Saturday, March 30, 2013

Falling into Routine

There's a quote that says something about how routine is "lethal". And while I can understand how doing the same thing day in and day out can be a bit... stifling, there is beauty in routine as well.   At least that's how I see it.

Here in Georgetown, for example, our days have become somewhat predictable.  We've joined forces with a couple other lovely families and it is so nice to be among fellow boaters with kiddos.   We love spending time with them so much, in fact, that at least a part (and sometimes most) of just about every day is dedicated to hanging out with them.  Among us there are five children, all girls between the ages of one and five, and each day we meet on the beach.  It's an international play group and once we're all there we're usually joined by two to four other children as well.  At any given time you might hear three or four languages being spoken and squeals of delight echo from the beach as the older kids run free.  I cannot help but think all this exposure to new cultures, people, and languages is incredible for the growing brain of our baby.

There is one sweet Belgian/French girl, Zoe, who has come over and "played" with us the past couple days.  Despite our language barrier she lights up when she sees us coming, waits patiently for me to set up our little area, and then proceeds to scoop Isla up and whisk her off to play.  She carries her all over the beach on her hip and clearly adores babies.  It is the sweetest thing to see. Isla simply loves her nine-year-old baby sitter, and the feeling is very obviously reciprocated.  It really is so true, children are the world's greatest ambassadors.

Routine might be lethal for some, but it's a welcome change for us.  When life is anything but predictable, sometimes a little "lather, rinse, repeat" is exactly the change you were looking for.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hiking in the Bahamas

The islands of the Bahamas, for the most part, are pretty low lying.  Brush is thick, trees are squat, and the hills aren't much.  Despite the lack of contour, some of the larger islands offer nice trails with beautiful panoramas and interesting things to see.  One of our "goals" of cruising this time is to explore the islands inland a little more and, so far, we've been doing a pretty good job of getting off the boat and exploring.  We strap Isla into the baby carrier , pack a backpack full of water, cameras and snacks and we're good to go for a few hours. 
Hikes of Lee Stocking
A nest at eye-level
This spider was huge. 3 inches long with legs.  Scott walked into the web of one of these and it almost stopped him.

A naturalist in the making?
Our trail, here we're at a "high point"
These are seeds off of a tree. Natures decor!
Since she was born Isla has always loved being outside.
Interesting mollusks are attached to the rocks and trees.  These were about an inch long.
Look closely down the center and you'll see the old, abandoned airstrip.  Very rustic down here.
Another perk of hiking is that they often lead to private beaches.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Changing of the Guard

Having my mom here has been a total blast.  Not only is she an amazing person and fantastic mom to me, but she is an expert grandma to Isla.  They've been two peas in a pod for the past week and it's been fantastic to see them having so much fun together.  She has been a huge help to us and the ultimate playmate for Isla.  It's true what they say: there is nothing like a Grandma's love.  They take it to a whole new level.

While I am so sad to see her leave, it's not so bad since I'll be seeing her in a couple weeks when Isla and I go home for a quick visit during Scott's next work rotation.  In the meantime, no sooner will the door be shutting behind my mom when Scott's mom arrives.  She flies in later this afternoon and we're looking forward to having her with us as well.  Isla's getting lots of Grandma time down here!

Here's a few pics of what we have been up to the past week.  As you can see, there's been lots of time at the beach with our new friends.  Playdates are a-plenty down here in Georgetown and it's been wonderful.

The clothespin fad is still going strong
Isla and her friend Kenza
Synchronized baby climbing.  These two were born a week apart!
Grandma was all smiles, all the time.
The response to "where's your tongue"
Daddy/daughter time
Isla on the move.  She is a ball of energy!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Hand Line

When we started our cruising lives two years ago, Scott read how handy a "Cuban yoyo" was to have on the boat.  Fishing chandleries down the east coast, however, could not help him, looking at him quizzically each time he inquired about one.  Turns out, "cuban yoyo" is just another term for a hand line, and is pretty much the most basic form of fishing there is.  The setup is brilliantly cheap, simple, and ideal for a sailboat with minimal space.  It consists of 300-400 feet of 40 pound test fishing line wrapped around a six inch plastic spool equipped with a hook and sinker.  Islanders the world over have mastered the art of fishing by hand and many cruisers actually prefer yoyo's to complex and expensive rods and reels common for trolling.

We caught our very first fish ever with the hand line, but it's sat idle ever since.  The other night, however, Scott dropped the line in with a simple little shrimp hook and immediately pulled out two snapper for dinner, one after another, with out the slightest bit of effort.

Looks like we're going to be using this little hand line a lot more from here on out.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy Days

We've been having a blast these past few days in Georgetown.  I've fallen into a fantastic little group of awesome boat momma's and we've been having play dates galore which makes for a very happy Isla (and maybe even a happier momma?).  My mom is here as well which is wonderful for me, but even more wonderful for her and Isla.  Scott even got out kiteboarding the other day and so he's a happy camper as well.  All is good in our world.  I have loads of great photos and tons of half-written posts to share, but unfortunately we're too busy having fun to sit on the internet (not to mention the fact that it's pretty unreliable).  We'll be back with you as soon as I have a few hours to sit down in front of the computer and bang out some posts and updates for you all.  In the meantime, here's a photo to show you just how happy little Isla is.  Life is good!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Our Dinghy: Walker Bay Odyssey Light 310 SLRX

I've mentioned a few times that we feel like we've really "kicked it up a notch" this time around.  We have a bigger boat, a super sailor baby, water toys and we're eating a lot better (as in, more than rice and beans).  These things have had a tremendous impact on the "fun" factor out here for us.  Not that we weren't having fun before, because we were.  We're just having a little more fun now...

Another upgrade we made that has had an incredible impact was a new dinghy.  When you live on a boat, your dinghy is your "car" and - most important - your lifeline to land.  While I do admire the purists who forego propulsion and row to and from shore in their rowing dinghies, we have found that a fast, powerful "car" is invaluable to us.  Having a planing dinghy has literally opened up a world of opportunity.  We are able to go to so many more places that we were never able to before; neighboring islands, far-flung snorkel spots, and spear fishing reefs to name a few.  It makes shore-side chores like grocery shopping and laundry much easier, gives us freedom to roam in almost any condition, and is a lot of fun to boot.  Not to mention that a reliable, fast dinghy could prove critical in case of emergency (God forbid).  For us, this seemingly minor addition has made a huge impact on our cruising life.

After selling our last one with Rasmus, we knew we wanted another RIB (rigid inflatable boat) and after a good deal of research, we decided on a Walker Bay Odyssey Light.  The decision was made all the easier when they decided to partner with us as sponsors.  So far, we're thrilled with our choice and set up.  If you are interested, you can view all the specs and features of our model here.
Features that we love:  
  • It's light.  Weighing in at about 100 pounds, this dinghy is easy for us to bring up onto the beach and hoist on our davits. It's also less weight hanging off the back of our boat which is nice for peace of mind when in rough seas.
  • It's sturdy.  We love having the fiberglass floor; it's rigid which makes it easy to get in and out of (important with a baby!) and gets up on plane in no time with all of us on the boat.
  • It's roomy.  We have the 10 foot model and we can easily (and comfortably) have four adults in the boat.  Despite it's roominess, it still fits nicely on the bow of Asante for long passages which was essential to us.
  • It's dry.  The bow is designed so that water is deflected away from the passengers in choppy water.  While we'll still get splashed in big seas, we're a lot more dry than we would have been in our other boat.  A dry dinghy is a great dinghy!
What we don't love:
  • The seat.  So far, we're not in love with the seat that comes with the dinghy.  While the stow compartment and drink holder are great, the corners of it rub the tubing in such a way that there is a little wear underneath. We have opted to remove the seat completely to avoid any more wear and tear and inadvertent puncturing.  
Along with our dinghy, we also upgraded to a Yamaha 15 horsepower 2-stroke outboard engine which we love.  It is so nice to have the extra power and the ability get up on plane in an instant is a nice perk.  Dinghies with powerful outboards have also been known to help their mother ships in tight situations like groundings or engine failures, so we consider this set-up "added insurance" as well.

Scott and I learned the hard way how essential a reliable dinghy and outboard is for long-term cruising, so this time around we did it way we always wanted and are reaping the benefits every day.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tea Time

There are many customs that I have discovered abroad that I absolutely love; the siesta from the Spanish, marathon dinners from the Italians, properly greeting your elders from the Tanzanians... to name just a few.  One custom that holds a particularly special place in my heart, however, is "tea time" from the British.

Being that my mom is off-the-boat British, I grew up drinking tea.  I'd come home from school, belly up to the kitchen island and when most American moms would serve up cookies and milk, my mom served up fully-caffeinated tea with milk and sugar.  I'd invite my friends over and when I asked them if they'd like some tea, their perplexed faces said it all:  Tea?!  Uh, can we just have a cookie?? I thought all moms served their kids tea after school.  Not so much.  I still love tea, but it's even more enjoyable these days since I have found my favorite tea time biscuits here in the Bahamas.  Every proper tea drinker knows that no afternoon tea is complete without biscuits.  These "Digestives" instantly bring me back to the kitchen cupboard of my Grandparent's old house in Blackpool, England. Tea tastes better while nibbling on one of these, no joke.

3pm is now "tea time" aboard our boat and aside from being an enjoyable little break (and a nice excuse for a little afternoon snack) it also serves a purpose...  You see, when you have a toddling baby who's "morning time" is 6:30 am,  that little jolt of caffeine is just what the doctor ordered to tackle the latter half of the day.

Friday, March 22, 2013


The hit toy around here these days... the clothespin.  Isla can't get enough of them and actually hordes the things.  We've always got a handful clipped onto our lifelines and the second Isla spys them, she wants them all.  Pointing and persistent whining will ensue until she is certain she has every last one.  We're not sure why, but there's something about the mechanics that she loves.  Her favorite trick is to stick the ends in her mouth and make the pinchers open and close with a biting motion.  This simple skill brings her insane amounts of joy.  She also loves to hide them in and under things, which means we find clothespins everywhere.  We can't complain, they give us a solid fifteen minutes or more of quiet time.  Until, of course, she pinches herself...which she has done on numerous occasions.  And yet she still comes back for more.  Her brightly colored toys don't hold a candle to these things and we now take a few everywhere we go.  I guess we should be grateful and enjoy this while it lasts?  

We are now in Georgetown, Exumas where we will be for the next month or so.  The Grandmas are descending and we couldn't be more excited about it.  My mom arrived last night and Scott's mom arrives in a week.  Between Grandma time, clothespins, and a very special first birthday on the 31st  - there's lots of excitement in store on our boat!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shark Sighting

Seeing a shark in the water really gets your blood pumping.  We've seen plenty of nurse sharks and a couple of lemon sharks before but those aren't the kind of sharks I'm talking about.  I'm talking about scary sharks.  The kind that can take a nice sized bite out of a limb.

We were in the stunningly beautiful Rudder Cay, the neighboring island to David Copperfield's Musha Cay, when a fellow cruiser dinghied over to say hello and tell us about a piano that the king of illusions himself had allegedly sunk not to far from where we were.  It made for a pretty neat snorkel excursion he told us, because not only was there a piano down there - but a mermaid as well.  So off we went to see for ourselves.

Because we have a baby, snorkeling looks a little different for us.  The three of us pile into the dinghy and head to our destination where Scott and I snorkel one at a time while the other stays back with Isla.  It's worked well thus far.  Snorkeling alone is better than not snorkeling at all.

Scott went first, and I followed about ten minutes later with our awesome Olympus underwater digital camera in tow.  The piano and musical mermaid were in about fifteen feet of water, with nothing around them but soft white sand.  It made a beautiful contrast in what would have otherwise been a very boring snorkel spot.  As I was free diving to get pics, I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that something was watching me.  I kept looking back into the dusky blue water at my back, but saw nothing.  I shook it off and attributed the feeling to a bonafide shark paranoia brought on by a childhood of watching JAWS I, II and III on repeat.  I swam back to the boat and no sooner had I hopped in the dink and removed my fins and snorkel when Scott's eyes went wide.  He looked at the water behind me and said very calmly, "Shark".

"No way.  No way.  No way" I kept repeating as it's black silhouette slipped directly under our dinghy with a slow and meandering side to side swagger.  This was no nurse shark.  "Shut up. Shut up. Shut up." I said over and over as we watched it swim toward the rocky shore.  This thing had definitely been watching me.  Not only that, but it had followed me back to the dinghy.  I know they are a curious species and I'm sure I was in no real danger, but still - putting two and two together was unnerving to say the least.  Scott grabbed the camera, put his hand underwater and started snapping pics.

We're not sure what type of shark this is, but he was at least five feet long.  The photos we were able to get were when we followed him into the shallows where he leisurely swam before heading back out to wherever it was he came from.  Suffice it to say, we didn't go swimming the rest of the day.  While I know it's more likely to get struck by lightening than attacked by a shark, I have zero interest in playing those odds while swimming with one.

From now on, I think I'll stick to snorkeling the coral reefs and leave the piano-playing mermaids to Mr. Copperfield...unless the shark was all part of the illusion?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Slice of Life in Little Farmers Cay

We hear the loud reggae beats as we slowly maneuver our dinghy up to the dock.  The sound of machete's slapping down on the filet table with samurai precision punctuate the tempo.  Three local fisherman are purposefully and methodically cleaning their catch of conch and grouper and a strong stench of putrid sea life hangs in the air.  The purr of an outboard enters the scene as a local boat drops off a few men from, presumably, another island where perhaps they've been working.  They get off the boat, offer us a smile and friendly wave and are on their way.  A handful of adorable local children are on the docks as well and eyeball us bashfully as we approach.  They are fishing with hand lines and teasing one another playfully as we slowly pass by, checking it all out.  Looking down into the turquoise knee-deep water under the cleaning station, three or four large stingrays and a nurse shark have gathered and hurriedly vacuum up whatever scraps escape the table.

It's a slice of perfectly Bahamian life here in Little Farmers Cay.  So many sites, colors, smells and sounds to tease the senses.  Just absorbing it all makes me happy.  I am always taking stock of moments like these; trying to freeze them in my mind's eye like a tableau when my novice photography skills won't do them justice.

We treated ourselves to an early dinner ashore at Ocean Cabin.  We'd met the charming proprietor, Terry, earlier in the day and heard stories of his famous sea captain grandfather and, being the father of three girls himself, he was particularly fond of Isla.  We made arrangements to come in later for dinner which is when we happened upon the little scene depicted above.  When we approached the restaurant, Terry - who was playing dominoes with some friends - saw us coming and yelled, "Isla!...Bring her over here!" (You could hear the smile in his voice) "Her name means 'island'" he proudly told his friends. "Take a picture of her on the table here with us".  So we did.  What a lucky girl.  Terry's lovely wife, Ernestine, prepared us a delicious meal of fresh fish and cracked conch and we were back on the boat by 5:45.  A perfectly, laid-back Bahamian evening.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...