History Log: Season 2004
Amida travels from Toronto to Trinidad.
Our first years adventure.
Log: 8 The Abacos to The Exumas
Thursday, Feb 2nd at Midnight
We’re on the deep, deep ocean. The moon is out, showing half of its mysterious face, a myriad stars twinkle and glow. In the
distance, the bright lights of a freighter warn of its presence as it heads eastwards out of Nassau into the cavernous waters of
the Atlantic. The wind is off our nose but the swells are gentle, at least that’s how they feel as I sit in the cockpit. Below, well
that’s an entirely different story as their banging against Amida’s bow sections all but preclude the possibility of sleep. The 1200
till 0300 watch is mine. I tried reading but the book I have by my side has yet to grab my attention. It is a “classic”, Anna
Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. Leo is the same bloke who used gallons of ink and wore out dozens of quills when he wrote War and
Peace. Lots and lots of words in his fertile mind, let me tell you! The trouble with classics is that they are exceedingly and
excruciatingly well written, which is possibly why they are referred to as classics but, to be honest, not terribly exciting. In fact,
paint drying has more attributes of pace. OK, I’m a Philistine and my daughter, Klara, who has a Masters in English Lit is
probably hanging her head in deep and dismal shame. But I shall persevere and become a better edumacated man,
enlightened, and full of wisdom. Do you think??? It has started to rain, so I shall shut down the computer.

We’re on our way from the Abacos to the Exumas…

We decided to visit Man O Way Cay (in the Abacos) before heading to Hopetown as the distances between ports of call in the
Southern Abaco are miniscule, a mere hour, or two, or three apart. MoW was a prosperous and tidy place, its major
differentiator to its neighbours is that it sells no alcohol or tobacco as it is a highly religious community. Its entrance channel is
narrow, not terribly deep, and this then splits into Eastern and Western Harbours, necessitating a 90 degree turn just after going
by rather nasty looking rocks that seemed to be licking their chops in a hungry fashion as we slid by. The Guidebook scared the
willy out of me (now, what is the origin of that phrase… and how would it change if it were a female being scared??) by saying
the channel is so narrow that boats should not attempt to pass by each other while in its confines. Trouble is, you can’t see if
there is another boat approaching until it’s rather late! Luckily, we were alone as we passed through. More interesting was the
sight that met us as we entered the Eastern Harbour… it was small, very, small, and the mooring balls we were expecting were
not exactly in abundance. Several boats had already snagged one, so we meandered between them, one eye out for their hulls,
another for the mooring lines, a third on the depth gauge and the last one searching for a mooring ball that was not marked
Reserved, or Private. It seemed a lost cause… but then, incredibly, we came across Rongatai, who used to be at the NYC! Doug
(at least I think that was his name, my memory not being kind) and Marilyn had a few words of greeting and then he took off in
his dinghy to search out a spot for us, as it turned out successfully. The current Rongatai (V, I think) is a 52ft Tayana,
permanently resident in the MoW harbour. After securing our lines, we took off in our own dinghy to visit “town”. The Albury
family is prominently noticeable on MoW, with similarly featured people being observed in the grocery, the marina, the bakery,
but not, alas, the liquor store. They also build boats and run the local ferries in the area. The original settlers in the Bahamas
were the Loyalists, fleeing America at the time of the Revolution.

We stayed at MoW for one night, then it was on to Hopetown, another prosperous and tidy place with a sheltered bay containing
mooring balls. This time, however, we were able to reserve one for both us and Temeraire by calling ahead. The distance from
MoW to Hopetown was some five or six miles, but it was blowing like stink! We clocked 31 knots in one gust. Yet again, the
channel entrance was purported to be narrow in the Guidebook, with instructions to line up the road and the red range marks,
though the latter may be obstructed by tree branches, as if you intended to drive up onto the road… Drive up onto the road?
Excuse me, I though these Guides were written to stop you from doing that! We had also waited for high tide as the area
outside the channel had scattered coral heads sticking up to 5’6” below the water surface at MLW. I’m happy to report that said
corals heads kept their heads down, so to speak, and the road was avoided. You see, we’re getting better and better at this. I
was going to write that we’re getting good, but that would have brought down some evil sea curse and driven us aground in
some forsaken spot, just to teach us a lesson in humility.

A couple more anecdotes that occurred while in Marsh H which I had forgotten to write about in the last log… we decided that it
was probably time to fill up the propane tank here (Hopetown didn’t have the facilities) as it was likely on the low side and there
would be no further opportunities in the next week or two. I pulled it out of the propane locker and, indeed, it was pretty light.
We took off in the dinghy and I carried the tank to the local hardware store which took them in before 9.00am, drove them to
wherever the fill station was, then had them ready for pickup by midday. Unfortunately, the fill station, apparently, had run out
and the hardware store refused to let me leave our tank there till the next day, when they expected a propane barge to have
delivered a fresh load to the fill station. Innocently, I asked whether they had expected this to have also occurred yesterday,
and the answer was in the affirmative. Was this going to be a case of, forever, manana, manana? So, I had to trundle back to
the dinghy to take back the tank, which didn’t feel as light now as it had previously. Luckily, my suspicions were misplaced and
the following day they accepted the tank and had it filled up at midday. Taking it back to the dinghy it felt decidedly heavy!

The shopping at Marsh is very good, with a couple of really large groceries, a used book store (books taken in as donations and
sold for $1, proceeds going to the Abaco Wild Horse Preservation Society), a bakery, several liquor stores… you get the drift of
where our priorities lie these days? The bread in the Bahamas is baked, generally, with a recipe that seems to contain far more
sugar than we are used to and this makes it a tad to sweet for our taste. It also doesn’t last too long on the boat and, at US$3
per loaf, is expensive to throw away. Of course, my inclination is to scrape off the green furry bits and toast it into submission
but Marilyn, the resident Chef (Cheffette?) seems to think we’ll die a slow and agonizing death if I do this. I proved her wrong
one day... which she’ll learn about when she reads this sentence! I am the Sous Chef, with responsibility for making breakfast.
This is really quite hard… tea, coffee, cereal, and occasionally eggs with / without bacon. For variety, I tried Christmas Cake
(still have a little left from Christine’s Red Cross food parcel as well as one purchased in Ft Lauderdale, post Christmas, for
99c), but it’s a little on the heavy side for first thing in the morning. I also do the BBQ and have learned to accomplish this in the
pitch dark, with wind blowing out the flame almost as fast as I could relight it (that was the 30kn day). In one of the Marsh H
grocery deep freezers, I spotted a rack of NZ lamb (24 ribs for a mere $25!!!) which we shared with Temeraire. They too went
onto the BBQ and turned out to be absolutely perfectly done…and delicious. The store had a whole leg of lamb, 10 lbs of it, at
$2.5/lb. What a bargain…

The mooring ball pricing in the Abacos is anything but consistent. At Treasure Cay they charged $10 per night, including the use
of their showers. At MoW, it was $10, but showers were not available, even for a price, unless you took a slip at the marina. At
Hopetown, the price was $15 and showers were an additional $4! Go figure…

At Hopetown, we met up again with Caryl and Ross, who had decided to skip Treasure Cay, Marsh Harbour, and MoW Cay and
came here straight from Green Turtle. In fact, we are traveling together tonight, and I can see their lights just ahead of us.
Sadly, we said our goodbyes to Chris and Jim, and the dog Murphy, from Temeraire as they decided to stick to the Abacos for
this season and not go south to the Exumas.

The next stop after Hopetown, and last one in the Abacos, was Little Harbour. Guess what, it too has a sheltered bay with a
shallow entrance. Guess what, the way over from Hopetown is not direct as there are shoals to be avoided. Guess what, this
time the shoal won! Luckily for Amida, she was not lead boat at the time, but defending the rear of the convoy of Carylar and a
seriously expensive Hatteras trawler. Carylar touched bottom, slowed down by necessity, then touched bottom again. At this
stage the Hatteras bailed and turned around, towards Amida. Ross, on Carylar, called us on VHF to say he didn’t trust his
waypoints any more and also turned around. The charts showed a 5’2 depth at low water and we had some tide to help so, in
theory at least, a passage was possible. The Hatteras then called us to ask if we had experience of these waters. Seemed it was
a case of the blind leading the blind. Amida took up the challenge and with Marilyn on the wheel and me on the bow we stuck to
our own course and, thankfully, got through, leading the other two. Success! We approached Little Harbour and Carylar, who
was now lead boat again, made the decision to anchor off Lynyard Cay rather than push our luck and try the entry into the
harbour without sufficient tidal help. We joined them, put down the hook, and enjoyed a sundowner. Next day we dinghied over
to Little Harbour where Pete’s Pub and the Art Gallery are the only attractions worth mentioning. The Gallery shows pieces
created by local artists, some of which are cast in the foundry which was built by Pete’s Dad. It had a few very, very interesting
pieces… We had lunch at the pub, this time choosing a burger. M’s Rum Punch was decidedly better, large and strong, than my
beer, for the same price and the burgers were the best yet.

We got back to Amida and prepared for the crossing of the NE Providence Channel. I entered the waypoints and M tidied up.
This time, I was decidedly calm and not at all nervous. Maybe my jitters are behind me and my confidence has been restored
after all those bumps on the ICW. Feels much better this way! We had decided to do a night passage as the wind would be
against us and the trip to Spanish Wells was around 60 kn miles. Taking the 5kn average speed I use for planning that meant a
12 hour leg and not wanting to risk arriving at the Egg Island cut after twilight, should we be slowed down for any reason, there
weren’t enough daylight hours. So, at 5.00pm we weighed the anchor and went out through the cut into open water. The cuts
are always “interesting” as there are breakers to the left and the right and always the feeling that the gap between them is a
little too narrow! Once out, we turned onto the course that would take us to Egg Rock. Soon, the depthfinder could no longer
sense the ocean floor and displayed “LAST”, which is always a little disconcerting as it sometime looks like “LOST”.

In hindsight, we screwed up by not sailing, but motoring. We would have had to have gone off the waypoint route just to be able
to be close hauled, but the additional distance would have eaten up some of the spare time we ended up having. We arrived at
Egg just as dawn was breaking and I steered between the island and the rock with faith that the waypoint route and our GPS
were accurate. M was on the bow, but we were heading into the rising sun, so she could not see ahead of Amida’s bow but
rather only the rocks that she had passed… and there were many of them!!! We passed through safely and motored on to the
Spanish Wells marina where we took a slip so we could fill up with water and have a nice hot shower.

Spanish W is quite a busy little town and is the home of a large proportion of the Bahamian fishing fleet. The main dock is busy
and close to it is a small restaurant which has the best prices we’ve seen for quite a while. An egg/bacon/toast breakfast is $5,
coffee only 75c, and a BLT $4… likely because they cater to the sailors, fishermen, and dock hands rather than to tourists. At
the marina I asked where would be the best place to buy lobster and was given the name of Bernard, who sold out of his house
on 30th Street. The Marina is on 14th, so while Marilyn slept, I took a walk into town (1st St), had breakfast, then out to 30th ,
only to discover that Bernard was not in and his daughter, who opened the door, had no idea how much to charge! The sixteen
block walk back to the marina seemed quite endless…

We stayed just the one night and next day, after lunch, departed for Royal Island, a staging spot before the next long leg to the
Exumas proper, as Spanish Wells is actually off Eleuthra. Royal has a well protected anchorage and we put down the hook next
to a small boat flying the Canadian flag. Soon after, a dinghy came over carrying Marcus, a spry 80+ year old fellow from the
Etobicoke Yacht Club. He sails alone, keeps his boat in Florida, and has been in Bahamian waters at least eight seasons. As
always, other boats’ anchoring makes interesting watching. We dragged at the first attempt and the second brought us a little to
near to Marcus that we would have liked, but he said that we would be only too close if we ended up hitting him! Another boat
came in and, as soon as they had dropped their hook, out came the dinghy taking their dog to shore. Dogs will not pee on the
boat but, apparently, prefer to cross their legs take shallow breaths, whine, and look at their masters with soulful, but
cross-eyed, expressions, as only dogs can. Cats on the other hand will “go” anywhere. So, does that make cats dirtier, or
smarter, than dogs? Being a dog-person myself, I know the answer to that, of course…It’s amazing how many boats have
resident dogs. I guess it's tough to palm off Rover to one’s parents for two years…

We actually recognized this particular dog that was being chauffeured to shore as we had met him, and his owners, in Marsh
Harbour. He was particular in that he did not like to chase after balls or sticks but would retrieve rocks and pebbles all day long,
in the process of which would accumulate much sand around his snout. Another very smart dog, yes! His owners were a young
couple, in fact, they were the ones who told us the story of the boat being punctured by coral in Allens Pensacola. On their way
back from Rover’s bathroom break, they came by Amida and we chatted for a while and discovered they had left Little Harbour
the morning after we did and had motor-sailed across, had caught a whopper of a tuna on the way, and were giving out what
they couldn’t fit into their freezer. As a result, we dined on fresh tuna that evening!

It’s interesting how many of the boats we come across are being sailed by “young” people, ie in their thirties and fourties.
Maybe they have taken leaves of absence while early in their careers, maybe Daddy is rich, or dead… makes one feel an old
fart! Better late than never, however.

The leg from Royal to Allens Cay in the Exumas posed a challenge. The charts were perplexing as there appeared to be
waypoints taking a direct route, but there was a marked absence of the “magenta line” between a couple and we were not sure
what this meant. It could have been that the route was hazardous or merely an omission. Looking at the marked depths
between these waypoints, Royal to Currrent Rock (TWO bad words for sailors) and Current Rock to Fleeming Channel) it
appeared these were more than adequate for our 6ft draft… the alternative meant going out of our way in quite a substantial
manner. So we decided to go for it and arrived at the Fleeming Channel waypoint without any problem! The next leg, to the
Beacon Cay waypoint was also problematical. It was actually covered in two of the Explorer chart books because it is one the
boundary of Eleuthra and the Exumas. Both had a marked route between the waypoints. Where they differed is that one book
had the route annotated with “scattered coral heads” in one area, whereas the other did not! Coral heads are definitely to be
avoided so the optimistic approach of believing that chart without the annotation was the correct one, while tempting, was
foolhardy. So, I jotted down the lat and long of where we might expect to see them and kept a close look on the GPS to tell us
when we were approaching. Sure enough, we began to see black shadows under the surface of the water. Marilyn took position
standing on the transom of the stowed dingy, just ahead of the mast, and gave me hand directions on where to steer. Some of
these were distinctly agitated, as I guess I wasn’t changing course quickly enough. At one stage, our path ahead was
completely blocked and we had to turn about and try a different route, a little like a rat in a maze… The depth at this stage was
around 10 feet… leaving only heads less that 4 ft in height as ones that were safe to go over. Trouble is, they don’t have little
labels saying, “My name is Bob and I am 4’2”… you’re OK, Bob… and “My name is Amazon and I am 6’2”… figures, just by the
names… so you have to avoid both, unless you have an insatiable appetite for Amazons. This dodging of the Amazons took
some 45 minutes at which time we took an executive decision to go back onto the route, irrespective of dark patches, as the
water depth was now 20+ feet.

This is probably an appropriate spot to say how disappointed I am with the CMap NT+ chart chip that I purchased, at great
expense, to use with the chartplotter. In the ICW, they were excellent, showing an abundance of detail. In the Bahamas,
however, the level of detail is pathetic and makes them useless other than for plotting, and following, waypoints. Forget about
using these to help navigate through a cut or around an island. In fact, half the time, after we have put down the anchor, I note
that Amida is placidly sitting on the land portrayed by the chart chip. Yesterday I sent an email to CMap expressing my
disappointment and asking for a refund… fat chance, right?

The rest of the day was a doddle until, that is, we arrived at Allens Cay and had to decide on the anchoring strategy. Many of
the Cays in the Exumas have a strong current that reverses itself from rising to falling tide. The conundrum we were faced with
was whether to set two anchors to keep us honest against the current, or whether to take the wind direction, and its forecast
change, into account, and how to deal with a rocky shore on one side and a shoal on the other!

In the end we decided to protect ourselves from the rocks and the current based on wind directions and hope that this would
also look after the current. As this was to be our first setting of two anchors, it made the exercise even more fun. The first
hook, the 45lb CQR with all-chain, went in like a rock. The second, a Bruce with 60 ft of chain, the rest rope, was maneuvered
into the dingy from which I dropped it, aiming for a sand patch. That one also seemed to bed itself well, but only time would tell.
We sat back in the cockpit to watch what later arrivals would do. Many tried to park close to Amida but the grassy bottom
defeated them and they moved elsewhere. A powerboat dropped their hook in the shoal, from which the current and present
wind kept them off, but we were leery of what would happen when either, or both, changed. In fact, the next day the owners
dinghied over to say that they had ended up sitting on the shoal for a while, till the tide lifted them off, after which they
deployed a second anchor. Amida was, I’m happy and proud to report, fine!

Allens Cay is famous as the home of an iguana colony. So we went over in the dinghy to check them out. What a
disappointment! I had expected horse sized monsters ready and willing to bite my hand off, were I foolish enough to try and
feed one. Instead, they were the only cat sized… and pretty docile to boot. From time to time, a tourist boat would disgorge a
load of visitors who had taken the day trip from Nassau. Most of them appeared to have some kind of food or other which they
offered to said beasts… typically grapes, melon slices, or apples. Once they had gone, the iguanas would settle back into a
stupor, until the next boat showed up. Boring life…

Shadowfax appeared out of the blue in Allens. We had spent time with them on the Erie Canal and the early part of our trip
through the USA. We parted company in Cape May but knew that they would be in the Bahamas in February. It was good to
reacquaint ourselves with them.

On Feb 17th we left Allens Cay and took the relatively short hop to Normans Cay, where we faced the same challenge as to the
anchor setting strategy, with the same current issue to be faced as well as a switch in the wind from 10-15 SE to 20-25 N! We
chose a spot next to a rather large power boat and bedded in the CQR and were preparing to set the Bruce. The powerboat had
only one anchor deployed and this meant that when they swung then, because our two boats would have different swing
characteristics as Amida would have two hooks, we needed to be pretty accurate in estimating the swings, as otherwise we’d
collide, in the middle of the night of course. We put down the Bruce and Marilyn donned snorkel and fins to check how the
anchors set themselves. In the meantime, the power boat owners had come over to tell us that they were planning to set a
secondary anchor and, as they had never done that before, asked for my help. My vast experience of having set two hooks just
once previously, didn’t seem to deter them from bribing me with the promise of a beer. As we had decided to set our two hooks
for present and expected future wind directions, not having a shoal or a rocky shore with which to contend, I advised Rick, the
owner of Odelia, the powerboat, to do likewise. His second anchor was a massive Fortress, with a three foot shank attached to,
thankfully, only some 15ft of monster chain, which we dropped, carefully, into his dinghy, which he then motored off to drop. It
seemed to set well, unlike our Bruce. M told me that ours had bedded only one of its two smaller barbs rather than the central
and large one. I turned Amida’s engine on and used it to try and bury the Bruce deeper but succeeded only in dislodging it
completely. Good news, I guess, as rather it happen now than later on, in the night, from the force of the wind. It did, however,
mean it would have to be reset. This was not an easy task as it meant having to retrieve the 50 odd feet of chain, and 33lbs of
anchor, back into the dinghy and dropping them again. Man, did that chain ever weight a ton! I was grunting and heaving and
feeling in a foul mood, but eventually the job was done successfully. We dried off and put on fancier clothes for our visit to
Odelia for the promised beer. Odelia is 50+ft and a very fancy boat, as we discovered on our “tour”. Mammoth would be a fair
description! She reminded me a little of our house in Toronto… three bedrooms (each with its own “en-suite”), basement (engine
room with standing headroom), kitchen, dining room, a sitting room that is larger than ours back home, a porch, a deck, and
even an attic (top steering station)… full of all kinds of neat toys! A generator for running the 120v coffee maker, a household
sized fridge in the galley, a separate beer fridge, a coffee maker that would do justice to an Italian restaurant… a watermaker
that could supply the needs for a small village… dive tank air compressor… a stabilizer for those rough passages… a Bose stereo
system including subwoofer, a humungous flat screen TV with satellite system, etc, etc, etc. Very, very nice. We returned to the
rather Spartan Amida, had a bite to eat and read before going to bed.

At 5.00 in the morning the promised wind shift appeared and it started to howl. The forecast 20-25 knots turned out to be 25-
30, with many sustained gusts to 32. The Bruce held fast and we swung with the current, synchronized with Odelia. The problem
turned out to be the Kiss wind generator which didn’t like the wind speed. I had imagined it to churn out amps like there was no
tomorrow and this is what initially happened. It started putting out 25 – 30 Amps and then after a while this dropped to zero,
then around 15, then zero again. At around 27 kn, the spinning blades sounded like an old prop plane taking off. Its brake was
also quite ineffective at this wind speed. I think, I hope, the unit is OK and the drop to zero is the thermal cutout coming in… I’ll
find out when the wind speed drops, hopefully tomorrow.

It has been blowing 25 – 32 all day long now (it is 7pm now) and we have spent the day reading, attaching some minor wood
trim, and me catching up with the log writing. I finished an Elizabeth George (Payment in Blood) in about 6 hours… a good read.
M is reading a Ridley Pearson novel (another author recently discovered). Sheppard’s Pie is the treat for dinner and it’s time to
finish writing. Before I do, however, a couple of points of interest:

If you plan to visit Savannah, you should read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt (movie by same title, I
recall). It is set in the city and describes it and the occupants rather well. It is based on fact, though told as a story. A great
read.

Secondly, I just finished doing a little budget work, not enough as to portray the precise status, though I know December was
BAD (Ft Lauderdale marina for over two weeks, solar panel costs, etc). The interesting analysis is that once we left the US, we
have spent approx 50% of the time at anchor, 25% on mooring balls and 25% in a marina. The marina proportion will drop
further over the next months. The combined effect is that we are spending a mere $11 a night on average. Eating out has also
fallen rapidly and will continue to do so. Other than the two dinners we had in Green Turtle (essentially free, as their cost was
credited against marina slip fees) we’ve limited ourselves to the odd lunch and bar beverage. So, we are slowly reclawing the
excesses of the Oct to Jan period.

We are now in Warderick Wells, which is in the Exuma National Park. The park is a natural habitat area in which no fishing is
permitted. This is good news, as the fish are protected and therefore free to procreate and multiply in peace. This is also bad
news, as there are lots of fish around, including sharks and barracuda! We first saw the shark during the weekly Saturday
“happy hour” (everyone brings an appetizer and their own booze and the Park Wardens supply ice). Around 6:30pm, the food
scraps were tossed off the dock and the water churned as the fish fought for the pickings. Then the evil shape swam slowly into
view… a little late for the meal. At least, to me, brought up on Jaws, it looked evil, but it was, apparently, a pretty tame nurse
shark. Hey, sharks are sharks and even a tame one just might have a momentary lapse of its tameness and revert to the good
old chomp at whatever is close by. Having a shark bite (that’s my story down here) on my leg already, I just don’t want to take
the risk! The next day, the same shark appeared by Amida’s mooring looking for a handout… the following morning, a
barracuda stationed itself off the stern and sat, waiting for its meal, for a good 10 – 15 minutes. I tell you, I’m glad I am a
human with legs and lungs rather than fins and gills. It’s strange that small fish can cause consternation in humans, as can
mice… there’s no logic to it… but who cares about logic in that particular environment! Mind you, I am getting more comfortable
with the snorkeling and the artificial fins are feeling less clumsy as I get used to them. I think, however, I need to figure out
some way of attaching a rear view mirror to my mask, so I can see if a bad, bad, bad, evil, evil, evil, ugly, ugly,ugly sea
creature is sneaking up on me from behind.

On a more refined plane, I am deeply immersed in Anna Karenina now. It took quite a few pages to get into the book, but
having 807 to get through, a 50 page intro is a mere bagatelle. It is slow, slow, slow reading. I have to concentrate and focus,
as never before. The language is quite simple, but the sentence structures long and complex. Perhaps this is the genius of the
writing… that the past participles are skillfully interwoven with the hanging watchumacallits, without a split infinitive to be found…
or perhaps the difficulty lies in the accent being, in Russian, always on the wrong syllable… At times, I’ll have read several lines
and suddenly realize that I didn’t recall coming across a verb… or may concentration lapses and I forget the first part of the 300
word sentence I’ve just been reading… so, back I go to read it all over again. This turns the 807 real pages into something like
1200 virtual ones, and explains why it took four years to write, and probably the same for me to complete its reading. Of
course, by the time I get to page 807, I’ll have forgotten what happened in pages 1 to 806, and will have to start all over again
from the beginning. I may never, ever, finish it…

Leo’s favourite word seems to be “blushing”. Everyone does this, male and female, at least once per paragraph. If someone
looks at them the wrong way, they blush; if someone looks at them the “right” way, they blush; if they look at a member of the
opposite sex, and are seen doing so, both blush… get the picture? The face colours change more often than the traffic lights at
Yonge and Eglinton! And what is the story line? It’s hard to imagine that 800 pages, at some 400 words per page making a total
of 320,000 words, have been written to describe the love life of Levin and Anna, without even getting into any steamy or juicy
details.

I obviously jest. It is strangely compelling and fascinating reading. An entirely different world is described and brought into life
by the magic of words (many, many of them… I couldn’t resist a last dig). At the Park office here, they have a “bring one, take
one” library where I picked up Dickens’ David Copperfield and Solzenitsyn’s Cancer Ward. I also have Tolstoy’s War and Peace
as yet unread, as well as the Churchill and also a couple of biographies of Napoleon, the latter being my favourite historical
figure… these should keep me busy for a few years, when interspersed with the monthly ration of Elizabeth George and Ian
Rankin.

Marilyn writes ..…well we have found the beautiful beaches...and I do mean beautiful!..and Andy is now a happy “camper”. It is
very interesting how different The Abacos are from The Exumas. In the Abacos, the anchorages usually have a town or resort
with shops etc. Here in the Exumas, the anchorages are rather uninhabited with little or no “civilization”. When you talk with
other boaters, as you would expect, some like one better then the other. Al and Karen said that the Exumas were the best and I
have to agree with them. Stunning…with shades of blue water that you can’t imagine. Peaceful! Our days are spent reading,
walking the trails or beaches and snorkeling. Wonderful. Since we arrived here we have yet to share a beach with
anyone…imagine. Oh, I stand corrected, we did walk one beach on Norman Island with Rick and Tsipy from Odelia. We were all
retuning from McDuff’s, on Norman’s Cay, where we again had great burgers and the house special rum punch for lunch.
McDuff’s is a must visit, but they are only opened from Thursday’s to Saturday.

I’ve decided I have to write about boat bathing rituals. For those of you who are not sailors this will be an education and for
those who are, it will bring back fond memories. Coming down the ICW and staying in all those Marinas was a little like
camping. You grab your towel and toiletries bag and head off not knowing what to expect! Clean? Bugs? Hot water? Shower
Curtin? Lights? etc etc ..you get the idea. Well, once you head out into the land of mooring balls, anchors and only 100 gallons
of water, things change. Except of course if you have one of those boats with a water maker or 400 gal of water and a shower.
Well Amida has a shower but only 100 gal of water and we use the shower for storage….beer, tonic water, coke, cleaning
supplies, boat hook, dingy paddles, life jackets ….you get the picture ….priorities. So how to keep clean? Well, you bathe in the
ocean. The usual drill is to go for a swim off the boat at about 3:30 - 4:00 pm, before the sun gets down too low and the fish
arrive for dinner. Which, by the way, is a great way to end a hot day. At the end of your swim, you break out the soap and
shampoo and lather up. Then take a last dive in to rinse off. Now this is easy to do if your boat has a swim platform off the
stern, but of course Amida does not have one of these. Once you’re done, you use your deck shower to rinse off the salt water
(Amida does have one of these …thanks to Andy’s handy work). All in all you use maybe a gallon of water for 2 people, if that.
Works great. Now back to the part about the swim platform which we don’t have. Without a swim platform off the back, when
you lather up it gets soap all over the decks of the boat …not good…very slippery...and to rinse you can’t use the precious fresh
water.. nooooo...so it’s salt water …not so good either …remember what I said earlier about wanting it to rain to rinse the salt
off the boat …so what’s the solution? Remember those beaches with no people? Lovely! We take the dingy for a ride to a
secluded beach, get naked, lather and wash, and rinse off with fresh water when we get back.. and follow up with a sun downer,
or two… Lovely! Beats that hard porcelain. And with that thought …it is time for bed….

However, before I go I must apologize to some of you for the time it is taking me to get my helpful tips section up on the web
site. I am working on it but it is going very slowly. Keep in mind that it takes about an hour just to go for a bath!.... I do
promise that I will get some of it up when we get to Georgetown.

All for now …