Thursday, January 29, 2009


Nina cruising through the harbor.
Monica on the bow sprit
content with my volleyball on volleyball beach
Jib, staysail, fisherman, and main sail, all looking pretty
Heelin aong
Captain David.
Thomas doin his thing
Chillin with the kids
Approaching the anchorage in elizabeth harbor, with the video chase dinghy behind us

I have a few pics from our voyage on Nina, as you see. And by the by, Mark is back and so is Gottalife, I am no longer stranded. I think the grandparents and I had a good week. Hopefully things will be good now that everyone is back together. Grandad and I had a talk about how altruism dosn't exist and he has to realize that, and he agreed that he would try to do a little more for the people that do things for us, and that might help relieve some of the tension around here. Lets hope.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009



Its been a good few days, lots of adventure. I went out roaming on Stocking Island, just seeing what I could see, its really is a beautiful island. I met up on my journey with Monica from Nina, and she is a wild one, she sure loves an adventure. We army crawled through the underbrush, exploring a waterhole and cave, getting all scratched and bruised, saw a coconut tree in the distance and decided to go straight for it, and when we got there I climbed straight up the thing and grabbed 2 coconuts. They were deeeeelicious. When you newbies back in the states eat coconut you usually get it when the meat is dry, but here they eat it when the husk is still green and the meat on the inside is like jelly, it makes for a nice refreshing snack. I got myself a nice machete to get into those coconuts. When we broke open the coconuts we met some kids, 2 from Alaska and one from Canada, apparently having a machete is illegal in Canada and the one kid spent a night in jail for carrying one just like the one I have.
The next day I pleaded with Grandad to be able to do a favor for Nina, they were rowing 3 guests and luggage across the harbor in high wind because they had a hole in their dinghy, but I ended up helping them and even bringing them cookies and as a thank you they invited me to join them on a sail yesterday. Nina is a 70 foot schooner built in 1928 and was the fist American schooner to win the trans-Atlantic race, she won 2 fastnet races I think, and is one hell of a boat. She is 18 feet at the beam, and has a good 10 foot bow sprit, just being on deck is quite impressive. We sailed off the anchor and got all 4 sails up once we were underway, She has a jib, a staysail, a mainsail, and a fisherman, the fisherman is definitely the most impressive sail, flying above the staysail in between the main mast and the mizzen. Maybe you should just google it. Actually Google Nina, I am sure you can find something out there about her. So we went out and under full sail we slalomed the boats anchored off of volleyball beach. It was completely unnecessary and totally awesome, just showing off, making a good 7 knots, hiking so the leeward deck was dipping in the water, 16 hands on deck, and coming within mere feet of the boats at anchor. The captain gave everyone a job when they came on board, he really knew what he was doing, played the role of captain to a T, it was impressive. I was in charge of the starboard forward back stay. Basically the wire that holds the mast up. So we took a few trips up and down the harbor, Rosemary, the captain’s wife, made us a wonderful lunch and dinner, and I ended up staying on board overnight, playing poker with the kids, hanging out with the other crew, it was a great time.
Yesterday I explored the rest of Stocking Island, walking up over the northern tip, a brutal trip to make barefoot… but I did it. On the way back we came upon a little beach shack, very well kept up, called John’s Flip Flop Shop, and we later found out that it is the local nude beach. Luckily it was uninhabited when we found it, we saw names written in the benches of lots of the… older folks around the harbor like Hanz Solo and Mayor Bill… That would have been upsetting. But the island was beautiful, we found lots of little isolated beaches hidden in the rocky cliffs, a few caves cut into the walls, and I even found a sandal my size to finish the journey in! One thing that has been disappointing about the beaches around here is the lack of shells that are worth picking up. I was hoping to find all kinds of interesting things, but it is relatively barren, oh well.
Mark is still out in the ocean, incommunicado except for his spot, so if you are reading this Mark, you should drop me an email. And as for the rest of you, you should drop me an email too, I have been spending some time writing people here and there, like some of the stuff I am posting on the blog today, but if you email me, I will write up a reply over the next week or so and send you a reply the next time I am online. Hope all is well, and GOOOO STEELERRRRRRRS.

Iz Da Bahamas Mon!

I would like to take a moment to tell you about the Bahamian folk who we meet around here. The first time I ever really sat and talked to a local was when I was looking at the shops around town and got to talking to the cashier at one of the 3 gift shops in Georgetown. She started talking about how cold the weather was, I was walking around in my short sleeves and shorts because it was 73 degrees outside, and it made me take notice at the attire of all the locals. Just about everyone was wearing hoodies and long pants, and it was freaking 75 degrees outside! It is funny that they think of that as cold, but I suppose for them it is, I mean, it get up to a whopping... 85 degrees in the summer... they are just spoiled.
One notable characteristic of the Bahamians is their unwavering kindness. Every encounter I have had with a local, they have done everything they can to be helpful and pleasant, and it is really refreshing to interact with them, to go through life like that. Everyone says hi to everyone, if you look like you could use some help, there are loads of offers to give it. My uncle and I were just out in the middle of the harbor cleaning fish and lobster, we have to get out away from the anchorage as to keep from attracting sharks, and we sit there drifting with our motor off filleting the fish. While we are sitting there a guy comes out to us, a ¼ mile dinghy trip, which is pretty substantial, and asks if we need help. We decline, show him our fish carcasses, and he goes allll the way back. Then 5 minutes later another boat comes by to ask if we need anything, we show the carcasses, they give the thumbs up and go on their way, we were out there for like 15 minutes and had two people go way out of their way to check on us.
The taxi driver who I always call, his name is Forrester Rolle, is always around town, we always see each other and talk about the Lakers, the Steelers, beer, whatever, and he knows evvvveryone in town. We go to the airport and he gets behind the bar and gives me a beer, cause he is friends with the owner, I randomly see him in the liquor store and he tells the cashier to treat me good, he beeps and waves at like half the cars we pass on the road. I though it was just him for a while, but as I spend more time here I realize, it is everyone, everyone knows everyone, and everyone is that friendly, and it is awesome. Kari and I decided to hitchhike out of town a ways and I didn't stick my thumb up at 3 cars before a guy stops and picks us up, we go a mile and he stops to let the other girl in the car out at a hotel and it turns out she was hitchhiking too, and on our way back again the 3rd or 4th car picked us up and brought us right where we wanted to go.
We go to volleyball beach almost everyday, and the owner of the “Chat and Chill”, which is the little burger shack/bar on the beach, she has a 6 year old boy who just runs around the beach making new friends everyday, and he is an awesome little character, his name is Kenneth, and he lets you know right when he meets you, its Kenneth, not Ken. He has made friends with me and my cousins and all the cruiser kids that hang out on the beach every day, and if they ever ask him for fries or a smoothie or something, he goes and tells his mom he wants one and then comes back and gives it to whoever asked, its pretty funny. Well Kenneth has a babysitter on Saturdays, every other day of the week he just roams free, but this kid, the babysitter, Alex, I think he is a freshman in highschool, I said hi to him a couple weeks ago, chatted for a second, and didn't see him again until today. My cousins and the other kids decided that all the guys and girls were going to get “married” so they all chose husbands and wives and played that game all day. I was sitting there watching the old fogies play volleyball and he said something behind me, I hardly heard him and then he said my name, I turned around and he was watching the other kids play their marriage game he looked back at me and said “Brendon, do they know nothing about love?” The genuine tone in his voice and the look of concern on his face really shocked me coming from a 14 year old kid who had only barely met me once before, but it was amazing, and I think it shows something, one of the few things, that they actually are serious about down here. And it is quite important indeed.
The Bahamian lifestyle is so laid back and carefree, you cant help but get into the mood a little bit yourself when you are here for a while. If you know me, you know that I already operate in that sort of manner, so I am loving it down here. I was always looking to excuse or legitimize my laziness, procrastination, and perhaps some overoptimism, I just never knew the proper way to do so. But now I know. One simple phrase- “Iz da Bahamas Mon!” What does it matter? Get over it! Enjoy your life! Life is good! Wanna have some rum with your coffee in the morning? Worried about what you are going to wear anywhere at any time? Wondering how can that possibly be legal? Waitress short you a dollar in change? Wondering why every car is covered in dents? Getting impatient that your food is taking too long? “IZ DA BAHAMAS MON!” That is their anthem down here, the philosophy by which they live. And live they do.



Well, Mark is out on some boat, probably getting the crap beat out of him by this weather on the way to the Virgin Islands. My uncle is planning a trip to Long Island with Rio Dulce and a couple other boats. And I am here with my Grandparents who refuse to budge from our current spot. We actually, instead of moving to a calmer anchorage, put down a third anchor yesterday when the wind started to pick up. So now where there used to be about 40 boats in our little anchorage, there are more like 15, and they are almost all crazy Canadians. 5 of the 7 I can see are flying a Canadian flag. I don’t know what it is, there are so many Canadians down here, they are all French Canadian, and they are all nuts. Apparently no more nuts than us though I suppose.
I cooked up all the fish I caught on the 18th, I made some kind of butter cilantro garlic potato lime concoction that I used as breading and fried them in. It was quite delicious, and along with some sautéed veggies and fresh guacamole it made for a nice meal. Once again, it really satisfies some innate primordial desire when you sit down to a meal you hunted, killed, and prepared yourself, especially when that meal is particularly delicious.
With Mark gone, things have actually settled down quite a bit here on Sandpiper. Tensions were getting high just before he left, due to... conflicting personalities/intrests? But they really seem to be in a better mood lately, a little less stressed. Me however, I am going just a little bit more crazy, and I am not sure how long I will last, and that is just sitting here at anchor, I am glad we are not going to be underway anytime soon, that wouldn’t be fun. Last night I heard the local hotel going over the VHF radio calling Gottalife, and I responded to see if they needed anything. They said that my Aunt Susan had called and wanted someone to contact her because there was an emergency. I got Brian on the Radio and he called Susan on his cell phone. Now we are all quite worried at this point, for someone to go to such extreme measures as to look up the closest hotel and have them go out on the radio to get someone to call them, well that seems like it is a pretty serious situation. Brain calls to find out it was my mom, and she was worried because Mark’s GPS Spot showed a blip going way further south than we are supposed to be. So, for those of you who watch the Spot, our boat was not stolen, nobody is floating around in the ocean, everything is fine, Mark just decided to jump ship, so that is no longer my spot, it is Mark’s. At this rate you can just assume my spot will only vary 50 feet as we swing around our now 3 anchors we have down in Elizabeth harbor. Oh well, I guess I will have to live with it here in Georgetown, I am going to go play some volleyball on the beach and hit Grandad up for that hamburger and Kalik he owes me. Oh ya, and I named my Dinghy: PITTSBURGH’S GOIN’ TO THE SUPER BOWL. So now when people call me, they have to hail me by that name. Its pretty awesome.



Hello and welcome back to another edition of “LIFE IS GOOOOOD!!!” Here is your host Bill Lumberg, in for Brendon Rawlings while he is in the Bahamas. “Yeaaa Hiiii, Yeaaaaa, hiiiiiii, yeaaaa, yeaaaaaa, hiiiii, its Bill Lumberg, thaaaanks, yeaaaa, thats greaaaaat, yeaaaaa.”

...Anyway, while I am on great moments in comedy, there is a boat here called More Cowbell, and people get on the radio all the time and spurt out little bits of the SNL skit, it is pretty awesome. One of the things I miss most about being on the boat- No Youtube. I have been jonesing some Christopher Walken brilliance for weeks! Some Don't Fear The Reaper? Maybe a little Weapon of Choice? Aw man, I didn't even think of weapon of choice until just now. Please do me and yourself a favor, and look up the Weapon of Choice music video, it will make your day, or at least your hour. If that doesn't make your hour, I want to be living your life, well at least for an hour, cause that would mean that you are doing things better than watch Christopher Walken effortlessly glide in rhythm with the heavens as he tangos with perfection, and flies with the grace an angel.

OK, so probably the best thing that has happened over the past week is that I secured for us a new dinghy, for free, that is even registered in PA. That means I can legally take it home and dinghy to
Southside instead of drive whenever I am feeling nautical. Awesome. Other than that, it has been a pretty awesome week. I gave a poker clinic on Tuesday, teaching all the newbie cruisers how to play the game so that they will come to the tournaments that are held every Monday and Thursday. Like 13 people showed up and it went really well. Now, if you have ever taught someone to play poker, you know that sometimes there are those who just don't get it. Especially if you are teaching a group of 13 people of the age range of 50-75, then there are a lot of those people who just don't get it. Well of the 13 I taught, only one made it to the real tournament on Thursday, and she happened to be sitting at my table. She was one of those who didn't quite get it. She was the first one out at the table. I am the one who took her out... woops. She even said she was trying to use one of my tactics when she went out to me, so she pretty much hates me now I think.

We have been going diving as often as possible lately, Mark and I found a secret diving spot with Kari, and we have been trying to get back there. Wed. we went to the secret spot with a girl from a sweet 70 foot schooner that is circumnavigating and she caught 2 conch and a lobster, and that was without any real intent to catch anything. Thursday we go out with my Uncle Brian and Dick and Barnacle from Rio Dulce. I make the first kill of the day with a lobster, then Dick came up with a Margate, then I get another lobster, and then I hear Brian yelling about something. I swim over and he points down into a tunnel in the reef, out of which is poking the end of his spear. I swim down to see what was going on down there and the entire spear disappears. I looked up to see my uncle with his hand over his face in disappointment, thinking he has lost his spear for good. We look around a little and I see what we are looking for, the face of a huuuge grouper poking out from a nearby hole. Dick comes over and spears the thing a second time, and the two of them yank it out of the hole, Brian's spear still lodged in its head, and they triumphantly carry the 25 pound tiger grouper by two spears back to the dinghy. We all go back and marveled at the fish, and when we jump back in, a good 5 foot reef shark makes a beeline right for us. It slows down and circles while everyone jumps back up into the dinghy, but I stick around in the water for a little to see what his intentions are. He glides along the bottom right towards me, and I just lay there in the water next to the dinghy watching, he keeps coming, keeps coming, and then... keeps going, right underneath me, 15 feet down. That was kind of intense. I assume it was attracted by all of the blood and commotion we had been causing with our kills, but that is where we decided to call it a day. We went back, cleaned the fish and lobster, and made plans for a fish fry the next day.
Rio Dulce is a 47 foot catamaran, a Catana 471, and man she is a beauty, the Costigans, who own Rio Dulce, invited over Me, Mark, Grandmother and Grandad, Uncle Brian, Aunt Sheryl, Erin, Geneva, 3 people from vessel 3 at Sea, and 3 from Nina. That made for 19 people, all of whom brought over dessert, fish, lobster, appetizers, rum, wine, all kinds of goodness. 3 at Sea brought some amazing homemade mango salsa and some delicious gooey brownies. Nina brought conch fritters made from the conch caught Wed. I caught 2 lobsters which Brian steamed, and he made pasta salad, I made some guacamole, sautéed veggies, and vermicelli, Rio Dulce made cilantro lime cole slaw that went perfectly with the fish, some seasoned rice, and they prepared the grouper that Brian caught by breading it with cornmeal and ritz crackers and frying it. The 20 of us gorged on as much lobster and grouper as we could eat, mixing it with the veggies, rice, pasta, salsa, butter, all kind of endless deliciousness. Even after we were all totally satiated and more, that grouper was not even close to gone, it must have given 15 lbs of meat, and it just kept going and going. It was amazing.

Today Brian, Dick, Barnacle and I went out diving again and I had a great day fishing. I had never shot a fish before, and today I went for it. Barnacle pointed out a nice size red snapper in the distance, about 25 feet down, so I went for it. I came up slowly, spear cocked, and just when it started to decide it was going to get out of there I let it rip and got him right in the head, he thrashed around a bit, so I caught up to him, grabbed the spear, and jammed it down into the sandy bottom, right through his skull. Everyone has told me that red snapper is some of the best fish you can get, so I am quite happy with that as my first kill. I tend to do that, the first time I do something, I do it to the max. My first beer was a Guiness, my first cigar a Cuban, my first shot of liquor was 151, and my first shot on a fish fish- a big ol' red snapper, ha. And after the snapper I got a good shot on a blue runner, and then a rock hind grouper, all of a pretty decent size, not too bad for my first fishies. The rock hind grouper was a particularly interesting shot. Every now and then when diving you will come across a little cleaning station where gobies and wrasses eat away at the akin and mouth of bigger fish, it is a pretty amazing phenomenon, especially to see it in action, the trust that is understood, like when a big rock hind grouper lets a little fish into his mouth to clean, but dosn't eat it, for whatever reason, and everyone knows that is how it goes. Well, I violated that trust. I saw that grouper laying there on a rock in the reef with a gobie in his mouth and two wrasses cleaning his scales, I dove down and got closer and closer, and the poor sap didnt even think about moving from his little day spa. Nailed him right in the head. Ya, I felt kinda bad, but man did he taste good. So ya, it was a good day fishing, my uncle got a lobster too, so we will be eating pretty well the next few days.

So, aside from fish stories (which, as far as fish stories go, were pretty truthful), I have just been hanging out, meeting people. There was a bonfire some young folk were having after poker one day, my brother and I went down, and they were all ridiculous. Two chicks who were way too proud to be from Jersey, Monica, the chick from Nina, who has had her eyes on Mark and was... tipsy, some racist dude from South Carolina playing Jack Johnson songs interspersed with impromptu songs about Obama, the best one of which was titled I think: Obama Bahama, Obama Loves the Conch. Or something like that. It was pretty hilarious though, he was good. And then we realized that Monica's dinghy had blown away across the harbor, and she was passed out cold in the sand, not even able to stand up, which ended up in a fiasco of my grandparents not willing to help for some reason, us disobeying them to get the poor girl to her boat, and my Uncle helping Mark find the dinghy in the morning, so it was a night of excitement and drama that turned out fine in the end. Mark is now crewing for a ship on its way to the Virgin Islands and should be back in a couple weeks, the guy is flying Mark back when he gets there. I could have gone too, the guy needed more crew, but I have to stay here with the Grandparents, we might be going to Long Island Tuesday, so that is exciting, Mark said I could go next time...

Well, I hope that you are all enjoying the snow, we still haven't seen any down here yet, drop me an email and let me know how you are, I'll respond as quickly as I can, I promise, but hey, iz da Bahamas mon, it might be a while. Ha! I love being able to say that!

Monday, January 26, 2009

I am still in Georgetown

Just to avoid any confusion, Mark jumped ship and is on another boat in the BVI, I am still in georgetown, more on this story later.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Put da sting in yah ting

For the first time in a long time, I am coming to you from the same place as my last update! Sounds boring I suppose, but when that place is Georgetown, Bahamas I assure you it is far from boring. The previous weeks have been filled with family and friends, my parents and Alan came down for New Years, Kari also was down for a couple weeks, and Kari was the last one to go on the 9th . It was awesome having everyone here, and I hope some more of you find your way down.

With all the family here we filled our days with lunches on hamburger beach and at the Chat and Chill, enjoying Kalik on the beach, taking the Hobie cat out for short sails, making fools out of ourselves on the volleyball court (although the Rawlings team whooped up on Hanz Solo and his cronies), and generally exploring the island. The cruisers around here form an amazingly eclectic group, consisting of retired doctors on million dollar yachts, old salties who have been living on their tiny boats for decades, you have the organizers, the moochers, the fishermen, the divers... it is a crazy mix of people. There are an amazing amount of Canadians in the harbor, I still haven't quite figured out why yet, but I do know that every one of them has a few screws loose upstairs, perhaps even more than most cruisers, which is saying a lot. It appears that the group which we came into the Bahamas with was a great group to get in with. Hanz is widely known as the crazy creepy old man in town, and is always doing crazy stuff just for a laugh, yesterday morning he came over the radio saying he had a small child's life jacket and invited any “young mothers” to come to his boat to claim it, he has a fishy conversation every morning on his “secret channel”with a fellow Canadian about going on “hikes” before volleyball, and saying hike with the kind of emphasis that lets you know that they intend to do nothing of the sort... we all know what goes on. And Whistling Winds, who also came in with us, are the organizers of all the cool stuff that goes on. Willis hosts the poker tournament every Monday and Thursday, Kathy just had a Trivia night that we kicked butt in last night, they have run the morning announcements every morning. They are like microcosmic celebrities out here, and I am in the entourage.

Christmas was spent with family, we had a lovely dinner in my Aunt and Uncle's condo, my mom brought something like 24 dozen cookies, there was a Christmas eve show on volleyball beach, the highlight of which was our own Geneva and Erin along with the kids from Rio Dulce doing boating-modified carols on stage. It was best in show for sure. Down here in the Bahamas they have a celebration called Junkanoo on the night of Christmas day, the festivities don't really get going until 3 am, so my dad, Alan and I got up at 4 and walked into town where we walked into the back of a parade group, bass drums pounding, 10 foot headdresses flowing, whistles blowing, trumpets blaring, everyone dancing, it was a pretty amazing spectacle. They have 7 groups which compete, each group parading down the mile of road that is the heart of Georgetown twice throughout the night. It was really cool to walk around and see everyone so into the music and in the mood of the night, it made me feel like such a tourist because I really didn't understand the intent, it didn't have meaning to me, at least not nearly to the extent that it did to the locals, it was certainly a sight to see though.

When Kari came in I took a taxi out to the airport and made friends with the taxi driver, Forrester Rolle, taxi 24, he bought me a beer at the bar while we waited for Kari. It was great to see her after being apart for so long, I wish I had a picture of the 2 foot wide grin on her face as she rounded the corner, I know I had one on too. Over the next few days we went on many adventures through town and on the islands, having a lunch in the park one day that consisted of chex mix, ice cream, and a bottle of rum, now that is livin it up Bahamian style. New Years was quite uneventful, we skipped the New Years Junkanoo due to a downpour, but we stayed up for a New Years toast and then hit the hay. A couple nights later there was a meteor shower, Kari and I saw 50 meteorites in 20 minutes, and in the star saturated skies over the ocean, it was an amazing sight to see.

We went snorkeling one day on the outer reefs of stocking island, it was a great day and I speared a nice sized lobster which we later whipped up into a scrumpdelicious lobster alfredo. That was good eatin. The most exciting part of the snorkeling experience, however, was when I glanced over to see a good 7 foot bull shark gliding past the reef. I wasn't too worried until I pointed it out to Kari, and right when I did it took a sharp turn right for us, it approached until it was probably about 20 feet away and then turned again to continue on its way. That was awesome. We also saw another smaller one the next time we went snorkelsploring, and I grabbed the tail of a huge stingray thinking it was a piece of metal poking out of the sand... oops... apparently I have better dodging skills than Steve Irwin.

A few days ago I sent Kari off, it was a pretty heart wrenching moment to send her though those gates, good thing Forrester was there to buy me a Kalik before we headed back. So now with nobody around but the ol' grandparents and Mark, I have time to do things such as sit around and type up blogs, write letters, go on shell finding expeditions, so if you haven't yet, send me your address so I can mail you random crap. Zack, you should brace yourself for what I sent you back with Kari... well... its a baby shark. Its dead. Note: I will not (necessarily) send you a baby shark if you give me your address.

GO STEELERRSSSSS WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! There is a bar down here where we can watch the games and it is awesome. Proud to be a Pittsburgher.

And I have successfully written another ridiculously long blog, again I apologize. And the pictures are coming, I swear. I have a few more underwaters I didnt get up before of Thunderball cave and whatnot, there are some more amazing photos waiting. So, until next time... make good decisions.