After actually being able to spend some time on the internet that kind of worked, I went to some of the links that my friends have sent me, and there is one that I must share with the masses, which was sent independently by two of my friends, and a warning, this is not for kids, or those offended by horrible (but hilarious) music and course language, I got less than a minute of it loaded, but I could already tell it makes a pretty good theme song, thanks Chris and Kaity. I'm on a boat. And if I see that crazy fish Brooke, I will let you know how it tastes.
This whole ciguatera thing is pretty insane. Whenever I get wet, it makes a crazy sensation, like burning, but not painful, its crazy, and I live on a boat, so I get wet a lot. Luckily we have avoided the whole gastrointestinal side of things, we are just getting a little of the neurological effects, which is pretty interesting, but I hope it goes away soon.
Now that we have started to go backwards, we are running into a lot of people who we didnt expect to see after we left Georgetown. We keep getting calls from people who hear us on the radio to say hey, and we will probably end up picking up a few in our convoy north... if we do ever end up going north. We are trying to convince my uncle, or rather my aunt really, to stay for the family island regatta in Georgetown, we heard that it is a really crazy time, the town transforms into a bustling city of shacks and vendors and theres music and boat racing and apparently the flood of prostitutes that pours in from Nassau is quite a sight, hah. The boats they race look like they would be insane, they are definitely meant for speed and nothing else. The boats are sloop style, something like 18 feet long, with 26 foot booms that hang way over the stern, and a 39 foot mast, which makes for a sail that looks ridiculously huge for the boats, and in order to keep the boat from foundering under the huge force of the sail, they use a prize, which is just a little board that goes off the side of the boat and they load people out onto it to counterweight the sail. They get anybody they can to come on board and act as crew, usually to run around and be weights on the prize, and we were told we would be able to get on one of the racing sloops if we wanted, which in itself would be worth the trip back down to Georgetown I think. Now I am not saying I dont want to come home, cause I am really looking forward to returning, we would speed up our return if we went back for the regatta, but man it sounds awesome.
As I said before I left a few things I had written on my Grandad's computer when he left, and my mom emailed them to me just a few days ago, so I am just gonna put them up now, even though its old news
In the boater community the main form of boat to boat communication is the VHF radio, right after semaphore. In the US it is highly regulated and as we cruised down the ICW it was used for things like hailing marinas, talking to boats passing you or that you are passing, as well as simple communication. You would hail the ship you want to talk to on 16 and then switch to a working channel, we always use 72, where you would talk about important things such as a shallow spot in the waterway, or that tree we just passed that looks like a deer. That is how things went in the US, but down here in the Bahamas the radio is not regulated by anyone but the cruisers and it becomes the inter harbor telephone. Everyone in the harbor stays tuned to 68, and boats are hailing other boats all day, you get to know peoples voices before ever meeting them. People hail other boats and then switch to a different channel, and you can almost always count on it that someone will be following you to the channel you pick to eavesdrop on your conversation, everyone ends up knowing everything that’s going on with everyone. It is really great to have that means of mass communication with all your neighbors, I wish something like that existed in the cities at home. At any time you can go on the radio and ask any question and usually someone will get back to you.
Every morning at 8 o’clock is the Georgetown cruisers net on channel 72, the net consists of the business section, during which local businesses will come on and do a little advertisement, usually 3 or 4, then the regatta, during which the cruising regatta events are discussed, community announcements, during which people announce things like my poker clinics I have been holding, and then boaters general, during which people do everything from offer free old dinghies to ask for people to join them in a discussion of quantum physics after the net on channel 73. If you need something that you think may be sitting idle on someone’s boat, just go on the net, want to find a boat to take you on as crew to Long Island, just go on the net, need some help with your refrigerator, your engine, your bocce ball game, just go on the net, it is like the internet and the telephone combined, and everyone is listening, it is great.
It is pretty amusing to listen to some people on the radio, you begin to hear tendencies go around, like some people say “over” after everything they say, some people say “come back” some say “out” at the end some say “clear” some say “roger” to indicate they heard something, some even “roger roger”, others “copy”, others “10-4”. You pick up a little French here and there, with the French Canadians everywhere. I now know all my French numbers. What a hideous language French is, I feel like that will hurt a lot of peoples feelings, but geez, its so mumbly and nasaly and gross. Maybe you have to learn it to appreciate it? And I have been told that it may just be The French Canadian accent. When people want to switch to channel one one (that’s how you say numbers, one by one, there is no 12, no 67, it is six seven) but when they say 11 in French it just sound like someone is choking or something. Anyway, that only adds to the character of the whole thing, it may be one of my favorite things about the cruising community. The closest thing I can think to this that exists in the states is Craigslist, but there is only a select group of people that ever go on there and the feedback is not nearly as immediate. I am really surprised that more people don’t get little handheld VHF radios, they can transmit for miles, and even in places like the city the traffic would be minimal. Sure you get a few radio Nazis, demanding proper protocol on the radio, and the jerks who use it for means other than those intended (though it is usually for the sake of humor), but as a whole I think it is great to be able to instantly communicate with everyone around you, I think I am going to start a movement for a VHF radio enabled community wherever it is I end up living.
Edit: After I wrote this post I did the "Fish Net" parody that we presented at the No Talent Show for the cruising regatta, which I wrote about a few posts ago, this give a little taste of the fodder for my fish net.
2-18 This is what I was expecting.
Another adventure into the out islands this last week was really incredible, this is what I was expecting when I came down here, and it is awesome that it is finally happening. When Grandad made it clear that he wasn’t moving from Georgetown I was pretty bummed and thought I would be stuck here for the duration, but Mark and I have found plenty of opportunities to get out and explore the Bahamas and it is great. Rio Dulce, friends of Brian’s that have been traveling with us for a while, invited us to go along with them to Conception island one morning, and at a couple hours notice we were ready to go and out of there. So we headed out on Rio Dulce in the morning and got into Conception island that evening, traveling with two other sailboats Priority and Zola. Priority is a couple with two kids and they are an awesome family, the parents were a lot of fun to hang out with and the kids were really cool. Zola was a newlywed couple, just married in Vero Beach Florida, and they are out cruising for their honeymoon, a wonderful young couple and also a lot of fun. Rio Dulce is a family of 5 who have been cruising their entire lives, the boat is a 47 foot Catana catamaran and it is beautiful, we were really privileged to be able to sail on her. It seems everyone I meet out here I would be content sitting down for hours and talking about their lives, there is always something interesting, and these families were no exception, though I guess that’s what you get when you are meeting people who are cruising the Caribbean. On the sail to Conception we were cruising along with Zola and Priority probably half a mile off our beam and we kept hearing them on the radio talking about all the fish they keep catching on their trolling lines, we were trolling lines, but not getting as much as a bite. Dick, who owns Rio Dulce, was just flipping out every time they came on the radio, it was pretty hilarious, and no matter how many lines we put out, we got nothin. So we got to Conception fishless, but with friends who caught loads of mahi and tuna, so we invited them over and they brought over the freshly caught and prepared fish and damn was it delicious.
In the morning we all went diving on the reefs around the island, the staghorn corals were absolutely beautiful and the immensity of the reefs was really impressive. After a while fishing on the reefs we got a couple grouper, lobster (a huuge one from Zola), snapper, margate. The island also has mangrove creeks winding through it that we explored a bit, the creeks are a breeding ground for lots of sea life and we saw some sea turtles flitting around, nurse sharks, and various other fishies. There is nothing like eating lunch, and being hungry because you were diving all morning fishing for the fish that you are eating. It’s a good way to live. Priority introduced us to the “slingshot” that afternoon, which is a crazy contraption, born of the mind of Dwane on Zola, which uses a dinghy and a halyard to send you launching through the air at high speeds, I think only a picture will do to describe it. Diving the next day was even more fruitful, Zola again caught the biggest lobster any of us had ever seen, I wont even do Dwayne the injustice of reproducing his daring feat of underwater lobster wrangling here, it was incredible though, and he and his wife Kim got 4 more lobster that day, it was enough to feed the two of them for a month I think.
Priority had a brilliant plan of drifting the mangrove creeks and we all set out, along with another boat, Wild Wind, and us 4 dinghys went way up into the creek, tied together and waited for the tide to go out, and drifted down the creeks with the current back to the entrance. We must have been quite a sight, Priority had a big umbrella up on their dinghy and we were just lounging along, every one layin around. A helicopter flew over and then circled back to get a closer view, buzzing us at 30 feet, it was sweet. Sitting there drifting along in great company through the mangrove creeks of Conception Island in the Bahamas, it cant get any better right? Then Dick hands me a Yeungling. I almost cried.
We set off for Georgetown the next morning, and in a quick mid trip decision decided to change our route to go to Long Island with Priority and Zola. On the way we stopped at a nice reef to do a little diving and we got enough fish to feed us for a couple days, I got my biggest jack yet. On the way we were trolling again, and we caught two barracuda, which was pretty awesome, but they are not edible, so it was less awesome. They eat all the little coral eating fish which get ciguatera from eating coral so they also have ciguatera, no barracuda meat for us. After making it to Thompson Bay for the night, the first thing I did was go into the Long Island Breeze resort and use Dick’s skype to call Kari and try to justify not talking to her for 2 weeks including Valentines day and our 1 year anniversary… so back me up here, the Bahamian Valentines day is a week after the American… right guys? So, later Mark and I took the other boats on a little cave tour in the caves we explored when we were on the island before and it was incredible all over again. The next day was an awesome adventure, Mark and I hitchhiked down the Dean’s Blue Hole after hearing from many people that we had to see it. After a few minutes walking down the road we get picked up by a big ol’ white Escalade and find ourselves in the company of three 50somethings, two guys and a girl, who when I asked them what they do there, they said they do what Michael Phelps does, swim and… well that other thing he is famous for doing these days, which they obviously did a lot of. And a little down the road, we stop in at a little dive shop and picked up William. William as it turns out, holds the record for free diving, a record which he set last year, in Dean’s blue hole, the very place to which we were en route. I chatted with William on the way, he trains free diving every day, with multiple sponsorships that is how he makes a living, and does spear fishing in his free time, or I guess probably both at the same time really. Once a year he attempts the record dive, he set it two years ago and broke his own record last year with a dive of 285 feet. Inconceivable. So they took us to the blue hole, got out and chatted a bit with us, and then left Mark and I to explore it. The hole is surrounded by cliffs, with parts you can jump off of that are something like 40 feet high. We sat around and marveled at the hole, 50ish feet in diameter and plummeting down into darkness to 600 feet deep. Both Mark and I then took the 40 foot plunge off the cliff into the hole, hopefully you see those pictures. We hitchhiked back, making a stop at Max’s Conch Bar, which had the best conch salad on the island and the best drink I had ever had- coconut water and gin. Man it was good. The next ride was Cecelia, homemade banana bread, took us back.
On our way back into Georgetown we ran up the spinnaker sail on Rio Dulce, a brightly colored giant of a sail, and show boated our way through the harbor and back to hamburger beach. I got back just in time to do my poker clinic at 3, the family was all over joyed to see us back, and now it is back to the good ol’ life in Georgetown. It is also worth mentioning a bit of excitement that occurred a couple days ago. I was planning on buying Kari tickets to come down to see me over spring break as a valentines gift, and when I tell her this on Monday… she tells me she already bought tickets and was going to surprise me, holy crap is that girl awesome, I gotta say I am a bit disappointed I ruined the surprise though. So now I have that to look forward to, Brian has volunteered as the chairman of Kids Day in the upcoming cruising regatta, so Mark and I will no doubt play a large part in that, so that will be interesting, and the cold fronts have finally decided to stop blasting us with 20 knot winds and chilling us to the bone with 65 degree weather every day, so we will be able to do some good diving over the next few days, so things are looking good around here in Georgetown, now lets see what happening, in your neck of the woods.