Friday, May 11, 2007
Still moving north and looking for protection, we anchored in a tiny harbor with a 150 foot steel cargo ship on the dock. On shore Vinnie met a very friendly and exuberant crew from the boat. The man was disappointed to hear that we did not have "cold" or "beer" on the boat but he continued exchange pleasantries across the harbor. He would start by shrieking "Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie", a very apt copy of Maria's own cry of distress in a code red crisis. Mostly he was wishing us a good night or sharing personal insights, "Respect your wife." Later in the day the boat was repositioned just 35 feet off our stern but the crew assured us that we were not in their way and that they would stay the night. Suddenly at dusk came the shrill call "Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie, we are leaving in 45 min." About an hour later, "Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie, we don't want to hurt your boat". We had a spot light on deck, rigging lights on, the boat pulled off to the side, and engine running. It was good that we were prepared because they maneuvered past us in deep darkness with only a flashlight on the bow and continuous yelling on all sides. Glad they did not leave at 3:00am.
On a long and lovely beach further north on Cat Island we saw a Labrador doing what Labradors do best, retrieving. When his designated thrower wandered off, we decided to pitch a few but found that there were no sticks on the beach. Not to worry, the Labrador had his own rock and was an accomplished free diver.
The last church Father Jerome built, Holy Redeemer, is still an active parish in New Bight and we attended their Annual fair and Hoop la on Saturday. Vinnie got some great ribs and we met Deacon Rolle who served as an alter boy for Father Jerome. Deacon Rolle told us about Father Jerome and showed us this picture of him which is kept in the church.
We left George Town and in one day sail arrived at Cat Island. Last year the blog had an extensive tour and much talk-talk about the Hermitage. It won't be repeated now, but we will tell you that the Hermitage is still spectacular. A path behind the building leads to this cave. Although it was good enough to be Father Jerome's home while the hermitage was under construction, its 4 foot entrance and dark, low interior did not entice us to exploration.
After the races were over, the action moved to a small park. People stood around in the hot sun while a high school band and drum corp entertained. Then a bus rolled in, the crowd pushed in to the park, and things got quiet as the Royal Bahamian Police Band marched in.
Giving up our shore seats, on the last day of the races we took the dingy well off the first mark. The beautiful boats came at us, rounded the mark, and flew away. We saw near collisions and quick maneuvers. Race veterans scoffed at our enthusiasm and yearned for the frenzy and aggression seen in previous years. They told us about boats crashing into each other and crew in full fledged warfare with hand to hand combat and beer bottle assault missiles. To each his own.
Winners at the Regatta win big cash prizes and enormous prestige, adding fuel to the intense competition. Feckless cruisers are warned to stay out of the way or get run over. Fools who anchor on the marks or within the course are fair game for trouble.
Travelling through the islands, we saw traditional Bahamian boats being built off the side of the road, in the weeds next to a house, and in small boat yards. They are impressive in their cradles but attain the rank of glorious under sail.