I'm feeling really sad that our time in the Exumas is coming to an end. This is a very special place. It's so remote and quiet and the water is so gorgeous. Even though the photos are beautiful, I don't think they capture the beauty and serenity completely. There's a sense of community. I think that most boaters here appreciate how unspoiled it is, and respect the parks effort to maintain the area as a national treasure. The Bahamians are so nice. Among the cruisers, whether staying for weeks or months, by sailboat, trawler or fast boat, you feel a comradery with others who are living the same lifestyle. You have a lot in common even if you're strangers - we all have generators, engines and plumbing systems that break down, shark and snorkeling stories, advice on a beautiful anchorage to try out, and where you can do laundry. It's interesting to hear how people have come to be living on a boat, full time or part time, and what their experiences have been. I had been worried that there would be little to do and that I might get bored. Well that hasn't been a problem! There's so much to do, most of it play (and repairs and cleaning) but mostly play. We've hiked, biked, swam, snorkeled and explored by dinghy. We have met some absolutely wonderful people and enjoyed happy hours, bonfires and dinners. I've read over 12 books and have quilted a several blocks... We've had far more access to the internet than I had anticipated.
Living out here, even for just 6 weeks, can change some of your perspectives. I've come to be thrilled by a store half the size of a 7/11 - but stocked with tomatoes, carrots, eggs and yes, ice cream! The air conditioning on at 77 degrees now feels really cold. Sharks are as awe-inspiring as they are scary looking in real life :) I like raw conch, snail, whatever. Salt water doesn't feel all that sticky and gross. It doesn't seem at all strange to get up at 7:30 so you can hear a weather report on the radio. Dogs on boats are really cool and make the boat a home. TV is completely unnecessary, however, DVDs rock. And finally, daily life doesn't have to be frantic for you to feel "productive" and sleep like a log at night.
And we have learned so much. We anchor without fear of dragging, I'm quite good at plucking a mooring ball loop out of the water with a boat pole, Martin can sneak Lucky into a tight marina slip sideways without anxiety and I've pretty much figured out how to deal with the lines to tie down at a fixed dock. We both use the radio liberally now (and I even remember to switch off "16", the working channel). Martin has learned a ton about many of systems on the boat (reappraisal there - things break down but you learn so much from these experiences!) My talent of waking up instantly if I hear strange sounds (ie George puking) works with water drops hitting the boat. Martin and I can close all eight hatches, drop the bimini, pick up the rugs and pull in the snorkel gear in under 5 minutes, at 4am no less! I don't get an upset stomach when the engines turn on, now I get excited to see the next place. And when we go slow and get beamed with waves and roll, I kind of enjoy the motion instead of getting terrified. At least 4 foot chop doesn't scare me any more and I've learned that other boaters don't like 8 foot seas any more than we do. Oh, and I've learned how to make awesome deviled eggs (it's my specialty now, which I bring to all potlucks and dinners!
We had planned on 6 weeks here and then 6 in the Abacos (more or less). It has been 6 weeks and it's time to say good-bye. Poor Lucky is limping and we need to start our way back to Ft. Lauderdale. Hopefully we'll be able to return to visit the Abacos in July or in the fall. I'm happy that we don't have to shoot straight back - I'm looking forward to seeing Meliza and staying at Atlantis on our way!