It’s Saturday morning and we are on a mooring in Wardrick Wells, a national park and wildlife refuge here in the Bahamas. As we headed south a few months ago we passed through here on our way to George Town to meet up with our boys, Rob, Chris and friend Kandice. While we had stopped here already, we only stayed for one night as we were still in “delivery mode” and in a hurry to get to George Town. We didn’t have the luxury of stopping for long as we had a deadline and we were going to make it. Stopping was more about ticking off a list of destinations while waiting for weather. We were in a rush and while it was fun to visit, we really didn’t have time to relax. Deadline of not, we were not in the “cruising mode”.
Now, after three months we are moving a lot less and looking around a lot more. Yes, the weather continues to be a major consideration as to where and when we move but there have been plenty of days when we have stayed put because we wanted to even if the weather said “sure, you can go”. And when the weather isn’t cooperating we feel virtually no pressure to move. That’s nice. In the interest of total transparency, I may never be completely comfortable with staying put, but I have made great progress, that’s for sure.
However, I’d say that we have reached a state, or certainly Brenda has, where staying put is not a terrible thing. I can’t recall when I have spent more time reading than I have in the last three months. Excluding the hours spent on planes that were delayed buy snow or on some sort of mechanical gate hold back in my travel days. Now it’s different and while I haven’t kept track, I’ll bet that I have read a dozen books, perhaps twenty since leaving home.
When we were preparing for this trip a question that we were often asked was “what do you do all day on the boat?”. Folks that have not sent long periods aboard just can’t imagine what one could possibly do to keep occupied for days, weeks and months on a small boat. It’s funny, but we are never bored.
Today it was dark when I got up and actually a bit chilly by Bahamas standards, in the high sixties. Since the wee hours of today I finished a terrific novel, Black Cross by Greg Iles. While it is fictional, it is a gripping account of life in a Nazi concentration camp. I won’t say more but I recommend it highly. The whole breakfast and lunch thing, some housekeeping and some maintenance on the water maker and other piddly items plus a walk on the beach kept me busy.
You’d be amazed how much time can be taken up with shopping for groceries. Going shopping? Forget making a list, when you go into one of the pint sized little stores in the Bahamas, some little bigger than a small bedroom, you have to buy what they have and if the mail boat hasn’t been there in a few days there’s not likely to be much selection at all. Produce is usually limited to onions, potatoes, carrots and perhaps green peppers. About a month ago we spied something exotic, a avocado, the only one we have seen in perhaps two months. Without hesitation, we bought it. Not quite like shopping in the states. Actually, it’s been more than a week since we have been anywhere with any sort of settlement, much less a store. The good news is that we will likely be somewhere by mid week where there is at least a little grocery. Not a lot of “running out for a few things” here.
Here in the park, a 25 mile stretch of islands that are protected, there is no fishing or taking of wildlife. The water is clear and blue and the snorkeling is first rate. Unfortunately, while I had my underwater camera with me yesterday it malfunctioned and none of my photos came out. I’ll be going again before we leave here so I am sure that I expect that I will have plenty of photos to share. While I have not seen a single lobster in the months in the Bahamas, there are plenty here and I am sure that I will take some great photos, again. Yesterday when I was snorkeling I spied a large lobster, perhaps 3’ in length sitting on the sand near a coral head. I looked at him and approached. He did the same until we were nose to nose. When he touched me with his antenna we both jumped and he backed down. I was amazed by how aggressive or more likely, curious he was. I guess that even lobsters know when they are safe. The fish were also pretty relaxed and seemed to be more curious than afraid.
Well, how do we fill our days? I too am amazed at how quickly the days go by but they do. Yes, one does blur into the next and the weeks go by, but it’s a pleasant blur and I feel blessed to be able to experience this. Generally the mornings are consumed with chores and the afternoons with exploring.
The other day, in Compass Cay, a bit south of here, I did a little fishing and caught a little fish. Don’t worry, I threw him back. Alas, nothing “table worthy” for Bob the mighty fisherman. Nice looking fish.
As I sit here the view in the harbor, which is protected from nearly all directions, is one of shades of blue. At low tide there are huge sand bars that cut across the harbor separated by deep blue channels where the park has placed moorings. The boats are lined up with the current and if you watch you can see huge rays glide by every so often.
The strong tidal current keeps the water very clear and limits the time you can snorkel to about a half hour at low and high tides. Swimming against the tide is tougher than you ‘d imagine so it has to be slack water.
Last night we had our friends Miles and Loreen from Ariel over for dinner. We have been sailing with them for the last few weeks and now they are headed back to Florida and we will heading further up the Exuma chain and then on to the Abacos. We will see them again this summer in Essex, perhaps in Maine and certainly here in the Bahamas next winter. We have enjoyed our time together but now we will each go our separate ways.
I heard our friend Harry and Melinda on Sea Schell, another couple we spent time with, on the SSB radio this morning. They are in the Dominican Republic, headed to Panama. I doubt that our paths will cross again for quite some time, but we will stay in touch. We’ll have a terrific reunion when we do see them again though. The community of cruisers is sort of “virtual”. While we normally define a community as a place. With cruisers, the community is movable. It’s great when our paths cross with old friends and a bit sad when they leave. However, in a way, that’s one of the best parts of cruising. Greeting, hanging out and eventually saying goodbye until the next time our paths cross.
As we have so often enjoyed on this trip, tonight, Saturday evening, will be marked by a pot luck on the beach here at the park. I know that we will see fellow cruisers we know and make new friends. Tomorrow is Easter and we are a little sad that we won’t be with family. While it’s not the same, we will be with another sort of family, cruisers here in Wardrick Wells. The park ranger is cooking a turkey and ham and everyone will bring something to share for an informal Easter Dinner on the beach. Yes, it would be great to be able to “blink” ourselves back to CT and family but this will be great fun as we head ashore to share food, drink and stories with others who are here and enjoying the beauty of the Bahamas. I understand that on Easter morning at 06:00 there will be a sunrise service with some of the other cruisers on the hill overlooking the ocean. I’d love to go. We’ll see if we can get out of bed, to shore in the dink, up the beach and hike up to the hill, and all in time. Not sure about that.
Yesterday was a landmark for Brenda who took off in the dink by herself to return a friend to her boat who had been visiting for a bread making lesson. Brenda started the motor, delivered her charge and returned to Pandora. I was so thrilled, I had to take a picture. What next? Blasting around the harbor at speed with a bougenvelia branch, thorns and all, clamped between her teeth? Who knows?
So, as we say goodbye to friends, others arrive and we continue to poke along on our way from island to island enjoying the warm blue waters of the Bahamas. We are enjoying this chapter of our lives and it’s nice to take the time to collect such great experiences, s.l.o.w.l.y…