Monday, 12/22/08 Day 324
Today was great! We moved to George Town, Exumas, Bahamas from Conception Island today. I'm so glad that we are now in George Town. It is like the cruising kids hub for all of the Bahamas (and possibly the Eastern Caribbean too). We haven't run into cruising kids for months. It stinks.
During today's travels, we became fishing pros (or so I would like to think). We got 5 fish, but one got away. Those fish were 4 tuna and one Mahi. Just before 8:00am, still in sight of Conception Island, we got two hits at once. We were afraid at first that they might be crevalle jacks (BAD eating) who do that sometimes. I single-handedly brought the first tuna in. Josh and Dad got the second one in. We put the lures back out and immediately got two more hits. I brought the 3rd one in, and the 4th one got away while I reeled it next to the boat. We ended up with 3 great, 22-26 in., up to approx. 5 lbs., bigeye tuna. We got into a big family-wide argument over what type of tuna they were. Mom and I think that they were bigeyes, but we have to just put "tuna" on the website. Just as all 3 fish got in, we were hit by a squall. Things got kind of crazy and we couldn't get good pics of the fish.
Later, we got a 32 ½ in. Mahi. I brought that fish in, too. Our fish never come at very good times. This morning, it was a squall. This time it was the spinnaker. We were having trouble with it, and then a fish bites. Luckily, I was here to the take care of the fish.
So, the passage was good until the very end. As we were pulling in the spinnaker, ready to sail through the rocks and coral towards George Town, our engine died. Everybody got frantic. We set a course out to sea with our mizzen. I got to help Dad with the spinnaker, but I messed it up. I also fixed it. Then, we worked on the engine for a while, but finally decided to sail in. Just as we were setting the sails, the engine started and we were saved.
It was almost 3:00 as we started through the coral, and the light was already failing us. Mom and I stood coral watch coming in. We saw a dolphin. We anchored with the largest group of boats off Volleyball Beach, outside Gaviota Bay. That's at Stocking Island. We learned that there is a net on the VHF radio every morning. George Town looks cool.
We chilled for the rest of the evening. I made sushi and Dad grilled some tuna. Dinner was grilled tuna, tuna sushi, and rice. Not much, but tasty. We're going to bed early. Everyone is tired. Tomorrow we will scope out the place and put all our Christmas stuff up. I can't believe how close it is to Christmas - only 3 days!
Tuesday, 12/23/08 Day 325
Today was close to great. The weather wasn't great. We had a great afternoon, but our morning was only half-great. We also did something great on board and made great friends.
The net this morning was only okay. We had to introduce ourselves afterwards; there was no place for that in the net. We were told that everybody stays on board for the morning, kid boats do school, and everybody gathers on Volleyball Beach around Chat 'n Chill (the bar/grill at the beach) after lunch.
The morning had bad, dark, rainy weather. We stayed on board, listened to Christmas music and set up our Christmas stuff. We don't have any sort of tree. We put up a mini-village and colored lights. We strung our garland and taped mini-stockings to the mast. I made up a cruising/sailing version of Jingle Bells. Everybody pitched in. Here's the song:
Dashing o'er the seas
I like it a lot. We (Josh and I) are probably going to sing it at a Christmas Eve get-together tomorrow.
In a 10 ft. Zodiac
Heading to the beach
Not wanting to go back.
Bells on life-lines ring,
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to sail
And sing a cruising song tonight.
Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way.
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a 10ft. water sleigh, Hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh what fun, it is to ride
In a 10 - foot - wa - ter - sleigh. Hooray!
We had yummy French Onion soup for lunch. Then, around 2:00 we went in to Volleyball Beach. Josh and I kind of wandered around, but nobody said anything to us. One kid started to hang with us, but he had to leave for a place called Oceanside. There are a bunch of tire-type swings and hammocks set up on the beach, along with picnic tables and lawn chairs. There are also three volleyball courts and an open space for playing football and soccer. I met some people playing volleyball and they invited me in. I met Sam (11) and his parents Dana and David on s/v More Cowbell form Houston, TX, as well as Kirsten (12), Bryce (14) and their parents Alan and Karen from s/v Nutmeg. I learned how to play volleyball. I serve well. I have too much power, though.
After a second game of volleyball, we (minus Kirsten and her mom) played football. David, Sam and I won the first game, but the second game ended in a tie because Sam was injured. I got hurt quite a bit too. I'm too small. People always run into me. Once, I was knocked over by David, my own teammate! He's 6'3". Ouch! It happened when the guy we were trying to get moved, leaving me exposed to David's tackle. Nobody got hurt. In that instance, I was actually laughing. We had a lot of fun. Our games ended when a squall came through. About that time, we all went home.
We took showers and ate yesterday's Mahi. Dad turned on our colored lights. They look cool! After dinner, we watched Blue Planet: Seas of Life; Frozen Seas. This Blue Planet series we've been watching is really interesting. We've gone to bed early. I'm helping Josh with his Christmas present to Mom. I need to go. I'm tired and Josh needs my help.
Wednesday, 12/24/08 Day 326
Today is Christmas Eve! It was a lot better weather today, so we had a lot of fun on shore. We spent the morning in George Town. We are at Volleyball Beach and Chat 'n Chill which is on Stocking Island. George Town is across the channel on Great Exuma Island. We just dinghied over to town. We explored a bit, being in town for the first time. George Town looks nice. It has about 3 big roads (2 lanes and no traffic lights, but big enough) that everything is on. Any other roads are short and stubby and you don't go on to them. We walked to the Anglican/Episcopal church to find out about Christmas services. Nobody was around. We also went to an internet café/liquor store. At the grocery store, Exuma Market, a quality grocery store, we got a ham for Christmas dinner and other good produce items. We also saw Nutmeg's bunch and some other cruisers at the store. Plus, we met the people from m/v Nexus (w/ a seven yr. old girl) and s/v Shallo (a French-Canadian boat with 2 younger boys) on the dinghy dock.
On the way home from George Town, we got soaked. Sheets of water rolled over the bow. Why? Because the waves were 1 ½ ft and breaking in the 20+ kt. winds, and we had too much weight in the boat (all of our groceries plus 5 gallons of gasoline) to get on a plane or get the bow up (either of those things would have kept us drier). Instead, we got wet. At least we have a fresh water shower/rinsing system in the cockpit. J
Quite soon after we had gotten back and were eating lunch, we got a call on the radio from Nutmeg. They were going snorkeling in one of the hurricane holes in Stocking Island to look for a big underwater cave. We were asked (and we accepted) to come along. Another dinghy alerted us to the location of the cave. They told us that scientists think it is a tunnel that extends under the Exumas and Exuma Sound to the Atlantic Ocean, but only 4 miles of it have been explored by Scuba divers. They supposedly pulled a dead person out of the tunnel last year. It was creepy and cool at the same time. The water dropped from 6ft. deep to 16 ft. or so and disappeared into extremely dark blue/black water. We didn't go into the cave; we just looked at it from the outside. There were a lot of big snapper , but fishing is prohibited in that area. We continued to swim around the entire hurricane hole. We saw lots of spotted sea hares and a few sea cucumbers. I also saw a school of porgies.
We did beach stuff for the rest of the day. Mom and Josh went to the beach, while Dad and I worked on my awesome Christmas surprise for Josh. But that will wait until tomorrow. J After a bit, Mom and Bro came back to the boat for us all to make cookies for tonight. We baked sugar cookies w/ Hershey's kisses in them. That's a favorite of ours. We also made extra for the cruisers big Christmas Eve party.
At 6:30pm, we went to the party I was talking about. Everybody was operating on island time, so we weren't late. We had fun singing Christmas carols like "Silent Night", "God, Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", and "O Holy Night", and other poems and songs made by us cruisers. Josh and I sang "Jingle Bells Cruiser Style" (see yesterday). The kids off of Rio Dulce and Gotta Life also sang homemade songs like ours. Afterwards, there was a little party with singing, dancing, and snacks. All the kids swung off a big tree. You climb up about 15-20 ft. and someone tosses you the swing. Then you hold on and jump off. I met the kids from Rio Dulce. They are Brady (13), Anne (11), and Brian (9). They've been cruising for 6 years! They are all nice, like most cruising kids. We had a lot of fun!!
We were going to go to a Christmas Eve church service at 10:00pm, but the water was too rough to cross the harbor in the dinghy. We will go to church tomorrow, most likely. It is already 10:00pm. Josh and I both want to go to bed. Mom and Dad gave us permission to wake them up at 5:30am. We are going to have so much fun. Also, tomorrow night at 2:00am, we are going to go to Junkanoo, a huge Bahamian celebration and parade starting that early. I'll talk about it more on the 26th. For now, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, 'cause I'm going to bed because Santa Claus Comes Tonight. J
Thursday, 12/25/08 Day 327
MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Just for suspense, I'm going to talk about the entire day (not so exciting) before I talk about the early morning. Up to about 8:00am, I won't say a thing. After 8:00, we played with/checked out our new stuff. We played a lot with our new ____. The blank is filled with the first thing I'll report getting for Christmas from Santa. We hopped in the dinghy and drove to George Town for a 10:00 church service. It was at the Catholic church. We coincidentally ran into Sam and his family at the church. They are staying at a hotel with their relatives. The pastor (who is a monk from a monastery in New Jersey) preached an excellent sermon.
After church, we went back to the boat and spent most of the rest of the day like a normal George Town day. We ate lunch and went to the beach. We played volleyball with Nutmeg for most of the time. Nobody else was around, probably because it is Christmas.
We invited Nutmeg over to share Christmas dinner. They brought a salad and dessert. We had Nutmeg's salad, a ham, sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, and cranberry sauce. There was also a good sauce for the ham. Nutmeg's dessert was minty Oreo cookies. Those were good. While we weren't eating, the kids mostly played with our cool new ____ (same as the first blank).
It is now 8:30 pm and we are going to bed immediately. We have to get up at 1:30 am to go to Junkanoo. It is supposed to be really great! I'm so excited. I hope I can sleep.
Now for the morning. I woke up at 5:00 this morning. I stayed awake with Bro until 5:30 when we were aloud to wake Mom and Dad up. By 5:45, we were ready to turn on the lights, turn on the music, and start celebrating.
The first thing I noticed were Santa's unwrapped presents. I saw Legos first. We got four sets of Legos to build a 3-in-1 biplane/jet/helicopter, 2 different race cars, and a kayak with a Lego person and a buoy. Plus, Santa brought a big collection of Lego people and accessories, mostly weapons. We had been wishing for Lego people and guns and that sort of stuff. We also got water balloons and the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D! It is the same movie we saw in the theater in NYC. It comes with 3-D glasses!
In our stockings, Santa Claus gave us a cool pen, a pencil sharpener/eraser, and another eraser. We also got squirmles. Squirmles are little, fuzzy, flexible "pets" with a string attached to the end. You can do a lot of cool things with Squirmles. I got an orange one.
I am only going to continue writing about what I got and what I gave. It's too much to talk about everything else. I got some of the best stuff from my Jersey Grandma. She gave me a 512MB MP3 player with a speaker set! I'd been saving my cash for an I Pod, but I don't think I need to anymore. It looks like a really nice set! She also gave me a big book on the presidents. If you read this before I talk with you next Grandma - THANKS A MILLION!
From my Aunt Sharon, I got on Enviro Battery. That's a potato clock thing. It's really cool because while in Deltaville, I saw that on a TV show. I can't wait to try it. From my Uncle Dave and Aunt Martel, Josh and I collectively got 3 of the Indiana Jones movies. We've been wanting to get some of those movies, so this is great! Josh gave me a set for my GI Joe figurines. They'll go great with one of our soldiers.
Everything else I got was from Mom and Dad. Our Texas grandparents couldn't send their gifts. We'll just have a separate celebration when they visit in February. So, from Mom and Dad, Bro and I each got Swiss army knives, a set of 4 WWII tanks, scale 1:144, a wi-fi card for our computer, and best of all, pole spears! I wasn't expecting any of it, and it is all awesome! I can't wait to use my new spear, knife, and wireless card! Unfortunately, there are no places to spearfish around here, but I might be able to get wi-fi, and the knife could come in handy.
I gave Bro a conch horn for Christmas. He loves it! This horn is a little harder to blow than mine, but Josh is good at it. For Mom, I gave a bow made of palm fronds with a sand dollar on top. Josh and I collectively gave Mom two movies, and Dad a movie and an electrical tool he wanted.
All in all, we had a great Christmas. It was small compared to other years back at the house, but it was great. Everybody had great times and got great stuff. We are all very happy! Today was great!
The Extremely Early Morning of 12/26/08
This morning we got up extremely early to go to Junkanoo. By extremely early, I mean 1:30am. We had to catch a 2:00am water taxi into town. About a half dozen boats got together to get Elvis (the water taxi guy) to take us over at this hour.
Junkanoo is an ancient tribal celebration from Africa. It was brought to the New World by slaves and still survives in the Bahamas. In the New World, the celebration changed a bit. Slaves were allowed 24 hours off on the day after Christmas (the British holiday of Boxing Day) and also on New Year's Day. They had from midnight to midnight. They started partying almost immediately in order to make the most of their day off. They wore elaborate masks to disguise themselves while playing tricks on their masters and fellow slaves.
Today, it is just a huge festival and parade. There are not tricks or political agendas involved. Nowadays it has become a competition between local groups for best costumes, dancing and music. Costumes are very elaborate, made of crepe paper and paper mache. There is no limit for weight, and one costume may weigh 200 logs or more! I saw some that must have been that big. Some had dimensions of 20ft. high, as wide as the street, and 5 ft. thick. There are also huge floats, mostly pulled by one or two people. The bands, which are the life of the parade, consist mostly of brass instruments, drums, and cowbells. They always get everybody out of their seats and dancing - even me, who does not dance!
In George Town, there are 4 groups: the Musical Youth, the Warriors, the Crusaders, and the Invaders. We were sitting in a special VIP section of bleachers where all the groups stopped to perform. It's kind of like the Herald Square in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC. We coincidentally also met up with More Cowbell and their family in the same place. It was great that we were sitting together to talk during the 15-30 minute breaks between groups. My favorite, Ms. Dana, Mr. David, and Sam's favorites were the Crusaders. They had a costumed and dancing band, the only one of the 4 groups. They also had the biggest and coolest costumes. They also seemed to have the most local support. Mom liked the Musical Youth and everyone else liked the Warriors. We later heard that the Warriors won. The whole parade was on local TV. There were cameramen walking through the bleachers talking to people and one of the ladies with a microphone talked with us. The whole thing was awesome!!
In the end, we had to leave in the middle of the Invaders to catch the 6:00 water taxi. They weren't that good anyway. By 6:15am, we were back on the boat and my day began. I had so much fun!!
Friday, 12/26/08 Day 328
As I wrote earlier, my day began at 6:15am or so when we got back from Junkanoo. Mom and Dad slept, but Josh and I played with our new Legos. We've had some great battles with our new people. We have a little Robin Hood, and we've created King Arthur and Joan of Arc. We also have a Harry Potter. Later, we did some school.
Like usual, we ate lunch and went to the beach. We played volleyball with Nutmeg. We played a practice game and a real game against some Canadians. They won on the game we kept score. We swung off the tree a lot. That's fun.
Nutmeg invited us to dinner for tomorrow. We're too tired tonight. We're going to eat a quick dinner, play Sorry, and go to bed early. Mom says I'm more tired than I think. Lack of sleep from the last two nights is probably catching up to me. Today was great.
Saturday, 12/27/08 Day 329
I really did catch up on my sleep. I slept for 12 hours - 8:45 to 8:45! I was the last to get up. We did school most of the morning. Dad ran to town to get money and produce. As he was halfway there, Nauti Nauti gave a general announcement over the radio that the long awaited supply boat won't be here for a week and that the bank was out of money. How's that for ironic!
We wiped out all the leftovers for lunch and went to the beach. Before we went there, Josh and I filled about a dozen water balloons! We met up with Sam, Bryce, Kirsten and about a half dozen other kids - friends of Bro. We went through the water balloons in 10 minutes. Everybody just grabbed! Then the older kids (Josh is not included) swung off the tree. Then we wrestled for a long time. I got pretty beach up. Once all the adults watched me wrestle Sam. He beat me, but only by a bit. I got my head thumped on a log, but there were really no rules. He's about 1 year younger than me, but taller and stronger. We had a great time!
Just as we were leaving the beach, we past a group of people playing giant pick-up sticks. They invited us into the game. We were all good at it. Some other kids joined in and we had lots of fun! A kid named Alex won. I lost!
At 6:00, we went over to Nutmeg for dinner. They have a 41ft. Beneteau with a very nice set up. We played cards while the grown-ups ate. We played blackjack. We bet with some old pop tops that Kirsten was collecting. I pretty much won. I had the most chips, but Bryce forced me to go all in and Kirsten won. We ate a great secret spaghetti recipe of theirs for dinner. Bryce won a game of BS after supper. We had lots of fun! Today was great!
Sunday, 12/28/08 Day 330
Today was great! We started by going to church on this clear and beautiful morning. But this was a special church - Beach Church. Here at George Town, the cruising community has set up a non-denominational Christian church service for every Sunday morning. They have a pulpit, song books, a choir, and musicians. Anyone can participate. Mom brought her flute and I sang in the choir. We had one quick practice and that was it. Service was nice and short, but it had songs, a sermon, prayers, and readings - everything in a good service. Afterwards, we stayed for an hour of talking and snacks. We're going to bake something for next week.
I was talking to a lady from Nauti Nauti, and she told me how her husband was severely injured by the tree swing last year. He was almost knocked unconscious and lost a tooth! I made a perimeter of coconuts around the swing zone. As long as you stay outside the coconuts, you're safe. It seems to be working!
We went back to the boat, changed our clothes, and Dad dropped Mom, Josh, and me off at the beach. There were tons of tourists that came in on little power boats. I tried teaching a kid to swing. He fell out of the tree once and fell off the swing 5 or 6 more times! We almost had him sign a liability waiver, saying that if he died or broke any bones, it was not our fault. That was all funny.
All this time, Dad was at the boat making lunch. Around 1:00, we were getting very hungry and didn't know what he was up to. I tried to call him on a hand-held radio, but he had the radio turned off. In the end, I got Mr. Elvis, the water-taxi guy, to let me jump off the back of his boat when he drove past Liberty on his way across the harbor. I got Dad together and we drove in with lunch.
We played volleyball and swung with our friends for the rest of the afternoon. Nutmeg and More Cowbell showed up.
We also organized a big marshmallow roast on Hamburger Beach for this evening between 5-6:00pm. WE went to get ready around 4:45pm. There was already a fire pit where someone had recently (like within the last 6 or 8 hours) made a fire. There were still red-hot coals, and when we put our kindling on, it spontaneously combusted! We also made around 10 roasting sticks for people. Around 5:30, when the sun set, everybody arrived. Rio Dulce, Gotta Life, X-T-Sea (Corazon - 8yrs.), Nutmeg, Escargot (Michael and 2 others), Nexus (Isabella - 7yrs.), Charlo (2 boys), and a few other boats showed up. We had a nice party going. Someone brought s'mores! We all played tag and a light saber game with glow sticks provided by Rio Dulce. Unfortunately, it started to rain and we all rushed home. It was still so much fun!!
We showered off and had a small, healthy supper. Luckily, I had not stuffed myself sick on marshmallows. Now it's 8:30 and we are so tired. Good night.
Monday, 12/29/08 Day 331
Today was pretty good. We restarted school after an extended Christmas break. We're getting back to the schedule/routine. Our new George Town routine is to do school until noon, eat lunch, go to the beach around 2:00pm, and come home around 5:00 and crash. We followed the routine.
At the beach, there were not many kids at all, just Corazon (from X-T-Sea) and Isabella (from Nexus). We even called some boats, but nobody showed up. I watched the really good cruisers play volleyball. That's really fun. I'm not old enough or good enough to play even fun volleyball. But I'll find a way to get better.
We retired from the beach early today. We watched Journey to the Center of the Earth after supper. Though we did get 3-D glasses to go with this special 3-D movie, it looked a lot better, on our TV, in the 2-D format. Even thought it wasn't 3-D, the movie was just as good as when I first saw it in NYC. Although it is only 8:15pm, everybody is tired. Mom's going to be upset if I don't get ready for bed now. Adios!
Tuesday, 12/30/08 Day 332
Today was only okay. We followed "the routine." At the beach, though, I was bored and lonely. The only kids were Sam and a handful of other kids who came on the water taxi for the day. Even Nexus and X-T-Sea have left the anchorage for the rest of the Exumas. I'd bet ¼ of the anchorage left between today and yesterday. Sam played volleyball with the adults all day. Though the rule is that you have to be 15, 11 yr. old Sam is an exception because he's so good. He even played with the competitive adults! I wish I could learn or play, but there is not any good way. I just have to hope. I spent almost the whole time (3hrs.) watching Sam and the adults play volleyball. I admit that I was and still am jealous of Sam. Later, after Dad left to go hunt lobster with Mr. Allen (from Nutmeg), I did get to play one game with some other people who showed up. I am sad. L
Dad made chicken enchiladas for dinner with a lobster as an appetizer. Dad got a big one. Luckily is wasn't too big and was still edible. Now I am tired. Today was a bad day for me.
Wednesday, 12/31/08 Day 333
We wish you ....... a happy New Year! Today is the very last day of 2008. Day 365. 2009 is in a couple of hours (like 4). I've had a great year. Just read my journal. I'm pretty sure I've written a good deal of "Today was great!" in my journal.
To start the day, instead of doing school, I got to go into shore with Dad to work on Independence. Mr. Robert and his dog Fritz (from Kool Breeze) also came to the beach. Mr. Robert used to be a boat builder for a living. He's helping us. We have to build the dagger board trunk and make the dagger board, dummy dagger board, tiller, rudder, and rudder stock. It's a lot of work, but we should have it done in a week. Today, we made the teak rudder stock, cut out the dagger board and rudder from plywood, and started the dagger board trunk repair. Everything is going well. I got to drive the dinghy back and forth to the boat to pick up supplies, all by myself. I went really fast! This is kind of like wood shop class. Dad took it when he was in high school, but they don't teach it anymore. Dad says it's a shame.
We came home for lunch and I did an hour of math before heading to the beach. I worked on Independence for about an hour before calling it quits for the day and going to play volleyball. I actually got a game in today. Also, swinging off the tree is a daily activity. We figured out how to do 8 touches on the branch! Normally you only get 2 or 3! I got hurt though, when the swing got caught on a branch and I fell.
We came back to the boat early. There is a New Year's Eve party at St. Francis (a smallish resort on Stocking Island) where a small appetizer is your admission. It starts at 9:00pm. We ate a small snack and Mom and Josh went to rest. Dad and I have showered and have been playing gin rummy and Stratego to pass the time. It's been a good last day of the year 2008.
The Night of 12/31/08
At 8:45pm, we woke Mom and Bro up, fried conch fritters, and got dressed for the party. The party was cool. There was a small dance floor, a bar, tables filled with appetizers, and lots of people talking. We met up with More Cowbell. Sam, Josh and I sat at the bar drinking sodas and watching football on TV. That continued until midnight. We all gathered at the bar and watched the ball drop in Times Square, NYC. Everybody cheered and started singing and such. About 5 minutes past midnight, More Cowbell and we decided to leave. We made a race. The kids al got down to the dinghies and Sam and I started the engines. More Cowbell got a head start. We both claim we won. I want to race Sam sometime - in motor boats (our dinks). HAPPY NEW YEAR!!