Monday, February 16, 2015

Guests on Board

Eleuthera and the Exumas
February 1 - 14

By guest bloggers Loren and Clairice Garborg, Keith’s parents, February 1-7:
The Bahamas! It’s like homecoming for us. Yes, Nassau has changed since we lived there in the early 70’s--more traffic, more development (several beaches that we had free access to are now lined with private homes and resorts), and The Christian Book Shop has closed—the Internet’s to blame, according to our taxi driver.

The Out Islands, however, seem to enjoy pretty much the same relaxed, laid-back lifestyle. Our contacts with the genuinely warm and welcoming Bahamian people made us feel like old friends, even though we were meeting for the first time.
Loren and Clairice on Harbour Island
Our first week aboard Pelican with Keith and Joanie was spent cruising the length of Eleuthera, a narrow, 110-mile-long island in the eastern Bahamas. It is populated with descendants of the Eleutheran Adventurers, religious refugees who fled from England and Bermuda in the late 1640s seeking religious freedom, and by British Loyalists who fled the Carolinas with their slaves during the Revolutionary War. Full emancipation was granted the slaves in 1834. The Adventurers gave the island its name, which is derived from the Greek word meaning “freedom.” Eleuthera remains well-churched, with predominantly Wesleyan Methodist and Anglican churches.
Anglican church at Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera
Wesleyan Methodist Church at Governor's Harbour
How to describe our week? Hmmm.
• Let’s start with water of impossibly beautiful shades of green and blue, and with crystal-like clarity.
Warm breezes. Cool moonlit nights. Cold Kalik (ka-LICK). Hot Junkanoo music. Sweet Goombay Punch. Bright sun. Tropical showers and vivid rainbows.
Storm cloud at Cape Eleuthera
Rainbow in Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park
• Fishing (trolling) while underway.
Cero Mackerel, a nice catch
• Savory food—stone crab claws, lobster, hogfish, mahi-mahi, whelk salad, conch fritters, conch chowder, jerk conch, cracked conch and conch salad—all fresh from Bahamian waters. Did we mention that we ate conch?
Conch fritters and Kalik
Colossal stone crab claws
• Comfortable accommodations in the v-berth. One of my favorite brothers showing up at the end of the week.
• Barefoot walks on miles of deserted beaches carpeted with fine sand in many shades of pink and cream. Two of the most beautiful beaches are at the far southern tip of the island of Eleuthera—on the west side, the Exuma Sound and on the east, the Atlantic Ocean. They can both be viewed from the hill where the remains stand of a small lighthouse.
Keith and Joanie at Crescent Bay Beach, Eleuthera
Lighthouse Beach East, Eleuthera

Lighthouse Beach West, Eleuthera (both pictures taken from the same vantage point)
• Finally, the joy of gliding over the waves under sail. It’s always a wonderful moment when the sails are unfurled, when the auxiliary diesel is shut down and gives way to the sounds of the wind and water, when the boat heels over gently as the sails fill. We had some of that kind of sailing, but also an exhilarating ride under full sail across the 5,000-foot-deep Exuma Sound in 20 knots of wind, gusting to 30, and quartering five-foot waves at an average speed of eight knots.
Sailing between Eleuthera and the Exumas
All of this with two of the people we love the most! Thanks, Keith and Joanie, for a wonderful and memorable time. Happy sailing for the rest of the winter!
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—the Lord, who remains faithful forever.
Psalm 146:5, 6 NIV

From guest blogger Rolf Garborg, Keith’s uncle, February 7-14:
What a week! I have been looking forward to this week on Keith and Joanie’s boat since early May, 2002. Here’s why. I was a passenger on the inaugural voyage that Keith and Loren made after picking up their Jeanneau sailboat in the Detroit area. The plan was to ride with them back to Bayfield, Wisconsin. The weather was mid 30s and there was a fierce rain storm with gale force winds from the north. When we entered Lake Huron we encountered 8-10 foot swells. I had nothing to do but try to survive. Suffice it to say I fully understand the value and use of the “head” on their boat. After 24 hours of misery I felt like Jonah and was “cast out” of the boat in Alpena, Michigan. I caught a taxi to town and after two bus rides to Detroit and two flights to Minneapolis, I was happy to be back home.

I knew sailing had to be better than that. This week, nearly 13 years later, I discovered just how great it can be.

I arrived at Rock Sound, Eleuthera, and was greeted by Keith and Loren at the airport. After a brief stop for provisions and another to pick up a local who was walking home, we arrived at Pelican and met Joanie and Clairice, and the fun began. Pelican was tied up at Cape Eleuthera Marina. At 9:00 the next morning, we said goodbye to the Internet and sailed for four hours across open seas before arriving at Hawksbill Cay in the Exumas, where we anchored in a protected bay. For the next six days we sailed south through the Exumas, a chain of islands that run for about 100 miles through the middle of the Bahamas. Spectacular!!!

Keith on the beach at Hawksbill Cay
We have walked unspoiled deserted beaches, hiked trails to ruins from 250 years ago, explored “Pirate’s Lair,” where real pirates hung out between raids, saw the skeleton of a 52-foot sperm whale, and even revisited the place where Joanie crushed her thumb last year. That whole story still amazes me.

Rolf and the whale skeleton

We didn’t actually swim with the sharks but watched others do it. We did, however, get in the water at Big Majors Spot with the only “swimming pigs” in the world...that we know of. Now that’s something you don’t see every day! Keith even became “The Pig Whisperer.” No, really, he did. Check out the picture.
Swimming with nurse sharks at Compass Cay

The swimming pigs at Big Majors Spot

The Pig Whisperer
A piglet cannot live by bread alone

When we got to Compass Cay we indulged ourselves with huge, juicy hamburgers before we took a hike to the beach. Along the way there was a sign that said “Planetarium,” and we had to check it out. Here’s a picture of the planetarium. Pretty funny.
"Dave's Planetarium"

Mostly we hung out on the boat, reading, eating, playing games, and of course...sailing. We also dinghied lots of places in the small rubber boat that they tow behind Pelican. A sign inside the dinghy says, “4 people.660 pounds.” Well, we stretched those limits and know that it can handle 5 people and about 800 pounds just fine.
Over the limit
We were near some pretty impressive homes along the way. Johnny Depp has a big place here. Rumor has it that a cruiser stopped and knocked at his door and the next day that cruiser was kicked out of the Bahamas. We didn’t do that. We saw a small private island with three big windmills on it. There is a private home there that houses up to 30 guests and rents out for just $250,000 a day.

Maybe they purposely saved the best till last, but our final day was special. We motored to Staniel Cay the night before and in the morning, with a slack tide, snorkeled into Thunderball Grotto. It is a huge cave with a few holes in the top that let light in. To get in you have to go either at low tide or dive under the coral at high tide. Inside the cave it is magical. It is where part of the James Bond movie, “Thunderball,” was filmed.
Thunderball Grotto

I am so very grateful to Keith and Joanie for this week. What a great experience. Now it is back to Florida to be with my wife, Sweet Mary.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! I especially loved the photos that included Clairice and Loren, dear friends of mine. What a lovely experience you are having.