Sunday, May 1, 2016

Back in the USA

Our Bahamas departure across the Little
Bahama Bank was smooth as glass
     Its's been awhile since updating our blog. After our return to the States a couple of weeks ago we've begun our delivery back to Rhode Island. It's a busy time spending 7-10 hours a day traveling including a few longer 24 hour offshore overnight passages. Trying to maintain everyday life aboard providing three meals a day, tidying up and working on boat projects takes up much of my time. Joe spends most days at the helm. When night falls we're ready for a good book and sleep by nine. The trip to Rhode Island will probably take a month allowing a few off days off for shore leave and halting for weather.
Sunset on the Little Bahama Banks

Leaving the Bahamas is always an emotional time for me and for Joe.

Although, he tends to see things more realistically than me. I especially dislike the leaving part. I know that we need to head north by a certain point in order to get back to New England, but I am reluctant to venture back into reality. By that I am referring to traffic, sirens, multitudes of people, the pace of life in general and lets not forget leaving the color of the Bahamian water behind.

     Florida is wonderful, but after spending a few months in the Bahamas one must reacquaint oneself with the pace of life in the States. Although, I must admit that I love and missed Publix Supermarkets. After our return taking the bus into town was a treat. I was overwhelmed with food choices. I'd forgotten about the bogos! There are no bogos in the Bahamas. There are even fewer markets. I bought cheesecake for Joe. I'd forgotten about that, too. There was an aisle with two for ones! Had to stop there and check it out. Skippy Peanut Butter, we were out of that over a month ago. Got two of those. Wine...oh wine at a reasonable price! I spent over an hour checking out the food I'd left behind. Bacon, loaded potato salad, hummus in every flavor, Kerry Gold Dubliner Cheese, barbecued chicken, fresh cold cuts and Irish Swiss cheese at the deli! Crackers at a reasonable price. It's hard to believe that after three months these everyday food items gleaned an element of exotic and even seemed gourmet.

     Let's not forget the charms of TJMaxx. I stopped there, too. The stores are in the same plaza. Bought myself a new linen ensemble comprised of pants a shirt and a vest. Also, made a stop at the Ulta store and made an appointment for a haircut. Crossed the street and stopped at West Marine to buy varnish for the teak and polish for the fiberglass. What a day! Vero Beach really is a wonderful place for cruising sailors. By the end of the afternoon, my negative feelings became tempered. I felt happier, definitely less tired than after the overnight passage. Perhaps the shopping cheered me. It's good to be back. Life is easier here.

     By weeks end we were provisioned and ready to head north. Rhode Island is a long way from Vero, but taking it one day at a time and stopping to enjoy a few interesting ports renews travel weary spirits along the way.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

There's Always Something

The sign in the settlement
     It seems just when all ducks are in a row and it's time for take off across the Gulf Stream something goes awry. In the saga of the Simple Life it's an issue with the alternator not charging the batteries.
      Life aboard tends to keep one's perspectives in check. Never get too cocky and even when things seem to be going well, bouncing along as planned always expect something to go wrong at the worst possible time. That doesn't mean something will go wrong, but if something does you won't be disappointed.

Simple Life's navigation station with computer, VHF radio,
SSB radio, Furono chartplotter/radar, control panel
     In our latest quest for a Gulf Stream crossing we negotiated the Whale Cay Cut to stage at Green Turtle Cay, Abaco. During transit Joe checked the Xantrex Battery Monitor and noticed only 4 amps going into the battery bank with the engine running. The batteries had a 75% charge and the input should have been at least 12 amps. Since the alternator had been replaced last spring in St. Augustine Joe assumed the problem was a loose alternator belt. After arrival he tightened it. No luck.

     This issue would not be an problem in the States. Head over to your local alternator shop, have the old one checked out or buy a new one. In the Bahamas it could take three weeks to have one sent from the States!

This is all the electronic equipment we won't be using
     Here's the dilemma. A favorable crossing window is coming up on Monday and Tuesday. Fort Pierce, Florida is approximately 165 miles from Green Turtle Cay. Simple Life is equipped with a wind generator and a solar panel. The forecast calls for marginal wind so we're hoping for help from the sun. In order to get to Ft. Pierce we'll need to use a variety of electronics. A chart plotter and repeater at the nav station. Radar, AIS, Autohelm, navigation lights, depth sounder, VHF radio, SSB radio, and refrigeration and they call this the simple life. When did we get all this stuff?

     One thing boaters can count on is help from one another and spare parts. Our friend Ken from IP 40 Tintean spent a couple of hours helping Joe trouble shoot on Saturday. No luck though it appears a spiritual service will be conducted for the alternator when we eventually reach Vero Beach.

Joe doing his homework
Remember this antique GPS? It still
works and the plan is to use it.
     For now we're refreshing our memories with the functions of a couple of spare antique GPS and portable chart plotters we carry aboard. They run on double A batteries and a cigarette lighter. That will use less power. Joe went ashore to buy ice to help curb refrigeration usage. We can turn the depth sounder off when offshore we know it's deep enough. Turn radar and AIS on only if we spot a ship at night. The good news is we have a Honda generator that can be used if seas aren't to big and it's calm enough that it won't be flogging about in the cockpit. So for now we're charging the batteries as much as possible before departure. Our plan is to leave on Monday morning. If needed we can stop and charge again at Great Sale Cay before jumping off for the overnight crossing to Fort Pierce. Fingers are crossed.
An antique chart plotter from our first trip 12 years ago.
Hope we remember how to use it.

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Simple Life Winter in Abaco

The beautiful beaches of Hopetown
     This was a tough weather, winter in the Bahamas. Cold fronts, gales, even a rare derecho became part of cruisers' weather lexicon. A veritable melting pot of rough weather from the northern Abacos all the way to Ragged Island in the Jumentos. Our weather router Chris Parker resorted to describing weather situations as being less bad than. For example, a crossing in the Gulf Stream will be less bad tomorrow than today.

      Simple Life made her crossing on short notice January 1, 2016 from Florida's Lake Worth Inlet to Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas. This was our first crossing from the north, preferring previous departures from South Beach, Miami and the Florida Keys.


Mac & Cheese and Peace & Rice 
two Abaco Dinghies on the beach in Hopetown
Photo by Joe Boulay
      Weather this season seemed more unpredictable than ever before. After monitoring weather windows for several days we hastily chose to cross over from the north to Abaco. It was a good crossing. Did we plan to spend the season in Abaco? It wasn't in the original plan. Our plan was to head toward the out islands of Exuma and meet up with friends Bob and Robin in the Jumentos. A few nasty cold fronts and a couple of gales later and I was more than happy to spend the winter in the relative safety of the Sea of Abaco. Hopetown's mooring field filled with like minded cruisers who'd made the same decision.

Hopetown Harbor from atop the lighthouse
     Boaters who headed south to Georgetown this season were not exempt from extreme weather. Stormy weather and seas hit there along with a rare derecho packing 50+ to 100 mph winds that struck during darkness and lasted several hours. Numerous vessels anchored from Staniel Cay to Georgetown, Exuma suffered serious damage. A few were holed and totaled. Damage ranged from torn canvas dodgers and biminis, capsized and shredded dinghies, mangled stanchions and damaged fiberglass. A few cruisers suffered injuries. One lost a finger in an anchor windlass mishap. Anchors and chain were lost and seasoned cruisers were rattled beyond reality when the unexpected derecho descended. Living aboard is a challenge in and of itself. After hearing of the freak storm I thought, "Why take chances making life more difficult? I like sleeping at night. Maybe we should stay in Hopetown."

The waterfront settlement in Hopetown
     Hopetown's settlement is one of the most picturesque in Abaco with its historic red and white lighthouse built in 1863. It one of the few lighthouses that has a full time keeper who lights its small kerosene-fueled mantle each evening at dusk. There is a huge rotating glass fresnel lens projecting a beam of light that can be seen for up to twenty miles. Surrounding the harbor are colorfully, restored cottages along two narrow waterfront lanes. Artists, writers and musicians are drawn to its quaint inspirational appeal. The island bound original community of Hopetown settlers on Elbow Cay descended from eighteenth century Loyalists escaping the American Revolution. Many of whom have remained in Hopetown.

Joe enjoying the scenery at On Da Beach
     Hopetown's unique qualities hastened our decision to secure a mooring. Soon we settled in embracing the lifestyle. Numerous festivals and events were scheduled throughout the winter. There was even a Songwriters Festival featuring several well known country music writers from Nashville. Weekly events included a writers circle and a painters group. Hopetown has a few good restaurants, beach combing, snorkeling, and spear-fishing!

Dan's birthday party from Cutting Class & Michele having a chat

Will from Antares spends his days restoring Abaco Dinghys

     Wintering in Abaco gave us the opportunity to relax and meet a new group of boaters who've spent winters in Hopetown for several years. Joe was fascinated by a few who spent their days restoring wooden Abaco sailing dinghies and was even invited to skipper one in a race! I became friends with a group of intrepid ladies when I raced for the trophy in the Di Hunter Women's Race aboard Sunfish sailboats on a blustery day in March.
Michele on a screaming reach to the finish off
Hopetown, Abaco


Joe skippering Nothing's Easy an Abaco Dinghy
   Joe enjoyed beach combing each day. He has been dubbed my "golden retriever." He finds so many interesting pieces of wormwood and driftwood, beach glass and sea beans. The ever popular sea beans or drift seeds and their lore of mystical powers originate primarily in forests in Costa Rica and Belize where large bat pollinated pods release seeds into rivers that flow toward the ocean. The seeds drift along in currents that deposit them on beaches following storms along east facing shorelines of the Atlantic Ocean occasionally delivering them via the Gulf Stream all the way to Ireland! Joe found 13 sea beans this season. He has plans to polish them for jewelry.

Joe with a nice catch
     Since the winter was windy and seas were raging spear fishing and pole fishing opportunities at the reef were limited. However, during a few calm days Joe did manage to get into the water spearing several good sized lobsters before lobster season ended on March 31. I experimented with numerous recipes for these delectable critters. Each one proved to be a culinary adventure in the galley.

A pair of lobsters speared in the same hole

The ingredients prepared for Szechuan Lobster

Man O War Dinghy 
       Spring has sprung and the annual migration north has begun. Boats heading north have been passing through Abaco daily. This week after leaving Hopetown for Marsh Harbour, three cold fronts were expected once again ushering in northerly winds and high seas. After taking a dock in Marsh Harbour for some much needed boat maintenance we moved on to Man-O-War Cay to await a safe crossing of the Whale Cay Passage to the northern Abacos and an eventual Gulf Stream Passage north. How far will we go? Our weather router Chris Parker does not recommend a multi day passage north due to another cold front stalling off northern Florida. However, it looks like there will be a favorable overnight passage from Great Sale Cay to Fort Pierce, Florida early next week. Life onboard can often seem like a chess game. Plans are made, but we make a move when and if the opportunity arises hoping for as Chris Parker would say, "The least bad crossing."

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Location:Hopetown, Abaco

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Di Hunter Women's Race

Michele Boulay in first place in
the Di Hunter Women's Race
     The race announcement was broadcast over the VHF Hopetown Cruisers Net. The Di Hunter Ladies Race aboard Sunfish sailboats would be hosted by the Hopetown Sailing Club on Monday, March 14, 2016. Hmm...that's an announcement that peaked my interest. I listened again the following morning in the event I was half awake and dreamt I'd heard the news the day before. Once again the announcement was broadcast over the net.
      I had been bothered by an upper back spasm for a week or so and wondered if I should dare mention the race to Joe assuming he would offer a host of reasons why I shouldn't race. I'm rarely keen on listening to the voice of reason, therefore I thought better of mentioning the race and decided to monitor race details hoping I'd recover in time.

Joe skippering Nothing's Easy an Abaco Dinghy
     On Sunday Joe was invited to skipper one of the iconic wooden Abaco Dinghys crafted by boat building legend Wyner Malone of Abaco in the Hopetown Sailing Club's Sunday Race. I was told that I could join him. Seven dinghies raced and it quickly became apparent that the dinghies were built as work boats not racing boats. Don't over sheet the main and don't try to point above 45 degrees! After racing three races I felt fine setting my sights on the women's race the following day.

Simple Life & Nothing's Easy after the race

     Time to get serious. Now where did I store my sailing gloves & my mouth guard? That's right I do wear a mouth guard when racing Sunfish since the boom is only a fist above the deck. I've smashed my teeth on deck a few times while ducking during a quick tack.


Rigging Sunfish on the beach after the skippers meeting
     Skippers meeting was at 9:00 AM Monday at the Hopetown Sailing Club. Five women registered including 87 year old Di Hunter for whom the race is named. Di is a credit to our gender. She is a solo sailor who lives alone aboard her catamaran in Abaco where she agilely moves about her boat and dinghy like a teenager. She is an active member of the Hopetown Sailing Club often serving as race committee boat. Di also raced in her namesake Women's Race finishing third in blustery conditions on race day.


Friendly banter among competitors on race day.
     On race day March 14, 2016 while rigging Sunfish on the beach I attempted to "size up" the competition. There were no obvious clues. The women who ranged in size from petite to tall rigged their boats and waited for race time while lending a hand to each other when needed. With an 11:00 AM start time fast approaching mounting tensions became apparent.
     The race course was set with a Le Mans start horn signal from the beach in front of the sailing club out the narrow, bustling channel around the Parrot Cays, back into the even more chaotic channel with a finish line on the beach at the sailing club.

Lynette & Michele match racing around the course
     Due to the congested situation with sails flogging and everyone trying to push off the beach at once I laid back while the others cleared out figuring I'd catch them off the wind. By the time the boats were out of the channel I was in second place with a freshening breeze. My kind of sailing began to take shape. The boats were race rigged and equipped with hiking straps that allowed the skipper to shift weight out over the windward rail. Conditions seemed perfect for my height and weight. I felt good. My closest competition was slightly ahead at the windward mark. Lynette Edenfield who got off the beach ahead of me knew what she was doing. She clearly had considerable racing experience and we match raced each other on all points of sail especially on the reaching and upwind leg toward the finish. I shot ahead on the reaching leg which is my favorite point of sail since it is the fastest. My boat reached planing speed and I hiked out keeping her as flat as possible. The most challenging part of the race came while entering the narrow, dogleg, channel on the return to Hopetown Harbor where the tide was rushing out with a strong gusty breeze on the nose hindering our progress. Let's throw in a ferry boat, small tourist charter boats and a giant catamaran for kicks and giggles. I had to calm myself in order not to blow a tack or run aground giving Lynette the opportunity to pass me on a mistake. After clearing the channel it was a matter of covering Lynette and touching the beach first. We finished 19 seconds apart! The entire four mile race course took just over 50 minutes!

The Di Hunter Perpetual Trophy presented to Michele Boulay
for finishing in first place in the race.
     Following the race, Hopetown Sailing Club member Catherine Allin from Solitaire I prepared hors d'oeuvres in the club house for race participants. The Di Hunter Perpetual Trophy was presented by Di Hunter and RC chairman David Allin at the awards presentation after lunch. I was honored and thrilled to accept the first place trophy! I've always made a bold statement that sailing is a lifetime sport. I sure hope I'm right because I'd love to be out racing when I'm 87.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

A Day in Marsh Harbour Clinic

Marlene, Michele and John enjoying sundowners after John's
healing hands made life bearable for awhile.
   Recently, I had my first a licensed massage therapist within the confines of Simple Life's cockpit! It may sound self-indulgent, but it was actually for therapeutic reasons after waking up aboard with a debilitating back spasm.

     Joe and I had planned a provisioning trip to Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island where groceries and other necessities like beer and wine tend to be cheaper than in Hopetown on Elbow Cay. The main island is where the large freighters from Nassau offload goods due to its deeper entrance channel.

     Simple Life's engine was running and we were about to drop the mooring lines when my upper back went into a spasm. It was clear that there was no possibility of leaving. I spent the rest of the day crawling about the boat on my hands & knees. After awhile I was able to crawl out to the cockpit to sit in a straight chair (not jacket) although some might think that would have been the more appropriate choice.

    A few hours later a dinghy came up to Simple Life. It was friends John and Marlene from Four Aces. John is known among the boating crowd as a fine bluegrass mandolinist. To my surprise he's also a licensed massage therapist. I excused myself for not getting up when they came aboard due to excruciating pain. He asked about the problem. I described the issue which has occurred only once before where I was treated at Rhode Island Hospital emergency room where two shots of morphine was administered along with a couple of Valium. I said, " My doctor recommended deep tissue massage, but I'm never home to follow through." He rubbed his hands together and asked if we had any coconut oil told me to lie down in the cockpit on my stomach and instructed Joe to pull my
T-shirt up to my neck. He proceeded to work his magic. After therapy I was able to sit up and walk relatively pain free. He returned the following morning for another session.

     My plan was to see the nurse at the Hopetown clinic on Monday. Joe went to the site and discovered the clinic had been closed for quite awhile since the nurse "hadn't been coming on the mail boat from Marsh Harbour" according to a local.  Clearly, we would have to sail on Monday from Hopetown to Marsh Harbour where a government clinic was opened. Don't die on a weekend in the Bahamas. No muscle relaxants for me until Monday.

Lynn & Walt from Iolar after delivering much
needed pain medication.
     On Sunday, my friend and "harbour pharmacist" Lynn aboard Iolar borrowed muscle relaxants from her friend on another boat who had a back problem last year. The drug methocarbamol can be purchased over the counter in Canada but apparently is not approved in the US. It seemed a better choice than Valium since it doesn't cause as much drowsiness.


      On Monday morning, we sailed to Marsh Harbour where we dinghied ashore to walk more than a mile to the government clinic on the outskirts of town. The realization of third world country is easy to understand after experiencing a clinic in the Bahamas. First of all there's no hospital anywhere in Abaco. If a person has a heart attack or serious injury that person either expires or if lucky hangs on for a rescue helicopter to airlift them to the hospital in Nassau on New Providence.

The Marsh Harbour Government Clinic
where I was treated well
    When we arrived at the clinic it appeared abandoned. There was no clinic sign just the remains of a rusted metal frame that had long ago rotted away. The signature Bahamian government pink exterior had peeled away in several spots. Shuttered windows made it difficult to see whether the clinic was opened. After trying two doors we found a side door unlocked. The atmosphere was chaotic with staff walking back and forth from room to room. We were received at a registration window where I was asked for my ID. "I Forgot to bring it." No do you spell the name. "It's inoculation day for all new babies!" I was told to expect a long wait.

Filing paperwork at the Marsh Harbour Government Clinic
     I reasoned that inoculations wouldn't take too long and figured we'd be seen within an hour or so. We were quite the curiosity at the clinic since we were obviously visitors in the Bahamas. A few women with infants in the waiting room were Haitian. Most were Bahamians who knew each other and seemed to delight in admiring each other's new babies.
While waiting one young Bahamian man behind us waited to register his two month old daughter for her inoculation. His wife was sitting in the waiting room with the infant on her lap and a three year old by her side. He was friendly and asked lots of questions about the States and about how far we had traveled in a sailboat.

A young Bahamian boy leaving the
Government Clinic at Marsh Harbour
    Within an hour I was examined by Dr. Keith Rivers, a youthful, friendly Bahamian doctor who gave me a good examination. He prescribed muscle relaxers, Motrin and a salve for the burn on my back from the hot water bottle I'd used in desperate times. He also asked his nurse dress the burn. All for $30.00.

     On the walk back to the boat which was over a mile our new Bahamian friend Jean from the clinic stopped his car with his wife Princess and new baby offering a ride to the pharmacy! He was so kind and would have been disappointed if we turned him down.


     So many people have helped us during this minor ordeal in the Bahamas. We are so thankful for our close community of friends. Those whom we know and those whom we have recently met. It warms my heart knowing so many folks are kind and caring.

Sent from my iPad

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Friday, February 19, 2016

On to Hopetown

Simple Life in the shadow of the Hopetown Lighthouse
     When the time came to depart Green Turtle Cay we felt quite torn. Having spent the better part of three weeks in the harbor, exploring the island and its sugar sand beaches, sampling authentic the local Bahamian cuisine of conch burgers, conch salad and fritters and being welcomed by the the locals made us feel wistful when we dropped our mooring lines at dawn a couple of weeks ago. I suppose as travellers we acclimate quickly and new harbors soon feel like home.
Hopetown Settlement




Hopetown harbor from atop the Hopetown Lighthouse
     According to our weather router, Chris Parker it was a favorable day to negotiate the Whale Cay Cut. Seas had been raging at 11 feet for days and it sounded like a favorable time with six foot seas to make the passage and get ourselves into the protected Sea of Abaco where it would be easy to make short hops to many of the cays (pronounced keys) within its boundaries. As I've said in previous blogs this is not our normal route south, but it seemed like a good alternative rather than fighting unpredictable wind and seas on the southern route in such a tumultuous winter weather pattern.

     Our original plan after departure from Green Turtle Cay was to head to Marsh Harbour to provision and fill our water tanks which were last topped off in Vero Beach on December 29. We have a 90 gallon water tank. The tank was half full or empty depending on your outlook on life. We'd been able to catch more than eleven gallons of drinking water from rain as well as about a quarter of our 90 gallon tank. I think I can safely say we conserve water. Think about it. Could you live on 45 gallons of water for more than three weeks? It means dishes washed once a day, shower in a gallon of water twice a week. I don't mean to sound righteous, but out here water is expensive not wasted. We have no choice since we don't live at marinas.

     Even though we were experiencing a near gale Joe ventured in to a local pub, Captain Jacks to watch the Super Bowl festivities. I happily opted to work on a new classical guitar piece J.S. Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring arranged by David Qualey. This particular arrangement is featured on Windam Hill's Winter Solstice Album. David Qualey also performs this piece on YouTube. After working on this piece for awhile I also played the Bodhran with some recorded Irish tunes just to loosen up after all the rigors of studying the classical piece. It was a fun musical night aboard the Simple Life. Sometimes I relish my alone time aboard. I can go crazy with my music!

Ruins at the now closed Elbow Cay Club
     Recently, our new Canadian friends from Manitoba, Eileen & Bud aboard Sea Camp invited us to join them for an exploration in the mangroves trails on Elbow Cay. We had a few diversions due to private property but, eventually found our way out to a road, but not without the help of a few Haitians who directed us. After the hike happy hour was aboard our friends Scott & Kitty's boat Tamure joined by Marcia and Dan from Cutting Class. Both couples are fellow New Englanders from Connecticut. Scott and Kitty have been cruising since the early 1970's and have circumnavigated twice and completed the Atlantic Circle! Their stories are so interesting and we have dubbed them the social directors of the "harbor rats" (those of us living on moorings in Hopetown).
A spontaneous game of Petanque on the beach in Hopetown


Joe's lobster catch after snorkeling
for only15 minutes.

     For now we are settling in here in Hopetown. Our future travels south remain uncertain since weather windows have been few and far between. If we spend the winter here in Hopetown that's fine with us. As they say...there's no point messing about with Mother Nature. She has delivered a turbulent winter so far. We'll see what develops in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime we'll enjoy our time here in beautiful Abaco. There's plenty to keep us occupied such as free diving for those elusive lobsters until spring's arrival in the northern Bahamas.

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Friday, January 22, 2016

El Niño and its Wrath

A walk on the beach before the latest gale set in at
Long Bay, Green Turtle Cay
     So far this winter it seems Simple Life has been dodging the bulk of bad weather complements of El Niño that has plagued a swath of the much of the Bahamas as well as south Florida. Although, this last weekend after gale warnings were posted most boaters in Green Turtle Cay and the Abacos were installing chafe gear while checking anchors and lines. Fast moving storm clouds reminiscent of those I'd seen before the onset of a hurricane rushed by around nine o'clock Saturday morning ushering in an ominous aura of impending doom. While sipping coffee in the cockpit and assessing the look of things I suggested that Joe might consider dismantling the rain catching system before the storm arrived. He did and also shut down the wind generator. It free wheels when winds pick up over 30 knots and we were expecting gusts to 50 knots. No need to have blades overhead spinning out of control. I always imagine one of them flying off and imbedding in my brain. That's my inner voice in overtime, not exactly the eternal optimist.
Joe at Settlement Cove in Green Turtle Cay

     It was also time to relocate my garden and store the plants in the galley sink before they toppled over in wind gusts that began rocking the boat at a steady rate around 10:00 AM. A short time later a nearby boater announced over the VHF radio that a dinghy had taken flight and was moving by unoccupied in the sound. These things happen during the height of storms and sometimes later when things calm down after lines have chafed through during the blow.

Joe dinghied ashore this morning for eggs & bread before
the onset of high winds & squalls 

      It's not always a picnic out here. There are days when we're boat bound with no chance of going ashore. I don't mind though when we have adequate food stores on board. I am vigilant when it comes to supplys. We can't always run out for bread and milk before the unexpected onset of a gale like we used to during Rhode Island winters before snow storms.That was a practice instilled upon our young lives after experiencing the Blizzard of 78' when Rhode Islanders suffered through a week of no power in mid February with below freezing temperatures, no transportation, waist deep snow and food shortages. Since then a visit to any grocery store in Rhode Island prior to any storm forecast albeit winter or summer will reveal empty shelves of bread and milk hours before the storm's arrival. It's strange to see this practice continue each year, but it's imbedded in Rhode Islanders' history. Kind of akin to our parents' accounts of The Great Depression, but in a weather format. Perhaps this explains my need for thorough provisioning aboard the Simple Life.
Stocking up at Sid's Grocery at the Green
Turtle Cay settlement

Sid's Grocery is an example of a large grocery store
in the Bahamas with three aisles of groceries!
     I have to admit that Joe and I eat well. This evening I prepared beef stroganoff with dried Shitake mushrooms I had stored onboard. There wasn't a fresh mushroom to be found on Green Turtle Cay. The mailboat that delivers fresh produce and other supplies wasn't able to negotiate the Whale Cay Cut due to rough seas for over two weeks! I was skeptical at the dinner's outcome. I wasn't certain the mushrooms would enhance the recipe, but the meal was surprisingly delicious. Whenever I use an item in our food stores, I replace it regardless of when it might be used again. That way I'm able to plan meals as easily as if I lived on land. I think of Simple Life as my large pantry where I squirrel things away. My only problem is that much like the squirrels sometimes it's hard to remember where I've buried my acorns.

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas

Double rainbow over Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas
   Even though weather has been less than desirable it is somewhat a relief to be settled in the protection of Black Sound in Green Turtle Cay, Abaco. It has been extremely windy for days with gradient wind in the high 20's with gusts to 30 and above. A rare Derecho inflicted winds from 50-over 100 mph in the Exuma Cays a few days ago. Boats lost anchors and chain and many sustained damage from being cast ashore.
A serious game of double 12 dominoes in
process aboard Simple Life. No TV, no internet...

The Loyalist Monument at Green Turtle Cay celebrating
those who were loyal to England during the Revolutionary
War between the States and England.
Photo by Joe Boulay

Joe checking the menu at The Wrecking Tree Restaurant where he remembered having the best conch burgers ever during our visit in 2004.
(they were just as good in 2016)
     A few days ago, a short walk ashore reacquainted us with the small settlement of New Plymouth. It's the only settlement on the island. We last visited here in 2004. It seems not much has changed. Things still move slowly here on Green Turtle Cay. The Batelco station is opened one day a week on Thursday. Joe waited in a long line with everyone else in the settlement to buy a SIM card for our phone. At least we have have intermittent Wifi for communication. Joe was able to call his mom after we'd been here for more than a week.

     Last year there were so many weather fronts and so few crossings during January that we made the decision this year to cross whenever the opportunity was positive. Our crossing from Lake Worth was relatively tranquil in the sense that the seas were benign, there was enough wind to motor sail at 6.5 knots and we even sailed at times for hours with no engine. The entire trip took 30+ hours. Lake Worth and the Abacos were not our usual choice for crossing at this time of year, but with the unpredictable weather patterns from El Niño we began questioning "What is usual or normal anymore? Take what you get and go with it."

The teak in the main salon oiled and beautiful.
This is our dining table in the folded position.
The Dickinson fireplace is mounted next to it. 
My Nissan Thermal Slow Cooker
in the galley. Meatballs & sauce ready
in six hours.
     Boat projects that have been neglected for months have become priority since we have been aboard due to weather. Much needed interior teak oiling has become my manifesto. Each day I work on a specific section. Joe has taken another look at the AIS installation and made modifications. This morning I cooked a large pot of meatballs, sausages and homemade sauce with fresh basil, oregano and Italian parsley from my onboard garden at 10:00 AM. The contents were transferred to my Nissan Thermal Slow Cooker for the remainder of the afternoon. This is a wonderful addition to any boaters cookware since no electricity is needed. Dinner will be served at 6:00 PM. Joe also set up our rain catcher since 2-3 inches of rain are forecast tomorrow. So far, we've captured 5 gallons with intermittent rain showers. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

The beach at Gillum Bay where we enjoy beach combing for
sanddollars and sea biscuits.
Joe equipped with backpack, snorkel & mask
enjoying the beach at Green Turtle Cay.
     For some reason the crossing seemed to settle us. We have arrived. We have crossed and the anxiety that accompanies the crossing has subsided. Now we will explore, beach comb, swim, snorkel and fish. There are no plans now. No calendar, no place we have to be. It feels good. This is why we sail the Bahamas and for now Green Turtle Cay is home.

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