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South Water and Tobacco Cayes with our Quickest Visitors Ever.

Although we had hoped to have a few visitors this season, the changes in our location and the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, plus the possible sale of LIB, caused our plans to change and discouraged visitors.

So we were very happy that our Sail to the Sun friends, Susan and Kevin, managed to adjust their plans and come sail with us in Belize. They were only able to stay for a few days, but the wind was cooperative and we had an excellent time.

Some visitors are all about the land, others enjoy the water and some are focused on the sailing aspect.  As avid and experienced sailors, Susan and Kevin were very happy the winds cooperated and we could explore under sail.  It is especially nice to have guests on board who understand sailing and all its’ capriciousness because they know we are limited by weather, wind and seas.

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Kevin and Susan are right at home at the helm of LIB.

Fortunately those three aspects came together and allowed us to sail to South Water Caye the first full day Susan and Kevin were with us.

Frank and I had “pre-visited” South Water Caye and Tobacco Caye and we were really happy to return to them and explore with Susan and Kevin.

South Water is about 12 acres in size and has pretty cottages and bars on white sand.  It also boasts an IZE (International Zoological Exploration) location on the island. IZE is best described as educational travel in the rainforest or reefs of Belize. Open to high school and university students or families interested in learning about Belize, the setting is absolutely beautiful and the marine life around South Water Caye unique.  We spoke with a group of high school students from Georgia who were having an incredible experience with IZE.

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Steps leading to the open air dining area of IZE.

 Kids who come to spend a week or two here have to suffer through these harsh accommodations! And in between snorkeling and diving excursions, the kids are stuck finding ways to entertain themselves…

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Resting after a grueling day?

So although I am poking fun, this really does seem like a very cool experience that could help raise awareness and knowledge in younger generations.  Boston University even has a facility for lab work and study.

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Yes, Boston University!

Strolling along SW Caye doesn’t take very long, but it is very pretty.

South Water Caye-5Shaded cabins, hammocks and the sound of the sea are very restful.

Even Captain enjoyed the swings at the bar.

South Water Caye-3Cappy met up with her friend Hurley again.

 

Conch shells lined the “streets” and faith is evident where the locals live.

After strolling around South Water Caye, we headed back to LIB to enjoy a relaxed afternoon and dinner on board.

South Water Caye-7Prosecco buddies.

The following day we took advantage of the shallow area on the southern end of South Water Caye where we sat in the azure water and watched Captain alternate between rolling in sand and swimming in the water.  We took turns snorkeling and sitting in the shallow water and just idling away some time in a beautiful place.

After water time, we hoisted the sails and sailed to Tobacco Caye.  It was an easy day and a great opportunity to just relax and enjoy having the boat pushed along by the wind.

South Water Caye-8So many places to relax on LIB.

Until, Cappy sounded the alert…. dolphins had come to play at our bow!

No great pics this time, unfortunately.

South Water Caye seems huge compared to Tobacco Caye which is only 200 feet by 400 feet and all of it is in use!

Tobacco Caye-8Tobacco is tiny but mighty nice!

Do not let the fact that this island is crowded discourage you from visiting! We had a great time walking around and seeing how well the space is used.  Here are some photos:

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Picturesque bungalows at the edge of Tobacco Caye.

Tobacco Caye-4An artist captured sea life.

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Not every building is in good shape but it adds character.

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Such a pretty setting and I love the matching boat and house!

Apparently seeing the wonders of the sea doesn’t get old even when you live on an island.  The local children attend school on another island so they are only home on Tobacco for the weekends.  I would find it hard to have my young children away all week long. (I find it hard to be away from my grown children!)

Tobacco Caye-5  I wonder what they see?

They were watching giant stingrays!

tobacco-1$20 for a delicious dinner at Reef’s End.

The first time Frank and I visited Tobacco Caye, we had dinner at Reef’s End Lodge. It is an upstairs, small, open air spot with one dinner seating at 6 pm.  I was surprised to learn that there was no menu ~ dinner was whatever was available that evening. At first I was hesitant about the lack of choice, but it was actually really nice to sit back, enjoy the sunset and not even concern myself with what to order.

Tobacco Caye-7Lots of activity near Reef’s End.

When Susan and Kevin were with us, Reef’s End was pretty busy and we all preferred to hang out in the water and cook on LIB instead of dinghying to a restaurant.  After walking around Tobacco Caye, we headed back to LIB for more water time.  We had snorkeled the day before at South Water, so we decided it was time to pull out the paddle boards.  Kevin and Susan have not done much SUPing, so they took the dinghy up toward the reef and anchored in the shallow area while Frank and I paddled up to them. Once we were close to the dinghy, Susan and Kevin hopped on the SUPs and paddled around the clear shallows while Frank and I swam about with Captain.

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Lounging at anchor off of Tobacco Caye.

Of course all that exercise earned us nice warm showers and sundowners on the top deck before preparing dinner.

Unfortunately, Susan and Kevin had to fly back to the States rather quickly so we didn’t have time to explore any other islands.  But happily the wind was our friend again and we had a very nice trip back to Placencia.

Our last day in Placencia, Frank and Kevin hung out on LIB while Susan and I explored the sidewalk shops I mentioned in this blog.  Susan bought a really beautiful wooden cutting board that I think will be put to use on s/v Radiance very soon.

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Fresh tamales wrapped in jungle leaves.

While walking Captain in Placencia, Frank came across someone selling tamales.  The tamales were wrapped in leaves that our Monkey River guide, Percy, had mentioned were used in cooking. So Frank bought the tamales and we shared them with Kevin and Susan….  you have to have at least one authentic meal when in a different country, right?  Anyway, it was neat to see the local leaf used for cooking and the tamales were a nice change.  The outer layer of the tamale was thicker than we were accustomed to in Texas, but I rarely complain when I don’t have to do the cooking. 😉

We were sorry to say goodbye to Susan and Kevin, but we hope to catch up with them at the Annapolis Boat Show in October.  Or perhaps they will join us somewhere along the road in Temporary Digs.

In closing, I thought I ought to include at least one sunset so you can enjoy the beauty we shared at sundown on LIB.

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Sunset on our first visit to Tobacco Caye, Belize.

~ HH55 Catamaran Update ~

In May, Frank traveled to China to take a look at our HH55 catamaran which is under construction in Xiaman.  The really good news about Frank’s visit is that everything looks great on our boat.  Similar to building a custom home, there are many unique details to every build project and sometimes communication which appears clear just misses the mark.

Happily, Frank found that our communication with HH has progressed very well and the special requests we have made look like they are being handled accurately.  However, Frank was disappointed to learn that our HH55 is behind schedule and will be delayed an additional month.  Based on what he learned while in China, we hope our new boat will be delivered to California by mid-December at the latest.

One specification we have requested on our catamaran is a different counter surface for the galley.  I guess I was spoiled by the granite we had in our home and I hoped to find a material we could use in our HH that would work well but was of a reasonable weight. Gino Morrelli suggested a product called Kerlite and we forged ahead with this tile product.  It has not yet been installed on our HH55-03, but Frank had a chance to see our selection while at the HH site.

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Kerlite ceramic tile for our galley counters.

I wanted to find a product that doesn’t scratch as easily as the surface we had on LIB and that won’t be marred if someone sets a hot pot on it. I am hopeful that Kerlite will accomplish both aims.  What do you think? Do you like the look? Do you think poured ceramic will accomplish our goal?

Thank you so much for stopping by to read our blog. We would love to hear your comments.  If  you would like to hear from us more often, please see us on FB.

 

 

Annapolis Sailboat Show 2017

Wow, how different attending the boat show is now than it was the first time we went in 2012.  My only real sailing experience in 2012 had been in February of that year when I completed several ASA classes.  We did not know anyone at the show, most of the booths represented things I knew nothing about and Frank had almost as much to learn as I did.

Things have certainly changed in the intervening five years; thus proving that you can teach old(er) dogs new tricks since now I understand a decent amount about the products available in those booths.

But more importantly, we have met so many people through our travels, this blog, the FB page and by participating in events we encounter in various anchorages, that our weekend was as much about meeting with friends as it was scoping out new products and information.

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STTS Rally Reunion (Photo by Ken Reynolds)

We had an absolute blast this year reconnecting with friends from the 2016 Sail to the Sun Rally and all of us were very fortunate that Susan and Kevin of s/v Radiance hosted us all for several gatherings at their home.

Talk about fun! Get a group of sailors together, with plenty of good food and libations, then throw in shared travel for two months down the ICW and the conversations become lively and varied. We cannot thank Kevin and Susan enough for opening their home to the Ralliers and anyone else we knew in the area!

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STTS photo courtesy of Bill Ouellette.

I would love to share all the excellent pictures I took this trip, but I failed at photojournalism this weekend. I took all of ONE picture and that was of a huge motor yacht.  I wish I had been more cognizant of my photo opportunities because I would have at least taken a group picture of all the 2016 Sail to the Sun Ralliers who returned.  We ended up having 10 of the boats represented at dinner on Sunday night! WOW.  And that doesn’t include our fearless leader, Wally Moran.  We had better than half of the Sail to the Sun 2016 boats.  Impressive!!

Personally, I am not sure Wally was prepared for how well our group melded during our STTS Rally.  We were really fortunate to be part of the Rally and Frank and I are grateful to Wally for providing the venue for us to make such excellent friends.

Mindy and I last Halloween; could mean trouble. 

In addition to STTS folks, we met up with a few people we had met through our blog, some other sailors we met in our travels and our fellow Jabin’s Yacht Yard friends Mindy and Ron of s/v Follow Me.  LIB and Follow Me have been trying to catch up in various anchorages this year without success so we decided to make the meet up happen in our original stomping grounds.  Of course this meant we had to share drinks and dinner at Ebb Tide, a bar popular with the locals and within walking or biking distance of Jabin’s Yacht Yard.

This hurricane season has made us all very aware that things are replaceable and people matter most, which made our reunion with these friends just a bit sweeter.  Thank you dear friends for making time to visit with us and for sharing laughter and plans!

One unique and uplifting aspect of the boat show this year was the booths set up for hurricane relief to help the many islands and people so impacted by this horrible 2017 hurricane season. The Annapolis Boat Show established “Hands Across the Transom,” in an effort to encourage support of the Caribbean Islands.  Organizations participating in the Hands Across the Transom effort included Virgin BVI Community AppealPusser’s Hurricane Relief FundBVI Recovery FundVirgin Gorda & Bitter End Yacht Club Staff Irma Relief Fund, and Sister Season Fund. I overheard a lady selling #bvistrong t-shirts say they had sold over 450 shirts. GO PEOPLE!!

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You too can support BVI and have a shirt like hundreds of your friends!

We also spoke with a couple of the BVI charter groups and I was impressed with the attitudes of all of them.  The positive attitude and focus on rebuilding was clearly evident.  Of course there was also fatigue, but the overall impression was one of moving forward and not languishing in sadness.  We also heard that boat sales were brisk, so eventually the charter companies will be filled again with great boats available for vacations.

Both TMM and CYOA had several new sailboats launching from factories in France and those are expected to arrive very soon.  It sounded like the charter companies were targeting mid November or early December for sending out chartered boats. I was really happy to hear the date was that soon.

Frank and I did make some purchases during the boat show and per our usual modus operandi, did a LOT of research and information gathering.  I will dedicate a blog to what we learned and our purchases very soon.

As always, thank you for reading our blog. We love hearing from you so don’t be shy.  If you want information more often, take a look at our FB page.

 

 

 

Arial Photos of Places We’ve Seen

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LIB stripped and prepared for Irma. (SUP was inside while away.)

Well, we are finally back on our boat in Puerto Rico and we are SO fortunate that we suffered NO damage from Hurricane Irma.  At the very last minute, this horrific storm decided to go just a bit north and the island of Puerto Rico avoided a direct hit.

In the face of this near miss, the folks here on PR have stepped up and contributed to the efforts to help neighboring islands which have been decimated.  There are people taking tangible supplies to PR, others have picked up people stranded on the island and brought them to PR and still others have taken friends or strangers into their boats and homes here in Puerto Rico.

On LIB, we have not contributed physically to the efforts, but we have tried to offer emotional and some financial support.  Our intention is to give trained personnel time to reinstate order, then actually go and help rebuild.  Admittedly Frank is much better with tools than I, but I have learned a lot since moving onto LIB and I am sure will be able to help in some way.

In the mean time, on our flight back to Puerto Rico, we saw from the air some of the islands we played on while cruising the Bahamas this year.  I have not always been a student of geography, but living on a boat has taught me a lot and it was fun to recognize the islands we had visited from an arial perspective.

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We spent several days anchored off Normans Cay.

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Enjoying the shallows while paddling to “The Pond” on Normans

We stopped on Normans twice this season; once alone and once with some of our Sail to the Sun Rally friends on board LIB with us.

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Captain found the soft, deserted beaches perfect for playing chase!

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The second great picture from the plane was of Cambridge and Compass Cays.  The cut between them is where we met up with s/v Radiance in an amazing feat of timing.  We had texted with Radiance crew, Susan and Kevin, who were heading toward the Exumas from Florida while we were returning to the Exumas from Eluethera.  Our plan was to anchor near Compass Cay and contact each other upon arrival, but just as we were getting close to the cut and were dousing our spinnaker, we spotted Radiance also approaching the cut! LIB fell into line right behind Radiance and we followed them into the anchorage!

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Susan demos the arduous skill of floating about on Compass Cay!

Cambridge Cay is where we first met Kristen and James of s/v Tatiana and Laurie and Chris of s/v Temerity.  This area is also the location of another Sail to the Sun meeting where about 10 of us did a float snorkel near the Rocky Dundas in water so clear that Tom and Louise on s/v Blue Lady appeared to be suspended in air in the picture below.

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Blue Lady lifts anchor near Cambridge Cay.

Traveling in a plane nearly 100 times faster than LIB sails, we quickly covered the area we sailed this season. But it was fun to look out the window and recall the islands we visited and see again the amazing blues unique to the Bahamas.

For now, we are keeping an eye on the weather here in Puerto Rico and hoping this nasty 2017 hurricane season ends without any more storms anywhere! We look forward to putting LIB back into working shape and once again exploring the Caribbean.

As always, thank you for stopping by our blog. We would love to hear from you. If you want to see what we are up to more often, please see our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44.

Sail to the Sun Rally Reunion on Let It Be

Wow! Who knew a week could pass so quickly? We had the pleasure of having two couples from our Sail to the Sun Rally come and stay with us on LIB for a week.  And several other boats from the Rally made the effort to come and join us in various anchorages.  The result was a week of fun, laughter and adventures with a pretty large number of people.

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Waiting for guests in Staniel Cay.

We sailed LIB to Staniel Cay, where Brad and Terrie of s/v Reflection and Steve and Janine of s/v Second Wind flew into the Exumas.  We had rented a golf cart, so on arrival day the six of us tooled around in a golf cart to explore the island and introduced the newcomers to “island shopping” at the local groceries.  We had already provisioned for the week, but part of the experience of the boat life is poking about in local markets.

The wind was pretty strong so we decided to explore near Staniel for a day or two, but the wind could not intimidate our intrepid Rally friends. Tom and Louise of Blue Lady, Tina and Bill of Our Log and Laurie and Ken of Mauna Kea fought the wind and arrived in Staniel to reunite with our guests.

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Staniel Cay Yacht Club.

Staniel Cay Yacht Club was our restaurant of choice for our first reunion night. We figured we should go to the Yacht Club since this would probably be one of the only places during the week that had a bar or restaurant. The food was good and the company was even better.

Our days were filled with snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking and general poking around the islands, followed by dinner aboard LIB most nights for whichever Rally boats were nearby. As is usual with boaters, every boat contributed to the dinners so we were not at all burdened with feeding everyone.

Instead of itemizing our itinerary, here are a bunch of pictures from our week.  A special thank you to Tom and Steve and Brad for contributing photographs.  I wasn’t very good about photo documenting so I really appreciate the use of their shots!

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Frank swimming out of the James Bond famed Thunder Ball Cave.

Thunder Ball Cave was our first snorkel site right by Staniel.  We enjoyed poking about in the cave, though it was pretty crowded when we first arrived.  Several of the guys were dropped off on one side of the cave and they drift snorkeled through the cave allowing the current to propel them along.

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Light from the hole in the cave ceiling pierces the water.

Susan and Kevin, plus Sue’s brother, Brian, of s/v Radiance, made a fast trek north from George Town to meet the group at Compass Cay. Susan and I were adamant that our guests had to experience the Bubbly Bath since we had had such a great time on our previous visit.

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We dinghied to a beach on Compass Cay and walked about half a mile to the Bubbly Bath. As you can see, the scenery and the path were not too strenuous and even if they had been, the effort was worth it to reach the pool.

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Thanks for this areal view, Steve.

Steve climbed up the hillside for a look from above and took this picture.  On the left you can see where the water breaches the rocks and feeds the Bubbly Bath.  At the back of the picture, behind where we are standing, is the shallow inlet that we walked across to get to this spot.

Although the weather was not warm, the clarity and color of the water begs for swimming and we obliged often.  We moved LIB over toward O’Brian’s Cay where the Aquarium awaited.

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Frank and Brad diving at the Aquarium.

Rather than simply snorkel the Aquarium, Tom, Steve, Brad and Frank pulled out diving gear and dove the site.  I think this was the first time Tom was able to use his new gear and it was the first time in quite a few years that Steve had been for a dive.  It was an excellent place to explore without much current to fight.

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Here fishy, fishy…

The ladies snorkeled the Aquarium and Tom was able to get some great photos from the bottom while he was diving. As you can see, the fish are very friendly!

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The picture isn’t great, but the gathering was fun!

While traveling the ICW with our Rally group, I was surprised to learn how many of the ladies did not know how to drive a dinghy or at least were not comfortable starting one.  So one afternoon Terrie, Janine, Louise and I went out in Day Tripper for a driving lesson.  These ladies were excellent drivers and only needed a little confidence boost.  Within an hour all of them were able to start the dinghy, move forward or backwards, get the dinghy on a plain, rescue a fallen object and dock the dinghy….. We all learned some things and now they can confidently get themselves from boat to shore and back again.  This might prove to be a retail boost for local economies!

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We had the chance to fly the big red asymetric spinnaker which proved very relaxing.

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Terrie and Brad found some quiet space on the trampoline but Captain wanted in on it.

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We had to visit the crescent anchorage at Warderick Wells!

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The full moon brought a certain magic to the scene.

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Blue Lady waving goodbye after our drift snorkel through Conch Cut.

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Steve gives knot tying lessons as we travel.

Spending the week with four guests who are sailors was a first for me.  Because they are all familiar with the limitations and compromises of living on a boat, they were exceptionally easy to have on board.  Additionally, although they own monohulls rather than catamarans, they have more sailing experience than I do and they jumped right into the line work, helming and anchoring.  As a result, I had a pretty leisurely week!

A special thank you to s/v Blue Lady, s/v Mauna Kea, s/v Our Log and s/v Radiance for making the time in your schedules to make the “reunion” happen.  I know Brad, Terrie, Steve and Janine had a much richer experience because you joined us!

George Town Races

We left Cambridge Cay with the intention of going to Farmers Cay before continuing to George Town on Great Exuma.  However, once we exited Conch Cut and were on the eastern side of the islands, we had a perfect day for sailing and we just could not get ourselves to stop at Farmers.  We had a beam reach and the islands to our west reduced the waves so we clipped along at 8 knots and traveled over 70 miles under main and jib.

George Town is cruisers central in the Bahamas and our first look was startling because of the number of sailboats and cruising boats anchored in the harbors.  This was by far the largest gathering of cruisers we have ever encountered!

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Typical number of dinghies anytime near Chat n Chill on Stocking Island

We arrived in Elizabeth Harbor, Great Exuma late in the afternoon and chose to find a protected spot because a few windy days were predicted.

We settled in an area toward the southwest part of Elizabeth Harbor called Red Shanks.  It was a nice quiet area to ride out the wind, but we knew we wanted to move closer to where all the activity would happen.

Elizabeth Harbor is very large with several areas for anchoring.  George Town is where the facilities are like grocery stores, fuel, restaurants, etc.  However, this visit was all about the 37th Annual George Town Cruisers Regatta and Festival and many of the daily activities would be across the harbor from George Town on Stocking Island.

When the wind calmed a bit, we moved Let It Be across the harbor to a spot right off of Volleyball Beach on Stocking Island.  This was the perfect spot for us because we were a short dinghy ride from many daily activities.

The GT Cruisers Regatta has far too many activities to list them all, so if you are interested in seeing more detail, look them up on FB: George Town Cruising Regatta 2017

Frank and I tend to be more about ‘doing’ than ‘watching’ so we signed up for many activities.  In fact, we were so busy I hardly had time to take pictures.

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Yoga was a fabulous way to start our morning on Volleyball Beach.

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Nearly every afternoon there were pick up volleyball games that we joined often.  Sometime there were 9 people per side and other times we only had four.  It just depended on who wanted to play.  The games were super fun with a variety of skill levels.  We found volleyball to be one of the best ways to meet new people and get a little exercise in the process.

Frank seemed to think that the more sand he got on himself during volleyball, the better and I think he brought home a fair amount of the beach each afternoon. I wish I had a picture of that!

Tina and Bill of s/v Our Log joined us for the Poker Run.  The weather was a little rough with some wind and squalls, but we managed to have a great time in spite of it.

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The wide, open harbor was rough in windy conditions.

  We traveled by dinghy across Elizabeth Harbor to six restaurants and at each location we chose a playing card.  The final stop was back on Stocking Island at Lumina Point where we picked up our final card.

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Bill, Tina and Frank look pretty serious about choosing a card.

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A measly two pair, but we’re still smiling!

Our luck at pulling good cards didn’t exist and we ended up with only two pair.  But we enjoyed seeing all of the restaurant/bars and sampling their food and drinks, and we couldn’t have asked for better teammates than Bill and Tina.  We also met some great people, especially Jane and Kevin of s/v Libeccio. 

Our next big event was the Coconut Challenge which we did with s/v Tatiana.  YEP!  James and Kristen were back with us again and we had more laughs than should be allowed doing this crazy event. The Coconut Challenge had three parts:

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Part 1. Four people in life jackets in a dinghy without a motor.  Each person has a swim fin to use to propel the dinghy.  1,000 coconuts were released and each dinghy tried to collect as many coconuts as possible without leaving the dinghy.  

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Many teams competed in the challenge.  

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James and Frank catch while Kristen tosses coconuts.

Part 2.  One person stands with his back to two other team mates who are holding a garage bag.  The thrower tosses coconuts over her head and the catchers catch the coconuts in the bag.  

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Who gets the most style points?

Part 3. Each teammate has one coconut and the team has 5 seconds to toss the coconuts over a net and into scoring circles in the sand.

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Overall we earned 2nd place in the Coconut Challenge!!

Our next event was a dinghy race in which you had to create a sail and race straight downwind.  Frank had the great idea of flying one of his kite board kites as our sail.  After some convincing, the judge did allow us to enter the race but we had to start a little distance from the other racers as a safety precaution.

We started off great and it looked like we would easily WIN the race.  But we quickly outran the kite which subsequently lost all power and fell from the sky!  Sadly we were unable to recover and lost the race.  Happily, no one was injured by the crazy kite and the kite lines didn’t get entangled in anything.

Next up on our schedule was the SUP race.  Frank took first place in the men’s division and I paddled my way into second for the ladies. 

There was a big variety show put on at a local park that included acts by cruisers and locals.  Most of the performances were singers with musicians.  Several dances were performed by children and there was even a poetry reading.  Quite a variety of talent.

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Frank prepares for the costume party. 

Frank pulled out his shark costume from Halloween and entered the costume contest which had a theme of Gilligan’s Island or a Favorite Castaway.  Although he was very energetic and into his character, he didn’t win any prizes.

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Pretty creative costumes.

The most exciting events for us were the sailboat races! We decided to enter LIB in the In Harbor Race as well as the Around the Island Race.  Of course we invited friends to join us as crew! And since most of us were graduates of the Sail to the Sun Rally 2016, we wore our t-shirts!

The In Harbor Race was my favorite because it was fairly short and pretty exciting.  Our crew included Ken and Laurie from Mauna Kea, Kevin and Susan from Radiance, Tina and Bill from Our Log and James and Kristen from Tatiana.

The morning of the race dawn revealed a perfect day for sailing.  Frank and I scurried about making sure LIB was ready and things were in order.  James and Kristen arrived and we fired up the engines, except our starboard engine would not start! It didn’t even turn over.  After a bit of diagnosing (and perhaps a swear word or two) we contact Bill, Mr. Mechanic Extraordinaire!  He zipped over to LIB and bypassed the ECU to get our engine started.  Phew, we were ok and off to the races!! 

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James directs and we hop to!

James was our tactician for the day and Frank had prepared a job list so everyone could participate in the race.  Every one of the crew had only sailed on monohulls so we had to do some practicing before the race began.

I will admit, our tacks were a little rough at first!  But we persevered and by race time, we were ready!  This is the first time I have ever raced a sailboat and it was an adrenalin rush.  I was at the helm and Frank oversaw all line work while James gave instructions.

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Our imitation of wild action shots!

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LIB from a competitors view.

We gave it our all and managed to earn third place.  Ok, there were only four boats in our class, but still we earned a flag!!

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Tina and Bill ready to add a preventer when we flew wing on wing.

The around the island race included the same crew with the addition of Brian from Radiance.  Once again James was the tactician, I was at the helm and Frank was overseeing lines.  Ken, from s/v Mauna Kea, put it best in a FB post:

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We must be flying – look at our windswept hair!

“Let It Be placed another 3rd! It was a great race, after the first mark we were second. Shortly after that we were in first and then it all slipped away.  We had victory in our hands and then someone offered drinks and snacks.”

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Sharing snacks and laughs post race.

Haha, I’m not sure that was the reason we lost, but it makes a good story.  Our monohull sailors got to see LIB in her worst sailing position – upwind.  But since we were all comfortable while slogging into it and some one (ahem, Brian) even managed to nap ~ it wasn’t a bad day at all.

At the end of the first day, s/v Tatiana and LIB sported the same winning flags.

After many afternoons of practice, Frank and I chose to enter the Fun Volleyball event.  We even had to get “rated” by the organizer.  Unfortunately, the weather turned and we had to depart George Town earlier than anticipated, so we had to cancel our spots. 

We left George Town on Friday so we could make it to the western side of the Exumas before the next weather front arrived.  So today we are anchored off of Little Farmers Cay in relative comfort even though the winds are kicking up close to 30 knots.  These winds are expected to stay with us for a few more days, but we will make our way toward Staniel Cay tomorrow as some friends arrive on Tuesday.

Some folks have asked me to give them my thoughts on George Town because it is well known as a cruisers hang out.  I have to admit we had a blast there but I don’t know if that is because the Regatta/Festival was in full swing.  Frank and I plan on stopping back in George Town when we move south again toward Long Island.  It will be interesting to see what George Town is like when it has it’s “usual” number of boats. 

Thanks for stopping by and reading this very long post!

Playtime in the Central Exuma Islands

Our sail from Eleuthera back to the Exuma Islands was more and less exciting than we expected.  We anticipated an easy spinnaker sail but the wind was shifty and we ended up changing sails two or three times.  So that was a little “more” than we expected.

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Spinnaker sailing is probably my favorite!

On the other hand, Frank diligently employed the fishing techniques Paul, our Eleuthera guide, had taught him, but our only bite was a barracuda.  So the fishing was “less” exciting than we had anticipated.

The fun news is that we were able to raise s/v Radiance on the VHF and made plans to meet at an anchorage on Compass Cay.  Surprisingly they ended up entering Conch Cut, an entrance from the Bahama Sound into the Exuma Islands, at the same time we did! So we followed them through the cut and we anchored right next to each other.

We shared sundowners that evening and plotted activities for the next few days.  S/V Radiance only had a few days before they were off to Nassau to pick up guests so we wanted to pack in a lot during our days together. 

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Celebrating our reunion!

Susan had saved some “bubbly” to share and we managed to consume all of it… waste not, want not!

The first day together, we packed into our dinghy, Day Tripper, and headed to the marina where we could swim with the nurse sharks then hike on Compass Cay. We trekked from the marina all the way to the Bubbly Bath at the north end of the island.

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Frank, Susan and Kevin on Compass Cay.

At five miles round trip, the walk was a bit longer than we anticipated, but the views along the way were great.

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Frank “dunks” a rock at Hester’s Gym, an abandoned bar on along the walk.

The Bubbly Bath was a fun place to hang out in the shallow water and enjoy the waves as they broke over the rocky ledge that separated us from the ocean.  We agreed that this was a place we wanted to revisit!

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Susan is making a beeline for the Bubbly Bath at the right end of this picture.

When we returned to the marina, Kevin and Captain found a breezy, shady spot to cool down and Susan and I watched Frank swim with the sharks.  Unfortunately my camera battery died so I don’t have pictures.

Next we moved the boats to Cambridge Cay which is the southern most part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  We grabbed mooring balls and were delighted when we realized that s/v Tatiana was on the very next mooring ball!

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I think these fish were looking for nibbles.

Kevin, Susan, Frank and I went snorkeling the next day at “the Aquarium.” 

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Sorry for the picture quality, I don’t have my red filter yet!

There was only one other dinghy at the snorkel site and they were just about to leave when we arrived. I was busy getting out gear when I heard, “Frank?!”  HA! The folks in the other dinghy had shared our dock in Annapolis during our last few weeks at Jabin’s Yacht Yard!  Art and Celeste were doing some refit work on their catamaran  in Annapolis and we knew they were headed to the Bahamas, but we were surprised to run into them!  What a small world!

Susan and I decided we really needed a second visit to the Bubbly Bath, so we invited s/v Tatiana to join us.  We packed a cooler and some floats plus our snorkel gear.  The six of us, and Captain, took off in Day Tripper and stopped at the Rocky Dundas snorkel site.  We swam into the caves and poked about checking out the coral and sea life.

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Kristen, James, Frank, Kevin and Susan…. Cap and I are in charge of pics.

After an arduous snorkel (not) we really needed to relax, so the Bubbly Bath was next up.  

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It’s important to have plenty of toys and snacks!

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Frank and I on the edge of the Bubbly Bath

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Cappy divided her time between a shady hole in the sand and my lap in the water.

We had a great time floating about, sharing drinks and stories as we watched the waves begin building and breaching the rocky surroundings.  What a fun way to while away an afternoon!

It was great fun meeting up with Susan and Kevin again and we enjoyed several days together exploring Compass Cay and Cambridge Cay.  Although we were only together about 4 days we managed to hike, snorkel, share dinner aboard both boats, gather at an anchorage beach sundowner event, listen to Kevin and a new Canadian friend jam on guitars and float about in the Bubbly Bath twice.

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Susan even managed some down time on the hammock she and Kevin made from beach ‘finds.’

We were sad to see s/v Radiance leave head north, but we have plans to meet again very soon!

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Frank kiting off Cambridge Cay

The wind has piped up a few times and allowed us to kite board.  Frank had probably three days of boarding and he continues to try to increase the height of his jumps.  Our kids gave Frank a small electronic device called a “Woo” that attaches to his kiteboard. The Woo records the height of jumps and Frank loves trying to improve his “personal best.”

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Sundown after an afternoon of kiting.

My kiting on the other hand seems to go two steps forward and three steps backwards.  Some days I am comfortable and don’t need any support, but other days I am very happy to have Frank “on watch” to help me if I become discombobulated!

After s/v Radiance and s/v Tatiana departed, Frank spent the next week or so exploring Black Point and Pipe Cay, then returning to Cambridge Cay. We resumed our usual activities of hikes, biking, swimming and general dinghy exploring.  Instead of boring you with details, here are some pictures.

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The anchorage at Black Point.

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Regardless of location, all little kids love to play with smart phones!

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Probably the most beautiful spot we have seen; Pipe Cay.

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Hiking along a rocky ledge.

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A small private island.  They seem to have a few extra comforts available!

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Who needs a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card?

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Just another sunset!

Thanks so much for reading about our journey. Let us know if you are nearby! Next up – George Town; cruisers central in the Bahamas!

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