Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Shock to the System

During the nearly four weeks we spent cruising the Exumas between Nassau and Georgetown, the largest village we saw was Black Point, which had a population of 230 as of the 2010 census. Georgetown, "the big city" in the Exumas, has a population of 1437. So it was a bit of a shock to the system to fly back to the U.S. and drive in the Atlanta metro (pop 5.7 million) during rush hour, then fly a four day trip with long layovers in New York City (pop 8.5 million in city limits) and Los Angeles (12.8 million in metro area). Those three cities alone have roughly 72x the population of the entire Bahamas! The good news is that I got my FAA medical taken care of on Friday, and the captain I was flying with was quite generous and let me make all three landings, so my landing currency is reset. Otherwise I would have had to go back to work before May 6th, right around the time we'll be crossing back to the States.

While I was gone it blew pretty hard for several days, but straight out of the Northeast. Windbird was quite protected on her mooring in Gaviota Bay, and Dawn had no trouble ferrying Piper to shore. They got quite a bit of hiking in on Stocking Island and visited with friends while I was gone. Dawn also stripped and sanded several pieces that need revarnishing: our cockpit table, the engine control cover, and the teak trim ring around our compass.

I finished my trip at 6am yesterday (I flew the redeye from LAX) and had several hours to kill before my flight to Georgetown. By pure coincidence, my friends Duncan and Katie and their two boys had just arrived on the redeye from Portland and were waiting for their connecting flight to St. Thomas, where they were taking the ferry to Tortola to begin a bareboat charter. Duncan owns a 51' Jeanneau that is in charter service with The Moorings; I've chartered boats in the BVI and elsewhere using his points several times over the last few years. I normally go to the "Interline Regatta" in the BVI with Duncan & Katie every October, but skipped this last year since Dawn & I were at the Annapolis Boat Show, so it was good to see them. We plan to have them aboard Windbird this summer or fall, and we hope to have Windbird at the 2018 Interline Regatta.

I landed in Georgetown just before 1pm and was surprised to see Bret and Theresa from Elusive when I walked out of customs. They were meeting their daughter who was arriving on the American flight that landed just after mine. We shared a taxi downtown, and I met Dawn next to the Exuma Market. We reprovisioned right away, we filled our jerry cans with water at the dinghy dock, then dinghied across to Windbird. Piper was very happy to see me! We went across to the Chat N Chill and had a late lunch of conch salad and a shared hamburger, then headed back to Windbird and moved the boat off of the mooring and anchored further north, right in between Monument Beach and Honeymoon Beach. It's a nice spot but quite deep; I dove on the anchor as the sun was setting and it took me a few tries to find it in the dark, silty (stirred-up) water.

We have a rather long list of deferred boat maintenance (mostly cosmetic stuff) that we'll be working on this week. Today Dawn continued with her sanding/varnishing project, while I borrowed a Loos Meter and retensioned our rigging, worked on the watermaker, and cleaned up some SSB connections. After lunch we took a break to return the Loos meter to its owner and run across to town to see if the fresh produce had come in yet (it hadn't), get more water, and buy a hawaiian sling and spear at the Top-To-Bottom store. Tonight both Dawn and I took the paddleboard out; I stopped and visited with several boats we know that just came in yesterday. Boat work continues tomorrow but hopefully we'll find some time to run over to Sand Dollar Beach for snorkeling (and spear-fishing!) on the offlying reef.

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