We did a lot of fun things today. Even things that are supposed to be boring, like laundry, turned out to have some great surprises. Today is April 1st, meaning that it's April Fool's Day, but none of us did any jokes like that. I don't care.
We started the day kind of early by going to shore to do laundry at the marina bathhouse/Laundromat which we are allowed to use because we are still on a mooring ball. The facilities are located by some docks, giving us a view of the water. While Josh was looking over the rail, he saw what he thought was a small whale. I jumped up and thought it was a Goliath Grouper. I finally noticed that it was a West Indian Manatee!! It was so cool. It was 5 or 6 feet long, but the head was tiny compared to its body. It didn't use its fins. It came up to breath a couple of times and we saw its little nostrils open and close. We even saw it graze a little on some sea grass and algae! I've never seen a manatee in the wild!! A man that was walking past noticed and said that there are 5 or 6 manatees that hang out in the marina. We spent the rest of the time doing laundry and school, which we had brought along. Laundry isn't supposed to be interesting, but it certainly was today!
Back at the boat, we had lunch and decided to go to Fort Zachary Taylor Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor itself. In the dinghy, Bro and I started something new. He'd go in the front (the fun spot) on the ride to shore, and I'd go in the front on the way back to the boat. Now we won't fight over the front or have to share the front and be crammed. We caught a bus and rode it to the beach.
At the beach, I made something that I hadn't made in a long time - dribble castles. These towers are made by taking wet sand and letting the water dribble out, taking sand with it. You can make towers, castles, walls and things with huge spires. I found an area of rocks and started "building." I made six little towers to start Dribble Tower City as the residential area. On a high part of the rock, I made the Dribble Palace, a super tall dribble castle. On a "cliff" looking down on the water, I made Fort Dribbly. As the last part of the city's Amazing Building Era, I created the Super Dribble on a rock overlooking the rest of Dribble Tower City. It was about 2 ½ inches in diameter and was taller than the Dribble Palace because of its 3 spires.
Unfortunately, next came the Great Destruction Era, lasting 30 seconds max. Some kids came over and accidentally knocked down the Dribble Palace. Then purposely, as if just for fun, they knocked down and flattened everything except Fort Dribbly, which they did not notice. Their mother was standing right there and didn't say anything except, "Say you're sorry," when I asked why they destroyed my creation. They did not apologize and just walked off. They made me very mad.
When the 2 kids, whom I will call "The Destroyers," left, I started the city's third era, the Reconstruction Era. I successfully recreated everything. Next began Dribble Tower City's Renaissance Era and Time of New Ideas. I made the Dribble Arch. It took me longer than any of my other dribble tower creations. It took around 15 min. Fort Dribly was destroyed and I rebuilt it in a new way - by attaching multiple small towers. A person accidentally knocked down the Super Dribble, but I couldn't make another one to my satisfaction. I gave up with dribble castles and played with Josh a bit.
I did more than just make dribble castles. Bro and I played catch and swam together. Plus, we played dunking. Really big waves would roll in from the Atlantic Ocean and we would take turns pushing each other under water in the largest of the waves. It was fun.
After a while on the beach, Dad wanted to go to Fort Zachary Taylor. We hiked over to the fort and saw a billboard with a picture of the fort. Josh thought that the picture looked a lot like Fort Jefferson on Garden Key in the Dry Tortugas. I looked at the fort and did see a resemblance to Fort Jefferson. It turns out they were built during the same time period.
The fort is undergoing a major renovation and excavation because it was not taken care of very well for half of its 102 years in service (1845-1947) and had a lot of Civil War artifacts buried in the sand and concrete that was used to fill in part of the fort. Fort Zachary Taylor is a lot smaller than Fort Jefferson because extra batteries block off 2 sides of the fort and the 3rd level was removed. Even though it wasn't a large and intact as Fort Jefferson, it was still interesting.
When we got back to the boat, Josh and I went pinfishing. Dad made us use tortilla as bait and it didn't work well at all. The bait wouldn't stay on the hook. Half the time the pinfish didn't even have to pull the bait off; it just fell off by itself. I caught one fish and Bro caught zero again. At the end of our fishing, my hook and line, all the way up to the sinker, just fell off! It was weird. My life is good.
Wednesday, 4/2/08Day 60
Today wasn't all too exciting. We did school in the morning and the early afternoon. The rest of the day, Josh and I played and fished.
In the late afternoon, Josh and I pinfished. He only caught two. I wonder why he hasn't been catching many? I caught 18 pinfish, breaking my record of 10. Four pinfish were, in some way, hooked in the eyeball. It was so fun to catch so many fish. While we were fishing, we noticed a one needlefish in the school of pinfish. We targeted him by using shrimp as bait when he was around. I had him on my line 3 times, but could never bring him in. The needlefish would come to my bait and stab his spear-like nose through it. It I tugged to bring him up, my bait would rip off his nose. It was fun anyway. We had a good time fishing. Today was okay.
Thursday, 4/3/08Day 61
Shortly after we got up in the morning, we hurried to shore to go to the Coffee Plantation (see 3/30/08) to have breakfast and upload the website again. We had totally created and updated everything through the Dry Tortugas. The upload was successful and we sent a letter to almost everybody we know saying that the website - www.gohlkesonliberty.com - was on the internet. I am glad that the website is finally up and running after all of our hard work. There is still more to be done, but everything is up for now. This makes me happy.
Though we only planned to be at the coffee shop/internet café for half of the morning, we ended up working there until 4:00pm. After that extra long venture, we took a bus to a shopping center where we would continue our errands. Before going to K-Mart, Office Max, and Albertson's, we ate linner at Big John's Pizza. We ordered a pizza that was half Godfather (pizza topped with sliced buffalo mozzarella cheese, tomato slices, and chopped basil) and half Meatlover's. I ate all Godfather slices. They taste super yummy with the half melted mozzarella cheese and juice tomatoes.
Our trip to K-Mart was a success. Josh and I were running out of shorts and bathing suits that fit us, but we were able to pick up enough of each type of clothing to fill our almost empty cabinet.
Josh also got flip-flops and Daddy acquired 50 yds. of flourocarbon leader for fishing. Flourocarbon leader disappears underwater, making it ideal for trolling anglers like us.
We stopped at Office Max quickly and also went to Albertson's and did some grocery shopping. We had too many groceries to walk back to the dinghy dock, so we called a cab. Mr. Flip was not working tonight, so we had to wait for another taxi. While we were waiting for it to come (at least 30 minutes), Josh and I played a game where we looked for taxis. There are only two cab companies in town - Maxi Taxi, which has little pink cabs that say "Think Pink" and big vans, and Friendly Cab Service, which is the one we always call. We got different points for each type of taxi:
"Think Pink" cabs = 1 point
Friendly cabs = 2 points
Maxi Taxi vans = 3 points
Our cab = 5 points
We also added emergency vehicles (ambulances, police cars, fire trucks, etc.) which were also 5 points. It was super fun! Josh and I tied with 27 points when our cab finally came. We went back to the boat and are about to go to sleep. We have been gone for two months.
Friday, 4/4/08Day 62
Today was pretty boring. We only did 3 things - school, play, and prepare for passage. Dad went to shore once, but we stayed on board all day. Bro and I also watched Ratatouille in the evening. I like that movie.
For dinner, Dad grilled steak and potatoes. We haven't had steak in a long time, and it was delicious. That's all that happened today. I hope our passage to West End, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas from Key West, Florida, U.S.A. is good.
Saturday, 4/5/08Day 63
We left Key West, Florida and the U.S.A. today. In the morning, Joshua and I did some school and we all finished preparing the boat for passage. After lunch, we left the mooring field and headed for the fuel dock. We saw a huge demasted yacht named s/v Legacy that we know about. The boat was pushed onto a national park and into sea grass flats, only 2 feet deep, during a hurricane. The sailboat's draft is 16 feet, so it was stuck. The owner made a floating city to protect his boat from being looted. There was a big argument between the owner, and the federal government over how to get it out. A friend of ours back in Pearland, TX is the owner's lawyer. This yacht was a sight to see!
We arrived at the fuel dock at 1:00pm. Mom and I ran a quick errand to West Marine. The man in charge didn't like that because he thought we were going "shopping." We were back in less than 15 minutes. At 2:30pm we left the fuel dock and headed offshore.
Offshore was nasty! The waves were rough and we were all seasick. The winds and waves were the exact opposite of the weather forecast and we had to motor. We took a lot of water over the bow. This doesn't look like a good passage.
The Night of 4/5/08
I stayed up with Mom for a while, but then went to bed with Josh. Neither of us slept well at all. Dripping water got the edge of my bed wet, and I was always thrown against the bulk head.
At 3:00am, neither Josh nor I could sleep and turned a light on. I found a puddle of water in a corner. I told Dad and he gave me a few rags to dry it up with and said he'd deal with it in the morning, even though I said the rags weren't enough to make a difference.
Josh and I went into the cockpit where he and Dad slept and I took watch. I didn't ever go back to sleep.
Sunday, 4/6/08Day 64
At 6:30am, we ran into a bad squall (thunderstorm at sea). The wind clocked around to the NE (the way we were trying to go) and picked up to 30-40 kts. We were pitching and I saw us heeling 40 degrees for a second. It was scary. The winds were still strong (20-25 kts.) for many hours afterward, but they finally returned to ESE and the seas settled to 2-4 ft.
At 9:30am, we caught a fish. It was a Pompano Dolphin, the smaller relative of the Mahi-Mahi. It was small, but we were going to keep it. Unfortunately, Dad accidentally dropped it after he had taken it off the hook, and it flopped into the water.
At 10:30am, we caught another Pompano Dolphin. It was 3lbs. and 30in. long. It was a nice fish. This lure has caught 6 fish so far: the Wahoo (see 3/13/08), a Great Barracuda in the Dry Tortugas (see 3/16/08), 2 Red Groupers in the Dry Tortugas (see 3/16/08 and 3/19/08), and 2 Pompano Dolphin (today!!).
Dad went into my cabin this morning to deal with the puddle and found my mattress nearly floating. He used a cup to scoop buckets of water out of my cabin. We aren't sure where the leak is, but I don't want this to happen again.
Nothing much else happened for the rest of the day. We should get to West End in the middle of the night and will heave to.
The Night of 4/6/08
I went to sleep in Mom and Dad's bed while they dealt with the boat. I slept well.
Monday, 4/7/08Day 65
We arrived at the channel into West End, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas at midnight and hove to (see 3/17/08 for explanation) until 5:30am. We entered the channel to Old Bahama Bay Marina and Resort and anchored in their protected harbor because the marina was full.
We have found out that everything is wet with saltwater. Mom and Dad's bed, Josh's bed, and, obviously, my bed got wet. I realized that some of my books on the bookshelf have gotten wet and some of them are even ruined. I can't believe it. We did find that there is at least one dry locker aboard our vessel - the school cabinet!
At around 11:30am, we went ashore to check in to the Bahamas. We met a boat named Marie with an older couple named Francis and Harry Jacobs. They were nice and invited us for cocktails at 5:00pm. We checked in with the marina office and customs/immigration and were told that now there were empty slips and we had to move our boat and take a slip. So we moved the boat. This is actually good because now we can rinse everything with fresh water and lay in on the docks to dry.
The marina and resort is very nice. The water is clear; there is a beach, big pool, and gardens where the hotel rooms are. We saw a lot of small birds and lizards. Josh and I researched Bahamian lizards on the internet, a great amenity here, and we have made a chart and labeled the different lizards A-E. Click Here to see it.
At 5:00, we went to Marie for cocktails. Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs are very nice and we had a nice time on their boat. I like their hard bimini; it looks cool. Mr. Jacobs designed it himself. At sunset, we heard people blowing conch horns. This is a custom here in the Bahamas. I want to find a conch shell, so I can make one of my own.
Because all of our beds are wet, we all have to sleep in the salon. The table comes down and makes a bed for Mom and Dad. I am sleeping on the floor on a cushion and some blankets because we don't have any sleeping bags on board, and Josh is on the settee, which has sheets that fit it. It isn't very comfortable because it is too short for me. Mom says that tomorrow I can switch with Josh.