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Back to December 2001

Our Sailing Vacation with Swabby Nick

After being firmly planted in George Town for three weeks we welcomed Swabby Nick, who arrived from the frigid north with sailing on his mind.

Sunday January 6th • George Town
Nick arrived at Exuma Markets at the same time all guests arrive at Exuma Markets. 2:00ish in the afternoon. He was remarkably overdressed for the climate so we felt it prudent to rush him to the nearest convenient bathroom to change. This would of course be the head at the Two Turtles Inn and Restaurant. Roger and I settled ourselves to wait on the most convenient chairs available, which happened to be two barstools in the shade of the overhang at the outdoor bar. Nick reappeared looking much more comfortable and quickly ordered a rum drink to quench his thirst.

So began our fine sailing vacation with Swabby Nick.

Monday January 7th • George Town
A variety of destinations were tossed around for our trip. Our original thought was that the Jumentos might be the place to go. After much reading and discussion this plan was set aside as being too much to tackle in the limited amount of time Nick had available. Instead a combination of Long Island and Conception Island was agreed upon as a do-able alternative.

"It's too windy, so we provision and kill the day plotting for Tuesday's departure." Nassau Royale is purchased for general consumption. Roger tightens the engine alternator bracket and bolts, etc., and Nick explores Skip's Beach and path and the ocean-side beach.

Tuesday January 8th • Calabash Bay, Long Island

We depart George Town via the North Channel Rocks Cut and head for the north end of Long Island with the intention of hiding in Joe's Sound to get out of the northwest wind. The day starts out breezy and ends up windy. 25-30, NW. Nick is more than a bit green. We arrive at Joe's Sound at mid-day. This is earlier than expected probably due to the fact that we were making 7-8 knots for almost the whole 18-mile trip. We couldn't attempt the cut till high tide, which was at 3:00 p.m. so we anchored a half a mile north in Calabash Bay to wait. At 3:00 we approached the entrance to the Sound to within 20 yards. It would have been insane to attempt this entrance with any variation of a west wind. Large breakers were crashing over the 18ft. wide, s-curve cut. We would have been creamed in short order. Poor Nick could see the calm water beyond the entrance. So close but yet so far... We turned northward and anchored in Calabash Bay where we spent the night hobby horsing wildly.

We depart for Joe's Sound. Winds from the northwest and 25-30. Double reefed main. All is good until the head calls. Ugh! Seasickness follows. We go to Calabash Bay to wait for high tide, then go down to the Entrance to Joe's Sound. It's beautiful, but alas, not to be. Roger exclaims "NO WAY" and Miss Amy says "This boat is our home!!" Nix Joe's Sound. We anchor for the night in Calabash Bay, hobby-horsing all night. I'm prostrate. Roger empties the barf bucket.

Wednesday January 9th • Thompson's Bay, Long Island

We gratefully depart Calabash Bay and head south towards Thompson's Bay. The winds are light and we sail almost downwind with the drifter. We arrive at our destination by mid-afternoon. It is beautifully protected and we experience no perceptible motion. Swabby Nick is on the mend.

Thursday January 10th • Thompson's Bay, Long Island
We have Roger's pancakes, breakfast & lunch combined. Excellent! We walk to town (Salt Pond). 3 miles one way. Stunning beach on ocean side. We all swim. Perfect water temperature. We see the Regatta winner, "Running Tide" on its trailer. Big stick. Nick gets blister on way back. Finds band aid and RELIEF.

Over dinner and rum drinks Roger advocates Jumentos. Amy politely queries "Why?" Nay Nay. We agree to forget it. We'll go back to Joe's on Friday and then on to Conception, home of the turtles, on Saturday. Great swim off of boat. A perfect day.

Friday January 11th • Calabash Bay, Long Island

We had a great sail back north toward Calabash Bay in light east winds. We anchored just outside the entrance to Joe's Sound, deployed the dinghy and our strategically marked boat hook (for soundings) and headed for the breach. There was a bit more water than we expected in some places and in other places, a bit less. The path that you needed to follow however, was a bit more convoluted than we were willing to deal with in our long legged boat so, once again we decided against Joe's sound. We did take the opportunity to head into the sound for a gander though. It was very neat looking inside, with a ring of deep, dark water surrounding an area of white sand which dries at low.

Much to Nick's dismay it was another night in Calabash Bay. Although a bit rolly, it was nowhere as bad as Tuesday night.

Saturday January 12th • Conception Island
The wind for our 14-mile trip to Conception was not ideal. E-NE winds, 10-15 knots, but unfortunately Conception was northeast of Calabash Bay. Because of the short distance involved we decided we could put up with the tacking as long as the seas weren't too bad. They weren't.

We arrived at Conception at around 2:00p.m. and found only one other boat at anchor in West Bay. The color of the water and the beauty of the island mesmerized the three of us. The water was so clear that we could identify the small fish under the boat using our little fish guide. It was like floating in a swimming pool full of pure white sand.

We took the dinghy to an islet at the north end of the Bay and went for a snorkel. The coral was beautiful and the fish amazing. Because Conception is a Land Park you cannot pick up shells from the beach. Because of this there was an incredible array of shells, which you don't often see. By the time the sun was setting five more boats had joined us. Seven boats is blissfully fewer than the 280 we had left in George Town.

Sunday January 13th • Conception Island
Another day in paradise. We began the day with a few chores. I dove to retrieve Roger's fishing rod, which had fallen into the brine the previous evening. This was not a particularly noisome task. The water is so clear you could find a pin on the bottom. Following this I greased the snaps on the dodger and the bimini. It was an arduous task but life in paradise is no walk in the park. The guys, meanwhile, hovered around the furling system trying to figure out why it's so hard to furl. The solution would appear to be the addition of a bail for the jib halyard to reduce drag. This is something you must do when the mast is down so it won't get fixed anytime soon.

After lunch we headed out to snorkel again. This time we went out a bit further to a larger reef. On our way out we saw a small shark lolling in the shallows but we were brave and pressed on. Once again the snorkeling was spectacular. Roger and I actually had the good fortune of swimming with a shark on this outing. We were bobbing together over the reef when Roger started to pull insistently on my swim fin. At first I thought he was pointing out a somewhat common but nonetheless lovely parrotfish. "That's neat hon", I smiled. When he continued yanking on my foot and making odd noises I looked into the distance and there it was, a novice snorkeler's greatest fear. JAWS!!! You know and I know that he knew that we were there, but he was swimming quite leisurely in the other direction. I did manage to stay in the water, but I kept one eye focused in his direction even though he was long gone.

After our snorkel we went for a walk to the northeast side of the island. There was a beautiful beach and a rock to climb to get a better view of the coral reefs offshore. It's not a spot where you want to have poor navigation skills

The only blot on our nifty day was the breaking of the head. Happily, it was an ill completely unrelated to this summer's holding tank horror show. "Le Bucket" with whom only Nick was intimately familiar, now became a friend to all.

Monday January 14th • George Town
We left Conception today to head home. Nick's plane is on Wednesday and we want to be sure he gets there. The wind was SE 15-20, which allowed us a great broad reach home with the drifter flying. A fine time was had by all as we covered the last 45 miles of our little journey.

Tuesday January 15th • George Town
Nick spent his last day exploring George Town's finer vistas while the home team wrestled with the icky head project. The parts necessary to implement a solution are arriving by Reggie Air on Thursday. Whew!! We chatted briefly with Jay and Judy who are visiting Eleanor M. Jay owns the boatyard where we usually keep our boat(s) in the winter. These are folks who are truly enjoying their vacation. By all accounts they haven't spent a minute out of the water since their arrival five days ago. We even caught sight of Jay simultaneously reading a book and sitting down. Shocking!

Wednesday January 16th • George Town
Departure Day for our Consulting Swabby. While Roger filled out parts paperwork at the Reggie Air Office (read: Exuma Dive Center), Nick and I cooled our heels at the Peace & Plenty Bar overlooking Elizabeth Harbor. One final rum drink before heading back to winter.

It was great to have him here and to discover new places. He will be sorely missed...except in heavy seas.

Postscript from our beloved Swabby:
To: Great Notions
From: Nick

Well, I'm back at the office. It's snowing outside. I'm reflecting on Salt Pond and that oceanside beach, Conception, good downwind sailing and a wonderful time.

As soon as you finish drinking the Nassau Royale, eating up the second bag of chips, the leftover dip, the cookies and whatever other bad things I am responsible for, you can resume your formerly model daily routine, and all slovenliness will cease!

To February 2002

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