Sunday, March 29, 2009

1000 Years Bad Juju

Jen and I have decided we’re officially Real Sailors. Why? The more sensible among you would figure that it has to do with the skills we’ve developed during our recent travels. We’ve tucked a few accomplishments under our belts: rounding Cape Hatteras, the most dangerous headland of North America, sailed “outside” down half the US Eastern Seaboard, crossed the Gulf Stream, spent months in a foreign country, piloted our way across the Great Bahamas Bank and spent weeks on anchor in all types of weather. All of these are good reasons, but not OUR reasons. Our reasoning is a bit less sensible… we’ve become superstitious. Really, no joke, don’t goof around with this, superstitious. In fact, any infraction with regard to one of our new found “routines” is immediately noted and the offending crew member finds himself/herself sternly chastened.
So what are these new “routines” we carefully adhere to? I’ll run through a few of them here.

Or Not
Think of this one as knocking on wood. It started on our friend John’s sailboat several years ago when I made a somewhat optimistic announcement on our arrival time. We had been on a fast sail in perfect weather all day up the west side of Lake Michigan when I called home and said we’d be in Milwaukee in three hours. No sooner had I hung up the phone that the wind backed and we found ourselves on a dead beat to windward into 25+ knots of wind for the last 15 miles. Three hours turned into six exhausting hours tacking up the coast (since we didn’t have the good sense to fire up the engine and have done with it.) Ever since that day, John insisted that any statement about schedules, weather conditions, or destinations are followed by “or NOT”. For example… “Well, we’ve got the wind on our beam and we’ve been making good time. We should be in by 2pm… OR NOT.” The “or not” is usually accompanied by vigorous rapping of knuckles on wood or fiberglass, crossing of the fingers, and if I had one, rubbing of a rabbit’s foot. This one may have originated with our good friend John, but Jen and I are firm believers in it.

The Backpack
Jen and I have a backpack we use on just about every excursion ashore. It is used for carrying groceries (and rum) back to the boat, or maybe Jen’s camera and a picnic lunch out to the beach. Since this is a boat we need keep the clutter under control, so when we move the boat from place to place we have a habit of tidying up the place a little in case it gets a little bouncy. That keeps us from being distracted by having to run around grabbing things just when the seas get peppy. It’s also a good excuse to tidy up the boat a little. Anyway, it’s come to our attention that every time we stow the backpack prior to the next day’s sail, we never manage to get the weather we were expecting. It’s downright uncanny. Once we figured out the pattern the backpack has the honor of NEVER being stowed. It sits on a seat, ready for use. Since then, we’ve not had any weather surprises. Needless to say, the backpack will remain unstowed, tossed casually (but deliberately) on a bench until we get off the boat. Even then, I imagine it’s going to have an honorary spot in our home. We’ve had a lot of fun toting that backpack about.

A Clean-Shaven Face Never Leaves Port
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. I’m not sure how not shaving became the rule for departure day, but if nothing else it’s a good excuse not to shave. Not that I need any. I think I’m averaging 4 days before the thing starts getting too itchy or Jen decides it’s getting too scratchy.

Do A Little Dance
I think this one started after a long, windy, wet and salty day. We dropped anchor in a cool anchorage, looked around and smiled. Jen did this little happy dance she came up with which involves standing in one place, swinging of the hips and moving of the hands back and forth (in counter-point) with the index finger pointed forward. I mimicked it, which made us laugh. Now, every time we arrive in port we do our little dance to celebrate our safe arrival. Aside from our own amusement of doing the little dance, it also summons good juju which we direct towards our trusty anchor, giving it just a wee bit more holding power. Oh, and I imagine some of our anchorage neighbors have found it amusing.

No Sailing on Friday the 13th… whenever possible, anyway
Jen googled Friday the 13th and found a few references to sailing. According to some, it’s bad luck to begin passage on a Friday in general. Compound that with it being Friday the 13th and… well… you see where I’m going with this.

As I write this Jen just pointed out that Wednesday is April 1st. Wednesday was the day we planned on leaving the Exumas for the Abacos. (Or Not). Since this involves an overnight sail, superstitions come even more into play and we’re not sure if April Fools Day is such a good day to pick. The weather’s supposed to be favorable (Or Not), but wouldn’t that just be a clever April Fools Day joke if we got served up a big cold front to sail through… Hmmmmm…

At Warderick Wells at the top of Boo Boo Hill (don’t ask), there is a cairn where the park encourages visitors to leave a piece of driftwood with the boat and crew’s names carved on it. It has to be driftwood found on the island as Warderick Wells is in the Exuma Land and Sea Park, which has very strict rules about taking or leaving anything. It’s supposed to give you 100 days of good cruising weather if you leave your contribution to the cairn… so OF COURSE, we did. Warderick Wells is a special place. It is virtually unspoiled due to the strict rules and the fact that the boaters respect them.

The Green Flash
Every day at anchor we try to stop whatever we’re doing just before sunset to be sure we don’t miss it. The sunsets are gorgeous just about every night, with the sun setting over the Great Bahamas Banks, but we’re also watching closely for a Green Flash.
We had heard about the “Green Flash” that can be seen just as the top of the sun drops below the water horizon, but I had always thought it was a myth or a sailor’s’ story. Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End, etc. However, when we reached the Exumas we started hearing boaters talk over the VHF about sundowners (boat drinks) on the beach and to join them to watch for a green flash. Hmmm, this might be something, so we started watching.
A few weeks ago while we were anchored off of Normans Cay, we both saw a bright emerald green spark, or flash just as the top of the sun disappeared. Since then we’ve been looking very closely and have seen two or three of them. It’s very cool when it happens, and it does feel like a dose of good luck.

Well, that’s about all of the superstitions we’ve gathered over the past year of cruising. I’m sure we’ll come up with more. I’ll keep you posted. Or Not.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who's Child Are You?!?!?!

Quinn is fascinated with the world around him, especially fish at the moment. During Quinn's nap some days, Gregg goes out fishing on the reefs. March 8 was one such day. Gregg returned with a few fish and I asked him if he thought it would be too much for Quinn to let him watch the cleaning. This is a boy who gets scared during "Toy Story". We decided to let him watch and see how he handled it, so I went and got him up from his nap and told him he could go out to see Daddy clean the fish. He was very excited and ran straight outside.

I left them to their task because I prefer not to watch - I can do without the blood. A few minutes into it, I hear "cut off his head... his mouth... his tail!!!" All I could say was "Who's child are you?!?!??!" His response to that was "I like looking at fish. Dead fish and alive fish."


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Wow, it's been a while since the blog's been updated. Ooops. Well, the internet access has been a bit sketchy lately down here in the Exumas. I decided to hike into the local village today (we're anchored in a slightly remote bay so I had to walk across the Cay to get here) to check email, download tax stuff (YUCK, but offset by slurping down a couple Kaliks) and update the blog. However, once I got here, the power to the whole village was out so I had to wait around for a few hours. So now, I only have time to say HI and let you all know we've been working on some new blogs and will post them when time and access permit.

Right now we're anchored just south of Black Point on Great Guana Cay. We're hoping to head down to Georgetown tomorrow, but the weather may not cooperate. If it doesn't, well then we'll probably give up on the idea of Georgetown and start slowly working our way north to the Abacos. Georgetown seems to be a bit crowded for our tastes so if we miss it we won't be disappointed - it's not worth a rough sail when the conditions on the Banks are so superior. We do need to do some provisioning so it's either Georgetown or Nassau within a week or two.

We'll update more as soon as we can. Take care all!