Let’s just start with We Love the Bahamas. Maybe it’s because we ventured here so many times on Wings, our beloved Westsail 32, back in our twenties. Maybe because we meet so many peers out here. Maybe it’s the easy going lifestyle. How can you explain when you love a place? I guess it just feels like home. Maine will always be home, but the Bahamas is our second home.
Four flights after leaving Boston, we arrived in Georgetown and took Elvis’ water taxi to Alembic.
My presumption of finding a boat full of mold and bugs was quickly cast aside when we came below to the scent of …. nothing. Those of you who have spent time aboard Alembic will know that I’m a bit neurotic about bugs. When I find one teeny tiny crawly thing, I tear the boat apart, scrubbing every surface, and repackaging all food. If you know of a good Bug Haters Anonymous meeting, let me know.
Why do I always forget to take pictures of good friends? I guess I’m too busy enjoying their company to think of it until it’s too late. Dinner aboard the Hallberg-Rassy Balance with friends Staffan and Kicki and another visit on Echo with Jeff and Mary were two such events that I wish I had captured with photos. Cruising is challenging, socially, because we repeatedly meet wonderful people whom we have to keep parting with. Luckily, as our itineraries continue to move us in meandering paths, we often meet up again. So we never say Goodbye.
Staffan took this picture of us just after we used the boat hook to pass them a book as we departed Georgetown. Nothing like a near collision at dawn with all of us looking a bit sleepy. Speaking of sleepy, our trip to the Cayman Islands was five days of sleepiness. With not enough wind to push us along, the diesel engine earned its keep. An unusual passage, with no spray flying over the rails, Bill brought out his computer and telecommuted. What a brave new world we live in where we can sail through the Caribbean while remaining connected to our careers.
This could have been a lovely time for Bill and I to just sit back and enjoy each other while Alembic crawled for five days around Cuba, but other plans were in the making. Bill had burned his mouth at the airport on a hot potato (no, I’m not joking) and this burn developed into a full blown miserable mess. Barely able to eat, he conversed via our inReach with my brother, Dr. Paul, and our med school daughter, Lindsay, to figure out how to cope. Message to all: test your potatoes before you toss them back into your delicate throat.
One of these days we will visit Cuba. Kenny and Jenna were about to arrive in Grand Cayman, so we admired the spectacular mountains while only about 10 miles off the coast for 200 miles. The coastline fell away from our route at that point, and the remaining 600 miles of Cuban southern coast disappeared from view.
Good ole Chris Parker, our weatherman, nailed it again. He said “get in by Wednesday at noon; a strong northwesterly will make further travel perilous”. Our boring five days sure didn’t feel like anything was brewing, but we still motored along quickly enough to heed his warning. We arrived at dawn Wednesday, cleared customs by ten, and headed for shelter as those winds kicked in. The massive cruise ships which had arrived with us that morning struggled to get their guests aboard that afternoon. One ship, Monarch, had to move to three different locations to manage to board everyone safely and head away from the dangers of a rough coastline.
While the west coast of Grand Cayman began to get battered by the huge waves, Alembic rested quietly in the North Sound. I wouldn’t recommend coming here if you draw more than 7 feet; you would struggle to get into the safe harbor. Luckily, with only 5 feet below the waterline, we were able to drop our anchor in many tranquil spots and fully enjoy this unique island.
Such a bizarre combination of humanity intermingles here. Banking is the main industry, and it shows, with the many fancy hotels and well dressed polite people. Weaving around this fanciness, you find glamorous homes in tranquil canals, fishermen selling their catch, chickens everywhere, cruise ships disgorging thousands of people each day, and endless young people from all over the world finding work in the resorts, shops, banks, and restaurants. Undefinable in their diversity, Grand Cayman has something for everyone.