The weather has been cooler than past years; and windier, too. But the fun has been just about non-stop. The George Town Regatta is over as of today. Tonight is the final party at, of course, Regatta Point Park in George Town. Tonight is the variety show. Food, drink, and people doing silly things. How can that not be a good time.
But the weather may not cooperate. We've had scattered showers all day.
I'm looking at pointing Galena eastward again. I'll make a run to Long Island (Salt Pond/Thompson Bay) which is about 40 nm east of here. Then south through the 70 mile-long Jumento island chain. That puts me just 50nm north of the eastern tip of Cuba. From there I can make a long, 350nm run east and then north toward Miami. That route takes me along the Bahama Banks south and then west of Andros Island. Last year I went north from here through the Abacos. Heading south through the Jumentos will let me check the block on seeing just about all of the Bahama Island chains.
26 Feb 09
George Town, Exuma, Bahama Islands
The Great Erection
A landmark on Volleyball Beach has always been the sign pole. But the current pole has rotted away and fallen down. So Rocking Ron on s/v Sea Dancer headed up a group of us to rebuild the sign pole. He asked for volunteers to create new arrows pointing to their home ports or favorite places. He also saved some of the better signs from the old pole. KB, the owner of the beach and of Chat 'n chill beach bar supplied the pole.
KB, on the left, and Kendal on the right. KB never, never smiles. KB is the owner of the Chat n Chill bar and Volleyball Beach
Adding the individual signboards to the sign post
For a few days people were adding their signs and the pole was really looking good. Then we had a hole digging party and dug a substantial hole for the new sign pole. As we were standing it up, we realized an oversight: no one had oriented the signs while they were being added. We thought about the problem for a moment or two. But we dicided that since all of them would just be pointing north if they pointed to the towns listed on them, letting them point every which way looked better. So we just put it the way it was.
Yours truly digging the pit for the sign post
The actual erection. Iwo Jima it ain't; but not bad for a bunch of cruisers.
The final product. All the signs point in the wrong direction, but who cares?
Then off to volleyball. I'm actually getting a bit better at this game. My main purpose is still just to be someone that others can say they aren't as bad as. But I'm getting better. And an hour or so of jumping around on the court gives me some much needed exercise.
I met some vacationers on the beach today. Mary and her sister Sharon are visiting friends on a boat here and are just soaking up the sun and rum for a couple of weeks. I volunteered to show them the sights.
My new friends Mary and Sharon on Volleyball beach
27 Feb 09
Richard on s/v Hali Kai lost his dinghy. Several days later he found it in the rocks a couple of miles down the harbor. The engine was smashed and the hard bottom was holed in several places. He ordered a new dink and engine.
Then Bernard of s/v Ti' Matou said that he could fix the dinghy with a little fiberglass work. So on the beach Bernard went to work. Richard supplied the material and Bernard supplied the expertise. After two days the dinghy looked just about like new.
The holes in the fiberglass bottom were about a foot across. They patched the holes with a temporary plywood backing. Then they filled them with mat and then roving. Using a polyester resin to wet it all out. The final coat was just Bondo that was sanded smooth. A little no-skid and the bottom looked great.
Bernard was very patient with my continual questions during the process and I was able to learn a great deal. We should have made this project into a seminar. We would have had a big crowd and everyone would have learned something.
Dinner with Jillian and Greg, Frank (s/v Local Knowledge), and Tony and Leo (s/v Bimini Dancer). After a wonderful meal we sat and drank wine till it was way past cruiser's midnight.
Leo, Tony, Frank, Jillian, and Greg onboard s/v Oblix
Jillian is one of the rarest of individuals. she does volunteer work in Mongolia. She goes around the world getting donations for hospitals, schools and the like. Then she goes to Mongolia and actually builds the schools, distributes the medicines, and makes sure that everything is going to the people it was meant for. Really quite extraordinary. And she's also one hell of a nice person.
Back on 8 Jan, my MP3 player started acting up. It worked fine, but the battery wouldn't charge. It acted like there was no battery at all. So I had to use it on AC power only. But suddenly, today, the battery suddenly 'appeared' on the screen as 'charging.' Now it's back to working. I don't understand but it must have been a loose wire or bad connection. Anyway, I now have my portability back on my MP3 player.
28 Feb 09
I moved Galena to Kidd Cove, just outside of town. Chris Parker, the weather guru is giving a seminar on Monday and I almost beat the rush to get a good spot near town. The wind and waves are such that riding the dinghy the mile across the harbor would be a very wet option. After the seminar I'll move her over to Monument or Sand Dollar beach.
Seabbatical 1 has also moved over to Kidd Cove and invited me over for dinner. Michelle can really cook. We even had ice cream!
While over here near town I made a water run and filled my gas can for the dinghy motor. Also, the main light in the saloon burned out. It's a 15 watt florescent. I have a spare around here somewhere. But I'll procrastinate digging it out. It burns quite a lot of power and not having it available will probably allow me to watch a couple extra DVD's on the computer. [Later Note: two weeks went by before I got around to replacing that bulb.]
I was anchored near s/v Scallywag. I went over and talked with Doug and Pat since they look a bit concerned since I was so close. After talking with them for a bit we decided that we were just fine. Doug and Pat are a great pair. We have since become quite good friends.
Doug and Pat, s/v Scallywag
Doug said to me, after the round-the-island race, that I was the only real sailor out there since I did it alone and in a boat with hanked-on sails and no hope of winning. I'm not sure I liked that last bit, but I thanked him for his sentiment.
02 Mar 09 People are all worked up about the coming Cold Front. Chris is forecasting 25-35 knot winds. People are putting out a second anchor. Some are even taking down biminis! I'm not quite as protected here in Kidd Cove as I would like. At least not from the NW. But it should be alright.
The CF actually hit at 0530. In less than an hour the wind went from 5 kts to over 25 kts! And it clocked from south to northwest in the same time. Now I'm bouncing around in 3-ft breaking wind chop. Galena is galloping around and I'm having quite a ride. But the CQR is holding nicely; that and the 250 pounds of chain on the bottom. I'm in 7-ft of water and I have 150-ft of chain out. I'm not going anywhere!
Oh! I just learned something: the term 'Up-Island' means going up-wind. That is, southeast. So from here, Nassau, which is north of here is considered 'down-island' by the locals since it's downwind. Cool.
Chris Parker's seminar was just like last year. I only went to buy his book. I listen to him every day and I never 'sponsor' him. He wants $200 a year and for that he'll talk to you on the radio and give you personalized routing advice. I just listen to him when he talks to boats near me and get the info for free. But I feel a little bad about it. So I went to the seminar to buy his book and at least sort of pay him. And it's a pretty good book, although probably not worth the $37 he charges for it. But like I said, I think of it as a donation for all the free weather information he's given me in the past few years.
I left at the lunch break. I knew from past seminars that the second half was mostly just an advertisement for his services. And Galena was 'sort of' in the channel. I had heard that the fuel boat was coming in and I wanted to move her out of the way.
I've tucked in nicely by the western end of Sand Dollar Beach. Very close to the shore and well protected. Much nicer here than over at Kidd Cove; at least today.
By 1430 hrs the wind was 15-kts from 330° and the air temp was down to a very chilly 70°.
Texas Hold'em again and again I finish in the middle of the pack. Out of abotu 40 players, I go out at 18. Well at least I'm consistantly mediocre.
03 Mar 09 Finally changed my guitar strings. Well, for me it was a big event!
05 Mar 09 Talked with Moonlight serenade on SSB today. They are heading for Lake Worth today. Actually getting down to where it's warm! Cool!
My buddy, Jim, took Clark and I on a pub-crawl today. We started at 0930 and as we started down the street in his jeep, he handed me a beer saying, "Well, lets get started!"
Jim's been living on Great Exuma Island for about 40 years. He built his own house here. He said the house's name is "Vista Del Mar." I asked why his house had a name. He explained that back then, there were no phones and everyone used VHF radios to communicate. So, like boats, all the homes had names.
After running a couple of errands for his wife, Ronny, we started heading west and stopping at all the local bars enroute. First was Houseman's Outback. There we had a beer and spent some time talking with Lenora the bar tender. She's from Eleuthera originally but had been living in Miami for several years. Something came up about her passport and she found herself here looking for work.
Bartender Lenora at Houseman's Outback Bar, First stop on our pub-crawl.
Jim pointed out the local pizza place named Foxy's. Jim said it's the best pizza on the island; carry-out only.
We also stopped at "The Palms at three sisters." Where I met Erikie, also originally from Rock Sound, Eleuthera. After a beer there and taking in the beach scene a bit we headed over toward Emerald Bay.
Erikie at the Palms resort
The beach outside the Palms. You can see the Three Sisters Rock on the right.
Emerald Bay is a 4-Seasons resort. And it's a very nice place, indeed. Interestingly, as we approached the main entrance, the doorman opened the door and called Jim by name while wishing him a nice morning. Jim seems to know everyone around here.
The main building at Emerald Bay Resort
The backyard at Emerald Bay Resort
We had a nice lunch at Grand Isle resort and talked about the Bahamas from an ex-pat's point of view. I learned a great deal about people and places from Jim.
We stopped by fisherman's Inn, which had recently burned down. This forced Norman Lloyd, the owner, to work out of shack while he rebuilt his bar.
Nelson Lloyd in his temporary bar and grill on the beach at Fisherman's Inn
I found that Roker's point is named after the most prominent resident, Al Roker the NBC Weather guy.
I also found out that that actor from Jag, David James Elliot, lives next-door to Jim. And that Jame's Taylor's brother also lives on the island.
We stopped on an overlook where Jim pointed out some of the major works going on in the area. Some have failed miserably and are now just waiting for someone else with a vision to buy them up and try something new.
Jim and I overlooking Hooper's Bay, just north of George Town
There are always several major developments going on here. Some work out. Some like Oceania Heights have become "the place' to live on the island.
Multi-million dollar home in Oceania Heights. No beach, but 'Location'
Some are still waiting for rich guys to buy up lots so construction can begin.
Empty home sites waiting for buyers
Finally we ended up at Jim's house. When he said he had built it himself, even down to mixing the cement with a shovel, I was expecting some rather modest. That's not how I would describe his house.
Here's a couple of shots of the main room:
And the back yard. His back porch looks out over Elizabeth Harbour. What a view!
The back porch of Jim's house. Clark can be seen heading down to the water.
The view of the harbour from Jim's deck.
After a long day of bar-hopping Jim poured us back into our dinghies and we headed over to St Francis Resort for the twice-weekly poker game.
08 Mar 09 I finally patched the hole in my dinghy.
I have an Air-Deck in my dink. Nice. But I seem to keep getting holes in it. The deck had been leaking air for a couple of weeks. I was having to pump it up every couple of days. A few days ago I had taken it to the beach, I had emptied the dink out. I had removed the Air-Deck (a bunch of screws hold a board at the stern that holds the deck in place). But after re-inflating the deck and holding it under water, I couldn't find a leak. I gave up and put the thing back together thinking that maybe it was just the valve that wasn't seated properly.
But, no. There was a leak. This time I took my time. Again I went to the beach and emptied the dink. I inflated the deck after removing it and very, very carefully I held it under the water looking for bubbles. I still didn't see a leak. Then, I was holding it up and HEARD an air leak. I tracked it down and, sure enough, there was a hole. Small, but a hole none the less. I scrubbed it and patched it and put everything back together. Now I'm all set. No more leak. Nice
The dinghy with all the equipment out on the beach and the deck removed.
We had a report that there were about 350 boats here last week. I'm not sure of that. But there are certainly a lot. And certainly more than last year when we didn't quit make it 300 boats. But I've seen a bunch leave every day and I think the count is off.
I'm using my new basket weaving skill to make a coozy for my beer bottle. My first attempt was not very pretty. And I didn't check the diameter until I was way bigger than the bottom of a beer bottle. Now it's a coaster.
See? I'm really weaving a 'basket'
The second attempt came up too small. I can't fit a bottle into it. Now it's a pencil holder.
Sooner or later I'll get this right. By then I might be able to weave something that dosen't look like a 10-year-old made it.
09 Mar 09
Went to the Rake and Scrape. This is just a Bahamian jam session at one of the local bars here. It starts about sundown and goes till well after midnight. Jim plays wash-tub base in the band.
Rake and Scrape with Jim playing the washtub base
Also there were my friends Mary and Sharon. There will be going home soon so we danced the night away and had a fine time.
Sharon, me, and Mary at the rake and scrape
And of course, Jillian was there, too. Everyone eventually shows up and the drinking and dancing go on and on.
Me and Jillian at the Rake and Scrape
11 Mar 09
Today I harvested my head. A chore even though it's only required every two months. Enough said.
Trivial Pursuit contest today. I'm on a team with Mike (s/v Pagan Chant) and Ken and Leigh (s/v One Eyed Parrot). I don't add much to the mix but Mike is very full of trivia. He wins no matter who he's with.
Mike (s/v Pagan Chant) ready for another win at Trivial Pursuit
Since this is the main event (they have weekly tournaments, but this is the 'big one') we had a huge crowd at St Francis
The patio at St Francis Resort was packed for the event.
And, of course, we won the tournament!
The winning team with burgees and bottles of rum
12 Mar 09
Up early (0400) cuz today is Race Day!
The wind is still about 18kts from the east. So I swap out the 130% Gennoa for the yankee jib.
I started well. I was number 3 across the line and only seconds after the 1000hrs start. Alibi II was ahead of me by a hundred yards as was Ozymandiez. Right behind me was Siggy's Dancer and Revel. I passed Alibi and Ozymendaris and was in the lead for about half an hour. But 3 miles later Revel passed me for the lead. I was doing very well on this downwind leg. As we turned out into the Sound for the beat to windward everything changed. we had 20 kts from the east and 4-ft swells from the NE.
Revel passing me for the lead
On the upwind leg everyone passed me except for 2 boats that gave up (light winds late in the day) and one that didn't pass me until just before the finish.
Jim and Cathy and crew on s/v Miss Alice passing me on the Sound
About the time I was approaching the Dogs and Puppies (small cays on the sound at the south entrance to Elizabeth Harbour) the wind died. I went out on the bow sprit and changed the headsail back to the 130 Gennoa. Even with that I was making only 0.9-kts for a while. But an hour later Galena was back up to 3.5 kts and then, after entering the harbor and being passed by Vesper Light, I was up to 5.5-kts and screaming toward the finish line, just a couple hundred feet behind the second-to-last boat.
Yes, I was last again this year. But unlike last year, I finished at 1600 hrs instead of after dark at 1930hrs. So I considered it a major win for me and Galena.
14 Mar 09 The in-harbor race found me sitting in my dinghy at the start line taking pictures. It's just too tight a course for a single-hander.
The start was very exciting. In her class, s/v Star (Bob and Gail) crossed at full speed and ahead of everyone else.
s/v Star crossing the start line at full speed
This was a twice-around race. As the boats came by for the start of the second lap they came very close to the committee boat and the people in the dinghies bobbing around watching.
s/v Alibi II crossing the line
s/v Siggy's Dance making for the line and the start of the second lap
15 Mar 09 (Happy birthday, Laura)
We had a fine party and dance to close the regatta. At the awards ceremony all the people who made the races possible were called to the front. There were more people than I had imagined.
The awards ceremony for the races
Before they started handing out prizes for the boats that placed in the race, I was surprised to be called to the front. Something like this was being said, "...if one boat in the race epitomizes the true spirit of cruising, it's Galena. Bill, get up here!" I was given a special award named "The Spirit of Cruising" award. How cool is that! I was so jazzed by it.
Me and some of my admiring fans after winning my Major Award
OK, the regatta is over. Now it's time to get over to Long Island and then down to the Raggeds.