Monday, December 30, 2013

It has taken a village to get us here - thank you

In the quiet between holidays, on a dock in Nassau, after a 10-day intro trip into the Exumas, and with most of our kids aboard for a visit, I am reflecting on how our new lifestyle was only possible because of all of you. 

We started the hands-on work towards our goal of cruising exactly one year ago this week.  With the preparation to stage the house and get last repairs done before listing it.  Our kids remember the huge hole in the bedroom ceiling caused by air conditioner condensate as I repaired the plaster work over the holidays.  From there we made lists and began moving out the furniture and keepsakes to storage.  Within two months we had the house staged and listed.  And two months after that we had sold it, two more months we were living downtown in an antique carriage house.  Two months after that we had driven a 45' road schooner to New England and delivered furniture and gear to our daughter in Burlington and to our summer retreat in Royalston.  And two more months we were full time liveaboards driving ourselves crazy in preparations to unhook and cruise. 

So here we are in Nassau Harbor awaiting the New Year and our second time to see Junkanoo.  The first, on Boxing Day morning, was a river of human fireworks and "Mooosic!".  The photos really don't do the spectacle justice.  And I had run my battery flat by the time the high-powered teams of Roots and Valley Boys showed up.  It is a community-wide competition involving a year of work to build the costumes and floats, many of the individual costumes weigh in at 100# and are clearly a serious physical strain to carry much less make them dance to the bands' mooosic.  Valley Boys won Round 1, but the Saxons are coming back strong we hear.

We have seen a small taste of the outer islands in the Exumas with beaches, lobsters, iguanas, and hammerhead sharks.  We have attended church at a charming very old Anglican sanctuary (think Thomas Hardy and Wessex era) with a rector who is a complete gas and clearly a positive force in his community.  We have dealt with mechanical failures, mast ascents to make repairs, sea sickness and strenuous weather.  We have not been plagued with balmy sunny skies and lounging about in swimwear (haven't had the full mainsail up since we cleared in to the Bahamas at Chubb Cay weeks ago).  And while we aren't sure of our new home, ourselves and our ship, we are getting more so with every encounter with the boundary of Adversity. 

This is what we came for, and we still wonder if we should be here, but we are here and we are doing exactly what we had hoped for, making discoveries about the world and ourselves which we didn't even know to ask the questions for. 

So as the New Year bears down on us:  thank you for all of your support as we stressed and strained, made seemingly weird decisions, walked away from easy ties to family and friends.  It was hard for you and hard for us.  So again, thank you.


Monday, December 9, 2013

First stop: Water World

We crossed the Stream on a window which started with a nice westerly but then went light and north as predicted.  Which made things pretty lumpy, even with just 5 kts of N wind against the Stream, enough so that everyone was feeling pretty green at the gills.  I don't want to even think about what a 20+ kt cold front would do.  So we lurched across under one engine and made it to Riding Rocks just at dawn and a slack tide.  Now that we know our way, we will do it again and cross in the dark.  We slide across the banks all day and saw one other boat.  We stopped in the late afternoon, just threw an anchor out in the middle of absolutely nothing.
The banks are amazing. No marine feature like it in the rest of the world that I know of. Hundreds of square miles of 15 foot deep water with just sand and some sponges.  It was like Water World - we were anchored in the middle of the Great Bahamas Banks near the Northwest Channel with *nothing* 360o around us but turquoise water. We swam and made dinner, watched the current shift from ebb to flood  (yes there are currents on this massive submerged mesa), saw no boats passing in the night. Then the next morning we set off again, but with the company of several approaching boats all trying to hit the Northwest Channel before the ebb tide current got to warring with the easterly wind there.

We cleared in at Chub (takes literally minutes and they are glad to see you since they have so little to do), fought our way across New Providence Channel into a nasty sea and a building easterly, and are now on our way east around the coast to meet a daughter in Nassau ..  but the memory of Water World will last for the rest of our lives.