April 23, 2010

Never Done... (Chapter Eight)

JGA Design #0449 Christened "Mattakeeset" (Later renamed "Firebird")

Dateline: Great Exuma Island, Bahamas, 1970

The Exuma chain of "Out Islands" ran from near New Providence (Nassau) for about 50-60 miles south before you reach Great Exuma... There are many privately owned islands in this chain but there are also settlements and historical places which required immediate exploration. One of the books my mother talked me into reading before we started back out, was a book by Robert Wilder, "Wind from the Carolinas". Without getting into a lengthy synopsis, the book followed a Loyalist Family from the Carolinas on their multi-generational relocation to the Islands of the Bahamas, rebuilding the plantations that were once rebuilt in the south from bricks and belongings carried from Great Britain...

The book was awesome, even more so were some of the ruins we found just south of Stocking Island (the barrier island that protects George Town harbor in Great Exuma). I remember visualizing the Cameron plantation sitting high on the hilltop of this small Cay (possibly Pigeon or Hog Cay, I can't remember the name) and also reenacting the memories I had of the beaches surrounding the island as written by Wilder.

We faced some of the same challenges as the Cameron family...One of the common things was, there was never enough fresh water (on Firebird). That is, water you could drink (with only a 120 gallon fresh water capacity located below the cabin soles for 6 people, 2 cats and 2 dogs, it was challenging)... We did have a full set of awnings/canopies that shaded the deck while at anchor for more than a couple of days... These canvas awnings were designed with canvas funnels built into them to catch rain water during the predictable afternoon rain squalls and divert it into the fresh water tanks. As a result of this constant shortage, we had faucets in both the galley (kitchen) and the head (bathroom) that, rather than delivering hot and cold water (as most of us are used to), delivered fresh and seawater. The cold side of the faucet was fresh, and the hot side was sea, as we had no real hot water while cruising... We washed dishes in sea water, we took showers in sea water, and we even brushed our teeth in sea water... Please remember that the sea water in the Bahamas is as clear as the water in your favorite pool... It's just salty... And today, it's one of my least favorite things... Lemon Fresh Joy (LFJ) was the only product at the time that would produce suds in salt water. So we did dishes in LFJ, we took showers with LFJ, we washed the dogs with LFJ, and today can you guess what is under my sink??? I guarantee you it's not LFJ... I use DAWN!

Enough for today, Over and "Out" from Portsmouth, VA

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