Three years in the planning and so close to fruition, my Bahamian Holiday plans have been set asunder. Boris Johnson has stopped travel to and from the UK. My children and grandchildren from the UK will miss this Christmas with the entire family and we will miss them.
I am terribly saddened but not forlorn.
Bahamians wisely have a strict COVID policy to which we are faithfully adhering. We all want to be safe. I know that the rest of the family will be with us at Kamalame Cay, sorely missing the London Wagners but ready to enjoy the season.
On another note:
Just before Thanksgiving this year, Denny managed to fall into an open hatch on Dream Seeker. Consequently, he has been wearing a black boot from toe to knee to immobilize his two hairline fractures of the tibia. He was told to rest with his foot in the air but this never happened.
The boot is slowly disintegrating. Bits and pieces of it can be found in and around the boat. Large black rubber marks are his stamp of approval and a sore hip is an outcome of legs that are two different heights.
The boot is to be worn for six weeks but it will never hold up that long. It has traveled too far, from the mud covered fields, through the murky waters and into the the dregs of the bilge.
Beautiful but empty. The docks were long and floating but the people short and sparse.
The dock master comes to the dock only by request. This land and its’ people are hurting. The hotels and resorts are empty.
A few cruise ships were on the seas but I am not sure where they were going or with whom. Seemingly stranded oil rigs dotted the seascape. A brisk walk about the Hotel grounds showed them to be quite empty.
Bananas and bread were available but no Rum.
In the evening, the Grand Lucaya Yacht Club hosted a small Christmas boat parade. We turned on our lights and cheered them on.
Leaving early again heading south to the Berry islands.
“Show Time“, a local driver, drove us the twenty miles into the town of Eight Mile Rock. Rain and sunshine peppered our journey, the effects of Dorian were evident by a sea of scattered blue tarps. All the churches were repaired and in use.
Eight Mile Rock is one of the Grand Bahama Island’s oldest communities and got its name from the eight miles of solid rock found along its shoreline. When we drove along it the surf was white and the waves high and tumbling. The rocks were nowhere in sight.
How about some lobsters, freshly caught today? Who is going to cook them and how? The grill is reattached to the railing among the Christmas lights and fired up. The weather has turned cool so the fire is welcome.
Apparently there was a great need to replace our current claw anchor with a new 85 pound Mantis anchor, and then hang another anchor, a fortress, next to it. The claw is now in the lazarette. You can never have enough anchors!
The men in the sports fishing boats were making bets on how Denny was going to move all these about. Not at all like our helpful Looper buddies. Denny, cleverly, put the davit to good use.
The plan is to leave in the morning for Lucaya and then south through the Berries and into Andros but we are subject to the vagaries of the weather.
Dawn; large ships, small sailboats and vessels of all sizes are milling about.
The coffee is on, the anchor on board, and the engines purring. Leaving the melee behind us we are through the inlet and out to the open ocean,
Alone, with the gentle ocean swells and a myriad of underwater creatures as yet unseen. Horizon appears on all sides of us and no vessels anywhere. We could get a peek at what is under the sea if only our trolling fishing line would produce something.
Halfway across and past the point of no return, a black cloud descends on us and the winds start to howl. Our weather window is gone in its’ stead, pounding seas, flying missiles and crashing furniture. We need a few extra bungee cords.
Sailing into West End in the Bahamas, three hours later, the seas have died down, the sun is shining and island music is playing. Except for a few regulars, the docks are deserted. We are ushered through customs quickly and relatively efficiently. Contract for two conch salads tonight and a ride tomorrow to the “Aliv” Bahama phone company.
A large sports fishing boat docked beside us was the recipient of our errant and empty trolling hook, line and sinker forgotten in our haste to outwit the seas. Denny managed to salvage the lure and placate the partying fisherman.
Stand up the Christmas tree, turn on our Christmas lights, and enjoy a sundowner.
Tonight should bring the results of this mornings Covid Test.
That is good because our weather window says we should leave at dawn tomorrow for the eight hour journey across the ocean.
You need the test results before you can apply for a Bahamian Health Visa.
The results came in at 9:30PM, way past Looper midnight.
Onto the Bahamian website! Over and over flashed, error message: error message: blinking red, Incorrect password, incorrect password.
It had to be one of three things:
Either, I couldn’t remember my password, or I couldn’t follow the non-existent directions, or the website was down. At 10 PM I decided the website was at fault and surrendered to the arms of Morpheus.
Up at the crack of dawn but to no avail. Four hours later, having finally successfully navigated the website and obtaining two health Visa’s, it was too late to navigate the crossing and get there before dark. There goes the weather window.
Anchored with Peanut Island behind us and the Palm Beach inlet in front of us, we plan to embark at daybreak and hope the wind doesn’t come up till the afternoon.
Is this the end of the adventure or the beginning of a new one? This adventure is over, the dream fulfilled; 6000 miles of wonder!
We have crossed our wake in Nettles’s Island. Now officially Gold Loopers! The trip has been an incredible adventure! We were in places I never knew existed and got there in ways I never imagined existed.
What did we learn:
The world is full of places to explore.
How to tie a clove hitch but not a bowline
Writing is very therapeutic.
Stay healthy —neither of us got sick or sick of each other
Travel with a seasoned captain and an able mechanic
Docktails are fattening and addictive
Where do we go from here?
There is so much to do and so little time left to do it in. Some time at home is a good thing but after that?Something will come to mind.
When Connor gave me this poem written by Marilyn and Al McCrory,it really gelled with me.Although the poem was written in 1990 before ease of communication and the fact that they wrote about life on a sailboat, It still epitomizes life at sea with the good and the bad and the downright funny. I wanted to share it with you as my farewell to this blog; the theme is universal.
Written by Marilyn and Al McCrory
Mother and father go sailing you know
Every autumn they pack up and go
Far from the winds and the cold and the snow
South to the sun and the sea
I love to think of their sailing there
The blue of the water the gold of the air
Skimming the white caps without a care
Imagine a life so free
I build up a picture of sand and sky
Of lazy harbors and bass drifting by
I build up the image of pie-in-the-sky
Till their first letter reaches me
Oh— The propeller shaft is knocking
And the fuel injector is logged
There is dry rot in the transom
And the hull is water logged
The heat exchangers bunged up and won’t exchange its heat
When the spinnaker blew out last night we lost another cleat
But in spite of these small incidents
When all is said and done
Its great to spend our holidays
Sailing in the sun
Mother and father are sailing you know
Down in the south where the fair winds blow
Basking all day in the warm sun’s glow
Where the seabirds circle and dive
I think of them strolling the silver shore
Small dinghy bobbing— the flash of an oar
Sleek hull shadowing ocean’s floor
Then a second letter arrives
It says—— Oh—- We lost both anchors overboard
And now the gaskets blown
a connecting rod is broken
and the piston rings have gone
Some moron ran aground last night and blocked
the harbors mouth
But we couldn’t leave here anyway— the winds not from
But in spite of these small incidents
When all is said and done
Its great to spend our holidays
Sailing in the sun
Yes, mother and father are sailing today
Crisp bow throwing a fine salt spray
Sails stretched taut as they cleve their way
Through crystal waters clear
I’d like to think of them browned by the sun
Enjoying the speed of a long clear run
To a small still bay when day is done
But a third letter is here
It says — Oh—- The Captain gets quite anxious
When the oil pressure drops
The main bearing seized solid
And the halyard ties in knots
We hit a small reef yesterday so now the bilge is full
The Okeechobee waterway is a shallow man made waterway stretching across Florida, from Fort Meyer on Florida’s west Coast to Stuart on Florida’s east coast, one-hundred and thirty-four nautical miles and as we now know, contains five locks.
This peaceful waterway goes through miles of untouched Florida Everglades and thousands of acres of old Florida scrub and ranch land.
Ospreys on every marker and Seagulls flying and diving behind the boat followed us almost all the way across the lake. Our wake was stirring up lunch!
Roland Martin Marina in Clewiston was a lively stop with a Tiki bar, restaurantand music.JoJoFa, tied up behind us, just completed their second loop and earned their platinum flag.
For Me, once around is enough. So many beautiful places in the world to explore!
A second coffee pot shattered to pieces on this trip. The first was on the Atlantic Ocean’s savage seas, this one by a speeding go fast boat.
Motoring peacefully and lawfully at eight miles an hour in the intracoastal waterway just south of Sanibel Island and —Whoosh! Where did he come from? No warning! No AIS!Just sheer unadulterated speed! Went around us like a cheetah in heat.
Drying dishes flew everywhere along with the French Press carafe and the bananas. Fortunately, I had the important things like computers and liquor secured and I have a spare coffee pot. It must have been this offending boaters first time driving; at least that is what Denny said when he called him on the radio.
Denny lied to me! He told me we only had one lock to go; the Okeechobee waterway.
Apparently it turns out that the Okeechobee has five locks in its system. He misled me into thinking that the five locks are really one. I should have done my homework and checked up on him.
East of the W.P. Franklin Dock and Dam on the Okeechobee Waterway is a small but attractive Army Corps of engineers marina with full facilities. The peninsula, lush and green, surrounded by water, includes, RV slots, marina slips, treed picnic areas, fishermen and an occasional alligator.
A Gold Looper met us on the dock and helped guide our 49 foot trawler into a slip meant for a much smaller boat. The sunset and the weather were breathtaking! Two days from home!!
A free dock at Indian Rocks beach embraced Dream Seeker overnight; the beginning of the long Thanksgiving weekend. Children were everywhere, fishing swimming and just running around yelling.
The sign said no overnight docking but we had gotten an imprimatur from Terry England who knows these waters, so we stayed but we did leave early in the morning for Sarasota.
Sailing down the gulf intracoastal on Thanksgiving weekend brings out what Denny calls cowboys. Weekend warriors, full of hubris, and attempting to make their imprint on the waterway, weave in and out of the channel impeding our progress toward home. They are havinga lot of fun in these gorgeous waters. The homes are beautiful, the weather ideal, and the magnificent dolphins are ever present.
Marina Jack in downtown Sarasota was our next stop. We were greeted by two Looper wannabes having just bought their first boats and one who just finished the loop and flew theirGold flag for the first time. We currently fly a white Looper Flag but when we cross our wake (complete our Loop), in Stuart we will fly a gold one too.
We were very pleased to see Connor Davis, a Sea Craft buddy of Denny’s walking down the dock. It is such pleasure to me when friends take the time and effort to join us on our travels. A delightful man I had never met but who felt like a friend immediately.