Endless August in Georgetown

From the Cockpit of Sophia at Georgetown

I am writing this on our last full day in Georgetown.  The winds are still quite strong but should settle down this evening. As soon as Ryan finishes the third and final coat of varnish on the toe-rail, we’ll go for a hike up Monument Hill, which overlooks Elizabeth Harbor to the West and Exuma Sound to the East.   The weather here is as Melville describes the Quito spring,

which at sea, almost perpetually reigns on the threshold of the eternal August of the Tropic.  The warmly cool, clear, ringing perfumed, overflowing, redundant days, were as crystal goblets of Persian sherbet, heaped up—flaked up, with rose water snow.  Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Yesterday was very much like today.  Ryan varnished while I took a hike on the island with my friend Sandy, from Bel Canto, cutting palm fronds. I took my basket-making supplies and wove at the tables in the shade, where a number of other women were doing the same.  The woman who taught us all how to get started, Sharon, was there, and she looked at my work and said it was good.  I’m learning and my first basket looks a lot different from the ones Sharon makes.  It is strangely meditative to weave and very nice to do it with other women.  The tables are right next to the vollyball courts, where some of weaver’s partners were playing.  I enjoyed looking up now and then to see Ryan laughing and having fun, for a change.  He’s been working on the boat an awful lot. 

In the evening we sat in the cockpit and drank wine while watching the suns yolk slip behind the hills, basking in the delicious ocean breeze.  We talked about how glad we were to be freed from the endless chatter of the internet, the make-sensational non-news with which the media pickles the brain.  How liberating is feels to live closer to the rythyms of the sunrise and sunset, the movement of the water and the winds. 

Volleyball Beach, looking towards the bar called ‘Chat and Chill’

When Sandy and I walked along a ridge overlooking the Sound yesterday, I observed that I have almost started to take the scenery for granted, it has been so constant.  Viredescent waves crashing on bone-white sand and glistening black rocks, surf eddying into ochre tide-pools, the sea like liquid jade rushing over the coral reefs offshore, molten emerald, crystalline turquoise, aquamarine farther out, above the sky the palest violet. 

The days roll by like a slow, glorious pageant, a stately procession of opulently bejeweled kings and queens trailing diaphanous silks.  It is an enormous pleasure, immense, a magnificent banquet of color and nature and warmth and sunlight, clear water and cooling breezes.


Paddle Board To the Rescue!!!!

The beach where I dropped the boat hook and retrieved it with the paddle board. 

Here are two good reasons for keeping an inflatable paddle board on the deck of your sailboat if you are a cruiser.

  1.  Paddle boards help you repair your boat when you are out to sea. We ran into a sea spider, a tangled mass of nylon line that wrapped itself around our propeller.  We were motoring from Wardrick Wells to Staniel Cay, admittedly in fairly shallow water  (about 20 feet) and relatively calm seas.  Still, diving on your prop in the middle when you’re out to sea is not the easiest thing to do, especially when your dinghy is tied up to the davits and you can’t put down the sea ladder.  It was easy to get into the water, but not so easy to get back on the boat, even with a boarding ladder on the side.  Solution:  put the paddle board in the water, just below the boarding ladder.  This provided a platform for the tools Ryan needed (a line cutter and a heavy duty wrench) to clear the propeller, and also an easy step back on board.

    The sea spider that fouled our prop.  
  2. Paddle boards help you tie up to mooring balls.  I dropped our boat hook overboard while trying to pick up a mooring ball that did not have the usual float for the line that you pull on board and fasten around your cleats.  Instead of pulling on that line, I hooked the line attached to the heavy cement block on the bottom, the weight of which dragged the boat hook out of my hands.  Twenty-knot winds and waves quickly carried the boat hook into shallow waters that we couldn’t possibly navigate without running aground.   As Ryan laconically observed while we watched it drifting further and further away from us, “a boat hook is a fairly important piece of boat equipment.”  Yes, indeed, and there it was, way over there.  What to do?  Paddle board to the rescue!  I threw the board into the water (after making sure that the painter was attached to the boat of course), got aboard, and paddled after the hook.  After retrieving it, I muscled my way, upwind and up currant, of course, to the mooring ball, pulled the line out of the water (it was simply drifting!! with no float!!) and held on valiantly, standing tall on my board, like Alvid the Norwegian Pirate queen, while Ryan maneuvered the boat over to my side.  Even had I not dropped the hook overboard, we would have had to put the board in the water.  Sure, we could have dropped the dinghy, but then we would have had to anchor first, which is sort of stupid when you’re trying to tie up to a mooring ball.  The paddle board was much easier, simpler, and faster.  Efficient!

Continue reading “Paddle Board To the Rescue!!!!”

Boat Repair at Man-O-War

Having the bottom of our boat painted at a famous yard on Man-O-War Cay.


Rough Waters,” a classic Abaco sailboat designed by William H. Albury and built in this yard in 1975.  Sophia, with a newly painted bottom, is proud to stand next to her.

We have been at Man-O-War Cay for the past four days, having Sophia’s bottom painted.  The hull looked pretty good last August, just before we bought the boat and had it hauled for the survey.  Just three and half months later, it had grown a slimy, shaggy coat. 

Man-O-War was the best place to bring it, for a number of reasons:

  1. The people of this island are famous for their expertise in boat building and repair; and Keith Albury, who has built boats here since 1960, directed our project and engaged personally in much of the labor.  
  2. When we called around, we learned that Edwin’s yard could do the job right away, while Marsh Harbor and Green Turtle could not start until January;
  3. Edwin’s yard is cleaner and quieter than any yard we have ever seen before (and we’ve seen a lot—Sophia is not our first boat);
  4. All the workers at Edwin’s are assiduous, courteous, and knowledgable; and, finally,
  5. Man-O-War is gorgeous.

The apparatus for hauling a boat fascinated us.  A large wooden frame affixed to metal runners, like railroad ties, slides down under your boat at high tide.  The side braces adjust to the width and shape of your hull.  Then a machine operating a belt and pulley system hauls the boat up on the hard.  

We arrived Thursday morning, and the guys started scrubbing away by 7:30.  They water-sanded the bottom as they cleaned it, and had hand-brushed the first coat of primer on by the end of the day.   They worked all through Friday and finished at the end of Saturday.  On Sunday morning, we splashed back into the water. 

For a place with such a bellicose name,  Man-O-War is sure peaceful.  Situated near Elbow Cay and Marsh Harbor on the “mainland,” Abaco, the islet is a mere 2.5 miles long and, at its narrowest point, only 30 feet wide.

The Low Point on Man-O-War Cay

 The sheer rock path passing though “the low point” lies barely above water at high tide.  The locals say that the islet began as a place to farm, but was later settled by a few pious, Protestant families who still live here today. 

Windswept tree on Man-O-War

Nearly all the roughly 300 permanent residents  are related to one another through the Albury or Sweeting family.  You can tell they are one big clan, as most of them look alike: tall, light-haired, and heavy-set, with broad faces and small, closely set eyes.  Friendly and helpful, the residents of Man-O-War welcome visitors and cruisers, but not drunkards. 

Ryan and our friend, Lloyd, at Dock & Dine

The majority are still boycotting the restaurant at the marina, Dock & Dine, for selling beer and wine, even though they managed to ensure a provision requiring a person who buys a drink to purchase something to eat with it.  We don’t mind having to buy food, since it’s  fabulous.  Be sure to try the pizza, which is made from scratch each day!