Monthly Archives: July 2014

Bahamian Independence Day

We missed our 4th of July celebration this year, but managed to celebrate Independence Day anyway—Bahamian Independence Day—on July 10th. The Bahamas broke away from the UK only 41 years ago, but retained its status as a Commonwealth Nation. A large segment of the population is made up of descendants of Loyalists (to King George) or their slaves, who left the American colonies before the Revolutionary War. So there’s not a lot of drama or rhetoric surrounding their holiday.
We found ourselves in the small island community of Spanish Wells with new friends (an American family who are renovating a 100-year-old cottage on the island), wearing turquoise, gold, and black and enjoying local traditions like swimming races, the slippery pole contest, coconut ice-cream (slow-churned with real coconuts grown on the Island), a children’s talent show, a local band playing the Bahamian National Anthem, steel drums and rake-and-scrape music, and, of course, fireworks. The island is a small and safe place, and the children were free to run around and find playmates without a lot of supervision.
Despite its feeling like a foreign country—Spanish Wells has its own dialect, cars drive on the left side of the road, local food and culture are different—it also reminded us of small-town America on Independence Day. Maybe that’s part of what we like about the Bahamas: its landscape, architecture, and customs are different enough to feel like we’ve gotten away from the norm, but the similarities in language, currency, and friendliness of the people make us feel comfortable traveling in the islands. The natural beauty and ability to find safe and quiet anchorages is likely to be a draw for us for years to come. 

Spanish Wells Haulout

It’s summertime, so it must be time to haul Take Two.  Last year we hauled out to replace the engines, but didn’t touch the bottom paint.  It was two years ago when we blasted all the old paint off, refaired the bottom, and repainted it.
Two years is about the life expectancy for bottom paint, and Boot Key Harbor in Marathon, FL is about the worst growth conditions you can find.  After sitting there for 5 months, our bottom growth was looking pretty wicked.  The picture below is not one of Tanya’s homemade pizzas, although it does look tasty — it is the bottom of the kids’ Minifish sailboat after about a month in Boot Key Harbor.
There are five places I know of in Florida that can handle Take Two’s beam, and we’ve used three of them.  Some we'd do again, some we wouldn't.
This time we decided to mix it up a little bit and try the boatyard in Spanish Wells.  There are several advantages to this.  First, it’s in the Bahamas, and so is a destination in itself — we wanted to swing through after leaving the Keys anyway.  They use a lifting platform, which in theory is easier on the boat.  A bottom job is cost-effective — materials are expensive, but labor is cheap.  And they’ve got the good paint.
We rented a great house, only 100 yards from the boat yard, where we can be in vacation mode and I can still supervise the work on the boat.  Take Two can be seen easily from the front porch, and it’s only a short walk to go check on things.  We’re right on the waterfront, so there’s lots of activity to watch.  Ferries, mail boats, tankers, and barges.  Oh my!
When Take Two is in the water, the house has a dock where we can tie her up.  Which is highly convenient when we have the necessities for seven people, plus almost the entirety of Tanya’s galley to transport between the boat and the house.
We’ve really enjoyed being here.  We had stopped in Spanish Wells twice before, but it was only to drop off trash or buy eggs.  This time we got a much better feel for the place.  
As haulouts go, this was a winner.  The previous occupants of the house were the owners of the previous boat on the lift and have been hauling out here for 10 years, so we are not the first to figure this out.  I can’t say for sure that we’ll do this again next time, but our future haulout options have officially been increased.