23 April, 2016
I promised a few words about The Island School. Here goes. The Island school was founded around 20 years ago, on land donated by the DeVos family (see Amway Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan). Its’ mission is to teach kids to be good stewards of the environment, and good citizens in general. Curriculum subjects include earth sciences, marine biology, renewable energy, and etc. The facility generates all their needed power (via wind, solar & biodiesel) and place excess into the Bahamas electric grid. The school has 2 terms of 100 days each, with 50 High School students (mostly sophomores and juniors) living in. These students are mostly from the States. Tuition is $30K/ term. The 70-odd staffs talents run the gamut from teaching to the operation of the schools hydroponic farm, solar and wind generating system, carpentry shop, and daycare center. In addition to the live-in students, the School hosts camps and field trips for local kids, these being nearly free of charge. Immediately adjacent to the School, is the Ocean Institute, where current research includes the restoration of the conch population in the Bahamas, as well as the problems that have been created by the introduction of the invasive Lionfish into these waters. The school pays local fisherman for their Lionfish and subsequently serves them for dinner. After our 2-hour tour, we had barely scratched the surface-check out their website. www.islandschool.org
April 21rst, and it was time to say “goodbye” to Davis Harbour. What a great little marina-Friendly people, good shelter from all winds, and FAST internet. Since we had visited Rock Sound and Government Harbours on our road trip, Hatchet Bay would be our stop today. We had a pleasant, albeit wavy and windy trip under partly cloudy skies. Along the way, we were entertained by a pod of around 10 Dolphins, one of which was a small youngster. The Girl got a nice saltwater bath, and was pretty crusty by the time we got to the opening of the harbor. The harbor is entered through a 90’ wide channel cut through a rocky cliff, which was a bit of a challenge with the 24 knot crosswind/sea. Once inside, the water was quite calm, but still quite windy. We had a heck of a time getting tied to the very poorly maintained mooring ball. After a few tries, we finally got a line on, which promptly wound itself into knots. Recalling our friend, Ann’s travails with a recalcitrant mooring over a year ago, in which she very nearly lost her leg, requiring medevac, multiple surgeries, and months of rehab, I cut the line loose and left it on the ball. As we motored to the other end of the bay to drop our anchor, we got a call from another boater on the VHF, asking if we needed help. He motored over to the ball, and after nearly 15 minutes, managed to get our hopelessly knotted line free. We returned, and got hooked up, then started sharing stories. It seems that he saw our hailing port, Charlevoix, MI, and had lived there while he ran a sailmaking shop. He had a home on Oyster Bay. We have several friends there, so we had mutual acquaintances. Now, here’s the crazy part. Suzanne told him that 20 or so years ago, before we built our present house, we had looked to buy a house on Oyster that had a blue metal roof. He says “That was my house!” Next, Suz says “Is your last name Gleason?” I thought he was going to drop dead-I don’t know how she remembers this stuff, we only looked at the house once. We took down the tender to run in to shore, explore, and pay for the mooring. The motor ran sluggishly for a few minutes, then died, reeking of gasoline. After hauling “White Star” back up, and pulling the engine cowling, we found that the gas was coming out of a weep hole in the fuel pump reservoir. What? Pulled the pump, emptied the fuel, and took apart the pressure regulator-bad “O” ring. Into the trusty thousand ring kit. New “O” ring, and we were good to go. To shore, for a quick explore and pay the rent on the mooring. Nobody home at the Front Porch Restaurant (mooring owner), so we stuck a twenty under the welcome mat, and called it good. Nothing special in Alicetown and Hatchet Bay, except for the arrival of the ferry, which brought the whole town out to the dock. We headed back to the Girl. The Gleasons joined us that evening for sips, and we shared chats about mutual friends, and the lake in general.
We delayed our departure until 08h30, so that we would hit Current Cut, on the north end of Eleuthera at slack tide on our trip to Spanish Wells. It was cloudy and overcast, but the wind and seas were on our stern, so it was a comfortable passage. The current was still running at 4 knots as we went through the cut, and we thought about breaking out the water skis as the Girl shot through at a blistering 10.2 knots. The marina at Spanish Wells Yacht Haven was in the final stages of renovation. The docks were brand new, the swimming pool had just been completed, and some little bungalows were getting their finishing touches. Translation-we won’t be able to afford this place next year. We walked the length of Spanish Wells Island(St Georges Cay), and were surprised by the level of cleanliness in general, and the tidy appearance of the houses in particular. Spanish Wells was first colonized in the early 1630’s by the Eleutherian Adventurers (see Puritans seeking religious freedom). In fact, the word Eleuthera has its’ roots in the Greek word for “freedom.” Spanish Wells is also the home of the Bahamas fishing fleet. SW provides the majority of the Bahamian lobster for the Bahamas. Back at home, the brand-new tiki bar at the marina was rockin’ that night, but we just chilled on the boat. We had a big day planned for the 23rd, taking the ferry over to Harbour Island, the first seat of government in the Bahamas colony, and exploring for the day. The island aka Briland(for the many Briland roosters that wander) was shaped by Loyalist Governor of Virginia, the honorable John Murray(1786-1797). He fled to the Bahamas after being awarded the title of Lord Dunmore, Governor of the Bahamas.
Gotta tell you a quick story, ‘cause it’s still bugging me. We went into the 8’x8’ ferry office to buy our tickets, and there was an old guy sitting there, apparently just hangin’ around. As we talked to the nice lady about the ferry, he heard that we were Americans, and wanted to start preaching politics. He informed us that he was British, but had lived in the Bahamas for sixty years. Well……he informed us that most of the English really didn’t care for Americans, and thought that we should butt out of their internal affairs (the U.K. is currently thinking about leaving the E.U.). I’m a tolerant guy, so I let him go on, but when he finally hit a nerve, and our tickets had been purchased, I told him that our experience with the French and English was just the opposite. Most of the folks in his generation that had any common sense were extremely grateful to the U.S. for bailing their asses out of two World Wars, and that if it hadn’t been for us, he would be speaking German now. (Door nearly breaks off its’ hinges as Tucks exit stage left). When we returned that evening, I apologized to the ferry lady for slamming her door. She said, “Let me tell you something. He came to the Bahamas in 1942, married a Bahamian woman, and has been here ever since”. Hmmmmh, can you say “draft dodger”?
Our excursion to Harbour Island was a delight. As the ferry threaded its’ way through “The Devil’s Backbone”, amongst the numerous shallow coral heads, we plotted the course on the IPad, so we could duplicate it when we left for Great Abaco. We walked the streets of town, checking out the old buildings, then headed to the pink sand beach, where we bar-hopped for snacks and sips. Back to Spanish, we hot-footed it up to Food Fair so that we could provision some fresh produce before they closed at 17h00. Returning to the boat, we found that Gary and his wife Charlene were our new neighbors. They were having some electrical problems, so I gave him a hand. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get him fixed, but did get the problem diagnosed so that he could order the necessary parts. Well……Suzanne busted the mold for my Birthday dinner this year. No spaghetti and meatballs. She surprised me with a favorite that we hadn’t had since our last trip to Italy-Vitello D’ Tonnato. OMG! The diet really took a hit as we washed down the creamy goodness and pasta with green peas with a great bottle of white. Every now and then, I forget how lucky I am that she still puts up with me after nearly 38 years.
Okay, see ya’
Crappy internet, so I'll add pics later