Hi everyone, it has been a while since I have written a blog and my dear mother in law reminded me of such yesterday so I guess this one is for you Ruth Anne.
Eric has pretty much kept you up to date to our little day sails to different points here in the south of the Exuma Chain of Islands. The Bahamas are 700 islands with only 30 inhabited, this is not counting the Cays (keys). The islands are divided up like provinces, ie; Berry Islands, Abacos, Bimini, Grand Bahama, Andros, Exumas, Long Island, and there are others. We have visited very few when you consider the vastness of the area that these islands would have. So we are just finishing a 4 week visit in the Exuma and Long Island area.
This past week, Jan 27 – Feb 3, we had Andrew and Amy come and spend time with us. For me, it was just what the doctor ordered. It was such a blessing to have them with us, even though Amy was pretty sick when she arrived, we were concerned that they might not make it! I’m sure it was out of her sheer will that she got here. While they were here Amy had a few activities on her wish list, seeing the swimming pigs and iguanas and Andrew wanted to snorkel and scuba dive. I think we checked everything on their list and maybe a few more experiences.
On Monday it was overcast and we pretty much relaxed. Amy was pretty much spent from the travel, short on sleep from coughing and getting up early to catch their plane. Eric and Andrew went into Georgetown in the evening for Rake and Scrape. It is the type of music that is native to the Bahamas. It involves hand made drums(Goombay), hand saw/hammer, guitar, accordion and what other instruments might be available. On Mondays you can go the local pub and possibly join the ad hoc band. Andrew got the privilege and joy to play with them for a song, I know he would have loved to play with them more but it was not to be.
Tuesday we sailed to White Bay Cay (key) . On White Bay Cay we saw the swimming pigs. Yes they do swim….. out to your inflatable dinghy…. and then try to get in so they can eat all the carrots FIRST! Yikes!!!! They are quite aggressive, they don’t share well to the point of biting each other, running each other over so they can get the carrots, hmmmm so when you call someone a pig it is definitely not a compliment. It was wild there for a while, you had to hide that you had any carrots or they would be all over you. As soon as we ran out of carrots they literally ignored us, the ungrateful wretches! They just threw themselves down on the sand and went to sleep which was nice for us, since we could then look around and we found 2 litters of piglets who were about 3 weeks old.
Wednesday we went over to Leaf Cay to see the rock iguanas. On this wee island there are about forty iguanas of all sizes sitting on the beach. We had cabbage to feed these much more patient and polite reptiles. Yes some of the old codgers were staring each other down but none of us felt we in danger of getting our fingers bit off or toes trampled on.
Thursday -Saturday we hiked, snorkeled, scuba dived, got tattooed and just enjoyed one another. Sunday came all too early and I must say they were wishing they could stay as well. They returned tanned, relaxed, refreshed and for Amy almost healed ready to return to the winter life looking forward to spring to come soon.
We now have done laundry, got some provisions and today (Feb 6) we are now heading back up the Bahama islands. We are going to stop in a few places that we didn’t get to see on the way down. I have another blog percolating in my head that I will write soon. Thanks for following us
It was a great week of visiting, fishing and sightseeing, but it was now time to go back to Georgetown and Elizabeth harbour to await Andrew and Amy’s arrival at the end of the month. We moved the boat back out of Joe Sound and anchored out in front of the beach where Pete and Christie’s house is. It was a bit of a rolly night, but we were up at dawn and headed back across Exuma Sound in very light wind. We arrived back at around 11:00. This time we anchored over at Monument beach as that was where our friends Bob and Diane on “Two of a Kind” were. We visited with them and learn more about the area. They are leaving at the end of the week to go attend the birth of their next Grand Child. They keep their boat here in Georgetown year round and come down and use it through the winter.
As there is a front (or two) on the way we consider where we might go to anchor to gain some comfort from the wind and the seas. Stocking Island provides great protection from the prevailing easterlies but can become rather unruly in a south or west wind. We learn about a group of anchorages behind Crab Cay known as Red Shanks Anchorages.
There are 4 different spots for a bunch of boats. It is regarded as a hurricane hole, which affords protection from the seas 360 degrees. It is generally entered at high tide due to the rather skinny water and the entrance and between the holes inside. We move the boat down to Hole number 1 and wait there while the wind does clock 360 degrees over the next several days. Since the wind was not much above 15 or 20 it may have been a bit of overkill but we did meet another interesting couple and had a great time snorkeling as well.
As sunday approaches we are up in the air about where we might go to church. There are two options and both will have their challenges. The first option is to check out “Beach Church” which is held at Chat N Chil it is a Volunteer lead interdenominational service run by the boating community. The other option would be to go to St. Andrews Church in Georgetown. Our immediate problem is distance and weather. For either location it would be about an hour of travel time in our dinghy. Then there is the weather, which is looking thunderstormish. Remember this it the same weekend that most churches in Maritime Canada had to reschedule or cancel their services. The system that is affecting them is the same system (much warmer) that we are dealing with. It stretches all the way from Cuba up to Newfoundland.
The Beach Church begins at 9:30 and we are back and forth as to go or not, when we look at the sky and it looks particularly dark. We decide to wait and see what it will be like in an hour and then try to make the 11:00 at St. Andrews. Within a few minutes we hear on the radio that they have canceled Beach Church. By 10:00 the sky is looking reasonable so we set out up the inside of Crab Cay, under the bridge, around February Point and into Lake Victoria. We walk up to the Church, getting there at about 10:40
We note that there is a keyboard and drum kit, along with all the other fixtures and decor you would find in any traditional Anglican Church. After our experience in Bimini, we are anticipating an alive vibrant community of believers with richness and diversity in their worship tradition…. we are not disappointed! St. Andrews Parish is the hub church for the Exuma Island area. It has a school and is active in many community ministries.
The service lasts nearly 2 1/2 hours, which we are regarding as quite normal. Another visiting family from a resort we note: is sitting behind us and when the notice the drummer walk in, sticks in hand, they move to the other side of the Church. We eventually notice that they don’t make it to the end of the service. Must have been a bit much for them I guess.
I would not have believed it unless I had experienced it. My hope has always been that each of the traditions are firmly routed in the work of the spirit of God and has in it all of the very best intentions. As with any tradition, they ways that we do things can eventually get mechanized, wooden, devoid of spirit or locked into some kind of legalism. Within my view of the Anglican Church there are two main traditions and a third that has come of late. These are, the Anglo-Catholic movement, The Low Church/Evangelical movement and of late the Renewal or Charismatic movement. Across Canada and in many other places you can find examples of these traditions that are full functioning models of the body of Christ. You can find them in healthy condition or in complete disfunction or anywhere in between. The thing that we have experienced here however is very unique. It is a blending together of all the traditions, without loosing or compromising anything.
The service began with a number of songs and hymns as a preparation time. As the people continued to arrive the strength of the singing and sense of deeply engaged worship increased. At this point neither the opening hymn, nor the opening sentence had happened. This was 20 minutes into the service. Once again we experienced the full depth of an Anglo Catholic Service, with Evangelical preaching and charismatic freedom and anointing.
Later in the week I visited with Ethan, the Rector to ask him about this blend, that we had experienced now on two different islands. It seems that the reason for it was that when the Charismatic renewal happened it was embraced by the Bishops and other significant leaders It was intentionally integrated into the liturgical tradition of the time, which was quite traditional. The result is something very precious.
After the service we thought we would get something to eat before we took the long ride back to the boat. We found however that there was not one restaurant open. It was Sunday. It is still a day of rest in the Bahamas! We knew that there was a weekly Pig Roast happening over at Chat N Chill on Stocking Island, so we headed over there in the dinghy.
Because of the fronts that rolled through this past week we had time to do some Repairs and upgrades. Amoung them was to oil the teak, install a new bow roller, fix my centerboard crank holder, repair a crack in the salon table fiddle, make a conch horn etc.
On Thursday we move back out of Red Shanks and anchor in front of Georgetown to do laundry, get water and provision. Friday morning is the first time we have had not had excessive wind in well over a week.
We passed a quiet (non-rolly) night in front of Chat N Chill Our plan was to wait until about noon and then head across to Long Island. My cousin Peter has a place there in Calabash Bay on Galliot Cay. He and his family arrived on Dec 27 and will be leaving on the 15th, so our timing was just right, but we don’t want to waste any time. We go ashore in the morning to watch some of the volleyball tournament that has been organized and walk around the general vacinity. We participate in the cruisers net on Channel 72 which takes every morning. There is a whole range of information passed on this 1/2 hour special two way radio show! We check in and say that we are going to leave and return in about a week.
On the beach we find a pole with over 100 signs pointing to destinations all around the world where boats have sailed to Georgetown. We do not see one for Saint John, so when we return there tomorrow that will be one of the projects. Here is what we will put on the sign: Saint John NB 20M 1390NM This is to say that Saint John is found at 20 degrees magnetic bearing at a distance of 1390 Nautical Miles.
At about noon we depart Elizabeth Harbour for Long Island. It takes us about 4 hours to cross the sound and we anchor just up the beach from Peters house.
They are busy that night but we make arrangements to meet them the next morning. The anchorage is known to have swell in it and we do not sleep well. At about 7 in the morning just after sun up we move the boat down to the inlet to Joe Sound. This is a very narrow pass that goes into a sound behind Galliot Cay. It has total protection from surge and there are often 4 or 5 boats in there. We anchor so I can take the dinghy in to survey the cut. The actual route in is only about 25 feet wide with jagged rocks and a wreck around the entrance. Clearly you want to do this against a small current, with really good light. The water is so clear that it is very difficult to judge the depth. You might think that it is 4 or 5 feet when it is in fact 20. After I take the dinghy in twice I have found the sandy path that avoids the reef. Ive also determined the bearing to be about 72 deg M. There are a couple of markers; one a stake and the other a buoy, but they seem to be marking some deceptively shallow points as a warning where not to head toward. Once I have found the path it is and easy albeit heart stopping transit.
Pete and Christy see that we have moved down to the entrance of Joe Sound and they join us via Kayak. After a few minutes we go into the anchorage area and secure the boat with two anchors in line with the current. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbhUMQjaySg Here is a great video that describes how to do this.
Val and I are treated to amazing hospitality during our days here at “The Yellow house” , including a day trip down the island to see various churches and buildings and land features. Toward the end we come to Deans Blue Hole. This is a geological phenomenon that is quite common here in the Bahamas but it happens to be the deepest one in the world. So much of the Bahama bank is only about 15 feet deep. The Blue hole is over 600 feet straight down. It is used for the worlds free diving competition. If you google Deans Blue Hole you will find lots of information. We climbed the cliff beside it to get a view from the top.
We dined at a marina on the atlantic side and made multiple stops on the way down and back, looking for a variety of items. This is a normal shopping day.
The highlight however of the whole stay will have to be how we came to an understanding of law enforcement.
The day before Peter and I went out to the local gas Station to pick up some white wine. They were meeting with some other guests that night and needed to bring some wine. Unknown to us it was a newly instituted holiday. (Majority Rule Day) Look it up; it is quite a story in itself. When we arrived at the Gas Station/Liquor store the door was locked and there were about a dozen customers waiting around with the understanding that the owner would be back “Soon” remember we are on “Island Time” After about 20 minutes he does show up. Peter asks him if he has white wine and the owner says he has a good selection. Peter then goes in behind the counter and comes up with four bottles of Chardonnay, perfect for the occasion. We each come out and place the bottles carefully in the back seat. Just as we close the doors of the truck we hear the unmistakable WOOP Woop of a police siren. We see that the local constable has blocked us in with his police Jeep. We think that this is just a friendly greeting as Peter knows just about everyone on the island. It is not. A very officious young constable, badge number 313, begins to ask very specific questions. He asks if we had just purchased something from the establishment. We acknowledge that we have. He asks if it was alcoholic beverage. We say yes.
About this point he begins to tell us that we are not in any trouble but that the vendor is. He explains that this vendor has been warned multiple times not to be open on a national holiday. He may be now facing a fine of $5000 for this infraction and it looks like the constable has him cold! The officer takes our statements and then HE TAKES THE WINE! as evidence! He says that we are welcome to asked the vendor to return the money that was paid, but Peter refuses. This is a guy that Peter has known for 30 years! We really think that what was happening was that the constable was hiding around the corner waiting for someone to come out carrying a bottle of something! He never would admit to that, claims he was just driving by.
On our way home I get a call from the officer asking if he can come by in the morning to take our statement. I tell him that we are not going to be around tomorrow. Once we do get home he calls me again to say that he is on his way to talk to us and get a written/signed statement. This is beginning to remind me of Alice’s’ Restaurant. He shows up about 15 minutes later after calling one more time to get directions. (There is only one road on Galliot Cay. There is only one yellow house, which is known as “The Yellow House”
When Constable Rolles arrives he takes Peters statement and Peter signs it. We talk about all kinds of other things, like his family name and where he is from, alcohol laws, driving laws; Peter had just got a ticket from this guy the week before for doing 30 in a 20. The normal rate of speed in a 20 is about 50. Even the constable would acknowledge that. And of course we get the history of Majority Rule Day.
I ask him about open liquor in a vehicle or in a public place and there is nothing wrong with that. You just can’t be “under the influence” An open bottle of Kalik in a vehicle is a pretty normal thing. As a matter of fact when you purchase beer in any location the cashier will offer to open one before you go out the door. Such service!
At this point we figure the matter is closed and the wheels of justice will begin to move and justice will be accomplished in somone’s eyes.
The next morning as we are setting out for our road trip down the island to the Blue Hole and other places, my phone rings again. I now recognise Constable Rolls Number. He asks us if we can come into the Police Station. Chief wants to meet with Peter. Peter knows this guy but has not seen him for a decade. We arrive at a little group of buildings that include: The Anglican Rectory, the old police Station, A slightly newer police Station, Her Majestys Prison, the Department of Motor Vehicles and some other government offices. Peter and I go into the Station house and Val and Christy go to see what the Jail looks like.
I am told to wait in the waiting area and Peter goes out back, where I hear the clang of a barred door shutting! He is in there for quite a long time. I talk with Constable Rolls and his sergeant. He seems a bit nervous.
Finally I hear the sound of glass bottles and realize that the Chief is giving Peter back his wine. All is well. All was just a misunderstanding! Even the speeding ticket has disappeared.
During the service Christmas Eve, an older man got up to read the Old Testament Lesson. You would recognize it; from Isaiah 9 “for unto us a child is born” It was read with a deep conviction and drama; so much so that you would think that the author himself was rehearsing it. As we passed the peace later in the service I spoke to the man and told him what a blessing it was for us to hear him read. I said that we had sailed down from Canada. He said; That is good. I build boats. I told him that I was an amature boat builder as well. After the service Ansil invited me to come to his Boat Shop. I protested and said; but tomorrow is Christmas day. He assured me that he would be there from around 9 to 4. That is his routine, Christmas or not.
I spoke to him again at the fellowship time, just to make sure and then said that I would be over in the morning.
He had given me the instructions that his boat shop was north of the power plant, down by the basket ball court, right out on the water. I found it easily. Ansil comes from 5 generations of Boat Builders and is the last boat builder on Bimini. He has not been able to find an apprentice. He says that they might acquire the skills, but they don’t have the heart and passion for it and quit after a short while saying it it two hard.
Boat building for Ansil has really just been a part time thing for him. His real passion is Bone Fish. You have to hunt them and stalk them like deer he says. You must see them first and cast the bait just in front of them or else you will spook them and they run. He built a boat for himself so that he could become the best bone fish guide in the area, and indeed he has been dubbed “Bone Fish Legend”
Indeed he did become that and lead a client to catch the biggest bone fish ever. Still unsurpassed. This in my mind, though a great story was not what impressed me the most. It is well known that Martin Luther King used to come to Bimini to write his speeches. Ansil was asked to take Dr. King to as secluded place so that he could write (as it turned out, his last speech) I will not try to describe this myself but refer you on to some videos that I have also posted on FB The one by the fishing show I think gives one of the best accounts of this relationship and encounter.
With regard to his boat building he designed and built the perfect boat for bone fishing and had build and sold a good many of these at florida boat shows. He has one order to go and also he needs to repair his own. It came to an untimely end as he was navigating a canal at speed and hit a rock or concrete block that had been dumped in the waterway. It holed the boat and sunk her. She rolled over under the weight of the engine and tore her transoom off. The boat sits in his shop now awaiting some materials. He has a sale for her, but must repair her and likely replace her engine. I will post below some other interviews with Ansil. He told me many other things about the history of Bimini. About Hemingway, Shark research, Conch, the Sport Fishing industry and family. And as it turns out Ashley (the Dolphin house) is his brother! He has another brother Tommy who makes jewelry. Three brothers whose ancestors arrived centuries before from Scotland and married Bahamian women.
Most blogs that I have read about doing what we are doing talk about crossing from Miami, arriving at Bimini, spending the night or maybe one day and then pressing on across the bank to Nassau and Eluthera and the Exumas. We have been totally blessed by spending a week or a bit more here. We left Miami just before a strong wind from the SW was due to blow. The predictions showed it to be up to 50 Knots. Certainly a good protected harbor would be required. In talking with a resident of Cat Cay days later, he remarked that it was the strongest wind outside of a full hurricane that he had experienced in more than 10 years. We were very glad to have crossed and tucked into Bimini Sands marina. Bimini Sands Resort/Marina is on the South Island. Very quiet, mostly residential. The north Island has all the party life, stores, infrastructure etc. We like the South Island for its peace and solitude.
So, because of the wind storm , which lasted three days and then Christmas, we found ourselves committed to at least a week. There could be worse places to be stuck. On the first day after we arrived we headed over to the North Island and Alice Town to buy a SIM card for the Phone. We decided also to do a bit of a walking tour and visit the museum. Val has written about that already. We saw a hot-dog vendor and decided to get something to eat. The young lady who ran this was quick to invite us to Church on Sunday and it turned out to be the Anglican Parish for Bimini. We knew that we would be staying on through Christmas as well, so it was decided. She described the Christmas Eve service, starting at 11:00 with a preceding Carol Sing and followed by a breakfast/midnight fellowship. I have reported in our FB posts about our Sunday Experience please check them out. Take a look at Val’s post also about Ashley Saunders, and the Dolphin House, it is all part of the bigger story!
Rev. Colin Saunders (Saunders is a very common name) was born on the island, moved to other islands as his father moved with Customs and Emigration to further his career. He studied theology at Huron College in London Ontario and after ordination was working in the Capitol region of Nassau doing a Church plant. One day about three years ago he was invited back to his boyhood home of Bimini to attend the Ordination Service of the new Baptist Pastor. Upon hearing that he would be in town and that his old home church was with out a pastor that Sunday he was called upon to fill in. His heart was stirred as he took the service and discerned that all things were not quite as he had remembered. When he returned to Nassau he spoke to his bishop and mentioned if there was ever a vacancy at his old home church, he would like to be considered. He was appointed Rector within the year. Despite the looming knowledge that a prophet was not always welcome in his home town, he began his ministry.
We began Christmas eve by taking the boat down the coast about 5 miles with the hope to dive on a wreck. When we got there we found that the conditions were not favorable and we would have to look at this another time. We found a quiet spot in about 15 feet just of the marina on our return to anchor the boat and jumped in to do my first “snorkel inspection” of the anchor in the crystal clear water of the Bahamian Bank. What was really interesting was that you really did not even have to get into the water to see what the anchor was doing. I could watch it decent to the bottom, tip over and dig in, all from the deck of the boat. Even when I had let out 3:1 rode, I could still see the anchor burying itself. I swam on it anyway and then turned and looked at the boat floating, as if in air, and could see well beyond it as well!
When we got back to the harbor I thought it would be good to see about Coconuts. I had asked the marina manager if it was ok to take one. He wondered why I might want to do so and said go ahead. I found a tree with some large ones that seemed ready and right there in the brush near by was a 15 foot piece of aluminum structural component that was just perfect for knocking those nuts out of the tree. Two swipes and two were on the ground. I found a YouTube later on that showed a guy shucking a coconut in 6 seconds. He did about 1000 a day. My first attempt was about an hour! Knowing what I know now about these beasts, I think I can best that time for the next one. Shucking is only the first part. Now you have to get the water out, crack it and get the meat out, but most of us have done that before.
We made a few phone/video calls to family while we waited for night fall. This has been one of the most difficult things: to be physically away from family during the holiday. It is nice to have the technology to talk and text and post to one another, but nothing can replace the times of visiting from house to house and hosting grand feasts. I don’t recommend being away for Christmas, it is a lonely experience.
It might take up to an hour to get to church so we set out at about 9:40 pm, heading for at 10:45 pm Carol sing and an 11:00 pm service. We were early as the ferry was just arriving as we got to the dock.
Alice Town is like any other place with the good the bad the beautiful and the ugly. We have walked through the town several times now and are very aware of the more sketchy parts and the spirit that seems to go along with them. There is one particular Tiki bar in the middle of town that plays loud music seemingly 24 hours a day, whether there are customers there or not. Sunday morning it was blaring out music at about 8:30 in the morning!
That part of town has a certain darkness to it. Lots of little bars that are dark on the inside along side mini casinos, with no windows. We were also seeing people young an old driving around in golf carts with open beer. One telling sign was the fact that when you are in the liquor store there is a bottle opener beside the cash! In speaking with Pastor Colin later on he said that there are laws but they are largely ignored because of the rich tourists and not wanting to offend them. What has happened is that the locals now take it as a given and walk around with open drink all the time. It was perfectly normal to see a young man or young woman at 9:00am on Sunday morning walking or driving down the main road with a half consumed beer.
As I had mentioned in my FB post about sunday church, it was not that well attended, but what it lacked in numbers was more than offset by the quality and engagement in worship. We arrived plenty early (I think we were the first ones) We watched as people began to arrive. Those leading the service, Choir members, Lay-readers, Servers etc. I think that there were only about a dozen of us in the pews when the Choir leader stood and announced that it was time to begin singing carols. I though to my self: this is going to be a disaster, there are not enough people here. To my surprise as he lifted up his voice, the congregation responded and filled in every harmony with the richness of any trained choir that I have ever heard…. and the choir largely had not arrived! Carol after carol was sung and more people arrived. The rest of the Choir, the organist and more of the congregation. By then end we were enveloped in a full sound of glory in the highest. The service was now ready to begin.
As I described in an earlier post the style of service is very formal and Anglo-Catholic. Complete with everything you can imagine from this tradition. Incense, Sanctus Bells, as many as a dozen people assisting in some capacity with the service, candles, full liturgy. What set it apart in my mind was that there was an welcoming openness for the informal as well, and the moving and filling of the holy Spirit. This service would normally have taken about an hour in Canada, was just over two hours here in the Bahamas. Every symbol, action and word was open and available for the fullness of the glory of God to inhabit it.
We began with the blessing of the cradle, complete with procession, incense and singing. Then it was on to the opening carol and so on. Everything in the liturgy was sung with depth, and conviction. My though as we were singing the great Carols of the Nativity was this: This is how I have always imagined these songs to be sung. The only thing that came close in my experience, were the times that the clergy of my diocese got together for conference or retreat and we would sing well known hymns together. This was always good. Everyone singing songs they know well. But alas this experience has been eclipsed by the humble ordinary people of a small island in the Bahamas.
After the service we went over to the hall for “All kinds of Fellowship” I checked with Colin the Rector to see if there were others there from South Bimini so that we could be guaranteed a way back to Tevah. I suspected that the Ferry would stop running around midnight. In fact by the time I asked, the Ferry had already been put away for the night. We were glad to find a couple that could transport us back to the ferry landing. They had a small boat.
The fellowship went on past 02:00 am complete with Johnny cake, hominy, fish and chicken boiled in gravy, coffee, tea, wine, rum, beer, eggnog. Thanks to the kindness of a couple we were introduced to we got back to the boat just before 3:00 am
On Monday afternoon we arrived in Vero Beach where we had arranged to connect with a cousin of mine who I hadn’t seen in decades. Stan is my first cousin on my Dad’s side of the family. On that side of the family, touchy feely, family gatherings were not part of their DNA Stan is 6 years younger than me and with all that said I never really had ever had a long conversation with him and did not really know him nor his wife Susan.
We arrived I would say, looking and smelling like pirates (so I wasn’t holding out that a good first impression was not to be had). We had laundry and shopping needs and I was feeling I was going to be pushing them in their invitation to visit.
Well I was so wrong, Susan and Stan are gifted in hospitality! They could not have made us feel more welcomed and at home. They made sure we were looked after beyond our wildest expectations. They toured us around the area, drove us all over Vero Beach to get our groceries, propane, oil for the boat plus other errands and meeting our every need or want including taking us out to lunch down by the beach for a mahi mahi sandwich which was absolutely delicious, what a treat!❤️
This morning they joined us sailing down the ICW from Vero Beach to Fort Pierce which was a couple hours of sailing. I think it was our turn to give them a bit of a treat. They experienced true sailing with a little rain and a little sun, the dolphins and manatees making an appearance for our joy and entertainment.
I know that social media can be truly scary with bullying, creeping and all other negative things but I want to recognize that because of Facebook Stan and I were able to connect and arrange this sweet 3 days of sharing stories and enjoying one another, I think I would have sailed on by if we had not interacted first on Facebook so I am grateful. Eric and I both feel that we have increased our family and established new friendships that is just beginning.
Stan and Susan we cannot thank you enough for your huge heart and fantastic sense of humour, we love you and can’t wait until we return.
We are stopped for a few days at Vero Beach to do provisioning. Val has a 1st Cousin there. Here is a phone number update. Val’s number is changed to an international one as we do the crossing. We will be getting a Bahamas number when we check in.
I think it has been a month since I have posted a rseport so I guess I am long overdue. Since Nov 13 I have been in Saskatchewan visiting with Kait, Justin, David, Nathalie and the girls. It was a great time going to Norahs hockey games, cooking and just enjoying family. I got to see a little of Cold Lake Alberta where Dave and Nathalie live. Needless to say my time flew by and it was time to head back. In Edmonton I got to visit with my brother Gerry for a few hours. Time is such a precious commodity that really one needs to cherish our moments with care. I left Canada with a thankful heart and looking forward to returning in the spring.
Eric and I returned on the same day within minutes of each other. We headed back to the boat and both were ready for a sleep. This flying is not a relaxing way to travel. In Toronto I sat in a loaded plane ready to go but had to wait for a new part to be put in the plane before we took off. Now I do appreciate the care they take in keeping us safe but I could feel myself getting anxious as we were more and more delayed. I knew I had about an hour (which I felt was great timing) to get to my connection for Charleston. Well we chewed that up in Toronto so when I got off the plane these old legs ran to the other end of the airport to see if I could catch the flight. As I was leaving the Air Canada guy had a voucher ready for me if I missed my plane. Well I made it!!!!!!!! I was the last one on with no minutes to spare.
So our first day we spent doing all the laundry we could and getting groceries so we could leave on Saturday. We decided to head out right away and not visit the plantation now and will wait until our return. We really did enjoy Charleston, the depth of history, the spirit of the place and the people. Eric went to a church there for the three Sunday’s he was there and we want to return when we come back in the spring.
I am writing as we are now on the Intra-Coastal Waterway heading to Beaufort SC (pronounced Būfort) not to be confused with Beaufort NC (pronounced Bōfort), you will be corrected if you get it wrong 😬. We have decided to push hard to Vero Beach where I have a cousin, provision the boat there and then wait for our weather window to go to the Bahamas and be there by Christmas.
So the adventure continues and we continue to search for the ever elusive warm weather. My cousin Stan tells me Vero Beach’s weather is beautiful. Let’s pray.
Val and I have just booked our tickets for a mid November break. I have meetings with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Toronto the week of the 26th and she is going to visit Kait and the kids in Sask. I have found a place to keep the boat in Charleston for the week that I am away and the rest of the time I will Anchor in a couple of places and do boat projects.
Yesterday we arrived in Myrtle Beach and got a marina slip. There was a bit of a mix up first thing as the marina that I had originally booked, had never heard of the booking service that I used. We were trying to make an 11:00 service at a nearby church that sounded really great. Check out Barefoot Church in North Myrtle Beach SC.
We are within striking distance of Charleston and still have about 10 days before we need to be there for Val’s flight. There are a good number of anchorages along the Wackama river that we will make use of and only go 10-15 miles each day.
Yesterday we enjoye walking on the Beach. I was talking to a local guy today that said there are 60 miles of beach! The sand was like white powder and it squeezed under Val’s bare feet!
Two days ago I had to change the Alternator back to the old one. Remember Cruising is really just boat repairs in exotic locations! The new one that I had bought this summer and installed in Maryland, failed. I spent some time with the guys at Autotec on Duke street on the phone to arange to ship it back to them when I get to Toronto. When I get to Charleston I will look for a replacement.
My sister emailed me this morning to say we have been a bit quiet on the social media front! We agree! I will try to give you a quick update. Thursday we beat Hurricane Michael to Easton Maryland by hours. Thanks to Melinda Finlay who found us not just any place to anchor our boat but at a private home! We arrived in Easton and was welcomed to the home of Paul and Faith Carroll’s and they allowed us to moor our boat there for 4 days while we had a rest from boating, or may I say while I had a rest from boating. Poor Eric worked on the boat 2 of the 4 days we were in Easton.
The days were definitely filled, Friday and Monday we went into Washington DC and spent some time in two of the Smithsonian Museums. One was the National Air and Space Museum and the other was the American History Museum. We really only got to see about ⅓ of the Museum after a full day. There was so many displays and so much information we left with our brains suffering from information overload. 😬We also walked up to the Lincoln Memorial and around the National Mall getting the classic pictures in front of the Washington Monument. That took 2 days and obviously we could have spent a week and not put a dent in the many things to see.
Saturday we did errands or necessary jobs that needed to be done. I got my hair cut (I told you Eric would NOT be cutting my hair) and glasses fixed and then got to Walmart to pick up a few things we needed there. None of this would have been possible but the Finlays lent us their van so we were able to get to places further than we could have been able to if we were walking.
Sunday we went to the First Wesleyan Church in Easton Maryland. We were given the warmest welcome, worshipped and received a great message to fuel us up spiritually for the week. Our hearts are overflowing with thanks, for 4 days we had no worries about the boat and for us we just relaxed and felt like a healthy reset happened for both of us.
Eric and I both felt that wherever we went on our 4 day hiatus the kindness and how quick everyone was to help us out was humbling and so heart warming. We want to thank Paul and Faith for allowing us to moor at their house, leaving Tevah there took all the stress off knowing she was safe and looked after. To Dave, Melinda, Juliana, Ty and Ethan a big thank you for your hospitality and making us feel right at home. Maybe we’ll see you on our way back!
A couple years ago I read a book called “Sailing away from winter” by Silver Donald Cameron. This is essentially what we are doing. I do remember as he went through Maine he remarked about several different kinds of people he came accross. The one that caught my attention was “the Maine Automatic talker”. While I have not met one of these yet, we did meet some interesting people today as we traveled via two busses from Northeast Harbor to Bar Harbor and then to Ellsworth and back. All of this to get a SIM card so I could write this blog post.
Here are 6 amazing people that helped us today. We applaud their hospitality and dedication to service.
Bar Tender at the Cherry Stone
Several years ago while camping at Hadley point in Bar Harbor we came into town and went to this place for lunch. We had fun shopping and seeing the sights in BH. As we got off the bus today I gravitated to this place and spied the bar tender getting the area ready for opening. I asked him about electronics stores…nope. Cell phone stores…nope Hardware stores.. ah yes there was one of those. He also gave the information about the possibility of a bus to Ellsworth but was unsure if one actually existed. It seemed to be in the realm of a fantasy ferry tale but did direct us to the green bus building that held all the knowledge about local transportation.
the Gal at the True Value
We did a bit of a walk about and finally stumbled on the True Value store and found a clerk that lead us to the bundle buggie section of the store. We were blessed by her offer to assemble the beast so we could wheel it out of the store. Val commented that she was stunningly beautiful as well.
The bus office gal
Still unsure about how we would actually get to Ellsworth to get the magic “SIM” card we went to the green building on the village green in BAAAAA HAAAABAAAA We met a woman who amazed us with her helpfulness and hospitality. She dug out a schedule and then said that we should go for a walk because there were no actual signs but if she showed us where to stand (in the shade) the buss would stop and take us to Ellsworth. She walked us accross the “green” and showed us the spot of dirt to stand on. We were early so went on a bit of a walk about and then returned.
Bus driver 1 Norma
Norma showed up at exactly 1:04 and welcomed us aboard her bus to Ellsworth. We stuffed 12 dollars into the receptical but were offered no reciept or proof of purchase. When we inquired about the return fair she said that we just needed to tell Jeanne that we already paid Norma and that it was OK! She dropped us off on the highway at “not a stop” between Remys and LLBean. Val went to LLBean and I proceeded to our main reason to be in Ellsworth, to purchase a SIM card that might actually have coverage.
The Verizon guy Ivan
So I met Ivan. He is from Peru and also a church planter… who is working at Verizon until the church is properly planted in Belfast. I had to walk across the street to the Bangor Saving Bank to extract some actual cash because when you buy one of these pre paid SIMs you have to pay in Cash for some reason!!!!! The good news is that for $75 a month you have unlimited data!!!!!!!
Bus driver 2 Jeanne
After we shopped at Shaws for a while and filled our bundle buggy Jeanee showed up right on time to pick us up. She asked.. “did you pay?” We replayed that we were told by Norma to tell her that we did. We roared off to TJ Maxes were she was expecting to pick up two young boys… they were not there and after Jeannne had counted down the seconds according to her cell phone she tore out of the parking lot toward the Walmart. Only moments later she got a call from the dispatcher saying that he had just got a call form someone who said they were waiting at Shaws and that she went right on by. We had been at shaws so she wheeled around and asked us if indeed she stopped at Shaw’s and picked us up!!! We agreed that she did stop at Shaw’s and she thanked us. By this time we were passing a pizza joint and after she paused for oncomming traffic she said something like “hang on I’m going for it” and spun the bus around in a 180 and proceeded to return to the Shaws…… where ther was no one waiting! After calling dispatch again and talking back and forth about the possibility of some people that may or may not be waiting for a bus, we heard someone else break in on the radio (Norma) asking if they had picked up a man with a white beard and a woman with purple hair or not. It took a moment for us to realize that she was talking about us! Suddenly ther were two young men running toward us from the TJ Max. At last the missing riders! Off we went direct to the Walmart and then to BAAAA Haaaa BAAAA!