May 3, 2011 – Layover day at Calabash Bay, Long Island

High temp 84 degrees; water temp 78 degrees – ENE wind at 15 knots; seas 1 foot inside, close to shore

Chris Parker’s forecast is holding consistent with his analysis of the last couple of days. It’s still breezy this morning, and supposed to remain so much of the day, but a little lighter than yesterday. Tomorrow is supposed to be lighter yet. I’ll listen in tomorrow before deciding whether to try crossing over to Conception Island.

After breakfast we take off by dinghy for the mangrove creek where we grounded yesterday. We have a sketch map which shows a small townsite a little way up, and we want to check it out. We follow the creek until we reach a series of docks and a low bridge, both of which are shown on our map. We tie the dinghy up there, and start hiking. We soon reach a main road, and walk a mile or so down it. We stop in at a small convenience store and buy a few items. On our way back we take a side trip on a road which leads up a hill toward the ocean. Near the top we visit with a woman who is meticulously building a stone wall around her property. She’s planted palm trees in the rocky ground. One day her landscaping efforts will transform the site into a beautiful shaded garden. She has tethered several goats in the shade, where they graze contentedly. Across the road I spot a banana tree growing in a deep hole. On this island people for years have practised a form of agriculture called pothole farming. They either blast holes in the rock or take advantage of naturally occuring holes like this one, and place soil in them, and then plant. The lady we talked with said that the banana tree was planted years ago, and it now regularly bears fruit. The hole it grows in must be 15 feet deep.

On the walk back I keep a good look out for pieces of trash which I might use in fabricating a blade for my dinghy oar. I haul a piece of plastic back, along with a short length of tree limb, which might fit inside the oar shaft. Back at the boat, I whittle the wood down in diameter until it fits tightly into the aluminum oar handle. I decide to give up on my piece of plastic and, instead, try using a snorkeling flipper. I slide the wooden limb stub into the fin, and clamp it in place with a hose clamp. It looks like it might work. I take the dinghy out for a test row, and sure enough, I’m back in the rowing business. It’s rather crude and looks pretty funny, but it will do until I can purchase a suitable replacement.

We spend a lazy afternoon on the boat, reading and hoping that the wind will abate. Later on I dinghy over to a sloop which has dropped anchor nearby. The boat is Calypso, and the young couple say hello and invite me aboard. They are on their honeymoon, and have spent this special time on a South American back pack trip, followed by this sailing cruise. They recall seeing us in George Town. I ask them to stop by our boat in the evening, after dinner, for tea and cookies. We continue our visit when they dinghy over. The conversation comes very easily, and we have fun sharing stories. He’s Polish and she’s of Italian background, and they live in Toronto Canada. They bought this older Catalina boat specifically for this trip, and they’ve been fixing it up along the way. They plan on selling the boat at the end of the cruise. So many different ways of approaching this cruising thing. They want to go over to Conception Island like us, but they can’t motor very fast, and so are hoping for a sailing wind. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like the wind will be anything but on the nose for the next several days. That means that we’ll likely move ahead of them, but maybe they’ll catch up to us when we reach Eleuthra. Before they return to their boat, I tell Macek I’ll radio them in the morning to give them the latest Chris Parker forecast.

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