Ship's Log

April 4th - Georgetown, Bahamas:

Well, we’re sorting through 12 hours of Regatta footage for our documentary and there’s so much to work with we think it’s going to be something we're really proud of!  The cruising crowd here is one of the most extraordinary groups of people we’ve ever met, and through filming our movie we made lots of new friends.

Brian films the race awards ceremony.  
Photo courtesy of Sue Schadt.

Award-winning sailors.  We mostly just wanted to include this picture for the t-shirt/thumbs up combo.

Photo courtesy of Sue Schadt.

Georgetown is a now-or-never kind of place.  It’s as far south as many boats end up going, either by design or circumstance.  Some folks duck down here every winter and migrate north again in the spring, happy to have found a friendly place to dodge the snow. These winter regulars make up the bulk of the Regatta crowd.  Other boats arrive with the intention of continuing south, but get lulled into complacency by the easy social scene, the harbor’s outstanding protection from the weather, and the grocery store.  T
he tough windward slog to the southeast and a fear of the unknown keeps them here gathering barnacles. A sorry few boats arrive in the harbor with two crew members and quickly lose one, as wives fed up with cruising catch flights home to file for divorce.  It’s a bit of a crossroads.   

“Are you headed north or south?” is a popular ice-breaker, as everyone's now preparing to move one way or the other.  Some boats stop here on the trek home from a winter spent further down the Caribbean, and a lot of maps and tips get passed along to those moving the opposite way.  We were lucky enough to meet a couple who spent the winter in the British Virgin Islands, following the very route we plan to take. They kindly supplied us with all the charts and guides we needed for the next several legs of our journey.  They also gave some great advice on the different locales and welcome words of encouragement.  Talking to a boat fresh from down there really made us itchy to get going!

As the Regatta festivities wound down, things on SARABANDE took a turn for the sad:  we lost a beloved member of our little family.  On St. Patrick’s Day, Ms. Sheba S. Meowingtons peacefully passed over to the Great Beyond.  We found a private spot on the beach with a pretty ocean view and gently laid her to rest there.  She was the strangest, crankiest, most loveable cat we’ve ever met, and we miss her every day.  Neither of us are sure of what happens to a spirit after death, but we’re glad that at least she doesn’t feel sick anymore.  Maybe there’s a small, crabby ghost haunting the corner of our deckhouse settee.  We hope so.  Wherever you went, little Bus, we love you.

A most odd and precious cat.

After the funeral, the situation was looking a little bleak.  Our budget had shrunk to midget proportions.  Our outboard still wasn’t working.  Every glance at Sheba’s empty spot made our hearts hurt.  The bilge pump got clogged and filled the cabin with a disgusting stench.  It seemed as though our luck had deserted us, and the mood onboard was gloomy.
Just in time, two of the best antidotes for the blues landed at the Georgetown airport, fresh from San Francisco and New York.  Carly Lukas and Kate McGinnis are two of our dearest friends, and we’ve all known each other for over ten years, through thick and thin.  Seeing them in person after all these months was like food for the starving, and they even brought us real coffee and fine wine!

Our lovely guests check out the goods at the straw market.

We had a whole week full of beach strolling, dessert-eating, flip-flop hiking, and Rummy 500 with our fabulous ladies.  The girls took to boat living, with all its quirks and rules, very gracefully and SARABANDE did us proud by performing faultlessly.  Their stay was a vacation for all of us - the ladies collectively escaped jobs, cold temperatures, and graduate school, and we took a break from boat projects and maintenance!  

Kate won every time by hundreds.

We’re so grateful for the time together, and can’t wait to host them again.  We love meeting new people as we move along, but there’s really nothing that can compare
to old friends.  Especially Kate and Carly!  Louie moped for days after they left.


Alicia and Carly row to shore while Kate waits patiently (far left).  

Since the rejuvenating visit, things are on the upswing.  Our dinghy is slowly, cautiously, powered by motor again, though the oars are ready to go at a moment’s notice.  A much-needed tax refund gave our budget a vital boost.  We’re getting the boat ready for passagemaking again, and as SARABANDE gets back into sailing shape we’re getting excited to see new things.

From Georgetown, we’ll be sailing and fishing our way through the sparsely populated  southernmost islands of the Bahamas, before making the 50 mile run to Turks and Caicos.  We’ll spend a week or two there, including a visit with Alicia’s brother and sister-in-law at the end of the month.  Then we’ll sally forth down the east coast of the Dominican Republic, land of fresh produce, cheap beer and wild monkeys. 

A photo of our chartbook with the next few islands.  
The one furthest to the right is the tip of the Turks and Caicos.

We’re happy we spent so much time here in the Bahamas.  It was a perfect place for us to cut our teeth as new cruisers.  The scenery was spectacular and we felt as though we were far from home, but English is the main language and American money is widely accepted.  The locals we met were very nice to us, sometimes spectacularly so.  Prices were exorbitantly high, which leaves some cruisers bitterly complaining.   But when you consider that the islands simply can’t support agriculture or much industry and that the Bahamians pay the same prices, the sting is less personal. 

Brian and Louie at their favorite Georgetown internet "cafe".  
They have a fast connection and a freezer
full of homemade Kool-Aid popsicles.  That's the owner's grandfather sitting on the ladder.  This website was updated there.

To see what else we learned during our winter in the Bahamas, see “Island Time:  Because Otherwise, You’ll Have a Stroke”.  The Turks and Caicos are geographically the same chain of islands as the Bahamas,  but they’re still a colony of Great Britain.  It’ll be interesting to see the differences, if any.

So long, Bahamas!  It's been an unforgettable winter.

Happy Birthday to our best friend Louis Q. Tannenbaum, nine years young sometime this month!  You look good, Lou.

Alicia & Brian


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