Monday, January 27, 2020

Peaceful Morning... Sorta


Good Monday Morning!

It is rare I get up earlier than the kids to make coffee and enjoy it peacefully up on deck in solitude.

Mainly because they will wake up from the sound of me boiling the kettle, flushing the toilet, etc.


But today I managed to do all that and not wake them. I have reached a new level of Mom Stealth Mode in life 😜

The water is so still and shimmers like glass. I cannot tell where the sky meets the water, they merge into one big canvas of blue.

Peaceful moments like these make me think of and miss our loved ones. So I am sending a virtual hug to all of you from Glass Bridge anchorage in Eleuthera.

Ooh, the sky is turning a soft morning pink. Gotta go.








And then the kids woke up....



Rare moment of peace and solitude in the morning.






Rare white mole spotted on deck!!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Feeling Oh-So-Good Again


I don't have to tell you how good it felt to have a shower yesterday.

However getting our anchor up in gusty conditions at Egg Island, bashing our way for 8 miles into the wind and then docking at Spanish Wells Yacht Haven in wicked winds was not a pretty sight.

We really should have stayed at anchor in Egg Harbor another night until the winds subsided but we were that desperate for a shower.


After 4 loads of laundry, one blissful shower, and a super tasty lunch at the marina's restaurant, we were rejuvenated. It was worth every pretty penny.

You'd think I would've had the best sleep after that but in fact I was restless all night. Maybe because we weren't rocking at anchor but instead tied up to a dock.

Today we walked to the local grocery store to get some fresh fruit and veg.

We now have eggs, cheese, apples, nectarines (first class fruit the kids begged for), starfruit, grapefruit, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and snap peas. I even found edamame beans!

I have been secretly planning to do some sort of special Chinese New Year meal for tomorrow but wasn't sure what to make. And there it was, right in front of me in the fridge aisle: wonton wrappers! Unbelievable.

So then I had to go and search for ingredients for the wonton filling. I found frozen spicy pork sausage meat, carrots and parsley.

Unfortunately the supply boat didn't make its delivery yesterday because of the bad weather so there was no fresh ginger. Well, it will have to do.

After lunch, a swim at the marina pool and another blissful shower, the kids went over to SV Moonstone to play, a kid boat also at the marina a few slips down from us.

This family started their cruising journey only a few months ago and also have a 9 and 7 year old. They are from Poole in the UK. What's more, the kids are really into Lego and Minecraft, so guess who just made two new best friends?!

By mid afternoon, it was time to go. We only wanted to stay one night at the marina, really to get all our washing and provisioning done. Mission accomplished.

We left the dock in a much more controlled manner (no wind or strong current today!) and motored out of the channel and threw our anchor down.

It's so nice to be on the hook again. It really is so much better than at a dock. The air flow is better, the scenery is infinitely superior and the stars seem to shine a lot brighter.

We anchored next to SV Busy Bee who had just come over from Egg Harbor today.

Before we even got the bridle on our anchor, the kids were on the VHF with Jake (Busy Bee) organizing a playdate amongst themselves. Gotta love back-to-back impromptu playdates!

Tai even had the cheekiness to ask for a ride from Busy Bee to get to their boat since our dinghy was still up on davits and he couldn't wait to go over and play Star Realms.

Tomorrow the plan is to continue south through Current Cut with Busy Bee and then make some dumplings to welcome the year of the Rat!


Walking to the grocery store. Tai was appointed map 
navigator. Aila was cart puller.


Homemade pastries, bread, jams, pickles, chutney.


Local homemade goods. We could not resist buying some bread even 
though I had just made some this morning.



So the deal was they could share an ice cream if I could take their pictures :)


Our friends SV Busy Bee at anchor tonight.

Look what I found, and only $5



















Thursday, January 23, 2020

First Shower of The Decade



A shower never felt so good!!!!!!!


Post shower lunch. Guess how we feel!
I had lamb gyro wrap and a fresh salad. 
SALAD! People, it just doesn't get better than this.



Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Passage to Hopetown


Tonight we are anchored off Egg Island in northern Eleuthera.

After we left Green Turtle Cay a few days ago, we went to Marsh Harbor and then to Hopetown. Both places were badly damaged by Hurricane Dorian.

While Marsh Harbor resembled a ghost town after a nuclear bomb explosion, Hopetown had more promising signs of rebuilding and regrowth. Still, it will be a long while before the Abacos will be back to its pre-hurricane state. That isn't to say they don't welcome visitors and cruisers. In fact, they need them more now than ever!

In Hopetown, we walked around town, got a takeout pizza (a real treat!), played on the beach and hung out with boat friends.

When we got up two days ago in Hopetown, we decided that if we didn't leave that day, we would likely be stuck for another week before a good weather window presented itself.

So with a heavy heart, we bid farewell to our boat friends and sailed down to Lynard Cay to stage for our crossing over to Eleuthera early the next morning.

It's always hard to say goodbye to friends. Saying goodbye to cruising friends is harder for some reason. That special time you spent together was short and sweet, and you both know it was one of those precious gifts where chance and luck brought you together in the first place.

Yesterday we left at first light and sailed and motored all the way to Egg Island in Northern Eleuthera, where we are anchored now.

The passage took just over 10 hours and it was a brilliant day on the water. We went from seeing 0.5 feet on our depth sounder to having it max out at 999 feet. In the charts, the depths we sailed through were marked as 7000 feet! Imagine that!

Just as the sun set last night, we came into the sheltered bay to set our anchor and the wind began to pick up. It has continued to blow steadily all of last night and today.

The boat has been rocking so badly we have to hold on to something to just walk around down below. If this was the beginning of our cruising journey, we'd all be vying for the sink or toilet to be sick in. Oh, we have come far!

Since it was too choppy to get off via dinghy today, we had another onboard boat day.

Days like today feel like a nautical version of hygge, feeling safe, warm and cozy when it is dark and stormy outside. We wore comfy clothes, drank hot drinks, baked fresh bread, played board games and read books. Just missing the wood burning fire!

This evening I was reminded again how valuable it is to do 'nothing' all day. No outside distraction and no hope of going off the boat, so we all hunker down and play.

We have had plenty of these boat days lately since these wind storms seem to happen every few days. We have become accustomed to these 'do nothing' days and although sometimes we go a bit stir crazy (especially after three days or so), generally it has been a fabulous experience.

We have never played so many board games as a family than in the last few months onboard.

We all read a lot more and we discuss things a lot more.

Over time, I have learned to trust the boat so much. Every moan and creak doesn't freak me out anymore like it did in the beginning. She is solid, heavy and well-built to withstand heavy winds and seas. A sturdy gal indeed.

Tomorrow the winds are still strong but not gale force.

We have decided to treat ourselves and go to a marina in Spanish Wells about 8 miles away to simply use their showers and washing machines.

It's not cheap but at this rate, we would pay big bucks to feel clean and salt-free, even if it only lasts a couple of hours.

Besides the odd bucket rinse and solar bag shower on deck, we haven't had a 'real' shower in 25 days.... But who's counting?

I desperately want to wash our sheets and towels and every item of salty clothing as well. In a washing machine. Not in our salad spinner contraption.

So I hope the next time I update will be after we clean ourselves up and have what I anticipate will be The Best Shower of This Decade ever.




Passage planning to Eleuthera.




Sunrise just as we weigh anchor. It doesn´t get better than this.



Watching the SpaceX launch of the test launch and abort system while we were 
underway on the tablet. Tai is ALL about rockets and space at the moment.



Mangled mangroves as we enter Hope Town.





The swings survived!


The Goodness Tour strikes again... This mural was stunning and captured 
the essence of Hopetown completely.






Awesome surf at Hopetown beach.




Boat kids playing on the damaged playground at Hopetown School.


Yup, that's a boat washed up on land.






Solar panels were installed on the cemetery grounds to provide some 
basic power for rebuilding in Hopetown.


Apparently a little lizard lives in the mini house... 
He hasn't been seen since the hurricane though
.


Aila and Marleigh getting started on their sand village.


Sunset at anchor at northern Eleuthera! We made it just in time for more gale winds! 



Playing Power Grid today, 3.5 hours of intense bidding, buying and powering cities. 
This was after an intense game of Catan this morning! 
Don't know how the little pieces didn't roll off the table more than they did!
 


Rainbow sky spotted today after a brief shower. 


Sunday, January 19, 2020

On Boat Playdates and Schedules


Playdates for kid boats are very spontaneous and immediate.

On land, playdates were often arranged days or even weeks beforehand. Squeezed between extra curricular activities and other obligations, they were usually arranged by the parents.

On the boat, Tai or Aila will grab the VHF radio and hail whichever kid boat is in the vicinity and ask if they want to come over, usually within that same hour.

I love how confident they've both grown at operating the VHF. They know the protocol, speak clearly into the mic and treat it like a real privilege.

What happens on playdates for boatkids is really not too different than on land. There's usually board games or card games involved. Lego is a big feature as well. Fort building and crafting is popular too.

I suppose the main difference is when it's nice and calm out, boatkids will jump off the boat into the big outdoor 'swimming pool' and play around on the SUP and dinghy.

Another notable difference: there are no shoes worn to boat playdates. And candy is often exchanged.

By and large, playdates with boat kids are ever-evolving. There isn't normally a ton of boat kids around so choosing who to invite isn't really an option. Whatever kid is closest is the kid you will play with! And that is regardless of age or gender.

It is remarkable how great Aila gets on with a 14 year old boy while playing Star Craft Realms.

Or how Tai will get all giddy and chatty with a couple of girls younger than him (his sister being one of them!) whilst making a show with puppets!

Slowing down in the Bahamas has been our intention and it has been brilliant so far.

Being less scheduled has worked for us because we're generally a more adhoc kind of family anyway.

Don't get me wrong. Matt and I relied heavily on our shared Gmail and online calendar to make sure we were organized and had every school event and dentist appointment in there, or else!

Since we moved onboard, I honestly cannot remember the last time I opened up our shared online calendar. Maybe because we spend every day together now.

But personally I think it's because we don't plan, CANNOT plan, more than two days in advance in this cruising lifestyle.

Funny how some things that you used to depend on for the day to day just completely drops from being remotely important anymore.

Now, our Navionics, Windy and Anchor Pro apps are our everyday go-to reference for 'planning'.

Weather is King and there's no messing with that.







Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Reluctant Goodbye



These past few days have been a period of observation and reflection.

Two days ago we (reluctantly) left Green Turtle Cay and motored our way through the notorious Whale Cay cut to Marsh Harbor.

This is the first time I actually didn't want to leave an anchorage! I could've stayed another month or two.

It is hard to say goodbye but we needed to push on because Kam Wong will be flying in to meet us in Eleuthera in a few weeks.

It was the perfect weather window to go through the narrow channel, and we buddy boated with four other boats: SV Wild Child, SV Little Tern, SV Busy Bee and SV Too Short.

That evening we all shared drinks and nibbles on SV Too Short.

I have said it many times before and I'll say it again: the best part about cruising is the people you meet.

It is even more so here in the Abacos. Not every cruiser wants to come here and not every cruiser CAN come here. But those who are here are special and the connection and camaraderie is even more immediate.

I'm reminded of how Matt and I met in remote Urumqi. Not many expats choose to go there willingly since it is quite an unusual place but those who do go are very special. I mean, I went with no expectations and left with a husband!! 

*********************

Marsh Harbor. How do I describe what I see here without posting pictures? I want to snap pictures but I end up not doing so because it seems wrong. It seems too intrusive.

These shattered homes and upturned cars were people's lives. The clothing and personal items that is scattered all over once belonged to someone who was just living their normal life.

Sitting here in the cockpit in Marsh Harbour, I look around and all I see are destroyed houses and buildings, boats on land in precarious positions, floating pieces of wood (docks and pilings) in the water, trees that have been stripped of their leaves or missing limbs completely.

It is quiet and eerie. All I hear is the howling wind. I can't see any movement on land, no people, no vehicles.

When we walked to Maxwell's (grocery store) the other day, we saw such immense devastation. The remnants of the destruction was everywhere you looked. Like, everywhere.

Everything ached. It's like the soul of Marsh Harbor was sucked dry.

The kids didn't seem to blink an eye to what they saw. With repeated reminders to not walk on the shattered glass and nails littered all over the road, they were too busy eating their snacks and chatting with one another to see (or realize?) that this was not normal.

Maxwell's was like a little oasis of 'normality'. The second you walk in, the air conditioning hits you like a ton of bricks. It's only then that you realize how accustomed to the hot climate you have grown.

After 18 days of living off our provisions, we were down to our last apple and cheese slice.

We have started drinking our UHT long-life milk (tasty!) and eating our canned vegetables.

However we still have a couple of vacuum-sealed meat packs left, along with one tub of tofu.

It was nice to pick up a few fresh produce products and to be honest, it wasn't as expensive as I expected.

We're waiting out this system here before moving on. It's been about 25 knots of wind with gusts to 35 knots. Grateful our anchor is holding up.

Today is our second day stuck on board. We are a bit restless but I know this too shall pass.

We have Bob Marley playing and he sings "Everything's gonna be alright."

Meanwhile, the kids are keeping busy with their tubs of Lego, snap circuits, collection of books, and good WiFi!

Over the last few months I have seen the kids grow up in front of my eyes. I didn't think having so much day to day interaction with them would actually make me see the drastic changes, but in fact I see it all the time.

Yesterday, while having an impromptu dance party onboard, I caught the 9 year old rolling his eyes as his parents perfected their dabbing and floss moves. Multiple eye rolls. Yikes.

But then he did snuggle up close to me while we were watching a movie, so I know there is still a little boy inside.

The 7 year old has become sassy, more stubborn and indignant. But she has also become an avid reader and competent dinghy driver.

A few days ago she lost yet another tooth! That's 3 teeth lost on the boat! Luckily the tooth fairy remembered and delivered 1 Bahamian Dollar just before sunrise.

Happy weekend to all! We have long forgotten, or cared, which day of the week is but since it is Saturday, I think a second coffee is warranted!



Anchor chain and bridle.


Sometimes you just gotta weigh anchor by hand to make sure you can still do it!


Huge debris (metal roof we think, likely from Hurricane Dorian)
which our anchor had snagged. We marked it on the
charts for other cruisers to beware of.


SV Busy Bee crossing Whale Cay Cut.


Passing 'one whistle' to this tanker at Whale Cay Cut.


Cruisers make hungry customers!


Cooking up a fresh batch of conch fritters.


This mom and daughter duo cooked up a storm for us.


Yummy conch fritters with local hot sauce!


Decent cereal aisle, very important for us!


Excellent meat selection.


Even found my favourite jam!


English Breakfast Tea at Maxwell's!


Aila and Mar amazed at all the THINGS!



The Goodness Tour also came to Marsh Harbor to paint a community mural.
What a beautiful brilliant sight amongst the destruction.


Tai and new friend from SV Busy Bee doing snap circuits. 


Aila and Marleigh paddling the dinghy.


Keeping the tooth fairy on her toes with all these missing teeth.



Waiting out some windy weather means movie time!



Three pairs of feet and one pair of shark feet.


This is what a Lego tower building session looks like.


Hanging out after the beach cleanup with cruising friends 
Jess from SV Wild Child and Diane from Boatel 1.


Happy and wet Tai, Marleigh and Aila.



Cruisers potluck at Pineapple's. What a spread!
Cruisers rule: bring your own plates and utensils.



Boat kids amusing themselves on the beach with one paddle and endless imagination!


Tonight's sunset was really this stunning.