Sunday, December 29, 2013

Preparing to Cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas

     For the past week Joe and I have been visiting family in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Joe's mom arrived at her winter home for the holidays in mid-December. With hopes of making her as settled as possible I managed to prepare a smorgasbord of meal selections for her freezer that will keep her well provisioned for an extended period of time. I rode my bike to the nearby Publix Market so many times that I'd lost count. Though, lugging all those groceries was great exercise. Being off the boat and away from Simple Life for two weeks felt strange. After a few days I missed life aboard and I missed our people in the cruising community. Although, it was wonderful being able to spend the holidays with family and we were fortunate to be able to leave Simple Life at a dock and in a safe place for the duration.

     One thing that surprised me during the two weeks ashore was the magnitude of ambient, urban sounds. Honking horns, screeching tires, incessant construction noise. I could continue but, I'm sure you've got the picture. While riding my bike to the grocery store everyday traffic noise levels seemed louder and more agrivating than I recalled when we lived among the general populase. Grumpy shoppers in need of attitude adjustments were everywhere. Distracted drivers made the bike ride to and from the market life threatening. Maybe I've been out of touch for too long or perhaps people were stressed from holiday shopping. Whatever the reason I'd seen and experienced enough. There have been times lately when I'm not certain we fit into the community at large anymore. Cruising and living on a boat has definitely changed us. I don't know if it's for the better or not but, I do know that when we stay in one place for more than a week I've become restless and felt that the time has come to move on and resume our life aboard the Simple Life.

     While staying in Deerfield Beach I began planning and provisioning for our trip to the Bahamas. The priority was stocking up on bulk items such as cases of water, paper towels, cases of beer, boxes of wine affectionately known as Chateau Carton (say that aloud with a French accent) and cleaning supplies. Basically, large items that were more easily transported by car rather than our usual transport by dinghy. In advance of departure my fish and lobster recipes were reviewed (hopefully we'll catch our own supply) to ensure that I'll have all necessary ingredients onboard. As of now the plan is to spend about four months anchored in and around the more remote areas of the Family and Out Islands. All meals will be cooked onboard since there are few restaurants and we don't stay at marinas. If you've taken a cruise ship to the Bahamas you've most likely visited the more populated areas such as Nassau, Freeport or one of the larger Bahama Islands in the Abacos and you're probably wondering why I'm making such a fuss over provisions. We will not be spending time in those areas. Provisioning for the Family and Out Islands requires significant planning. There are small stores in the settlements on the scale of half the size of a convenience store stateside. These stores' provisions are brought on the "mailboat" that arrives once or twice a week. in other words, there are no tractor trailers that arrive at a scheduled time for restocking. If the weather happens to be bad, the mailboat may not arrive.

     Now let's talk about the cost of food. To compare the costs of everyday items that can be purchased in the States and purchased in the Bahamas is eye opening. One case of beer in the Bahamas costs $45.00! A case of soft drinks around $12.00. Paper products such as paper towels are outrageous. In general, all provisions regardless of the product are double the cost of the same product in the States and are not always readily available especially as the number of cruisers increase as the winter progresses. I canned a case of meat and a case of chicken prior to leaving RI in my 21 quart pressure canner. The canned meat can be used in a variety of tasty recipes. If it sounds as though I've gone "overboard" with planning and provisioning I can assure you I haven't. I'm certain that there will be quite a few things I've left out. In that case improvisation will be a good teacher allowing us to explore new food options that may become favorites in my recipe repertoire.

     All of this planning probably sounds like a lot of effort and it certainly is. You may be thinking, "Why don't they just take a cruise ship to the Bahamas where people cook your food and wait on you?" Believe me on occasion I have questioned our motives, too. Although, then I remember how thrilling it was when Joe speared his first lobster at the reef on Cape Santa Maria in the Bahamas. The anxiety and sense of accomplishment of riding out a storm on anchor. Close friendships we've forged throughout our many years of cruising. It was then that I realized why we are living this life. I made this video ten years ago during our first trip to the Bahamas. If you have ten minutes to spare you too can have a virtual Bahamas Out Island adventure. Enjoy and Happy New Year! Hope you continue to follow our adventures in the new year across the Gulf Stream in the Bahama Islands where I'll be making new underwater action videos with the new GoPro camera that Santa brought!