Here are some of our favourite pictures, with their stories, in no particular order.
Crossing the Gulf Stream from Florida to the Bahamas is a big deal for North American cruisers. The passage isn’t necessarily long – about 7-8 hours for most sail boats under reasonable conditions – but the Gulf Stream can get nasty if the winds are working against the 3-4 knot current. Cruisers choose their time carefully. Sometimes the weather gods lie and you experience worse conditions than advertised. When we crossed on December 20th, 2008, we lucked out and the passage couldn’t have been smoother. Literally. No wind and no sea conditions. We had to motor, but the ocean was flat, flat, flat. We left a gentle wake for miles behind us. This picture definitely makes me smile.
Since no one has figured out how to tax the wind yet, we always prefer to sail, but we’ll take trawler sea conditions every time.
Norman’s Cay at the north end of the Exuma chain in the Bahamas is a wonderful place for so many reasons. The anchorage is beautiful. Just look at the water colours.
And it’s a wonderful place to catch up with friends. This is Frank and Lisa from ‘Sweet Sensation’, a Hughes 40 Custom, and Ernie and Marguerite from ‘Elysium VI’, a Whitby 42, arriving at ‘Beach House’.
We had a kids' movie day aboard ‘Beach House’ while anchored off Williams Cay in the Bahamas. We invited the younger crew members from ‘Biscayne Bay’ and ‘Northern Rebel’ and they selected ‘Shrek’ to watch, to my delight. I’d never actually seen it all the way through and probably enjoyed it even more than they did.
Anastasia and I had our side of the boat ……
In St. Martin, we took the bus to Philipsburg for the local carnival parade – a long but excellent parade where the captain got into the act.Geoff ducked under the flimsy barrier and cosied up to this smiling dance queen. She was great, posing and enjoying the moment almost as much as we did.
Meet Ray and Genna from ‘Nighthawk’, a 38-foot custom yawl. We have lots of pictures of ‘the kids’, as we call them, but this one is our favourite.
We were touring St. Lucia with a dozen other cruisers. This stop offered a fresh water ‘shower’ under the falls. No wonder they’re happy.
And the two best meals we’ve had in this last year were hosted by Ray and Genna on ‘Nighthawk’. These guys can fish and these guys can cook. Both meals were black fin tuna. The first time, Ray wrapped good-sized tuna filets in bacon and barbequed them. It tasted like the tenderest of red meat – but better. I think I brought something – whatever - can’t remember past the tuna memory. And I’m sure there was salad and dessert. But man – the tuna.
And here’s Ray preparing the second black fin feast on ‘Nighthawk’ in the Tobago Keys.
Genna had caught the tuna the day before, a smaller one, but they offered to share it with us. We said yes before they'd finished asking. Ray dipped the slices in a sesame oil concoction and seared them in a hot frying pan. Just the memory makes me smile. Maybe even drool a bit. Geoff and I really have to learn to fish. Hmm ...... or just head to the western Caribbean with Ray and Genna?
The captain likes to take pictures as people arrive at ‘Beach House’ for happy hour – you saw a couple of those arrival shots in the Bahamas pix earlier in this blog entry. He’s captured some great reactions. This is Carol and Gary, in St. Martin, arriving from ‘Goin’ South’, a Beneteau 47.
And check out this picture of Gary and Carol.
Busted. Geoff and I had been out in the hot, hot, hot sun, watching the final Carnival parade at streetside in St. George's, Grenada. As the parade ended, we headed inside for a cold drink. There we find our friends from ‘Goin’ South’ – watching the parade from the air-conditioned bar.
The Lambi Queen Restaurant in Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, had a steel band on Friday nights. Good, loud music in a tiny venue. You could almost taste the sound.That’s Jim from ‘Merengue’, an Island Packet 27, trying to get a better look at the band, becoming entertainment himself. On the right is Jim’s wife Wendy, with Anne behind her from ‘Fine Line’, a St. Francis 44 catamaran. Anne’s husband Steve is just out of sight beyond Anne. We had a great meal with a huge serving of laughs on the side – no extra charge.
This is Barry from Australia, who was visiting fellow Aussies, Trish and Robert, on ‘Bristol Rose’, a Shannon 43. The three were part of a group who’d come to ‘Beach House’ in Ile de Saintes for a long, lovely happy hour.
It came out in conversation that Barry played the piano. I pulled out our tiny roll-up electric piano and Barry made this little toy instrument sing. He may not be smiling as he concentrates……
…… but take a look at Jack from ‘Anthem’, a Cabo Rico 38, enjoying the music.
This is Roy, our Kiwi friend from ‘Bold Endeavour’, a sister ship to ours. We were at the Tyrrel Bay Yacht Club for a fund-raising auction – part of Carriacou Race Week.
It was another sweltering hot day and Roy was airing his chest under a very fetching parasol. ‘Gutsy’ man, wouldn't you say?
Here’s another shot of Roy with his lovely wife, Doon, aboard ‘Beach House’ for happy hour in Prickly Bay, Grenada.
She’s enjoying a romantic pose for the picture – Roy is reaching for munchies. They’re a great couple. By the way, that's Sim from 'Aliana', a UK-flagged Corbin 39, in the background.
In Bequia, a group of us dinghied to a local beach bar for lunch. Geoff became our entertainment that afternoon.
That’s Jacqui and Dave, Brit newlyweds on an Amiel 50, ‘Jackster’, enjoying Geoff’s success at making four beer bottles balance.
Everyone has left the table, watching from a safe distance, except Ray from ‘Nighthawk’, as Geoff makes it six bottles. Clearly a man of many, many talents.
And coming full circle and back to the Bahamas, here we are with Pete on his CSY44, ‘Grace’, in Marsh Harbour, being silly for the camera.
There’s a backstory to this pose. We met Pete in 2003 in the Bahamas and had some great times with him and his Dad, and with Terry, Kim and Brynne on ‘Fair’n’Sea’, a Nauticat 38. At Allen’s Cay in the Exumas ......
...... we dinghied over to the beach to feed the iguanas and did the photo op thing, sitting on one of the landed dinghies, legs up and arms waving. Don't we look six years younger?
And meet Bill Stanley, the friend of Pete’s who originated the 'silly pose'. He clearly has a talent for knowing what makes really great pictures. Being goofy does bring out the best smiles. We love the silly pose idea and thank him for the inspiration behind the Allen’s Cay photo above - one of our favourite pictures of all time.
Odd though, that Bill is just standing here in this photo. Killer smile though. We look forward to meeting you some day, Bill!
And we'll sign off with one last picture of us.To paraphrase Bob Newhart, “All we can say about life is - Oh God, enjoy it!” Keep smiling everyone!!!