Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Friends

Kristen here – Today is Monday 5/11/09. We arrived at Little San Salvador this afternoon after sailing from Fernandez Bay on Cat Island.

Let me think, last time I wrote, we were still in New Bight on Cat Island. The gentleman I met who played Rake and Scrape was named Beauhog. We went that night to listen to Beauhog and his band. It was very impromptu and quite a unique experience. Beauhog sang and played a concertina while someone else played a goatskin drum that was heated over a fire before playing. I’m not sure, but something about heating the goatskin gives the drum a better sound. Another person played the saw by scraping its teeth. When we arrived Beauhog gave me a hug and thanked me for coming. He called me his cousin. Later I found out that everyone is his cousin. “Hay cuz!” he would yell. It took me a while before I realized it was me he was calling.

While Beauhog was playing we chatted with Evan, Alan, and the Newlyweds. They all came from a resort in Fernandez Bay, which is a bit north of New Bight. Evan works at the resort, Alan is a pilot who was staying at the resort, and the newlyweds were also staying at the resort. We had a wonderful time learning everyone’s story. Evan used to come to the resort with his parents and eventually ended up working there. He was a wonderful host and just a super nice person. Alan was a pilot who had just flown a client in for a local bill fishing tournament. The newlyweds were, well….newlyweds.

Angie from Side by Side turned on her usual charm and got to know everyone also. Apparently she got to know Alan a bit as well, and later she told us that he invited everyone to come take a look at the jet he flies. So, the next day we had the grand tour of a $25 million dollar jet! It was incredible! All of the kids from the anchorage and most of the adults got to sit where fame and fortune have sat before. The plane is owned by a company, but when it isn’t on company time, it is chartered. Alan said he has flown Ozzy Ozborne, and several other famous people! It costs $5,000 per flight hour to charter. It flies at about 46,000 feet where most commercial jets fly at 32,000 feet. Alan let all of the kids and adults sit in the cockpit right where he sits. What an experience!

The next day Alan used the resort truck to visit the Hermitage. The Hermitage is atop the highest point in the Bahamas. It is a monastery, now empty, that was built and lived in by one man. Alan agreed to share this adventure with all of us as well. So, about 12 of us piled in front and in the bed of the truck. Oh but it wasn’t all take and no give. The night before this all of us gave Alan and his co-pilot, JT, a tour of our boats. We shared happy hour and appetizers and some more conversation with them as well. After Alan finally had to leave the island to fly his client home, he told us to watch for him around 5:00 and he would buzz the anchorage. So 5:00 rolled around and we all were standing on our cabin tops. No plane. Everyone gave up after a bit. Then at 5:40 we hear the roar of a jet engine. Everyone again runs topside. We can see the jet rise into the air. It’s all white with what looks like a mouth painted on the underside of the nose. From our vantage it looks like a shark cutting through the air. The jet roars away from us heading south. A couple of minutes pass and we start to give up on the idea of Alan buzzing us. I got the binoculars out and can see his wings tilt towards us. I immediately yell to everyone, “He’s turning, he’s turning, he’s coming back!” By this time he had completed his turn and was heading up the coast of Cat Island directly for us. You couldn’t hear him and you could barely make out the silver nose of the jet with binoculars. Nobody could see him! “He’ll be here in a matter of seconds” I yelled urgently. As it came closer everyone could make him out. Then all of a sudden the jet roared overhead and just sucked the wind out of your lungs. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as he went by. It felt like we were standing at the end of a runway as a plane was taking off. Just amazing! Thanks Alan and JT.

Let me think, what else happened on Cat Island. We moved from New Bight to Fernandez Bay after meeting Evan at the Rake and Scrape. The guide books talk about a bad relationship between Fernandez Bay Resort and Cruisers. Apparently there has been some bad blood, something about cruisers anchoring in the bay, right in front of the resort and dumping garbage that floated onto the resort beach. But Evan was very nice and told us to stop by. The resort was beautiful. There were a bunch of cottages and a restaurant. It was actually one of the nicest resorts I have seen so far in the Bahamas. I liked it because it wasn’t so set apart from the culture of the island. The guests were at the Rake and Scrape, they went on eco-tours of the island and were swimming and snorkeling in the same bay as the cruisers. Most resorts isolate their guests from the outside world, but this one didn’t.

After talking with one of the managers, I could see why she didn’t like cruisers. She didn’t go into too much detail saying, “You just wouldn’t believe the things I have seen”. One thing she did mention is an incident with their honor bar system. At the resort, you write your name on a pad, make your drink, and keep track of what you’ve taken on your piece of paper in the pad. At the end of the day you then settle up with your dinner bill. Well, apparently some cruisers came in one day, drank half of the alcohol and wrote down four beers on their tab. It’s a shame that a few have to ruin it for the rest. We reassured the manager that we weren’t like that and tried to make up for past violations.

Basically we’ve been enjoying our time with all of the kid boats we’ve been traveling with. Let me see if I can remember everyone. There is Taua with one girl on board, MiaCota with twin girls, Alley Cat with one girl, Side by Side with a girl and a boy, and us. That’s a lot of kids!

Today we all moved to Little San Salvador. It is a smaller island northeast of Cat Island. Little San Salvador is privately owned by a cruise ship company. The company has loaded the island with entertainment for its passengers. The guide book said that if you are nice, the people will let cruisers use the facilities if a ship isn’t currently in port. When we arrived, Alley Cat and MiaCota had already been ashore, been given the grand tour, and received permission for the kids to use the water trampolines. The ship was due to arrive the next morning at 7:30 AM.

So, as soon as we put down our anchor all of the kids, two of the moms and I went to shore to use the trampolines. There were three huge floating trampolines. There were also a bunch of foam creatures to play on and around. There was a floating alligator, crab, dolphin, and log raft. All along the beach there were water bikes, hobicats, sunfish sailboats, cabanas, piles of lounge chairs by the hundreds, a bar, a large private cabana area with a whirlpool and its own private bar, and a small water play area for the kids. When we were dingying over there, Sabrina from Side by Side said, “This doesn’t look like the Bahamas, it looks like Florida” I don’t think I could have said it better myself.

The kids did have a blast and were good and tired by the end of the day. Ally from Ally Cat told us that she had talked to some of the workers, and we were to report to the beach at 9AM with the kids for horseback riding!! Wholly cow! Errr….horse! Apparently a bottle of tequila goes a long way.

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