Eleuthra and Abacos…finally?

May 1

Today’s homework included baking banana bread!  The kids measured, calculated, and mixed and learned how to regulate the oven.  It threatened rain all morning, but we

decided to head out for some exercise before it came and we hiked up Monument hill.  What a beautiful view from above.  We could see the names of the boats below made out of limestone rocks, where only a week ago we put our name (unfortunately in white rocks – not well visible from above).

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Afterwards, Aden and Ava came by with Bailey to visit.  20180501-14- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

 

 

We finished the day, as usual, at Chat n Chill.  Jeremy played chess on the beach until the rain came again.

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Back in the shelter of the boat, Jeremy hosted “Fishtival”.  This was a party he had been planning and preparing for a few weeks.  Some of the games we did included Ocean Mimes (we had to mime specific marine life), Goofa Fisha (pass fish drawings), Create your own reef, Ocean Memory, etc.

Only a week before, Serena had organized Earth Day with thought-provoking games including “Create an Invention to Help Save the Earth”, “If you are President What Would you Change”, “Create an Animal that has Evolved to Adapt to Pollution”, “What Earth Problem Would you Solve”.
Our kids have been very consistent in planning, preparing and hosting several special celebrations.  We are very proud of their creativity!

May 2 – 3

Rain all day.  So much rain, one could not even see the horizon during the day.

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I was able to collect plenty of water that we used to do wash, dishes, and scrub the deck.

Beautiful rainbows each day. 20180503-1- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

 

 

Ava from Sava came over to play with the kids. 20180502-1- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas This is the first time I have seen a rainbow touch the water’s surface!  20180504-19- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

Do you think there was a treasure chest of gold buried there?

 

 

 

 

May 4

First sun in 4 days!  We took this opportunity to pack a picnic and take a hike along Ocean Beach with the Childress family from Sava.  Lots of neat things to explore along

the beach.  Awesome surf was coming in due to the high winds we have been having for the last week.  We hiked along the path that took us to Sand Dollar Beach.

Luckily the Ship Shack gave us great shade from the sun where we could eat our lunches.  The kids splashed in the turquoise waters on the beach while the adults cooled off in the shade chatting.  The walk along Ocean Beach offered many opportunities to see marine life in tide pools.  Lots of fun splashing along and discover with friends.

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More Chat n Chill in the evening.  20180504-18- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasMore rain in the late afternoon.  More rainbows.

 
May 5
As a treat for Jeremy, Emily, the Cruiser’s Net Controller from Temptress, invited him to be the Junior Net Controller for this morning’s Net.  Papa drove him over to Crab Cay at 7am to get him prepared. At the 8am kickoff, Jeremy gave the sunrise, tides, temperatures, and even led Community Events and Thought of the Day.

We were very proud of how well he announced on the VHF.  His speaking / VHF etiquette was very professional.  I posted a short video of what he did on my Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/catherine.holenski/posts/10155244871030684?comment_id=10155246182185684&

We had plans to leave tomorrow, so when the rain squalls chased us away from Chat n Chill at 4pm, we came back and started to prepare the dinghy, roll up the paddle board and Airhead, etc.  Due to the winds that continually have been coming from the SE, we changed our plans north to go to Black Point, the Aquarium (near Cambridge & O’Brien Cay), stage at Wardrick Wells and then head NE to Rock Sound, Eleuthra.  This would mean a 6:30am departure to cover the 65nm to Black Point.  When the sun peaked out, Venita and her guests (Island Lady) came by for Happy Hour until sunset when the kids blew them away with their conch horns!

May 6

Almost no sleep last night due to a wicked storm that started at midnight.  Lightning everywhere!  Thunder shook the boat and the gusts from the S/SW were topping at 35+ knots.  Rain was coming down in sheets all night.  The storms gathered around again at 3am and continued straight until 7am.  We had planned to pull up anchor at 6:30am, but this delayed our departure.  We stayed for the Net to announce our departure.  A few other boats wanted to leave too but were hesitating due to the numerous cells hovering all around us.  We made alternative plans for our trip north in the event that the weather forced us to change plans as we went north (ie. hide out in Musha Bay).  By 11am, when the thunder was still rumbling all around us, we decided to stay yet another day.  This weather has delayed our originally planned departure by 10 days now!

We had to make the best of the day, so we put the dinghy back into the water and headed the kids over to Chat n Chill for one last hurrah with their friends.  20180506-1- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasJeremy was very excited to have finally learned how to swing from the highest branch of the Chat n Chill tree.  All the other kids have been doing it since we visited the place in January, and now Jeremy got the courage to do it!  Great accomplishment Jeremy.  He also whipped some of the kids’ butts in games of chess in the afternoon while Serena explored with her close friends Ava and Katie.  The kids have both also been getting very good at beach volleyball!

We said our goodbyes at the beach and got the best ribs to take back and eat in the boat before the rains came again.  20180506-7- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasIn the evening, we discovered that a bat had made a home in our bimini.  We had seen it flying around the last few nights, but didn’t know it was living on our boat!  Bat or man-eating moth?


May 7
The morning started off stormy (with thunder/lightning) right until 6:30am.  We were hoping it would not be a re-run of yesterday’s bad morning, but by 7am, the rain stopped.  Since we could see no terribly threatening clouds on the horizon, we finally pulled anchor.  Yeah!!!!  FINALLY!!!!  As we left Elizabeth Harbour, we were able to announce our goodbyes – again! – on the Cruiser’s Net (that started at 8am).   The winds were light, so we motor-sailed right up to Galliot Cut (just south of Farmer’s Cay).

We had nice company:  Saleh (Eli, Jen, Maggie, Katie, and Cody on Island Packet 35) and Radio Waves (a Hunter 42). Once we had crossed through the cut (luckily at slack tide) onto the Banks, we were able to turn off the motor and sail to Black Point – another 2 hours north.  It was a race for the 3 boats!  Unfortunately, ours was the slowest!  We got a great anchorage right next to the government docks in the town sheltered nicely from the south east winds.  We had suggested to the other boats to meet up at Lorraine’s for pizza.  By 6pm, the crew from Saleh was meeting us at Lorraine’s and we had a pizza on order.  While waiting the hour for the meal to come, the adults headed over to Scorpion’s for a Happy Hour rum punch – boy, do those pack a punch for $3!  Dinner was full of good conversation amongst adults and play amongst the well-matched kids.  We even had an exotic frog that came to join us at the table!  Lorraine was in top form and happy to see us.  We pointed out that she needed to inform Explorer Charts that they had

published her home phone number in their text. By 8:30pm, we felt droplets of rain and realized this was a good time to pack up and head back to the boats.  We all walked together and bid each other farewell (as they were going to Staniel and we were heading to Eleuthra).  Back at the boat, our “bat moth” friend made her appearance again.  This time, she got really friendly and stuck right to me.

And 15 minutes after we arrived at the boat, the rain started falling hard. I think the approaching thunderstorms were scaring the moth!   Sure enough, within another 10 minutes, the wind switched dramatically to the west (the ONLY direction from which our anchorage was not secure), and picked up to 20 knots!  The protected bay for all 10 boats anchored here became a washing machine for the rest of the night.  The wind bucked and tossed us – our plates were clanking and boat was creaking all night.  Not much sleep for those who needed to leave the next morning!

May 8

After the sleepless night, we awoke to more washing-machine action.  We were eager to get going.  At least under sail, we would be able to roll with the movement and not feel thrown around.  We agreed to tow the dinghy rather than lift it on deck in these seas.  Unfortunately, we arrived at the Gotham Cut with the tide already turned, so we fought a 6 knot current to try to get out into the Sound.  It was nip & tuck for 15 minutes – we could not see us making tracks forward relative to the land and feared we might not make it through.  Luckily our Serena I was able to make it!  On the Sound side of the island, the water was beautifully flat!  Of course as the wind had been coming unusually all night from the west making the Banks the rougher place to be.

Once we were settled a comfortable distance from the reefed shoreline, Captain Chris and his helper Jeremy threw out the fishing lines in hopes of a catch.  On & off sprinkles and clouds until we reached the intersection at Cambridge and O’Brien’s Cay.  Here we turned into the Cut, motored around Pasture Cay and anchored in between Halls Pond Cay (Johnny Depp’s island) and O’Brien Cay.

We had finally arrived at the Aquarium – what we missed on the way south.  It was a tiny limestone island that had lovely coral gardens just below the surface with hundreds of Sergeant Majors and Grunts waiting for unsuspecting snorkellers.  Serena and Jeremy were squealing with delight to be lost amongst hundreds of fish!  We swam around the island admiring the marine life and coral.  Some of the marine life we saw included a hunting Trumpet fish, a Queen Angel, a Triggerfish, a Nassau Grouper, a Squirrelfish, and many healthy coral specimens like tube and Christmas trees.  Getting back to the dinghy, we were greeted by a 3 foot barracuda!

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On our way back to the boat, we stopped at another dive site where a small airplane had been wrecked.  Lots of great photos taken there with Serena diving deep to see the inside of the plane’s cockpit.  By 3pm, we had lifted anchor to head north.

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We arrived at Warderwick Wells around 5pm, just after a few short squalls.

We got the mooring next to the one we had in January at the base of the J.  Funny enough, the 2 eagle rays greeted us – we were happy to see them.  Another stormy night.

May 9

Aw….sun…finally…after a long week of rain!

Today was a day to snorkel.  I took the kids around the boat to chase the lone eagle ray that passed under.  Jeremy got some good photos of it against the contrast of the white 20180509-1d- Warderick Wells, Exumas, Bahamas

sand.  We noted the terrain of the sandy bottom, seeing how the current creates “steps” on the floor with the sand and swirls the sand dollars around.  We were amazed by the vast number of sand dollars and conch shells in the sand below our boat.

Then we went 2 moorings from our boat to snorkel the reef where the turtles typically play.  Instead, we saw lobsters and large schools of grunts in beautiful coral gardens.

Then we saw 6 huge houndfish cruising at the surface, but they kept their distance while watching us!  We snorkelled until the current got too strong.  After lunch, we headed over to Emerald Rock to snorkel several good spots there.  Lots of great photos were taken in the calm waters including French Angels, Blue Tangs, a huge crab, Christmas tree worms, and a spiny lobster.

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When we got back, the 2 eagle rays came swooping in again.  Papa Bear jumped in just in time to get some good close up photos and a video!  Amazing how close they let us get!

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You could see the details of their spots! We invited all Cruisers for a Happy Hour get together on Powerful Beach.  We got there at 5pm and kept fit by playing ProKadima.

Sure enough, by 5:30, people started coming.  By 6:30, there were at least 20 cruisers gathered and chatting under the pavilion on the beach.  It was good to have people with whom to chat, get weather updates, and advice.  Due to hungry kids and a long day tomorrow, we had to leave by 7pm.

May 10

We left at 8am with storm clouds on the horizon.  We did not want to get stuck in Warderwick Wells again, with no access to internet or weather reports.  Getting through the Warderwick Wells Cut was tough as the current was against the wind creating high chop.  Luckily the current was pushing us through and we were on smooth waves in 30 minutes.  A33 nm (6.5 hour) trip North East across the Exuma Sound to get to our next destination:  Rock Sound, Eleuthra.  A motor sailing day, but we ended up furling up the genoa and ultimately dropping the main. The forecasted SE winds were NE all day – right on the nose!   At this point, Papa Bear caught another female Mahi Mahi – supper for tonight!  Christian is really getting expert in filleting fish!  This Mahi Mahi had practically no meat left on it when he was finished.  His technique is improving with each catch.

When we got to Powell Point at 2pm – the nice arching bay protecting Rock Sound from S, SE, SW winds – we raised our canvas and had a nice sail down the Davis Channel to a peaceful anchorage in Rock Sound.  As we approached, we were greeted by a lone dolphin that swam at us and veered away after he decided our bow wave was not big enough!  There were only 4 other boats there when we arrived at 5pm.  We had our scrumptious Mahi Mahi for dinner and called it a night.20180510-5- Warderick Wells, Exumas, Bahamas

May 11

A day for exploring Rock Sound.

We put the dinghy in the water and it began to rain.  Using this time, we did schoolwork and Papa Bear donned his hood and wetsuit to do the thankless job of scrubbing the boat’s bottom.  Boy did we ever have lots of green hair growing under the surface!  20180511-3- Rock Sound, Eleuthra, BahamasThank you Christian for that work effort – it will make us go faster!  Then Jeremy helped Papa put water in the forward tank.  Just before lunch, we headed over to Rock Sound in search of a place to snack.  Even though we read the Explorer Charts, they are sometimes out of date, so we asked around and finally decided to follow the street signs to Sammy’s Restaurant.  What a good choice!  20180511-6- Rock Sound, Eleuthra, BahamasGreat food with great service at good prices.  We ordered conch burgers.  The kids got Shirley Temples for only $1.75 (as opposed to Chat n Chill’s $6).  Then for dessert, we treated ourselves to $1.75 ice cream cones!  Mmmm…Walking around Rock Sound, it seemed to resemble more of North American than Bahamas due to all the deciduous trees (fewer palms).  It was surprising to see so many abandoned homes that were in disastrous states.

Many of them had forests growing inside of them!  They sure do have HUGE aloe plants everywhere…here’s a photo for you Sylvie!  20180511-5- Rock Sound, Eleuthra, Bahamas

We stopped by a well stocked/fair priced grocery store and picked up a few things.  Then we checked out the Ocean Hole on our way back to the boat.  Open to the ocean on the other side of the island, the Ocean Hole is close to 950 feet deep with high mineral water (sulphur) that is a mix of salt and fresh.  So many fish swimming around we could see due to the clear water.  You can see

where locals dive off the edges of the Hole to jump in…we were tempted, but given no one was in the hole, we decided against it.  Going back to the boat for our water bottles to fill up at the Homecoming site Government water faucet – no guarantee that it is potable water though.

We spoke with some fishermen who had caught some Hogfish and Nassau Groupers.  Got some wine at good prices ($9.75!) at Papa’s Site.  Then we headed over to Frigate’s Bar at the south part of the beach.  According to the Explorer Charts, this is supposed to be a great place to meet other cruisers at Happy Hour.  Unfortunately, the girl at the bar said there was no Happy Hour anymore and the place was full of “no-see-ums”.  We did chat with a few of the patrons, who were all on their way north from Georgetown area, but after 15 minutes, we gave it a pass and went back to the boat. The “no-see-ums” were very bad and even found their way to our boat (100s of metres from the beach!).  We also had 2 birds that were desperate to make a nest in our spreaders….they continued to chirp and bring grass/twigs to our spreader, despite the fact that I was whipping our halyard to scare them away.  Oh well, tomorrow, when we were under sail, they would figure it out!

May 12
Despite the early morning rains, at 7:45, we had hoisted our dinghy on the deck and raised anchor.  The “no-see-ums” were out in full force, encouraging us to leave!   ½ way through our passage to get to Hatchet Bay, we changed our mind and changed course for Governor’s Harbour.  This shortened our trip by ½ time and we had more time to visit this historic little town.  We noticed that Tikitiboo was still on our tail (they had followed us into Rock sound from George Town).  Governor’s Harbour was the first capital city of Bahamas back when the Eleutheran Adventurers came seeking freedom in 1649.

It presents an appealing picture of colonial houses colourfully placed on the steep hill around the harbour’s gentle arc.  Beautiful homes with bougainvillea cascading over garden walls enhance an architecturally charming community.  We walked up the hill to the other side where the unique French Leaf Beach was situated.  This beach had rosy

coloured sand…when you look up close, the beige sand is speckled with red.  Not sure where it comes from but is very pretty.  There were a few sunbathers on the empty beach despite the cloudy day.  We walked for about 2 hours and enjoyed viewing such different Bahamian, rather colonial, architecture.  Trying to find some souvenir t-shirts (yes, we’ve been on this trip for > 10 months and have only bought 1 sourvenir t-shirt!), but the only souvenir shop in town had a rule “No trying on t-shirts”.  They said we “should know our size”, but with these foreign manufacturers, no one really knows their exact size.  Oh well, they lost 3 $25 sales ($75) because all 3 of us were ready to purchase.  After that, we desperately tried to find a place to buy a snack for the kids and some drinks, but it looked like everything was closed.  A nice lady from a store offered us a ride to a ocean-view restaurant, but they were finished with lunch and soon to have dinner.  So she drove us back to where we met. The grocery store ended up being expensive and we gave up and went back to the boat.  The kids got set up with snacks and we went back to investigate Cupid’s Cay to see the historical buildings dating back to when this region first settled.  We saw the site of the 1st US Embassy on the island, which was now only a pile of rubble.  The houses were in disrepair on this side of the bay – in stark contrast to those beautiful estates we saw earlier in the day on the other side.   The people on this side of the bay seemed to be much friendlier.  Maybe it was due to the fact that it was now happy hour?  When we got back to our boat, we waved to our friends Tikitiboo (a St. Francis 50) and Cat Cay (a luxurious powercat) on our starboard side.  Bugs were not as hungry tonight, but the same 2 birds kept trying to make a nest in our spreaders!  It is definitely spring!

May 13
Happy Mother’s Day!  When we got just outside the harbour bay area, we had 2 playful dolphins swim up to us and splashed in our bow waves for a few minutes.  They were very healthy bottlenose dolphins.  Too quick for me to take photos, though!  The ride to

Current Cut was to be downwind in 20+ knots of wind and 3 foot following seas.  We had 33 nautical miles to cover to get to the Cut and then once through it, another 10 to get up to Spanish Wells.  We were told to time the passage of the Cut at/around low tide because the water flowing through there has very strong currents.  It was a lovely sail but as we got through Current Cut, just as others had warned, we hit a speed of 11.2 knots!  20180513-5- Governors Harbour, Eleuthra, BahamasUnbelievable how quickly the limestone islands were passing us on both sides.  As we got out of the Cut, we made a decision to not stay at Meek’s Point because it looked too windy and we called Bandit (on Channel 16) to reserve a $25 mooring right in Spanish Wells.  He was happy to oblige and we got the 2nd one across from the Shipyard restaurant.  The entry was not well marked…thank goodness for our charts because it was hard to know where 20180513-8- Spanish Wells, Bahamasthe shallowest places were.  We were going through a stretch that was showing 5.6 feet on our charts, but luckily we were at high tide, so our depth sounder showed 10 inches below the keel!

We were happy to be at the mooring as the wind continued to pick up (gusting to 30+).  We headed out to explore, once we got the dinghy

down.  Apparently, Spanish Wells is one of the most affluent Far Bahamas Islands.  The island was settled by Eleuthreran Adventurers who left England seeking a place to call home (ie. religious freedom).  It has been a fishing village ever since and prides itself on the fact that it supplies well over half of the Bahamas commercial crop of lobster, conch and fish.  This small island, with its charming cottages and splendid gardens, is easy to walk through.  This is the first island we have seen that did not have derelict cars or abandoned /overgrown houses.  The primarily Caucasian population take such pride in

their homes and gardens which are so well manicured.   The primary mode of transportation is golf carts. We ended up taking our dinghy to the Spanish Wells Yacht Haven Marina where we bumped into Tikitiboo again.  We had a nice chat with them and told them we would meet them for Mother’s Day drinks & snacks at the Shipyard restaurant.  When we went back to the Shipyard end (near our mooring), it was starting to rain, so we quickly got a seat on the terrace (which was fully booked for dinner reservations).  We met Pinky, our lovely hostess who gave us some history on the town.  Then John and Marcia and Jonathon from Tikitiboo came to join us.  We had a lovely time but had to head back to make dinner.

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When we got back to the boat, we found it smelled strongly of diesel fumes.  We figured it was the boat moored ahead of us.  20180513-21- Spanish Wells, BahamasAfter my Mother’s Day dinner, the odour got a bit stronger.  Then after the kids went to bed and we started to brush our teeth, I checked the bilge and it was full of dark liquid.  Within seconds, we realized that our diesel tank, which had a hole repaired in it 5 years ago, had re-opened it’s previous patch-job and was leaking diesel at a fast pace (we could see it trickling).  Under Jeremy’s bed (where the diesel tank lies), the liquid had reached a high level.  All under the floor boards (where we store all our goods, food, supplies) was filled with diesel fuel.  We quickly moved sleeping Jeremy to our v-berth and I started to scoop out the diesel with a cup into a pail.  We would not have enough pails to store the amount of diesel that was leaking.  It was midnight and we had to find a solution. I suggested we go to land and find a metal garbage can to pour this stuff into.  Smart Captain Chris (who was MacGyver in a previous life) immediately thought of ways we could lift the tank so that it would be on an angle to slow/stop the flow from the hole that was at the lowest bottom end.  We used a pole and ropes to lift this extremely heavy, awkwardly shaped tank.  Luckily, we were able to lift it after 20 minutes of hard work.   It stopped the flow.  Now we had to clean out the liquid that was permeating the bilge and our breathing space.  By 3am, we had cleaned up 90% of it and went to bed, with Jeremy beside us in a hot 85F room.

May 14

Captain Chris started the morning off early by seeking help on land.  He bought cleaning supplies and was able to find a nearby dock where we could tie up and do the reparations/ cleaning necessary.  We would need backup assistance to get there, since we had almost no diesel to run the motor.  Our friends from Tikitiboo offered to use their dinghy to help push our boat if necessary.  We were ready with our dinghy to push as well (we have done this in a previous emergency on Lake Champlain).  We had to wait until the current and wind and tides aligned to allow our travel to the dock with minimal problems.  It ended up that the barge docked at the place where we were to go, did not move until the end of the day, so we planned to move tomorrow.  20180515-2- Spanish Wells, BahamasHowever, we spent the day, cleaning, up to our chins with diesel fumes, degreaser smell, and Lysol.  And the kids continued their schoolwork, business as usual, only now they were working in our cabin.   We were invited by our friends on Tikitiboo to go to their marina and use the pool.  We took them up on their refreshing invitation!  We had drinks near the pool with them. Knowing that Jeremy’s room was where the diesel tank is, they even invited the kids to sleep over at their boat so that they could get out of the diesel fumes.  What a generous offer, and we took them up on it!  The kids were VERY excited to be on a beautiful 50 foot catamaran!  Jeremy challenged Jonathon to many games of chess and both children had loads of fun in the pool.  We really enjoyed our time laughing with John and Marcia.  It really helped us get our minds off our worries.  Thank you sincerely John and Marcia!

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May 15

This morning at 8am, we were ready to move the boat to the dock.  The kids were still at Tikitiboo, but John brought them to the dock and the 3 of them helped us get in.  We were not sure if our engine would start, given that we had pumped almost all the diesel out of the tank.  Luckily, we had enough to get us the ¼ mile over from our mooring.  The current was so strong, it took our boat right into the dock, but luckily only a scratch.  Immediately upon arrival, we took the fuel tank out of the boat and onto the dock.  Of all places to be stuck with such a terrible problem, we were very lucky to be in Spanish Wells, as the people are so willing to help.  This is a fishing boat mecca and they were all experts in metals and fibreglass.  Unfortunately, our solution would require PVC welding capabilities.  No one was able to help us solder / weld the hole in our tank.  One wonderful mechanic, Jarrod, offered to build us a custom-made aluminum tank.  But that could take a few weeks.  So Captain Chris (aka MacGyver) researched how to solder PVC

on Google.  He felt very confident that he would be able to do it.  He spent 2 hours trying to modify his soldering gun (by inserting a screw-driver bit) so that it had a flat surface to “glue” the patch.  He then sliced off thin pieces of “donor plastic” (which came from the fuel tube) which he would use to melt onto the patch.  When the rain went away, he began melting the patch with the soldering gun.  We were very happy, as it looked like it was closing up the hole and reinforcing it.  Unfortunately, in the late afternoon, we tested it by putting a few litres of fuel in the tank and tipping it upside down to see if it would hold.  The patch clearly leaked.  We were so disappointed.  Christian was crestfallen.  He was so sure it was the right approach, but then he realized that he missed a step to seal the patch before melting the PVC over it.  But now, he had changed the composition of the material, he could not go back to re-start.  He would need to try another solution on top of this.  John, from Tickitiboo generously offered an epoxy that we could try, so, tomorrow would be another day to try a new solution.  Tonight, we were ready to have a cool splash in the Spanish Wells Marina pool with our friends John and Marcia from Tickitiboo.

May 16

20180516-1- Spanish Wells, BahamasThis morning Christian finished trying the new epoxy from John and was putting several layers on.  I helped a bit but spent most of my time cleaning more below while getting the kids to do their homework in the 85F humidity.  We had quite a few visitors today, many of whom were offering their help in some way.  The sailor’s community is very special that way.  20180516-2- Spanish Wells, BahamasThat night, we were invited yet again to go for a swim at the marina and then Happy Hour at its bar called Wreckers.  Going to Wreckers Bar, we then also met up with 2 other couples from catamarans (Doug and Suzy from Carina and Craig and Susan from the powercat named Cat Cay that we met in Governor’s Harbour).  The kids had a blast with Captain, Cat Cay’s beautiful 11 month old Golden Retriever. And because Pinky was working here tonight (not at Shipyard), she treated the kids to some great Shirley Temples!

May 17

This morning I ventured out with the kids to see if we could visit the Spanish Wells All Age school.  Sure enough, Mrs. Gibson, the principal was very happy for us to peak into the Grade 6 classroom where Miss Mitchell was the teacher.  The kids were getting ready

to go on their school trip to Nassau and visit Atlantis for a few days, so it was fine to have a “surprise guest”.  We introduced ourselves and told them how much we were enjoying Spanish Wells.  They asked us about our travels and we asked them questions about what they were studying, what they wanted to be when they grew up and how they liked living here in Bahamas.  They were very curious to know how life on a boat was like.

20180517-3- Spanish Wells, BahamasWhen we got back to the boat, Doug from Carina was helping Christian put the fuel tank back into its bed.  I decided that we would get a room for the night which was in a small cute cabin across the street.  For the price, they included wifi, air conditioning, cable tv, free laundry, and a golf cart.  How could we go wrong?  As soon as we got the golf cart, I took the kids to the big Food Fair grocery store and stocked up.  We bought a case of Kalik beer at Buddha Bar for $45 and then started doing laundry and moved into the motel.  What a treat!  In the afternoon, we got Papa Bear to come with us for a ride and we toured the small island of Spanish Wells and Russell Island connected by a bridge.  The houses here are so very quaint and well maintained.  Many of them have great views on the water.  The island is surrounded by many long beaches where you can walk out for miles due to its shallowness.  We saw a farm with turkeys, ducks and

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chickens.  We even saw many banana trees along the way.  Very interesting how they grow “upside down” with a huge long phallic-looking flower!  There were lime trees right beside, but my understanding is that these limes are a bit more tart than what we use.

During the ride, we stopped by to visit Craig and Susan (from Cat Cay) at their dock.  The kids played with Captain while we chatted.  What a lovely boat!

Because our motel room had a terrace with a BBQ, we decided to invite our friends Susan and Craig for “chicken on a can”.  Our other friends from Tikitiboo had already left for Abacos and Carina were getting ready to leave early.  So we had a lovely BBQ dinner and fun conversation.  A great view on the water too, where we could see our boat.  The kids enjoyed it as well because they could watch TV – for the first time since Christmas.  Thanks Susan and Craig for a lovely evening!

May 18

We have been checking the diesel tank since Christian put it back in with Doug a few days ago.  It seems to be doing ok – do not see any leaks yet.  So this morning, while I was doing the last of the laundry, we took the boat over to the fuel dock and put in 58 gallons into the tank.  Oooph… very nerve-wracking…let’s keep our fingers crossed that the pressure does not cause it to leak again!  We are aiming to leave tomorrow as a large front is coming north from Cuba.  We would like to be sheltered in the Abacos when this one hits.

While the kids spent most of the day in our motel room doing homework and playing,

I kept busy grocery shopping, and finishing laundry.  The kids finally went for a walk with me, as I was getting in the mood for spring flowers.  I took many photos of their

lovely flora.  Unbelievable how their weeds are considered our flowers!  They grow enormously here.  Their Alyssum, Petunias, Impatiens, are all so vibrantly coloured and healthy!

Happy hour to say goodbye to our friends Craig and Susan.  They will leave tomorrow as well, but are heading to Great Harbour Cay.  We will be going through the Spanish Wells Cut north to Abacos.  They are predicting 30 knot winds so we will make the final decision tomorrow morning.

 

Heading north…Great Inagua, Hog Sty, Long Island, and Georgetown

April 1

Happy April Fools day!  Jeremy certainly had a few funny tricks for us this morning.  Luckily not like last year when he put Saran Wrap on the toilet, but he went to an unused VHF channel and started making baby noises…made us really wonder what was going on!  20180401-1-Luperon, Dominican RepublicLaundry was done early in the morning and it stretched to the pm because we needed to hang our laundry (especially bed sheets) on the lines outside at the marina. But the kids kept themselves so well occupied, interested in the kids (from Love & Luck), the dogs (like Chumley and Diablo).  They even helped me a bit with folding the laundry.  Captain Chris had gone to Wendy’s with Derek with the intent to watch the baseball playoffs across the street, but the sport was cancelled due to the deluge of rain during the night, so the boys continued chatting about sailboat reparations over beers.  20180401-2-Luperon, Dominican RepublicThe kids had been so good, I decided to take them to their favourite place:  Luperon Heladaria for a “mediana helado”!  When we got back, Christian was ready to leave and we took a hike we took a hike as a family up to the highest point – a restaurant called Casa Blanca. What an amazing view!  Including the sites of the local homes (from rich to poor with no in between); the steep inclines; the cows

 

who were shy of us to keep their distance.  The restaurant had a fantastic view of our bay and the mountains on the south side.  Again, the term “lush” comes strongly to my mind as I gaze out across the undulating valleys and fields.  Rich, happiness, and health (visions of “Heidi in Switzerland”) is a theme that persists across the different views – never poverty nor corruption, which this place is so sadly reputed to have.

 

At the peak, in the restaurant, we had amazing views of our bay, our friends below in the Luperon Shipyard.  Surprisingly, we had a great look into an old pool at the restaurant that was now used as a lagoon for turtles!  We counted 7 or 8 that were swimming fervently…we even saw a baby turtle!

 

On the hike up, as on the way back down, we made friends with the locals (including the multitude of humans, children and dogs).  The kids stopped often to play with them and try to communicate.  Our goal was to get to Puerto Blanco Marina to have dinner and say good-bye to our friends from Love & Luck and others who might be there.  Dinner out was a “no brainer decision” as it was cheaper to eat out than make it yourself!  Arriving a few minutes, late, we found our friends who already had a table reserved for our gang

 

of 10.  The kids played on the outskirts while we were given insights on how Love & Luck started their journey and how the children bought into the idea.  A pleasant evening until the time to say good-bye.  20180401-14-Luperon, Dominican RepublicOur friends Nick and Kelly, from Satori, arrived later, so we were able to say good-bye to many friends with whom we were re-acquainted or had newly made.

April 2 & 3

Early to rise today, as Captain Christian had to go and check out at Immigration and the Commandante. No paper was in the photocopy machine so they had to re-write the

paper documents twice.  The process ended up being longer than expected, but we made it out unscathed (unlike Dauntless who was asked to spend more time and money).  “Anchors away” (or should I say “Moorings away” at 8:30am.  Bye-bye beautiful Caribbean Switzerland!   Ooops!  20180402-3-Luperon, Dominican RepublicWe found a stowaway just as we were cleaning up the decks…a miniscule crab…smaller than my baby toenail.  Jeremy was successful to toss him over gently.
After 2 hours of motoring in 5 foot waves, we decided to pull out the sails to help us move more smoothly.  The wind was hitting us broadly with following seas – giving us a speed of 6 to 6.5 knots.  Amazingly, this point of sail continued throughout the night until the next day with virtually no cessation of wind speed nor wave height.  We did 22 hours of continuous sailing at an average speed of 6 knots covering 130 nautical miles.  Although the waves were high and lumpy, they gave us the

momentum forward and the wind was strongly advancing us.  We had communicated with our friends from Cheroka (on a Bayfield 40 from Georgian Bay) who left an hour after us, and they were on a beam reach headed for south Turks & Caicos at 6.5 knots. We were very happy to have been on that broad reach, however, as it gave us the flexibility to change directions during the night as two squalls hit us and the wind picked up (giving us speeds of 7-8 knots on my shift).

So, this was becoming routine for our family as we were now on our 8th overnight experience!  At 1:30am, I woke up Papa Bear to help me furl the genoa as I worried the wind speed would keep increasing.  I played with the genoa (from Kleenex to full sail several times) to maintain a speed under 7 knots until Papa Bear took his shift.  I forgot

to mention that at 9:30pm, Serena and I were blessed with the most incredible “moon rise” – a full golden moon that gave us the light of day so late at night.  Taking photos of this miracle was challenging due to the significant wave action.  I could not believe how “busy” the path was between DR and Great Iguana, Bahamas.  We passed over 12 boats on my shift (between 9pm and 3am).  Looking at their destinations, most of them headed south were going to somewhere in the Caribbean, while those going north were heading to a Texas address.  90% of the traffic passed us on the port side, so we were quite safe, but thankful to have AIS capabilities (merci Pascal!).  Absolutely fantastically, we SAILED from 11am right through the night until we got sight of the lighthouse at Great Inagua.

When Jeremy woke up, he found a flying fish that had perished on our deck during the night.  Quite sad, but interesting to see an example of these mysterious fish that can fly up close.  20180403-3-Great Iguana, BahamasThe motor turned on, only 1 hour before we headed into a place to anchor off Matthew Town.  However, just an hour before, Christian’s wish was granted and he caught one more female Mahi.  She did not give us as big a fight, however, took awhile to stop twitching before he could safely filet her.  The menu for dinner tonight was set.  20180403-7-Great Iguana, BahamasOnce he finished the fileting, we caught sight of the last existing kerosene-lighted lighthouse on Great Inagua Island.  At this same moment, Serena lost one of her molars!  The tooth-fairy has gotten to know our boat very well in the last few months!!!

Arrival in Matthew Town, Great Inagua, Bahamas was near 2pm.  We had heard that this was a VERY rocky and rolly anchorage (apparently the worst ever seen for many sailors posting on Active Captain).  Not sure if we lucked out, but we found it fairly smooth.  Captain Chris headed over to check in so we could take our yellow Quarantine flag down. 20180403-8-Great Iguana, BahamasWe were concerned he may not make it back before the threatening skies opened up on us (but miraculously passed us without a drop!).  Unfortunately, during the check in, Christian found out that, while we had NOT passed our 30 days outside of Bahamas, we had missed taking our 30 WITHIN the first 90 days.  Figure it out (ie. we needed to be back by March 24 in order to not pay another $300 cruising permit).  Anyways….we were not going to change the laws nor our trip north, so we paid up.   When Christian came back, we had some sun-downers (thank you Bruce for that term!) and then we enjoyed Serena’s Easter Party the rest of the evening.  She had planned egg hunts as well as “pin the egg on the Bunny”

games that kept us entertained and competitive until bedtime!  While a quiet anchorage, we did start feeling the “25 degree rocking” around 3am…

April 4
After 3 hours of schoolwork (something that had been missed for 3 key days), we left the boat at anchor and went ashore to tour Matthew Town.  Aloe Vera plants were quite

prevalent, not to mention HUGE!  We were amazed to see how busy the city was…I later learned that the population was over 900 people.  We saw at least 1 car per minute while walking down the street.  First public building we came upon was a Public Library…..

…can you imagine how excited the kids were?  Walking into Erickson’s Public Library, we were happy to know it was air conditioned and FULL of children’s books.  Our kids stayed there for an hour reading Goosebumps while Papa Bear updated his Active Captain account via the Wifi they had there.  We walked for about 2 hours after, exploring the small town.  Many ruins, churches with cemeteries were seen.  The houses

ranged from rich to poor with no in between.  One house even had cameras on it!  Morton’s Salt Company provides jobs to over 300 people on this island and uses much of the land.  20180404-10-Great Iguana, BahamasChickens ran around rampantly everywhere!  We picked up a few veggies at the local supermarket across the street near the Morton’s Salt Co. offices.  We found a playground with the best view ever!  The kids were able to swing into the turquoise waters!

 

Just before heading back to the boat, we grabbed a quick lunch at, what looked like to be a recreational vehicle,  but was a restaurant called Conch and Chicken Shack.  An

AMAZING dish of conch fritters and chicken was served to us with a beautiful smile!  It was the best service I have seen in the Bahamas in awhile!  She was taking over the business for her mother and she had a visiting friend helping her cook up the Conch.  At the port, we got a great look at the Haitian boats that fish in these turquoise waters.  Our dinghy even looked like it was floating at the dock, the water was so clear!

We pulled up anchor around 2:30pm and started heading to, what we were hoping to be, a quieter and flatter anchorage.  Man of War Bay was everything and more than how it was described to us in Active Captain!  We anchored between the Old Church and Old House ruins in soft sand, in between about 20 coral heads.  And fortunate to have 3 coral heads within 5 feet of our boat.  Later, we were blessed with the beautifully serene with the golden hues of the oncoming sunset.  20180404-17-Great Iguana, Bahamas

20180405-10i-Great Inagua, BahamasJeremy had been busy preparing a Quiz for us on many interesting facts he had discovered about dinosaurs recently.  He became very creative in putting these questions and factual answers into an interactive Powerpoint presentation.  Quite an interesting form of learning!

April 5
Today, after we finished schoolwork, we explored Man of War Bay.  We dinghied to shore after lunch and explored the beach, the church ruins, and a house that was destroyed by the last hurricane.  So sad to see the destruction.  The beach was absolutely stunning with white powder sand.  It reminded me of the pristine Whitsunday Islands in

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Australia.  Along the beach we found hundreds of delicate coral fans in multiple colours,

the most prevalent being purple.  It looked like they had been washed ashore recently.  We assumed that the recent storm surges in February might have done the destruction.  The family wanted to keep one or two as souvenirs, but which one was the most beautiful? 20180405-12-Great Iguana, Bahamas Getting back to the boat, we were dehydrated and VERY hot.  So we stripped down into our bathing suits and jumped in to snorkel the beauty in the water around us!  Just before Jeremy jumped in, he screamed out that he had lost his tooth….the 5th tooth in 5 weeks!  Unbelievable!  He won’t have any teeth with which to eat his meals soon.  I know recently that he has been taking very good care of his teeth, brushing after every meal.  But hope his new ones will fill the gaps quickly.   The snorkelling was BREATH-TAKING!  So close to shore, we saw acres of staghorn coral, gorgonian fans, and brain coral with tons of fish!  Never have I ever seen such immense sealife so close to shore!  Little communities of fish nestled in every coral head.  Parrot-fish, yellow grunts, and damsel fish were the most

plentiful. We saw a cute Trunkfish who played peek-a-boo with us.  Serena spotted a group of over 20 squids that watched us with HUGE nervous eyes!  With the sun just at 3:30pm, it was a fantastic angle that cast a golden glow on the life below. 20180405-14-Great Iguana, BahamasWOW!  A must to return tomorrow!  The kids were quite excited to talk about the fish they had seen! Back at the boat after sun-downers, Papa Bear cooked up his Mahi Mahi using his favourite beer batter recipe.  20180405-13-Great Iguana, BahamasBoth kids had been working feverishly on preparing Quizzes for us on Powerpoint again.  This time, Jeremy prepared a Quiz on Science facts and Serena did one on Space (helping her overcome her concerns).  They both had looked up many facts using several reference books and prepared an interactive powerpoint presentation to test us.  What a great way to learn!!!

April 6
Today started off with schoolwork while Christian went to speak with 2 Super Maramu boats from France anchored near us.  20180404-14-Great Iguana, BahamasAfter lunch, we went to explore Morton’s Salt Company fields that had several pyramids of salt piled up near the shore.  The winds picked up and the skies clouded over – seems interesting how every day this area seems to look squally, almost like the salt attracts rain clouds?  Along the way, we were assailed by a large school of flying fish – at least 20 – that all jumped out of the water at the same time, just a few metres from our dinghy!  We found the landing on shore here to be too rough, given the waves and rocky bottom, so we gave it a pass and headed back to the boat.  Funnily enough, as we got closer to our boat anchorage, the sun came out, almost inviting us to jump in and explore the reefs below! 20180406-3-Great Iguana, Bahamas And that we did!  We spent over 90 minutes snorkelling just 200 metres from our boat enjoying the staghorn corals, the fans, and all the entertaining marinelife.  Watching the fish, you can really imagine how they “shoo” each other out of their territories or “play” with one another.  Once again, we were blessed with a band of squid, this time more than 17.  We

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followed them for over 30 minutes.  Many of them “squirted” their black ink at us, in fear I believe.  I think we were getting too close for their comfort.  But we got awesome photos of them!

Jeremy got some fantastic shots of his favourite Parrotfish and Damselfish. When we got back to the boat, after showers,  the kids got a surprise….they were given a treasure of the PADI Scuba Diving course!  We think they are very ready to embark on this learning experience.  They are certainly eager!  20180406-4-Great Iguana, Bahamas

So, beginning now, we will be teaching them as much as we can on scuba diving and progress through the course.  After dinner and a spectacular sunset, we got the boat ready for a very early morning departure – aiming for 4am….destination:  Hog Sty Reef!  Check: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogsty_Reef or check: https://www.livingoceansfoundation.org/hogsty-reef-its-no-pig-pen/
or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E7OVPyNnV4

Note:  I will post some absolutely AWESOME photos of our snorkelling adventure that our kids took with their underwater cameras when we get higher speeds for internet!  Stay tuned!…….

April 7

We left our cozy little Man of War anchorage in Great Inagua at 4:30am.  We had 45 nautical miles to cover to get to Hog Sty Reef.  After we were safely out of the coral heads and the sails were set by 5:30am, Captain Chris forced me to go back to bed. At 8:30 am, I got up and took over for him.  It was beautiful sailing!  We sailed the whole way at 4 to 6 knots! Our friends from France were following a few hours behind us.  When we were 10 miles away, you could see Hog Sty Reef:  it’s turquoise shallowness was in great contrast to the deep navy blue (13,000 ft) we had been sailing in all day.  As we got closer, we had a show by large numbers of tuna that were jumping out of the water…literally 2 feet out of the water.  Something was chasing them below.  In one instant they would be jumping to our right, then the next instant another group would start from behind us.  For ½ hour, we tried to chase them with our fishing lines in the water, in hopes we would catch something.  We got a bite, but lost it.

Hog Sty Reef is NOT a place that is frequented by boaters due to the lack of protection and constant ocean swell.  It is usually a very rough place to be most days of the year.  Because of the forecasted calm winds over the next few days, we were very fortunate to have close to perfect conditions to visit this unique destination.  This is why we were not the only ones anchored here – others were taking advantage of these perfect weather conditions. We anchored near the Northwest Cay that featured remnants of an old

lighthouse.  This island is miniscule, measuring only a few hundred metres in length and 50m wide.  After lunch, we jumped into the dinghy, eager to explore the shipwrecks and coral reefs.  We had seen many comments on Active Captain about the good diving around the Liberty shipwreck, but when we went to see it, it appeared to be too dangerous to snorkel due to the strong currents, jagged edges, and potential

overexposure to iron in the water.  Instead, we ended up anchoring above a few coral heads to explore.  Wow, were they AWESOME!  Huge staghorn corals in 20 – 35 ft of

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water with visibility over 200 feet!  We took some awesome photos of huge parrot fish and groupers, squirrelfish and trunkfish.  On one coral head, we saw 4 HUGE spiny lobsters walking around, tempting us to catch them for dinner (but knowing that the season ended on April 1)!

 

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We spent Happy Hour on the beach with friends from France on the Super Maramu 52.

20180407-19-Hog Sty Reef, Bahamas

A breathtaking sunset, but the ocean swell was starting to pick up.

 

 

 

 

April 8

We decided to stay the 2nd day at Hog Sty Reef to do more spectacular snorkelling.  Unfortunately, the ocean swell was so great, the children were not feeling too good.  Knowing the conditions would calm down by noon, we stayed and took the kids to Northwest Cay and set up with the tent, some books, and snacks.

We went over to the Super Maramu named Mascali where Luc and Martine gave us a tour of their palace.  Luc had worked for 20+ years at Amel (makers of the Maramu) and could explain to us good details as they took us on the tour.  What a well-designed ocean-going boat!  Water tight cabins, redundant systems, an enormous engine compartment accessible via the cockpit floor, tables that folded and had sliders to move, etc…

After the tour, we went to the island to pick up the kids, but ended up snorkelling off the beach.  Then to more coral heads where we saw a HUGE eagle ray “fly” by.  Due to the increasing swells, the visibility was only about 100 feet – but still great though.

Unfortunately, Jeremy had a pounding headache all day, so it was early to bed for all.

The swell calmed right down and the water became crystalline clear near sunset.  So clear, in fact that we could see the ripples of sand 20 feet below and the tracks of our anchor chain. Jeremy got some photos of a barracuda that liked to hover just below our boat too…maybe looking for dessert scraps?

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April 9

We left Hog Sty Reef at 7:30am with the wind on our starboard hip (full genoa) and following seas.  We were the last boat to leave.  Captain Chris threw out 2 fishing lines again, as usual, in the hopes of catching dinner.  By 1pm, we decided to raise the main to give us a speed boost.  During the manoeuvre, we ended up tacking the genoa (this can happen easily if the sheet is cleated and the wheel goes over too far).  This “accidental tack” is only a problem if one has 2 fishing lines trailing 300 feet behind the boat!  You know what happened next…the 2 fishing lines wrapped themselves around our prop.  So we dropped all sails to reduce speed and Captain Chris donned his snorkel gear.  In 3 foot waves with our boat bottom slamming the surface, Captain Chris jumped into the 10,000 foot deep blue water with a knife.   He tried to untangle the mess but ended up cutting the lines.  Christian said there were hundreds of fish swimming around him when we went below the boat.  I was afraid he would get knocked unconscious with the boat bottom slamming down on his head.  Luckily, all went well, except we lost 1 more lure as we pulled the lines in because a fish grabbed on it.  Christian saved the day, even though we lost 1 hour during this mixup.
We came around the southern tip of Acklins Bight, Castle Rock island, and saw a beautiful lighthouse and lots of waves.  We headed north up the west coast to a place just south of Jamaica Cay, called Sugar Bay.  It was nicely protected from the southeast winds and very calm.  What an awesome place to relax and spend the night.

April 10

If it wasn’t for the cold front coming in a few days, we would have stayed another night 20180410-12-Crooked Island, Bahamashere in Acklins Bight.  Instead we sailed north on a refreshing beam reach for 6 hours (at a speed of 6to 7.5 knots) to Landrail Settlement in Crooked Island.  Here we anchored just north of Landrail Point in wavy conditions at 3:30.  By 4pm, we launched our dinghy and were heading over to the settlement to explore.  Getting into the dinghy dock through the newly dredged canal was like maze. We were greeted by the most welcoming lady, 20180410-9-Crooked Island, BahamasJeannette, and her 3 children.  She told us about the history of this dock/soon to be marina as well as the horrible destruction of Hurricane Joachim in 2015.  Apparently, they had not been touched by Hurricane Irma nor Maria in 2017.  We walked a few km.  The houses were all recently rebuilt and painted in bright/lively colours!  We bought a few provisions at the 2 small grocery stores along the way and when we

 

got back to the dinghy dock, the local kids wanted to play with ours.  So they went to a little girl’s house across the street and had an Easter Egg hunt.  Serena and Jeremy were invited to keep the candy they found.  The little girl’s house was destroyed in the

Hurricane Joachim – the ceiling was still caved in.   Our kids were invited by the others to go to school with them tomorrow…what a lovely idea, but with the cold front coming, we needed to make tracks towards Georgetown, Exumas.  20180410-11-Crooked Island, BahamasWe got the boat ready for an early departure and went to bed.  Before going to bed, I stood on the deck to watch the stars.  While standing on the dew-soaked deck listening to the waves sloshing against the beach, a light on the water near our boat caught my eye.  With no moon out and the hazy sky, I knew the reflection was not coming from space.  It looked like a light below the water in the 12 feet depth.  After watching it for awhile, it started to dim and disappear, but it reappeared bright a few feet to the right.  Then it dimmed and 2 more spots showed up to the left.  The phosphorescence sparkled in spots on the surface but could not be the cause of this light deeper down.  It really looked like the fish were playing with flashlights down below!  Knowing, that our mooring light only puts a halo around our boat, I could not imagine the source of the light.  Anglerfish (those with headlamps) are found miles below the surface, so not that either.  I reasoned that perhaps there was fish action and it was stirring up phosphorescence 10 feet below.  When I later shared my experience with Christian, he said that he had heard that “hunting barracuda” can cause this phenomenon of light creation with the floating phosphorescence.  The mystery was solved!  But what a spiritual experience!

April 11

The swell had been picking up all night.  We were ready to get going at 6:30, since sleep evaded us with the rocking motion.  20180411-1-en route to Clarencetown, BahamasWe picked up anchor at 7am and were en route to Clarencetown, Long Island, Bahamas.  A 40 nm trip fully downwind, so it would be rolly.  Luckily by 11am, the winds went abeam and we were able to pull out both sails and chug northward at speeds of 6 to 7.5knots!  Lovely!  Arrival in Clarencetown near noon.  It gave us plenty of time to go into town and fill up diesel and gas and check out the new marina – Flying Fish marina.  We made funny creative faces using our shadows:  20180411-2-Clarencetown, Bahamas

Then when the sun was at its hottest, we then went for a walk around town, but realized that many of the places mentioned in our guide book (ie. grocery store, supplies) had been wiped out by Hurricane Joachim in 2015.  Really sad!

 

The churches were all still majestically standing, but so many houses were evidently destroyed and being rebuilt.

On our way back to the marina, we passed the shallow pool near the docks and noticed there were HUGE fish swimming around in there:  3 bull sharks, 5 nurse sharks, 1 enormous barracuda, and several huge ciguatera-filled jacks!

To cool off, we went over to the marina’s pool.   The pool at the marina was beautifully new and the kids took advantage of it after our long hot walk!   While the kids were splashing, a local Clarencetown person offered20180411-13-Clarencetown, Bahamas us some fresh tomatoes from his garden.  Very kind people here.  Very giving and warm! Then Papa Bear and Mama Bear went upstairs to the restaurant to have refreshments of our own! 20180411-14-Clarencetown, Bahamas20180411-15-Clarencetown, Bahamas

 

Having heard that Clarencetown Harbour can be like a washing machine and very rolly, we were surprised how calm the night was.

 

April 12

We were the 2nd boat to leave Clarencetown Harbour at 8am.  The forecast was for very20180412-1-to north tip Long Island, Bahamas light winds coming from South East, but after the first hour, the winds built up to near teens in speed and started coming from the North East.  We were heeling on a close reach and even had to tack a few times to make the point to round Long Island.  After 6 hours of sailing north along the coast of Long Island without being able to see its northern tip (Santa Maria), that this island was mis-named.  It really should be called VERY Long Island!  On our way to Calabash Bay, we passed the tip of Santa Maria where we saw the Colombus monument again from the ocean side.  We rounded the tip of Long Island near 3pm and got to Calabash Bay (a beautiful bay with a resort where we had lunch with our friend Michael in early March).  We had heard that this bay could be very full of surge, so with

trepidation, we anchored here, despite seeing 3 other boats in the bay a bit north of us.  Within an hour, those 3 boats were coming into our bay to anchor!  I guess theirs was more rock and rolly!  Needless to say, we had a very calm night.  Jeremy gave us an entertaining puppet show in the evening (he had been preparing the 5 page script for a few days).  We were captivated by the “secret agent” theme and found out there was a sequel coming soon!

April 13

Awesome sailing today again!  Broad-reaching at 6 knots for 4 hours, we went through the pass between Whelk and Fowl Cays to make our way up to Elizabeth Harbour.

It was amazing how we could see the turquoise reflection of the ocean in the clouds above not sure if these photos capture this phenomena well enough:

Because this northern cold front was supposed to stir up the seas, we knew it would be too rough to provision in Georgetown aside from today, so we anchored directly in Kidd Cove, just across from the entrance to the Lake in Georgetown.  Christian and I headed over, leaving the kids on the boat, to get groceries, an internet package, water and diesel.  After 2 hours, we were heading back over to Chat ‘n’ Chill on the east side of Elizabeth Harbour to the same mooring that Wendell left assigned to us.  Regardless of the fact that no familiar faces were here, it was comforting to be back!  And we met new people – a great family with a wonderful dog – nevertheless!

The kids gave a great conch horn tribute to the sunset and to the place where they made their conch horns just before turning in.  See the conch-horn blowing on my Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/catherine.holenski/posts/10155207614155684?comment_id=10155207629145684&

20180418-1- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

April 14

Instead of schoolwork today, the kids began studying for their Scuba Open Water Certification.  Yes, that means, their Scuba Diving certificate!  Captain Christian gave them an hour of instruction on the boat after they had read the first few chapters of their scuba diving lesson book.  Then, the big excitement…they had their first time breathing under water fully donned with scuba equipment!  Serena went down first with Papa, then Jeremy had his turn.  The kids did spectacularly well!  Both children shared their experiences and how it was different from what they had expected.  They couldn’t wait for their next lesson!  Unfortunately, we ran out of air in the tanks, so doing the next lesson “under water” will have to wait until we can get back to town to get tank refills.

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April 15

This morning, Papa took time with Jeremy to walk up Monument Hill and Mama took time with Serena to have a great long walk on Ocean Beach to take in some great views.

Later, we headed over to Chat ‘n Chill where we made new friends playing football and Pro-kadima on the beach.

Serena met Lowie and Ava while Jeremy played with Aiden and Tristan.

April 16 – 20

Papa and I took a walk on Ocean Beach and ended up on Sand Dollar Beach…a nice hour of brisk walk while the kids did their schoolwork. After schoolwork, the kids continued with their scuba diving lessons with Papa.

Now that we are back in Georgetown we will take these next few days (or weeks) to enjoy a relaxed pace before we begin the trek northward into unknown waters.  It is great being in a familiar environment.  Our days here in Georgetown typically follow a similar beat:  schoolwork, scuba lessons, either Papa Bear or I go to town for laundry, groceries, water or fuel refills.  Then we rejoin on the Chat n Chill beach to meet up with friends and their kids.

Mama and Papa play volleyball in the afternoon while the kids play with other kids (swimming or swinging in the tree house).  Often Jeremy plays Dominos with the adults

or he gets invited to other boats to challenge the adults in Kings in the Corner (cards) or chess…

and Serena takes care of the dogs.  There are so many children here now, there is never a time when the kids are looking for someone with whom to play.

Soon our days and nights will be filled with checking weather patterns and storms, planning next anchorages, navigating unknown waters and reefs.  While Georgetown is by far the best place we have seen for meeting “kid boats”, we expect to meet and look forward to encountering new people who are also heading north for hurricane season.  On Thursday April 18, Captain Christian hosted a Focus Group with cruisers to get their inputs on their love/hate relationship with their dinghies.

Christian is hoping to take this information to improve a design in the very near future.  Speaking of creativity, the kids have been very busy with making unique designs in Lego and composing music on our piano!

During a recent lunch potluck (April 21), it was a great time to get together with more friends on Sand Dollar beach.  The food spread was amazing – it gave me great ideas for quick lunches!  The kids played well and there were many new adult faces to meet.

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There was also a balloon guy there who made balloon animals for the kids.  We also prepared for a bonfire for that evening – Serena helped sawing branches for the fire.

April 22

Sylvie from Maître d’ (from Montreal), owner of Ocean Art, came over to inspire our kids
for their Art Class today.  We pulled out the 1000’s of seashells we collected in Long Island

Sound last summer and made some fun creations:  Serena made several necklaces and Jeremy made wind chimes!  Thank you Sylvie for the guidance and motivation!  Later in the afternoon, while the kids hung out at Chat n Chill beach with friends, the adults went over to a “float party” at Flip Flop beach.

Hors d’oeuvres were brought by everyone and put on a paddle board to “float” while we stood chatting and “chilling” in the water.  It was such a HOT day today (low 90s F) with

no wind!  We had a great chat with Mike & Tina Sweet from Cheroka (a Bayfield from Georgian Bay) as well as Peggy, Dave, and TJ from Catitude (a beautiful Xquisite Catamaran).  Captain Chris chilled off on the way back…Mama Bear gave him a run for his money on the Airhead!  Boy were his arm sore when we arrived back!

April 23

The 65th National Family Island Regatta began its festivities today.  Some 60 native sloops20180423-3- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas from all over The Bahamas gather at Elizabeth Harbour, the Regatta Capital of The Bahamas, to take part in various Series and Cup Races.  There will be five days of sailing featuring Bahamian native sloops – Classes A, B, C, D, and E. This tradition started in 195420180423-5- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas and today it is one of the oldest regattas in The Islands of The Bahamas.  We took time to watch the boats arrive on the mailboat and get their masts up while other teams started practicing.  Georgetown was all a-buzz with lots of activities, flags, decorations, and mini bars being constructed in Regatta Park for the related festivities.  These boats are uniquely built, full keels, very sturdy fibreglass construction, with thick wooden masts and the LONGEST booms I have ever seen!

20180423-2- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasTo hike out, these boats use 2 wooden planks and the crew hang out as far as they can to counter-act the heel.

 

 

20180423-8- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasOn our way back, we saw a friendly puffer fish come to greet us!

 

 

The kids had stayed behind and continued meeting up with their friends (about 9 kid boats here now) on Chat n Chill.  They have started playing volleyball like the adults!

April 24

20180424-1- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasAnother hot start to the day…Jeremy took advantage of the calm weather to snorkel for our lost clothes pins (having dropped off our boat earlier) and he found them!  Then we headed over to watch the start for the Class C boats – the smallest boats in the regatta.  We needed fuel to keep up with the racing, so we headed into town.  The kids finally got to go the Georgetown Library, 20180424-3- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamasspending an hour there, while Papa Bear and I walked around checking out the boats and regatta tents.  The kids from the next door school enjoyed saying “hi” to our children when we came out of the Library!  20180424-5- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

 

After Spicy Jamaican Patties for lunch, we went over to the Peace & Plenty hotel to cool down with drinks and their lovely pool.  The Peace & Plenty has one of the best views on the regatta course.  As a surprise, we met up with Kent, Kendra, and Venita from Island Lady and Serena got to hold little Mason in the pool.

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Due to the low winds, a few of the races were postponed to the next day, so we headed over to Monument Beach where we promised Sylvie we would meet her doing her “limestone in the sand art”.  She created a huge design in the sand with limestone rocks (almost like the Nazca Lines in Peru).  Many cruisers do this with their boat name, so when one hikes up to the Monument Hill, the boat names can be well seen from above.  The kids did one for our boat, breaking limestone and carrying it to the beach.

We ended the day with more competitive volleyball on the beach.  Even the kids got in a few games.

April 25

20180425-4- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasToday, we got front row and centre of the start line.  It is amazing how these boats race!  Very different from us in that they anchor at the start line with all sails down.  There is no scouting the “best place on the start line” because the boats are pre-assigned a “seat”:  they draw cards to see who gets placed where on the line. They get a 30 minute warning, then a gun

at 1 minute.  When the start gun goes, they pull their anchor lines in a quickly as possible.  Once the anchor is up, they can raise their enormous main sail and small jib and start racing.  But at this point, the boats are all over the starting line on different tacks and screaming for room.  Very comical!  Please see the video on my Facebook page (I will enter the URL here).  These boats are so top heavy with their booms out measuring their hulls.  However, even in light winds, they go fast and heel at great angles.  They use most of their crew to “hike out” on the wooden planks.  I was told they wear jeans to avoid the splinters in their legs.   For those of you who love and appreciate racing, the next slideshow of photos is for you.  A footnote to my Dad and Chris Cunningham…these photos will never be able to compete with the quality of Sharon Greene’s or meet your standards Chris!  But please do enjoy the fun!

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We had lots of fun taking the photos.  The Race Committee allowed all of us dinghies to get right in behind the boats at the start line and follow them all the way through each leg of the races.  It made for very exciting watching and intense involvement in the races.  Even the kids enjoyed watching a few of the races.

Before the next round of racing, we headed back to Chat n Chill to get in 2 games of volleyball and a few refreshments.  Unfortunately, we kept forgetting that we needed to change our watches to Bahamian time which means that every race would begin at least an hour later than the initial schedule, so the kids got antsy in between races.  Nevertheless, for the 3:30 start, we brought out some cruiser friends with kids and the Airhead about an hour later than scheduled.  Caradow with Nikki and Tim Sperry from Marion, MA and Tiamo with Jessie & family from Maine joined us for some fun in the hot sun at the 5:30pm start for Class A boats.

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We watched the chaotic start and then screamed around at top speed in our dinghy following the top 10 boats.  Very exciting to see the gradual separation between boats as

one has more sail area or is flatter than the other.  20180425-29- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasAfter the races, the kids got a long ride back on the inflatable Airhead behind our dinghy.  Spectacular sunset tonight!  Wind coming tomorrow.  20180425-31- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

April 26

Started off the day with schoolwork and I went into a yoga class (held by Benjamin on a Pacific Seacraft from Arizona called Satori).

Later we headed to the start of the 9:30 races outside of Monument Bay.  Overcast and the wind was picking up. In the afternoon, we went to Georgetown and saw a boatbuilding demonstration.   20180426-1a- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasThe first seafaring vessels were constructed on Man-O-War Cay in Abaco back in the 1800s.  They use the same wood (pine and madeira) as they did 100 years ago…the same treebark they make tea out of!

 

While the kids played with their friends at Chat n Chill in the water

and at checkers, we went to Island Lady and had a lovely Happy Hour with Michael, Kent, Kendra, and Venita.  Jeremy ended up joining us (after taking his shower) and read to little Mason.  Mason seemed quite happy to be with Jeremy!  Then it was off to dinner and sleepytime for our kids too!

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April 27

Another day at the races for us so we gave up on schoolwork today!  But Christian first took our kids for their scuba instruction at the beach.  Then we went to the race course.  20180427-1- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasSo many of our fellow cruisers were out there tearing around the course just like us, following the boats during the races.  There was one cruiser (Eric from Purrfect) who, as a volunteer, commentated every second of each race on VHF channel 72.  20180428-1- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasOriginally, a racer from Newport, RI, he never stopped giving us these great updates on where each boat was, who gained on who, 20180427-2- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamaswhat some of the possible strategies might be.  We even shared a few observations on his “program”.  There were many “local” spectators also watching from shore who had tuned into channel 72 to listen to the excitement.  Today it was very windy, 3 of the boats sunk during the races!  And 2 lost their masts!   So amazing to watch these boats perform in the high winds.  Hiking out was very

different on each boat, but they all were on the planks of wood.  Mark roundings were exciting too, because the long booms often caused collisions.  20180427-10- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasThere was a “party boat” floating around the outskirts of the course with a real full stocked bar in its centre!!!

 

 

 

Here was a great mark rounding event, where New League pushes Tida Wave (the champion for the last 4 years) out…check out this sequence of photos: 20180427-4- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas20180427-5- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas20180427-6- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas20180427-7- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

Meanwhile, the kids were playing back at Chat n Chill with their friends (and cats).

After dinner, we all went into Georgetown to see some of the Regatta festivities with our friend boat Sava (Victoria, Shane, Ava, and Aden).  It was amusing looking at all the regalia and later we watched 2 shows:  hip hop dancing and a fire dancer.  A bit disappointing, considering the hype they gave this show.  At 9:30pm, it was supposed to be Junkanoo, but we figured there was a typical Bahamian time on that…more like 12:30am.  The music was loud and carried across Elizabeth Harbour despite the wind until 3am!

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April 28

We left the kids again at Chat n Chill with no complaints from them!  20180428-2- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasCodie from Sala was waiting for Jeremy and Serena planned to do some sewing with her friends from Sala (Emma), Sava (Ava), and Sand Star (Emma).  After leaving the kids with their friends, we took off to the races.  More excitement with the heavy winds at the leeward “no-gybe” mark.  Unfortunately, the long time winner (last 4 years) Tida Wave lost its position to Running Tide this year.  It was a surprising ending due to the changing of positions in the race during the 4 legs.  Today’s races were a bit of a different configuration.  It was a figure 8 position, rather than the typical triangle windward leeward course.  And every time we were sure there was a penalty on the course (ie. collision with other boats or marks), the Race Committee would say “local rules apply to this infraction” and we had no idea why boats were not doing 720s or 360s for their penalties.  Again, I guess Bahamian rules are different than our uptight North American racing rules!  Here are some more great racing action shots (or at least the best that I can take with my non-professional camera):

When we got back to the beach, the kids were playing volleyball with a big group of other kids.  20180428-8- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasJeremy also got busy with Codie to rake the beach for the Chat n Chill bar/resto.  Most of the kids that chummed together were from Sava, Sala, and Sand Star.  All the same ages and same interests.

We decided to not go into town for the festivities tonight because we were so tired from the heat of the day.  Good thing we did not…plenty of rain and lightning (thunderstorms) throughout the night!  Very frightening…it woke us up at midnight and again at 3am!

April 29

Races were over now…a day to relax.  It was a good thing because today was very squally with thunderstorms in the morning.  But cleared up by 9am.  We decided we would go to the Chat n Chill beach again for yoga (again by Benjamin).  After lunch, we took the kids with the Airhead over to Sava who took all the 3 boats’ kids (Sava, Sala, and ours) for the afternoon to play on water toys!  Despite the downpour of rain we got in 2 squalls, they teared up Elizabeth Harbour with our Airhead behind a 40 hp motored centre console dinghy (VERY powerful!) and they also had a water slide that allows you to carve corners.  The kids had a lot of fun together and met us back at the beach volleyball late in the afternoon.  20180429-1- Georgetown, Exumas, BahamasThere was a book exchange on the beach today too…which was perfect timing since our kids are finding that they have read all their hundreds of books in their libraries and each other’s libraries at least twice!

Later that night, Michael dropped by to say his goodbyes to us.  He will be heading down

to Acklins Island to join his friend on a fishing tournament.  Sounds like fun.  We will miss him and look forward to hearing about his trip to explore the Central or South Americas.  Bye Michael…we will miss you dearly!

So did Donald Sutherland just become a sailor?

April 30 20180430-1- Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

Another awesome full moon tonight!

Dominican Republic…still here!

March 24

Well, it is a full 10 days that we have been here and loving it – we had only anticipated a quick stop-over for a few days before heading back north.  Today was schoolwork.  20180324-1-Luperon, Dominican RepublicAfter, Jeremy went wild making the Lego Laser Pegs kit he got for his birthday.  It was an enormous “space fighter” that glowed in the dark.  Later, we went to the Puerto Blanco Marina for dinner and enjoyed watching the fish in the aquarium.   20180324-2-Luperon, Dominican Republic

March 25

Today, we looked forward to seeing someone who has inspired us and guided us substantially during our sojourn south of the Bahamas this last month.  Bruce van Sant, the author of the book “The Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South:  The Thornless Path to Windward”, joined us at Puerto Blanco Marina in Luperon to talk to address any questions one might have on the travels here in DR.  We have used his inputs in every

decision we have made since leaving Georgetown.  He gave us some very good short-cuts that we could take when doing our over-night passages and tips on reading the weather, sailing in the lee – close to islands.  Our favourite tip was staging ourselves in the south-east corner in Mayaguana to take a nap till midnight and head to Providenciales (Turks & Caicos) for early morning tide.  Bruce does not seem to realize how many cruisers’ lives he has influenced with his advice!  Almost every cruiser we meet swears by this book! His books are known for having an “arrogant tone”; however, when meeting the man, you couldn’t say he was anything more than a strongly attentive and caring individual, interested in making sure people have safe crossings and seeing the beauty that he has experienced in his 30+ years of sailing the Caribbean. Bruce and his wife Rosa live here in Dominican Republic.   Bruce even gave Jeremy advice on how to publish the books he has written during our trip in addition to some of the key things publishers look at when choosing which books to promote. We truly enjoyed passing 3 insightful hours with him and other cruisers at the marina.  Thank you Kat for organizing the session!

All the while, Serena was taking charge of the cruisers’ dogs…walking them, feeding them, and just plain loving them!

March 26

Time to go up the mast! Christian was able to fix the genoa halyard spacer from the furling mechanism.  Got a few photos up there too before the wind (and waves) picked up.  

Later, we went to the Puerto Blanco Marina and got some SUPER fresh vegetables and fruits from the farmer’s truck.  We paid a fraction of what we would pay at home, but one hundredth less than in Bahamas or Turks!

The locals are so lovely here…we are really enjoying our stay here!  The kids are comfortable doing their homework even at the marina!  20180325-1-Luperon, Dominican Republic

March 27

We woke up to a rainy morning.  Papo came by and we got about 40 litres of water from him.  He is so welcoming and helpful every since our first day here!  Unfortunately, the

rain came very quickly and he said he would return to finish the job.  20180327-3-Luperon, Dominican RepublicDuring the rainfall, it was a great time to do some science with the kids.  Papa Bear demonstrated “electrical circuits” and showed them how to light up a batch of fibre optics.  The kids were stumped at first, but then en”light”ened!

Once the sun came out in the late afternoon, we decided to take a walk to the Easter Holy Week celebrations on the beach.  Many of the local

families celebrate on the beach (in front of the abandoned resort) drinking beer, playing (loud cracking) dominos, and splashing in the waves.  Children were out of school this week, just before Easter.  While the walk there was interesting (passing all the local mountain climbing cows and chickens) unfortunately, the music on the beach was far too loud….even for our children!

After a hot dog and a few rum punches, we headed back to the boat.  We took a detour to Patula’s On the Water where the kids jumped into their cold tub and we ordered a delicious dinner of quesadillas.  When we got back to the boat, we lit up Jeremy’s birthday cake and indulged! 

delicious dinner of quesadillas.  When we got back to the boat, we lit up Jeremy’s birthday cake and indulged!

March 28

Clean up day today.  More rain.  Jeremy won a prize of a free drink at Patula’s by answering one of the Net questions correctly (answer was VHF).  

After lunch, we headed over to Patula’s on the Water to collect on Jeremy’s free drink.  Of course, we all had to buy drinks to join him!   Later in the afternoon, Papa and Mama Bear went to town to get some money exchanged and a few groceries.  The kids stayed home to do schoolwork.

When we got back, Jeremy had done a surprise for us…he had set the table in the cockpit and prepared a special “Love Menu” for us from which to choose drinks, snacks, and special services (ie. massages).  20180328-8-Luperon, Dominican RepublicWe played a few card games with the kids before going to bed.  Another peaceful, “windless”, and relaxing evening.

 

March 29

Schoolwork, pancakes, and clean up.  In the afternoon, Papa Bear went to town to pick up the “wheel covers” we had asked a local to make for us for a reasonable price.  We gave him the Sunbrella material, thread and pattern.  Then, we headed over to the marina for 2 hours of laundry and a lunch break. 

Nice wind & sun to dry the laundry on the line.   We seem to have the best internet access at the marina, so we have spent quite a few hours each day here socializing and getting updated on the web.

Its always a treat have a hot shower (for $1), laundry for $1, and update the blog with a cold beer (for $1) with the company of our favourite waiter Juan!

Weather window fast approaching for us to head back north via Bahamas.

Next update when we have better access to internet!  ; – )

March 30

Today was part of the kids’ studies where we did extensive exploring and observing life in the Dominican Republic.  We explored the old Luperon Marina which was abandoned about 10 years ago.  A beautiful building architecturally and its awesome views, perched high on the hill.  They had 2 pools with bars and dance floor.  Such a shame that it is now only used as a yoga site.

Going into town, we really did a thorough observation of how the stores (los tiendas) are all attached to their owners’ homes.

Often hard to differentiate between a house and a store.  Grocery shopping is a treat when you go to these non-commercial tiendas…everything is fresh from local farmers.

Later in the afternoon, Jeremy and I explored the mangroves, so he could learn how they grow and why they are considered a safe haven for boats during hurricanes.  We were surprised by the life forms in these complex root systems:  clams grow on the roots and get exposed to the air at low tide; and bird (looked like a King Fisher) use these roots to hunt for their next meal.