Category Archives: Our adventures

I Love The Smell Of Napalm In The Morning

Apocalypse_Now_poster
Smell that? You smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill …
Unlike Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore in “Apocalypse Now,” we love the smell of burning Styrene and the chatter of air powered grinders in the morning, but the effect is much the same.

We are still living on Country Dancer, in the Pensacola Shipyard, while she gets her hull re-skinned. So far, there has been over 7 days of labor with a “peeler” cutting a very precise layer of gelcoat and CSM fiberglass off the bottom. The rest of this 5 month “Tour” has been just sitting around waiting. The ripping chatter of the yard machines makes it feel exactly like we are living in a war zone. Every time the “peeler” touches the bottom it sends out an intense blast of vibration and racket into the hull, and we flinch like soldiers hiding in a fox hole. IMG_3572Today, we have two of the yard guys dressed is combat Tyvek and face-shields smoothing out the ridges with 8” air powered grinders. As the fiberglass gets sheared away it heats up releasing the embedded Styrene… which is a solvent used during the hull layup. This Styrene is the very distinctive “smell of fiberglass” that begins our every morning.
There are other parts of our current situation that are also reminiscent of Francis Coppola’s famous film. Our “hill” is at the top of a 12’ ladder lashed to Dancer’s stern. Our normally plush accommodations are cluttered with tools and covered in blue dust and everything we touch – including the dog – has to be carried up and down that ladder. Since we are in the middle of a parking lot we are not allowed to “discharge” anything and Jodi does the dishes in a 5 gallon bucket. The nearest rest room is 1/4 miles away behind a locked gate, and we use our holding tank for “emergency #1”. But there no pump-out up here so the first job every Saturday is to pump the tank into jerry jugs and cart them to the pump-out station. Maybe we should just burn it in a 55 gallon drum like they did in the “Nam.”
IMG_4518In the movie it seemed like the air was always thick and misty. Here the air so thick with ground bottom paint and fiberglass that everyone working here wears a full respirator. Even inside, any air movement causes swirling and sparkling clouds of dust and glass fibers that have drifted into every nook and cranny.
Across the river the Blue Angels have started their daily practice sessions and they add the screaming shriek of jet fighters twisting and churning just above our heads. All we need now is a couple of “lifts” of Huey helicopters churning up surf in the river and it would make you think a weekend pass into Saigon was due.
“The horror! The horror!”…. fade to black.

(this is a “dramatization” which is “basically” true… we have really enjoyed out time in Pensacola, and the Shipyard has been very good to us.)

Notorious – or Newstorious ?

The most northern and western Atlantic seaport is actually 1344 miles from the Ocean. It’s Duluth MN and her sister Thunder Bay Canada. Much further north than Toronto Canada, and within a hair of being as far north as Ontario Canada, this is the winter-land of dog sleds, ice caves and sailboats – WWWWHHHAAATT.

Country Dancer spent the winter of 2015-16 in a slip at Spirit Lake Marina, Duluth. Our adventure included a couple boat bucks worth of shrinkwrap and insulation, 3 electric heaters, 2 ice-eaters and a partridge in a bare tree.

2014 Holiday Season – no rest for the wicked!

Merry Christmas ?

 

Gary and I decided to give Country Dance a face lift for Christmas, being that she is 15 years old and starting to look a little long in the tooth. Starting with the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, I would have extra time to help Gary with this project, so lets go!

Not real bad, just sort’a dated – and maybe a little shabby.

It all started with a new flush toilet. Gary has always disliked the Vacu-Flush, so this is where it began November 25th, 2014. Of course putting in the new Marine Elegance toilet left a few blemishes that needed repair, so Gary decided to paint around the base of the toilet, which led me to ask for a small cabinet next to the toilet to hold extra TP. Electric_headWhile looking at that project we decided to replace the counter tops so the whole room would be like new. The question was what type of counter tops?
We tossed around several ideas – Corian, Formica and several others that just didn’t fit. We end up agreeing on Oak Butcher Block style. Gary had built a cedar plank canoe with epoxy and figured the same technique would work here. So we went on the hunt for the “WOOD”.

We changed our minds on the style as the butcher block was going to be a ton of work. The final plan ended up getting (3) squares/bundles of solid oak flooring to use as counter tops. These were tongue and groove which would help make up for our lack of a “real” shop.  While getting them on to the boat, Gary missed a step and went straight down into the water at the back of the boat. The bundle of oak balancing between the aft of the boat and the dock as Gary bobbed in the water. A cracked rib and 1 bundle more to get on the boat, we were ready to start our counter tops (11/27/14).
We tore out the (2) tops in the forward head and proceed to layout the oak planks for the top. We counter sunk the sink for a cleaner look and added a fiddle on the front to keep items from slipping off.(not in this photo, sorry). The tops turned out beautiful and only took a week.

IMG_1369 IMG_1367  IMG_2859
So on to the next counter top – THE GALLEY

IMG_2876

Yes, that is our salon being used as a wood working shop.

We started tearing out the “kitchen” counter tops; we did the left side of the galley first and worked our way around leaving the sink for last. We began laying out the pieces of wood as they will be on the counter. We tried to stagger the colors so we didn’t have too many light woods together. After laying out every top we proceed to glue all the pieces together.IMG_2869Yes, thats epoxy on the salon table IMG_2900

As Gary looked at the refrigerator and freezer he decided to redo these also with new insulation. This is the one appliance that uses the most energy on the boat. So when I got home from work, I was in IMG_2893IMG_2906IMG_2874shock that we no longer had refrigeration. I had brought all of our freezer food to our neighbor’s boat for storage while the counter top was off; the rest was stored in a cooler with ice. A month later, the freezer is a little smaller, the fridge a little bigger, and both MUCH better insulated. Our neighbor had allowed us to share a freezer for the whole month.

TaDa. Now THATS a galley

TaDa. Now THATS a galley

Once all the counter tops were in place the real work began!!

Sand———Epoxy——-Sand——Epoxy——-polyurethane———sand———-polyurethane———sand—Epoxy——sand..      Grandma arrived for her annual winter stay on Jan 9th, and try and we might, the top was ALMOST, but not quite done.  Along the way, we added some space in a cabinet, made a new spice area, and ……boat project.  Added some under cabinet lights and POW…. a galley unlike any C470 you have ever seen.

How was your Holiday?

 

The Bahamas “Right Side”

The “Right Side” of the Bahamas gave us a whole new group of friends and thousands of pictures. We also got to dive some cool places, explore some fabulous caves, catch some fish and confirm that we are coming back here! We worked our way north through Eluthera, Little San Salvador, Spanish Wells and on to Little Harbor, Abaco.

banana hole

Cat Island Banana Hole

dancer-and-Cruise-ship

Country Dancer and a Cruise Ship

alienBeach

Alien Beach

ClubMed

Governors Harbor Club Med ruins

Rock Sound's Cathedral Cave...Batman would be proud !

Rock Sound’s Cathedral Cave…Batman would be proud !

GlassWindowBridge

Glass Window Bridge

SpanishWells

Spanish Wells

Harbor Island gadgetGeeks

You have to be a geek to understand – Harbor Island

Shopping in Harbor Island

Shopping in Harbor Island

Milli Envisions

The Harbor Island Fleet

HopeTGeorgtownDinghy

Dinghy riding – Georgetown Style

hopet Dinner on the hoof

Hope Town dinner “on the hoof”

Hopetown Kathy

Kathy getting the money shot on the Hopetown lighthouse

HopeTown

TreasureCay SeaBeans

Treasure Cay Sea Beans

 

Hopetown RioMarshHarbor

Levi Group

Levi reserve – Governors Harbor

Police Band

Governors Harbor Royal Police Band

GlassWindow

Glass Window

DSCN1372

Gregory Town Harbor

They grow the Mahi mahi big and strong down here.

They grow the Mahi mahi big and strong down here.

AbacoFleet2

The Abaco Fleet

BlowHole

Rock Sound Blow hole

Harbor IslandDillyDally

Harbor Island Dilly Dally

Harbor Island Easy Jacques

Harbor Island – easy Jacques

Sunrise on the "Devils Backbone"

Sunrise on the “Devils Backbone”

 

HopeTownGaryJack

“I think we go left there”

those crocks are red - not pink - Really!

those crocks are red – not pink – Really!

HopeT

Hopetown fleet dinner

Treasure Cay Tourist

Even tourists know to use sun screen

 

MarshHarbor Mahi

A year, a week and a day

That is how long it’s been since we “threw the dock lines” and began the adventure called Country Dancer. A year, a week and a day. It has truly been like living the soundtrack of a Christopher Cross song!

bucket duty

So what’s changed in 373 days?

One of the first things I notice, is the new skills and interests. Jodi just came across the cockpit to show me the crop of early morning photos. She has had a few sun rise and sun set cycles to practice on, and there is a blossoming talent for capturing “drama” in the sky. Maybe rather than talent, the correct word is Eye. She hasn’t gone way down the road on learning technical photography, but rather has developed a very keen sense of what make an engaging photograph. And not just sun rises, but people, and landscapes, and things that are just “interesting.”

Another is food. When we left we had heard that cruisers spent a lot of time on food. In the work-a-day world, meals were all pretty much made of the same stuff over and over. It was good, mostly healthy, and varied enough to be interesting, but in the cruising world there is a difference. First there is time. Jodi now spends time almost everyday looking at recipes, or looking at food to come up with interesting new variations to try. Second there are new option, and limits on the old options. Much of what we normally ate at home is simply not available or affordable here. So you try new stuff. And third, there are so many people to share a meal with. The cruising life is much of the time very solitary. Long watches by yourself, and long passages with only Us. When we hit an anchorage, it just seems natural to meet both new and old friends, and share drinks and a meal. Jodi claims that we haven’t had the same meal twice since we left home. Granted, that may mean that this is the first time we have used boxed milk on our Cheerios, but it is a great goal, and I think she is onto something here.

Friends. The word seems to mean something else now. In work-a-day, we seemed to hang out with basically the same groups for extended periods of time. You can get to know people pretty well when you share a sidewalk for a few years. Yet there is something to be said for the “speed dating” pace of making friends out here. It seems at least a couple times a week, we are exchanging “boat cards” with new friends. Some we spend hours and hours with, some just some time around a pool, and some we re-meet over and over again. Yesterday, we were walking a new beach and met two couples with two little girls coming our way. Jodi said, “didn’t we meet you in Rock Sound”. The next five minutes was spent listing off ports of call until we found a pool side “sundowner” in Spanish Wells that we were both at. We then shared our latest adventures, our latest beach treasures, and wished them fair seas until we meet them again somewhere.

Making friends seems to be fairly easy. After all even to be here, we have to have quite a bit in common. The people who do this are cut from a little different cloth, and tend to have strong personalities to match the challenges we face. But names get tough. “Look, isn’t that ‘Hot Chocolate’ standing over by the fountain” is really referring to the couple sailing the boat named “Hot Chocolate”. They are Bill and Sandy…and I am pretty sure they will correct me if I am wrong. We become the name of the boat instead of our given names. It’s just easier for all of us.

And in contrast is the feeling of lonely. Never in my life have I been somewhere that makes me feel so completely alone. The completely empty horizon is 35 miles away so on a typical day we are in a bubble 70 miles across without another living soul. Our only contact with another human has to be by SSB radio, bouncing invisible waves of energy off the ionosphere at the edge of space. If something really bad happens, we better have a solid working plan to save ourselves, ’cause help just isn’t close enough to “help”. Now that’s “alone”.

Another feeling is that of constantly being pursued. Pursued by malevolent weather. As I write this, 50 miles east of Bimini, it is severe clear with hardly even a breeze. We are motoring because it is no fun baking out here with the sails slating back and forth with nothing to even hold them out. And even so, we are running from the weather. It is almost June, the start of hurricane season and we need to be someplace that we can hunker down if needed. At the moment we are in the center of hurricane alley and hundreds of miles and days of traveling before we could be safe. Even “little” weather drives us like sheep from wolves. We must get across the Gulf Stream before the next weather front moves out into the Atlantic. If we move too slowly, we will be faced with seas too large to power into and we will be swept up the coast and even further from safety. 99% of the time we are able to sail in glorious conditions! but every day and every move is controlled by the need to avoid that 1% day of miserable and potentially deadly storms.

Then there is Time, and yes, time changes character when you are sailing. I just pulled in a 6 pound tuna, after trolling a lure since dawn. Thats 6.5 hrs of “fishing” for one little tuna. But so what. We are moving over the same sea at the same speed as if we actually were fishing. But we are cruising, moving through time and space, and the fish is only a momentary sideline. One fish in a whole days isn’t so great, but with cruising time, we went somewhere and got a fish too. Actually, it has taken far more time to clean the blood out of the cockpit than to catch the fish!

We have talked about the other aspects of time before, but a whole year later, it seems more important. Just think, in the last year we could have saved more for our retirement, or I could have built a dozen websites, mowed the lawn 52 times, dug up and replanted a flower bed-twice. But instead we moved over 6000 miles, met hundreds of new friends and saw places that only another cruiser will ever see. Rainy days and overnight passages are still twice as long as work-a-days, but the year went by every bit as fast. I feel good about the shape and character of time now.

Pure Joy. I have lived 60 plus years hoping for the day that I might actually begin to “live the dream.” No other words come close to explaining what it is like to take the wife of your dreams, on the boat of your dreams, and actually set out to live it.

So 373 days later, we are headed back to Seminole. There are things that need attention, so we are going to get a slip, and pay them some Attention. Then ??

Cat Island

Cat Island

The Bahamas can be roughly divided into 3 vertical sections. Using the nomenclature of the Explorer charts those are the “Near Bahamas” on the left including Abacos, Bimini, Nassau, and Andros, the “Central Bahamas” including the Exumas, Jamentos and the Raggeds, and the “Far Bahamas” including San Salvador, Cat, Long, Conception and Eleuthera Islands on the right hand side.
Since we had come south with Jodi’s mom down the Exuma’s chain, we wanted to go back north on the Eastern “Far Bahamas” route.

3000 to 20 at CatAny way I look at it, crossing 8000 feet deep ocean is kind of a big deal, and that is the water depth between the Exuma’s and the Far Islands. The east coast of San Salvador drops to 16000 feet, or over 3 MILES deep. Although we missed San Salvador this year, it is the historic landing site of Christopher Columbus in “The New World” in 1492. In fact there are no less than 4 stone markers that each mark the EXACT first landing site of the the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Cool huh.

Since we had sailed to Long Island and Conception Island during our travels with “the Great White Fleet”, heading north to Cat Island wasn’t too daunting of a task. A simple one day sail from Georgetown north across the Tartar Bank to Hawks Nest Point.

The 3/4 scale Hermatige on the highest point in the Bahamas

The 3/4 scale Hermatige on the highest point in the Bahamas

The color change as the water shoaled up from 5000 to 18 feet was absolutely remarkable. We scooted across the the huge bay and dropped the hook in New Bight.

The Hermitage on Mt Alvenia

The Hermitage on Mt Alvenia

Neat little town that also claims the highest point in the entire Bahamas – Mount. Alvernia at 206 feet above sea level. In 1939 a Jesuit monk create a 3/4 scale monastery on the top of the “mountain” named The Hermitage.

Mount Alvernia

Mount Alvernia

I absolutely marveled at the amount of work done to create this little tribute, and the work done since to maintain it. And all this at then end of an isolated little dirt road in the middle of “nowhere.” A day here and it was time to roll on.

A couple we met from NH that were on their anniversary.

A couple we met from NH that were on their anniversary.

Fernandez Bay Resort is at least one of the prettiest little horse shoe beaches we have seen. The Resort has about 10 cabins, is very nicely done, and the harbor is “protected” by a pair of little islands and a fist full of coral heads. We met a couple from New Hampshire that were here for their 40th anniversary, and as such things work out Jodi invited them to the boat and to go snorkeling.

Cat Island weather

Cat Island weather

The girls dove on a couple of corals, and then we took the dink up Fernandez Creek looking for turtles. I think we may have made their day, as much as they made ours.

Jodi found a spot on the chart labeled “Bat Cave” about 1/2 way up the Cat Island west coast. The anchorage was VERY exposed, but how do you say no to a REAL bat cave. We dropped the hook again and patiently waited for morning to go exploring. Alas, morning showed a rocky and very turbulent shore line and no place to land our dink. A weather front was moving in and the wind was going to be coming from the west.. and we were without any cover so we ran north to Bennett’s Settlement.

Make sure to check out the Rays Video, with a neat surprise for Jodi !

Make sure to check out the Rays Video, with a neat surprise for Jodi !

Bennett’s has a very small harbor, and it looked too small and too shallow for us, so we ended up anchored just south around a point of rock sticking straight out into the banks. We shared this spot with 2 other boats for two nights while the front passed through and rocked and rolled us all night without mercy. Town was a mile dinghy ride. With the wind blown waves it didn’t look like much fun, but we needed to get off the boat. Then I saw something on the chart that looked like a river or creek that went from the end of the rocky point back through the mangroves and came out in town. If this was really true, we could head down wind out around the point, ride the river down to town, and then head down wind from town back to the boat. IT WORKED. Not only did it work, it was a FABULOUS adventure, with hundreds of sea turtles, sharks and rays in the creek. We made the trip “into town” several times…even when we never got out of the boat on the town side. Make sure to see the Eagle Ray video, its very cool!

Our "River" trip to see sea turtles, rays and sharks.

Our “River” trip to see sea turtles, rays and sharks.

Rental bikes for our first Sea Bean hunting adventure.

Rental bikes for our first Sea Bean hunting adventure.

The really cool folks at the Orange Creek Store. This place was wonderful

The really cool folks at the Orange Creek Store. This place was wonderful

Our last stop on Cat Island was at the Orange Creek Settlement, the last protected anchorage on the north end of the island. Every place we stop is getting to be better than the place before. Here we found Darian and his mom running the Orange Creek Inn. Wonderful folks, and probably the nicest, cleanest and best run Inn/Store we have seen to date. We rented a couple of bikes from them and rode across the island to the windward side to do some shelling. Remember where I said the highest point on the island was 206′? Well our little 3.9 mile “trail ride” must have climbed to 500′ several times. The “road” was cut and blasted out of the limestone and in many spots was almost too rough to climb, let alone ride. But we made it, walked a couple miles on the beach and succeeded in finding our very first “Sea Beans” – 3 “hamburgers” and 3 “seaheart.”

This is how you find sea beans

This is how you find sea beans

Waterproof camera to film a "blow hole"

Waterproof camera to film a “blow hole”

Sea cave near the "Bat Cave"

Sea cave near the “Bat Cave”

Hawksbill Cay – private island 2/1/14

Hawksbill Cay – private island 2/1/14

Huge public beach at the height of the season, and we are the only ones here

Huge public beach at the height of the season, and we are the only ones here

Yes that is Phyllis down there on her own beach

Yes that is Phyllis down there on her own beach

Our private "blue Lagoon"

Our private “blue Lagoon”

"Prepare to repel boarders !"

“Prepare to repel boarders !”

"here fishy, fishy, fishy"

“here fishy, fishy, fishy”

The "Pink" grocery store. The "Blue" is 2 doors down, and owned by a cousin.

The “Pink” grocery store. The “Blue” is 2 doors down, and owned by a cousin.

We sailed to Hawksbill Cay. This is a island in the national Land and Sea Park system of the Bahamas. There are several mooring balls that you can use to tie up for your time on the island.

We were the only boat there, our own private island.

We went to shore the next day as we arrived late in the afternoon. On the island, mom found shells and her own private beach for sunbathing. Gary and I  hiked to the top of the “hill” for photo opts of the boat and mom. At that point we saw the  lagoon in the center of the island, so we hiked in there. At low tide there were little wadding pools for Rio to cool off in. We only spent a short time here, just two days.

Staniel Cay and  Big  Major Spot

Can pigs swim ????? AT Big Major spot they can! This island is famous for it herd of swimming pig. You can even swim with them if you want. NOT ME. Not only were the pigs swimming, there was the huge resident Barracuda and sting ray sharing the food offered by tourists.

TO THE LEFT OF PIG BEACH THERE IS “PIRATES ISLAND” WHERE CRUISERS HAVE BROUGHT tables, chairs, grill and beach games for everyone to use. Rio enjoy running with the other visiting dogs on this beach. I think it was his favorite.

At STANIEL CAY they feed the nurse sharks in the afternoon. Mom and I enjoyed watching them . Some were 8′ long. Also at this island there are 2 GROCERY STORES, One Pink and one Blue. We found them both. Got our first Bahamian “coconut bread.” Very good.

A group of guys come down from VA every year and build this little play spot

A group of guys come down from VA every year and build this little play spot

Ever scene the movie “Thunderball”? well part of it was filmed here at Thunderball Grotto  and in Nassau. You can dive grotto and caves where the movie was filmed. The current wasn’t right for us this day, so we did the dinghy tour only.

Miami to the Exuma’s – Paradise found

Welcome home "Grandma Phyllis"

Welcome home “Grandma Phyllis”

For the last several years “Grandma Phyllis” has come to Florida and spent the winter with us.  This year she flew into Nassau to travel with us for a month. Once we had her on board and firmly situated in the forward stateroom, we left Nassau and headed into the Exuma’s. Coming from here from her Northern icebound winter must have been like being transported through time to Paradise.

If you are visiting in the Bahamas, you are going to ride the bucking dinghy.

If you are visiting in the Bahamas, you are going to ride the bucking dinghy.

In 1667, when John Milton wrote the poem “Paradise Lost,” he had no idea that we would pervert his poem to refer to more earthly places. Today we think of the hustle and bustle of Honolulu or Miami and think of what it must have been like back when…. We now think of that as Paradise Lost.

Indeed, if I were Ernest Hemingway returned from the dead, I might find the Bahamas also a “Paradise Lost”, but for a normal 2014 boy from the USA, this place is a remarkable image of what Paradise might actually be. Even now, there are beaches that stretch for miles that just beg you to drop any and all inhibitions and enjoy your own completely private and VERY beautiful world. Even “old” couples feel the urges and passions of youth. I am not sure what Hemingway may have lost, but the Exuma’s for us are certainly a “Paradise Newly Found.”

The second mate making breakfast more interesting.

The second mate making breakfast more interesting.

Phyllis has spent several winters with us now, but this one is shaped up to be a great one. She has become a very special part of our Florida family and we have enjoyed the love flowing from her generation into ours.

Crossing the Gulf Stream 1-14-2014

The BIG DEAL in going to the Bahamas is the crossing of the Gulf Stream. Its actually the Florida Current down here and only becomes the Gulf Stream as it rounds Cape Hatteras. None the less, it is a fierce and raging 40 mile wide river in the ocean between Florida and the Bahama Bank, traveling at as much as 4 kts from south to north. 4 knots doesn’t seem all that much until you consider that most sailboats crossing here, are doing so at only 5 to 7 kts of forward speed. But the worst part is if there is any wind blowing against the current, it builds up an incredibly rough sea. The waves are not all THAT tall, but they have nearly vertical faces and are very close together. This is not only hard on the boat and crew, it can easily take that 7 knots of forward speed down to more like 2 to 3. When the wind is right (from the south) this is a simple and quick trip to Bimini.

Samvaro III

Samvaro IIIWe crossed with “Samvaro III” and “AWAB” and arrived in Bimini about 2:30PM.

When it is wrong (from anywhere north) it can be a bone jaring and frustrating 24 hours of pain and danger. Before making this crossing we are always looking for a “weather window” that has less that 20 kts of wind speed, and NO “N” in the wind direction – at all !!

We crossed with “Samvaro III” and “AWAB” and arrived in Bimini about 2:30PM.

Our very first sight of the Bahamas

Our very first sight of the Bahamas

Bimini is a hoot! It is absolutely an unbelievable change from everything we have seen to this point. The water is Aqua, the beaches are empty, the streets (street) is only wide enough for one way travel, but used for both directions AND pedestrians too. The ONLY thing familiar is the sun sets. We walked around the whole island, talked to kids in their uniforms headed to school, and bought our first loaf of Bahamian bread.

We had to share our anchorage in Bimini

We had to share our anchorage in Bimini

Mainstreet Dimini.  Note the sidewalks and slow cautious drivers!

Mainstreet Dimini. Note the sidewalks and slow cautious drivers!

Definitely good stuff. “AWAB” shared our anchorage along with a 26′ sailboat from New Hampshire. I really had a hard time believing anyone would sail such a small boat from there to the Bahamas, but when we met Mike and Myra on “Bear,” they had really done it. Understand a 26′ boat has no shower, a 2 burner “camp stove” and a bathroom (sort of) in the middle of the bedroom – which was the livingroom. Great for quick weekends, but these two had gone over 1000 miles and crossed the Gulf Stream in a “day sailer.”

A couple days here to check in, get a phone card and off to Nassau.

You sail across the Bahama’s Bank and then the “tongue of the ocean” to get to Nassau.

The first part of this is in water 12-17 feet deep, and you can clearly see the bottom all the time. Suddenly, the bottom drops away and the depth goes to over 2000 feet deep, and the color goes from aqua to deep navy blue. Really quite an experience the first time.

Now THATS what I'm talking about!

Now THATS what I’m talking about!

We started to troll our Mahi Mahi lure, and first a 3.5 ft barracuda and then a 8lb Mahi found it interesting enough to bite. The barracuda probably fed the other barracuda, but the Mahi feed us…. and it was wonderful. Although we have tried to catch more, this is still the only one we have caught so far. Just because we could, we anchored in the middle of the Bank and spent the night. Imagine being anchored where there is nothing at all in sight from horizon to horizon. It is very errie and strange as we normally don’t normally drop an anchor unless tucked into someplace very protected, safe and close.

Nassau was very different again. This is the capital of the Bahamas, and holds fully 1/2 of the nations population, along with its largest tourist attraction…Atlantis. We anchored in the harbor, just east of the cruise ship docks, and had an endless parade of ships to watch. One afternoon there were 6 ships including “Oasis”, the largest cruise-liner in the world.

Cruise ship nation

Cruise ship nation

There is just about anything you want here, and prices are about 1.5 times USA prices. Obviously, EVERYBODY seemed to be selling fresh conch, and Jodi found the “market” full of little beer stands and fresh veggies under the bridge to Paradise Island. The area downtown near the cruise docks was exactly what you see in the posters and TV adds… white coated and helmeted policemen directing traffic among the statues, and jewelry shops. 1/2 mile in any direction and the city looks dirty, run down and poor.

Nassau shame

Nassau shame

Nassau Pride

Nassau Pride

Perhaps the very worst for us was walking through a large church cemetery and seeing mounds of garbage tossed over the walls and strewn among the graves. Something about this put a dark and depressing cloud over our visit that no amount of sun would clear away.

On Saturday, we needed to ride a Jitney into the airport to pick up Phyllis (Jodi’s mom). For a $1.25, we got the ride, and a ongoing tour from the Jitney owner/driver about the island, politics, his wife’s company and any even about the sights we were passing. It was a blast. We tried to connect with him for the ride back into town, but the flight was late and a $40 cab ride was required instead. We did have so much fun on that Jitney ride, the next day we went into town and just flagged one down. This time it was $.75 for the seniors and we just rode around the whole route. About 1 and 1/2 hour “tour” for $2.75…. the best deal in the Bahamas! This ride took us “around the hill” and to the backside of Nassau. It was much as expected with fine gated communities next to sections of abandoned buildings next to dumps next to seeming nice little neighborhoods. We left wondering if dirt and decay that seemed pervasive was getting better – or rather the result of the 40 years of independence.