Saturday, April 4, 2009

Scavenging and Seclusion

Why go you ask, of course, for the scavenging, hunting and seclusion. All of us were excited to find lobster, whose season ended in 10 days. In Sabrina;A Child's History of the World", she learned about the life of the Stone Age people. "These early people must have spent most of their time hunting for food or trying to get away from animals hunting them for food". That was us, the scavengers of the Jumentos. Parker likes to scavenge the ocean beaches for fishing buoys and sticks to make spears and forts. Sabrina was determined to find sea beans and to make a necklace out of. After finding tons of sea hearts, only a rare hamburger bean would appease her. Another favorite for kids was to pile up found shoes for a "Payless shoe store" on the beach. She also was interested in spearing fish and lobster. Marc wanted to get up on the kite board and was excited for high winds. This year we have lost so many things. Just days before, Marc's kite-board had disappeared overnight. It had been used once and all were upset by it.
Marc is a superb hunting, able to lie on the deep bottom and spear well hidden lobster under rocks. On average, he was bringing home 3 large lobsters a day. The cave man genes have pushed their way to the surface. My big score was a boat fender and hat from washed up on the beach. That is what we have become, glorified dumpster divers on the beaches of the Bahamas, and loving it. It seems that other type A cruisers have similar ideas. Gathering spots are strewn with "art" displays of beach treasures and functional pieces like wheel barrows, tables and altars, all made of recycled materials. More disturbing were all of the plastic washed up and the beaches. What, as self proclaimed environmentalists should we do or not do with it? In the U.S., beach clean up days are organized and trash bagged and recycled or land filled. In the Bahamas, our choice is to leave it or burn it, releasing its lovely components into the air. Let us know which the better choice is.

Sprawl and Socialization

Only in the Bahamas can you go from the polar opposite cruising experiences in a day's sail. At one end of the cruising spectrum is Georgetown, Bahamas during Cruising Week. At the other end are the remote and desolate Ragged Islands/Juementos, Bahamas.
In Georgetown (G/T), we listened to the VHF net, wrote down the daily and weekly activities and had to use (gasp) a calendar with time commitments to organize our lives. The cruising lifestyle in Georgetown is organized, punctual, with a set hierarchy of leaders. Volleyball daily at 2:00 p.m., Beach Church on Sunday's at 9:30 a.m. and ARG (Alcohol Research Group) meetings at 5:00 p.m. Arriving at 5:10 p.m., we found a full beach and many appetizers already gone. If anything, our "just in time"
arrival policy has gotten worse.. after all we are on a boat. However, retired cruisers are frustratingly early to events. With 300 plus boats in the area, privacy is non existent with new friends popping by the boat daily. The anchorage was a wave of color with boats flying every flag on their boat. The kids were excited to display the G/T flags won 2 years ago and add the new ones from this year.
Nothing like Georgetown exists in our experience around the Caribbean. Bed times, who needs them especially with cruisers' parties only lasting until 10:00 p.m. However, at the end of week 2, we are tired, and ready for the solitude of the Juementos.
At the last campfire of our time there, we tried to convince the other friend and family boats, Los Gatos, Miakoda and Cambraytion to join us in the Juementos. As described in our chart books, "they are unpopulated wilderness with only one tiny settlement, closer to Cuba than Georgetown". Our information purports to be prepared for no all around anchorages, limited protection from fronts and swelly, rolly anchorages. Food is limited and water and fuel are non existent. Oh, and than there
are the sharks who come in the shallows to breed in the spring and become aggressive. Of course, all of the ladies have read and reread this information, making the area seem more and more dangerous after each reading. At top of that, the weather god, Chris Parker, said that the wind was going to be blowing hard out of the N-NE for 5 days straight, making the anchorages even more rolly and snorkeling challenging. Needless so say, no-one left with us. Most boats leave in the morning and announce
their departure to a chorus of "goodbyes" on the radio from fellow cruisers. We left late afternoon, so we could use our raffle-won day on the water in a high speed power boat, sneaking out during the afternoon activities. Cruisers never say good-bye, just see you later. We left not knowing when and if we would be seeing our friends again, but happy to be finally sailing.