FEBRUARY 19, 2015
Today, Nancy Lu is anchored in Elizabeth Harbour at Great Exuma Island right off George Town. We haven’t gotten off the boat at all today because of the high winds gusting up to 30 knots (not great for a dinghy ride)! We’ve been here in the Bahamas since February 3. This winter, we’ve anchored in some of our usual spots, but skipped many others because of cold fronts bringing winds that require us to find comfortable anchorages in which to ride them out. Also, we’ve been on a mission to get down here to George Town to welcome guests that arrive on Saturday 21 (just in time for the biggest blow since we’ve been here).
One of the things I’m happy to note is that we’ve been pleased to do a lot of sailing instead of motoring or motor-sailing so far this season!
Our first stop in the Bahamas this year was Palm Cay Marina, close to Nassau. We were pleased with this choice. It was a very quiet spot. We didn’t feel comfortable staying at a marina in Nassau, as we’ve done many times before, after hearing so many reports of crime there. Captain Mark was able to take the Palm Cay Marina rental car into Nassau to check in with customs the same afternoon that we got to Palm Cay Marina, where we spent one night. The next day, after doing a little laundry, we sailed to Highbourne Cay and spent one night.
The next morning, we sailed on to Big Majors Spot (I call it the swimming pool anchorage). We’ve been to both Highbourne Cay and Big Majors Spot many times. After breakfast in the cockpit at Big Majors Spot, we dinghied around the point to Staniel Cay to fill our jerri jugs with diesel for Nancy Lu and gasoline for our dinghy. We also wanted to check out the renovations to Staniel Cay Yacht Club (very nice).
While Mark filled the cans, I enjoyed a little walk around town. Then we both shared a refreshment back in the old part of the yacht club
before going back around the point to say hi to the pigs at Big Majors Spot. Our next stop took us back up north for an unplanned stop at the south mooring field of the Exuma Land and Sea Park between Warderick Wells and Hog Cay to ride out another blow. We enjoyed this spot last year for the same reason. We had a nice sail there. As we got close, we tried to reef the jib. At that time, we found out that it was jammed so we dropped the sail on the deck and secured it to deal with later.
The next day, which was the calm before the wind, we got everything sorted out and hoisted the approx. 100 lb. jib back up while moored at Hog Cay. That same day, we saw a hammerhead shark chasing a couple of sting rays—something we’ve never seen in the Bahamas. Also at Hog Cay, I resumed my habit of exercising, which I had fallen out of with all the busyness around the holidays at home. It’s a little harder to follow the FIRM DVDs that I use for exercise in the small space on Nancy Lu, but I can manage…You know you’re “living” on a boat, not “vacationing”, when you are spending most of your time doing things like exercising, daily bible reading, cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, fixing various boat problems, even decorating, crafting, and finding opportunities for volunteering. This brings me to the main focus of this blog post…
I think the most FUN I’ve had in all four seasons that I’ve spent in the Bahamas was at our next stop,
We’ve been to Black Point many times and always enjoy our time spent there. It seems that this community (one of my favorites) has been able to capitalize on the cruising tourism without putting in a marina. This seems to have preserved the non-touristy atmosphere of the town. Each year, we enjoy the beautiful harbor and seeing different developments and improvements to those developments made by locals in the community. These developments include Rockside Laundry with their showers and beautiful vacation cottages, some of which overlook the breathtaking ocean-side views. The owners of Rockside Laundry, etc. employ locals as carpenters, handymen, and store-minders. Other locals own and run restaurants and bars which are frequented by cruisers and locals alike. Some locals do straw work that they sell to Nassau to be made into purses and such. Also, many locals work at nearby Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Our favorite things to enjoy in Black Point are Mission Bible Church services, pastored by Terrance who co-owns Rockside Laundry and various other endeavors with his wife, Ida,
Pizza or hamburgers and internet at DeShammon’s,
Valentine’s dinner at Lorraine’s Café, as we did again this year, and the annual school fundraisers where we enjoy typical Bahamian fare cooked by moms of school children. Back in the spring of 2012, Claire and I even had the pleasure of taking part in a Friday night choir practice for Mission Bible Church’s Easter cantata with missionary, Sharon Vassalo, directing.
BACK TO THE MAIN FOCUS—
I had a BLAST teaching a 2 hour “Garden Fantasy Ballet” class on Saturday morning at the government school!! I had hoped to be able to do this, and I made all the plans for it before we left the states. I had the idea back in the fall when I helped Claire with starting a ballet class for the after school program at Mission Waco, where she did an internship this summer and still volunteers. I used to teach “Garden Fantasy Ballet” at the dance school where I taught for 11 years back home in Texas. It’s a great curriculum that I’ve adapted using Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet music. It’s perfect for beginners, especially in a setting where you don’t have ballet barres or mirrors. Claire’s having a lot of success with it! The children, ages 5-11, who I was blessed to work with and I had a WONDERFUL experience!! IT WAS A JOY….
….from opening up the school and setting up with the help of Chantelle. She is the principle, Mrs. Young’s, 5 year old granddaughter who was so excited about ballet class that she clapped her hands and bounced up and down at her desk when I visited the school to announce to her class about the ballet class to be held on Saturday morning. I had actually met Mrs. Young at that choir practice that Claire and I attended back in 2012. Yes, it was a JOY from the announcing of the ballet class, to the setting up for it, to walking hand-in-hand with Chantelle through the town to gather her friends who hadn’t made it to the school yet (island-time), to sitting outside visiting with one of the girl’s granddaddies as he did his straw work while I waited for Chantelle’s friends to get ready (Island-time, again), to skipping down the road with Chantelle, Zion, Girlie and Kaylie on the way back to the school (Chantelle told everyone that we passed, “We goin’ Balletin’!!”),
to welcoming in the older girls (and a couple of little ones) when they got there after we’d already started (again, island-time), to welcoming in two little boys who wandered in and wanted to join, to allowing some older boys to watch who also wandered by and were peering in the door (our little ballet class was quite the event in this little island town),
to seeing the natural talent of some of the girls,
to observing the sweet, nurturing personality of one of the older girls, Page, who I met last year and was so impressed with even then,
to watching ALL of them have so much fun learning and dancing,
to taking a break and having the popcorn that Mrs. Young served the children,
to performing for Mrs. Young and the big kids for whom Mrs. Young was proctoring an exam in another school room (including an encore performance requested by Mrs. Young),
and finally, to passing out the bracelets that I had made to give out at the end of class (I had made just enough—11)!! The whole experience was everything that I had hoped it would be! As always, serving others brings the server so much more benefit than the served. To tell the truth, volunteering with school kids in the Bahamas is something I do more for me than for them. I need a teaching/kid “fix” periodically!
I wish I could have taught the class on a more long-term basis, but we knew that the anchorage there at Black Point was going to become untenable with the predicted weather. Maybe I can do a more long-term class here in George Town or somewhere else! We had hoped to be able to attend church the next day, Sunday, but we made the decision to leave Sunday morning and motor-sail straight to George Town.
We’re looking forward to spending time with Alan and Judy Stanley, my brother and sister-in-law! We’re not sure how we’re going to handle getting them out to Nancy Lu in these high winds, but we’ll figure something out. Thankfully, more peaceful weather is predicted for most of their time with us!