Monday, March 30, 2009

Amazon Adventure # 14. An Exciting sail to Little Harbour.

                       Amazon in the big waves of North Bar Channel.
We have been reminded on the ocean facing beaches on the islands we have visited since New Years that while we have struggled with wind and wave on the Banks, out in the open ocean are the really big ocean waves of winter gales. On the sheltered sail south to Little Harbour we are caught off guard when a pass into the deep ocean allows big waves to sweep into the shallows and break all around us. We are glad that Amazon (with her hatches closed) is a wash-through craft. The wave that breaks over us just drains through the deck and back into the ocean. What an excellent little catamaran this is!
The Journal:

Goodbye Marsh Harbour. Actually got to like the place and knowing where things could be found.

Off with a light NE breeze under main and genoa. Big yachts started to get passed! We made a long run wing on wing toward Little Harbour with a light following breeze right across the shallow banks - sand rushing by right under the hulls.
I found a new place to steer from perched right aft on the netting beam which gives a great view of the boat and sails. We decided to start the engine and speed thing up as it was getting late.
We could see VERY large breakers on the reef and barrier islands. Beautiful in the evening sunlight.

                                    North Bar Channel and Little Harbour.
Soon we sailed past an opening in the reef (North Bar Channel) with enormous waves hoisting us up and down. I turned us toward a breaking wave top and got us all soaked. Then we turned again to take them on the quarter and had no more trouble. Amazon was moving fast in the increasing wind and engine on full power as we raced the night. We could see Little Harbour ahead: a dark cliff with breakers and some masts behind.

We slipped into the small crowded harbour, ran up on a sandbar, backed off and are now anchored near the beach in a sheltered spot. A nice supper of hamburger patties and hash browns with tapioca for duff. All accompanied by Mozart. Looking forward to a explore tomorrow. I spent some time tonight looking at charts for the next stage to Eleuthera. Bill.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Amazon Adventure# 13. You gotta have Hope (Hope Town, that is.)

A walk on the wild side at Hope Town.

We meet some fellow Canadians who invite us to visit Hope Town on another nearby island where we spend New Years anchored and tied tightly into a narrow, mangrove lined channel. We visit Man o War Cay and as in Hope Town see the impact of tourism when it is too massive for small communities to absorb: lots of houses for rent, curio shops and precious few original folks around and most of them serving the tourists. Ready money yes, but they are living in an imitation copy world of the original real thing and it must be soul destroying.
Afer a visit to Great Guana Cay, we decided to finally visit Treasure Cay - that fabled place we had been trying to get to for Christmas. Something of a disappointment (we are so glad we ended up at Green Turtle Cay), as Treasure Cay is a real estate development like ones we had seen in Florida. A mangrove swamp dredged into channels and raised building lots but only a marina and shops really established and the brick lined channels empty except for Amazon swinging on her anchor.
We headed back to Marsh Harbour to see if our money from home had arrived. The rain and wind and the expensive food start us thinking that we will sail south in search of balmy weather, fresh fruit and the perfect tropical island to settle down at for a long while.
Marsh Harbour ,Man of War Cay. Elbow Cay with Hope Town.

The Journal:

We went to Hopetown to see the people we met yesterday [Dr. Ray and Cathy Heidenbeker].
Found out by co-incidence that we had arrived in their bay and went to visit. When we came back to Amazon we heard " Look-it! What a way to treat the flag! They are Canadians!" We got on the boat proudly. Gwyn.

After spongies and breakfast in bed we had coffee and went to the open beach on the windy side of the island. Mom and dad went for a walk and Anne wrote a poem, Gwyn was drawing pictures and I was making a bracelet. It was getting cold and windy so mom went shopping for groceries while the rest of us went into a straw shop that was absolutely NEAT.
Got back to the boat when "Oh no!" came from somewhere on deck. The line for the dinghy had come loose and ‘Hippo’ was on the other side of the inlet. Dad got on his swimsuit and jumped in. COLD! No, really after a while he said it was warm. He scrambled into Hippo and came back. Then we had pancakes Yaaaa!
Meanwhile it was pouring and BLOWING! Even in the most sheltered place in the Bahamas ( So Cathy H. says.) Elaine.

Jan 1st.
Dad had a bath in Hippolyta this morning as it rained so much last night it was half full of fresh water. Then after two hours of homework and then lunch we went ashore. I`m beginning to think that swimming is better than Hippolyta. If you sit on the edges you get yellow dye all over you and if you sit on the bottom you get soaked ( and blue)! You can`t win! We walked a lot today trying to find the road to the big lighthouse and then back home. (I guess you could call this boat home) Hot dogs tonite. Yeah! Anne.

Jan. 2nd.
We paraded out of Hope Harbour with our washing flying in the breeze. We smashed, crashed into the westerly wind and over the shallows to the narrow entrance to Man o war Cay. We found it crowded and lacking in good shallow sheltered spots. We anchored off the town and ‘Hippoed’ to shore. A tricky thing, as she has a slow persistent leak and bulges close to the water beneath our bottoms. We walked up the sidewalk-sized streets like ‘yer basic tourists.’ (I still feel vaguely uncomfortable and useless doing this.)
A man in a store ( Mr. Albury) told us that most of the land has been sold to Americans although there are a few fishermen and boatbuilders left. With many houses to rent and every third one a gift shop, it is a pretty, but eviscerated community.
Later we paddled madly back to Amazon in the stiff breeze and sailed deeper into the long bay looking for some shelter. The only shelter was behind a headland beside some touristy houses but a woman violently waved us away. We shrug, (She does n`t own the sea.) and tuck close into shore for the night.

An hour`s motoring and we anchored off Great Guana Cay. We found it much less touristy than Man o War ( Of course, by being there, we are changing that just a little.) We met Milo Pindar and were pleased to find his exchange library. We talked to Milo and chose books. His accent`s very typical with dropped and added H`s and slight English accent. When he talks fast he loses us! He gave each of the girls a sharks tooth to make into a pendant.

After a walk on the windward side we headed off to Treasure Cay. That fabled place we did n`t get to for Christmas.
We are anchored past the marina in a very quiet still spot. Tomorrow we will see if we have to nerve (gall) to have showers and fill up out water containers or just a walk past the shops. Spaghetti tonight! Heather.

Today we woke up in the swamp thing and toodled over to the dock, or beach, past two wrecked boats. It was really pouring rain and we finally found the showers which really did n`t work. ( only Anne`s). Dad finished his and was waiting beside our door when the cleaning lady came around the corner. She jumped in surprise and said " I almost drop! I almost drop!"
We left for Marsh Harbour and it was really rough. Now we are back at the government wharf
and it`s miserable in the wind and rain. Gwyn.
We had to hold up the tent `cuz the wind was blowing 25 knots. Mom and dad had to take it down later in the wind and rain. It was the hardest time that they ever had `cuz of the wind.

.The money came today at last! Now we are free to move on! Oops, tomorrow we fill our propane bottle. We bought flippers, masks and snorkels. Mom`s baking bread. It`s amazing how she lasts! The party ashore is just loud enough to be able to hear much craved music. Anne.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beowulf Revisited.

Grendel`s mum casts a long shadow in the mead hall.

This story of a brave man fighting evil beings is one of the oldest pieces of literature that led eventually to the English Language we speak, read and write today. Full of alliteration and forceful imagery, it is also a story with an interesting cultural sub-text.

Beowulf is the hero of the story: a group of warriors are wassailing the night away in the mead hall. Grendel, a nasty monster from the local mere, breaks in, kills many. Beowulf arrives and lies in wait for a return visit and then grips Grendel so strongly that he is wounded and creeps back home. The monster`s mother who them attacks them in revenge is killed too along with her son by Beowulf at the bottom of the murky lake. Good old Beowulf! That`s the short version. There are hair raising stories like this from all over the world. A new dominant group arrives, kills the locals and then sits down to celebrate. Time passes. The stories about the previous peoples of the land cast them as foul monsters ( it was right to slay them) or they are downgraded in size to be remembered as tricky little people (Fairies, Gnomes etc.) who dwell in more and more remote places ( meres, dark enchanted forests, underground.)and can still bother us at times.

The question is, in the story, whose side are we on? The big warriors or the slimy old people who do not fight fair? It would seem pretty obvious if your culture evolved from a victorious warrior culture. To read stories like this if you did not however, is to be reminded regularly of your inferior status. Maybe you secretly give these stories a different ending. There is Grendel`s mum avenging her son. Go for it mum! Get `im!

One of the interesting elements in Beowulf is the feeling that Grendel is just too nasty and Beowulf too heroic. As it is the victors who tell the story, it looks just a little too obvious that a lot of nastiness is being transferred from Saxon to that sly sneaky fellow and his family. If one reads a little modern history, it sounds like a well worn theme picked up again in Nazi Germany and used against the Jews. "We are the heroic master race. They belong underground."

As it would be an unusual group of humans that had not waged genocidal war against others some time in their past, there is a problem here. Can we feel proud of our ancestors accomplishments and thereby feel good about our way of life that is built on that foundation if we suspect that it is founded on shaky ground? We all live within our cultural traditions because humans think and exist as group animals. Our culture is our group. Without language and a million unquestioned learned attitudes we do not develop properly individually and cannot form a group. So stories like Beowulf have always served to unite the tribe, to give an example of praiseworthy conduct: they have survival built right into them. Like any useful tradition however it can be so easily abused.

Recently on the radio it has been announced that the re-enactment of the French/English battle for Quebec and what would eventually became Canada was cancelled. Too many on the losing side would be upset. And so the adjustments go on as peoples slowly adapt to thinking in more inclusive ways. After all, from the aboriginal point of view, the French and English were both so similar in culture and how they settled native land.

Everyday we hear about the ‘War on Terror’ and it is difficult to sort out what is economics and world trade, what is religion and what is nationalism. It`s a heady brew to which I do not believe there are obvious answers. Oh, it would not be hard to circle the wagons and find clear-cut answers: for leaders to scream ‘our country’ or ‘our religion’ and accuse ‘traitor’ and have us jump automatically into line against the foe, but would this not be stepping back a couple of thousand years or so to the attitudes of those familiar stories like Beowulf?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Amazon Adventure # 12. Green Turtle Cay and Marsh Harbour.

                             Christmas on Green Turtle Cay.

We have found the perfect place to explore and take a break from constantly moving on, tiring days and windy, wet, sleep-challenging nights. We have arrived in the northern Bahamas, at a very pretty and interesting island amid other nearby equally interesting islands. We walk about and the girls make friends with some local children. We do research for their school science project, check out the water catchment on the hilltop, and interview some local people to understand the history ( a very long history by Canadian standards) and how local people deal with development pressures, transportation links and all the other things that we have to think about back home on our own island.

We move on reluctantly to Marsh Harbour, the largest town, to find propane and to arrange for more money to be sent to us from our bank back home ( We have our house rented out to give us income while we are away.)

                                                          Green Turtle Cay

The Journal.
‘I`m dreaming of a white Christmas’ but I did n`t get it! Warm and sunny. I woke up and got to making shell necklaces and a shell mouse (for dad). For breakfast we had cornflakes and Christmas fruit bread; then the unwrapping! (Sometimes at the dock you can hear the rapping. Ha Ha.)
Then we went for a walk and met a lot of kids. It was real fun. We had a chicken dinner with rice. Delicious! Afterward dad read to us and then out for a walk and now sleep. ‘I`m dreaming of a white Boxing Day.’ Gwyn.

Dec 26th. Still no snow.
Today we all slept in til 8:00 and me and dad and mom all went in to town and poked into little shops and I bought a shirt that said ‘Ya mon’ on it. Bought some groceries that cost lots of money. Elaine.

Today we got up and did homework until lunch then stopped because the hamburger meat was going off. So we had dinner at lunch and vice versa. The people here are really nice, very much like at home. We had a history lesson from Allan ( the owner of The Other Shore Marina) about the islands etc. Very interesting!

Tonight we had a visit from a man from Jacksonville Florida who came aboard and into the tent. He talked to us for a while. You can still smell the rum! On the way out he fell through the gap between the trampoline and the hull. Hauled himself out and limped back to his yacht. Tomorrow we`ll probably leave here for Marsh Harbour. Too bad to leave here but hopefully we`ll meet other people. Anne.

This morning we settled up and gassed up and motored for three hours to Marsh Harbour. Passed ‘Don’t Rock’ a balancing sort of landmark. Very shallow in this area. The approach to the harbour had us guessing until close in as it is hidden behind a headland. Did a tour of the harbour and pulled in to a ramshackled government wharf to scout the town for tomorrow`s ‘combined ops.’

The wharf at Marsh Harbour. The locals come shopping by boat.

We found it a big place with more than one of everything. Later we motored across to the Marsh Harbour Marina and then rushed out for an evening walk and found our way to the ‘castle ‘on the hill. Most intriguing sticking above the trees from down below but a bit of a ruin close up.
Today we shopped, did a massive laundry, and phoned our home bank for some money. ( we are down to our last $100.00.)

A collection of comments from people looking down at us from the wharf:
A very intelligent boat.
A cute little sucker.
My marriage only lasted two months in a small multihull like this.
Now there is a nice looking boat.
A major worry is the massive cost of everything. A tourist economy. No local fresh fruit and vegetables. Everything imported at great cost from Florida. Bill.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Amazon Adventure # 11. Wind bound, and a Christmas tree.

                                              Christmas at Green Turtle Cay.

The prevailing winds here are the brisk South East Trades in the winter when they are not interrupted by the northers. There is usually a week-long period during which the winds shift around the clock and back to yet another norther. We have been lucky to get this far with the north-west winds but yesterday has shown us how difficult it is to make progress against the easterly winds that have settled in for a while. The outboard engine pops its propellor almost out of the water as Amazon pitches into the waves and it is difficult to make progress. We have found shelter last night all right but it looks like we may be here in this isolated place until the wind shifts again. We are almost out of propane and it is almost Christmas.

The journal:
Dec. 23rd.
Last night we had to put the tent away again because although we are in the lee of some wooded slopes the wind still jumps over from time to time. We slept under the tarp and under the stars (and what stars!) until it started to rain. Just a little shower ( pull tarp over head).

By morning the wind had shifted from east to south-east and was up to 20 knots. We motored out and tried but came back after half an hour of no progress to our shelter and nosed into a little strip of sand beach between coral rocks. Heather and the girls went exploring and found some kind of bitter oranges and a Christmas tree ( Casuarina pine) which got lashed to the bow. I tried to make a bow drill to make holes in the shells so the girls could make necklaces. I painted the name AMAZON on the bows and sterns.

 Storm bound and 'living off the land'.

Some Bahamians came by in a speed boat and checked to see if we were ok.(When we saw them stop and turn toward us it was a PIRATE moment for a while until they turned out to be offering to help push us off the beach). The wind died by this evening but too late to move before dark. Heather is baking bread. We saw a dolphin today that came right up and visited with us. Bill.

This most important day began with Bill and I huddled under the tarp as usual trying to decide if each pause in the rain squalls was long enough for us to make a run for it up the coast of Little Abaco as the winds were slowly shifting toward the south-west. Quickly our damp bedding was stowed, our oilies located and a promise given to the girls that we would stop for breakfast when we reached the sheltered side of the island. The engine would n`t start! Damp again! Out came the oil spray for the wires and eventually it started to our shrieks of joy!

At first we made good speed along the coast, then it appeared that the wind had not shifted that much and it was going to be another fight against wind and wave. It was after 12:00 before we found a sheltered cove over a beautiful coral reef and made some hot tuna sandwiches - and ran out of propane! We decided to sail across the water to Green Turtle Cay as it was closer than Treasure Cay and might have propane. A wet, exciting ride for those on deck.

Arrived on the beach of New Plymouth ( the town on Green Turtle Cay), a delightful old world town of pastel coloured houses and streets the width of sidewalks. The girls and I did a quick scout - I did some shopping on the basis of ‘no propane’ and we did the Christmas shopping. It was fun. Then back on the boat to find a marina. We eventually found ‘The Other Shore Club’ and took the last slip left that was too shallow for a normal boat ( there was ‘room at the Inn’, - just.) We could tie up, use the showers and the owners, Trudy and Allan, would lend us a propane bottle while we are here.

 Room at the shallow end of the Other Shore Club to pitch our tent.

Trudy sent us meatballs and spaghetti for supper - delicious and such a boon for our depleted stores. We felt welcomed and good. A shower made us feel better and then all of us but Gwyn headed out clean and well dressed for the Anglican Church Christmas Eve service. Gwyn elected to stay at home and sleep (and it turned out, write her yearly letter to Santa). She had already put a branch of our Christmas tree against the mast and decorated it with the tinsel she had painstakingly cut all day from tin foil, and candles left over from birthdays. She and Bill made a star for the top. She popped some corn for stringing a garland but then sensibly ate it all instead.

Gwyn`s Christmas tree and letter to Santa.( and his reply)

We church goers made our way along narrow roads amid popping fireworks. We followed the waterfront around, past the Baptist Church until we reached St. Peter`s Anglican. Here we had an experience reminiscent of a Christmas long ago on the Island of Cariacou in the West Indies. The singing was wonderfully enthusiastic and the people watched all engrossed. Altogether this was a day to remember.

Returning to the boat, listening to the parade developing on the streets behind us. Saw unripe bananas growing on a tree and all sorts of things that need further exploring tomorrow. Heather.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Amazon Adventure # 10. Sailing on the Bahama Banks. West End to Crab Cay.

Our first Desert Island in the Fish Cays.

Once out of the deep water channel between Florida and the Bahamas we have entered a different world: one that months before when we were planning this ‘Peter Duck Expedition’ had seemed designed especially for our family`s desire for coral islands, palm trees and tropical temperatures. Apart from the chilly and damp northers that are still chasing after us, we are at last beginning to experience a very new and interesting environment. Life on our open decked catamaran is very exposed to the elements. We are still toughening up.

The Bahama Islands are the little bits of limestone and coral that stick up on the limestone plateau that is just below the surface of the sea. (Very much like Florida would look like if global warming were to raise the sea level by sixty feet or so.) Dividing it up are ‘tongues of the ocean’ -deep sea canyons. Most of the Bahamas are coral reefs and underwater sand dunes; all together these extensive shallows are called banks. They are all visible below Amazon as we sail briskly along in the crystal clear water. We peer down through the shadow between our hulls to see the fishy inhabitants of this world carrying on their lives oblivious to the whoosh of our craft skimming along on the ‘sky’ far above them.

We are navigating by compass and chart and must estimate our speed and make allowances for currents that may speed us up, slow us down or sweep us sideways. The Cays are low and on this part of the voyage, widely spaced. They only pop over the horizon when we are very close. What we have going for us is our shallow draught (18 inches) which allows us to make mistakes and take some short cuts that keeled boats cannot attempt.
From West End (bottom left) to Sale Cay (top right).

The journal:
Today we woke up on the move. We were already out of sight of land. Dad had realized that we had a long trip to Great Sale Cay so mom and dad had gotten up and put up the jenny (Genoa) and we left Indian Cay sailing downwind. We went east 40 miles and we got to Sale Cay at 7:30 and while we were trying to get into a bay for the night through the shoals, Elaine lost Hippolyta`s paddle. Dad said not to try to get it back. We kept trying to get through when mercy oh, we got into deeper water and we put down the anchors but no take! So we kept on going into the bay till finally we anchored ( in the dark).
Mom has finally cut my hair so she is happy. Now homework. GOTTA GOOOO . Gwyn.
Anchored in the bay at Sale Cay.
Dec. 21st.
Today we started out from Sale Cay; out and around the island and off to Allen Cay. Us kids stayed below and read while mom and dad put in another hard day steering and sailing. At about 1;30 we went off course and ended up at Fish Cay. A beautiful island with palm trees, sand beach, coral rock and a beautiful sunset. Our first desert island! We spent this evening trying to climb up palm trees and get a coconut down but with no success. Dad took some pictures and fixed the dinghy. We had dinner. Mom baked and we all retired to bed after another long tiring day. Elaine.
PS. We saw a whole bunch of dolphins swimming around us when we were leaving Great Sale Cay. One was swimming right under our bow!!
That Coconut is a looong way up!
Ferrying the crew ashore.
We have been in the Bahamas for 4 days now. Seems like a lifetime! Probably because the nightlife is just as exciting as the daytime. Mom and dad have n`t had a good night`s sleep in five days ( including the crossing of the Gulf Stream) Yesterday where we were anchored ( Fish Cay) was a great shelter from the wind. Unfortunately for us the wind shifted in the night from north to east. It poured and poured before it changed. In the early morning they up anchored and moved into the lee of another island. This did n`t have palm trees but was a great lump of coral. When you stood on top and looked across you could see the waves crashing on the barrier reef on the edge of the banks just to the north of us. All of us but dad went shell collecting and he was pretty dismayed at some of the big looking shells. ( where to stow them) .
Fish Cays ( top left) to Crab Cay and little Abaco Island (bottom right).

We shoved off and headed for Allens Cay but the wind was extremely strong against us. We got blow sideways into the top of Hawksbill Cay. Revving the engine, we headed the waves and started to move towards the east. We stopped for the night in a little channel between Little Abaco Island and Crab Cay. Hopefully, Treasure Cay tomorrow. Anne.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Amazon Adventure # 9. A night crossing of the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas.

Our destination. West End, Bahamas.

The morning brings the news we have been waiting for. A light west wind is predicted for the coming night. We plan to sail overnight so that we will arrive with the dawn and have good light for our landfall at West End. A day passage, while less spooky, would have us arriving at dusk at a strange landfall - a much more difficult kettle of fish as we will discover on the way home. We must also plot a course that takes the Gulf Stream current into account: like crossing a river, we must angle across, steering at an angle to the current so that we will not be swept far to the north by morning. We haul Amazon in to the beach to adjust the lashings that hold our hulls together, buy some last bits of rope, rescue our charts that we forgot in a store and complete the electrical wiring for the navigation lights and the compass. We check out of the USA with customs and Immigration. Finally we find a marina with a drunken attendant (it`s close to Christmas) to fill up our gas tank and then motor out to sea. Heather tells the story of the crossing.

The Journal:
Dec. 18 &19th.
Cleared harbour at 5pm feeling exaltation, excitement and not a little fear. Winds from the west - very light- so we motored away from a beautiful sunset and skyline and into an increasing ocean swell from the north-west. We noted the beautiful purple colour of the Gulf Stream and watched fireworks behind us in West Palm Beach. We were quite awed by the immensity before us and the beauty all around us. Anne and I steered for the first three hours: a course of 126 true to allow for the speed of the Gulf Stream and our approximate speed of five knots. Elaine and I cut grapefruit by flashlight and we ate supper. Then one by one everyone not on watch disappeared below. A lovely moon appeared to the east and lighted our way for the whole night.

Out into the Gulf Stream.

Bill and Gwyn had the next watch and I slept in the hull til 11:30 pm listening to the noise of the engine and creaks and groans of the boat. By then poor Gwyn had fallen asleep once at the tiller so I sent her to bed. They reported seeing dolphins playing close to the boat for about twenty minutes. They could see them clearly playing beneath the water. Bill and I decided that the wind was increasing - time to douse the engine and raise the staysail. We moved along at a great lick of speed. By then there was no glow of lights on either side: just four foot high and steep ocean waves.
Time to wake up Anne at 12:00 midnight. Bill not feeling well enough to risk going below so he stood in Anne`s bunk until 2:00am while Anne and I split the steering between us. Wind rising at this point (and shifting more to north-west) and it was sometimes difficult to maintain course. Anne became seasick too, after we finally persuaded Bill to go below. She soon felt better. Elaine popped out at 3:00am and declared cheerfully that she had n`t slept a wink! So we all three giggled around for an hour or so trying to get up on a galley box to see our beacon at West End ( spotted at 4:00am. Exactly on course) At 4:00am Anne curled up beside the toilet: refusing to go into Elaine`s messy hull. At about 5:00am Bill emerged and we sent Anne into her own bed. I could n`t wait for the dawn either and thoroughly appreciated Elaine`s bed.

Heather and Anne steer Amazon through the waves.

Bill and Elaine sight land and flying fish at dawn.

Bill and Elaine saw flying fish and sighted land shortly after dawn. We stood off for a while, not making much headway against the current and knowing we could not check into the Bahamas at the Jack Tar Marina until 9:00am.

Entered the pass through the fringing coral reef, were startled by the clarity of the water. We motored into the Marina flying our yellow quarantine flag. We were excited to have made it and to hear Carribean accents once again.
A hot wait at the marina and then with ice, water and gas replenished we headed out to a small island with a beach. We rigged a sun shelter, and Bill slept while Heather made bread (we have a folding oven for our propane camp stove.) and the girls sunbathed. A much appreciated supper as we chatted about our successful adventure. A chapter of ‘A light in the Forest’( a school book) and then early to bed.

I forgot to mention our ‘shower’: we tried using salt water first and then rinsing in fresh. Seems to work! Heather.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Amazon Adventure # 8. The coconut. - and other concerns..

Opening the coconut.

We are back in the Inter-coastal waterway and headed south to Riviera Beach from where we will leave to sail to the Bahamas. Only ten days `til Christmas. Lake Worth, where we will exit into the open sea, is not so far off and what once seemed a distant goal, -that little strip of blue on the map of North America that separated Florida from the Bahamas - is now full of big waves, a strong Gulf Stream current and has grow in real terms to some fifty miles of salt water for our little untested catamaran to sail across. Our days of protected waters and canals, easy access to fresh drinking water, stores and laundromats are over. Are we ready for the next big step? Were Heather and I really smart after all to bring our children into this much danger?

The Journal:
Dec. 15 th.
Today is my birthday: 15 years old - too bad it is n`t 16! Today on our way down the inter-coastal we could hear the surf on the Atlantic side of the islands just the other side from where we were. Every once in a while we could catch a glimpse of the ocean. Boy, I`m glad we are n`t out there today. High waves etc. We are still very much in the way of that norther. Hopefully it will be gone in a couple of days and we can make our crossing.
For lunch today we stopped at a little sand beach. After we had finished lunch mom went for a walk and much to our surprise she found something, - a ripe coconut! First Gwyn bashed it with a hammer, then dad got out the saw. Finally as we all stood around and after much effort he managed to pry it open and we had our taste of the meat. Much better than the coconuts at the Fall Fair!

For the rest of the day we motored and sailed down the canal. What a difference from Pahokee! This is quite obviously where the rich people of the great U.S. gather. Beautiful lawns, house boats, swimming pools. I would n`t mind living here permanently.

Mom. Gwyn, Elaine and I went on a shopping trip in Jupiter ( just essentials according to mom) We had to go across a 6 lane freeway and a four lane highway. On the way back with 3 big brown paper bags (very heavy) and 2 plastic ones we got lots of toots and whistles and offers to drive us. Before leaving again we had huge helpings of pineapple sherbert ice cream Yum! Not a bad birthday.

We are now anchored beside a ‘boat building’ place, - at least that`s what it looks like. Pretty quiet here. Mom`s making Lasagna and Gwyn is icing my carrot cake. Anne.

Finally at anchor at Riviera Beach at a small park between two marinas. Heather and I went ashore in Hippolyta and found a whip aerial for the VHF radio and the loan of a soldering iron to make the connections. We stayed overnight at the marina next door and were about to hoist Gwyn up the mast to install the aerial when the owner of the borrowed bosuns chair ran down the dock and did it for her. Gwyn did n`t know whether to be relieved or cheated of her glory. Bill.

Dec.17 th.
Wind still from the north. We cannot cross the Florida Strait with this wind as, with the Gulf Stream flowing rapidly northward and the wind and waves blowing toward the south, there are very nasty steep and confused seas. We still have plenty to do. The outboard motor mount which was cracked and then repaired along the way has to be rebuilt using epoxy and fiberglass until it is stronger than the original.

We all walk a long way in the heat to a laundromat for one last big wash and Heather and I continue down the long, hot, street to a Sears store to buy a replacement propane lantern. Our battery is now all charged up so we push off from the marina and back to anchor off the park again.

Nice to be back at anchor again. A moon over Palm Beach across the bay. No bugs. Our new light is BRIGHT. Anne is so low on reading material that she is reading the manual for the VHF radio. When the wind is right we are ready to go. Bill.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Raven Dreaming. "There is a Dream dreaming us."

'There is a Dream dreaming us.'

One of my favourite authors is Laurens Van Der Post and among his collection of books are two that I often go back to read again: ‘The Lost World of the Kalahari’ and ‘The Heart of the Hunter’. They talk about his experiences on a journey into the Kalahari desert in Africa and his meetings with the ‘Bushmen’ who still lived a nomadic hunting gathering lifestyle and knew their culture stories that had been passed down from the beginning times of mankind. They say that "there is a Dream dreaming us" and this lead me to this carving project.

On the West Coast of Canada the first human inhabitants have a story of first beginnings too: Raven the trickster creator, finds a clamshell on the beach and helps the first human beings (who are peeping out timidly) out of it and into the world. I carved a mask of Raven dreaming of this event before it happened. So, in Raven, there is a dream dreaming us humans. I`m exploring the idea of continuity: of human beings existing in the mind of Raven before he found the clamshell, before the teasing out of the reality there on the beach through his creative act, and finally the reality of human beings in the world. The three steps in creative work: the idea already exists unseen, the artist receives it as a dream and finally gives it form as a reality in the world, - incarnates it, so to speak. Finally, the creation takes it`s place in reality, building new meaning into the world.

In this cedar carving, Raven dreams with hooded eyes as the first man and woman emerge into his dream from the seashell ( from the sea; from first beginnings). Does he know where all this will lead or is he simply the inspired creator whom the Fates use to bring new being into the world: the dream appears, but is Raven himself the creator of the dream? Whatever the process, he is inspired to recognize the dream again the next day in the clamshell tossed up on the beach and to act his part in its realization as he coaxes the first people out into the world. What does it mean? He has n`t a clue, he is just being tricky. He is following the prompting of the dream.

The next layer is of course myself the carver who dreams of Raven dreaming and I play my part in bringing that thought into the reality of the carving. So there is a dream dreaming me too, not just the first people in the Kalahari Desert, not just Raven, not just the first people. Complicated, but reassuring, to be in a partnership through time with a long line of creators.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Amazon Adventure # 7. A stormy and exciting night.

Discussing Louis Lamour on the bow trampoline.

We had an exciting night at Pahokee after the party ended and during the norther that built up big waves on this wide shallow lake. The tent was already down because of the wind, when the waves built up and started banging Amazon against the pilings of the dock. We cast loose with difficulty ( a pitchy black night as usual during these exciting times) and motored over into the lee of the breakwater.
Heather at the bows could not tie up as the catamaran was bouncing around too much in the slop of the waves, so I put the outboard into slow ahead, ran forward jumped off the bow and tied us up even as our lovely boat was grinding against the concrete wall. Still a wild, wooly and wet night for Heather and I under the orange tarp. The next morning the wind was still strong and spray was flying over the breakwater so we decided to visit the town. This is central Florida and not by any means as excessively affluent as what we had seen on the west coast so it was an eye opener for the girls to be the only white touristy faces in a community of poor black ones. Good training for the Bahamas. We bought cotton blankets to keep us warmer during those pesky northers.
The last lock and we are in the Atlantic.

The journal:

.....So we went into the town of Pahokee. Did n`t find anything interesting, but we all had interested glances our way. Must have looked like some kinda Louis Lamour characters [ guess what we were reading for pleasure].Came back to a delicious lunch and decided to go to Port Mayaca further up the coast ( where we could lock up out of the lake into a new river system headed for the east coast.) We finally made it after a longgg ride and stormy.

Now we are at a little place before Indian Town. STILL HAVING FUN!! Gwyn.

Woke up early, ‘spunged’ and were on our way. I steered for what seemed like a long time ( but it was only an hour). Me and Gwyn and Anne went down into one of the hulls and mom made us do math. Yuck!
We made it to our last lock (St. Lucie) Yaaaa! We circled around and around waiting to be able to go through it. There was some kind of park there so again we had an audience! 15 foot drop. Woooo! Wind was strong. Another norther. Got to Stuart. Ocean ahoy! At last the Atlantic Ocean. Spent the night anchored in the lee of some island and beside a mansion. It looks like something from outer space. Elaine.