30 Words for Wind

….and some artistic views of it… let’s start with Winslow Homer.

He captures just how I feel at anchor today.  Luckily no sharks circling the boat just now, but otherwise these are pretty much the conditions here today.

We are stuck in another cold front with strong westerly winds, a direction that makes it hard to find good protection in this part of the world.  We are in Elizabeth Harbor on Great Exuma, but since it is a huge bay there is far too much room for wind and waves to build.  We are yanking so hard on our anchor that it’s hard to imagine either the anchor or the bow of the boat surviving this without damage.

I have made references to words for wind almost every time I have talked about sailing.  As I’ve said many times, ‘zephyr’ is my favorite wind word, and I’d really rather not sail in anything but a zephyr.  We haven’t seen a single one this winter.

One of the first things I learned about words when I began studying them, is that if there is not a word for something, like oak tree, in a language, that’s a sure sign that no oak trees grow where that language is spoken.  Duh!  And of course the opposite is true!  If there are 30 words for wind in a language, you can bet they have a lot of wind.  Like the Inuit and words for snow.

I have no idea which language has the most words of wind.  I remember hearing that ancient Greek has 30 words for it… maybe that was just a catchy phrase in Greek courses in the 70…but it has stayed with me for four decades.

I am utterly tired of the wind this winter.  It’s been spring for three weeks now, but we are still having these winter cold fronts down here with strong winds.  Bob just heard from his weather router this morning that there are at least two more weeks of this clocking wind headed our way.

Here is Sarah Swett’s marvelous “The Hut on the Rock, the Sea.”…. look at those calm waters!…..look at that lovely coracle!…..it’s hard for me to imagine a more idyllic time on the water than this.  I haven’t experienced a moment like this in so long I cannot remember.

sarah swett hut on the rock

And here is Barbara Heller’s “All the Diamonds.”  She’s done a beautiful job rendering the brilliant points of light on water …..again not something I’ve seen in a while since it’s always blowing a gale here.

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Best of all, this tapestry by Sarah Swett depicts my idea of a perfect day:  my feet firmly planted on dear Mother Earth, admiring the lovely water view….while knitting! What could be better?

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It’s inspiring to see what a couple of wonderful artists can do translating lovely moments on the water.  I  just have to cling to the belief that there might times like this ahead for me.

 

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Into the Final Month

We’ve spent the last three days or so sailing, and sailing hard.   It’s not much fun when the wind is ahead of the beam, which means we are sailing into it.  Pandora goes like a bat out of hell, but heeling a lot, and that means sailing hard on her side.  Since this is also our home, it’s not much fun to have all our stuff bashed about hard to one side.  We batten things down, and put away as much as we can, but I can still hear all the stuff in the cabinets tumbling around.  There is precious little glass onboard, as you can imagine!

The sights are lovely, as you can see, but the wind continues to be challenging.  We have spent the past three days with some wonderful friends on board a very comfortable catamaran called Nati.  And we’ve just said goodbye to other dear friends on Ariel.  That’s life onboard.  Unlike living on land, when your house location changes all the time, your friends change too.  Luckily, we bump into friends now and then all along the way.

A day spent on Joe’s Sound with our friends from Nati.  We walked some beautiful white beaches, dinghied into mangrove flats, and had a lovely dinner of perch from a lake in the Adirondacks that Anne and Dick cooked up for us. How amazing is that?  They had a friend visit who brought them frozen perch, and venison that he had killed himself while hunting and fishing in the Adirondacks.  What luck for us to get to have some perch!

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We are back in Thompson Bay, planning to go ashore shortly for a walk and ending with happy hour and hamburgers at the Long Island Breeze.  Tomorrow we have reserved a car and will do a little touring of the southern part of the island, ending the day with dinner at Chez Pierre, a bit north of here, where we had a lovely dinner watching the sun set last year.  I have high hopes for an equally great dinner and sunset there tomorrow evening!

Chez Pierre 2As usual, when when the winds are calm I try to weave….  slow, but steady progress on my ‘toyland.’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is 31 days until I fly home.  I wonder what this last month on board will bring…..hopefully some long awaited fair weather and calm seas!

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Dry Cleaning, Cruiser Style

We have left the Exumas and headed east into the Atlantic to some of the islands we visited last year.  We are currently on Long Island, a far cry from the island of the same name we are so familiar with!

Ocean Breeze resort is one of the places where cruisers flock to do their laundry.  It’s a pristine little resort, and the laundry room is spotless. You can sit on a deck overlooking Thompson Bay drinking a cold beverage or even having lunch as you do laundry.

Bahamas Ocean Breeze Long Island

Last year, while I waited for my wash, I met Nancy from Trumpeter who took an hour or so to teach me how to make the local basket which is a tightly coiled technique using Silver Queen palm fronds.  We have bumped into them again this year! Here! How serendipitous!  Nancy makes about 100 baskets each season and delivers them to school children back in the US, when she and her husband George do a program on cultural differences.  This year she has made a wedding present basket that is truly amazing.  I hope to get a photo, but for now here is a photo from last year when Nancy was patiently instructing me.

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So….back to laundry.  This is one of those places I count on.  Yesterday morning Bob had already taken the sheets off the bed when a little voice told me I should call Ocean Breeze on VHF radio, and when I did I learned that their water maker is not functioning so there is no laundry available!  Oh no!  That made me realize a few things:  first, I have thought that water makers have made life on these islands so much easier.  While people still do collect water in cisterns, mostly during the hurricane season, and ration water at all times whether from the water maker or from the cistern, I never thought how fragile it is to rely on these modern conveniences.  When mechanical things break down out here it is not so simple to make repairs.  So, Ocean Breeze is carefully rationing their water now.

So that brings me to dry cleaning.  We have heard of this and have now we’ve experienced it!  When cruisers cannot do real laundry they take their sheets and towels and hang them out in the breeze and the sunlight.  I imagine that there is some benefit to this…. clean air and bright sunlight must have some cleaning properties.  Anyway….this was our only option.  Next hope of laundry is either Black Point in the Exumas or Rock Sound on Eluthera.  Must get it done before next guests arrive!

When you visits places like this, you have to expect some inconveniences….like resorting to cruiser style dry cleaning.

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We have had a little tragedy onboard Pandora.  My wonderful little window box, full of very happy plants, fell overboard!  You cannot imagine how sad I am about this.  Whenever we move location we put the window box in a safe place, usually in the dinghy that is up in its davits.   One day, last week we just moved from one side of Elizabeth harbor to the other and we didn’t even give my precious little gems a thought.  I was at the wheel, and I didn’t even see them go over.  My chives had somehow figured out it was spring and were bursting into bloom.  I was looking forward to having the flowers on salads.  The geranium was full of happy red flower heads, and the parsley had gotten quite full and delicious.  We didn’t realize it had all gone overboard until about an hour after anchoring.  Bob took off in the dinghy to see if by chance it was floating in the current.  There was a pretty strong current taking it out to sea, and he only found the empty window box.  The plants had fallen out and probably sank.  I feel just miserable about this.   All the islands and cays down here have such a desert climate that my little window box was quite a bright spot in my days.  I am so sorry about its salty demise. I don’t even have a recent photo of it, but this is from a month ago or so…

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Lastly, I dug out an old sock project that I brought on board.  It is the “skew socks” from Knitty Winter 2009 by Lana Holden.  I am having a great time finishing up this crazily fun design!  The straight sections are basically diagonal knitting , and the shaping of the toe and heel is quite creative!  I don’t even know how I would begin to envision this on my own, but I am certainly having a great time following the directions.  The heel ended up being a flap that jutted out on only one side of the circular row.  After knitting the entire heel flap (which looked nothing like any heel flap I’ve done before!) you put half of the flap on each of two dps and graft them together with a bit of spare yarn.  The working yarn ends up just where you need it to be to continue knitting around minus the heel flap that just got grafted together.  The graft ends up being a vertical line rather than the typical horizontal, and that is part of skewed-ness of the design.

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Five years ago, I posted this photo from the instructions on knitty, and now I am even more smitten by the cute photo and the designer’s sense of humor and love of math!

Knitty skew socks

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Hardly Spring

We are into the first week of spring, but it still feels like winter.  We finally made it south to Georgetown on Great Exuma, a great jumping off spot for going further south, but the weather has us pinned here.  Georgetown is the largest settlement in the Exumas by some factor of 10 or so!  It’s where everyone gets last provisions before heading into the remote regions beyond.

So we are wiping through our newly acquired provisions just sitting here in a very bumpy anchorage.  I am surely getting tougher at bumpy conditions, as I attempt to continue work on my little tapestry.

One day, we were visited by this turtle numerous times.  Considering how shy turtles are, how quickly they disappear whenever we reach for our camera, we were amazed that this guy kept diving down and returning to look at us yet again.  He hung out with us for quite a while.  It’s our first successful photo of turtle after years of attempts!    We think this is a green turtle, but what fascinates me about them is how beautifully golden they are.  They seem to have their own light as they glow right below the surface of the beautiful waters here.  I wish we could have captured that in the photo.  You cannot imagine how this guy glowed like golden sunlight as he floated near us.  Stunning!

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Yesterday we spent a little time onshore Stocking Island (across from Great Exuma) and had lunch at St. Francis resort and then a walk on the ocean side beach, where the waves were truly impressive.  Seeing the force of the Atlantic made me quite thankful for our sheltered anchorage, even if it is considerably less ideal that I would prefer!

Here is the view of the anchorage off Stocking Island from St. Francis’s outdoor dining deck.

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Creative Outlets

Sometimes while we are hiding out from storms the waters are actually calm enough for me to work.  It hasn’t been often!  On good days, we tend to set off sight seeing and shell collecting, but on others I manage to get a bit of work done!

TAPESTRY

I started my tapestry idea (a shelf of spools) a few weeks ago by doing some sampling, and learned a lot by the time I unwove the whole thing.  I’d done about eight spools at that point and had worked out that I wanted the circles to be all different sizes and different shapes, and the little cardboard tubes and empty space inside the tubes to be fairly (but not perfectly!) consistent.

This is the first tapestry I am making without a cartoon!  …. it is very freeing! Archie Brennan is always talking about the ‘open journey,’  by which he means not making too many decisions ahead time, letting the work at hand determine what should come next, and this is my first attempt at that.  I’m doing the same with color choice, choosing colors based on what has just been done.  Naturally, I wish I had a lot more choices onboard with me, but so far I have not been disappointed to make do with what I have.

I am facing my blank warp and creating as I go.  I do ink on a freehand circle or two before I weave, and each circle I draw is based on the circles that have come before them, and each color choice for the circles is based on the colors I’ve already used as well as the loose ‘plan’ of where I hope to go.  This is really a fun journey…..I would call it a tapestry vacation!  A little side trip along an untraveled road (for me) with lots of beautiful scenery!  A playland!

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KNITTING

My other big project onboard is a sweater that was posted on Pinterest with a link to Ravelry.

knitting kauni rainbow on ravelry

When you click on the floral sweater photo on Pinterest you get directed to this sweater on Ravelry.

Kauni rainbow squares

The floral sweater is far more appealing to me than the little squares version!  Finding the origin of this sweater was a bit challenging, but when I get focused on something I can be a bit maniacal.

The little squares pattern is by Ruth Sorenson, and her directions call for 480 grams of Kauni Effekt “Rainbow” (EQ).  I had planned to use traditional Shetland Fair Isle construction for a loose fitting jacket with front opening, and I decided to increase the amount of yarn to 600 grams. With a little searching for the thistle pattern I found this designer, who used the thistle pattern for a shawl she calls “Mrs. Barrista,”  which was available for purchase in English.  Bingo! (I don’t know if she is also the designer of the sweater, but it’s not on her blog.)

After doing a gauge swatch and determining that I’d use 10 repeats of the thistle pattern for the body, I cast on for corrugated rib and steeked the front opening, and have just been zipping along up to the armholes.  Now I am at the armhole openings and thought I’d better make a plan.

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While traditional Fair Isle construction makes for such easy knitting, it is not the most flattering look on me.  I look better in sweaters that have a bit of armhole shaping, and even more importantly I need sloped shoulders.  These two issues that are quite important to me will necessitate some fiddly knitting.  Here is my sketch.

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I will bind off an inch or so of stitches at the beginning of the armscye and start the steeks.  When I start the sleeves I will pick stitches along the armhole opening, and I will work back and forth (HORRORS!) until I fill in that 1” of bound off stitches, and then I can resume knitting in the round down to the sleeve cuff.  It will only be fiddly for about a dozen rows or so…maybe less…

The other fiddly bit will be making my shoulder line sloped.  I have not yet settled on a definite plan for that, but I think that may also require working back and forth for the last several rows at the top of the body.  It shouldn’t be that bad!  I’m forging ahead with the sweater since I don’t need to worry about the shoulders for a while.  Maybe something else will occur to me by the time I get to there!  I am thinking of making a short row plan…

If there are any knitters out there reading this, please weigh in on what you’d do if you were making this sweater!  I could use some input!

COOKING

I wonder how many of us use cooking as a creative outlet, especially when we can’t do what we really want to do!  I enjoy the challenge of cooking down here, where getting food is a hit or miss scavenger hunt.  Thursday, I happened to hit the pink store in Staniel Cay as they were bringing in fresh produce from the mail boat.  I got both fresh mushrooms  and a head of cabbage on the same day!  (Only someone traveling down here can appreciate the rarity of fresh mushrooms in the Bahamas!)

Cabbage, which I hardly ever eat at home, is quite a staple down here, and it always brings back great memories of cooking in college with my brand new edition of the Moosewood Cookbook.  It had a catchy name I no longer remember, but I do remember that the Russian cabbage pie was one of my favorite meals from that book.  Thank you, Molly Katzen! I’m sure I could have googled the recipe if only I had internet.  Since that was not an option, I had to do the best I could on memory alone.

I remembered the pastry crust had cream cheese as well as butter.  So I made a crust with 4 TB butter and 4 oz. of cream cheese.  I made 4 hard cooked eggs, sautéed the mushrooms and set them aside to sautee the cabbage that had been salted and left to wilt for about 20 minutes.  I seasoned everything liberally with dill and a little salt and pepper.  I layered all this in my pie shell, along with the other 4oz of cream cheese left in the brick.

Since I do not have a pie dish onboard I made this dish in my 9” springform pan.  It has come in very handily as a substitute for many other pans.  I’m glad to have it with me!

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Dinner was delicious!  Who knows how far from the original I have strayed, but we enjoyed it just the same!  It does take a bit of doing to make something like this on a boat in a galley that is smaller than a NY City apartment kitchen.  If not for the space it takes to pre-cook all the separate parts of this dish, I would definitely say this would become a staple meal on Pandora.  It may become a staple in spite of the space challenge!

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Winter Advisory on the First Day of Spring!

It has been a particularly harsh winter along the eastern coast of the US, so no surprise that a 1,000 miles south in the Bahamas the weather has also been a bit challenging. There have been very strong winds clocking around the entire compass rose, so that each week we end up needing to find a safe anchorage that has good protection from all directions. There are only a handful of safe places that fit this bill, and if you don’t get there early there won’t be room for even one more boat! Everyone is looking for a hiding place these days.

But I don’t expect that anyone enduring an East Coast winter in the US will have much sympathy for us. Still, it’s been quite challenging to stay safe, and that has caused me a fair amount of stress! As our weather router warned us this morning, March is going to go out like a lion, not a lamb!

And yet, there are still idyllic spots in between the weather fronts. We did some shelling while hiding from the weather in Pipe Creek, near Compass Cay. Our most exciting find is the tulip snail (right side, center)!  They are a predator of little conchs.

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At Compass Cay you can swim with the nurse sharks that they encourage by feeding them each time the fisherman are cleaning fish or beheading lobsters.  If bull sharks or lemon sharks come near the dock, someone chases them off. The first day we were there there were almost as many young children in the water as there were sharks.  I wish I had a photo of that!  Well, in six weeks, I should have a photo of our 30 yr. old son Rob playing in the water with them!

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Big Major’s Spot is very popular, so you can never be the only boat at anchor here, but it’s not a safe place in these endlessly clocking winds, so we weren’t there for long this year. The pigs come running at the sound of a dinghy motor. There are baby pigs this year, and they are growing fast. They doubled their size in the two weeks between our visits!

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I was so busy taking photos of Bob with the babies, looking through the lens, I didn’t see the 800 lb. mama come right up to the boat and stick her head into the boat, almost bumping me with her big snout!  Perhaps she thought the camera might be tasty!  I almost shrieked!

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We hid for several days in the Exuma Land and Sea Park at Warderick Wells, where we spotted these ramoras who came to check out the vegetable scraps we had thrown overboard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlso at Warderick Wells, we spotted a flock of egrets on one of the small cays, and we startled them into flight with our approach!  Back at home we tend to see individual egrets, not entire flocks.

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On top of challenging weather, we have also had plenty of little problems with electronics and gear. In one hard blow at Staniel Cay our anchor got stuck under a limestone ledge, and then was damaged getting it out. It is now impressively ruined! Luckily we have an equally large spare on board. This boat has more spare parts than food and clothing. You can always wear dirty clothes, or eat canned soup for days, but replacing engine parts, or electronic parts, or needing an anchor is not something you can do without even for day!

One of the challenging equipment failures during this trip is the loss of my iPad, close to three weeks ago. Not only does it have a couple of highly important navigational aids that we rely on, but it also is the hotspot for our computers, and my library of books and knitting patterns and cooking recipes (this is a HUGE loss!). While my iPad is still under warranty, I have no way to send it back to the US for replacement. Since there is no place to buy a new one down here, we have ordered one online through our older son back in the US. The iPad is being delivered to Watermaker’s airline in Florida, and they fly people and equipment to many of the little airstrips on various cays in the Exuma chain. Our deliver will happen later this week at Staniel Cay, a good choice for us since we can easily walk to the airstrip from the harbor. We didn’t want to add a taxi ride (often a golf cart taxi) to the expense of shipping by charter plane!

As I write this, we have the new iPad!  I have my recipes back (whew!), my knitting patterns, and Bob is currently re-loading the Garmin Blue Charts!  Hopefully this is the end of such big challenges.  We came down here to relax!

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A Month Aboard

As I write this Bob is ashore doing our laundry…..yes, it’s almost unbelievable, but I promise….it’s true.  How lucky is that?  We are in Black Point Settlement on Great Guana, where you can get a haircut and do your laundry and have conch fritters, all at the same place that overlooks the little bay where all the boats are anchored. I am suffering from a cold, the last person onboard to get it….just when I thought I had missed the nasty little germ.  So I get to stay aboard and take a nap. Oh well.

This is where you sit to get your haircut while your laundry is going inside

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After Chris left last week we had big plans to sail up to Compass Cay and spend a day or two shelling.  On the morning we wanted to depart our anchor would not come up. While we were wondering what was wrong a large power boat arrived and anchored right next to us…..very close, which worried me because I had a bad feeling we’d get tangled with them undoing our anchor problems.  The short version is that after trying to get the anchor up from different angles, Bob put on his shortie suit and free dived down about 25 feet to take a look.  I have to add that he was in the throes of his own cold then so I know this was not his first choice of how to remedy our situation.  He discovered that the anchor was caught on a limestone ledge.  A second dive allowed him to tie a rope around the anchor (he was intending to pull it out by tying the rope to the dinghy and driving forward), but then, while he was down there, he thought he might as well see if he could just free it  by lifting it with his hands.  That worked….so when he hit the surface he let me know that the anchor was free.

In the fast moving currents, it didn’t take long for us to start skimming our way over to that big powerboat.  So there you go!  I was onboard alone at the wheel, Bob was in the water quickly getting left behind as he struggled into the dinghy and got the dinghy anchor up.  I’m headed toward a 70-foot luxurious powerboat, and I’m dragging along a 65 lb.  Bruce anchor as I go.  Well, it was a lot of excitement, and I’m happy to report that there was no loss of life, or any other irreparable damage.  Whew!

But all the yanking on the Bruce anchor before Bob went down to look a look, did cause some damage…. that long shank on the anchor used to be straight!

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So instead of heading out, we motored a short distance to some nearby moorings and picked up one.  Then Bob spent a couple of hours undoing our damaged Bruce and replacing it with a gargantuan Fortress that we keep onboard as a spare.  By the end of that, with his cold raging, he was too tired to think of going anywhere….and that was fine with me too.  I can only handle so much excitement in one day.

So, when we did finally tear ourselves away from Staniel Cay, we headed south to an idyllic spot that doesn’t seem to attract many visitors.  Lucky us!  We were the only boat at Bitter Guana, and it is quite a spot.  I hope it continues to be unpopular!  We were alone with a stunning white beach, a large limestone outcropping, and about 16 wild iguanas.  The winds have been pretty calm, after a week or so of too much!

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Speaking of wind: I have a love/hate relationship with it.  Yes, a good breeze is just what you need when the temps get in the upper 80s F…. but far too often it just blows too hard down here.  At anchor the boats roll from side to side and buck up and down (at the same time) and it’s about as challenging as being underway in rough conditions.  It’s no fun.  And the sound…. There comes a point when I’d give anything to turn down the volume.  I just want some quiet.  So wind is often the thing that is most challenging.  Anyway…..just had to whine a bit about wind.

We’ve done a little shell collecting and illegal iguana feeding, and I’ve been suffering through my cold.  Last night’s sunset gave us another green flash!  That makes four so far!  Last year we only saw it once!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Here’s what you miss when you sleep in due to being in a Nyquil-induced fog.  It turns out there are lots of tropical long tails nesting on Bitter Guana along with the iguanas!  They fly out in formation first thing in the morning and return at dusk.  Sorry I slept in….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And about my projects:  things are not as good as I’d first thought.  In fact, I’m wondering if I am going to end up starting every single one of them over.  I guess that’s a bit of an exaggeration.  I do have the one Oktoberfest sock.  And I have these two newly finished embroidery projects.  They hardly count though, because each one only needed a few areas of work to be finished.  I think both these little cross stitch projects have been languishing in a bag for about a decade …. And now they are finished!

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I am on the fence about the tapestry.  It has too much black space, meaning the space between the spools.  That might work out for being at the top of the piece, but it seems to me that the spools on the bottom of a shelf are the ones that are the most crowded and perhaps even squashed into less round shapes.  They are bearing the weight of all the other spools. I realize I could turn the piece upside down when it’s finished, but I’m also not happy with my first two spool colors, which are in the lower left so they would be upper right if I turned it upside down.  I love to blend colors on the bobbin, but now that I’ve done a bit of work on this piece, I think what’s called for is unabashedly blazen, full saturation color.  It’s a very graphic piece, lots of circles and circles within circles, and I think the shapes are quite happy shapes….so it needs happy colors.  I’m not crestfallen about undoing the weaving….I’m just sad that there is so little time when the waters are calm enough to work. It’s a shame to spend a perfect, calm day un-weaving rather than weaving.  Oh well.

When all else fails, I bake!

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Under Way

Our winter in the Bahamas is well under way, and even our first guest, our younger son, Chris, has come and gone already.  Bob and I were thrilled to see him right on the heels of his trip to Thailand.  He showed us wonderful photos and videos and told us so many great tales.  He met people from all over the world, mostly young people who are taking off even more time than he is.

We used our week together to show Chris some of our favorite cays in the Exumas, which naturally included Allen Cay with the wild iguanas, the Land and Sea Park at Warderick Wells, and Big Major’s Spot where the wild pigs swim out to you to beg as you dinghy in to shore.  This year there are baby pigs, and they are adorable!  The big pink Mama pig swam out to us and three little piglets waded into the water and cried for her to return!

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Pandora at anchor in Warderick Wells….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We visited one new spot with Chris called Hawk’s Bill Cay.  It is a less visited place with beautiful white beaches.  We ended the week at Staniel Cay where Chris could get a flight back to Nassau. Chris and Bob snorkeled into Thunderball Grotto together, and then we had a farewell dinner at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. It was a lovely time, all in all.

We walked to the little airstrip on Staniel last year, but this was the first time we actually saw the flight procedure!  The gate is an outdoor gazebo, and there is a woman who shows up about a half hour before take off to check people in for the flight on her clip board.  That is the extent of security.  The plane lands and she puts the passengers on board according to weight (using her judgment!  No one had to ‘fess up!), while the pilot stores everyone’s baggage in the nose of the plane.  Then all the onlookers are shooed off the rough limestone airstrip and the plane departs.  We miss Chris terribly now.  Hope we can get enough bandwidth at some point to skype with both Rob and Chris.

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We’ve had quite a bit of excitement on this trip.  We’ve seen big sharks at every cay we’ve visited.  Last year we didn’t see sharks until we got south of Georgetown. Chris got some great footage of a big nurse shark right at Pandora’s stern.  While nurse sharks are harmless, we have also seen some large lemon sharks this year.  It makes us take stock pretty carefully before going for a swim!

Somehow a little gecko got on board with us for several days.  He was living in the main head (nauticalese for bathroom).  I’m certain we each took showers for days without knowing he was there, but once we did come face to face, he was traumatized by us, and I was terrified of him!  Bob and Chris were tempted to let him stay.  Bob seemed to think he could live off fruit flies!  Luckily for me, he is now ashore in the Land and Sea Park, and I hope he is happier there!

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Yesterday a US Coast Guard rescue helicopter showed up right in our little anchorage off of Staniel Cay.  It did some fancy maneuvers for almost an hour around dusk.  It was amazing to watch! We imagined the pilot to be about 24 years old, and he could hover that big beast in a tight spot right off our port. He lowered the helicopter until it was right over the water, throwing up a wide circle of spray.  I’d love to know what they were doing and why they came to Staniel Cay.

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There have been other excitements as well.  A Canadian couple we met last year got into some trouble in Cuban waters last week.  They ran aground on a reef off the northern coast of Cuba and were stuck pounding on this reef for over 24 hours before Cuban authorities came to help them.  Luckily they were in contact with other boats and the US Coast Guard (who could not help them at that location).  All ended well, but it must have been such a traumatic experience.  This morning we heard that the Bahamian Coast Guard (BASRA) has discovered there are foreign boats that have not properly checked in to the Bahamas, so they are now conducting ‘board and search’ missions on random boats in harbors.  We have all the proper documentation, but I sure hope we don’t get boarded!

It’s been a good couple of weeks for getting some other things under way as well.  I will write about that shortly.  I am paricularly happy to have had a couple of calm days to get my tapestry loom warped and even start weaving!  I’m having a lot of fun with those circles!  I thought I could do some weaving today, but we have strong westerly winds that are kicking up quite a rukus in this harbor.  I think we will head out shortly for a short sail to Cambridge Cay and a calmer anchorage.  Farewell Staniel!

 

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We are in the Bahamas!

It was a long night making the crossing to the Bahamas.  I’m very thankful that it was a LOT easier than last year, but there were still a couple of hours of boisterous wind and waves that I could have skipped.  This is the dawn that greeted us after we’d been sailing on the banks for several hours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis year we cleared in on a small cay in the Berries called Chub Cay.  It doesn’t look at all like the Exumas, being much more lush….rather like the Abacos. Here is the little church at the main cross roads on the island.

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And here is Pandora sitting at anchor while we visited the Chub Cay Club.  Even on a second visit to these waters, I am stunned by how beautiful it is.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The water all around us is full of sea life:  red starfish, ramoras, barricuda, sharks!….even little puffer fish.  Here is a shark that was checking us out….I think he knew that Bob wanted to clean the hull of Pandora, and maybe he thought he might get lucky and snag a couple fingers or toes if he waited… (and there is nothing to get a sense of scale in this photo, so I’ll tell you this shark is about 8 feet long).

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When Bob did clean the hull (and I stood on deck keeping watch for the sharks, with a big screw driver in my hand, ready to bang on the hull to give Bob a warning to get out of the water!), all the fish hung out all around him.  The ramora stayed right by his side, and we’re thinking he was enjoying the little bits of stuff that Bob was scraping off the hull.

The second night we were here we saw the green flash!… and then there have been wonderful sunrises, sunsets, and even a rainbow and a water funnel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday we left the Berries and sailed for Nassau where we will meet Christopher in just a couple more days.  While we wait I think I might take a look at the shops in Atlantis…. now there’s a thought! We are anchored right off some docks with a pretty restaurant called Luciano’s.  Dinner there last night was quite memorable! We ate on the terrace, shown here, overlooking Atlantis across the harbor.

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And I’m celebrating that I finished the first Oktoberfest sock!  Go me! I know the photo is too dark.  Sigh….it was getting late in the day.  I am happy with the pattern.  The barley stalks remind me of bubbles, and I love the frothy finish at the top! ….the color is quite reminiscent of a Blue Moon!  I might not see one of those ’til I get home in May…

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One More Thing…

This is the sun that set on my father’s remains on his first evening traveling the Gulf Stream.

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May all the dolphins, turtles, and sailfish, and all the creatures of the warm Gulf Stream sing you home….

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