Tuesday, February 26, 2013

35 Years

Yesterday was our 35th wedding anniversary! Wow, it's hard to believe that much time has gone by. We didn't do anything really special, but then again every day is special for us. Besides it's hard to top what we are doing now. You know us though, if it's possible, we'll certainly try.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ladies' Man

 Yesterday was another historical day, when Dave led the inaugural HTSC Ladies Sunfish Sail Fest. This event, which was spearheaded by Aletha, one of the members who wanted to get more women out sailing, turned out to be more successful than anyone anticipated. It all started with Dave giving a clinic for the beginners. I never knew he was such a good teacher!

Then it was out to Nathan's Beach on the Sea of Abaco. Conditions could not have been better with sunny skies and 10 mph of breeze. 12 enthusiastic ladies showed up to participate in either club Sunfish or their own (that their husbands usually race) and by the way they sailed, you would never know this wasn't a real race! These women are competitive!

Everyone sailed great and only one boat flipped, by Di Hunter, who is 83 years old! Her life jacket inflated as she hit the water and all she did was laugh. The chase boats righted her boat and she completed the course in a fashion that only Di can.
 Her comment at the end was that she always wanted a bigger chest. Here she is trying to blow it up some more, and Dave helps!

The non-competitive (HA!) race went from the beach and around Parrot Cays and back to the beach, ending with the first person (Sharon) grabbing the Hope Town flag and then each woman handing it off to the next that arrived.

It was so much fun, and one of my favorite parts was seeing the husbands and boyfriends helping out and beaming with pride at what the women accomplished.

 As for me, Sunfish and I don't mesh too well, so I would rather be taking photos, riding in the chase boat, awarding the finishers with chocolate cookies, and cheering on these amazing women! What an accomplishment for them all, including my incredible husband!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Historical Day

Today was the first day ever that the Abaco Rage crossed the finish line first, in any of the HTSC races. They were ahead of all the other boats that competed (nine of them). Even after the handicaps were tallied, the Rage ended up being winner of the Founders Cup. All the participants went wild when the award was given!

One of the other exciting things that happened today? Dave was honored to be asked to skipper the Rage in the next race! 

 Race photos courtesy of Will Heyer

Monday, February 18, 2013

Can We Make It?

We are now back on our mooring in Hope Town, after our 6 week vacation at Man-O-War Cay. The day we left to head the 5 miles back to the harbor, there were showers and a nasty cold front expected. When we were about halfway back to Elbow Cay (with our floating marina attached) the wind started blowing and the sky turned dark. To the west, the the mainland started disappearing in heavy rain. Uh oh! There was only a slight chance we would make it before the squall hit, but we couldn't increase our speed because we were towing our skiffs in increasing waves. Then it started sprinkling rain and it got heavier and heavier as we entered the harbor and headed to our assigned mooring. What a sight for sore eyes, when out in the rain, holding our mooring lines up for me to grab on to, was Muffin from Antares. No struggling to lean over the side of the boat with my boat pole or Dave maneuvering so I could grab them under the boat. After securing the lines, I quickly rewarded her efforts with a portion of my Valentines day stash of M&Ms (which she immediately hid from her husband Will...but he got HIS share today when we had to switch moorings and he came out to help. That's what being a Harbour Rat is all about!). Muffin raced back to her boat just as the squall arrived and we were hit with the full brunt of the storm. We made it!

Footnote: After the storm, the wind steadily increased and by nighttime there were 30+ mph winds with gusts to 45, that continued into Sunday. We've just now had our first major cold front of the season (and hopefully last!), with two days of 60 degree temps and high winds. I know this seems warm to my northern readers, but we have thin blood now, and as I've said before, that wind goes right through the boat. Very few people even went out of their houses and boats yesterday (although we did take a long walk to get warm). Today however, everyone was emerging as the sun came out and we've talked to more people today than we have in the whole time we were at Man-O-War! Hope Town is really bustling with what seems to be an extra amount of tourists and guests. It will take a while to get used to it, but it's been great catching up on all that's been happening around the island.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Up The Ways

In Green Turtle Cay, when New Horizon is hauled out of the water, it is done by a travel lift and raised up with large slings attached around the boat's hull. Here at Edwin's Boatyard in Man-O-War, they haul out boats by railway, with a cable attached to a trolley and the frame work that surrounds the boat that is being hauled out. We watched the whole procedure as one of the ferries needed to come out of the water for engine and hull work (Donnie IX is one of 12 boats that ferries passengers from island to island in the Abacos).

Before it entered the framework, wood blocks were put where the hull would rest and be supported. One of the boatyard crew used a looky bucket (bucket with glass in the bottom) in a skiff, to watch and see if the placement was right. Occasionally a diver is needed to go in the water to adjust the supports.

 Then it was pushed and pulled to be in just the right position, with yard foreman Keith directing his crew where to make adjustments.

Finally the boat was in just the right spot and the engine that runs the trolley hoist was fired up, dragging it up the ways.

 No time was wasted and immediately work commenced with ladders for access placed next to the boat.

What an interesting mooring place we have had the past six weeks, especially being able to watch all the activity at this busy boatyard!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

All In The Timing....Again

When we check into the Bahamas, we fill out immigration cards and get a stamp on our passports for a certain number of days’ visit. We always ask for 180 days to cover the winter, but end up receiving 90. The Bahamian immigration law is supposed to be 90 days, with an option to extend when that time is up. Once in awhile an officer will give you the increased time that you ask for, so we always ask. One time we only received 30 days. 

As our time to apply for our extension approached, I wondered whether the officials actually counted the days or if they meant 3 months. Our immigration papers said one, and our passports said the other. In other words, we checked in on November 12th. Does that mean we have to do the extension by the 12th or the 10th, because December and January have 31 days? To add to the confusion, Immigration insists that you apply for extra time only 1-2 (maybe three if you are lucky) days in advance. People have been turned away for being too early.

 Now throw in a weekend, when no one is in the offices, and it really gets confusing! That’s exactly what our circumstances where. We could try on Friday which would be 2 days early if they counted the actual days, or 4 days early if they went by the month, with the possibility they may turn us away. If we went on Monday we would only be a day early if by the month, and over by a day if they counted days (even though due on a Sunday), and we would risk being deported (we’ve heard that it HAS happened).

The general consensus among cruisers was GO Friday. Naturally on Friday the wind was blowing like crazy, with approaching cold front squalls possible, and we had to cross the Sea of Abaco to Marsh Harbour. Let the adventure begin! The skiff was up to the task and we barely got our rain jackets wet from above or below.

Once docked, it was time to hike to the beautiful new government building. This took us past the port and by the Haitian shanty town called the Mud, complete with shacks and abandoned car carcasses. The oasis at the end of the road was extreme compared to what we had just seen.

Luckily and contrary to what we had heard, there are now computer printed signs on all the offices of the huge two story complex, although we did ask someone where Immigration was, so we knew where to start looking.

Into the office we marched, presenting our passport and papers to the lady behind the window. She took one look at the dates, glanced at the calendar, and walked back into the dreaded inner offices without handing us the extension forms…while we held our breath. It took a few minutes, but she came back and apparently her supervisor said okay, because she started getting the necessary forms together to fill out. We (or should I say I!) breathed a big sigh of relief. 

We sat filling out forms asking questions like why do we want the extension and how will you support yourself, and handed them back through the metal two way drawer. Back to the inner offices she and our forms went. And we waited and waited and waited, all the while watching the prison show “Scared Straight” that was playing on the waiting room TV (that was aimed at the glass partition). The volume was up so loud that we didn’t even hear the lady behind the window call us back over at first. Finally, all our papers were updated and we were legal. I didn’t ask how they determine the number of days, because I couldn’t hear anyway and was just glad we had it all done. The highlight of the adventure was when we were waiting, and Dave pointed to the TV show and whispered to me, “That’s where they send you if you don’t renew your papers in time.” I couldn't help but burst out laughing, but then stopped myself because I heard a story about how a lady was one day over her time limit, came in laughing and she was escorted to the airport and put on the next plane out of the country!

As we departed, we took a different route back to the dock where the skiff was, so we didn’t have to walk though the poverty stricken Mud. By then the wind had picked up more, with a definite squall line almost right over our heads. Amazingly the rain held off. Just as we arrived in Man-O-War and stowed everything, the showers finally started. Good timing all around!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Rescue By Committee

It's been fairly windy lately, so we've been spending more time "watching the world go by." Yesterday we looked up just in time to witness another sailboat run hard aground (this seems to happen frequently). The big problem was that the skipper did this just after high tide, and with our spring tides, the low tide was going to be -.6 below datum. He tried getting an anchor out to try and kedge himself off into deeper water, but this method didn't work and only made him start leaning over more...and the tide was falling rapidly. That's when several fellow cruisers showed up to assist.
When you get a bunch of people together, everyone has a different way to do things. The committee decided to try and pull the boat over with the halyard, hopefully reducing the draft of the boat (the keel wouldn't be straight down) and letting him float off. Did I mention the tide was falling rapidly? Then at one point someone must have thought that the boat should be pulled to the shore side, because we watched as a dinghy brought the halyard to the high side of the boat. And the tide continued to fall. It was too late and all efforts were futile. All they could do was wait out a cycle of the tide and they were floating about 7 hours later. If I see a couple walking on land at an angle today I'll know which boat they are off of!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Then There Was One

Me! Thank you Carol and Bill on Interim for my new found independence! Now I can can go where I want to, not where Dave steers me to in our double kayak. When he has projects, you'll find me floating and exploring.

 I like this kayak better than my single kayaks up north. It tracks straighter, especially in higher winds, which is a big plus here in Abaco in the winter. This photo was taken with the famous Albury's Sail Shop at MOW in the background. Thumbs up for a great first single paddling adventure.
Since that day I have been out almost daily. Now it's time to grab my paddle and go out again. As someone recently wrote to me, "See you on the sea!"

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lift Off

I'm glad that Barry had his camera when the guys went to Marsh Harbour the other day. Not only did they find the bike shop featured in the last post, but they were also just in time to watch this car being unloaded off the freight boat Legacy at the port.

This is just how it's done here in the islands, and the only way to get a vehicle here is by ship, but I'm glad it's not MY car way up there on top of the containers!