Sunday, April 12, 2015

Beaches Breezes and Fox Town Feeds Us

We’re in Fox Town only there are no foxes here, neither the animal or urban dictionary type.
Fox Town has a population of just over 200 people. It has a church (of course), and a restaurant/town bar called Da Valley with it’s own dock. And one table.
Next door there is a Shell station which consists of two ancient pumps next to the road. No building, no shelter per say. But the fuel hose reaches all the way down to the dock to serve the few local speed boats.
There is no bank or ATM for 60 miles.
There are three stores. These are not stores in the traditional sense. There are no signboards or overhead fluorescent lights. Each store is the front room of a house with one domestic fridge and two or three hand crafted wooden shelves displaying whatever they have. 
Yesterday we arrived and scrambled to shore to shop!  Between the three stores we were able to get one sweet potato (last one in town!), a dozen eggs, two tomatoes, a green pepper that was only half rotting, and a head of lettuce. A head of lettuce!
No cabbage or fresh milk or salami or dark chocolate (haha!!), or anything much else for that matter. Judy of Da Valley, drives the 80 miles down to Marsh Harbour randomly, and comes back with items to sell in the shops. No one can tell what day or week she might go. 
Judy of Da Valley

Unless you are a desperate clan of cruisers who arrive on the verge of scurvy, having spent the better part of two weeks without a fresh vegetable, and who beg, I mean inquire, as to when she would go next and would she entertain the idea of taking our shopping lists. It’s either that or sail two days through some tricky shallows and come all the way back…
And as it goes, Judy said yes!!! So we wait until Monday when she will go and bring us some food. And hence we find ourselves anchored in Fox Town on a Sunday. Nothing is open but the church, so there’s no point going to shore.
Since the local fishermen feed the black tip sharks in this bay, there will be no swimming either. 

We have been spoiled by walks and leisurely swims on beaches and nightly braais (barbecues) on said beaches for the past two weeks. 

We visited Allen's Pensacola Cay which has bushes and beaches and a Hilton sign painted on a shack. It has a few trails that lead to huge trees, littered with boater's names and dates of visiting. Those who'd come before us. And so we set to making our own sign to leave a legacy of plastic beads and good vibes. While our friends and family afar worked at desks, we worked on our sign and we hung it with pride.

And then that task was completed and the beaches had all been walked and inhaled and photographed. 
We haven’t been to an island with more than 6 people as it’s population. It’s been refreshing and special and peaceful.
But we crave a bit of civilization after a while. And even a burger. Last night at Da Valley we sat at the one table and gasped and moaned in gastronomic ecstacy as we gobbled down burgers and fries. And yes, they are NOT on our diet but every rule has been thrown out the window as we emerge from the beachy wilderness into the cosmopolitan metropolis of Fox Town.
Fun times with friends at Da Valley

Today, with no agenda, we’ll probably take the dinghies out in search of a deserted beach…

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Life aboard - day 1,100

My captain is on the foredeck on his knees, giving mouth to mouth to a giant blow up canoe. I’m in the galley with soapy hands, scrubbing the breakfast dishes, smiling at the spectacle.
It’s a Saturday morning but it could just as easily be any day. Morning is slipping into afternoon. Hours ago we decided we’d ‘get those canoes out’ and go for a paddle in this idyllic setting. And as it goes, ‘getting out those canoes’ morphed into half a day of digging, dismantling, climbing into tight, hot, extremely awkward spaces and rearranging everything from bicycles to big rubber fenders and bags of winter clothes. Deep down in the bowels of our boat. I faired well, coming out of it with spots of bike grease and only a few bruises.
Now we’re on the water, managed to get into the canoes without capsizing which in my book is an accomplishment. If we stop now I’ll still be happy. But no, we follow our buddies, 4 floating canoes, through the anchored boats and toward the mangroves ahead. I’m soaked minutes in, maybe I don’t quite get this rhythm with the oars, but each time I lift and dip I get a shower…
Nevertheless I am out here, doing this cool, exercise-eey type thing, in touch with nature and all that. We need a photo! “John! Take a picture!” Captain is prepared. Gets the waterproof camera out of the canoe’s dry compartment. And… and… oh shit. Battery is dead. So no pictures then. No proof I actually did this.
And then Al who’s in the lead, shouts back that he’s aground. Its low tide and if we want to go across to the beach – way over there – we’ll have to get out and pull our vessels through this shallow patch. Ok I think, no problem.
Wrong. Problem! As my oars touch ground instead of clear water and I step out to pull, my feet sink into a sludge stew of hot mud, rough long sea grass and chunks of mysterious under water monsters. I have no idea what each step will bring my feet in contact with. I could kill myself for forgetting my shoes. I want to go back. I’m fine with it. I’ve seen lots of beaches. I’ve had my exercise.
But no, everyone insists we carry on, and apparently my groans and yelps are amusing.
I’m the third one through this swamp nightmare. The others are ahead and behind me and I have no choice. And then, just as I’m getting to the end of it, where I can see smooth, clean sandy bottom ahead, I take a step and my foot sinks deep in the mud, right onto an evil spiked sea urchin, and I scream – loud – jumping forward, onto yet another one! This time I jump right into my canoe. I don’t care, I’ll spend the day beached right here in the safety of my canoe!
Captain can hardly stop laughing as he comes through and tugs me along, clung to my canoe, two feet further and we are out of it. I had no lasting injuries - except my dignity – so we carried on, got to the beach and walked through the glorious powder sand, around to the ocean side. Found some warm pools to lounge in between the rough rocks and reconsidered how rough my life was.
Now it’s evening, having survived the day. We have an early supper and head over to the Alley Cats for a pre-‘beach-bonfire-full-moon-party’ drink. Elsewhere it’s Easter weekend. Children will be searching for eggs and adults will be gathering to feast. Many will be in church. We will be on the beach, fending off biting no-see-um bugs, sipping local rum, meeting fellow cruisers over the flickering light of the bonfire. Easter will be a far off concept.
We will watch the rising of the blood red moon, in a clear sky, from Manjack Cay in the Bahamas. Today our home, tomorrow a wonderful memory.