Sunday, April 17, 2011

Still hanging in the Abacos, and I'm a wuss!

I have no idea what's happened to me but I've become a bit of a wuss! When we started out on this adventure I was so looking forward to some good-time snorkeling fun. But when I was finally presented with the perfect opportunity to engage in this oh so adventurous activity, I got cold feet which is odd as I'm not a stranger to this sport and have always enjoyed it.

The dark water that's lying behind the blue water in this picture contains perfect reefs for snorkeling and here I am clutching my snorkeling gear.

Hans couldn't get in the water fast enough and he was thrilled to report back to me about the fabulous and colorful fish he'd seen. Unfortunately, when I ventured forth (while Hans babysat Wilbur) and got close to the reefs, my crazy imagination took over and I discovered that the fact that an entirely different life form actually exists just under the surface of the water totally freaks me out. Undulating fronds and waving plants evilly beckoned me to come close, and what the hell are those formations that look way too much like a human brain, not to mention that some of those fish aren't colorful at all and are most likely relatives of the fish we snagged while trolling and have wicked revenge on their minds!

When after just a few minutes of paddling around, I awkwardly crawled out of the surf in a mild panic (BTW, there is no graceful way to enter or exit any body of water while wearing flippers!), Hans was nicer than he really needed to be (but then Hans is a nice guy) and he expressed his concern about my fear.

Things didn't improve at all when a rather beefy Barracuda showed up (why the hell is he so fat I wanted to know!) and swam parallel to the shore line for the rest of the afternoon. And no, I was NOT one of the many idiots (Hans included) who donned snorkels in order to get a glimpse of him. But Mr. 'Cuda wasn't too interested in his observers and much to everyone's disappointment, continually flitted away as soon as anyone got too close.

I hate being a spoil sport, so that evening after a couple of frou-frou drinks I told Hans that I wanted to go back the next day. And damn him, the next morning he remembered my comment and before I knew it, Wilbur was locked in our berth and we were on our way.

There they are! Those damn reefs!!

Well, I did it! I finally got in there (all the while clutching Hans' arm) and saw pretty purple fish, ugly white fish, and things that still looked like human brains. I also nearly hyperventilated when I observed a tree limb lying on the ocean floor and thought it was Mr. 'Cuda!

I'm very much hoping that I continue to lose my fear over his whole snorkeling thing and don't ruin Hans' time here in the Bahamas.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Picturesque (yet pictureless) Hopetown

I appologize, but Blogger will not let me separate my paragraphs and insists on compressing everything together. My camera showed us its distaste for sand and island life, and died thus giving a whole new meaning to the term 'Life's a Beach'! Hah!!!! I kill myself sometimes! And of course it broke just as we arrived in one of the most quaint places I've ever seen, so in the meantime we're relying on Hans' phone to take pictures, but if Hans forgets to bring his phone along... Anyway, when we decided to make this trek to the Bahamas we knew we had to get to Hopetown, on Elbow Cay, to visit a friend of Hans' and his brother, who now lives here. Michelle knew we'd be arriving soon and invited us to her home. We arrived at Hopetown during (as usual) low tide and saw depths as low as 3 and a half feet in the channel. We truly admire our fellow cruisers who draw 6 plus feet and therefor have to wait for high tide in order to navigate the Bahamas. But we got in just fine, snagged a mooring, and when I looked up I had to laugh because we were right beside our Pittsburgh friends on Megerin. We hadn't seen them since Turtle Cay and they stopped by to say hi and tell us we were welcome to join them at Hopetown Harbor Lodge for a drink with some friends. So we contacted Michelle, who agreed to bring her daughter Jennifer along. You can see the famous lighthouse in the background here. It's always fun to sit and talk with other cruisers and swap stories. It's even more fun if they have a sense of humor and these people do. I spent a good deal of time laughing with them. The next day Michelle's daughter Jennifer picked us up in their golf cart for a 15 minute ride to their house. What a lovely home they have (and that's an understatement) and of course we have no camera and Hans forgot his phone! Another couple from Hopetown brought a friend along and we enjoyed a completely made from scratch four course lunch and I felt like we were back in Europe. If they'd been on our boat I could only pray they wouldn't mind one course mystery meat hot dogs!! We couldn't stay too long though because Wilbur was languishing on the boat in our absence and we were worried about him. We were so relieved to find him alive and well that I didn't even mind that he'd left us another easily cleaned up 'gift of revenge'. Unfortunately, Megerin left us the next morning (I need to start checking my shower and deodorant situation!) and we dinghied over to the dock and once again hoisted a reluctant Wilbur up a steep ladder so we could walk around this incredible town. We hadn't gone far when we realized we were right on the doorstep of the couple who'd been at Michelle's home the day before. Mike and Patty have a beautiful house, right on the water at the Hopetown Harbor entrance, with a breath taking view of the harbor (in other words, perfect box seats if you want to watch unwary cruisers run aground). Mike is an architect and he designed their home and the landscaping, and Wilbur especially enjoyed his perpetual fountain and spent a good deal of time lapping water from it. They also have an adorable Westie (he has the cutest little black jelly bean nose!) who would have been happy to romp with Wilbur but he needed to go for a potty walk. I guess he doesn't leave 'gifts of revenge' like Wilbur does. We once again found ourselves at the very pet friendly Hopetown Lodge and were happy to run into some cruisers we'd met the day before and ended up enjoying a couple of drinks with them before heading back to the Knotty Cat. A new game; Find your dinghy in the dark.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A small slice of life here in the Bahamas

I had no idea what kind of reception we'd receive upon arriving here in the Bahamas with a pit bull on board. I had a deep down fear that perhaps pit bulls might be part of a future ban of this completely misunderstood breed, but I needn't have worried after all. I bet over half the dogs here are pitties and just like in the states, they are loved, hated, feared, and revered. It does, however, make me feel good when I'm able to assuage the fear some people have expressed upon seeing Wilbur, when they realize he's just a big love bug. We were sitting at a patio on Treasure Cay trying desperately to get Hans' computer to connect to their internet when a young Bahamian teenager lazily shuffled past us with half closed eyes. That is until he saw Wilbur and then you'd have thought he'd been hit with a thousand volts of electricity. With eyes bugging in fear he shuddered to a stop and as his legs turned to jelly he slid into a neighboring chair. "He's very friendly," I volunteered. "Would you like to pet him?" After assuring him that yes, Wilbur was indeed a pit bull and that no, he wasn't going to tear him from limb to limb, he finally came over and very tentatively placed a hand on Wilbur's side. After that we couldn't get rid of him and for the next hour (while in a trance like state) he repeatedly ran his hands down Wilbur's rib cage, tugged his ears, and rubbed some tender pitty tummy. Wilbur loved every second of it. After a while the young Bahamian's friends showed up and I have a feeling this fellow is going to go down in Treasure Cay history as a very brave man. His friends kept a safe distance from him and Wilbur, all the while shouting out comments that I couldn't understand but I'm pretty sure meant that he was taking his life in his hands with this vicious dog. It didn't matter to our new friend; he was in love, and it wouldn't surprise me if a pit bull is in his future. But we've actually received more positive comments than negative and a lot of the marina employees we've met are pit bull owners. I've heard this more than once: "Hey Mon, is that a pit? I have two at home and they're the best! They sleep with my kids!" Just yesterday when we were walking around Marsh Harbor we met a local family with a chihuahua and Wilbur was quite the gentleman. The chihuahua wanted nothing more than to sniff poor Wilbur's butt, and being the good will ambassador for pit bull's that he is, Wilbur allowed it. This same family had a pit bull that died a few years ago and they got a huge kick out of Wilbur and his patience. We're also thrilled with the relaxed Bahamian rules about dogs as we've been able to take Wilbur to the beaches and the marina pools without a problem. Even though we could probably sneak him into swimming in a pool, we haven't, since I don't want to overstep our welcome. I'm just happy that he can snooze under our chaize lounges instead of being locked up on the boat. It's Bahama Mama time and Wilbur wants to know if one of these belong to him. Sorry, Wilbur, but NO!

This is yours.

Honest to God, just try to sleep with a pit bull snoring in one ear and Hans snoring in the other. Yes, I woke up in our berth this morning to find Wilbur firmly ensconced on my right side with his snoring pitty head on my pillow, and Hans snoring on my left, but at least he was on his own pillow! "Hey, I'm trying to sleep here!" Poor Wilbur. A favorite pitty perch while at anchor.

Take a good look at this because I think it's the last time you'll see Hans' swimming suit in one piece. We went to the marina pool yesterday (with Wilbur!! Yaaay we love the Bahamas!) and that's when I saw it; Hans' swimming suit was ripped from stem to stern in the back and I nearly split a gut I laughed so hard. Dear God, it left nothing to the imagination and today before we leave the marina and this wonderful thing called shore power, I need to get my sewing machine out and fix it before we get evicted from the islands for indecent exposure! And so it goes with our life here in the Bahamas.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Just one big party!

Cruising should be this much fun (Hans took this incredibly fake picture at Grabber's)!

So here we sit in our slip at Marsh Harbor, and our marina is right beside a Moorings Marina. And just in case you didn't know it; 'Moorings' is a Charter company for folks who don't own boats, yet want to experience the wonderful world of sailing.

Yeah, right.

It's about 5:30 PM, and as I sit here worrying about why the hell I can smell lighter fluid when I'm pretty sure everyone has propane grills, I'm already toasted because:

We endured yet one more horrible docking.

My camera just gave up the ghost, its lens won't close, and its now giving me an accusatory fish eye, most likely due to sand build up.

Wilbur missed his potty patch and I had to chase him down with Clorox wipes.


We just spent a horrendous amount of money on 2 cases of beer which will probably last about a nano-second and we still have over a month remaining to be here.

Our sheets are full of dog hair and sand, and I would really like to dry off with a clean towel for a change.

We can't figure out what kind of bug bites we have all over our legs, and since I'm geographically challenged I'm praying we don't end up with West Nile Disease.

My sink is full of filthy dishes and my hair is a greasy mess.

We have encountered very few affordable laundry facilities so I wear the same thing every day, and have finally decided to quit wearing underwear except for when when I wear a sun-dress, since sliding down a rock wall to your dinghy, at low tide in a dress sans undies, is not recommended let me tell you, unless you wish to entertain the natives.

So while I sit here (with my greasy hair) in our windy cockpit and watch all the 'Moorings' people as they jauntily trip down the dock, jogging behind their carts loaded with fresh supplies and donned in their non-ripped, freshly ironed and creased jeans, colorful golf shirts, spanking clean docksiders, hair that's actually seen a hair dryer in the last year, and just busting to brag to all their co-workers about their thrilling sailing adventures, I just have to laugh and say, "You think you're a cruiser? C'mon over here and let me tell you about cruising. Better yet, go on out there for a few months and then let me see how creased and clean you are at the end of the day!

Oh Dear God, it kills me to admit that a few years ago I was once one of those 'Mooring' people!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Nippers, another storm, and on to Marsh Harbor

I mentioned that we went to Grabber's Bar in Guana and that our next stop was their competition, Nipper's. Here is Hans, bellying up to the bar at Nipper's. Nipper's is on the Atlantic side of Guana and Hans went snorkeling out in those waters on the same day I took this picture. Unfortunately it was very overcast that day and therefor not too exciting.

While in Treasure Cay we endured some weather, and a lightning and thunderstorm during the wee hours of the morning as well.

When we arrived at Guana Harbor, we picked up a mooring ball since we'd heard more weather was coming our way. It hit yesterday when a big thunderstorm moved through. Since it was early afternoon we were able to sit in the salon area and watch it. And I have to tell you, Wilbur is quite a trooper and storms seem to put him to sleep. During the Treasure Cay drama, the more it thundered, the harder he snored. He's such a good dog.

But let me warn you now that if you decide to moor in Guana Harbor (and Dive Guana will be your contact), they will come to collect their $15.00 fee at exactly 8 AM, and you'll know they're there when the huge bang (I guess they've never heard of fenders) as they slam into your boat, awakens you. We decided to stay for two days and Hans paid up front so we wouldn't have to go through this ritual more than once. I was very comfy in our berth this morning and feeling a bit smug about all of this while I listened to Mr. Boat Banger moving about the mooring field during his morning collection run when all of a sudden WHAM he hit us like a torpedo and woke up a very comatose Wilbur. With a shout of, "Son of a Bitch! Why the hell does he have to hit us like that!" Hans was off and running. When all was said and done, Mr. Boat Banger told us, "That was nothing, Mon, I only bumped you like this," and then demonstrated with a very anaemic thump. Hans then told him that his weather forecast had been right on, that he liked his hat, and all was forgiven.


In order to get to Nipper's you traverse a sandy little trail complete with signs.

Poor Wilbur! We Wascally Wabbits twicked the Pitty and took him for a fake ride. This dog loves nothing more than dinghying ashore for some major zoomies and sniffies. However we've found that some of the dinghy docks are nearly impossible to heave a 50+ pound pit bull up, especially during low tide. We're talking ladders here folks, and add to that bumping waves, wind, and current; it's not a pretty picture.

So we put his life jacket on him, zoomed him around the harbor for a while and then went right back to the boat. He fell for it for just a minute or so and then realized he'd been had. So when we locked him up in our berth I knew we'd have a present waiting for us and we did.

Luckily it was very easily cleaned up and we were all happy!

We left Guana this morning and intended to go to Hope Town, but we heard another cruiser radio ahead about getting a mooring or slip (there are no anchorages) and was told none were available.

So we ended up in a Marsh Harbor Marina. It was already a blustery day with 20+ knots of wind but wouldn't you know, just as we arrived and attempted to get into a slip the wind really kicked up and even though my body was perpendicular to the water as I braced my shoulders on a piling and my feet on the boat, our stern still crunched into a piling and I watched our life ring float support get crushed and fall into the water. I was just thankful it wasn't our dinghy motor and Hans said he'd never liked that support anyway.

Our life ring no longer has a support. I swear something always gets smashed, banged, crushed, or scraped every time we dock! It makes me wonder how much boat we'll have left when we're done with all this madness.

I thought this whole boat thing was supposed to be relaxing.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Treasure Cay and on to Guana

After a couple of hours on the phone with Verizon this morning, we're hoping our Hot Spot internet connection will now be better.

Here's Wilbur at Treasure Cay. You can imagine what our boat looks like now.

The beach at Treasure Cay. If you could see it you would know why it's listed as one of the best 10 beaches in the world.

Imagine a 3 mile big swimming pool.

After 4 nights at anchor in Treasure Cay (2 days of which we couldn't get off the boat due to high winds) we moved on to Guana.

Here I am at the infamous Grabbers Bar.

This morning we moved down to a different harbor (still in Guana) and picked up a mooring. This afternoon we're heading over to Grabber's competition which is called Nippers.

All week long all I've heard from Hans is "Grabbers and Nippers!" complete with way too much grabbing! He's driving me crazy.

Our next stops are Marsh Harbor (where we can get some supplies like BEER!) and Hope Town.

It all depends on the weather.