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Monday, April 26, 2010

EX.......ZOOM.....MA.....................................




There is only one way to handle an outboard motor in the EXUMAS and that is .......FLAT OUT..... We have been anchored for three days during the regatta on the finish line and all the spectator boats have gone by our stern.............. some of them have actually been in the water but most have been out of it. You would be too, if you had three outboards on your boat each one 300 HP..........The wake and whirlpool left behind was like Sydney harbour when the SYDNEY-HOBART race fleet takes off.................WILD...... But then the whole week has been wild and incredibly colourful... The close finishes have been exciting and we really are blessed to have been a part of it all........... For last night we were presented with a medallion from the Race Committee for our support in having "ARITA" dressed in her flags for the occassion and for our support of the TIDA WAVE team............What an honour.............. I get emotional when that kind of thing happens.............Not so emotional though, when the Defense Force drops one of the sunken sloops right off our stern........... Oh, Well, we are in the beautiful Bahamas.........and when we go ashore you should see the scenes........ Everybody dressed in their finest with incredible hairstyles and a smile on every face. .... men discussing the race results........ Women discussing................race results and other 'tings Bahamian'........



And these two young ladies, 8 and 9 year old, with beuatiful plaited and braided hairstyles go by the names of 'Precious" and "Joy", but we think they are priceless.................... A memorable week highlighted by my sailing for a short while on TIDA WAVE and for one brief moment perched on the end of that pry (the plank that sticks out into nowhere) and hanging on with legs crossed and six feet from the edge of the sloop while the guy closer in, tells me "Don't bounce, this is a new plank and we don't know how strong it is?"..................... Yeh,....... it was just great......



THANK YOU to the crew of TIDA WAVE and LADY MURIEL for an unforgettable time and THANK YOU to the BAHAMAS and your beautiful islands....

And now we pick up the anchor and head south to go to new islands.............

Saturday, April 24, 2010

SAILING CRYSTAL WATERS..........................


Beautiful days,............ Crystal waters.........White canvas sails dotting the horizon, (which is much closer as you get older) and white sand beaches that let you know you are in GLORIOUS PARADISE, or as close as you are ever going to get to it........... We have joined the TIDA WAVE camp in celebrating their first few races and yesterday I went for a very short sail with them........ And that alone was an experience never to be forgotten.........Then there was a head count at the start, only to realise they had one too many non-Bahamians on board, (you are allowed four in "A" class), so I volunteered to exit, rather than incur a possible protest. (They said "No worry Mon, stay sittin") ...... which works only as long as you don't win or get a place.... The start of that race is on the video clip below........and TIDA WAVE came in third ......so just as well............Then again, with my weight out on the 'pry' they might have come in second...........



The sails are all locally sewn from raw Egyptian cotton canvas and they have a unique plywood headboard hand stitched to the sail...............



We have taken probably more than 300 photos and no idea what to do with them...... Everyone is a sailing 'screensaver' ...............and everyone of them is an inspiration on what to do for your next holiday in the Autumn, Summer, Winter or anytime ...... Everyone of them is worth looking at while you are sitting in the traffic or collecting the bills from your mailbox........... Unless you were crew on the boat (above) which has about three ton of lead ballast inside her and is sitting solidly on the bottom in about 12 feet of water................. The Bahamian Defence Force vessel eventually arrived and with full power simply pulled her along the bottom fast enough to bring her to the surface, and then she sank again near the docks when they slowed down. Today they are diving down and lifting the ballast ingots out of her one at the time, before pumping begins...............

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NATIONAL FAMILY ISLANDS REGATTA...............


The boys on the sloop BARBARIAN from Acklins Island, far out at the southern end of the Bahamas with their pride and joy, leaning out and racing................. The boats all have to be anchored at the start.... Then the first gun goes, which means everybody get a hold of the anchor line and get ready to heave.............. The second gun goes and they HEAVEand HEAVE which causes the boat to move forward while they heave on the halyard at the same time to raise the sails............. and there is a lot of screaming associated with this..............


But the racing is incredibly competitive............the captains on the tiller get instructions on how to do things from up to twelve crew members all at the same time.


The trawler "AMAZING GRACE" is the home base for the sloops LADY MURIEL and TIDA WAVE (photo left)......and on the right is a sloop racing past the stern of ARITA, with all her flags up in celebration of this magical sailing event............



Back on shore there would have to be at least thirty newly erected shacks selling food and booze and showering the crowd with music...............loud, loud music, till very late at night.......... All the crews end up at one shack or other and probably in all of them....... These shacks have all got incredibly colourful names and right next to the one above, there is one called "LIQUOR IS QUICKER"........... Now we are not suggesting in any way that the photo on the right had anything to do with that................. She did not have enough crew, tipped over and sank and was towed back into the harbour............. but everyone will be back in the shacks by nightfall....................... us too............ Liquor may be quicker, but I'll bet the head will be thicker............. TIDA WAVE, the Champ came in 5th today.........I didn't get a spot as the winds were too light and they needed to even off-load ballast...............maybe tomorrow.............

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

THAT EARLY MORNING DELIVERY.........................



An incredible number of boats arrived on a flat-bottom barge from Nassau in the early hours of the dawn. Some with masts up and many with them still to be stepped, and a crane truck on board to make it all happen................



A really scary operation.................Then again, it's not when you get up, it's when you wake up................. if you know what I mean...........



Went over early in the dinghy to try and help out (Dah......that's me in the dinghy) and judging by the size of our dinghy against the size of the sloops, we are going to see some great sailing........ in fact, from the top of the trees to the very bottom of the mangroves, everybody is going to have a great time in paradise............. and the shelves in the liquor stores are stacked...........



Oh, and somebody forgot to change the year on the regatta results board and since we had the paint on board........... well, you know how it goes............and then there's this 360 degree video below .................

video

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

THE "WHO DAT" REGATTA..............................



We made it back to Georgetown in the Exumas, in time for the biggest cultural sporting event in the Bahamian calender ..............and we both have T-shirts to prove it.............. THE NATIONAL FAMILY ISLANDS REGATTA ........... A sporting event unequalled anywhere, because all the yachts have to be locally built, and all in wood, and all sailed by local Bahamians, although exceptions are made for the "A" class, because of their sheer size and the number of people need to keep them upright............. The boats have come from everywhere, by sailing there, or by road, or by being carried on commercial barges as deck cargo or being towed by other vessels......... And the spectator fleet is equally awesome, all the more so, when suddenly two seaplanes come gliding through the anchorage full of yachts and pull up on the beach (top left)........... And it is not just on the water that the activities take place, for everywhere there are shacks and tents being built, and Bahamian food being served, and of course.... BEER.... lots of it, lots and lots and lots and lots. The kids are equally excited because school will be cancelled for three days (due to the noise factor they tell us)....... Laurie was messing with this little girl and her fake cellphone....... "WHO DAT?"........... "Could be just about anybody"...........



A week ago none of these shacks were here, each with its back-porch for fish cleaning and looking over the harbour where the sloops will be anchored........... The same goes for the amount of conch shell that has been harvested for this event, because hundreds of out-island people will come on the ferry boats and the mailboats to see this spectacle and participate in the biggest party of the year. You may just have to double-click on the photos to enlarge them..............



And if you didn't bring your anchor, well, that's just too bad .......you'll just have to beach it till you're ready...............



Everywhere in the islands these sloops are built to a basic length/beam/draft ratio in order to qualify for class A, B, or C, but construction is as you see it, as long as it is made of wood. Take a close look at the construction and you will recognise a tree branch here and there............. with the bark still on, and some packing crate material............... island style...........that's the way it's been for more than a hundred years.



Psssst...... Now I am going to let you in on a secret...... While passing through STANIEL CAY and once again 'shooten de breeze' with Steve Smith, the boat builder, I suddenly got asked if I would like to sail on "TIDA WAVE" during the Regatta. "TIDA WAVE", the reighning champion, has won this even nineteen times in twenty eight years, so what do you think I said............................Actually I was completely blown away.......... thrilled and honoured beyond words............ Which brings me to "COTTON" from which the sails are still made and locally sewn. Cotton canvas, that is......... Cotton was one of the main industries tried by the settlers in the islands, when the first people came from the Carolinas back in the early 1800s. The crops were never really a success and the struggle lasted for years........ Everywhere today, you still find cotton growing wild........And in the photo below there are the flowers, the cotton boll and the woolly cotton.........All in the one branch at the same time.................



The sloop "TERMITE" , a "C" class sloop from the Exumas, being launched...... You can get some idea of the length of the boom.......relative to the hull length...



Tomorrow is RACE DAY 1, and last night the celebration had begun with the music, the drinking and the dancing lasting long into the night and into the morning and the next blog entry will be something else................ I hope. They won't throw me off the boat should I make a mistake, because under the rules, they have to turn around to pick me up again, so I should be good to go for at least one round.............It wasn't always so....... When you see the size of these sails, they are like huge white skies over your head. The "A" class boats are 28 ft long and the mast is 60 feet above the deck..............and the boom sticks out at least 10 feet beyond the stern...... you do the maths.........


But let's eat something first......... "Anyone for some snapper?"......................