Friday, January 31, 2014

Learning to Live on Island Time

Those of you who know John, know how much of a man of routine he is. He is stressed if he has not been able to check enough things off his list each day. He says he's not a morning person, but is even more unhappy if he sleeps in, as he's wasting precious time that he could use to get something done. And it has to be a really rainy day for him to watch a movie during the day. While these are usually good things, and make him a very productive person, it does not make him a very relaxed person, so you could say he's struggling a bit with adjusting to island time and the way of life here.

Luckily, I have been able to open his eyes (if only slightly) to this. I think I am more naturally on island time, even in Canada (which unfortunately doesn't work as well over there as an excuse). We've worked really hard to get here, so let's stop and enjoy it. The problem is that there are always things to be done, things that need to be fixed, projects to do, and improvements to make. But you could spend all day every day on that and there would still be more to do. I'm not saying give up on everything, but to cut down a little. If we had waited until we had everything we needed, and everything fixed and perfect before leaving Montreal on this trip, we would still be back there.

It's a hard balance to find, and I'm sure it would be easy to get complacent. But we spent the first 4 months always on the go, and it can really drain you. 

I'm hoping that little by little, I can bring John over to the dark side, and succumb to island time!
Relaxing step 1

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Johns First Dinner

Some of you may recall that recently I tried to do a week switch with John where he did all the cooking and food stuff, while I washed the dishes. This was not entirely successful, as he managed to somehow only make 3 breakfasts and 1 lunch (I'm not even sure I can really call that lunch), so I said that I really wanted him to try making 1 dinner. 

We went into the town and I asked if there was any ingredients he wanted to get for his dinner. He said that he would go buy a jar of pasta sauce and make pasta. I said nonononono, that is a cop-out. You've proven you can boil water and open jars, but I want to see you but your back into it a little. As much as he did not want to do this, he set forth to do it. 

Meanwhile, I ran in to several people who said "are you excited for dinner?", or "I hear someone else is making dinner tonight!". It really feels like a small town here where everyone knows everything, which is most likely a result of John asking everyone for help in a panic, and the fact that all of our conversations are broadcast to everyone over the VHF radio. 

I came back to the boat to find John hard at work on dinner. He made a nut crusted grouper (which he had bought from the boys by the conch shack) and some rice. And low and behold-it was delicious! I was really impressed, and proud (and I think he was as well!). So now that he has proven to be capable in the kitchen, I've commissioned him to make dinner once a week-but we'll see how many times he'll weasel his way out of that one!
Hard at work
The finished product

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Grouper

I had never tasted grouper before this trip, and now it is one of my favourite fish. It is a white fish, but it very hearty. This is one of my favourite ways of preparing it. It's best to do this in the oven uncovered, but it can be done on the BBQ as well.

Ingredients
2 oz grouper filets
6 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt & pepper
2 Tbsp fresh Lemon juice
Bread crumbs

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350. On a greased pan or foil place the fish and brush with lemon juice (preferably fresh) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a bowl combine the mayonnaise, Parmesan and lemon together. Spread it over the fish evenly. If you have, sprinkle bread crumbs on top. It's all ready to go in the oven, leave it in for about 15 mins, depending on how thick it is, or until the top starts to brown a little.




Sunday, January 26, 2014

Birthday on the Beach

I just had my birthday on Thursday, and have to say I had quite an enjoyable day. The weather hasn't been the best, it's been a bit chilly, rainy and windy, but it happened to be a beautiful sunny day for my birthday!

The entire town seemed to have known it was my birthday, since John had been running around in a panic asking for everyone and anyones help in what to do and what to get me. I had actually assumed he had forgotten (to be fair, it's easy to forget what day it is over here) until two days before a young Bahamian woman who works in one of the stores said to me " a little birdie told me your birthdays comin' up", and then many people kept saying similar things to me, even people I had never met before! That's when I realized that John had asked the entire community to help him out. 

In the morning of my birthday, Tina and Jean-Pierre from Brin de Folie made crepes and    they came over with them for breakfast along with our friends from Océane. Then John and I went to town to fill our propane tank (not exactly part of the birthday celebration, but they only fill propane once a week so we thought we'd better do it). It had been weeks since the propane guy had shown up, so there was quite a line up.

I also got a chance to feed some rays!

We had gotten into the habit of playing some volleyball on the beach (it's actually called Volleyball Beach), but usually it had only been 6 of us, so we couldn't have a real game. But today everybody (meaning all the Quebec cruisers, including the boats Angelica, Wind Dance, Water Music, Leane, Sagwa, Océane & Brin de Folie) came out to the beach, so we had a real game, and it was so much fun. Then after the game, Isabelle brought out a cake she made and John led all the frenchies in an English version of Happy Birthday as the sun set. 



But wait-there's more! John gave me my birthday present (a very nice, but also very tiny bathing suit), though my first present was the hot shower I got to take in our bathroom-rather than from a bag on the deck. Then we went out for dinner at a fancy restaurant at the Exuma Beach Resort with out friends on Océane and Water Music, which was delicious. At the end I got a brownie with candles in it. I blew so hard that I blew the whipped cream off of it. But there was still 1 candle still lit. A half hour later, exhausted from blowing, I finally clued in that it was a trick candle, but the staff certainly had a good laugh.
Out for dinner
All in all, I had a really great birthday. It was so nice not having the stress that usually comes with trying to plan a birthday, and being worried about who is going to call and who might forget (my grandmother called me-you're the best Baba!), and just having a great day, in a beautiful place. Thank you everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes, to my new friends over here for celebrating with me, and for John for trying so hard to make sure I had a great birthday!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Camp Georgetown

Since Georgetown has become so popular (especially with Americans) the population here is only 50% Bahamian, the rest are cruisers. In my opinion, it loses some of its charm and culture because of that,  but there is still plenty. It seems like a great place for families because there are tons of activities going on every day (beach volleyball, scavenger hunts, trivia nights etc). Every morning they have what's called a cruisers net, where they announce the weather, and any business can make announcements, any activities or events that are happening, and anything else you want to ask or share. The VHF radio is really happening here, it's hard sometimes to call someone because so many people are already talking, it's like a party on the radio-and a lot of flirting seems to go on. It's funny, because it's almost like we're eavesdropping, but everyone knows that everyone can hear them. It's got a camp-type feel here, but instead of cabins and tents, there are boats, and instead of kids, we're mostly adults.

The thing that sucks about Georgetown is you can't go swimming in a lot of places, at least not in any of the anchorages or anywhere near where other boats might be. It's because there is such a large number of boats here (300-600) and everyone let's their holding tank (toilet) go into the water. The water is still a nice blue, but it's a bit more murky, you can't see the bottom, and it's not clear like it is elsewhere.

We went to a trivia night with Isabelle and Pierre-Luc from Océane at the St. Francis Yacht club. We would have come in at least 3rd if it wasn't for the amount of local questions there were (what colour is the sign on the bathroom door of the Chat n' Chill-I don't know, I just got here!). But since most people here are serious regulars, we definitely had no chance there, but it was still fun.

We're going to stick around Georgetown for at least a couple more days, we have some boat maintenance to do, cleaning and the winds aren't looking great and we are in a pretty protected spot. Georgetown is also the best place for provisions and boat parts. We are planning on going to Long Island (the one in the Bahamas, not the US), but the weather here has been pretty gloomy, and we want to enjoy exploring Long Island on a nice hot day.

The tunnel to go through to get to the dinghy dock

The straw market


A friendly game of volleyball!

The Gang watching a beautiful sunset

Pierre-Luc & Isabelle from Oceane

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Johns Basic French Toast Recipe

So I attempted to get John in the kitchen, since he said he would start cooking, or learning to cook on this trip. Well that was 5 months ago, and while he's proven he's very capable of boiling water, that's about where it ends. So I proposed that for 1 week where he takes over in the kitchen and I do the dishes. Somehow he managed to weasel his way into only making 4 breakfasts and 1 lunch, but at least I was able to push him to try something new (the French toast), baby steps, right? So here's Johns simple but delicious French toast recipe that actually turned out great- I was so proud! We used special Bahamian bread (cinnamon and coconut) which made it extra yummy! 

Preparation Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 10 mins

Ingredients
4-5 pieces of bread
2 eggs
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp milk or cream

Directions
Mix eggs, milk and spices (I also like to add a tsp of vanilla) in a shallow bowl. Take each slice of bread and dip it in the mixture until it is completely covered. On a greased frying pan or skillet, fry it for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Continue with remaining slices. Serve with maple syrup. 

It's also delicious if you mix cinnamon and brown sugar together and sprinkle it over the French toast right after its done. 



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Rough Ride to Georgetown

So we have finally arrived at Georgetown, the place where many cruisers end up setting up shop. But before we got here we made a quick stopover in Ruddercut Cay, which is right around the corner from David Copperfeilds private island (guarded by scary dogs). In the water, David Copperfield put a big statue of a mermaid and a grand piano (why not, right?), so we went on a quest looking for it. It's not exactly located on a map, so we  drove the dinghy around while our friend Pierre-Luc from Océane stuck his head over the dinghy, in the water with his snorkel mask on looking for it. It was hard to find, and finally we all just jumped in the water to go look for it, and finally found it. It's really cool, but also a little bit creepy. 





You can tell he's loving it!
Me & Isabelle
John & I swimming to our boat
That night didn't go that well. The tide went down and we had dragged a bit and were too shallow and were touching the bottom. Worse things have happened, but the winds were so strong (35 knots!) kept banging really hard against the bottom, which was not fun, and we were worried it would damage the boat. We tried to get the anchor up, but it was too hard. With a lot of effort and some help from a winch, John managed to get the anchor up and we were set to move to deeper water. Except that we couldn't, because the boat would not move an inch. I was pushing he engine full power, and we didn't budge. We were seriously stuck to the bottom. So we had to drop the anchor back in and wait for the tide to rise. Did I mention that it was pouring rain with a strong north (aka cold) wind and it was pitch black? But don't worry, the story gets even better!

John said we should get some sleep, but I didn't trust that our anchor was dug well enough and was too nervous. Which was good because less than an hour later we were very very close to dragging into a giant cliff. I was panicking that the boat wouldn't be able to move again, but luckily the tide had risen a bit and we were just off the bottom, and we managed to pull the anchor up and book it out of there. By the time we got re-anchored we had about 1 hr left to sleep before getting up to make the 35 mile trek to Georgetown-best night ever!

On the way to Georgetown, I took the first shift diving, but I was so tired and even though the waves were pretty big, I actually fell asleep at the wheel. I would wake up to see the sail had gone over to the other side. Luckily falling asleep at the wheel on a boat in the ocean, is there's a lot less traffic and you're really not going very fast, so the repercussions are minimal. But nonetheless, we made it there safe and sound and anchored in the very populated anchorage.


Here are some pictures of Topanga under way taken from our friends on the boat Oceane



Here is Oceane

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Little Farmers Cay-The Place I Wanna Be!

The people of Little Farmers Cay are very proud of their island. Even thought here are only 55 residents, they still have their own flag and their own anthem. They also have quite a lot of personality! We first met Roosevelt Nixon (real name, he comes from along line of Nixon's, and I guess his parents thought Roosevelt was fitting, or hilarious), who runs the mini yacht club. 

We walked through the town, seeing many abandoned cars, boat parts and even houses that were half built. We met JR, the legendary wood carver. Then we headed over to Ocean Cabin restaurant (after we had been walking a while to many dead ends in the heat, we finally found it), where we met Terry and his wife Ernestine. Very friendly people! After having a cold refreshing beverage, Terry told us a lot about the Bahamian politics, and much much more. He told us how Little Farmers Cay is what's called a generation island, which means that no one can sell it, it can only be passed down through families, but can't be bought. His wife is from another island so she can't own it, but their children can, very interesting concept. 
JR the wood carver in his studio
He asked us what was the most important thing about culture, I answered "food" (which was apparently the right answer) and he was so excited that I got it right,said that no one has ever gotten that right before, and that I had to sign his guest book, and that I was incredibly smart (if that's all it takes, then I'm a genius!). I guess you cold say we hit it off.
Best open hours ever
All of us with Terry and Ernestine
Before we left they were adamant about us singing the Little Farmers Cay anthem (Ernestine said she was in a singing mood!), and they passed out papers with the lyrics on it and we all sang it together. Pretty good anthem for a place of only 55 residents!

We later went for a hike on land to a neat cave, with bats in it. Dexter was a trouper and came along for the ride, I think he thought it was pretty cool. And he even came several steps into the water towards me on the beach on his own accord (without me forcing him!) I think this is a big step, way to go Dex!
Starting the trail
He made it!


Simba!
Me & Isabelle


A lot of abandoned cars and boat parts everywhere-how did they even get on the island?!
We really enjoyed meeting all the locals and experiencing their culture (yes we ate their food!). We spend the evening playing boards games (taboo anyone?!) with Oceane and Brin de Folie on our boat, playing a bilingual game-though really mostly in French!
Can't beat that price!
Seems like there is a lot of things under construction or at least they were...
Common in the Bahamian Islands, not enough people for individual classes
All the students from the school
Happy to have a visit!