ORBIT sea glass earrings

by sarah hair Email

These earrings are so much fun! When I finally got my Dremel replaced, these were the first thing I made. I was thinking about them the whole time my Dremel was broken, so I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I originally bought these gem stone beads because I thought they looked like little planets. Oh, they certainly look like planets to me now!

Orbit sea glass earrings

I love how these earrings make me want to drink Tang and pretend I am an astronaut!

sea glass earrings

They are already listed on Etsy here: ORBIT Sea Glass Earrings

Etsy Treasury!

by sarah hair Email

I finally got an Etsy Treasury!

I made this one myself, decided to feature all the ice cream I could think of, but none I could eat. In fact, I think it is all vegan! lol

Here is the preview:

Etsy Neapolitan Treasury

Visit the treasury here! Neapolitan Ice Cream Sandwich

New Jewelry from Bahamas

by sarah hair Email

The marina here has finally, with the help of John, set up internet access! I have had a connection for two days now, so my joy is overflowing with access to all the youtube videos of people teaching how to make a giant laser and flash games of farkle that I can handle. Of course, I also posted some new jewelry on the web site and I even am updating my blog, so it is not all fun and games.

I went jewelry crazy when we landed and I made about 40 new items in a week! It had been so long since I had a dremel tool, so I had not done any jewelry making for months. I got the replacement dremel and decided to buy a spare as well so I never got stuck in a position of not being able to create things when I want to.

Here is a preview of some of the new items. I added a lot, but this is a sampling. For more items, go to our sailing jewelry site.

sea glass pendant

Shifting Sands Turquoise Sea Glass Pendant This piece of glass is so amazing. It is one of the most spectacular we have found ever. It has an iridescent spot in two grooves and an awesome shape.

sea urchin pendant

Sea Urchin Pendant
I found several sea urchins and experimented with resins and glues for a few months before I got it down. I have several of these ready to go in different sizes and colors now.

sea glass ring

Lillie Sea Glass Ring
I have only found one piece of sea glass in this color. This is it. I had to make it a ring, which is my very favorite item of jewelry.

sea glass bracelet

Neapolitan Sea Glass and Shell Bracelet
Malia found most of these shells. She collected a baggie full while we were in Bahamas and was hunting them the entire time. I think the shells are actually white but have the color from a coral that grows over them. We found a bunch of other things that have this pink color on them as well.

sea glass earrings

Dreamy Teal Sea Glass Earrings
I love it!

Peas Sea Glass Pendant
I called this one Peas! I saw this piece of glass on the beach and immediately knew it needed some peas dangling from its middle.

That is all for now. See the web site for the rest of the sea glass collection from the Bahamas, and I have a bunch more that I am making so there will be more updates coming!

In Fort Lauderdale

by sarah hair Email

I can't believe how difficult it is to get internet access here. I have this opinion about being around lots of people and putting up with traffic and garbage, that if I have to do it, I better get the perks of being in a society. This typically should include internet access.

It has been a year since we were in a city and did not have internet provided by our landlord. I don't remember it being this difficult to get online back then, so maybe times have changed? As of now, we do have to go to a business and sit with a drink or something to get internet access or I can actualy walk several blocks down the street and stand in the road, which I am doing now, but is not very desirable. FOr one thing people look at me funny, for another it is rather difficult to type.

So this should excuse my lack of updates for the past several weeks. Now on to this update, well, we are in Fort Lauderdale and I have a new dremel. Two new dremels I now am in possession of, so there are hours of fun to be had. I have been making jewelry like no tomorrow and trying to organize the items we found in Bahamas. We are also working on getting the boat fixed up and provisioned for the next trip.

We did a bang-up haul-out complete with bottom job, wash and wax, prop job, and prop-speed application. Out and in in about 50 hours! Our best time yet!

We are thinking of heading to Bahamas in a couple weeks then on to the New England states for some summer fun.

If rats could count

by sarah hair Email

Tokyo died trying to make me happy. His final breaths were taken as he heaved his suddenly swollen and unreasonably large tumor gimpishly under his emaciated flesh which had only days before fallen from his bones all in an effort to come to me. He may have wanted my comfort, but I am convinced that he thought he was making me happy by giving his all to come to me when I opened the cage in response to his convulsions. Tokyo suffered horribly. His tumor had grown so large and so fast that he starved to death as the nutrients from his meals went solely to nourish the abhorrent protrusion growing from his abdomen. We wanted to take him to a doctor, but he fell ill so quickly, we had not even yet sailed out of the Bahamian island we had been visiting.

I thought about Tokyo as we sailed from Chub Cay, again in Bahamas, and I determined that whatever happened, I would not watch her suffer as Tokyo had. The sail was a bit cold, not wet, fortunately, but really exhausting as we pushed hard through the day and another night to get to Florida before Tika deteriorated any further.

After Tokyo died six months ago, it took a few weeks to find Sendai new cage-mates. Sendai punished us relentlessly during this time of solitude and refused to play, not just with us, but at all. He abandoned his games and our offers for shoulder rides or pocket rides. He even refused to read with us. Every moment he spent with us, his humans, he was trying to escape. He would sneak away and continue his fruitless search for his brother. Sendai was Tokyo's brother, his littermate, and his life-long friend. When Tokyo was sick, Sendai brought him food, helped him eat, helped him cool off by peeing on him or warm up by bringing him bedding. Sendai was there when Tokyo died. He witnessed the suffering, the heart failure, the final moments. Sendai was even present for the wrapping John sewed around Tokyo's limp body before we buried him under some rocks near the yacht club. After Tokyo died, we decided to get two more rats, so we would never have to have one rat alone, in case something happened to one, we would have a "spare."

Tika and I had never been particularly close. Certainly not as Tokyo and I had been. Tokyo spent his spare time in my pocket, peeking at the world around him and looking for my hand to comfort him. When he greeted me, he bounded to me and climbed up my leg with the enthusiasm one might expect from a golden retriever who had been locked in a kennel all day and really, really, needed to use the fire hydrant. Tokyo read with me, ate my meals with me, and went for walks and even bicycle rides with me. I thought when we got new rats, 'replacement' rats, that I would never love another rat the way I loved Tokyo. I was correct, and I never felt close to Tika in the same way I did with Tokyo, but I would eat my own head before she would suffer and die the same way he did. For one thing, I hadn't the stomach. For another thing, I think I had something to prove, at least to myself. And then, of course, was the absolute fact that I did indeed love her.

We arrived in Fort Lauderdale in record time, averaging 7 knots under sail, a full 100% faster than our typical average. It was 8:00 am and we were setting our anchor right off the bookstore dock where we could row to shore to make phone calls and check emails. The girls and I set about the morning tasks, cutting lettuce and carrots into exactly the desired shape and size that our magnificent pets deserved to be accustomed to. The carrots need to be sliced down the middle, the lettuce just big enough to impress them but small enough they can carry it through the tunnel in their cage. We had in the past mistakenly offered carrots which were improperly cut and to our dismay, they were promptly rejected. Offering a carrot cut into a disk would require the rat to have to actually touch the edge where the outer peel resides, which I know now, is very objectionable and disgraceful to a rat. Our rats had their priorities and expected their foods, as well as everything else in their lives, to arrive in a certain manner, and we were loathe to disappoint these little furry fuhrers.

We got all of their foods ready for display and set about the task of feeding Tika separately. This proved no small task for the previous weeks, as we ventured to give Tika a very high-fat and high-protein diet based on nuts while allowing her brother and sister to maintain their girlish figures by feasting on a much healthier and balanced diet of mostly vegetables. We would have one person distract the other two rats with hand-fulls of correctly-sized lettuce and perfectly chopped carrots while I hand fed Tika the very small pre-crushed pieces of nuts she could still eat even with the giant tumor now covering her cheeks as well as her neck, shoulders, and chest. Eating had become very uncomfortable for her but she was hungry. I could feel she had lost weight in her back and belly as her neck and shoulders bulked up beyond the point I imagined possible for stretching her skin. Looking straight at her, she resembled a baboon, with that large leathery bulk around her dainty face, and removing her ability to use her front legs as the tumor encased all the tissue and muscles around her tiny limbs poking out of that offending mass.

It helped that our rats would become competitive about their food and try to stuff their mouths with as many pieces as they could. I used this to my advantage with Tika, who despite being starved, would tire quickly of chewing, having to move that giant mass up and down to just take a small piece of pecan. She would for a few minutes get caught in the chaos and excitement of the feeding frenzy and it would help me to get several pre-smashed nut pieces in her before the flurry settled.

The whole feeding chaos began when we introduced Tika and her sister to the cage. Up until that point, the most we had ever lived with was two rats. Three rats turned out to be a lot more. With the two rats, I could present two perfectly cut carrot pieces in an open palm and each rat would take a casual turn approaching the hand and lifting one piece of carrot, leaving the other piece intact and unmolested on the palm until the other rat decided to retrieve it. We never thought it was terribly significant until we had three rats. With three rats, an open palm containing three carrot pieces brings three insistent rats who each behave as if they are starving to death lunging at the open hand, each calculating how to shove all three pieces into their one mouth while staving off their siblings by blocking their passage with a well-calculated body maneuver.

A piece of improperly cut carrot would go ignored and rejected in the open palm of a two-rat family. Now with three rats, the same offending piece would be ravenously shoved into any of the three mouths to be rejected later at their leisure once the threat of competition had abated. I have developed my own hypothesis for this behavior which is a little thing I call "rat-counting." The gist of it is that rats can count. They are very good at counting. There are only three numbers in rat-counting: 1,2,many. They seem to be able to count to one, that is, they know when there is only one of a thing and they want it for themselves. They can count to two, so they know when there is one for me and one for my brother. The next number they have in "rat-counting" however, is "many" which is, in a rat mind, a really large number. It is anything more than 2. They know there are many rats in their house and many pieces of food. To be sure they get enough, they need to smash as many as possible into their mouths, else they could go hungry with all those many rats around. Of course I have no scientific basis for my rat-counting hypothesis, which is why it is not a theory. Just my random guess that my mind came up with to justify the unfortunate and undignified behavior my beloved pets sink to when we give them food now that they are three. I pondered the idea of having only two again, and began to cry for not the last time nor the first time of the day.

Still trying to distract the other two rats with fists full of fresh veggies, I was able to get only one pecan half into Tika before she tired for good this morning. I can usually get her to eat at least three, then I try to get her to also take a pellet of pre-made rat food. Today she was having none of it. She was exhausted. Our opportunity to help her was coming to a close.

We launched the dinghy, ignoring the call to sleep which had been nagging since around 8:00 pm the previous day, and proceeded to call the veterinarian who we had sent photographs and constant updates of Tika's condition for the past two weeks as we sailed to Florida. I brought my laptop computer and sat outside the cafe well before they were to open. I composed a desperate email to Tika's vet. John tried the cell phone, but got only the answering machine. We returned to the boat, exhausted, and decided to nap while we waited for a response.

Our response came, but not until the following day. Unfortunately for Tika, the doctor had recently had a baby and was on maternity leave. She would not be able to meet with us until Monday, but offered another phone number we could try. After some research, I had an appointment for 2:00 that very day, but would have to drive for over an hour, which meant renting a car. I realize it may sound ridiculously obvious, but our family does not have a car, since it would not fit on our sailboat. This meant we would have to motor the boat for several miles and at least an hour to get to a dock to leave the boat while we rented a car and drove Tika to the vet. It was a lot of complexity in a very short period of time, since the appointment was only a few hours away. We frantically put the dinghy back on the boat and weighed anchor. I drove to the dock as quickly as I could, and John called all the bridges to request a lift open to allow us through. We again, made the trip in record time, and we began our drive to the veterinarian office just out of town.

As we drove to the vet's office holding one very miserable Tika on our laps, I thought about how much she would be missed if she did not make it home. Our hearts would forever have a giant hole named Tika, but what of her sister and brother? They would not even see what happened. Would they continue to search for her? Would they mourn her? Would they just let her go and forget her or lean on each other for support? They did know she was ill and they had been bringing her offerings of food for the past several days once the feeding frenzies died down. Maybe they would just know that she had moved on and would never be back. Maybe they expected it. Maybe I would never know.

When we arrived at the veterinary office over a half-hour early (another record), we were rushed in and shown to a young doctor who would remind us casually that she does not normally work anywhere but behind a desk on Fridays. This case was special, the office staff had pushed us through to her, not just based on our personal dire circumstances, but also just because they love rats. We had taken Tika to a doctor in Nassau hoping for the best and learning only two things: Tika's growth was indeed a tumor, and this Nassau vet, never having seen a pet rat before, was terrified of rats. He did not even want to touch her. I held her, and as he examined her, he very slightly, but perceptibly, would jump and cringe. What a relief it was to find a whole office of rat lovers, most of which kept pet rats as well. I knew it would be alright. Whatever happened, it would be the best we could do.

The doctor looked at her and told us she had to get into surgery that very minute if there was any chance to help her. We agreed, the doctor abandoned her plans to finish paperwork, and Tika was prepped for surgery as we exited the building. The doctor gave her a 10-15% chance of making it through surgery, so though we were thrilled to finally have her receiving some care, we were not what one might consider happy.

We walked out of the building and found a place to eat lunch, realizing that none of us had eaten since the previous day. We tried to find happiness in a buffet of various salads, pastas, muffins, breads, and glasses of strawberry lemonade. We came pretty close with the brownies smothered in ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, granola, and peanuts, but upon leaving the building were faced with the sign announcing exotic pet care and remembered our darling baby just yards away probably losing her life. We cautiously walked past the vet's door hoping that if perhaps we avoid the news it might not have happened yet, and our friend could remain simultaneously alive in our hearts even if dead on the operating table.

My phone rang and I jumped at the distraction. It was, ironically, the assistant of our regular vet who was on maternity leave. She was anxious to know if we had gotten help for Tika. Simultaneously to her asking, the clinic door swung open and the lovely lady with her own precious pet rats burst through showing thumbs up. I reported the news to the woman on the line and hung up to have a closer bond with the good news. It was nearing the close of the day, and they wanted Tika to get to see us, or for us to get to see Tika, as she was waking up and getting in touch with her new, yet familiar, slender body.

We entered the operating room, a large room with many things going on. There were recovering patients in kennels and incubators. There were foreign and mysterious machines, sterile tools, blankets, cages, medications, syringes, and several people. Tika was on a table, her slim body wrapped tightly in hot pink bandages while two people hovered around her. It was a good color on her. She had a catheter attached to one of her back legs. She was sandwiched under and over towels as a giant blowing heater kept her warm. She looked so pathetic and incapacitated yet so majestic having just survived an event that would forever mark her life as her crowning achievement. She either smelled or heard us, since I am pretty sure her eyesight is not good enough to actually spot us from that far across the room, and she abandoned her injuries and attempted to run to us. Having only one leg with which to run, since two were bandaged to her chest and a third was stuck straight out with a catheter, she did not make it far, but it was the thought that counted. She wanted us. She wanted us now. She was willing to abandon all physical comfort and restrictions for the emotional comfort she could only feel when she was held by her people. She ran to us. Again and again, despite the doctor putting her back on the towel each time.

We went to her and stroked her. We told her she could just lay there, that we were here, we were with her, and we would stay with her as long as she needed. She did not have to move a muscle. The doctor set up an incubator for her and showed us how to operate it. She said that Tika could go home right away as long as we kept her in the incubator for warmth and gave her the requisite medications. We agreed that Tika would probably recover more quickly around her family than in an operating room, so we gleefully prepared for our return trip as the doctor took her leave to return to her paperwork.

We spent maybe twenty minutes total in that hospital room, every precious second holding and stroking our baby girl, so thrilled to see her alive and as herself without any obstructions. No sooner had we arranged to take her than Tika began making an odd face. Her mouth was open and she seemed to have some kind of tick or hiccups. The assistant, still with us, looked at her then went for the doctor. We waited, holding Tika's little head, and petting it with one finger, as we always had. The doctor arrived seconds later, sprinting across the room, and began administering oxygen. She thought Tika was having trouble breathing. She thought we should wait outside. I thought it was best to be agreeable and we all exited the operating room with the assistance of another assistant.

Several minutes later the doctor was out in the waiting area to inform us she was sorry. Tika did not make it after all. She was sorry, so sorry, that our baby made it through surgery, but not all the way into recovery. She was sorry she could not have done more. She was sorry for our loss.

Our hearts sank and the tears poured. We can spend some time with her body alone in the doctor's office. We agreed. It was not so necessary, really. We had all been willing to forego our good-byes just for those twenty minutes of hellos with her. Twenty minutes where she wanted us and nothing but us. Twenty minutes where we could be with her and only her. Tika without her offensive tumor weighing her down. Just us and our baby Tika, alive, without obstruction. They may not have been the best twenty minutes of her life, but they were the best twenty minutes of my life with her.

Tika was presented to us later, her body wrapped and ready for burial. We took her directly to the place where we would always think of her and she was laid in the ground. I thought about the ceremonial way we bury our dead. How insignificant it is really, except to those who are alive and want to remember it. I wondered again about her brother and sister and what they might have thought of it had they seen. How odd it must seem to her sister had she witnessed a cloth sack that smelled like Tika placed in the ground as her family cried. I wondered again if they would look for her or if they would just know.

The next morning I woke up at around 5:00 am and could not get back to sleep. It is not yet summer in Florida and even when it is, I am pretty confident that 5:00 am is almost always left unlit by the sun. I got dressed and prepared a breakfast for my two remaining rats. I chopped up some carrots, tomatoes, and some lettuce. The carrots and tomatoes simply two pieces of each delicacy rather than my previous need for three. I had no need to chop any nuts, since rats don't need that much protein and fat under normal circumstances. I thought about their counting from one to two and then skipping to "many" and I wished it were that simple in my mind. My mind was filled with lists of all the things that would now count from many to only two. All the treats, games, pocket rides, toys, shiny devices, and coins, only needing to count to two from now on. I looked at the two pieces of tomatoes in my open palm and I walked to the cage. Ruby and Sendai were still sleeping, but Ruby heard me coming and made her way to the lower level where she could greet me. I opened the door and presented my open palm with the two morsels laying upon it. She approached my hand, examined the two for several moments in what I imagined was an attempt to form a strategy to best fit both in her mouth at once. She bent down and selected one juicy red piece in her mouth, then retreated to the corner to eat it while Sendai lazily approached my palm to calmly retrieve the second piece.

In Chub Cay, Bahamas, again

by sarah hair Email

We just made Chub Cay at about 7:00 pm. We left Nassau around noon, despite our attempts to get out early. One small detail that did not help much was the Nassau Harbour Control asking us to hold back and wait for several container ships and cruise ships for about an hour while we tried to hold position in the harbour.

Once out, the sailing was rough with 8 foot waves breaking off the beam. We managed to ride it out and it eventually settled down, so I am told. I had already hidden down below and passed out with Malia when Madison came in the cock pit and displaced me.

We kept this up with John at the helm until we made Chub Cay.

Once here, I spent an hour cooking up some chili and cornbread. We are hoping to make it out tomorrow morning for the next stretch. We might anchor in the banks or even in Gun Cay before heading to Florida, but we might just as likely push on and just make Florida as quickly as possible.

Headed back to the states

by sarah hair Email

THis morning found us a little tired after a late night party with friends, but we are heading out toward Florida today and hope to be there by Friday.

Internet these past days has been between really poor and none, so very few updates, though a lot has happened and we have some really great pictures as well. Hopefully when we get back to Florida we can upload a bunch of that information and get everything up to date.

For right now, Tika, our baby rat, is growing more uncomfortable by the day with her huge tumor which is now much larger than her head. The vet here had never seen a pet rat before and was not comfortable removing the tumor, so she is trying ot hold out until we get to Florida where her regular vet can help her out. We are hoping for the best, but these things go very badly very quickly, so not holding our breath.

If you are in FLorida and want to get together with us, email me. We should be in Fort Lauderdale for a couple weeks and maybe some other nearby places as well. Expect us to go to our old haunts and to get in some yoga and Aikido as well while we are at it.

Tika's growth

by sarah hair Email

Our arrival in Nassau so quickly after three days of sailing was not entirely out of pleasure. We might have enjoyed spending a day or two, or at least launching the dinghy and exploring the airplane crash in Norman's Cay. We would certainly have enjoyed going for a beach walk along Thomas Cay, and had even planned to stop in Cambridge Cay for some snorkeling and hiking. But, alas, we were in a hurry, again.

The weather was finally great, the winds were at our backs, we had all the time in the world, but our baby Tika, on the other hand, did not. She developed a lump in her neck area about a week ago. Here it is a few days ago. Today it is more than three times this size and larger than her head.

Last fall, we watched our beloved Tokyo, our first rat, waste away and die of starvation when his tumor finally overtook his body. As Madison pointed out last night, he suffered horribly. We were at that time in Grand Bahama with no way of getting back to Florida and no vets who took small animals on the island. We watched him for days as he slowly got smaller and smaller and the tumor got bigger and bigger. It was like twisting a knife in my stomach and not a one of us wants to watch that kind of suffering again.

Luckily, we met a woman who lives here in Nassau and has small animals. She found us a vet who has agreed to see us this morning, and she is picking us up to take us there in a couple hours. My hopes are not very high, but perhaps he can help her.

I am not excited about putting her down and seriously hope that we do not have to, especially since we will be in Florida in a week or so. She has a vet in Florida who specializes in dealing with animals like her and who works with rats constantly. I have confidence in her vet and know that she would know what to do. She is not too far out, but I can't be sure Tika has that long to wait either. I suppose we just go and hope for the best, which is really hard since my mind already has scenarios floating around, all of which are certainly not the best.

In Norman's Cay after a month hiatus

by sarah hair Email

The past month we spent in Georgetown, then we started heading north when the trades finally kicked in. WIth some luck and spare time with an internet connection, I might do some backfill and finally upload the pictures which have proven so difficult with this low-bandwidth connection of late. A lot has happened, but life is always like that.

We just arrived in Norman's Cay about an hour ago and found an internet connection. We sailed this morning from Big Major's Spot, so it was a nice short day sail.

Earlier this week we were at Lee Stocking and actually moved up to Leaf Cay just to the north that day to go snorkeling. We saw about a dozen boats sailing that day as we would glance out the cut. John at one point said he wished we had gone out sailing that day and I said that I thought it was a better day to just stay put what with not checking the weather at all. About two hours later a rouge storm blew through, unpredicted by every source, and blowing at around 35 knots. We were REALLY happy we stayed put, especially when we heard the mayday calls from Gang Way who lost their entire bow, anchors, pulpit, etc. in a nasty wave. The two guys aboard we had met in Georgetown. THey were nice guys, rather young, and not terribly experienced as mariners. They panicked, made multiple calls and pleas for help, but no one ever helped them. Several hours they called for help and no one answered other than to repeat their message. No assistance was offered. They gave their position as they were rapidly drifting South with their mast out of commission and a sail fouled in their propeller. Just before dark a salvage vessel agreed to tow them only if they would agree to pay the costs, which they warned would be significantly higher than standard "because this is a distress operation."

I was crying most of that day from then on and glad that I never got around to removing my chipped nail polish. I was able to just chew the polish off and preserve the length and integrity of my actual nails instead of chewing them off as we gathered around the VHF for several hours listening to the drama. I was just so very disgusted that no one would help and my faith in humanity was pretty rocked. I can just imagine how horrible it was for those guys. We several times called them and walked them through ideas to slow them down or better steer away from the wind, etc. but we were in no shape to actually help them out.

Eventually they were towed and last I heard they were headed for Nassau.

We are also headed for Nassau, and hope to be there in the next couple days. Our agenda, however, includes hanging out with friends, looking for a vet to check out our baby rat Tika who has developed a large lump these past couple days, and going to the yoga retreat.

Omnibus -

by sarah hair Email

I know it has been a long time since my last update since I now can't remember where I left off or what happened since then without looking at the pictures.

Well, at least the pictures are fun to look at. A quick glance through the pictures alerts me to the fact that I have not updated since we left Rock Sound and headed to Exumas. Our sail over was enough of an event to warrant its own blog post, but it will have to just go into this omnibus post instead, since our interwebs are still rather precariously perched on our antenna and are prone to drop at any moment.

The sail over from Eleuthera to Exuma Park was a sail, despite all of our friends and neighboring boats leaving via motor and arriving in the noon-time to the anchorage we were all anticipating. We spun in circles for several hours, becalmed, thinking of all those other boats relaxing on the new digs, and we just relaxed on deck waiting for the winds to cooperate. They did pick up after dark and eventually deposited us in the anchorage, highly recommended and well-marked on the chart if not in real life. The moon would not rise at all until after 1:00 am and in the pitch-black we could neither see the rocky shores surrounding us nor the opening to the channel we needed to enter to avoid them. We attempted to anchor outside the channel to hold position and wait until daybreak, but abandoned the notion and weighed anchor as soon as it was set.

A dangerous night landing in the dark brought us into a minefield of unlit boats, which upon further examination were attached to mooring balls. We spent the next couple hours attaching to one of the surprise mooring balls in the extreme current, gusty wind bursts, and tidal surge of the pitch-black midnight. We lost and then rescued a boat hook in the effort, which was not without its own excitement.

Eventually we rested while the surge and current conspired to force the mooring buoy to smash into our hull right next to where I lay my head, every few seconds, all night long. In the morning we met with the 'host' and paid our $20.00 for the night, before removing ourselves from the mooring and setting our anchor some 200 feet away in the much safer, quieter, and more relaxing area to the South.

Welcome to the Exumas! A beautiful bunch of islands where you don't get what you pay for, and the free version is always better anyway. This would be underscored once we tried to use the $10.00 per day internet... but that might be another post, if we can get online, of course.

We were in the middle of a natural park, a reserve, where fishing, conching, shelling, and any other activity that might negatively alter the wildlife was prohibited. Except for attaching to mooring balls and flushing gallons upon gallons of human waste into the water. That, as it turns out, was perfectly acceptable and expected. We still used our holding tank anyway. ALthough, the lack of conching legally certainly resulted in an increase of the varieties of conch we saw, more than half a dozen in the first ten minutes off the boat!

We spent two days there, exploring first the short hike and the beach where there was some little snorkeling spot nearby. Unfortunately, it was still too cold to get in the water, so the kids made hermit crab habitats along with our friend, Owen. They gave us tours of the luxury apartments, with beds, couches, refrigerators, water fountains, etc. all made from sand.

Our second day we hiked the short hike to the other side of the island to check out Bell Rock. THe rock itself was amazing and brought ideas of hidden treasure and secret maps. It would have been a great place to do some dare-diving off its cliffs were the wind from the South and the weather a bit warmer. We decided to climb the closer rock and followed a trail which ended up bringing us to the highest points of the island, which incidentally, is the highest elevation any of us had seen in several years! The views were magnificent, the hike was easy, and the exercise was so worth every second. We marked this hike as our favorite part of the Bahamas cruising so far.

Winds kicked up the following day, and we headed south to the next spot. We spent several days around Big Majors Spot and saw the swimming pigs as well as the awesome Thunderball Grotto. It turns out, they shot some famous movie there... something about James Bond, I guess. The grotto exploration was a happier event than the Pigs, which just made me sad. Pigs in the tropics, without food, water, or mud, who swim out to dinghies to beg for food from being conditioned by the tour boats who throw hot dogs (yes, hot dogs) to get them to pose for tourists... well, you can guess how I feel about that. Nevertheless, the pigs were very kind. We brought them some leftovers and fed them from the dinghy before going for a walk on the beach, their beach. They mostly ignored us once they knew our foodstock was already eaten, but their babies were adorable. We also saw a smaller cave and explored it while on our way.

The Thunderball grotto, this famous little cave with a great sky light, had several openings where one could swim in under the cave. There were great varieties of fish, though not in any great quantity. The way the light looks though coming in from the various entrances made it worth every second of enduring the freezing water, except for Malia who has not enough body mass or fat, and wanted to get out after only about 10 minutes. We immediately marked this as our second-favorite thing we had done in Bahamas, right after the hike on Cambridge Cay mentioned above.

I brought the jam cam into the grotto, underwater and all of that, in a plastic baggie and shot some very blurry pictures. Not bad for being in a baggie though, and the jam cam still works even!!

We spent several days at Pipe Creek where we tried to swim once more, this time without Malia. We just did a quick dive in from the boat and swam around looking for some wildlife. We found what appeared to be a conch nursery. There were tons of baby conch, but we saw no adults. There was very short grass in sand, with scattered holes every few feet. It appeared that something had dug down and was living in the holes, but we saw no other evidence of life other than the grass and the conch in the area. Beyond the baby conch area, there was a little coral patch in the rocky shoreline where we saw our first Bahamian anemone and a bizarre creature who could have been a millipede that lived underwater. He had the segments in his body, with what appeared to be two sets of legs per segment. It was about 10 inches long and was crawling along the sea floor on rocks. As of yet, we have been unable to identify it.

Speaking of identification, we met a nice couple who helped us out with finding our way around Pipe Creek and they donated, very generously, a book on identifying shells! We have been going through our shells and trying to find the names in the book, which has been a lot of fun. I have been working on some sea urchin jewelry too, so look for that in the coming weeks. It takes F o r e v e r to get the little buggers prepped and washed, but I think it will be worth it.

Presently, we are in Little Farmers' Cay, after sailing this morning and afternoon. We went for a quick explore on shore this evening and ended up in the Ocean Cabin Restaurant for some fries and salad. THere were a bunch of other cruisers there, and we played ring toss and even sang a Farmers' Cay song that our hosts supplied the lyrics for. Unfortunately, I had not had enough to drink to be able to carry the tune, but everyone else made up for it.

Be sure to check the pictures, I uploaded a bunch from the past couple weeks. They are in the our photos link at the top of the blog.

good food, friends, and a bottle of sand

by sarah hair Email

Well, it looks like this may have been our last trip through Rock Sound for a while, as we are intending to head to Exumas on Thursday once this latest of the thrice-weekly cold fronts passes.

Yesterday, several other cruisers in our anchorage planned to get us all together for a big meal at Rose's place, so we made the trek over and tried our hand at being sociable. It was a great deal of fun, and the food was marvelous! It was a real treat to spend the time with everyone and to get the goodies. The price was certainly right, and we all enjoyed some leftovers today as well.

We decided to walk across the island to get to her place, so we could get in some beach time and hang with our new friends from Thursday's Child. The kids enjoyed some running around, beach combing, gathering of sand, searching for treasure, and a great balancing game.

We showed Owen our favorite pink sand beach, and he found an empty bottle to fill with some souvenir sand.

At the end of the evening, we got a ride back to the dock during the most vibrant red sky ever. The tide was incredibly low, so John had to go get the dinghy from one dock on his own and row to another dock to pick us up where it was a bit deeper.

Our internet access runs out early tomorrow morning, and we will be heading to Exumas right after that, so expect to not hear from us for a week or two while we get to the next stop and try to find internet.

Another trip through Eleuthera

by sarah hair Email

Once again, we headed through the streets of Rock Sound and aimed toward Rose's place on the Nort'side. We passed more amazing and beautifully tragic buildings such as this, which this fine young fellow reported to us as his beach house. He insisted that I take his picture next to the building, as an older woman, perhaps his mom, yelled at us from the porch of the next building. He interpreted her English and John interpreted his to me, but somewhere in the translating of the four Englishes being spoken, the best we could get was that she was trying to offer us some food.

We continued on our way to the Nort'side, me delighted that they correctly used an apostrophe in the signs.

Along the way, these cotton plants grew along the side of the road. We stopped and picked some cotton, making us real, honest, cotton-pickers for the trip. The cotton needed tending, including having the thorns and seeds removed, which made for a lovely activity to blindly do while walking along a dusty road for over a mile. Unfortunately, at one point, we picked some cotton with monster-sized spiders in them and the consequent screaming and tossing of cotton put an end to that activity for the duration of the walk.

We arrived at Rose's cottages, and were promptly greeted by Teddy, the yellow lab of the house. Rose had served as a tour guide, cook, and friend to us during our stay, and we were hoping to see her before we left for the next port.

Rose was working on making food for someone else, as usual, and was busy loading it all in her car for delivery. She had this lovely fruit basket, and I snapped a quick photo as she finished her load and sped off for her delivery.

We dined on a delicious picnic of home made baked beans, tofu dogs, fresh rolls, and mashed potatoes. We resisted the temptation to give Teddy a taste despite his insistence that this might be his only chance to try tofu dogs. They, naturally, do not have tofu dogs on this island as part of the regular imports of food.

We relaxed at the beach for several hours and headed back to the boat before the sun went down. We had earlier in the day received an invitation from some neighbors for drinks on their boat, so we headed over and checked out this amazing ketch, complete with a photo essay, documenting the boat being made form a 300 year-old tree some fifty some years ago. The result was rather amazing.

We hung out and played dominoes until rather late, then headed back to our boat to get ready to move out of the way of our next of the thrice-weekly scheduled storms, which was forecast for tomorrow.

Exploring Eleuthera

by sarah hair Email

We woke this morning before dawn with the boat pitching and rolling all over the place. Loud winds were howling and making a unique whistling noise, while the dinghy, left in the water last night after we returned too exhausted to bring it up, bashed into the hull of Avalon with loud thumps as it scraped off our paint and drove John mad.

Yesterday's adventure had tuckered us out as well as landed us on Avalon just as the rain began to pour. This caused us to shrug off the hauling up of the dinghy and moving of the boat to another anchorage before this newest of our thrice-weekly scheduled Northers hit in the middle of the night.

So, what was so very much fun yesterday that we decided to stay out and risk living through this washing machine? Well, everything. Naturally.

We headed out to Rock Sound in the morning after breakfast. This day, we decided to go on a little sight-seeing tour of the town, then head to the beach.

Some of the highlights included, the long-since-closed art gallery, the amazing architecture, the termite mound, colorful buildings that are barely erect, some cotton bushes where we picked some blossoms and spent our walk removing the seeds to make little balls, the rickety steps to the beach, finding sea glass, finding floats, plastic, and other flotsam and jetsam for the girls to make awesome sculptures.

So, after our little excursion, we stopped at the home of our friend we met last week and hung out with her for a bit. She was headed out to get some groceries, and since we had struck out on every grocery attempt we had made so far, we decided to tag along. She took us on a whirlwind grocery shopping tour of every small shop in the area, of which there are a lot more than one might expect.

We ended up getting local bell peppers, plantains, corn on the cob, grapefruits, oranges, sour oranges (which look like oranges, but taste more like lemons), tomatoes, thyme, and some odd looking fruit thing that they say is like a dried peach. We also got conventional and shipped in yucca, broccoli, bananas, and cauliflower.

It seriously pays to know the locals. We made up the yucca last night, along with some broccoli and a lentil, plantain, tvp dish I made up. It was very, very tasty and we were all excited to have fresh veggies again.

Fastest update

by sarah hair Email

Our internet lasts 24 hours, but it takes that long for me to just get a solid connection and upload a dozen small images for my blog posts. As of now, I have only a few minutes left in this 24 hour day, so this will have to be fast so as to save me form paying another $10.00 for another 24 hours.

We made ROck SOund, Eleuthera a few days ago.

We have gone ashore twice, both times going to a beach on the North Side, where we met a really nice lady who made us lunch and let us hang out in her place and watch her and her friend make jewelry. She also took us to a very special beach where she does her beach-combing and finds special shells and things for her jewelry.

The second time we went to the North Side, we caught a ride in the back of this truck, which took a significant amount of sweaty walking off our 1.5 mile trip.

I was able to ship all our orders, but have a stack of 5 new ones that will go out tomorrow. The post office here is very close, so it is a good anchorage for doing business.

THe anchorage here is amazingly calm. Enjoy a couple pictures. I gotta run before my internet access cuts off. Oh, also, my Dremel broke! THis means no new drilled jewelry until I can get a new one, probably back in FLorida.

Back at the yoga retreat

by sarah hair Email

Back to the yoga retreat!

What can I say? We can't get enough of this place!

We made it to shore for some yoga and dinner. Actually, we spent the better part of the day here and I made a bunch of jewelry in the garden. It was great fun, and I got a lot accomplished.

The yoga was such a treat, and I was able to totally relax and let my allergies calm down and get my stuffy nose and sore throat in check. John and I took a private time and stretched out for an hour before we took a two hour class.

I finally remembered to take a picture of the food too! It was sooooo good today, all kinds of fresh foods and amazing flavors. This picture is of one of the lines. I never saw the other lines, because I was so full.

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