Monthly Archives: May 2011

It is ok to relax

One of the many white sand beaches

Each day we are in the Bahamas we become a little more relaxed. We have had one idyllic day after another. One lovely sunny warm day after another. The days start blending together like a watery turquoise dream.

There are hundreds of postcard perfect, empty, white sand beaches around here. Every island has at least a couple of them. And we rarely see anyone on them. Lying on the beach in the sun is not really a big activity around here, strangely enough, since one of the main reasons people come to the Bahamas is for the pristine beaches. We have not “sunbathed on a beach” the whole time we’ve been here. Maybe because the sun is so intense and hot, that we really don’t want to be out in it more than necessary, especially in the heat of the day. And unfortunately, almost none of these beaches has any shade whatsoever. But we have been longing for at least one sterotypical day at the beach. Even though we’ve been in relaxation vacation mode the whole time we’ve been here, believe it or not, we haven’t had any days where we actually just lounged around and read books all day, sipping iced drinks. Until today. We finally found a beach WITH SHADE. And lounge chairs. We decided to declare the day an official “do nothing but hang out lazily on the beach” day. We brought blankets and books and hats and drinks, and set up camp in the shade for a whole day of hanging out. I went for little cooling swims every hour or so. We didn’t even talk about where we are going next or any of the “future planning” we are always in the midst of figuring out.

We were reflecting on the fact that even though we have been getting so good at relaxing, being in the moment, and letting life unfold rather than operate off of to-do lists, we still have that little voice that tells us we need to be productive, DO DO DO, WORK WORK WORK, GO GO GO. Cap’t K. has had his boat to-do list at hand the entire trip, constantly working on project after project. I’ve been tackling a steady lineup of weaving projects, with yarn actively on my loom almost our entire trip. While we’ve been travelling, there has been a constant agenda to “get to the next place”. And that’s great. It feels good to be productive and get things done. There is such a satisfying sense of accomplishment in getting to the next place or finishing the latest improvement project. But we also came on this trip to experiment with giving ourselves a time-out from all that, and to develop a new relationship with the word “relaxed”. So it was interesting for me to notice a certain inner resistance to really taking one whole day to do nothing and go nowhere. Even during times that we have been in one spot for awhile, there has always been a never ending list of errands to run, water to fetch, stuff to clean, projects to do.
But then I remembered times in my life when I have been in an isolated, pristine wilderness environment where I was completely away from the busy blur of modern life. Those times have usually consisted of a few short days. And each time I was in that type of setting, I desperately yearned for weeks, months of that kind of downtime from the busyness of society. And finally, now, for the first time in my life, I have it. It is a gift and I have to remind myself that IT IS OK TO RELAX. IT IS OK TO RELAX. Perhaps this is the most difficult lesson of our whole trip…..if we learn it well will we be able to bring this quality back to “the real world” with us???

As we bask in the most perfect dreamy part of our long journey so far, there is often the nagging thought in the back of our minds that we have to “go back” soon, and our time to return to New England and get off the boat for awhile is drawing nearer each day. It is so tempting to want to hang onto this, to not go back, to make these ideal, happy days last forever. But today we read a passage in a book called “Euell Gibbons Beachcomber’s Handbook” that reminded us of an important truth:
“Never say ‘I have found the road to happiness’, for happiness is a gypsy, and the same road does not lead twice to her dwelling place. Say rather, ‘Happiness walked with me on the road I was taking,’ for happiness walks on many roads. Welcome her as she falls in step beside you, revel in her companionship, but don’t attempt to lay permanent hold of her, for she easily slides from the hands that clutch too tightly….there is another sense, however, in which happiness, once she has shared our path, never deserts us entirely. I am not speaking of those pleasant daydreams of the past in which all of us occaionally linger, for that is a phony, substitute happiness with little resemblance to the real article. I’m talking about how past experience affects present activities….and how faith had led me from one joyful experience to another, and on each new adventure I have had at least a brief rendezvous with happiness.”

May we continue on our path touched by the relaxation and happiness we are finding here in these healing turquoise waters, and may happiness find you on whatever path you are on as well!


Cave Magic

Lala in Thunderball Cave

In the last few days we have visited 3 caves. These caves are located in very tiny uninhabited islands, and to get inside of them you have to snorkel into an opening in the rock wall of the island into the cavern. The first two caves we went to were at a special place in the Land and Sea Park called “Rocky Dundas”. What a great name! This place is said to be a sacred site of the native Lucayan people that originally lived here. It does feel sacred. The cave felt like a cathedral, with high vaulted ceilings made of sculpted, richly colored stone. Light shone down in glimmering shafts through openings in the top. It made you want to sing praises to God.

Cave at Rocky Dundas

We went with our friends Mimi and Richard from s/v Maffick, who have been our travelling buddies since we found them in Norman’s Cay. They have been great to hang out with, easy going and fun. We took their 30 foot Gemini Catamaran over to the caves from our anchorage a few miles away, and fell in love with their boat. The caves at Rocky Dundas had great snorkeling all around it, with whole schools of fish and very impressive coral, including gigantic gold colored staghorn coral, which is looks like a Dr. Suess version of gigantic rack of elk horns. We also visited the “Sea Aquarium”, a small snorkeling area that is renowned for it’s friendly “herd” of Sargeant Major fish. These adorable fish have black and white zebra stripes, with yellow backs. The fish here at the Sea Aquarium were definitely friendly! As soon as we pulled up in our dinghy, we could see dozens of them surrounding the boat. As soon as we jumped in the water, they crowded all around us, as if to say “Welcome!! Where’s the food?!?” Apparently these fish have been fed by humans, and have come to welcome our visits. It was such a delight to swim in such close proximity to these little cuties completely surrounding you!

Sargeant Majors swimming with Lala

Then we moved on to Staniel Cay, where there is another famous cave called Thunderball Cave. This is where they filmed some James Bond movies, among others. It was absolutely spectacular. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, just another rocky tiny island. But you put your snorkel on your face, and your face in the water, and head for a small opening in the rock. Another group of friendly Sargeant Major fish greet you at the entrance. Larger fish lurk in holes along the rock which are lined with crazy coral, some which appear to be actually glowing blue light. A strong current pushes you as you approach the narrow entrance, and you force your way through, fish passing you on all sides. And then the cave opens up, and it takes your breath away. Light comes through, penetrating through the water and casting enchanting shadows. You don’t know whether to look up or down, as below the surface is an entire world of coral and magnificent sea creatures, and above is a vaulted cathedral like dome. Here is a small glimpse:

I definitely have a new appreciation for the value of coral reefs in creating a habitat for such a diverse array of wonderful life forms. The fish love their protection, and of course the food that they provide. There is a wonderful, peaceful community of fish living at each coral head, each fish doing it’s own job to keep the reef healthy and balanced. What a fine example they make for the rest of us striving to create community. Some of the major lessons I’ve learned from these fish are that the more outrageously colorful you are, the better. And stick with your kind, but mingle often with others. And don’t trust long legged creatures coming at you with spears.

Norman’s Cay, Part 3: Exploring the caves in Norman’s Pond

Norman's Cay, East Side

On the north half of Norman’s Cay is a lake or a pond. It’s reputed to be a hurricane hole, but it’s very tricky to get inside. There’s also a few caves there, and I really wanted to check it out. Better to take the dinghy, I thought, than to take Wee Happy the first time. Even though Albin Vegas only draw four feet, I still would rather check it out by dinghy the first time. Who knew I would ever be so prudent?!

Lala and I loaded up the uber dinghy for the expedition. We carried water, a radio, food, a good anchor, etc… We picked up Mimi from s/v Maffick to come along with us while her husband Rich went conching again. We slowly wove our way through the shallow waters of the southern anchorage. This place dries up to standing sand at low tide, so we were careful to stay in good water. We were leaving around high tide too so we wouldn’t get stranded.

We made it out to the eastern shore of the island with no difficulty, although the cut from the inner lagoon to the ocean side was rolly and a bit confused. These cuts often are. When the wind and current oppose each other, it gets hectic. If either are really strong (or heaven forbid both are really strong) then a “rage” can happen. Rages are impassable. Just stay home.

Once on the outside, we skirted north along the coast, oohing and aahing about the lovely water colors and beautiful beaches. I found and memorized landmarks along the way so I’d be able to get us back. If something happened to us out here, no one would be able to assist for a while, especially after the tidal current kicked in with the ebb tide.

We found the entrance to the pond. It was a narrow cut between two rocks with a million sharp jagged edges only maybe 20 feet apart. All the waters bottleneck here, and it was rolly and the currents were confused and weird.

Norman's Pond Conch Cave

We made it in carefully and then took a hard right to hug the eastern shore so we could find the caves. We spotted the first and went right up to it and anchored. It was absolutely filled with conch shells! Some fisherman must have been throwing their empty conch shells for many years. It was stunning with the contrast of smooth enameled organic shell shapes in a hard limestone cave.

Lala in the Conch Cave

Ooh was the coolness and shade of the cave a welcome treat! The sun here is unbearable in the middle of the day. We continued on and explored two more caves that we found on the eastern shore as we traveled north. The lake was a calm water can possibly be. There was no noise. It was eerily silent and calm. What a difference it was from the reversing-current of the southern anchorage!

After finding a few sailboats and houses at the northern end of the pond, we headed back, reversing our route. The high sun made the waters absolutely electrify. We snapped pictures in every direction and breathed in the refreshing colors all around us.

High tide had passed, and now we would face an ebbing tidal current to get back into the southern anchorage. At the bottleneck the current was so strong that we needed 80% throttle on our 15 horse power outboard to make forward progress! That was only an hour after high tide! I wouldn’t want to try that cut in full mid-tidal current! You probably wouldn’t make it! I sure was glad we had enough power to force our way through it! No smaller motor would have made it, and we’d have been calling for help.

What great water!

All’s well that ends well. We made it back safe and sound to find everyone in the anchorage on shore conching. That means cleaning conch shells and getting the meat out and preparing it to be eaten. What a place! If you ever get to go to the Bahamas, be sure to make it to Normans Cay. You can get here by boat or plane, and it is well worth the trip!

Albin Vega Mini Pearl

Albin Vega Mini Pearl

Espin and Barbara are sailing on another Albin Vega sailboat named s/v Min I Pearl. Actually Espin sold us our dodger back before we left on our trip, but it was an internet transaction, and we’d never met! They gave us a tour of their little Vega and showed us all their little tips and modifications.

Barbara and Espin on Mini Pearl

Espin had replaced his dodger (the one he sold to us) with a hard dodger that he constructed himself and painted red. It’s a pretty sweet device to keep the wind and pray off of you while under way. He also tutored me on his SSB radio installation, which he says he wa able to accomplish for under $550 total! The SSB radio allows radio and email communications over hundreds and thousands of miles, and they often cost $5,000 or so to install! We want one, but always thought it was beyond our reach. Espin’s SSB install gives me hope that we’ll be able to have one some day!

Barbara's V-Berth Bags

Barbara sewed some bags for hanging clothes in the v-berth, which are really handy.

Mini Pearl has no inboard motor, so there is cavernous storage space under the cockpit floor. The mainsheet traveler is also moved forward of the dodger, so it doesn’t clutter the cockpit any more. What a great and useful design, although I wouldn’t want to have mine set up that way in a serious storm. Espin also turned the hanging closet into a cabinet with shelves. What great little modifications!

The storage locker Espin made

It’s always so nice to explore another Albin Vega and talk to its owners. It gives us ideas about our own boat and reinforces our belief in how great our boat really is. Mini Pearl inspires us to consider removing our inboard motor to gain the storage space and speed up our boat by making her lighter!

So that totals three other Albin Vegas that we’ve met on our trip now! 1) Wes’ s/v Gemini Dreams, 2) Marsha & Volker’s s/v Raindrop, and 3) Espin and Barbara’s s/v Mini Pearl. Funny that all three of them are going to be based out of Panama City, Florida! Maybe that’ll become the home base of the southeast U.S. “Vegatarians” rendezvous this year!

Norman’ Cay, Part 2: exploring the drug-lord’s territory

We set out to explore Norman’s Cay by foot. Armed with water jugs, we headed to the ex drug-lord’s house’s ruins because we’d heard tell about a water cistern there. We found the house still standing and covered in sailors grafitti. Visiting sailors over the years have left their names and boat names on the walls all over the structure. It’s an eerie space with a haunted feel. I’m sure there are bullet holes in the walls somewhere.

The cistern on Norman's Cay

We found the cistern, and the water was cool and fresh. The roof of the house collects in a gutter that fills the cistern. Two wee frogs were chirping happily inside. We dove the bucket down into the moist echoing cavern and hauled fresh water to fill our containers. Not having a big boat that can make drinking water from sea water, we get to forage with buckets in hand in crazy places like this.

The view from the drug-lord's old house

The views from up here are amazing though. In its day, this place must have been stunning.

After we had our fill of the house and its strange energy, we went exploring along the beach for coconuts. We found even more ruins. This time is was houses of what used to be the Norman’s Cay Club. There were four huge houses right on the beach with lovely grounds and trees that give shade. Each is falling into disintegration and is a complete and utter shame. What a special place, and how sad it is that no one wants to make use of it and maintain it!

The abandoned Norman's Cay beach club

Here we found just two coconut palms that actually had decent coconuts on them. Maybe it’s too dry here now, or maybe all the cruisers have taken the coconuts, but there were only two to be found anywhere, and they were 20 feet up! I really wanted them and climbed up with one thing on my mind. Success! Two nice sweet green coconuts absolutely full of water! Too bad I skinned my feet a bit on the sharp bark. I guess the native boys have leathery soles.

Capt'n K foraging for coconuts

We’d had our fill of the ghost town that is the south end of Norman’s Cay, so we went back to Wee Happy, our Albin Vega sailboat, and brought her around to the south anchorage where s/v Naked Lady was resting at anchor. The anchorage is just off of a cut that leads connects the Exuma sound (deep ocean) with the Exuma banks (shallow water), so there is a swift current that reverses with the tide change. We set two anchors to hold us against each current direction and marveled at the amazing glowing blues that surrounded us on all sides.

A group of sailboats arrived just after us and crowded in just on top of us. It’s really annoying that with so much damn space all around, someone will decide to drop their anchor right up your nose or ass. What the hell!? Give some space please!!! If anyone drags anchor, there’s not much time or space to react, let alone giving each other some privacy in all this huge expanse out here!

Regardless, we went to politely socialize with the other cruisers on an idyllic little island with a single palm tree and powder fine sand. Everyone brought dinner and drinks for a “happy hour” and we got to know Jimi and Mimi from s/v ExtaSea (left), Rick and Audrey from s/v Naked Lady (center) and Espin and Barbara from s/v Mini Pearl (right).

The norman's Cay Family

Norman’s Cay, part 1: the Conchquest

Awoke early to the wind howling around 20 knots still. All the other boats in the anchorage cleared out in the morning, and we were the only ones left. We saw Naked Lady hauling anchor to leave, and we radiod them to ask where everyone was going. They were headed to the south anchorage–their favorite spot on the island. We thought about it, but it’s really not too protected from strong easterlies. We stayed put. Later they radiod to say we should stay put. Hey, great, we already were!

We packed up the dinghy with kiteboarding and snorkeling gear to head around to the inside of the island group to check it out. Current and wind was strong, so we were soaked but sun kissed. Turning around the corner we came upon a gorgeous idyllic island with a single palm tree. Shade!!! We knew instantly where we were going first!

Our private island in Norman's Cay

We disembarked on the island and claimed it for Wee Happy. It had the most beautiful powder soft white sand. lala did yoga in the shade of the palm, and I snorkeled in the shallow bathwater and collected pink conch shell bits for Lala to use in making a mosaic.

The crew from Naked Lady were anchored nearby, and they dinghied over to say hello. Rick and Audrey are from Panama City, Florida, and they are cruising 5 months a
year in their Cheoy Lee sloop. They told us about the best snorkeling spots for spearing and conching, and Rick said he’d show us how to clean conch if we got some.

Sweet. So we headed over to the spot on the island where the ex-drug lord had his dock and house. About 50 feet off the beach Lala and I got three conch. It was exhaustingly hard work…we had to reach down and pick them up as we were snorkeling!

Lala's first conch-quest

Rick and Audrey had us follow them to a spot up the shore where they have been cleaning conch for ten years. It is a tan coral sand beach that ends at hard sharp old rock cliffs covered with conch shells. The contrast between the sultry pink organic shapes of the conch and the cold steel teeth of the rocks was otherworldly.

Conchs everywhere on Norman's Cay

After receiving our lesson on pulling and cleaning conch, Lala and I each did one ourselves. It was disgusting. Here I am with a conch that I just pulled from its shell. It was hard not to want to vomit.

It's disgusting cleaning conch!

After finishing the cleaning process, however, we ended up with nice white meat.

Conch meat after cleaning

Back on Wee Happy, we decided to attempt a recipe from a book that Nate from s/v Waltzing Matilda gave to Lala: An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof. Her book chronicles her and her husband’s two year trip around the Caribbean, and they basically took the exact same path that we have been taking so far. Reading her book has been like reading another person’s account of our trip. Highly recommended reading.

Regardless, at the end of each chapter she includes a recipe of a local dish from the place in which the chapter was set. The chapter from Norman’s Cay has “Cracked Conch,” which refers to using cracker crumbs as a breading to fry the fish. You have to hammer the hell out of the conch to tenderize it, and it is still a bit rubbery, but it has a great flavor, and you can’t beat just reaching out and having food fill your hands!

Finances Aboard and How We Do This

The view from atop Allen's Cay

For fourteen years every year Rick & Audrey from s/v Naked Lady have been coming to the Bahamas from Panama City, Florida. Of all the places in the Bahamas that they have visited, they like Norman Cay in the Exumas the best, and they’ve been coming back here for ten years.

Tan from head to toe, Rick and Audrey couldn’t help but ask how we could afford to go cruising “at your age” to which Lala replied that we can do it because we are on a small and inexpensive boat. I thought that it’s also because we don’t have kids, we don’t have a mortgage, and we don’t have jobs that we care so much about that we can’t leave.

Rick and Audrey aren’t the first people to ask the question. Most cruisers that we meet are retired and able to cruise because they have savings or retirement income or investment income, etc. Most have children and many have grand children. Most have homes on land and will return to after cruising.

How difficult it is to de-interface from “life on land” and switch to a life on the water! Back when we were living on land up north in New England we had these expenses every month, among others

Rent: $900
Heating oil: $500 in winter, $50 in summer
Electricity: $50
Telephone: $100
Internet: $70
Car insurance: $100
Car maintenance: $200
Car fuel: $100
Food: $400
Entertainment/Misc: $400
Debt payments: $900
Total: $3,720

Now that we are living on the water in a southern climate we have these expenses:
Telephone: $40
Internet: $25
Boat maintenance: $100
Food: $200
Entertainment/Misc: $200
Debt payments: $600
Total: $1,165

Most notably, we are not paying rent, and we don’t have to pay to heat the house/apartment. That alone reduces our living costs by almost $1,500. Of course we don’t have a car and insurance and gas for commuting to a job. That’s another $500 every month. Telephone and internet are less expensive because we no longer use broadband and no longer have a house phone. We now only use our cell phones and iPad 3G internet. We are spending less on food because we cook almost everything rather than getting fast food or eating out a lot, and we are also getting food from the sea for free. Our entertainment costs are less because we now read more, spend more time exploring outside and traveling. Lastly our debt payments are less because we were able to negotiate reduced payments on credit cards because we have reduced income.

All together our current living expenses total about one third of what they totaled on land. Land living is expensive! Still we must find a way to meet our expenses each month. There’s the rub. If we want to cruise, we need to have either enough savings or be able to make enough money while we are cruising, or a mixture of both. The answer for many is to cruise for a while and then return to land to work and save money for another cruise. We will probably have to do this this summer, as our savings are dwindling.

So although many people ask how it is that we are able to cruise “this early in life” the answer is that it’s not all fun in the sun. Sailing is hard work, and not having regular income while having regular expenses is stressful, even if you are under a palm tree on a sandy beach. I suppose a good answer to the above question is that we’d rather deal with the financial uncertainties and GO cruising than be financially secure and trapped in one place on land or a life that sucks the passion out of us while our dreams and youth dwindle. This life is not for everyone, and not many people like us do it the way that we are doing it.

Most people our age are in the middle of careers and working their way through the rat race towards a day in their hopeful futures when they will be able to reap the rewards of their hard work. With the US about to go bankrupt, climate change taking its ever increasing toll on ecosystems everywhere, and peak oil about to throw the world’s economic and production/consumption system on its ass, there is no guarantee that reward will ever come from all the work. For us, it is urgently important to transition to a more sustainable lifestyle before the system comes crashing down.

Crossing from Nassau to the Exumas

It’s been a week since we last were able to find internet access! Thanks for your patience! We are in the Exumas now, and here is the story of our crossing.

After checking the wind forcast, we left Nassau on Sunday morning, hoping the wind would pick up so we could sail the final leg of our trip to the Exumas. Alas, it did not, and we got out onto the Exuma Banks to find the little wind to be on the nose as usual. Tacking into non-existent wind was just not an option, so we ended up motoring across turquoise glass to the Exumas. We found ourselves in the middle of a gigantic swimming pool — water 13 feet deep, so clear you could see right through it to the bottom, for as far as the eye could see. At one point in the afternoon, we decided to just drop the hook and go swimming, as we saw black spots in the water that indicated a coral reef. At first sight it didn’t look like much, but upon closer inspection we saw hundreds of beautiful fish inhabiting a magical underwater wonderland of brightly colored coral. We saw a big lionfish, an “invasive” species of fish that has found itself in the Atlantic, which has no natural predators in this area and is said to be responsible for killing coral reefs. This fish is threateningly awesome to witness with it’s large spiny display of venom. It screams “don’t mess with me”, although we’ve been told to kill them if we see them, as they are so deadly to the magnificent variety of life in the coral reefs here.

Wee Happy in Allen's Cay, Exumas

We arrived in late afternoon at Allen’s Cay, a group of several islands. A perfectly protected anchorage surrounded by islands awaited us, and we dropped the parking hook in the most amazing lapis colored water. The color of the water in this place amazed us each and every time we looked out upon it. We would look out at it and be stunned speechless, then go back in the cabin to get something and come back out and be completely stunned all over again. This is one of the most stunning anchorages I have ever been to, and hope to return to again. Did I mention the water is stunning? The islands themselves are rather dry and scrubby, but the Bahamas is all about the color of the water. Stunning. We both jumped in for a swim right off the sailboat as soon as we arrived, the water was so inviting. The water was so clear, it was deceptive how deep it was. I looked down through my snorkel and saw sand just below my feet and thought it was shallow enough to touch the bottom, only to find it was stil 10 feet deep. I swam to the beach nearby and checked out the iguana population. Yes, that’s right. Iguanas. These cays are known for being the last place on earth to find a population of Bahamian Iguanas, which are now an endangered species. They seem to be doing fine on these islands, however, and when you walk on the beach they will walk right up to you, expecting food. Lots of tour groups come here with people giving free handouts to the iguanas, and they have become quite used to people.

That evening we were invited to dinner aboard Sea Wolff. Robert had caught a gigantic pompano fish the day before, and we helped them finish off the last of it, while enjoying a maginifect lightning show in the distance up the on the top deck of their glorious 47 foot catamaran.

The next day we inflated our dinghy and explored the islands around us. The first beach we went to was small, but with sizable conch graveyard around it. Thousands of conch shells were discarded on the beach, greyed and bleached by the sun to look like rocks. The rocks themselves were sharp and jagged, and looked like they were hungry to eat boats alive. The islands here are harsh, arid, and covered in sharp rocks and scrubby bushes. It’s not a very inviting landscape, and there is no shade.

The big daddy rock iguana in Allen's Cay, Exumas

The second island we visited had one lone coconut palm providing a wee bit of shade, and we longed to set up camp underneath it, if it were not for the slightly aggressive iguanas looking to us for food. But there was an idyllic beach with shallow warm water where we could at least escape the sun’s heat by getting wet. On the third island, we found a concrete building whose roof had collapsed and was now in ruins. The walls were covered in graffiti written by various sailors who had also found this lone building.

After returning to Wee Happy to find reprieve from the relentless sun, we decided to move on to the next cay in the Exuma chain, Highborne Cay. The Exumas are a long chain of islands only a few miles apart, and so it is a sailor’s dream. Finally we can just sail from island to island, finding a sweet anchorage at each one. And FINALLY the prevailing East winds are not on the nose — the chain lays in a north – south direction, so we can sail from one island to another on an easy reach. Ahhh, sweet sailing at last! We deserve this!

Ahhhh, but maybe it’s not so sweet after all. After a recent incident with the boom that nearly ripped Lala’s arm off, she has developed a severe paranoia of the boom. To get out of the anchorage we had to sail downwind, and Lala became unreasonably panicked about the remote possibility of the boom jibing to the other side and taking someone’s head off in the process. Lala lost all her hard earned confidence in sailing and became a fearful wreck. Communication between Captain and Skipper dissolved until saling became difficult, and almost impossible. But somehow we managed to get the boat pointed in the right direction and an hour or so later sailed into the Highborne Key anchorage, where we again dropped our parking hook only a few yards from the beach.

That night we had a long conversation that went nowhere about our upcoming plans (or lack of plans) for the summer. We need to go back to New England and move our yurt that is in upstate New York, but there are a long list of unknowns in the situation that make it very difficult to make any decisions. It is especially hard to plan concrete details about the future when we are in a turquoise paradise surrounded by white sand beaches. So we went to bed.

The next day we slept in a wee bit. Got up to coffee and breakfast that consisted of potatoes and eggs. We took the dinghy into the marina that is on Highborne Key, where we got gas and some water. We took a look in the marina store, that had a great selection of essential items at ridiculous prices. $9 for a box of Cornflakes?!? $60 for a scrub brush to clean your deck?! But the 200 foot mega yachts that were docked there probably wouldn’t blink at those prices. This is the playground of the rich, and we are just lucky enough to anchor here for free.

We then decided to check out the coral reefs near the anchorage. The main activity around here really is the snorkeling. The winds were strong, and the waves a bit rough, but we went out in the dinghy anyway, and anchored near the reef. Below the surface of the water was a miniature magical bonsai forest, teeming with many kinds of coral, like long spongey yellow and purple fingers, little tree like corals, waving fans, and squiggly brain coral. Nooks and pockets and holes provided protection for hundreds of technicolor fish. We saw bright indigo blue fish that looked like they were glowing, they were such a bright blue. A humbling reminder of the vast diversity of precious, gorgeous life on this planet.

For the last few days we have been looking for our friends Mimi and Richard, on the catamaran Maffick, who we met in Andros. We were supposed to meet them in the Exumas, but haven’t found them yet. We’ve been calling them on the radio but have not reached them. We decided to press on to the next cay in hopes of finding them there. Norman’s Cay was just 5 miles from Highborne Cay, an easy hour sail. We sailed into the anchorage under the jib alone as the winds were nearly 20 knots. We managed another crash landing anchoring job under sail alone, only to realize we were too close to other boats and decided to move to another spot with the motor. We anchored right off the calm, long white sand beach in 6 feet of water, while all the other boats were way far out, rocking and rolling in the surge. No sign of Maffick. Oh well. This is our view!

Our view from Allen's Cay