Trip 1 Map
Trip 2 Map
My new life:
Now back in Port Lucaya, Darcy and I become very close to the people in the Caribbean Cafe. We enjoyed eating there, and would often tell the people, that arrived every few days on the "Discovery" cruise, where to get a good meal. It was starting to become harder and harder to pay for meals, as George and Marie started treating us as friends, rather than customers. It felt good to have some new friends so far from home. They invited on many trips. One was to their new home. They have been building it for the last 10 years. It is an incredible home, two story, 5000 square feet on a canal by the Xanadu marina. On our next trip, we are invited to dock right there.
On one of the trips with George and Marie, we went to shop for conch. One of our neighbours wanted 100 pounds, and another 35, so we suggested they went to the Caribbean Cafe, and sure enough, Marie came through. We headed down town, and in a large parking lot, there was man selling conch from the back of his Ford pickup. We watched as he removed the conch from its shell with amazing speed and dexterity. He explained that you count 3 rings in, use a hatchet to make a hole, then insert a knife. Because the conch does not expect to be touched from that direction, it relaxes, and is easily taken from the shell. He tells us that if the conch senses anything entering from the front of the shell, it will tighten up around the spiral of the shell, and will be impossible to dig out.
Darcy down under
It was time for some serious SCUBA diving. We took Madgic Spell and the dingy out to one of the buoys on the reef. It is such a good idea to have these free buoys, rather than have all the dive boats anchoring on the reef, and destroying it. The water was so warm we only needed a T-shirt. It was crystal clear, and our shallow dive lasted and lasted. We planned our dive, and dived our plan, but our dive lasted so long, we got a bit disoriented, and had to surface to see where Madgic Spell was. Other than that, it was a perfect dive. On our second dive, Darcy had a fish chart, and I think we saw every fish on it.
We did have a bit of a surprise when we went have our tanks refilled. Darcy's Canadian date code seemed to be a problem. I noticed that my date was last year, and since Darcy had had such a problem with this year's date, I thought it was over for me. But no, I had no problem. It was only after I got back to the boat, that I figured out that the tank is good for one year after the inspection, not good till the date. I bet the ears of the dive shop here in Calgary were ringing.
Our new home at Port Lucaya
Darcy and I now settled in to a relaxed routine of sailing, swimming and sight seeing. Every evening we would go out for a walk around the marina, and drop in on some restaurant, or entertainment. We were starting to get organized for Darcy leaving. We picked a marina for Madgic Spell, because I would be on my own for the next 3 weeks. I had planned that Nora, my crew from the Gulf Island trip, would be out at this time, that fell through, so I was on my own in the Bahamas.
E-mail really helped with organizing the crew changes. I could leave messages, and collect the reply next time I had access to e-mail. The Bahamas utilities are not that reliable, and I would often not have access to e-mail for several days. I remember once when we entered a marina office as it was struck with lightning. As we entered the door, there was loud crack that could be felt as clearly as it was heard. Darcy hit the deck, but I had become so used to lightning, that I just continued into the office, where smoke was drifting out of the fried radio circuits.
Marie, Goerge, Darcy and me at the Cafe
Another evening Darcy and I were in the Caribbean Cafe and the power went out. I went back to the boat, and got some candles, and flashlights. At that time, Darcy and I decided on a gift. We would give to George and Marie to thank them for all the fine meals, and good company they had given us. We settled on some lanterns like the ones we have on Madgic Spell. Just before Darcy left, we had a great last meal at the Caribbean Cafe. George and Marie knew I would be on my own for a few weeks now, so told me to make the restaurant my home away from home.
After Darcy left, every morning I would start my day with a trip to the Caribbean Cafe. Marie, or her daughter Eve, would make me great Bahamian breakfasts, though I was a bit embarrassed because I was not allowed to pay or even leave a tip. Marie would come over to the table, and we would chat. It was interesting to hear how she had moved from Haiti, and how she had started working for herself. Marie is the planner, and George is the dreamer, and they love each other very much. I would often come in, in the evening, and George and I would chat. He had been an entertainer, and he had some great stories.
A hot day's work
On my own, I only took out Madgic Spell a couple of times, and only when the weather was calm. I did quit a bit of exploring inland. One night, there was a Junkanoo celebration. Junkanoo is the Bahamian new years eve party. It was a powerful sight. Everyone was dressed in bright colourful costumes, and was lead by man in a black suit. The whistles and drums were deafening, it was incredibly powerful.
Marie and George had taken Darcy and I out to see the house they have been building for the last 10 years. I knew they were going out to work on the house the next day. The next morning, I went in for breakfast, a fish stew, and asked Eve for the address. With a bit of help from the memory of my last trip and the address, the cab driver and I found the house. George and Marie were filling mortar between the cinder blocks, I joined in, and we got a couple of rooms done. But in that heat, it is hard work, and I was covered in sweat almost right away. When I got back to the boat, the cabin had been closed all day, and the thermometer read almost 50 degrees.
One day the Lady Eddin arrived at Port Lucaya. It had about 20 wooden sailing boats on board. It was very interesting to see the 100 foot plus ship manoeuvre in such a confined area. They ran a line ashore, and used that to keep the boat in the right position as a crane was driven on board, and all the boats were launched. I played taxi service for a while ferrying people from one side of the canal to the other, aboard my dingy.
Darcy had arranged for Jim, my next crew member, to bring out the lanterns and candles. I contacted him, and asked him to bring a replacement fan, as mine had called it quits. I also told him to bring one for himself too. Although I had Cable TV, and a phone line on the boat, I did not have air conditioning. Jim Toews was my principal in my first school, and was becoming quite the sailer, and now a SCUBA diver. He took his open water certification just before he left Calgary.
The Annual Grand Bahama Regatta
Jim arrived the evening before the first day of the annual regatta. I had been out to check out the sight earlier that evening, and with the booths, stage and sound system, it was obviously going to be quite the party. I also wanted to check out good anchoring positions. Next day Jim and I took Madgic Spell out, and anchored off the shore, just across from the finish line. These wooden ships have up to about 10 crew members, and use long boards to cantilever the crew out over the lee side to keep the boat level. We swam ashore, and sampled the local cuisine, too bad they did not have Klik Gold, a much better beer than the regular Bahamas' Klik.
Sing along with the Captain
I quickly fell into a familiar routine of swimming and sailing during the day, and walks around the marina ending with a variety of restaurants, in the evening. Jim had brought along his Martin Backpacker guitar. So after we finished our evening ashore, we would return to Madgic Spell, and sing play guitar in the cockpit. When Jim returned to Calgary, he had a couple of Stamped parties to play at with has band, and did not want to lose the calluses on his fingers, so he made a point of practising every day.
I gave Jim a chance to try being pulled behind the boat with his snorkel and mask on. He liked it just as much as Darcy did. Later that trip, we saw a commercial fishing vessel close to the entrance to the Lucayan Waterway. They had run aground and had their dingy out to help pull them self off. We were thinking about going over to help. I got a strange pleasure in helping a power boat with Madgic Spell, but by the time we decided what to do, they had rescued them self. Though to be fare to the power boaters, on our trip home from the last day of the regatta, one of the racers also ran aground. It was the only boat that Madgic Spell beat back to the marina.
Jim had a chance to share in all the fun I had discovered. We ate at the yacht club, went over to work at Marie and George's house, and took advantage of some of the better deals I had found for souvenirs. We also had a chance to see some of the power of the weather in the area. We were a few miles away from the marina, we had walked along the beach to the next inlet. Off in the distance we saw a storm gathering, we started back quickly. As the storm grew closer, we saw a water spout heading straight for us. From what I had read, they do not last long, and would not come very close to shore. The wind and rain increased. The temperature dropped, and it felt like we were being hit by hailstones, not just rain. Just as I started to doubt my theory that the spout would dissipate, it did. We returned to find Madgic Spell safe, except Jim's berth, we had left the front hatch open.
We did have good weather too, and we took advantage of that to do some SCUBA diving. With the storm, it seemed like the water was not as clear, but the conditions were still excellent. One night after a dive we took the guitar over to the Caribbean Cafe, and put on an impromptu concert. We had hoped to drum up some business, but I am not sure how well we did. It was fun, and George even joined in on a song or two. He does have a smooth, sexy singing voice.
Sing for your super
Having e-mail was very useful to help arrange things. I could not always get a hold of people on the phone, but e-mail was always waiting for me, or Jim. My next crew change fell through. I think that partly it was because Brian was the only person without e-mail, and so we had trouble contacting each other. So after Jim left, I had another week on my own. It was getting time to start to thinking about heading back home.
Ben Cardwell was my next crew member. He was going to help me sail back to Florida, then drive back to Calgary. I had to admit that I was still thinking about the miss on the Chev, that I was not sure I could fix. A few years ago, I had replaced one set of heads when a valve had frozen. Now I wondered if the same thing had happened on the other side. If I had had a bit more confidence in my motor rebuilding skills I might have taken both heads off.
Cheers from Peterson Cay
Ben arrived safe and sound. We had a whirl wind tour of the area. The weather was good, and we got some sight seeing, sailing and snorkelling in. We had an especially nice day at Peterson Cay. I would recommend it as a pleasant anchorage, with better protection that is noted on the sailing guides I had. The weather looked like it was going to cooperate for the return trip. So after a few days of sun and sand, we were off to West End, for the last time.
We intended to sail all the way to West End, but about 5 miles away, a line of thunders storms crossed our path. Again, I used our 50 hp to run ahead of the storms. Unfortunately the storms were heading out to sea, and we were trying to parallel the coast. So we did catch the edge of a couple of them. I was just as nervous as I had been on my last encounter with lightning storms. Ben could not have been calmer. He explained his philosophy as, if it's going go hit us, there is nothing we can do about it.
As we rounded the point, the storms headed out to sea, and we were in a beautiful sunny day again. We gassed up Madgic Spell. This time, I made sure that the gas tank was easily accessible, so we could gas it up mid-trip with a bit more ease than last time. That evening, we headed into the town, and had a last supper. It was a long last supper, I don't think I have ever had slower service. Luckily, we were in no hurry. The manager of the Harbour Hotel gave us a ride back to the Old Bahama Bay marina. Again on the way home, I wondered how safe we would be walking, race relations raised it's head again.
The trip back was breathtakingly uneventful. We got up early, and headed 279 degrees magnetic, straight across to the Lake Worth Inlet. A couple of bigger sailboats were heading back at the same time. We made radio contact with them, and thought we might have some company for the trip back, but they ended up taking other courses back. They were also going a lot slower than us.
We had a little excitement close to Florida. A storm was trying to catch up to us, but with a bit of change to the sail trim we upped our speed to 11 knots, and that was enough to keep us ahead of the weather. When we were a couple of miles off the Inlet, we started to have big rollers that I had great fun surfing Madgic Spell on the swells. If you could keep her steering straight, you could add a couple of knots. As we arrived, there was a storm crossing Palm Beach, so we slowed a bit, and let it pass. We were confused by a large cruise ship that seemed to be doing the same thing. Later, we found out that it was the floating casino. They were wasting time for a very different reason. Later, Ben and I took advantage of the free casino cruise and buffet, though did not do any gambling.
Before we started the long drive home, I finished changing the sparkplugs. I had spent the last few months worrying about the engine miss, well, after the second half of the plugs are replaced, the miss is gone. We also do some visiting before we leave. Jim shows us where he has Sunday brunch, at the Best Western on Singer Islandand in the Top O' Spray restaurant, it has a breath taking view of the beach. We also stayed an extra day to have lunch with a prospective Macgregor owner I met in a Hot tub in the Bahamas. That lunch had a bit of a Burlesque feel to it.
Fireworks at Stone Mountain
Ben and I were finally on the road. He had a friend he wanted to visit in Atlanta, so we planned a stop there. While in the area we spent a few days checking out CNN, Coke world and Stone Mountain, all thoroughly enjoyable. I liked the tasting room at Coke world with "pop" from around the world, Stone Mountain has a great laser/fireworks display, and CNN was interesting, because I often watch it, and it was interesting to see where the shows are produced.
Given the record high temperatures on our rout back, well over 35 degrees Celsius, our 26 year old truck had very few problems. Our Air Conditioning called it quits, we blew a tire on the trailer, and the fuel pump started to leak. The only problem that scared me, was when the bolt holding the hitch to the truck fell off. I could not figure out why the boat felt like it was trying to mate with the truck. I checked several things that day on the truck and trailer, but could not find the reason. When we finally had a bit of time, I checked the trailer ball. The monster nut that holds it in place had come lose, and fallen off. So the only thing holding the truck and trailer together, was the short threaded shaft that goes through the bumper. There, is yet another reason never to travel behind a trailer.
Ben did a great job when it was his turn to drive the truck. I did not make a
good passenger with either Keith or Ben. I was always worried about how wide and
long the truck/trailer combination was. At 50 feet+ I was always worried that we
would wonder outside the lines. Both Ben and Keith were very patient with me,
and never complained about their over vigilant passenger. Miles and diners sped
by, and soon I was backing Madgic Spell into my home's driveway.