Friday, December 31, 2010

Race Day

We finally had a perfect day to run the postponed Boxing Day Regatta. Eight cruising sailboats turned out for the race and the milder conditions were a welcome treat.

For the past few years, New Horizon and its crew have been both the race committee boat and the committee itself for this race, also known as the H. Bowen White Trophy Regatta. We were all ready to get to the the dock to pick up the race equipment and the rest of the committee members, and thankfully started early. We tried to start the main engines only to find their starting battery was totally dead. Oops, maybe we should go out of the harbor more often?! Luckily Dave could jump them from the house batteries and we were up and running (today while I split my time volunteering at the library and museum, Dave was off island looking to see what batteries are available).

Out in the Sea of Abaco, we set up a triangular race course. As you can see, Paul is using a high tech wind instrument to determine exactly where the course should be placed. LOL In the background, Dave is helping Ann put up Dave's custom made adjustable flag pole to start the race flag sequence.
Then Ray and Don picked up one of the race markers in the mark set boat.

The start was very close and all types of mono-hull and multi-hull boats participated.

The winner ended up being a late entry boat that was towing its dinghy! That made them true hard-core cruising boat racers. They sailed very well and caught up to the other boats very quickly.
Everyone had a fun time both in the race and at the awards stand-up. There were several new entries to the fleet, so it was great to meet these enthusiastic sailors.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Good Deed

During our cold spell, Dave and I found a great project to work on. Previously we had received permission to clean and organize the workshop of the local Wyannie Malone Historical Museum. This area had become a catch all, with wood and things (many broken) piled up until you could barely open the door. We saw the potential that it had, but when we first started out we just didn't know where to even begin. I think that's mainly where the problem initiated and why no one else tackled the clean up. I didn't take pictures at the onset, but did as soon as we could actually walk into the room.

Before (sort of):

During (all this wood was inside before I took the pictures above):


Now the workshop is fully functional again, for whatever projects need completed for this historical museum, which is manned by volunteers and funded by donations. This was a perfect way to stay warm and be productive by helping the local community.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chillin' Out

Brrrrr! Last night was the coldest night we have ever spent on board New Horizon. With the 35 m.p.h. winds blowing for two days, we just couldn't keep the boat and ourselves warm.

Then we woke up to this strange sight....
Just kidding about the ice, although I was that cold! The picture above is actually our friends' sailboat in Norfolk, Virginia. Here are a couple more.

After seeing that and the blizzard pictures that people having been sending us from New York and New Jersey, things aren't so bad here after all.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day 2010

I hope you all had a great Christmas Day. This is the placid scene that I woke up to at sunrise yesterday. It reminds me of a song that we used to sing as kids called "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth." Instead the lyrics I was singing were, "all I want for Christmas is a calm, warm day." Santa delivered!

What a perfect start to a busy but fun day.

Today however, the weather did an 'about face' and it has been blowing 25-35 m.p.h. with several showers during the passing of our latest cold front. The rain was quite welcome though, since it gave the boat a nice rinse off.

This, the day after Christmas, is Boxing Day in both The Bahamas and England. It is a Hope Town Sailing Club tradition to have a cruising sailboat race on this holiday. During the past few years New Horizon has been the race committee boat, and this works out well since we are also on the race committee itself. Unfortunately today the wind gods did not cooperate, so we had to postpone the race for a few days. Now we see that the prediction is for flat calm wind on the day we rescheduled the race for. Too much wind or not enough wind? It's just the way the fickle winter weather is in the Bahamas.

We're just glad we are not on a sailboat right now, and not just because of the race. The masts on the sailboats give them a bit more windage and especially the lighter boats are really leaning over and whipping around on their moorings in our heavy winds. We even feel a bit dizzy with the boat moving around so much, almost like a slight case of vertigo. It does make me feel better to look at the Christmas morning picture though, knowing that the rough conditions are temporary. In fact the picture is now my computer's desktop background as a reminder of how calm the harbor can be.

Click here for more info on Boxing Day and last year's race.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas is definitely here. The harbor is full now and looks quite a bit different than in the last post.

Earlier, carols were playing on one of the charter boats. As I write this, the church chimes also started playing carols. Several of us have lights twinkling from our rails and rigging, and many of the houses in Hope Town are brightly decorated. Of course in the center of it all is the famous lighthouse that we helped decorate! We Harbour Rats were actually featured in an article in the Abaconian. Click here and scroll to page 12 of Section A of the December 15th Issue.

Christmas Day we are looking forward to attending three different festive parties on the island. The only things we are missing (besides snow of course!) are our family and friends from the U.S.

So, wherever you are and whatever you do, we hope you have a very merry Christmas! Enjoy!!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lifeblood of the Bahamas

This morning we woke to total calm and quiet, except for the slight drone of an engine on shore. At first I just figured that the power was off again in the settlement and I was hearing the standby generators. When I looked outside I was surprised to see that it was actually the fuel tanker at Lighthouse Marina's dock.
The tanker fills up in Nassau and then delivers to the out islands as needed. It even delivers fuel to Marsh Harbour to run the gigantic generators that provide the electricity to all of the Abacos.

It took them several hours to pump diesel fuel and gasoline into the huge storage tanks behind the marina. This fuel is the lifeblood of the islands since it is used for all the vehicles, boats, and generators. No wonder the 150 ft. tanker is painted red!In addition to the diesel and gas, the tanker also carries propane in the two big tanks on deck.

Next time we go to buy fuel it will be interesting to see if the price has gone up or down. Unlike the U.S., the marinas in the Bahamas only change the price when they get their next shipment of fuel, and adjustments are made according to the price that they have to pay. The price of gas was about $5.00 per gallon, the last time we filled up our dinghy tank. No matter what the cost though, at least we know they will be stocked up and ready for the Christmas rush. I took this rare picture below of the empty moorings in the harbor this morning. Since then the charter boats have started to arrive, and soon it will get so packed with boats in the harbor that it will be hard to maneuver. Rental houses in Hope Town are filling up also. I saw way more people roaming the streets this afternoon, than I have the whole time we have been here. It looks to be a very busy holiday week, which will be good for the local economy. I certainly am glad that we enjoyed the peace and quiet this morning though!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Walk With Us

Hope Town is actually the settlement on Elbow Cay and we're going to take you on virtual walk to the north end. At a later date we will go to the south end. As always, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them and see more detail.

First of all, no vehicles are supposed to travel the roads in Hope Town, so the residents of the north end have to leave their golf carts (their only means of transportation besides bicycles or boats) in a designated parking area at that end of town. The people who live in the southern end also have their own designated parking lot before getting into the settlement. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, and the small locked gate that prevents vehicles from driving through, seems to have more and more people with the combination code. At least most of the vehicles and trucks are smaller than ours in the U.S., in order to get down these tiny streets. As we walk along the road next to the harbor, the flowers are in bloom and you can especially see how narrow these cut through alleys are.
Our first stop is to look at the local constable's motorcycle, which is something new for Hope Town this year.Sometime when we see our policeman on the bike I will get his picture, because he is quite a sight all dressed up in his starched white uniform on this Yamaha.

Our next find on the walking tour is the remains of the first 1960's Land Rover fire truck on Elbow Cay, that came right from England.

As we head north away from Hope Town, the road is no longer paved and is more like a sand and rock trail.
It winds its way along the Sea of Abaco and the entrance to Hope Town.
As we meander down the road the island gets a bit wider and we pass through this beautiful tall hedge row.
How is this for a scary power pole? It looks like a power company's nightmare. No wonder almost everyone has back up generators!
There are also several bays and coves that we pass by. This is Crossing Bay where our friends Al and Gloria dynamited a channel from their dock out to deeper water back in the 1980's.
Next is Cook's Cove, which was dredged in the late 1960's by the Owen's Illinois Corp., who was responsible for the logging operations on the main island of Abaco. This was dredged in order to provide access for the north end property owners, who were executives of the company.
There is also a boat basin for the north end property owners called the Abaco Boat Club, which is a 20 slip co-op.

After this boat basin, the road splits and makes a big loop around the north end of the island. One way continues along the Sea of Abaco, and the other one runs parallel to the ocean. We walked oceanside this time and came across this picturesque beach access trail. This private path to a gazebo and the beach is interesting because it has all sorts of seas glass embedded in the concrete.
Since it was almost sunset, we decided not to complete the whole north end loop and walked back to Hope Town by way of the beach instead of the road.

This entire diverse walking tour is about 2 to 3 miles long and takes about an hour and a half to complete. Of course that depends on how much time you spend looking for sea glass on the way home!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One Year Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of the beginning of this blog. Since then I have written 115 posts! It is fun to look back in the archives and read all the information and stories that I have written. It has been a great way to keep everyone up to date on our lives, and I have enjoyed keeping you posted.

It's also a coincidence that a year ago the wind was blowing so much that I couldn't sleep and was concerned about the dinghies tied to the side of New Horizon. The same conditions will soon be upon us with gale force winds for about 24-36 hours. At least this time it has been predicted so we are prepared, and I am not on board alone.

Thanks for being interested and reading the blog this past year! Check back frequently to hear more about our adventures.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ho Ho Ho

It is officially Christmastime in Hope Town. The lighthouse is now decorated with white lights, thanks to the Harbour Rats.
Every year we put up the huge strings of lights that everyone looks forward to seeing. The timing of this project has to be worked around the weather, but if we wait too long, then people get worried that this tradition has stopped. This time we completed the fun task in between cold fronts, and as you can see in the picture, they are blowing in the breeze. No wonder it has been difficult to take a good night picture this year.

For more information on the lighthouse, that I blogged about last year, click HERE.

Dave and I also helped decorate the sailing club, and it was just natural for Dave to go up the extension ladder to put the lights on the eaves. He’s always ready to go to new heights and certainly has had lots of experience both here and at home.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"It's Over!"

That’s what we all yelled after our annual night of providing the appetizers for our sailing club’s weekly Saturday night stand-ups. These are BYOB events, and either two or three club member couples sign up and get together to provide the food each week. Originally the items consisted of your basic cheese and crackers, but as the years go by, everyone tries to outdo each other. This causes quite a bit of stress, along with trying to come up with new recipes (that use ingredients that are easily available here in the Bahamas, which adds even more of a challenge), and anticipating how many people will show up for ‘your’ night’s stand-up cocktail party.

We try to sign up early, because as the season gets into full swing come January and February, there can be up to 80 people attending. As it was, we had around 60 people the other night, but luckily we had plenty of food, all of which was a big hit so there were no leftovers. I was just glad that we had three of us couples doing the work and everyone went beyond the call of duty.

How’s this for a nice spread of food?

There was another table full of food just like this out in the club's gazebo!

All of our appetizers ended up being dinner for the members.

I would say the evening was a smashing success, but we’re all glad it’s over…at least until next year. Oh, and if anyone has any good appetizer recipes that uses basic ingredients, is easy to make, and can be adapted to feed lots of people, send me an email please! Then I will be prepared to impress everyone when it is my turn once again.

Friday, December 3, 2010

2010 Box Cart Derby

We made it to Hope Town just in time for the annual Box Cart Derby on Big Hill, held on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. We always plan our arrival to coincide with this great event, which is the Bahamas version of a Soap Box Derby. This is a major local charity event, with not only the whole island community attending, but other islands come to participate and watch the excitement as well.

Food, drink, commemorative shirts, raffles, gift certificates from local businesses, and even artwork are all sold to benefit whichever children’s charity is chosen for the year. Last year it was the Junior Sailing Program and this year was the new playground. We always like to volunteer for one of the shifts flipping burgers and serving food.

Below are pictures of some of this year’s Box Cart entries. Trophies are awarded for fastest downhill, slalom, and best presentation and costumes. This year’s winner (the first picture) set a new record for the downhill course, beating the old record held by someone who had won for 6 or more years. The crowd went wild and everyone certainly had a fantastic time that day!