Thursday, 4/8/09 Day 431
We did school most of the day. It was very gray. We moved the boat to Little Kiln Bay, Raccoon Cay, and attached a bridle to the anchor to avoid the swell. A bridle turns us into the swell and makes things more comfortable. CLICK HERE to see a diagram I sketched on how the bridle works.
It's really not that complex. As I said, it was gray all day, but it never rained. I wish it rained. It hasn't rained on Liberty in months! You start to wish for it after a long enough time. Just a short, strong downpour to wash off the boat, but rain. At one point in the day, while Josh & I dragged school out, Dad hunted. He returned with a Nassau grouper, a schoolmaster, and a horse conch. You know something else I wish for - a good, medium-rare, all the stuff-on-it, burger, and an ice cream cone. I did have ice cream two weeks ago, but it would still be good. Also, a sub sandwich from Blimpies, and potato chips. It'll be a loooong time 'til I get any of that, so I should stop dreaming. Back to fish and rice. J
Around 4:00, we wanted to go diving at the mouth of Hogshead Bay. But, earlier in the day, we had a 3ft. shark come to the boat and take the remains of the fish Dad had cleaned, and then I saw another little shark, so we went to the beach instead. Ma has become quite afraid of sharks. She's seen too many movies and heard too many stories. I think it's because our worst/most dangerous encounter was just yesterday. Anyway, we went to a deserted beach at Hogshead Bay. Bro and I played around and did beachy stuff. I found a bottle with a clear liquid labeled Havana Club - Fundada (founded) 1879. Being so close to Cuba, I thought there might be more than seawater in the bottle. I poured some on my fingers and tasted it. It was most definitely not seawater. I told Dad, who did the same, and he said it was probably some sort of rum-like fire-water. Mom said I couldn't keep my Cuban liquor, so I said I'd just have to drink it on the beach. Dad said, "Sure," not believing me. I actually did go up the beach when Mom and Dad walked off, and poured myself a mouthful! J It was pretty good. When I said something about it, they took their places on either side of me, and I got lectured, got yelled at, and got my bottle smashed! L L At least I got a swig. J I do understand that they were concerned for my safety.
We got home at, like, 5:00. Tauá joined us in this anchorage and came over for a drink. They left after a couple of glasses of wine, and we had my big hogfish from yesterday for dinner. It was tasty. After supper, we played Spades. Tonight, Ma & I were a team. We won by around 100pts. Yippee!! We had a nice day today. Just hanging out and having fun.
Friday, 4/9/09 Day 432
So, we started the day with practically no real good sea beans, and now we have tons! That was a highlight of today.
We moved back to Johnson Cay this morning and this afternoon we hiked to a long-lost oceanside beach where Mom and Dad had found a bean or two one day, searching for more. We went past the beach and past an almost dry salt pond to a junk pile of washed up stuff. If any object has ever fallen overboard, at least one of that object is here. I found toy dolls, Haitian buckets of cooking butter (it said so on the buckets), driftwood, balls, broken and ground plastic, and sea beans. Of all places, we found lots and lots of beans here. Mom had found a few the other day, so we were on a special bean mission. By the time we were so tired, thirsty, and hot that we quit, we had two sea purses (quite rare finds), and over two dozen hamburger bean (the main mission target), and even more sea hearts (common enough for us to leave some behind). We eventually stopped looking, and left sea hearts, and probably even hamburger beans for the next beaner dude. We've now got quite a collection going.
When we returned to the beach, we came upon Mr. Peter, Ms. Monika, and Claudia flying these really cool kites on the beach. Claudia & Mr. Peter's was the best! It was a triangular kite with dual controllers that could zoom all over the place! It was fun to fly! We went back to Liberty and I got my Chinese kite train. It is a brand new one and somehow isn't half as good as the one I flew in Central Park. It fell apart, and I had to tie it all together again. It also doesn't have as much lift as my old one. I have a kite building kit at home that I'll use to improve my Chinese one. There is a big one I can build and attach for lift. Josh and I are also going to build a kite similar to Tauá's. I can't wait to try that!!
Going back to the beach itself, it's surprising what this last Norther did to it. The bay is open to the Crooked Island Passage to the north, and the front brought in tons of seaweed and actually leveled the beach. All the soft sand that sloped down to the water is gone, and now, 20ft. up the beach, there is a little (1ft. high) cliff where the soft sand drops to the hard wet sand. I can't believe that this got turned into an oceanside beach. I liked the old beach better. L
We played on the beach all afternoon. We flew kites, skim boarded, and gathered firewood. We plan to make a little fire tomorrow. With my skim board, I had to share, so I didn't get to do much trick practice. I am quite good at 180's, but not good at 360's or wave hops or this cool thing where you jump on the board in mid-air and then continue skimming. You know, I bought that board with my own cash. It's 100% mine. Mom said that tomorrow, I can have it all to myself. J We just had a really good time on the beach! J I'm really happy. J
Josh and I swam home and swam around Liberty. Josh was amazed when I swam under the boat. I do it al the time, but he didn't know. At first, he didn't believe me. I only swam under the bow. If I had my mask, snorkel and fins, and Liberty had a little more water under the keel, I'd have swam right under. It's only 5ft. down, 15ft across, and 5ft up. Not that hard. I swam almost 30ft down and 30ft up at Children's Bay Cay Cut, so this is easy. I love livin' on the boat! J J We have so much FUN!! J
As for the beginnings and endings of today, we moved the boat to Johnson Cay from Raccoon Cay and did school all morning. We then did our afternoon stuff. We had grouper soup for supper and then we come to now. The rest is the future!
Saturday, 4/10/09 Day 433
Today we just hung in paradise. We had a fun day just lounging around with Tauá on Johnson Cay, Jumentos. It was a pretty average day, so we did school all morning. For most of the morning, it was gray and cloudy. It even rained once for about 30 seconds. After lunch, we started to do stuff. I went snorkeling around the anchorage with Ma and Ms. Monika. Then we all went to the beach all afternoon, collecting wood, digging, skim boarding, etc. Around 6:30, way before sunset, we started the fire. I ate a hot dog and four of the world's most perfect marshmallows. They were golden brown to cream colored with black tops. They were just sooo delicious! J After food, we burned trash. While the adults did that, I skim boarded. This is, like, the best skim boarding beach I've found in a long time. Unfortunately, I somehow gave up my last three skims to Josh. L
After bonfiring (yes, that is a verb), we went to Tauá so the adults could play cards. The three kids watched Back to the Future. That was a very, very good movie! It was so good, in fact, that that is now all Bro can talk about. J L J
We might not see Tauá again for a while. We'll split mañana probably. At least that was the plan this evening. It might change. Our plans change a lot. But right now, my unchanging plan is to go to sleep! J
Sunday, 4/11/09 Day 434
I woke up this morning to a big and odd event. Last night and yesterday afternoon, there was a US Coast Guard helicopter and some Bahamian police helicopters flying around the area. This morning, there was a Bahamian police boat anchored in our anchorage, and Mom said they had spent the night here in their biggish speedboat. Dad went over to ask if there was anything we should know about, be worried about, or watch out for. They said they were searching for suspects and asked if we had seen any "go-fast" boats. Dad said they kind of implied that they were looking for some illegal drug traffic. There was a big, intense search going on, with helicopters flying extra low and making multiple passes all over. Then, all of a sudden, we came up and saw a speed boat with three people in it aground on a reef. They had literally run their boat up on the drying reef. They obviously were not "bad guys," or else there would have been a big gun battle, but they didn't look like civilians either. It looked like they were wearing bullet-proof vests and looked like pretty heavy duty guys. We suspect they were an unmarked police boat, also because they continued around with the other police boat once they got off the reef. To get the boat off, one guy got out onto the reef with two big fuel drums to lighten the load. After making sure there were no holes in the boat's hull, the first police boat pulled them right off. J It was all quite cool.
After breakfast and saying goodbye to Tauá, we departed for Hog Cay and Ragged Island. Josh and I did some school while underway. I also started building a kite from a kit we have. I got most of the body completed for a simple Delta kite. I'm thinking of upgrading this kite with some of my own engineering to a new Super Delta kite. It'll be awesome!!
We anchored at Hog Cay, 5 miles from Ragged Island and the Jumento's only settlement. You can't take your big boat into Ragged Island, only the dink. At some point, a skiff with some local fishermen in it came up to Liberty to say hi and welcome us to Duncan Town. We talked with Phil and his cousins Julian, Ty, and Harry for a long time. They were very nice. We talked and they cleaned conch and we had a good time. After they left, we dinghied into town. At first, we came to the bonefish flats, too shallow even for the dink. Then we found the channel, cut like a highway through the flats and through the mangroves into Duncan Town. That channel is the only way into town. Even the supply boat has to anchor out and they bring smaller boats out to unload the supplies and bring them into town.
Duncan Town was nice. It only has 75 residents, 12 of them kids, and a good half of them are away in Nassau for Spring Break and Easter. The town is on a hill, with their little harbour and channel on one side, and a big salt pond on the other. Most people in town are either fishermen or salt harvesters. The town has a bund of old, run down houses, left from when the population was closer to 300 and there was trade with Cuba (only 65 mi. away). When Fidel Castro took over Cuba, the trade ended.
We met up with Ty, Julian, Phil and Harry at Maxine's Grocery Store and got some produce, yeast, dinghy gas, and ice cream sandwiches! J J Those were sooo good and yummy! We also went to the Bonefish Lodge where there is free, fast wi-fi. We talked with Kit and Jeff, the two American fishing guides who run the lodge. They were, like everyone else, very nice. They let us come inside the lodge, in the A/C, and do internet stuff. We got the schedule for church service and then left town.
We hung out for the rest of the evening. I read my book - Ghost Boy by Ian Lawrence - for a lot of this evening. We had a light supper. Mañana is Easter. We plan to bake chocolate chip cookies tomorrow morning to give to Phil and his bunch, Kit and Jeff, and the church. Plus, we'll make a couple dozen for ourselves. Like the commercial for "Dirty Jobs" (a TV show) says - I can smell it now! J
Sunday, 4/12/09 Day 435
Today was a very pleasant day for me. It was just really nice. When I woke up, Mom was baking cookies. By the time Josh got up, the first batch was going in the oven. This recipe makes around 100 cookies, so we have about a half dozen batches. All morning, while the cookies were baking, we just hung out. We read books, played cards, and worked on the website. Finally, after months of procrastination, Mom and Dad have decided to try to do something with the website. That makes me happy, J
At 10:30, we went into town to go to Easter Church service. We got in just in time. Church was at the Church of God of Prophecy. That is one of the town's three churches. We are not completely sure of this, but we've heard that every Sunday they rotate which church they go to. There are three different pastors. This service was different than any other service I've been to. There was a lot about speaking out and expressing yourself. We were four of the 20 people present. Every 30 seconds, someone would say "Amen" or "Yes, yes" after the pastor said something. As for the pastor, I could barely understand him with his Bahamian accent. Everything sung was a capella, and it was loud. Everyone clapped along or shook a tambourine or tapped their feet, and the 20 of us sounded like 100 in that little church. Something else very different was the prayers. The pastor invited everyone to say whatever they wanted to pray aloud. You had about 10 people all sitting/standing/kneeling differently, all saying different stuff at the same time. Also, similar to the prayers, was when the pastor invited people to stand in turn and say something. One lady said a little prayer and recited a poem. Another sang a song. When asked, even Dad got up and thanked everyone for welcoming us in as warmly as they did. Service lasted two hours. Afterwards, Mom broke out the cookies. They were a big hit, and everyone had a couple.
Before going home, we made some stops around town. We did internet and left some cookies and a book at the Bonefish Lodge. The internet is really good there and we even got to talk to our grandparents on Skype. We also went by Maxine's place, but Phil and Julian and Ty weren't there. Maybe we'll see them tomorrow and give them their cookies.
After we were done in town, we stopped at the boat to change clothes and went to a beach on Hog Cay. I skim boarded some, explored some, and lounged around. I used my board to provide shade and lay on a cushion we brought. Dad said I did fairly well for myself and I sure think I did. After the beach, we all swam the dink out a ways and then went back to the boat. We had a light supper. Just before supper, guess who showed up - none other than Tauá. That means that more fun is on the way! We played Spades this evening. Dad and I whooped Mom and Josh. J I like playing cards. I like life!
Monday, 4/13/09 Day 436
My entry today will probably only be a page long, but it was still a really good day. We hung out all morning with only a little bit of school. We worked on the computer a lot, mostly website. The web stuff is coming along at an excellent rate! Josh and I also played cards a bunch.
We got off the boat to go explore after lunch (very nice bruschetta with a cookie for dessert). We went on a trail to a oceanside beach. The trail crossed a dried salt pond and wound through the brush until you finally came out on a beach half covered in seaweed and trash. We found a bunch of those Haitian butter buckets. I found a cigar box that says "10 Esplendidos, Hecho a Mano" (10 splendids, hand-made, in Spanish). I bet it once held Cuban cigars, but I can't be sure. I'm keeping the box to put my stuff in. Junking can sure be fun. We saw goats all over. Some came really close to us.
On the way home, we met up with Tauá, also coming up the path. We made plans to get together this evening. Another cruising friend of ours pulled into the anchorage here at Hog Cay. They are Nauti-Nauti. We saw their boat in Annapolis, MD and met up with them in George Town, Exumas. We stopped and said "Hi," and ended up staying and chit-chatting (my parents can talk for longer than anyone!) for a half hour. We went home and made some pasta and brought it over to Tauá. That all happened later than expected, but it happened. We made sure it happened because we may not see them again. L If everyone's current plans stay the same, we might see them again next season, but no more this season. After dinner, the adults talked all night (practically), and we kids played with Claudia's DS and hung out. I am quite L that we won't see them again, but other than that, I'm very J! J L J
Tuesday, 4/14/09 Day 437
Mom just griped at me to do my journal. It's only 6:30, but she seems to always be harping on me. She's got here reasons (bad ones), but we won't go there.
Actually, we didn't do much today. In reality, only I didn't do much today. The boat and entire family as a whole did a lot. We moved Liberty all the way from Hog Cay, Jumentos to Water Cay, Jumentos. That is a distance of about 55 miles. At normal speeds, that would take us 11 hours, but conditions were perfect, so we averaged almost 7 knots and made the trip in a stunning 8 ½ hours. The wind blew 15-20 kts and coming aft of the beam (morning) to just forward of the beam (afternoon). The swell was somewhat bad at times, but we dealt with that. We sailed all day, with the exception of running the motor to pick up and drop the anchor.
While sailing, I either did school, or just hung out. My best cure for mild seasickness is to lay down on a bed in a somewhat dark, somewhat quiet room with at least moderate airflow (yes, fans are very acceptable). It works for me. If I feel good enough, I'll sit up and read a book, but I just cannot use my brain or concentrate (such as do school, make anything, etc.). I hope that that method can be useful to someone who has motion sickness issues who reads this.
Gotta stop writing this. Dad made bread. Good dinner and cards coming. Adios. J