We have been in the Bahamas since early December and the theme of our time here has really been friends and weather. We have welcomed Paula and Steve from Florida, the Wiebes from the far North, Uncle Wally from the Prairies, Moma from Victoria and will pick up Uncle Hugh this week in Nassau and finally Martha and Emily in Marsh Harbour in early March.
Whether it is El Nino or global warming caused by all the hot air generated at the last climate summit in Paris, we have had some very unsettled weather this winter. We spend more time monitoring and running from different systems than we do luxuriating in the crystal turquoise waters of this sandbox paradise. One challenge is the rotating nature of the weather and we cannot simply hunker down behind an island and wait out the storms because the winds have been shifting 360 degrees which requires increased vigilance. Besides the Derecho we have regularly had winds north of 30 kts and several times into the mid 40s so we are route planning with great care and attention.
Over Christmas we settled into a lazy life in Georgetown. You two revelled in the other children and especially the volleyball every afternoon at “Chat and Chill” beach. We would play for three hours and then Kathryn would insist we do drills for another hour. It was more exercise than I had done in many years and I soon had aching fingers and creaking knees, but it was great fun to watch you develop your skills.
Christmas Eve was spent on the beach with a group of cruisers singing carols and reading the nativity story and the next day we all shared an enormous pot luck on the beach where we met new friends and shared fellowship while missing friends and family back home.
The Wiebes had scheduled a short notice visit in early January and we awaited their arrival with great anticipation. Although the Derecho delayed their visit by two days, when Gary and Dorothy finally did arrive, we had a great four days walking on the beach, petting stingrays, playing volleyball, eating, drinking and catching up. Like all good friendships, we instantly fell back into conversation as if the past year apart had never existed.
When they left we sailed north to Staniel Cay (home of the famous swimming pigs) to pick up Uncle Wally. We should have anticipated that taking a farmer to see swimming pigs would be anti-climactic, and he seemed particularly disappointed that they couldn’t fly as well.
We dove on the “Thunderball Grotto” and played cards and dominoes late into the night. Although initially unprepared for the competitive nature of folks whose only evening entertainment is cards, Wally humoured us. Alex did remark that he improved over the week when she noted that, “Uncle Wally you weren’t as terrible tonight as you were last night!” After several days in Staniel we made our way north to Compass Cay, famous for the resident nurse sharks. We hiked the island and were able to “pet” the sharks although we declined to actually jump in the water like some other tourists. Again weather heavily influenced our routing and we returned back to Staniel a day early to secure a safe anchorage due to another advancing storm. The following morning was stormy, cold and grey as we drove him the two miles to the dock, and he was able to catch a flight to Nassau and then on to Regina. While not the sand and sun vacation that we had advertised, we did have a great visit with your ever resourceful and entertaining God Father.
Every now and then we come across a “Kid Boat” where you two get along with the children and your mother and I enjoy the parents. This was the case when we met Matt, Heather, Kathleen and Wesley on Anomaly. The Lynchs are on a one year trip in the Caribbean and you all became fast friends spending the days swimming, baking, board games, cards and just “hanging out”. One evening when the parents were on 4 Coconuts and the kids had gathered on Anomaly, we were just getting ready to come home and start dinner when we received the call on the radio, “Uh, we were wondering if we could have a kid’s night over here and…uh…you guys…uh..stay over there?” When I inquired about food, I was told that you all would figure something out! One of the highlights of our time together was a debate about the merits/racism of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and whether it should be banned from US schools. The debate was good fun and Matt and Heather, both trained teachers, brought a new and welcome perspective to the debrief. We also played soccer on the beach pitting parents against children and while the parents finally prevailed, Mommy sustained a badly sprained knee, and everyone had cuts and scratches, evidence that the time of throwing games to the children has long passed! We parted ways after coming up with all sorts of exotic and interesting (totally unfunded) adventures to plan for the future.
When we left the Exuma Land and Sea Park after two weeks of no internet signal and finally came in range of a tower, we received the very sad news that my childhood friend had succumbed to cancer and passed away. We had been great friends for 45 years and we were with him when he received the diagnosis in the Fall of ’13 and again when the cancer spread to his brain last summer. We would call him whenever we had a connection although it was always with a certain degree of trepidation, knowing that this story would not have a happy ending. The Kovens have been a very important part of my life from my earliest memories, and now Rachel, Stella and Michael are a part of yours. His death, while not a shock, came too soon and still seems surreal. What it does reinforce in very stark terms, is our decision to take this opportunity to spend these years together. I cannot predict the future, but Kenny’s death makes us appreciate this trip and experiences we have shared more than ever.
We headed North to Palm Cay, Nassau to re-provision and pick up Moma who arrived to spend a few weeks on Rafiki. Unlike our other guests, she spent time with us last year and should know better…
The weather did not cooperate and there were successive fronts rolling down from Florida, so we spent six days at the dock, spending the mornings enjoying $5 cappuccinos at the marina cafe while reading the paper.
The pool was crystal clear and the sunsets were spectacular on the good days, and on the stormy ones when the wind howled in the rigging and the black clouds rolled bye, we turned on the heat and curled up inside. When the cost finally exceeded the risk, we left and ran South to Allen’s Cay to see the iguanas and take shelter from yet another passing front.
We left there and sailed south to Staniel to show Moma the pigs, grotto etc although the weather reminded us more of Kingston in September than the the Bahamas in February. Gin and tonics have been replaced by hot buttered rum, and we are regularly wearing our sweaters and foul weather gear. You are both taking advantage of the “artist in house” and painting has become a core subject. I am still stuck in boat maintenance class…