Thursday, January 26, 2012

In the beautiful Exumas

We are currently anchored on the west side of Shroud Cay (pronounced
"key") in the Exumas Land and Sea Park in the Bahamas. Danny is down
below working to set up a wind generator that we bought in Ft.
Lauderdale and the kids are running all around the boat with Hannah
playing the "mommy" and Rye playing the "puppy." We are slowing
settling into our life on board. We are losing track of the day of
the week and are adjusting to having no cell phones or wifi. [This
post was posted by Susan's sister, who received the post via a high
frequency email account that transmits data at speeds calculated in
baud.] Instead of days of the week, we track our time out here by the
weather (including the 6:30 a.m. forecast we get by radio), where we
want to go next, and tracking our use of resources like water, power
and food. In some ways I feel like we're living a water based version
of homesteading. We wash our clothes by hand (well, with a plunger in
a bucket), generate our own power, and as of yesterday when Danny got
the reverse osmosis water maker working, make our own water.

The list of things we "do" each day is pretty small, although we are
busy most of the day. Tracking the weather, meals, exploring, boat
work, playing and a bit of homeschool now and then keep us quite
busy. We all go to bed around 8 every night and usually sleep until
6:30 or 7. In our free time, we are still trying to work through a
substantial list of boat projects (like installing the wind
generator), but none of the projects are super urgent.

We've met nice people on several boats to date, but haven't really
bonded with many boats yet because it's hard to get on the same travel
schedule. There is one boat we've met up with twice now, Pura Vida
(also a catamaran), and we are both planning to make it to at least
the Dominican Republic, so we may buddy boat with them that far if our
schedules sync.

In some ways, it's hard to see the changes our family is going through
since they are happening subtly, but we seem to be settling in well to
life together and on the boat. The kids seem to be getting along
better each day, and they can keep themselves busy and happy with
their few toys for longer periods of time. And there seem to be much
fewer tantrums and fits and the kids are following directions better
with each passing day (there are MANY new rules that we've had to give
kids so that they will stay safe and not damage the boat or its
systems). It also seems like Hannah's speech is more clear than it
was a month ago, but I'm not sure whether that's really the case or
whether we're just more in tune with her and what she's interested in
each day so we are better able to anticipate the context.

The only real deadline on our horizon is that our good friends, the
Casselmans, are coming to Nassau on February 11th. So we will island
hop in the Exumas until we get closer to that date. I think it's
helpful that we can't really travel farther south for now (given our
deadline to be in Nassau), because it prevents us from trying to have
a "schedule" for heading south. As some of our friends might find
shocking, we are truly slowing down and enjoying these beautiful
islands. [By the way, since I can't post pictures right now, I
encourage you to get on the web to look at pictures of the Exumas and
the Exuma Land and Sea Park, which is where we are right now.]

It's also an interesting time on this trip in the sense that we are
aware of the external changes in our lives -- losing track of the day
of the week, losing the internet and having only rudimentary email,
not having many other kids around (our kids haven't played with other
kids for a month or more now), living in bathing suits or nothing at
all.... Soon this will be the norm and we'll forget that we used to
jump on the web every 5 minutes to look something up.

Today we plan to travel to Hawksbill Cay, which is quite close, where
there are many loyalist ruins (loyalist meaning English loyalists who
fled to the Bahamas from the colonies following the Revolutionary
War). I'll write more about that later, but there are ruins
throughout the the Bahamas, both from a long time ago and more
recently. The ruins - whether recent or much older - are really
powerful to visit. It's been hard for us to put our finger on just
why, but I think the ruins are both a reminder of the transience of
time and illustrate the contrast between how beautiful but rugged this
place is. Although many people can now visit these islands for
"vacation," without modern technology like water makers and solar
panels (and even with those things), this incredibly beautiful place
is one that is harsh and in many ways inhospitable. There is no water
to speak of on the islands (except rainwater caught in cisterns)
basically no soil to support crops.

I'll sign off by saying that Danny just headed to the bow of the boat
in nothing but his sun hat and glasses. Rye accompanied him in
nothing but his life jacket. Good thing there is only one other boat
in the anchorage... :)

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