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Monday, February 24, 2014

Hatchet Bay to Rock Sound

I need to get you all caught up on our adventures!  We arrived in Hatchet Bay on a Sunday evening.  On Monday morning, we set out on a walk to explore Alice Town.  We found the Triple TLC grocery store and grabbed a couple of things.  We found the St. Stephen’s Baptist Church and noted meeting times.  As we continued on our walk we came across a Methodist Habitat work group setting up for some local home repairs and improvements.  Myron promised to bring by some needed tools that folks did not want to carry on the airline.  Continuing our walk we came upon the P.A. Gibson Elementary school.  We found the principal’s office, introduced ourselves and asked if any teachers wanted help teaching math.  The principal, Ms. Ingraham, did not let 90 seconds expire before we were introduced to the 6th grade class of about 14 students.  We taught fractions and measurements from 10:15 am to noon…rinse and repeat the next day. 

We took a day off to investigate the long cave (they say it is a mile long).  We hitch-hiked north to the cave and were graciously picked up by the mother of one of our 6th grade students.  We were accompanied by Mitchell and Natalie on Sea Major, a Westerly Sea Lord.  Mitchell just finished his PhD in Physics.  They are getting this sailing trip in before any kids come along.  We were all impressed by the caves, we just had to look past the graffiti.  Myron and Mitchell went down into a lower cavern and waded through fresh water. Natalie and I stayed above and shouted reminders to our husbands of the dangers of their endeavor.  We continued through the cave after their safe return, and had to crawl out the end to what looked like a well with a rope ladder.  Out of the top we came to beautiful sunshine! 

Wednesday night (2/12) we had snarky weather with a westerly component.  Myron dove the mooring before the wind came and discovered that some of the chain between the mooring and the ball had eroded to 1/3 its original size.  We pulled out our ¾” line and he dove down and ran that through the good chain closer to the mooring.  We were not able to get a line through the mooring hoop, due to growth.  Myron put our mooring “grabamatic” on the hoop.  The resulting configuration was our primary, normal two lines to the mooring penant; a secondary, snap shackle on the mooring hoop; and tertiary, the ¾” line in the water down to good chain.  There are times when you think, oh that is not necessary, we will be fine.  The forecast called for 40 knots in the squalls and it was right.  In the worst of the squalls we were quite happy to have the redundancy.  Dawn revealed that we were still on the primary, but the wind stayed with us all through Thursday. 

We did not do much Thursday, since the snarky weather was still with us, except I did hunt down the tickets for the Baptist Church Friday night dinner.  At $15 per person, that is a good deal in the Bahamas for a three course meal plus dessert!  The food was fantastic as well as the company of the couple who dined with us, William and Audrey Gibson.  By then we had had only two days with the kids, but they still came up to us at dinner with hugs and smiles.  My heart was melting.

Sunday we were joined at church by Andrew and Rebecca on Blueberry, a 30 foot sailboat with no refrigeration.  Before church, they tried to pick up anchor and move onto the mooring near us vacated by Sea Major.  However, whatever they had hooked on prior to the bad weather, was too heavy for Drew to pull up manually and pulling with their engine only dipped the bow.  We suggested they put a float on the anchor chain, get on the mooring and we would help them after church.   We slipped Hold Fast from her mooring while Drew put a shackle on his anchor chain and we ran our ¾” line through it.  With that line on our windlass, we pulled their chain taunt.  When Myron put Hold Fast in reverse, her bow dipped down as well.  We probably weigh at least 6 six times what Blueberry displaces.  So we waited with tension on the line.  Drew dove his anchor, still not in sight, but he noted that we had pulled up some kind of equipment with prongs, initially he thought it might be a ladder attached to something.  It was only a matter of a couple more pulls on the windlass until the anchor broke free and we were back on our mooring preparing lunch!  Still a mystery as to what was down there, but problem solved.
Monday we taught 6th grade math again, then Tuesday and Wednesday we were with the 4th graders.  These kids really need to get their multiplication tables down before we can go much further.  If anyone knows of any songs or other helpful learning aids to the tables, please let me know!  Ms. Ingraham recognizes that the kids are not ready for their exams and expects to have afternoon tutoring starting possibly in April.  I am not sure if the weather will allow us to route back this way, but we noted that we would be glad to help.  We regretted not purchasing in the U.S. some Expo markers for whiteboards, some composition books (they use one for each study), and chalk for the boards in Black Point. 

The kids took a mid-term break, leaving us free for a few days to hitch-hike some of the island.  Friday we went south to Governor’s Harbor.  It is pretty and has a library with free internet upstairs.  We asked around a got a recommendation to have lunch at Pammie’s.  It was more food than we could eat and most delicious!  After eating we hitch-hiked back toward Hatchet Bay.  Associate Pastor Johnson picked us up just outside of Governor’s Harbor and offered to take us all the way to Gregory Town.  In route, we stopped at a business and school supply store and purchased some Expo markers and chalk! Gregory Town is built on the hills surrounding the ‘precarious’ harbor.  On our walk out of town we found a shop that sells solar panels and gear.  The prices were much more than you would pay in the states, but at least some folks are going solar and some parts might be available if you need them.  We were picked up shortly after leaving that shop, by a young man who works in avionics at North Eleuthera Airport. 

It was good to see the other towns, yet it confirmed that Alice Town was the right spot to extend our stay.  The local folks have been delightful and the kids have been fun.  I told Myron I am not ready to leave.  But we are overdue at Black Point and overdue for some fish. 

Saturday we supported the local Girl’s Brigade by purchasing lunch at their annual fund raiser, and by purchasing dinner when we returned from Surfer’s Beach.  Another hitch-hiking trip.  I have to say, the Bahamas must be the only country in which the drivers will slow down and holler an apology out the window if they do not have room or are only going a short way down the road.  In the U.S., if a driver slows down, it is probably to throw something at you!

After church on Sunday, we did some snorkeling with the Blueberry’s and with Lawrence and Kelly on Mary Sue.  I was sad afterward as we stowed the dinghy and gear and prepared to head south.

Today the winds were not as light as forecast, or as favorable.  The only sailing we got in was the last five or six miles heading toward Poison Point.  We tried to get a hook at Starving Creek, but just plowed marl.  Kind of unhealthy names to those places anyway.  We settled for motoring another two miles up to the Rock Sound Settlement and anchored off town with the other cruisers.  Very good holding.  We launched the dinghy and walked to town.  People were nice enough, but we are clearly spoiled by our precious new friends at Hatchet Bay.  We checked out the grocery store.  It is pretty well stocked, just as Barb described.  I even found fresh kale!  We rewarded ourselves with an ice cream and headed back to Hold Fast to check weather.  There is a massive thunderstorm to the north west of us.  Someone will get some grumpy weather tonight.  The ‘forecast’ is good for a fishing trip across Exuma Sound tomorrow.  Hopefully it does what they say.  We stowed the dinghy and prepped Hold Fast for an early morning.  People say we work well as a team launching the dinghy…that is because we do it over and over again, sometimes within an hour like today!

Time for a snack and some rest. 

Love to all,

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