Calumet Dreams
Chapter 18

March 11 - April 3
Dinghy Disappointment * Sand Sculpture Triumph * Bikini Shopping * Georgetown Regatta * Scavenger Hunt * Beach Church * Coconut Harvest * Ambergris * Sea Slugs * Kids Sailing on Sunfish * Campfire on the Beach * Fishing for Shark * Bogieboarding Back to Home Page

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Day 233 - Sunday, March 11
Goat Cay, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

Today was a beautiful day for travelling so we were ready to finish our trip to Georgetown. If we spend all day sailing, we should get there by nightfall.

Before leaving Little Farmer's Cay we filled up our water tanks. The town's water supply was sitting in a big white plastic tank next to the Government Dock. It was RO water - reverse osmosis water. The islanders use reverse osmosis to make the salt water into drinkable fresh water. Everyone on the island said we could have as much water as we needed. The trick was that we had to have a hose long enough to reach from the tank to our boat. Our 150 feet of hose made it almost all of the way. We were a bit short, so we had to fill our six gallon water can, then carry that onto the boat from the dock and dump it in our tanks. Buying another fifty feet of hose has been added to our shopping list.


Government Dock at Little Farmers
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Government Dock at Little Farmers
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

After leaving the dock we headed out of the cut into the ocean on the east side of the Exuma Islands. There was a spot where the water from east and west clashed, causing whirlpools and slapping waves, but it was easy to get through safely. The rest of the day was a normal day of travelling in the wind and sun. We were still being cautious with our speed because of the broken rudder.

Just as the sun was starting to set, we entered the north end of Elizabeth Harbor. Elizabeth Harbor is huge, and Georgetown is on the southern end. We decided to anchor in a secluded little cay on the north end before darkness came. We would find the other 450 anchored boats in the morning.

Day 234 - Monday, March 12
Hamburger Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

At 8:00 we heard "Good Morning Georgetown" come through on our VHF radio. We learned that since there are so many boaters in Georgetown, they have their own little morning radio show for sharing information. First, the moderator takes the names of anyone who wants to make an announcement. Then he calls them in turn to share their news.

We learned that the Georgetown Cruiser's Regatta had begun on Saturday. We missed Kid's Day on Sunday, but there was still a whole week of activities ahead of us. It seemed that we had made it here just in time. We were anxious to find the other boats and see what was going on.

After breakfast we pulled up our anchor and headed down the Harbor. It didn't take long to find the first big group of anchored boats. They were just off of a beach called Hamburger Beach. Since Elizabeth Harbor itself is so large, it can get kind of choppy. Today the wind was brisk and the boats here were pretty bouncy. We worked on finding a spot for ourselves and getting anchored so we could dinghy up to the beach and join in the fun. We could see them racing small Sunfish sailboats.

Back on New Year's Day other boaters told us about the dinghy races for kids in Georgetown. Ever since hearing about it, Zion has been rowing our dinghy with even greater enthusiasm, hoping to build up his skill and make a good showing for himself in Georgetown. Since we saw them racing other small boats, we figured the dinghy rowing races might be coming up, too. As soon as the anchor was set, Dan and the kids climbed down into the dinghy and went ashore. The people on shore were very kind and accommodating to our late arrival. They helped the kids get signed up for the races that were still left to be done. The dinghy rowing race? "You're ten minutes too late. They've already started." Will there be any more? Today, next week, next month? Nope, there's only one a year and this was it. Needless to say, Zion was extremely disappointed. After spending two months heading to Georgetown, getting here ten minutes late seemed incredibly ironic. If we had only known, we certainly could have speeded up by ten minutes somewhere along the way. But we didn't, and couldn't, have known since this was all too new to us. Instead Zion got the chance to learn how to deal with deep disappointment. Add this to the lousy birthday he had a week ago and the lesson became particularly powerful.

To his credit, he participated in the sea kayak race even though he had never been in a kayak before. After that the races were finished and the winners received burgees, little flags that you can fly up on your boat. It's the sailor's trophy. Since Zion felt that one of those burgees would have been rightfully his if we had arrived in time, he became committed to earning one another way.

We learned that in the afternoon there was going to be a sand sculpture contest down at Volleyball Beach, further south down the shore. Both Hamburger Beach and Volleyball Beach are on the western shore of Stocking Island. Stocking Island is the large, long island that makes up the eastern side of Elizabeth Harbor. Georgetown is on the western side of the Harbor, on Great Exuma Island. Volleyball Beach has sand volleyball courts (of course), and a small bar and grill called Chat'n'Chill. Volleyball Beach is the main hang-out for the boaters in the area. Hamburger Beach is mostly used by tourists staying in Georgetown hotels. A shuttle boat runs back and forth every day.

The kids were both anxious to compete in the sand sculpture contest. The kids decided to row there in the dinghy. I was in the mood for some exercise, so I decided to walk there. It was just down the shore a bit so I figured there must to some kind of path. Well, it turnd out that I was very wrong.

When Hamburger Beach ended, there was a big outcropping of rock. I decided to swim around it. It was a long swim. I landed on Honeymoon Beach, where more boats were anchored. At the end of Honeymoon Beach, there was another big outcropping of rock. It looked like there might be a path around the back of it, so I gave it a try. The land was firm and sandy with scattered bushes. After a while the bushes became mangroves and they became more dense. The firm sand became silty muck. I managed to slog through it to some solid rock, then proceeded to the nearest shore. I was at the back of a little lagoon on Stocking Island. This was not the easy jaunt I had expected. I was ready to admit my mistake. Luckily, there were a few boats anchored in the lagoon. I asked them how to get to Volleyball Beach, and they said there really wasn't any way to get there on land. But they kindly gave me a ride there in their dinghy because they were competing in the sand sculpture contest, too.

As I exited the dinghy and walked over to Volleyball Beach, I saw the kids coming up in our dinghy. But they weren't rowing. They were being pulled by a rubber dinghy with an engine. The wind was strong and it had been against them, so they stuck our their thumb to get a tow.

Again, the organizers were very good-natured about accepting our late sign- up for the event. Tricia had already made friends with a group of girls who had been watching the small boat races in the morning. Unfortunately, their sand sculpture team of six was already full and they couldn't let her join them. Their loss was my gain since Tricia decided to pair up with Mom and compete in the adult division. Zion wanted to give it a try on his own in the kid's division. Rowing dinghies might be his specialty, but its not his only one. He's been building things in the sand every chance he's gotten since we left on this trip last June, so he was in good shape for sand sculpting, too.

Each team got a large square of sand along the beach just above the water line. Tricia and I decided to make a Beach Scene. We built a lounge chair out of sand (most people thought it was a coffin), and we put a cooler, a boom box, and an open book alongside it. It turned out better than we expected and it was a lot of fun.

Zion worked with a vengeance on his Aztec Agricultural Village. He had temples and buildings, roads and canals, and a working irrigation system that he filled with water right before the judges came by. He took plants from nearby and made fields of crops and decorative landscapes. The judges must have been impressed, because we were all surprised and proud when he won first place! He got a blue ribbon for his effort, not the burgee that his heart desired. We learned that burgees are only given out in events where adults compete. Kid's events receive ribbons. But he also got a coupon for a free hot dog at Chat'n'Chill. The coupon was greatly appreciated and redeemed immediately.

We were amazed by the beauty and creativity of the other sand sculptures. The winner in the adult division was a giant juke box decorated with large pink conch shells. There was also a group of crustaceans performing in a rake'n'scrape band, a sailboat in a sunset, colorful underwater fish, Aphrodite in her shell, an angel, and lots of mermaids. We heard that the Georgetown cruisers have their own web page, www.ornot.com\regatta. They will be putting up pictures of all the sand sculptures and other events. But don't look for it until the end of summer. They have to wait until they get back to the States to put it all together.

What does ornot mean? It's a common phrase down here in this place where people come to escape the many rules and demands of land-based society. You can do this . . . or not. You can do that . . . or not. No one really cares what you do down here. Unless you lay your anchor line over theirs. Then they care. But other than that, laissez-faire is the way to be.

After this whirlwind day of schedules and society and competition, not to mention hot sun and sand, we returned to our boat for a well-needed rest. It was easy to row back - the strong wind was behind us.

Day 235 - Tuesday, March 13
Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

The big event today was a real sailing regatta for the big boats. They raced from one end of Elizabeth Harbor to the other in a straight shot. We weren't ready to pay much attention to the race. We still hadn't seen Georgetown. We decided to take our boat over there for the day.

We anchored near a dinghy dock in Georgetown. There is a big dock nearby for the boats that bring supplies to the island. There are cruising boats anchored everywhere outside of the channel.

Tricia and Dad went into town to check it out while Zion and I stayed on board to get things back in order. Dan was eager to find out how he could order the parts he needed to fix our rudder. He learned that he could fax an order to West Marine in Florida and they could mail him the parts via UPS. We were thrilled to learn there is a UPS office here in Georgetown. The local grocery store, Exuma Market, caters to the cruisers and handles faxes for them. They have little A-B-C mailboxes set up so you can leave notes for other boaters under their boat names. In the morning Exuma Market announces on the radio who has received a fax or a package. If they call your name, you head into town and look in your cubby hole. If you have your own computer for doing e- mail (we don't), you can take your PC to the BaTelCo office and plug in there to send and receive. But the phone lines are not always reliable because there are so many weak links in the chain across the islands. Dan did learn that there is a junior college three miles from town that has e-mail we might be able to use. We will check that out one day when we have lots of time. Dan also learned that there is an airport nearby where American Eagle has daily flights to the States.

Other than these links to the fast-paced world, Georgetown is a lot like the other small Bahamian towns that we have seen. The Administration Building is pink and white, the school is yellow and green. The students wear uniforms. Everything is in walking distance. The street is a wide sidewalk made of patchy asphalt or hard-packed dirt. There is a straw market where local women sell locally-made straw baskets, home-grown fruits and vegetables, t-shirts and sundresses. The grocery store and the laundromat are both bigger and more modern here than in the other towns, probably because there are so many cruisers that use them. The local Bahamians are as friendly as ever and manage to keep a smile on their face as they continually remind us that the natural pace of life in these islands is s-l-o-w. That's why we all came here, right?

Day 236 - Wednesday, March 14
Goat Cay, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

Today the whole family went into town, armed with our shopping lists. We learned we could check out books at the library which was great news. Tricia even found some Sweet Valley High books that she hasn't read yet. Dan found some SF books he had been looking for and I picked up a history of the Bahama Islands.

Tricia was looking for a new swimsuit and a sarong. Her old suit is getting worn. We found a cute blue batik bikini that came with a sarong and a little bag for holding it all at one of the straw market booths. She tried it on inside the little wooden shack nearby that held their excess inventory. It had open doors and windows, so changing was a trick. It fit perfectly and the price was right. Now she has to work on a bikini tan.

In the afternoon we took our boat back to Volleyball Beach. There are several little coves there that are extremely well-protected from wind and waves in any direction. Because of the shallow draft on our boat, we were able to sneak up close to shore behind Chat'n'Chill where other boats with big keels couldn't fit. We tied off to a tree on shore and set two anchors in back to keep us from swinging. We have to take our dinghy to get to shore, but it's only about fifty feet. So now the kids can get back and forth to the beach (and their friends) with ease any time of the day or night and in any weather. No more fights over who gets to use the dinghy. Hooray! (I thought we wouldn't have to deal with this kind of problem until they were both over 16.)

Day 237 - Thursday, March 15
Hole 1 at Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

Today was another sailing regatta, the big one. Competitors had to sail all of the way around Stocking Island. It was a beautiful sunny day and the wind was stiff. We decided to climb to the top of one of the hills on Stocking Island and join the other people who were up there to watch the race.


Hole One at Georgetown
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

It was a glorious sight to see all of those billowing sails out on the blue ocean. They were against the wind so most of the boats were tacking far out to the horizon. But one intrepid boat went right along the shore in a close haul that had their boat sitting at a steep angle. The whole crew was leaning back off the side that wasn't down in the water. Their strategy seemed to work and they reached the tip of the island before anyone else.


Sailing Regatta around Stocking Island
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Sailing Regatta around Stocking Island
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

The finish line was in the Harbor, guarded by a gray warship from the Bahamian Guard. When a boat crossed the finish line, the Guard would set off a cannon. You could hear the loud boom everywhere.


Ocean View from top of Stocking Island
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

We took some time to explore the paths on Stocking Island. Yes, you can walk down the island if you walk on the ocean side. It is one long, long sandy beach with glistening marine blue waters. There are several paths through the jungle foliage that cross from side to side on the island, so you can walk from Hamburger Beach to Volleyball Beach if you cross to the ocean side and then back again. Stocking Island is a series of hills. On top of the highest hill there is a large cement structure that looks like a junior Washington Monument. We hiked up there to check it out and see what it was commemorating. To our surprise, there wasn't a single marking of any kind on the smooth cement surfaces. But some cracks had been recently patched, so we knew it was being taken care of. We just don't know why. It's hard to imagine how much effort it must have taken to get all of that cement to the top of the hill along the winding dirt paths.


Anchorage at Stocking Island
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Anchorage at Hamburger Beach
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

Day 238 - Friday, March 16
Hole 1 at Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

This morning there were swimming races for the kids on Hamburger Beach. Tricia wasn't interested, but Zion got up early so he could make the half hour walk down to Hamburger Beach on the other end of the island.


Sailboat with Pennants
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

A little while later, he came back to the boat in a power dinghy. A kind man at the race had brought him back to get some socks and shorts. He needed them for the SS Bucket race. In the SS Bucket race, you had to put your dry clothes in a bucket, swim around with them, and then put them on as fast as you could.

Zion participated in four events: swimming with a bogieboard, swimming with fins, snorkel and mask, bobbing for apples and the SS Bucket race. When he came back home at noon, he was the proud owner of a second place ribbon for the SS Bucket race. This time he won a free soda and he used his own money to buy a hot dog.

Day 239 - Saturday, March 17 - HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY
Hole 1 at Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

Today was full of Regatta events.

In the morning there was a big scavenger hunt. Up to six people were on a team, and you had to have a dinghy with an engine to participate. Since we didn't have the right kind of dinghy, Dan and I stayed on the boat to help scavengers while the kids each got placed on another team. The list of items was long, things like a shark's tooth, a hermit crab, a copy of James Michener's book "The Caribbean" (which we had, thank you Jeanne!), and about forty other things. These teams were sophisticated. Most of them had two dinghies running around the harbor, and they used their mobile VHF radios to keep in communication with each other. The competition was fierce. Tricia was especially excited when her team came in third! Because this was an adult event, she received one of the coveted burgees, and a $10 gift certificate at Exuma Market. We flew her burgee up high on our mast, right beneath our Bahamian courtesy flag. After a few days we had to take it down, though. Unfortunately, the third place flag is on a solid yellow background, and from a distance it looks like a quarantine flag - not a good thing to fly in the harbor!


Hanging up Trish's Pennant
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

We had a bit of a chance to rest in the afternoon before going to Regatta Park in the heart of Georgetown. Zion was ready to compete in the Peas'n'Rice Eating contest. He shovelled down his first three bowls at championship speed. Then suddenly there was a noticeable slowdown. He said he got full and couldn't eat anymore. He ended by eating three and a half bowls. The winner ate seven bowls in ten minutes. He used a bigger spoon.

The local Bahamians sold barbecue dinners in the park. Tricia had a hamburger, Dan had barbecued chicken and I had barbecued ribs. Each was served with peas'n'rice, a square of baked macaroni and cheese, and sweet and sour beets.

After dinner there was a talent show on a little stage in the park. The first act was the local high school Junkanoo band. Twenty teen boys showed up with drums, horns and cowbells and paraded through the crowd to an island beat. After that the boaters did skits and musical numbers. "Danny Boy" was a popular hit of the evening. It was a great show and a great night.

One amazing act was a man playing a large xylophone that stood up on four legs like a hefty keyboard. His songs were good, but the amazing part was that he kept the xylophone with him on his boat which was only twenty-one feet long, the smallest boat in the harbor. His wife must be up for sainthood.

The fun really started when the show was over and all of the four hundred boaters had to find their dinghies on the dark docks and drive themselves home to their boats out in the harbor.

Day 240 - Sunday, March 18
Hole 1 at Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

We learned that the Georgetown Cruisers even have their own church service on Sunday morning at 9:30 on Volleyball Beach. It's called Beach Church and it's multi-denominational and Christian. There are actually two missionary pastors that serve it. They both live and travel on boats. One comes from December through February and the other serves from March through May. Right now they are both here.

The church meets on benchs and picnic tables under the palm trees in the sand. People dress up a bit, lots of sun dresses and hats, but barefoot is still the norm since you have to climb out of your dinghy to get to church, and that means you have to step into the water. There were about 50 people at the services this morning. Several people with guitars led the singing. There were even Beach Church song books. Then we did some praying, and more singing, and then a sermon. It was very nice sharing God with so many people on the beautiful beach. After the service there was cake and coffee and COLD JUICE, our favorite. We're learning that most of the other boats down here do have refrigerators.

After lunch we had to get ready for the last big event of Regatta week - the Coconut Harvest. Teams of four work together in rubber dinghies without engines. Each person is allowed to have one swim fin (for propulsion) and each dinghy is allowed to have one bucket (for splashing water on other teams). Five hundred coconuts are released into the middle of the cove, then the teams take off from the beach to see who can pick up the most. Zion was determined to be on a team, and he found a place. Tricia thought it sounded like fun, too, but she was too young to compete. When the whistle blew it was wet and wild for awhile, but it didn't take long for all of the coconuts to be collected. The winning team had seventy of them. Sounds like a great game to play in our pond back home, if we can find enough coconuts. I wonder if tomatoes float?


Dropping Coconuts in Hole 1
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Starting Line for the Coconut Harvest
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Cheering for Zion's Team
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Returning from Coconut Harvest
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Returning from Coconut Harvest
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Returning from Coconut Harvest
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Returning from Coconut Harvest
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Returning from Coconut Harvest
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Returning from Coconut Harvest
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Throwing Coconuts
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Throwing Coconuts
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Throwing Coconuts
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Throwing Coconuts
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Throwing Coconuts
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

At 4:30 was the awards ceremony for the whole week, particularly for the big sailing races. It was held on Hamburger Beach and it seems that everyone was there. It was time to pull the winners for the big raffle. The raffle is the fund-raiser that supports all of the Regatta activities. First prize is one-fourth of the pot, which turned out to be $1000 this year. Someone who had been visiting from Tennessee won. That should be a pleasant surprise for them. We got lucky and won one of the small prizes, a hanging step to put on the side of our boat. They also had a free kids' raffle and lots of the kids , including Tricia, won school supplies. Since they are all home-schooled down here and most families are on a tight budget the prizes were greatly appreciated by the kids.

The local Bahamians offered plate dinners again. The food was basically the same, but the choices were chicken or fish tonight. The fish was cooked on a grill with sauteed onions and green peppers. They are experts on charcoal grilling in large grill pits.

We went home tired and happy and glad that Regatta week is over. It's been hectic and filled with schedules and clock watching. We took this trip to get away from all of that for awhile! But the kids love being with other kids again and this week has been wonderful for them. They now appreciate having lots of organized activities. And the people who run this regatta have a real class act. Everything was well organized and they were always so welcoming to us. Thank you, Georgetown Cruisers!

Day 241 - Monday, March 19
Exuma Docks, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

Now that the fun events of the Regatta are over, we got serious about household chores. We pulled into the marina, Exuma Docks, for the night so we could get water and groceries and do laundry. At least, that's what Dan and I did.

Once we were docked in Georgetown the kids found more interesting things to do. Tricia hooked up with a new friend, Chloe from Traveller, who also had a gift certificate to spend at Exuma Market. They went shopping together. Tricia came back with cinnamon rolls, wrapped cheese slices, Pringles and some soda and candy. She donated the cinnamon rolls to tomorrow's family breakfast.

Zion spent the day with Matt from Good Time Habit. We didn't see him again until late in the evening.

Day 242 - Tuesday, March 20
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

As the sun came up this morning, the rain clouds came in. Tricia was the first one out of bed when she heard the raindrops. She put on her rain poncho, grabbed the umbrella, and went out to play on the top of the boat. She even had the presence of mind at that early hour to put all of our empty bowls into the cockpit to capture that precious fresh water. I went out to join her and we had a fun time together in the cool shower. We got over an inch of rain in an hour. We collected enough to fill up a gallon jug.

Before leaving Georgetown dock, I went into town to pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables from the straw market. They had tomatoes, green peppers, onions, new red potatoes, cabbage and beets. I talked with Dari about her garden. She said their growing season is almost over. By the end of April, the gardens are done. It's too hot in the summertime for anything to grow. She also had large stalks of bananas. She peels bunches off of it when she knows how many you want. The bananas are green when you get them. When you take them back to your boat, they ripen a few at a time, just enough for breakfast every day. They are smaller and sweeter than the bananas we are used to back in the States.

There were no more fresh oranges or grapefruits, just a few Persian limes. A Persian lime looks like a small grapefruit. When you cut it open, it looks like a white grapefruit but it has even more pucker power. It does taste like a lime. Dan liked it, but I needed piles of sugar on mine.

When the shopping was done we left the marina and went back to our favorite little anchor spot in Hole 1. The rain went away and the sun came back out for the rest of the day. Zion went off with his friend, Matt, again. This time they went to the ocean and Zion learned how to ride a skidboard. It's like a surfboard that goes over the wet sand at the edge of the beach. He thought it was great fun.

Day 243 - Wednesday, March 21
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

Tricia woke up at 6:30 this morning because she wanted to go shelling along the ocean beach. Morning is the best time to look for big shells that might have washed up on the shore overnight. I went with her in the dinghy and she rowed us over to the beach path. We walked along the beach as far as we could to the south until the beach ended by a large rock outcrop. We didn't find any big shells, but we did find some interesting sponges and a gray, opaque, odd-looking lump. We think the lump might be ambergris. Ambergris comes from a whale's stomach. It's something like a pearl in an oyster. If there is something in the whale's stomach that is irritating him, he coats it with ambergris until it passes. In the 1700's the local Bahamians collected ambergris from the beaches and sold it because it was worth more than gold. It had the property of being able to hold a scent for a long time, so it was an important ingredient in perfumes of the day.

The skies were bright and sunny as we took our walk to the south end of the beach. Boy, were we surprised when we turned around to head back north and saw that the sky there was full of dark, rolling clouds and they were headed towards us. We hurried back to our dinghy and got into it just as the rain started to fall. Wind, thunder and lightning wasn't far behind. Tricia had to row hard, but she did a good job and got us back to our boat quickly. We didn't even get very wet.

In the afternoon Zion went up to shore to play volleyball. Lots of the boaters gather there every day at 2:30 for some exercise. You can play fun volleyball or regulation volleyball. Zion started out in fun volleyball because he's never really played before. Once he got the hang of it, he moved up to regulation volleyball. He goes there every day to play. I think he's hooked! He's hoping they have a boys' volleyball team in high school when we get back.

Tricia spent the afternoon with her friend, Chloe, on the beach. She brought Chloe over to see our boat. I walked with them along the shore. Because the wind was blowing out of the north today, all of the dead leaves and things in the water were gathering in piles on our southern end of Hole 1. We've been spoiled so far. The shores have been nothing but clean sand.

Among the piles of dead leaves were some bright lime green blobs, about eight inches long. Chloe told us that they were dead sea slugs. If you looked carefully, you could see where they had little antennae and eyes, and brown spots on their back. Chloe said that when her family was here a few years ago, there were live sea slugs all over the beach. She collected them in a bucket and kept them as pets. She said they are really cute when they are alive. They look up at you with their little eyes that stick out of their heads on the end of their antennae. We asked her what they ate, and she said she didn't know. She said that she never fed them. Maybe that's why they only lived a few days.

When Dad ate the Persian lime for breakfast today, it had about twenty seeds inside. Tricia gathered them and planted them in wet sand up on the island, next to some palm tree. She's hoping to come back some day and find a nice fruit tree there.

Day 244 - Thursday, March 22
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

This afternoon while Zion was playing volleyball and Tricia was on the beach with her friends, Dan and I snuck off by ourselves for a long walk along the ocean shore. We wanted to find the easiest path for walking to Hamburger Beach and we found it. By the time we got back the sun was setting. We knew we would be in trouble with the kids. Sure enough, when we got back on the boat the first words out of their mouths were "Where were you? We were worried about you." It made us laugh.


Honeycomb Limestone
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Path to Oceanside on Stocking Island
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Abandoned Boat on Oceanside
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Playing in Oceanside
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Scenic beach caves
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Scenic beach caves
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Scenic beach caves
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Scenic beach caves
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Scenic beach caves
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Scenic beach caves
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Mermaid in the Sand
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

At 7:00 tonight we heard the last story hour on the radio. A mysterious story teller climbs onto one of the boats in the harbor every night at 7:00. He goes onto hailing channel 16 on the radio, and tells everyone who wants to hear a bedtime story to follow him to channel 72. If you flip your dial to 72 you are treated to half an hour of stories and poems read aloud over the air waves. We've heard "Casey at the Bat" and "Ferdinand the Bull" and other classics. It's a wonderful way to settle down for the evening, if you are under ten or over forty. Apparently, the story teller is leaving Georgetown tomorrow so we won't be hearing him anymore.

Day 245 - Friday, March 23
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

Dan hitched a dinghy ride into Georgetown this morning. He wanted to check on the status of the boat parts he had ordered. He found out that West Marine had never received his fax order, so he had to send it again. Good thing he checked.

In the afternoon the kids did volleyball and swinging on the beach with their friends. At 4:00 I went to a sing-along up there. A woman with a beautiful high voice and a guitar led the songs.

In the evening, we missed the storyteller but we did tune in to a trivia game on the radio. Someone would read questions and people all over would chime in with their answers. The leader of the game was promising great prizes to all of the winners, but no one knew who he was or what boat he was on, so they were unable to collect.

When the game was done we were looking for more entertainment. It seems that Friday night is when most families go to town to eat out, so the air waves are quieter than usual. We decided to upgrade story time to the older set and we offered to read some scary stories on the air. A few people followed us over to listen. They especially enjoyed a story that Dan read from a recent issue of "Multihulls" magazine. It was supposedly a true story about a lone sailor who encountered some pirate ghosts one night as he was crossing from Bimini to Chub Cay. It was especially fun for us and the other boaters to listen to because most of us have followed the same path. Next time we'll keep our eyes and ears open more after dark.

Day 246 - Saturday, March 24
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

Today we learned that the regular Saturday morning activity for the boat kids is to gather at Volleyball Beach Water Sports and rent Sunfish sailboats for the morning. They share the boats and the cost so it's reasonable, then if the weather is good they race each other.

Zion raced alone in his boat. He won the first race, but had trouble at the starting line on the second race. Tricia joined two other twelve-year-old girls, Chloe and Madison, and the three of them learned how to sail on their own. They tried to race, but were usually too far from the race course to be a threat. We were proud of them, though, because they sailed all morning and never tipped over.


Saturday Morning Sunfish Race in Hole Zero
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Saturday Morning Sunfish Race in Hole Zero
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Saturday Morning Sunfish Race in Hole Zero
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Saturday Morning Sunfish Race in Hole Zero
(Click on picture for more detailed view)


Saturday Morning Sunfish Race in Hole Zero
(Click on picture for more detailed view)

After the race we got a chance to meet some of the other parents on a nearby dock. While most of the families in the race were boaters, one family lived in a home on the island. We were gathered on their backyard dock to watch the kids sail. Dan got a chance to get a technical tour of their home. They generate their own electricity, mostly from solar panels. They collect their own rain water and can hold 27,000 gallons. They are looking forward to the latest technological development just put on the market - direct PC, being able to link their PC to Internet via individual satellite connections. They have four children who are schooled at home by a private tutor.

We were invited to join the other families at their other regular Saturday event - pot luck dinner at Hamburger Beach. At 5:30 Dan and I packed up our food, put it in backpacks, and headed up the oceanside beach. The kids hitched rides in dinghies with their friends.

When we got there we found a big campfire being built out of wood on the beach. Most families were roasting hot dogs on sticks. We met two families who had just arrived in Georgetown, and we were shocked to learn that one of the families was from DePere! Their last name was Schneider (big surprise) and they had two daughters near Tricia's age. They also had a six-year-old son. They had sold their home in DePere and bought a boat in Florida. The name of their boat is Pomegranate, after their children's favorite fruit. They started their trip two months ago and plan to spend two years travelling through the Caribbean islands.

Day 247 - Sunday, March 25
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

In the morning we attended Beach Church again. Today there were even more people than last week, which was a big surprise because many boats left Georgetown after the Regatta ended.

In the afternoon Tricia brought her new friend from Pomegranate, Cinda, to our boat. They played some fortune-telling games, then decided that they wanted to make some fortune cookies. We pulled out the sun oven and did our best, but they didn't look much like the pictures in the book.

Day 248 - Monday, March 26
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

We all awoke quickly at 7:00 this morning when we heard a neighbor on a nearby boat calling out "Dolphin! Dolphin!". We climbed out into the cockpit just in time to see a dolphin jump and dive nearby our boat. They are beautiful to watch. We haven't seen many here in the Bahamas and we miss them.

We listen to the Georgetown Net on the radio every morning at 8:00. It has become part of our daily routine. The most important part of the program is the daily weather forecast. When you are travelling on a boat, nothing affects your day more than the weather. Back home we used to make our daily schedules and not give a thought to wind speed or wind direction. Here, you can't make your daily schedule until your know the weather. The weather tells you whether or not you can get across the harbor to Georgetown today, whether you need to move your boat to a better anchorage or not, and whether you can continue on your journey in the direction you want to go. Nothing can be scheduled until you know the weather. Even the kids pay attention because friends leave or friends stay because of the weather.

The second most important daily announcement on the radio is the stock market report. It doesn't really mean that much to us, but you can hear collective groans coming from the retirees on the other boats when the Dow Jones takes a dive. I guess the stock market report tells them how long they can afford to stay here.

We like to listen for the community announcements on the Net. This morning they announced that there would be aerobics on the beach at 9:00. I talked Tricia into going with me. When we got there she was very disappointed. She said "There's all old people here." She didn't want to stay. I told her that if she didn't stay and exercise she would have to spend the hour doing math. She decided to go back to the boat and do math. I stayed and enjoyed the class. The teacher was fun and everyone was enthusiastic. At the end of class I told them about Tricia's decision. They laughed and said that most young people that show up don't stay long because they're not in good enough shape to keep up with the old folks. I passed that bit of news on to Tricia and Zion. They found it hard to believe, so they decided to give aerobics a try the next time it was offered.

At noon Tricia left for an overnight birthday party that her friend, Madison from Splash Dance, was having. They went sailing on Sunfishes again to improve their skills. Then they went to her boat for pizza, music and videos. Tricia made her a charm bracelet for a gift by wiring small shells onto a black braided cord. We used our power drill to put little holes into the shells and it actually worked without breaking the shell most of the time.

Dan and Zion did some snorkeling around our boat and found some barracuda hanging around. Dan had fun trying to catch one all evening. Somehow they know the difference between bait and fish. They're smarter than you'd expect.

Day 249 - Tuesday, March 27
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

We were all abruptly awakened at 6:00 a.m. by a yell of "Shark!" from atop our boat. Dan had gotten up extra early to continue his barracuda hunt, and to his surprise and pleasure he saw a reef shark in the shallow water near the boat. He tried casting out his fish bait to get the shark's attention. The shark ignored the first two casts. Then on the third cast, he grabbed at the bait and took off at rapid speed. The fishing reel started spinning, and that's when Dan started calling for Zion to come out and help. By the time we got the cobwebs out of our heads and climbed into the cockpit, the shark was long gone. He had spit out the bait and the hook.

Later in the morning Tricia came back from her sleepover. She had had a great time, but the sad news was that Madison's family was leaving the harbor the next day. Making friends quickly and losing them quickly is something that all boating kids are used to.

Tricia helped us move our boat over to Georgetown where we anchored nearby the dinghy dock. She spent the rest of the day in bed while Dan, Zion and I did the shopping and laundry in town.

There were some new unusual fruits at the straw market. Smooth-skinned bright green papayas came in all sizes, some as big as large honeydew melons. I bought one of those. I also bought a bitter orange and a sapodilla.

The sapodilla looks like a small apple covered with fuzzy brown kiwi skin. I cut it in slices to eat it. We each took a bite and felt our mouths go dry, so dry that they puckered up. I didn't feel like throwing it all away, so I let it sit out on the table for a day hoping someone would want to feel their mouth go dry again. The next day I gave it a try just for fun, and was surprised to learn that the slices had ripened overnight. Now the fruit was soft and sweet like a pear. Next time I'll wait until they're soft to cut them up.

When our chores in town were done, we headed back to our anchorage in Hole 1. We think it's the best spot around because it is so well-protected from waves in every direction. We never bounce. Plus, it's right near the beach where most of the daily activities take place. We thought the other boaters would be lining up to take our spot whenever we leave. The law of the sea says you can't reserve your anchorage spots. If you leave, anyone can take it. But we found out that most boaters don't want to be this close to land because of the bugs on shore. We do have to put up window screens and shut our cabin doors as soon as the sun goes down. But the bugs haven't been that bad. Not nearly as bad as summer in Wisconsin. I much prefer a few mosquitoes to rockin' and rollin' in the harbor.

Day 250 - Wednesday, March 28
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

This afternoon Beach Church sponsered Kids' Club. They do water games, bible lessons, and crafts, and give out snacks and prizes. What a deal, especially here in the land of no TV. Both kids were anxious to go. I couldn't have stopped them even if I'd wanted to. I'm enjoying this because before we left home I distinctly remember listening to them say "Mom, do we have to go?" whenever I tried to drag them to another organized activity. After we get back to Wisconsin, I think they are going to sign-up for every activity they can think of and I won't see them for the next few years. And, they'll do it with a smile on their face.

In the evening Dan was fishing for barracuda again when something big bit through his metal leader. Could it be that shark again?

Day 251 - Thursday, March 29
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

There was aerobics on the beach again this morning. This time both Zion and Tricia wanted to come along to prove that they could keep up with the old folks. They did pretty well. After the first part Tricia said "This is actually kind of fun." By the end, no one in our family could hold their arms up over their head anymore. Unfortunately, this was the last aerobics class for the season. When we get back home we'll have to try our "Sweatin' to the Oldies" tapes.

In the afternoon there was choir practice on the beach. We are practicing for Easter Sunday when Beach Church has a sunrise service on the oceanside beach. It should be quite stunning if we can find our way over there through the jungle paths in the dark. They are letting Tricia play her recorder along with some of the songs. The other instruments in the choir are a guitar and an autoharp.

Day 252 - Friday, March 30
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

Another day of school in the morning and swimming and volleyball in the afternoon.

A retired couple lives on our neighbor boat, Puff. Their daughter, son-in- law and two grandchildren from Chicago came to visit them for the last week. They had bought a three-foot stalk of bananas and hung it up on the back of their boat for the occasion. When they bought the stalk a week ago it was green. We watched the bananas turn ripe and disappear day by day. Today their guests were leaving, so they kindly gave us the rest of their bananas. It was enough for one breakfast and three batches of banana bread, which is especially good when you add chocolate chips.

Zion and I found some time to go snorkeling around a nearby point of rock in our cove. At low tide, the rock is totally exposed, but at high tide half of it is underwater. It is made of honeycomb limestone, so there are interesting creatures that hang out in the many holes. We saw some brightly colored fish, a big sea anemone and something new. The new creature looked like a bright yellow morning glory flower, but if your finger got close to it, it would disappear in a flash. There were also some big red sea stars (starfish) in the shallow water nearby. We see rays swimming in the shallows almost every day.

In the evening was Family Film Night on one of the boats. Tricia and Zion went to see the movie "Space Camp".

Day 253 - Saturday, March 31
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

This morning seventeen kids showed up for the Sunfish sailing races. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication and the attendent didn't show up on time. By the time he arrived, most of the kids had left. So Zion and Tricia didn't get to race this time, but they did have an hour to take the boats out for fun.

In the afternoon we had Kids' Club again. I volunteered to coordinate the games because the leaders needed some help. Although I've been enjoying this year as a respite from volunteer duties, I've found that I'm actually starting to miss the excitement of it. I recognise now that it is my creative outlet and it is fun getting involved again. And what could be more fun than playing games in the water on a warm, sunny day when the water is clear and shallow and the bottom is smooth sand? We played tug-of-war, first in the sand (to get dirty) and then in the water (to get clean). Then we played Men from Mars, had some swimming races and threw balls into hoops floating in the water. We tried bouncing beach balls in the air, but it was a little too windy today and they liked to blow away.

Dan went snorkeling with Zion later in the afternoon and they saw a pod of ten baby sharks. I'm glad the mother wasn't around!

Saturday evening was the potluck/campfire on Hamburger Beach again. The chocolate chip banana cake was considered a great treat by the boat kids. They don't get many snacks or sweets around here because treats are very expensive in the stores.

This time we came better prepared for our hike back home. We all wore our sandals and we took along our kerosene lantern instead of flashlights. The lanterns worked great for following the jungle paths back in the dark. They gave off light in a complete circle, 360 degrees, so everyone could see the rocks they had to step over.

After we got home Dad went fishing for shark again. He had caught a small grunt fish in the cast net that he used as bait. The grunt fish gets its name from the sound it makes. It grunts. When it was laying in the net we heard it snort just like a pig. It's very funny. The shark must like it, too, because one of them grabbed onto the bait. The shark pulled on the line so hard that the three-inch-long hook was straightened out and the metal leader was left in a permanent curl. The shark escaped from Captain Dan one more time. We're starting to think we should name him Moby.

Day 254 - Sunday, April 1
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

In the morning we were greeted with a heavy rain shower, just enough to postpone Beach Church for an hour. The best thing about the rain storms down here is that they don't last long. After about an hour, the clouds go away and clear sunny skies come back. Every day down here has been clear and sunny in the afternoon. The air temps are always in the seventies or eighties, and the water temperature is 78 degrees. Boy, are we spoiled.

This morning there was an April Fool joke on the Net. Captain Graybeard radioed in and reported that he had lost his pet hammerhead shark. His name was Fred and he wore a red collar. If anyone saw him, they should send him back home. One person called back and said they saw one with a blue collar, but not a red collar. Another person suggested that the owner look in their toolbox to find him.

Every day the Net ends with a Thought for the Day contributed by one of the boaters. Here are our two favorites:

Remember - You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose.

Don't kiss your honey When your nose is runny. You might think it's funny, But it's not.

At Beach Church this morning I did Sunday school with the kids, mainly because Tricia and Zion wanted me to. They figured it would be more fun than listening to the pastor's sermon. Several teens showed up and we did a scavenger hunt for that of God along the beach. It was interesting that several of the kids said windsurfing and sailing made them feel close to God. One boy told of how his father took a blind friend sailing with them one day. The blind man could steer the boat by feeling the wind on his face. We also played some Michelangelo. One person is a sculptor and the other person is the clay. The sculptor has to create a work of art out of the clay to express different feelings. This game is always a hit with older kids and it lets them express things that are difficult to put into words.

In the afternoon Tricia brought some friends, Kendra and Austin, over to the boat and they spent a long time climbing up the ladder then jumping off the boat over and over again.

Day 255 - Monday, April 2
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

This afternoon when Tricia's friends came over to swim they brought along their bogie boards. I took them over to the ocean and conditions were perfect for riding the waves. Two-foot high walls of water would come roaring in. They were just high enough to be very exciting and just low enough to be pretty safe. Rolling in the ocean waves is always fun, but it's also exhausting and it always leaves your hair full of sand.

In the evening, Zion took the family dinghy to his friend, Matt's, boat. They were going to watch some movies together while Matt's parents were out.

The rest of our family was invited over to the Schneider's boat. We took along our charts so they could show us their favorite places to stop in the Bahamas when we decide to head back. We will be heading north and back home while they will be heading south to new islands.

They have a beautiful monohull sailboat. They have a front bedroom with two bunks for the girls, a master bedroom in back, a large salon table that can double as a bed, and two heads (bathrooms). Their luxuries are a large refrigerator and a washer and a dryer. That's the way the boat came because the previous owners spent a lot of time in U.S. marinas where they could hook up to dock water. The washer isn't very useful here in the Bahamas where fresh water is so expensive. But the dryer is handy.

Judy and I had a nice talk about the challenges of feeding a family three meals a day on a boat here in the islands. We had a good laugh about the dream she had last week. While most people probably dream about being on a sunny tropical island, she has started to dream about walking down the aisles of Sam's Club and being able to buy lots and lots of cheap food!

After playing some Pictionary they kindly gave us a ride back to our boat. Zion came back at 12:30, his latest night out yet.

Day 256 - Tuesday, April 3
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

A quiet day of school, volleyball and swimming, still waiting for our rudder parts to arrive from the States.

For school today Zion devised a real trigonometry problem for himself. He built a crude sextant out of a protractor, straw, string and a fishing weight. Then he measured the angle from our boat to the monument on top of the hill so he could estimate how far away it was. It's about half a kilometer as the crow flies, but probably twice that if you follow the paths to get there.

Day 257 - Wednesday, April 4
Hole 1, Volleyball Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas
N 23' 31.6" W 75' 47.2"

After school today we had Kids' Club again. We played the same water games but added a new one called Watercolors. It was Tricia's idea and it's one of her favorite games. She learned to play it at school with a thimbleful of water, but since we were in the water anyway we played with a king-size glass. One kid fills the cup with water and thinks of a color in their mind. Then the other kids try to guess what color they are thinking of. If they guess right, they get the cup of water dumped over their head. They loved it!

A woman came to teach us how to weave fish out of the local palm branches. Another woman showed us the baskets she makes out of palms. To make the baskets she shreds the palm leaves with a needle into long thin threads. Then she uses one palm thread to sew around a group of threads and make them into a thick rope. The rope is then sewn into a coil basket. The result is smooth, beautiful and strong. I don't think that it's something I could complete in my lifetime, though. I think I'll stick with the palm fish.

At Kids' Club Zion met a new boy his age, Greg. Greg is from South Africa and his family lives in one of the beach houses on Stocking Island. Greg also enjoys building dams and bridges in the sand, so Zion went to his house for the afternoon.

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