We have been in the Bahamas four months today. Currently we are in White Sound in Green Turtle Cay. When we arrived here on Tuesday it seemed almost deserted with only maybe three or four inhabited boats in the harbor. This is quite a contrast from our first visit here back in April when the harbor was jammed packed.
Actually the number of boats has dwindled all over Abaco. Most of the snowbirds went home at least a month ago. Despite the smaller numbers there seems to be a bigger variety of sailors here now, from full time cruisers to those snatching just a few weeks away from the corporate world back in the states.
Monday we sailed up from Tilloo Cay, where we had spent a couple days hunkered down finishing up our Debbie and Karen blog posts, to Marsh Harbor, where we needed to get ice and groceries. It was Greg’s birthday and even though the skies had cleared, the sun was shining, and the breeze was cool, it turned out to be a bad day.
The outboard on the dinghy wouldn’t crank, so we ended up rowing to shore and back to get ice, crossing the harbor against strong winds. It was hard and I wasn’t up for a second trip to the grocery store. The frustration of accumulating problems led to one of those tense communication discussions. After living in such close quarters and traveling with someone for four months communication becomes one of those items on your list of things to fine tune. Since we didn’t make our trip to the grocery store, dinner turned out bland.
After we arrived in Green Turtle the next day, I thought we would have a birthday redo. I made a better dinner and then we motored over in the dinghy with the now working outboard to the Bluff House Marina bar where they serve five dollar 16 oz. draft Kaliks. Cold draft beer really is a special treat.
Getting the Cruiser’s Net on the VHF in the morning is hit and miss up here in Green Turtle, but the weather is rebroadcast on channel 18 sometime between 8:30 and 8:45 by the Green Turtle Cub Marina. After the weather the marina does a little plug for itself. This is where we heard that the Gully Roosters would be playing at the Club on Wednesday night.
Over two weeks ago I had no idea who the Gully Roosters were, but when my friend Karen arrived for her visit with us she had a list of recommend things to do. We did most of them with a few exceptions, one being seeing the Gully Roosters.
Live music is one of the things I was sure I was going to miss from living in Atlanta – and I do. We have heard a little live music in the Bahamas, but it has mostly not been original, some of it not entirely live, and most of it geared exclusively towards tourists. According to a write up I read about the Gully Roosters, they play a Caribbean blend of Bahamian, reggae and soca music. The show started at nine, which was a little late for us, but I really wanted to check them out, so after a visit to the beach that morning we spent the remainder of the day resting up for our night out.
The Gully Roosters opened with one of their hits, “Let’s Go-Go to Abaco.” It was a dancey soca tune that soon had everyone on his or her feet. They were very good and seemed to be doing mostly original music or at least music I’ve never heard before, interspersed with a few covers you might expect by Bob Marley and Caribbean favorites like “Red Red Wine.” They also played a song we heard a lot in Eleuthera, “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off,” which I have discovered after a quick Google search seems to be from some musical. But then they played a cover of John Denver’s “Annie’s Song” (“You fill up my senses”). Now let me apologize in advance to all of the John Denver fans out there for my music snobbery, but did someone’s Mama request this? Toots and Maytals did fine reggae version of Denver’s “Country Roads” and really added value to a pretty good song. I get that, but can’t understand why a Caribbean styled band would want to cover this particular John Denver song. Despite the one song, the Gully Roosters met my expectations and we really enjoyed them.
At the show we met a few sailing couples. Glenn and Gail and Barbara and Eric were both anchored in the harbor in identical 50’ center cockpit 1987 Gulf Star sloops. We all talked a bit over the loud music and in between songs. Glenn and Gail were leaving the next morning early with the high tide, but Barb and Eric were sticking around the next day, so we had another opportunity to chat with them again.
Thursday morning we went to the beach again, then took a long walk down the island to check out Black Sound. It was a real long walk in the heat, but we needed the exercise after eating so much rich food ashore with our recent visitors. On the way back to Blue Wing, we ran into Barb and Eric and invited them over to our boat for happy hour. This was our very first time hosting a happy hour!
That evening we served our guests bite-sized pieces of freshly grilled pizza. Eric and Barb live on their boat full time in Port Canaveral, Florida, but they are not cruisers and still have to toil away in the working world. They are only in the Bahamas for a short vacation. Eric is a laser physicist, so Greg and he chatted about Greenville, SC’s Charles Townes and other physics related people and things while Barb and I chatted about seasick remedies.
After a sometime we moved the party to Barb and Eric’s boat, Barberic, for a tour of their sloop and more snacks. Surprisingly, this 50 foot boat didn’t have much more living space than our 36 footer, but it did have a gigantic engine room and a nice, but separate aft birth, with a full sized bed and private head. They used this space mainly for storage. We had a great time with Barb and Eric and left with an invite to come visit them in Port Canaveral if we are ever up that way.
Over these four months I have suffered a lot of homesickness. I miss my friends and my community. I feel like I left something very special behind that I was lucky to find and be a part of. After Karen and Debbie’s visit I started to feel better. Knowing we will be home in Cabbagetown this summer also helps. But I think, in addition, meeting people here has eased the longings for home. We now have a stack of boat cards with contact info for most of the people we have met. We might not see them all again or really even click with everyone of them, but the possibility of building a new community and creating new bonds increases with every person we encounter. It is always hard in the beginning. I left my first Christmas Crawl in Cabbagetown in tears because I felt so alone, but it wasn’t long after that we started meeting people and creating our own niche.
The last four months have not been what I dreamed they would be. Before we left everyone said that we were “living the life.” I am not sure about “the” life, but we are living “a” life with ups and downs just like everyone else. It is a life where we keep learning things the hard way, but also a life where the rewards are immeasurable. As move forward through uncertainties towards unknown shores we are writing a life of our own making. We are “living our life.”