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Thursday, 1/22/09                                                                                Day 355

We left George Town today.  We have been in George Town exactly one month.  There was stuff growing on our anchor, for we hadn't moved in that whole time!  We left at 7:30 on the dot for Long Island.  As we left the cut south of Stocking Island, we saw over a dozen sails coming behind us, but we were one of the first ones out.

We had to motor-sail most of the way though.  We passed the Tropic of Cancer on the way.  It goes through Little Exuma Island and northern end of Long Island.  Josh and I did school most of the trip, but we got to do subjects that we could do out in the beautiful sun and wind.  Surprisingly, the wind was quite chilly.  Even though it is mid-January, the Bahamian days are quite warm.  You wear summer clothes year-round.  I like it!!

We got in at 3:00.  We anchored in Thompson Bay right alongside More Cowbell and Rio Dulce who had caught up with us at the end when Dad tried to sail (2.5knts in the wrong direction).  Rio Dulce invited More Cowbell, Gotta Life, and us over at 5:00 for cocktails.  They have an awesome boat.  We ran around on their huge catamaran deck and trampoline (the netting between the two hulls).  We played in their Lego room (one of four big cabins - this one is for storage and Legos!).  For a long time, all the kids jumped up on Anne's bed and listened to music from Brady's I Pod.  We had a ton of fun.  Eventually, it got late and we all left.  I've had a great day!! J

Friday, 1/23/09                                                                                Day 356

Our first day in Long Island was pretty good.  We did school like everybody else until around 11:30.  At that time, Mom, Josh, and I went in to the Thompson Bay Club to talk to Ms. Tryphena about a tour of the island.  At the same time, Ms. Dana went into town to see about renting vans for our group of 16 (More Cowbell, Rio Dulce, Gotta Life and us).  Ms. Tryphena runs the Thompson Bay Club (a bar & grill) and all the cruisers know her.  She also does special island tours.  She also told us about a big Bahamian dinner tonight.  Another thing we learned was that there aren't any good snorkeling spots here at Long Island.  Ms. Tryphena also told us how to get to the ocean beach.  She has a lot of information!

After getting "the scoop" on Long Island, Mom went over to the little council held on Gotta Life.  In the end, it was decided that Rio Dulce and Gotta Life didn't want to tour the island just yet and that they had some mackerel to eat from yesterday.  More Cowbell and we decided to rent a van for tomorrow and also to go to Thompson Bay Club for the dinner tonight.

We hung out for the rest of the afternoon.  We met More Cowbell at the beach and went to the Thompson Bay Club.  Mr. David and Dad went to the bar to get wi-fi and enjoy happy hour while the rest of us went to the ocean beach.  We had to hike a good ways over the hill to get to the beach.  There were a lot of sea beans on the beach, but also lots of trash and junk.  I found a cool bottle and I convinced Mom and Dad to let me keep it.  It's awesome.  I think it's special, but Mom says it is a Maggi bottle that you can buy in any grocery store. 
L  At the end of the beach there were cliffs with caves carved out of them.  Sam, Josh, & I crawled in there for a while.

Dinner/happy hour at the Thompson Bay Club was cool.  I used the internet.  Ms. Tryphena, the owner and cook, made the best conch fritters I've ever eaten!  It didn't take 5 minutes for everyone in the bar to eat a plate of them!  6:30 dinner didn't get served until 8:00, but we're on island time!
J  I ate a filling Bahamian dinner with the works - cracked conch, grouper fingers, BBQ ribs, chicken wings, (pigeon) peas & rice, mac & cheese casserole, potato salad, and coleslaw!

On the way home, at 9:30, we realized we had forgotten flashlights.  You have to walk through the woods to get to the beach from the road!  We used Ms. Dana's cell phone light to find the path and held on to each other's shoulders.  On the way home, we rafted up our dinghies just for fun and motored back together.  More Cowbell is a good set of friends.

We have to get up somewhat early tomorrow to do our land tour of Loooooong Island (Ms. Tryphena's spelling - it's 80 miles long) with More Cowbell.  That'll be soooooo fun!  And it'll probably be a loooooong day.  I'm starting to like the whole "extra o's" thing!  I'm having fun.  Oh I'm having fun!

Saturday, 1/24/09
                                                                                Day 357

We had a SUPER day!  We traveled Loooooog Island for 13 straight hours.  That number is from when we left Liberty (8:00am) to when we got home (9:00pm).  We rented a cute little van from a guy named Stan.  Ms. Dana was chosen to drive.

Our first stop of the day was Cape Santa Maria and the Columbus Monument, commemorating Columbus' 3rd stop in the New World.  They say that is a must see on Long Island, at the northernmost tip.  The problem is, you need a big truck with big gnarly wheels to get up to the monument.  Our van didn't get half way before we decided to walk.  That was after Josh said the van was heeling and we wobbled/clunked over some little boulders.  We walked the last mile and a half.  I was really glad I had a walking stick, just like Josh & Sam.  There were lots of hills too.  We were quite tired when we got to the monument and hiked up the cliffs.  The limestone cliffs overlooking the beautiful azure water were just pristine.  Then, after taking some pictures at the monument, which was dedicated not only to Columbus, but to the Lucayan natives too, we hiked all the way back.  The half bottle of water in the van was much appreciated.

The second stop was short but nice.  We stopped at the Santa Maria Resort to stop by the beach.  We were just there to wash off our feet, filthy from the hike.  The water there was even prettier than at the Cape.  The sand was soft too.

The next leg of our journey was an hour or so long drive all the way south.  We stopped at a grocery store to pick up a snack lunch.  We got Chex mix with Cheese-Its, ham, carrots, shortbread cookies, and nutty bars.  We finally stopped at the world's deepest blue hole.  In 3 steps off the beach, you fell into 600 feet of water.  It was insanely awesome!  We had brought our wet suits and snorkel gear, so we had a good time checking it all out.  There were not many pieces of coral, but lots of fish.  Dad saw a shark-like thing when diving deep!  Sharks supposedly fill the depths of blue holes.  And there were definitely enough meals on the hole's edge for them.  We also jumped off the surrounding cliffs into the blue hole.  Sam, Josh, Mr. David, and I jumped off one place at about 15 feet, and Sam & I went a second time at about 20 feet.  That was fun.  There was another place to jump from at about 30 feet, but none of us had the guts to do it.  Another lady did jump from up there, but got hurt 'cause she landed on her butt.  Ms. Dana, Sam, Josh & I also swam out to the reef.  I saw four Nassau groupers.  It made me kind of angry that they were out swimming around because they are out of season for fishing right now.
L  We also found tons of sand dollars between the beach and the reef.  The blue hole was one of the best things today.

We immediately drove to Hamilton's Cave after the blue hole.  We had a 3:00 appointment that we were already 10 minutes late for. We got a tour by Leonard Cartwright who actually owns the land the cave is on.  The cave goes in 1100 feet, and is the largest cave in the Bahamas.  We were told that the cave was created when the sea receded and carved away the cave, creating wonderful designs.  There are lots of cool stalactites and stalagmites, but most are dry and no longer growing.  Some are still alive.  Thinking about that, the caves aren't taken good care of.  There is trash and graffiti, and the Cartwrights use it as a hurricane shelter, with campfires and tents.  Along that note, this is not the first time the cave has been used as a shelter.  The Lucayans lived in the cave.  They are uncovering many artifacts from those ancient Bahamians.

My favorite part of the cave was the bats!  There were lots of little fruit bats.  We saw clumps of the bats all over, lining the cave's ceiling.  Mr. Cartwright gave them weird names like Mexican Winged bats, Big Air bats, and Fluffo flower bats.  I saw a baby bat that was only an inch or two long!  They were soooooo cool!  Because of the bats, the cave got a high rating on my list of favorites today.

From the cave, we went to Clarence Town, the biggest town on Long Island.  We really wanted see the big churches - St. Paul's and St. Peter's.  One is catholic; one is Anglican; both were built by the same guy.  Ms. Dana really wanted to see these churches.  We went to St. Paul's Anglican Church first.  St. Paul was more elaborate.  It had a fancy altar with statues of the saints behind it.  It had the Stations of the Cross framed in ornate wood frames down both sides of the church.  It even had stained glass lanterns to complement the pretty windows.

St. Peter's Catholic Church was simpler.  There was just a big cross with Jesus painted on it and a pretty rose window.  But St. Peter's is on the islands' tallest hill (and boy does this island have hills!) and has taller steeples than St. Paul's.  The twin steeples are like turrets on a castle!  We climbed the steeple and could see really far.  I took a panorama movie with Mom's camera like I usually do on lighthouses and towers.  The towers here were seriously awesome!

We drove around Clarence Town and ate dinner at Rowdy Boyz bar & grill.  I had gotten a recommendation for that place.  We got big cheeseburgers!  After dinner, we drove at least one hour all the way to the owner Stan's house.  The paved roads were all lit at night which was surprising.  Long Island is cleaner and more industrious than other Bahamian places we've been to.  Unfortunately, there are no good diving spots.  If there were, this might be my favorite spot in the Bahamas.  Mr. Stan drove us back to the path.  Luckily, we remembered flashlights tonight! J  It has been a SUPER day!!

P.S.  Luckily, Mom made me take notes of the places we went today.  They were helpful.

Sunday, 1/25/09                                                                                Day 358

I don't exactly know what to say to describe today, so I'll just talk through the order of events.  To jump start the day, Josh and I jointly made pancake-egg sandwiches.  Mom and Dad say I was being too much of a perfectionist, and Josh was making the pancakes half as big as they should have been, so it didn't work out too well.  The end result was tasty, but was hard to eat and didn't look good.

We spent the morning doing bits of school and cleaning up from yesterday.  At 10:00, Gotta Life invited us to come with them, Rio Dulce, Three @ Sea and More Cowbell to a special ocean beach at 10:30.  Because of cleaning, More Cowbell and we only got out at 11:00.  It was a good hike through the woods to the beach and it was 11:30 by the time we got to the beach, but everyone was still there.  The beach was literally full of seaweed and trash.  We mostly all went junking.  We found lots of cool bottles and stuff.  I climbed up and walked along a really sharp cliff ledge.  That was cool!  We had a lot of fun before we had to hike back.

We just hung out for the rest of the day.  At 5:30 or so, More Cowbell came over here.  The adults played cards while the kids played and watch Bonanza.  They just left and it is 10:30.  We have to leave Long Island tomorrow so that Dad can leave on a plane from George Town on Tuesday.  Long Island was fun.  George Town's fun too, though, so back we go.

Monday, 1/26/09                                                                                Day 359

Today wasn't that great.  Our sail from Long Island was pretty and fast, but soon after we came alongside Great Exuma Island, the winds picked up , the seas picked up, and gray clouds started rolling in.  It started getting rough enough that we were feeling queasy and school was ended for the day.  I just rested in my cabin and read a book for the rest of the trip.

I got up when we were cruising through George Town's anchorage.  We found a great spot just off Chat 'N Chill.  Unfortunately, after we anchored, a bit of rough housing and miscommunication landed me and Josh in our room for 3 hours.  Now things are cleared up and we just ate a good dinner.  We actually just finished up a game of Spades.  This is my first time playing and I did well.  It's fun.

Dad leaves for a business trip to Vegas tomorrow.  He's got everything ready, including our stateside shopping list.  I'm going to miss him, but it'll only be for two weeks.  And anyway, George Town's a pretty good place to be stuck and alone. 

Tuesday, 1/27/09                                                                                Day 360

I need to be careful not to hurt myself because I am stretching my face to its limits smiling. 
J  I love George Town.  It is too bad that Dad left today (boo hoo! L boo hoo! L), but we're getting back into our great George Town routine.

We started school after the net and got it done quickly.  Around 11:30, Dad and I went in to the beach to show me some new parts for Independence and then try them out.  I got to sail it around the anchorage.  I had a great time, heeling over and zipping along!  It wasn't a long sail, but I had a nice time.

When we got back, Dad got Elvis (the water taxi guy) to take him across to town and the rest of us ate PB&J sandwiches and went to the beach.  I played some volleyball and then met Dakota (12) and Declan (9) from s/v Priority.  They are really nice and Dakota and I went sailing.  We had a few minor difficulties, but everything ended great, and anyway - "All's well that ends well."
J  After our sail, we built sand tunnels and rolled balls through them.  We made some really cool ones!

Around 5:15, we all left.  We came home, showered, and made dinner.  We made fettuccini in a rich and hearty pink sauce!  Now, I'm sitting on the couch, bursting at the seams from supper, while everyone else goes to bed.  It's only 8:00 or so, but we all clunked out early. So - mañana, mañana, let's do it all again.

Wednesday, 1/28/09                                                                        Day 361

Today was yet another normal, yet good day here in George Town.  We did school until 11:00.  Luckily, we had gotten all our school done by that time.  We had to go to an SSB radio luncheon/seminar at Peace & Plenty Bar & Grill.  Lee on Windstar IV was the one giving the lecture.  It started a little late because of the grill.  Though they had a huge grill, they had under-provisioned for all 70 cruisers that showed up, and weren't cooking enough at a time.  We all got hamburgers for $7 a piece, including sides.  That's pretty cheap.  I listened to the lecture, which covered VHF radio etiquette, SSB radio allowable frequencies, HAM radios, licensing, and a Q&A session and it was pretty interesting.  I actually understand all the talk because I am a General Class licensed HAM radio operator - my call sign is KE5NXA.

We went straight to the beach from the lecture where we met up with Priority.  We spent most of the afternoon making these awesome sand tunnels and ramps for tennis balls.  Declan's was the best, but mine was really good too.  It had tunnels, jumps, and a hairpin turn!

Towards the end of the afternoon, I went sailing with Dakota and Adam (from Joy).  We taught Adam how to sail a little boat like Independence.  We had a really good time.  We even boarded Priority to get life jackets!
J  Eventually, Scott came out in his dinghy and told me that Mom said it was time to come home.  He towed us in.  Mom noted to me that I forgot to tell her we were going sailing.  I've been grounded for tomorrow (no leaving the boat) and can't sail until Sunday. L  I sure messed that one up!!

We went home and had a good evening.  We made really good pasta for supper.  Afterwards, we played Sorry.  I won!  At the beginning, I was way ahead, but I got some competition at the end.
J  Besides the little sailing "incident," I've had a good day.  It doesn't really matter because I have some on board projects anyway. J L  I'll work it out.