Trouble in paradise!

A couple days ago we took our dinghy up a salt water stream, spanning across Shroud Cay. As we rounded the last bend we came upon a breath-taking scene. I do believe it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Pristine white beaches, turquoise water in many shades, sheer cliffs and a forest of palms on the hills. And we had it all to ourselves (for quite a while)! I think we were all filled with joy and a bit of awe as we took it all in. We are so blessed to be here and so blessed to live on such an amazing planet.

Interestingly (and disappointingly), the pictures and video that Travis took that afternoon really did not do it justice. Something was lost in the translation. It got me thinking about something I have been pondering lately…even living in paradise isn’t perfect! There are many small glitches, stresses and discomforts that can dim my view of the beauty all around me.

For those of you who may be wondering if cruising the Bahamas has any “flies in the ointment”, here is a list of a few of my least favourite things!

  • Losing our new fishing lure the first time it hooked a fish
  • Losing Rachel’s new flip-flop overboard
  • Losing our lemon squeezer overboard
  • Losing our cherished carrot cake overboard (when our Backpacker Oven tipped over on the BBQ while baking it)
  • Leaving our backpack (with the dinghy navigation light inside) in a car when we were hitchhiking
  • Leaving a fishing line and lure behind somewhere
  • Spending 3 days waiting for the company providing us with a satellite weather service to reconnect our service (we had to stay where we could access wifi until it connected)
  • Having alternator problems (the alternator is what charges our batteries when the engine is running)
  • Not being able to use a fan at night because we don’t have enough electricity
  • The alternator dying
  • The new alternator we purchased in Rock Sound burning out (after Travis had already spent almost two weeks trying to figure out our alternator problems)
  • The old spare alternator not charging the batteries either
  • The fridge smelling gross when the frozen squid (for bait) melted as the freezer thawed (because of the low batteries)
  • The water maker refusing to take all the salt out of the water (probably because of the low batteries)
  • When it’s too windy to go where we want to go
  • When there’s not enough wind and we have to use the engine all day to get where we want to go
  • When there was no wind, and no-see-ums attacked us relentlessly (flying right through our screens) all night
  • Asking the kids to wash the dishes for the fifth time
  • Asking Rachel to do her math for the fifth time
  • Rachel asking for a snack for the fifth time (before lunch)
  • Asking the kids to settle down and stop making annoying screeching noises (for the fifth time)
  • Paying way more than we expected when treating ourselves to a meal at a restaurant

Whew…if you made it all the way through that list and have not given me up for a completely petty whiner, then thank you! The point I am trying to make is that even when in the middle of having my “dreams come true,” I can find plenty of reasons to be discontent. It has shown irrefutably that entertaining thoughts such as “If only (person or situation that bothers me) would change, I would be totally happy”, is a huge waste of time. There will always be reasons I can choose to be worried, grumpy and stressed. And there will always be reasons I can choose to be grateful and content. It has been very good exercise for my “choosing-happiness” muscles to let each of these unpleasant things go and direct my focus to the wonderful God who loves me, the wonderful people I am travelling with and the wonderful adventure I am on.IMG_6151IMG_6155

Unexpected experience

It’s interesting how one thing leads to the next. After replacing our alternator in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, we thought we were finally on our way to the Exumas. A powerful cold front coming in fast changed our course. We reluctantly paid to stay at a marina in Cape Eleuthera where a wahoo fishing tournament happened to be taking place. When the boats with the fish came in to be photographed and weighed, it attracted all sorts. Locals, curious transient sailors like us, marine biologists and sharks. That’s right, when the cleaning of fish begins, the predators circle. First a guy doing research on plastics in the ocean asks where the fish were caught and if he could keep the stomachs. He’s a friendly fellow from Chicago working on a study of the affects of ingested plastics in fish and how it affects them and their food quality for humans. Then from the Island School (, a whole team of folks were asking to take the fish remains. They were measuring, dissecting and labeling lots of ziploc bags to place various fish parts for further research and study. Then with what was left of the fish, a research team began “fishing” for bull sharks. They invited us to join them on their boat to capture one to measure, tag, take blood and tissue samples and implant a transmitter under its skin. I got caught up in the hunt and pointed out when I saw the Bulls come up from the depths as the nurse sharks (about a dozen) mostly swarmed near the surface as they threw in fish carcasses. What an experience! The team was super friendly and eager to talk to us about what they were doing. Some facts I learned about the Bull Sharks include: They have the most testosterone of any animal on earth, are very territorial, can swim in both salt and fresh water, are responsible for most human bites (note to mom: mostly because of mistaken identity in murky water, or people doing stupid things. The water in the Bahamas is the clearest I’ve ever seen and I’ll promise not to be stupid). Part of this project is to see where these sharks all travel. The shark they tagged while we were on board was a 270 cm female. The first one this year! Everyone cheered as the shark swam away after its procedures and surgery. It didn’t really hit me until later what we had just experienced or how special it was.
The cold front that rerouted us here hit us with a dramatic and instantaneous 10 degree drop in temperature as we were in the research boat and it began to pour. They were very apologetic that we were getting wet although they couldn’t really control that could they?
I wonder what tomorrow will bring? Our plans are to leave for the Exumas in the morning. We’ll see if that actually happens as I ponder who’s really in control.


Food from the ocean

We’ve managed to catch a few meals by hook, spear or hand (in the case of spiny lobster.)


However on one day while slowly sailing, Shad wanted to check out the bottom for lobster as we had seen some locals doing. Vaguely aware that we were effectively trolling for sharks, I hollered to Shad when I saw this!

Fortunately this blog post title has the word “from” rather than “for”, as the dorsal belonged to a dolphin.

No sooner had Steph spotted the dolphin, she began tearing her clothes off and jumped in which both surprised and scared me a bit. Not that I was worried about her safety of course, but I had heard rumors of women swimming with dolphins and somehow this affected their ability to conceive. And then in this confused state of emotions (my son is shark bait, my wife wants to conceive) from the bow of the boat comes the sound of a recorder!What’s happening! Rachel had heard another rumor that dolphins enjoy music so began performing every song she has ever learned! Which may have worked as the dolphin spent quite a few minutes going between the creatures being dragged behind the boat as well as enjoying the talented musician at the bow.

It’s good to be alive today. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Royal island

Time to catch up. Currently we are anchored off of Royal Island. It’s Sunday we think and we are doing great. We went snorkeling at a wreck off of Egg Island yesterday although the waves were a bit high to be ideal we still managed to have a good time. So many fish and the broken up ship added interest. A few too many sharks to comfortably spearfish so we found our anchorage and Steph cooked up one of my favourites from Winnipeg, sweet and sour farmer sausage with rice. The kids and I are also experimenting with baking in our bemco backpacking oven over our barbecue and have had fresh bread a couple of times. Steph has been amazed at our results.


The Kindness of Strangers

We have been anchored in two different harbours along the coast of Eleuthera for the past two weeks. It is a picturesque island with caving, bodysurfing, fishing and snorkelling opportunities. We caught our first lobster here and ate the first fish caught on our rod (a type of mackeral called a cero)!

Lovelier than the scenery have been the people. We were advised that the way to see the island is to stick out your thumb and hitch a ride. We were told that everyone here stops if they can and that it is completely safe. At first, we were reluctant to do this and looked into renting a car (too expensive) and hiring a taxi (hard to connect). So, we hesitantly tried it. The first people who picked us up were a mother and her young daughter on the way home from school. Since then, we have had rides in the back of trucks, sometimes crammed in with other hitchhikers, more rides with mothers and children, with a silent, dredd-wearing gentleman, a retired Canadian couple and, quite amusingly, from the taxi-driver we had tried to contact earlier! (I am not sure it is a great business strategy for a taxi driver to pick hitchhikers up…but it certainly is generous!). We’ve also been picked up when we were not hitchhiking, but were obviously heavy-laden with our clean laundry. Basically, we get the sense that in Eleuthera, if you have something that someone else does not have, it is yours to share.

It is so inspiring to visit a place where people still trust others and are trustworthy, and where they notice those they pass by, assuming that it is their responsibility to help each other if they can. Besides free rides, we have been given fruit to try and a free book by a local author. The owner of the pizza restaurant we visited got in her car and went and purchased us drinks (her children had finished off all her own beverages for sale!).

The sailing community behaves in a similar way. Dave, from the boat “At Last” spent about three mornings on our boat helping Travis try to figure out our alternator problems. Another boater gave us a fuse, when the new alternator blew one while being installed. There is the understanding that sailors need to help each other – it is a small community and you may be the only person who can give the assistance needed.

I realize I am a long way from living like this back at home. And I don’t think that the culture around me models this sense of inter-connectedness. Instead,

I think that too often we feel ashamed if we need help and we believe that if someone else doesn’t have what we have, it is our own choice whether or not we share it. There is no concept that what is mine has been given to me to share. I am going to ponder this some more and invite God to change my understanding of what belongs to me and who belongs to me!

The kids ran ahead as we made our way back to the cave entrance. I am looking at them through stalactites and stalagmites.

I’m looking at the kids though stalactites and stalagmites

The kids ran ahead as we made our way back to the cave entrance. I am looking at them through stalactites and stalagmites.

Rachel’s First Blog Post!

Hi sorry that I have not yet posted anything. I’m going to start from the beginning of the trip.

While we were driving to Florida, we saw this many road kills:

56 deer

2 skunks

6 foxes

3 rabbits

10 birds

1 mountain lion

5 squirrel/weasel-type things

1 armadillo

And bugs.

And 2 male African elephants.

A lot of road kill, eh? And don’t ask me how they managed to run over 2 elephants!

We went to two hotels during the trip and we stayed at our great aunty and uncles’ place for about two weeks. They had two hot tubs and a pool there.

Then we went to Universal Studios! The first day was dedicated to the special effects part. It had one roller coaster called the Rocket. We also went to the other part of the park which has mostly roller coasters and went on one roller coaster there called the Hulk. They were both really fun! You go up and down and loop-dee-loop and side to side and zig and zag! Then the next day we went to the other part of the park and it was all roller coasters and simulators. There were water rides too where you got soaked! By the way it was really warm that day…tee hee. My favourite roller coaster was the Chinese Dragons. That was in Harry Potter Land. We got to go to Diagon Alley, which is a place in Harry Potter books and Hogsmeade. We went in all the stores…Mummy didn’t let me get a wand, though. I did buy a chocolate frog (my card inside was Salazar Slytherin) and a box of Bonko’s Every Flavour Beans. The sausage one was disgusting. There were so many shops in Harry Potter Land. We went to Fred and George’s Joke Shop. Fred and George are two characters in the Harry Potter books. We drank Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice. They are both really good but I like Butterbeer better! Then we drove home with lots of memories and tonnes of fun.

When we moved to the marina where our boat got put in, I caught my first two lizards there! I celebrated by running around, dancing and drinking orange cream soda.

After a lot of shopping for food and necessities, we were finally ready to go. We made our way down to a place called Clearwater. The water wasn’t actually that clear. We took our dingy, “Emma”, to a place where there were lots of street performers. We saw a guy get out of a strait jacket covered in chains and a guy who lit whips on fire and cracked them really loud. And we saw a guy who made glass nick-knacks with a big torch and glass sticks. You should search that up on the internet because I don’t know how to describe it.

After that we sailed some more. We saw our first dolphins ever! They are so beautiful!

When we got to Bimini in the Bahamas, we met a family there who had a daughter named Ava and we spent a week with that family and we spent Christmas with them. Then we parted. And then we went to Nassau where we met my Grandma and Grandma and Uncle Eric and Aunty Karmen Neta and Odin. They live in Africa and they came from there to visit us in Nassau. We had lots of fun catching lizards, playing on the beach and playing in gianormous really fun waves. We left Nassau to go to a place called Spanish Wells. We went snorkelling at a shipwreck together and saw lots of fish and coral. It was so cool! While I was in the dingy with my daddy, mummy saw a shark and jumped in the dingy and then Aunty Karmen Neta jumped in the dingy and then grandma jumped in and then Uncle Eric and Odin jumped in and Shadrach jumped in too – our small 8 ½ foot dingy! It was a very funny sight to see us all crammed into a tiny little dingy!

After a week, they all left us on a ferry.

We went to a place called Egg Island. We lit a fire and had hobo dinners and roasted marshmallows – then we went back to our home/boat and had a good night’s sleep.

After we went to Egg Island, we went to Eleuthera. We had pizza…it was pretty good. We hitchhiked for the first time. It was fun! We also went to a big cave where we went down WAY deep – although it got pretty low and we had to crawl on our hands and knees so we went back. It was really hot down there and at one point we turned off all our lights for a bit and it was sooo dark. Then we turned them on and kept on going. When we got out of the cave it felt really nice outside because it was so hot in the cave.

We saw lots of goats and I got 10 feet away from one. There were twin baby goats (called kids) – they were so cute! They just roamed free all over the place. It was kind of weird but also cool. There are also chickens and sheep that roam free. There were little chicks running all over the place!

We went to a beach where there were big waves. A big wave crashed over me and I was being dragged in the sand. Then I felt something pokey in my shorts! It kept poking me and poking me in the hip…I thought it was a sea urchin or a jellyfish. But then, when I ran out of the water screaming “Ouch, ouch!”, I looked in my pants and there was a little fish with its pokey fins! We ate it for supper…just kidding! It was only two inches long.

We went out to sail from Eleuthera, but the waves were too big, so we had to stop at a marina. When we got there, I got a ne0 w pair of flip flops, because one of my other ones fell overboard. Then there were people cleaning fish and throwing parts of fish in the water. There were three big Bull Sharks and about a dozen nurse sharks all going for the scraps of fish. A little while later, some marine biologists came to see the sharks. They had a big fish head on a hook and they were throwing it in. They were trying to get the Bull Sharks with a hook and they had buoys on the end of a rope that the hook was attached to. When the Bull Shark would grab the bait on the hook, then they would throw the buoys in and they would jump in a boat and go and follow it. They let us come in their boat too! They were trying to catch the shark so they could put tags on it/tracking devices. They put two on her dorsal fin and one beside her stomach. They had to do surgery! I got to see a real, live shark surgery! After the stitches were done, I got to touch the shark’s stomach. It feels like sandpaper.

I will try to blog more. Bye for now – love Rachel.