Bahamian National Police Marching Band!!

The night before weighing anchor to Nassau, we went ashore for the Georgetown x-mass tree lighting ceremonies. The highlight of the evening was the Bahamas National Police Force Marching Band. Made me want to pick up the glocenspeil and start hammering away on the keys again!! They were terrific! Also great were some of the young Bahamian youth dancers. Made me remember the times when I chaperoned the Kanopy Youth ensemble to Wales with Kristi. Much of the local population of Great Exuma Island turned out for this auspicious occasion. Topped the evening off by trying some of the local chicken soup, otherwise known as Sousa. Delicious!!! Unfortunately, was a very wet dingy ride back across Elizabeth Harbor to Bel Ami. Oh well, thats whats its all about!

Georgetown to Staniel Cay

The time has finally come to depart Georgetown Bahamas to head to Nassau to meet friends and family for x-mass and New Years. The morning of our departure I checked the main engine coolant, which seemed to be overly filled and brackish colored. Hadn’t flushed the cooling system in forever, so it was time to flush and refill. That brought us back into town for a trip to get the coolant, where we had to hitchhike in the back of a picktruck to get to the store. Back to the boat, I finished the job, and then Casey and Stephanie sailed by on their way down island. We set sailed by mid afternoon, and overnighted at Black Cay. Had a fabulous dinner of steaks and potatoe pancakes, ymmmmmm. Then sailed the next day to Staniel Cay. Went to the SC marina last nite, and the dingy area was filled with friendly sharks and sting rays. Bad weather has been expected, so we are now holed up in the Thunderball Cove on a very secure mooring ball to wait out the weather. It is starting to blow pretty hard, but still very sunny skies. Very Happy to be here!! In the process this morning of baking some French bread. My rye bread attempt came out like a brick! Oh well…

Claudia from Romania!

On Monday, Dec 7 I was joined by crewmember Claudia who hails from Vancouver (by way of Ireland/Guam/Japan/Romania). Claudia is a consummate sailor with an incredible passion for living a life on the oceans of the world. She was enthralled by finding a couple conch shells on the beach, as the photo shows. Later in the week friend Bob Cronin had a “party from India” for a few friends (see previous blog). The food was fabulous as was the entertainment: 4 beautiful belly dancers. The ladies had practiced their routine for about a month prior to the party, and led by Louisa, they put on quite a show. Not to be outdone, the men then quickly organized their own belly dance of sorts, the results of which Michele went all out!! (or just about all undressed!!) A wonderful time was had by all. Crewmember Claudia has become a wonderful friend and companion and will remain onboard through the Christmas and New Years season, after which she will be making further passages on the oceans of her life. She came up with the great idea of throwing an open boat party for my birthday tomorrow (Monday, Dec 14—I turn 59!!), and we spent the better part of the day creating invites and distributing them by dingy to all the cruising boats in the harbor. I get to play accordion to my hearts content! Afterwards, we will be weighing anchor, and will sail from Georgetown bound to Nassau for their great x-mass Junkanoo celebration.

Bob's India Party

Has been a most interesting week. Friend Claudia (from Romania by way of Ireland, Japan, and Victoria BC) came aboard as crew, and will be sailing on Bel Ami for the next month or so. We were invited to a great party the other nite, and as you can see for yourself in the pictures below, a good time was had by all. Several of the guys decided for an impromptu response to the ladies belly dancing. As you can imagine, the guys won the show!!

Sam and Diane's Wedding

The highlight of my trip to St. Thomas was Sam and Diane's wedding. They were married by Rick the Pirate. When they got to the part of the wedding ceremony where Rick the pirate asked if anyone objected to this marriage, Rick quickly pulled out his Blunderbuss pistol and threated to shoot anyone who spoke up! Also included in the pictures below is a big Wahoo that was caught by a local fellow. He keeps his boat in front of Sam and Diane's diveshop. I guess the fish reminded me a little of Sam, now that he has been hook, line and sinkered!!

Meeting up with St. Thomas friends

Gayle, Sarah and Joe picked me up at the airport, and we drove into town and had dinner at Betsey'. Met Larry and Brie and their newborn Jack, who is going to be a great sailor like his Dad and grand-dad. Nice picture of Jollymon at the mooring near the cruise ship dock.

Staying on the Jonny Boat

While in St. Thomas working and attending Sam and Diane's wedding, my good buddy Gerard graciously opened his home to me. His home is in the Mangroves of the Lagoon, not far from where I used to keep the Bel Ami. His faithful companion, Mary Ann, is a large poodle who I got to be friends with. Not to mention Gerard's cat, who I fed from time to time. Being in the Mangroves was quite an experience, what with all the no-see-ums, misquitos and palmetto bugs (GIANT roaches). But, alas, I adapted, and a good time was had by all.

Back to Wisconsin, BRRRRRRR!

Back to Wisconsin for work the last week of October, and it was COLD!! BRRRRRR!! Below are some pictures of what the weather was doing when I got to my car on a Friday afternoon in Eau Claire. Driving back to Madison that day was like being in a Blizzard! Give me the tropics, PLEASE!!

Endings and Beginnings

My Mom died the other day. Doing what she loved to do, shopping! And with her passing goes a woman with incredible spirit, love and affection. We will all miss her, especially her cooking. 83 years young, Mom never knew how to stop going. Despite lots of pain and discomforts as she got older, she persevered and always got the job done. Her most recent accomplishment: Senior Volunteer of the Year Award near her summer home in the Catskills. Mom, I miss you very, very much. We all do.

Conception Island, Bahamas

This past week Gayle and I sailed from Georgetown to Conception Island. Conception Island is a remote place about a days sail from Georgetown. It is a Bahamas national park, and therefore relatively pristine. As you will see from the pictures below, there were plenty of "groceries" to be had, including a 20 pound Nassau Grouper that was the biggest fish we have speared on the trip. The freezer on the boat is packed with fish we have shot, and we are enjoying it immensely. We are now back in Georgetown hunkered down for some windy weather, and keeping a careful eye out for storms.

Change of Plans

They say the only thing you can count on is change. Well, we have had a change of plans. We've enjoyed the Bahamas so much that we have decided not to sail up to New England this summer, but rather stay in the Bahamas. As I write this I am in New York visiting my family, and Gayle is in Massachusetts attending her family reunion. We decided to fly up rather than sail up. Bel Ami is tucked in nicely in a hurricane hole on a mooring in Georgetown. We spend our days sailing and exploring. There is so much to see and do: swimming, diving, spearfishing, conch gathering, hiking, playing with the dolphins, swimming with pigs (yes!), scrabble, watching movies. Gayle's friend Mike, who has lived in the Bahamas on his sailboat Silent Flight for years, has been serving as a wonderful activity guide. Currently our plan is to remain in the Bahamas until after hurricane season, and then sail the boat back to the Virgin Islands to reconnect with family and friends down there.

Voyaging through the Bahamas

Greetings to all!
We are finally voyaging through the Bahamas, en route to New England for the summer. Actually, as I am writing this Gayle and I are overnighting near the Miami airport en route back to St. Thomas for a week of work for me. I have already made one work week trip back to Wisconsin end of May and will probably return for another Wisconsin work week early in August. Our voyage thus far has been fabulous and without serious mishap. We left St. Thomas beginning of May, and have sailed as far north as Cat Island in the "Far Out" Bahamas. The boat is currently on a mooring in a small "hurricane hole" near Georgetown, Great Exuma Island while we travel back to St. Thomas. Enjoy the pics!!!

Time to Shove Off!

The time has finally come to leave St. Thomas. At the end of March Admiral Gayle and I (aka Davey can eat it!) plan to shove off. First stop Puerto Rico, then Turks and Cacos, Bahamas, Bermuda, with the goal of sailing past the Statue of Liberty and up the Hudson River in July to visit friends and family. After that, who knows!! Been busy with final preparations: solar panels, wind generator, chart plotter, satellite internet/email/phone, dingy, anchors and ground tackle, screens, new cruising foresail, new chain counter, cabin fans, paper charts and guides, spare parts... whew, thats enough! Gayle is ready to throw all my issues of Practical Sailor away! Stay tuned...

Phil's Playmates on Bel Ami!

In January Phil and friends Brenna and Andrea came sailing on Bel Ami. Admiral Gayle and myself (Captain Doctor Accordian Guy Dave) had ourselves a fine time hosting Phil and his lovelies. We feasted like royalty, having almost all meals on board, and danced our socks off at the Willie T and Foxies. Phil and I dived the Wreck of the Rhone, and we all snorkled incessantly everywhere we could. Ferocious looking barracuda intimidated the girls all along the way, but the girls managed to survive without a bite.