Friday, December 30, 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Kayak Express

Walkabout has been working flawlessly so far this season. We decided to take advantage of our two days of calm weather and head south to do some backwater exploring with the kayaks. A couple of years ago we had found this sailboat washed up.

We found the same exact spot and boat, but after a couple of storms and hurricanes, there wasn't much left.

Even the cabin top had come off and was several feet away from what was left of the hull.

It was so quiet in the backwaters, far from the maddening crowd in Hope Town during Christmas week. 

The wind picked up a bit so we decided to move to the serene anchorage between Snake Cay and Cormorant Cay for lunch. This is where many of our explorations started 30 years ago. I can still picture Dave diving down in the clear water and coming up with two starfish in his hands.

We hopped back in the kayaks and explored the creek behind Snake Cay. It is great having the two kayaks now instead of the double, so that we can each go our separate ways. This is all that remains of a boat we found half sunk about 15 years ago in the same spot. It brought back memories of how there were two soggy cushions floating around in the same abandoned vessel that we re-purposed into 'glug protectors' on the boat we had before New Horizon. That trawler, named Island Spirit, had chines at the waterline that intensified the sound of any waves or even riplets that hit the hull of the boat. The noise that reverberated inside the boat was torture (we only kept the boat for two years). These glug protectors were my saving grace to try and sleep. Dave tied them to the front of the boat as insulation, whenever we were at a dock or at anchor. Now the boat that donated to protect my sanity rests on the bottom and is a perfect little artificial reef and tropical fish nursery.

As I was skimming over the sand, there was a big swoosh ahead of me. I had disturbed a southern stingray and it startled me as much as I startled it.

Awhile later Dave was cleaning the bottom of the boat and the same kind of ray came over to check him and our anchor out. I'm sure both Dave and the anchor chain sweeping over the bottom rustled up some little bits of organisms for the ray to eat.

We also saw dozens of turtles swimming around in the cove, and we are glad to see that the turtle population is doing so well. What a great day and Walkabout is back in action taking us to places we haven't seen in a long time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Work is Never Done...Sort Of

We have our Abaco Dinghy Dandy all apart to repaint it the color we originally intended. Dave has also been working on epoxying some of the seams and sanding it down. The pinkish coral color was a mixture of other colors, but it didn't turn out quite as we wanted it to. Hopefully it will now be white with orange/melon trim. First we unscrewed the individual pieces inside, then pressure washed and hosed it down to ready it for the next step.

In between all this, Dave has also been working on the Rage mast and the wood 'Dutchman' is installed, sanded, and ready for its coat of paint.

For now though, the weather is absolutely gorgeous with 80 degree temps and hardly a breath of wind after several days of 25 mph winds and showers. Work will have to wait until the next cold front arrives in a few days. Until then we play!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

All Things Christmas

It has been a festive couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. The Children's Play this year was "Christmas in Bethlehem Gulch" and all the kids on the island participate in the production. The behind the scenes work for the adults, along with the kids, is an enormous endeavor. Thanks Nancy for the photos...

Then it was time for the long awaited sailing club holiday dinner that Dave and I were in charge of. 60 people is the perfect number for accommodating everyone at tables and getting up to the buffet tables while the food was hot. A turkey with stuffing, two huge prime ribs, and two overflowing pans of lamb chops were brought in from the Abaco Inn, along with another member who traditionally bakes a ham. Everyone else attending brought delicious side dishes, appetizers, and desserts. Everything went off without a hitch and we've had rave reviews.

The highlight of the season was the second annual Christmas in the Village fundraiser for the new community center, that you read about us helping with previously. What a transformation from an empty ballfield to a magical village. There was food galore, vendors selling gifts, and lots of games for the kids.

 There was even a challenging mini-golf  course set up by two of our club members that are avid golfers. Thanks again to Nancy for this photo.

How about guessing how many gallon jugs it took to make this igloo? 

Of course the center of all the action is the ice skating rink.

Carolers walked through Hope Town and ended up at the village, and one night the junior junkanoo band did a walk through. Santa came to town on the last night of this three night event. It's the tropics so he naturally wears sandals! Thanks Art for this photo.

There was also a drone photo shoot on the beach for a community Christmas card that we went to. Unfortunately somehow we got cut out of the photo. Our friends from home,  Terri, Ken, and Noah brought T-shirts for us all to wear, so what a bummer we didn't make it in the photo. They have been a huge hit though. Thank you Marcia for this photo...

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you enjoy the holidays.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

As It Should Be

Today was one of those rare days with no wind and barely a ripple on the water. Dave went snorkeling with some friends that are in town, but I could not pass up this opportunity to go kayaking. This is actually only the second time I have been out paddling due to all the wind and we've had so many other things going on. It's hard to believe this is the second day of I still floating?

It looks like I am ready to rob a bank, but no, I'm just being super careful now that I have had several skin cancers popping up.

On my way past Paul & Ann's house (get well soon Paul), I saw a conch shell washed up on their beach. I stopped to check it out and it was alive!

What a gorgeous mature queen conch. After my photo shoot, I walked out to deeper water and placed it carefully in the sea grass. Saved for another day. This conch would be quickly made into lunch or dinner by someone who actually likes to eat 'swimmies' as my friend Catherine calls fish and shellfish.

I also saw several sea turtles and a large spotted eagle ray in my travels, but they are so quick I couldn't get photos. Now this is why we come to Abaco! 

I passed by a man on an SUP (stand up paddleboard) on the way back to Hope Town and I made the comment, "it sure is beautiful out here today." His answer said it best..."That's an understatement!"

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mast Repair

The Rage's mast repair has been progressing. Dave's outdoor workshop was in full service today.

There's even a bandsaw that was brought over. Dave had to make the cutting table before using it to make the plug, called a Dutchman, for the hole in the mast.

Stafford and Bobby fit the wood in the hole and have now started epoxying it in place.

 Meanwhile Dave was cutting the rod that goes through the mast and secures the chain plates.

It looks like the Rage will be back on the race course during the sailing club's first race in January!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Atta Girl, Bahamas Style

When Dave and I work together on projects at home, such as our veranda that we made last spring, he calls us Atta Girl Construction. Today, Dave not only had me as his own Atta Girl Construction, he had a whole harem!  We were helping to set up the second Annual Christmas Village in the ball field, and most of the helpers that showed up were ladies. They just loved the name of our group. We put together tents...

Assembled the ice skating rink with the guidance of 'Platform Pete'...

Then started on Santa's stage. 

There's still so much more to do, but tomorrow we have to set up and run the sailing club's Christmas/Holiday dinner. By Sunday night the Christmas Village will be up and running, and thanks to Atta Girl Construction and all the numerous other volunteers, this field will be transformed from this...

To this:

 It definitely "takes a village..."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Trapper Dave

When we went to Man-O-War a couple of days ago, we took Walkabout to "stretch its legs." As we stepped on board the dewy decks, we saw funny little footprints in the cockpit. Then Dave found some droppings in the cuddy cabin. Uh oh, there's a rat on board! I'm not sure why, because there isn't any food, but my biggest fear would be that it was looking for a nesting area. If it was hiding somewhere, it went for a ride to MOW and back. That night, Dave borrowed one of the boatyard's rat traps and set it in the cockpit. First check a couple hours later...Gotchya! Here's the conversation that followed...
Dave: "I got one! Do you want to see it?"
Me: "No thanks, but how big is it?"
Dave: "About the size of a rabbit!"
Me: "WHAT?! Hang on, I'm coming downstairs with the camera!"
I don't think it was quite the size of a rabbit, but still quite large. I think the ironic thing about the photos is that Dave's eyes are closed and the rat's are open. 😉

He reset the the trap and found another one in it yesterday morning. Last night he reset it again, and I told him that if he trapped another one it meant he was enticing these critters on to the boat from the surrounding mangroves. He agreed. This morning he checked and the trap is empty. We know the first rat was a male and forgot to see what sex the second one was. Our theory is that it was female and the these two 'harbour rats' were moving on board to start their family. Lesson learned? Use Walkabout more often!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

To Launch Or Not To Launch

We have been working on getting friends' boats launched the past couple of days. Sailboats are always a bit of a challenge at the marina. Colin's Red Boat needed to have its mast installed after launching, with the help of the forklift.

Even Randy the manatee was hanging out watching all the activity. 

Then Milton's Capri Sunrise was launched and taken over to the dock. It looks so precarious...

Dave has been in charge of getting both this boat and Milton's Edgewater power boat set for winter fun. Today we went to Man-O-War to put the name and registration numbers on Plover, which is hauled out on the railway, having its bottom anti-foul painted at Edwin's Boatyard.

Not ready to sail is the Abaco Rage. Although the boat itself spent the summer on a mooring in Hope Town Harbor, the mast and boom have been on the ground in the boatyard. Dave went to check the mast for any rot and after tapping around he found a nasty rotten spot where the upper rigging chain plates attach to the mast. He started digging around and found this huge spot with ants running for their lives.

He has it all marked as to where the chain plates go, then chainsawing the area back to good wood and trimming it back to square it off.

Dave was given this beautiful piece of wood to epoxy and sister in. It should work well because the growth lines are so close together, making it very strong and (hopefully!) able to withstand rigorous sailing conditions with the rigging attached to the chain plates.

Stay tuned for more reports of how that project progresses!