Thursday, October 22, 2009


Here are a few more moments from the logs of ‘Beach House’, loosely linked by feathers, fins, and furry friends.

Charleston, South Carolina, is one of our favourite stops along the Intracoastal Waterway. It’s a great city for walking, with its architectural charm and sense of history at every turn.

Every evening at sundown, thousands of little birds swarmed up from the trees on shore and took a breather on every available surface. They use Charleston as a place to gather themselves on their migration south. Much like we did.
These four guys got lucky for a few moments before Geoff realized they were using ‘Beach House’ as more than a rest stop. Apparently they feast on red berries that time of year, and – well – you can guess the outcome. The captain started snapping the lifelines every time the poor birds tried to land on us. But then who needs red polka dot decks.

We never tire of dolphin sightings, but these playful creatures seem to be camera shy. They come to play - you get out the camera - the dolphins move on. Many of our cruising friends have great dolphin pictures. We don’t, but this is one of our better shots. We were looking for a place to anchor in Dragon’s Point, just across the waterway from Melbourne in Florida.
There are wonderful stories about dolphins herding surfers away from sharks, so when this dolphin and his buddies swam around ‘Beach House’ for a few minutes, were they trying to tell us something?

Just a few miles further down the ICW in Florida is Vero Beach, known to cruisers as Velcro Beach, simply because you get stuck. It’s hard to leave the safe harbour, the great laundry and showers at the marina, the big solid dinghy dock, and the free bus service to all kinds of shopping. We caught up with good friends from Ontario there. Meet Kim and Cindy, part of the crew from ‘Clarity’. Kim is driving.
Kim and her family adopted Cindy in 2003 in the Bahamas. These Bahamian potcakes are basically mutts, but they’re smart, playful, and loyal. The locals would feed stray dogs the food caked on the bottom of cooking pots, hence the name ‘potcake’.

Pelicans are unexpectedly graceful for such awkward-looking birds. They fly with elegance, then crash dive for fish, beak first, from 20-30 feet off the water. Surely their little brains suffer.
Beside a pub in Vero Beach, this specimen was making a statement about the sign he’s sitting on. To put words in that big beak of his - “You don’t have to rent a jet ski to see me – I’m right here posing for you.”

Two of his friends were lying low ……
…… waiting at the back door of the restaurant for fish scraps, rather than catch their own. Cheeky boys.

Speaking of catching fish, we’ve yet to catch an edible one. We were having one of our best sails of the year on the way to Allen’s Cay in the Exumas, traveling at perfect trolling speed on spectacular turquoise water - and - bingo.
But wait. Rats. Our only lure seems to be a barracuda lure. This catch of the day was a moderate two feet long. The only way to retrieve the lure was to sacrifice some cheap gin, poured straight into his maw. At least he died happy and became part of the great circle of life – probably an appetizer for a shark. And it’s a good thing he didn’t expect tonic with his gin, ‘cause he wasn’t gonna get it.

Locals in the islands do eat barracuda – the smaller ones are not as likely to have the potentially deadly toxin ciguatera. A restaurant on Great Exuma Island had barracuda on the menu with the warning – “Eat at own risk”. Not for me, thanks, but Geoff tried barracuda fresh from a local fishing boat in Provo and pronounced it delicious.

A few months ago, we were asked if this cruise and the islands had met our expectations. Interesting question and interesting answer as it turns out. Our first reaction to the question was that we didn’t start out with any preconceived ideas, but then found ourselves saying that the Dominican Republic was most like what we had expected, less developed. So much for no preconceived ideas. Guess we had a picture in our head after all.

Here’s rush hour on the road to Santa Domingo in the DR.
This is not an unusual sight. Horses, cows, goats, donkeys – some are being herded home and some just wander the streets. Traffic has no choice but to wait. The locals don’t complain and we rather enjoyed it.

On a walk just outside of Luperon in the DR, we encountered these guys. I was a little hesitant as we passed them, expecting an angry bull to charge us.
You’re probably way ahead of me. They couldn’t have cared less. Island animals don’t waste any energy – it’s too hot.

This lovely lounge lizard was sunning on the dinghy dock in Salinas, Puerto Rico. Those deck planks are about five inches wide.
Salinas was our favourite stop in Puerto Rico. It’s another cruiser-friendly place with easy access to everything. We rented a car for a few days to find help for a computer problem. While we had wheels, we did some serious reprovisioning and a little touring.

Getting rid of boat trash in the islands can sometimes be a challenge. Just off the public dinghy dock in Port Elizabeth, Bequia, behind a commercial building, there’s a dumpster, making for easy garbage disposal. But apparently there should be a ‘Please Don’t Feed the Animals’ sign.
This little guy found something good. Don’t want to know the details.

We loved our time in Bequia for all kinds of reasons – a safe anchorage, great cruising friends nearby, and yet another clean, quaint place for walking. Bequia is also home to a turtle sanctuary. We did the tour with a dozen other cruisers and weren’t disappointed.

Our good friends, Ray and Genna from ‘Nighthawk’, were on the tour.

Everywhere she goes, Genna finds puppies and little dogs to befriend. They love her almost as much as we do.

It was Ray who taught us how to tell the difference between sheep and goats. Tail up – goat, tail down – sheep. Both animals are everywhere throughout the islands and not always easy to tell apart. Because of the heat, sheep here don’t need a coat, don’t grow one, and therefore can look like goats. But not if you know the difference. Everybody loves Raymond.

This family on Union Island amused us.
Mom is tethered, but the kids don’t need to be – they’re sticking close to lunch.

 And this goat on Petite Martinique needs an elastic tether, though I suppose the bungee effect could be a problem.
We can’t see the difference, but maybe the grass is greener over there.

And here in Carriacou are some of those sheep without woolen coats - no shearing required..
Lamb chops anyone?

When we first arrived in Clarke’s Court Bay here in Grenada, Mamma’s third litter of seven puppies was five weeks old.

All but three have been adopted out. Here are the three boys left.
At four months, they’re not quite puppies anymore, but they still haven’t grown into those paws. If we’re here any longer we may have to adopt one. Could happen.

 And of course we can’t sign off on an entry linked by animals without acknowledging the best animals of all – party animals. Here are a few shots of a great group celebrating Ray and Genna’s 28th anniversary a few weeks ago at Le Phare Bleu. We take our good times very seriously.
Ray, Genna, Pat, Kitty, Don

Carol, Charles, Gary

Ray, Kitty, Don, Geoff, Carol

Pat, Ray, Kitty

 Ray and Genna. Twenty eight years happy. Nice.

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