figured any discount is better than none. I picked up the crew at the boat and brought them back to Rowdy Boys to pick up the car. Some one had just finished washing the car and the engine was running. “There you go.” No one asked for a license or credit card. There was no contract.

We drove up the road to the stores and purchased our provisions. We stopped on the way back to top off the gas. Then it was back to Rowdy Boys to return the car. I gave the keys back to the owner. She looked at me and said: “how much should I charge you?” While I was thinking, she said: “how about $30”. I thought great. The daily rate is $80.
“That should cover the gas,” she added. I told her we had topped the car off. She then looked at me and said: “well, we are all square then. Have a nice day.” We rented the car for the price of the gas! That was our experience with people all over Long Island. They are just super friendly and kind.

The following day, we sailed 40 miles to the north tip of Long Island. We finally had wind that we could sail in, 20 knots on the beam. Phil had the fishing rods out again. He had a double hookup with two mahi mahi. One got way, but he landed the smaller of two, still a nice catch.

We anchored up in Joe’s sound. The entrance to the sound is through a curved, jagged rocky edged cut. At high tide you have about six inches of water under the boat and about three feet of clearance on either side. It’s a nerve wracking. There’s no margin for error. But, the pay off is that once inside, you have a smooth anchorage with an amazing view.

While in Joe’s sound we met some fellow cruisers, Karin and Klaus, from Hilton Head, who were originally from Germany. They were co-owner’s of Daytona Beach Boat Works as well. What a small world.

The following morning we moved to George Town to meet-up with our friends on S/V Footloose. They were surprised to see us, particularly since I said I would never set foot in George Town again. It’s just not a friendly place and is crowded with hundreds of cruising yachts that anchor up here for the winter. It’s like a huge, floating trailer park. Our plan is to get some propane and head up the Exuma chain as soon as possible.