52 Vero Beach, FL to Man-O-War Cay, Abaco

by

After a wonderful Christmas at Mom’s, our urge to travel kicked in again. We headed south listening to boaters talking about conditions outside at Fort Pierce. A 50-foot trawler, Patriot, ahead of us elected to continue inside on the ICW because of reported rough seas. We decided to try outside and found the 3-5 foot seas to be acceptable. We continued on the ocean to Lake Worth allowing us to bypass 8 bridges and all the Sunday ICW traffic.

It became evident that we might not be into Lake Worth until after dark. I went forward and spent a fun time with my head in the chain locker working upside down connecting up the wiring from the repaired bow pulpit so the bow light would work. Wires connected, I flipped the switch and nothing happened, the brand new bow light didn’t work. Conditions were too rough to attempt taking it apart at sea, so we took advantage of our new prop, increased speed leaving Cutaway far behind and got into Lake Worth before dark. There, leaning over the bow pulpit, I took the light apart and found that the wires had never been connected. As the sun set, the connections were made and the light worked. A letter explaining the sloppy work will go to the repair shop.

6 AM found Patriot, Tranquility, and Cutaway heading out the Lake Worth inlet. Patriot radioed back that conditions were very rough. Just then Tranquility dropped off one wave and buried her bow in another. Solid water washed over deck, hit and came in under the dodger. White water went over the top of the dodger. We were suddenly one very wet boat. Patriot radioed again wanting to know if we were going to turn back. We were considering just that, but suggested continuing for an hour to see if conditions improved once we were away from the inlet and land. A half-hour later we were motor sailing in reasonable seas and making good time.

Crossing conditions were great and we decided to take advantage and continue on into the night. We altered course to come onto the Bahama Banks at Memory Rock and then continued on through the night reaching Great Sale Cay at 11:30 PM. A year earlier we’d made the same crossing and hadn’t arrived until 5 AM.

We started to move again at dawn, but were delayed by engine problems. Last year it was Tranquility with problems, this year it was Cutaway. Her raw water pump stopped working and we stood by while Ron made repairs. Then with favorable winds we motor sailed to Green Turtle Cay. Getting in late, we tried to do the right thing and contact the Customs Officer. We found his house, knocked on the door and were told to come back tomorrow.

We snuggled into Black Sound at Green Turtle and stayed a week. The anchorage was cozy and close to town. We wandered the entire island discovering new places, shelling on the beaches, and having lunch at various local restaurants. We discovered the local liquor store served lunches and had excellent hot dogs sitting among the liquor bottles and swapping notes about Green Turtle Cay with Dave the owner.

Junkanoo is a unique Bahamian tradition. Basically it’s a parade conducted at various times and places all over the Bahamas. The tiny town of New Plymouth on Green Turtle has their Junkanoo on New Years day afternoon. We arrived early and found town jammed with spectators waiting for the Junkanoo. What is normally a town of about 400 had swelled to a couple of thousand. Party atmosphere prevailed as street vendors sold homemade ice cream, fried chicken and drinks. We found a place to stand and got into serious people watching. What a mix of people; boaters, island people and tourists all having a good time. Great way to pass the time. Every now and then, a hint of the parade to come came past. Microvans filled with colorful costumes and an occasional man carrying a drum would head for the end of town. The start time for Junkanoo came and went. People began drifting toward the end of town and the start of the parade.

The sound reached us first. Drums, loud drums, a lot of them. The rhythm was captivating. Mixed into the rhythm of the drums were bells, whistles and conch shell horns. The drums drew everyone into the street straining to see the beginning of Junkanoo.

Over a slight rise we could see Junkanoo coming. A splash of bright color and sparkles from the shoulder and head dresses stood out in the crush of people who filled the street. Junkanoo moved slowly, not so much up the street, but rather through the people toward us. We suddenly realized that we were watching a 100-foot parade. But what a 100 feet! As the crowd parted, we realized Junkanoo is not a parade but rather a dance. Junkanoo dancers at Green Turtle CayTeen girls and women lead. Their dancing rhythm inspired by the drums carried them forward at a slow pace. Brightly painted cardboard costumes accented with bright feathers, beads and sequins flashed in the sunlight. Their movements were incredible. Flowing shoulders, swaying arms and bumps and grinds that you wouldn’t have thought possible. Their movements turned their costumes into a blur of color and light flashes. Little girls followed. Their movements duplicated those sensual movements of their older sisters and mothers. Some of them carried cardboard shoulder displays that were huge, but that didn’t seem to slow down their fluid dance.

Weaving in and out of the dancers was “Thatch Man”, bent, at the waist, covered in palm fronds, with a very unusual mask. He was very effective in getting small kids and some adults to hide behind someone for protection.

Rhythm and sound took over as the drums, bells, and horns came past. Men and boys made a sound that drew you toward it. These were serious drummers. Many men were stripped to the waist. Black skin shiny with sweat, provided its own sparkle as their hands, nothing but a blur, pounded out the rhythm. As the last drummers moved forward, the crowd crushed in behind them, drawn along by the magical pull of rhythm of the drums.

Junkanoo moved slowly the entire length of town, a half mile at most. There down on the wharf, they stopped, rested and then came back for a second pass. Now everyone followed along, pulled by the drums as Junkanoo moved to the town basketball court near the end of town. The drummers, now stationery, increased the tempo and somehow the sound level. With a final flourish of drums, bells, and horns, Junkanoo came to an end. It had been quite an experience and a lifetime memory.

The next day, Green Turtle Cay had returned to it’s quiet almost deserted self. It seemed like we saw more chickens than people around town. We spent a few days waiting out a front to go through and then headed for Man-O-War Cay.

The impact of our new prop became evident as we powered into the wind heading for Whale Cay. We left a larger boat behind and caught and passed a boat that had left much earlier. Once around the Whale, we shut off Tranquility’s engine and found we were sailing much faster as our new prop feathered eliminating much of its drag. It looks like our investment was a good one.

We pulled into Man-O-War Cay, took on fuel, water, found a mooring and sat back and relaxed. We felt like we had returned to a place where we were very comfortable. In the morning we’ll go ashore and buy fresh cinnamon rolls from Lola off her golf cart.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: