Monday, December 27, 2010

Spanish Wells

Friday 24 December – Monday 27 December

We make the decision to stay at the marina in Spanish Wells to wait out the front coming through after Christmas. The nearby anchorage (Royal Island) would be good holding BUT we would not have Internet access and we wanted to be able to do Skype calls on Christmas. As it turns out it is a very interesting island to spend Christmas on. It is a small island, only about a ¼ mile wide and 3 miles long, and not a “tourist island”, most likely because it's dry – no alcohol. It's income comes from its fishing fleet that supplies over 50% of the lobsters that are exported from the Bahamas, most ending up at Red Lobster. The fishing fleet are all off the week before Christmas until after the New Year to spend time with family. The colorful homes all have beautifully landscaped yards with a huge variety of flowers & trees. It is a pleasure just walking the streets & beaches, although on the 2 main roads running the length of the Island it is amazing how many cars & golf carts go zooming by, seems like everyone is running back and forth from one end of the Island to the other. On Friday afternoon we hear activity from the end of the Island so we follow the noise to see what is going on. Find everyone at the ball park, all the kids are participating in fun & games. Broken up by girls & boys and age groups they do different races. Such as sack hop, wheel barrow, running backwards, carrying egg on spoon held in the mouth, 3 legged race etc. etc. We stay and watch for a while and the little ones are SO cute & FUNNY !!! We learn about a Fire Works display planned for later in the evening. It is at midnight on Christmas Eve, which we think is a strange time to have a fire works display. Talk to a local and she says yes they go to the park up by the bridge (other side of Island) and party and then have fireworks at midnight. The park is actually on another smaller Island (Russel Island) at the top of Spanish Wells connected by a little 80' bridge. So we figure we will go check it out along with Sandy & Jeff on another sailboat at the marina. As we start walking down a little pick up stops to give us a ride so we pile in the back and he drops us off. The park is called Members Only as this is where the locals go to hang out and drink (BYOB). Although the island is dry, meaning they don't sell alcohol anywhere on the island, that doesn't mean they don't drink. Alcohol is sold on the nearby island of Eleuthera, and there is a local ferry that makes “about 30 trips a day” across the 1 ½ mile channel to the ferry dock on the other side that has a two story liquor store right on the dock. The Members Only have Christmas lights on the trees and have made a makeshift “party house” / shed with electricity, complete with stereo system, old refrigerator, stove, microwave, lounge chairs, tables & benches. On Sundays they bring a few TV's to watch football. We learn that the reason the fireworks are at midnight is this is more of an adult gathering and this show is just put on by a few locals and there will be another bigger display Christmas night. As it get closer to midnight more & more people have shown up and are all in a festive mood. The fireworks display is pretty impressive shooting up multiple ones at the same time. As we leave after the show the locals are partying strong, so we walk back to the boats. Christmas day is a beautifully sunny day, glad to be able to talk to & see family via Skype. During our afternoon walk we see the locals out at the ball park for day 2 of fun & games for the kids. After they open presents & go to church they all head back to the park to play. They have great participation, with good incentive since they all get CASH $$ for winning and even for just taking part in the race. It is fun to see the whole community taking part in these holiday festivities. Verify that yes indeed there will be another fireworks display tonight, this one around 7:30-8 right there on the beach behind the ball park. We get there at 7:45 forgetting we are on Island time so get to wait around over an hour for the show. We are entertained by a local band set up & playing behind home plate, and by watching the locals set up the fireworks. They do it a LOT different here, 1st I don't think there are any safety regulations they have to follow, and 2nd they do it all as a “Grand Finale”, setting off a whole lot of them together. For tonight’s show we are standing on the beach 50 yards away (upwind) from where they are being set off ! That is the closest we have ever been to a fireworks show, being able to feel and see them going off right over our heads, It was incredible! Sunday the front moves in and the winds are 25-35 knots, with just a little rain. Monday partly sunny skies but winds still howling, feels like you will be blown off the dock as you walk. We walk over to the Ocean side to see the wave action, finding one crazy guy out kite surfing. From the distance on the beach it is hard to tell how bad it is but we can see a lot of turbulence out on the water. The locals are all gathered again this time in the parking lot of the supermarket doing more fun & game activities for the kids. Can't believe the announcer still has a voice. Tuesday the winds should die down enough for us to head out, we have to wait for high tide at 2 so we will just go back to Royal Island Harbour to anchor out and head out early on Wednesday from there. Once again Merry Christmas to family & friends you were close in our hearts. It might be next year before the next blog update, so HAPPY NEW YEAR !! 2011 WOW time sure does fly.

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