There we met Dick, who was living on a trimaran along the beach from us - the only other boat in the bay. (The word harbour is loosely used here, in this case describing a bay with no other amenities than a beach. Similarly, a town might be a couple of houses, though in the case of French Wells, Crooked Island, no houses at all!). I had to go and meet the fellow - I've always had an interest in trimarans. He'd designed and made his. He had a mould for making small catamarans. He'd made his outriggers from two of these hulls, and then made some more hulls and chopped them up and glassed them together in new ways to make the main hull. He'd sailed it down from New England somewhere years ago, and had been sailing round the southern islands of the Bahamas for years. His boat was well used, and I wasn't surprised to find it a little smelly. Was it my imagination, or was that musky smell actually fresh bread? It was! Dick had been baking it in an oven on top of a beach fire, and he'd just brought it back to the boat. Dick informed us that the only place we could buy some much needed vegetables was at Landrail, at the other end of the island. We'd hoped we'd find a shop at Attwood Harbour.
As we were beginning to hoist anchor next morning, Dick came by with some advice about getting out past the reef
and managed to get it across before he hit the beach.
Afterwards he tacked around outside the bay to make sure we got through the reef in the right place.
The trip along the coast of Crooked Island was uneventful too, so I made a new lure, determined to catch some dinner on the way.
We caught nothing but weed until we approached Landrail Point, then looking back at the lure to ensure we hadn't snagged more weed (there's a lot of it about, drifted down from the Sargasso sea) we saw a pair of humpback whales breaching and swimming with each other at great speed. That was when the rod bent, and I had a fish at last. Something quite big, with teeth.
Got him, a barracuda.
But we threw him back - they can give you a dose of ciguatera, so that's the only species we definitely don't want to try eating.
We sailed round the end of the reef at Landrail Point
and had a peaceful night.
Had that barracuda followed us? No, this one is perhaps 4 feet long, and hanging around the back of the boat in the morning.
He was a little camera shy but when I swirled my fingers in the water, he was more interested.
That pink colour at the top of the image is my fingers. I still have the same number as before I took that photograph.
He didn't stick around all morning and we had a swim
but for some reason, we didn't swim far from the boat.
We went to the shops - there were three! But all were shut. This was a Saturday. We'd already figured out Sunday wasn't the day to be here because everyone would be in church. But Saturday? Well, everyone was in church, and they wouldn't come out till sunset, and then the shops would briefly open. Outside the church was a sign saying it belonged to the Seventh Day Adventists. Can't these people count? Isn't Saturday the sixth day?
At sunset, we bought all the vegetables available - potatoes (70c each!), onions, and a few tomatoes. There were no eggs. The mailboat comes 3 times a month here, and we'd arrived in a week when the mailboat doesn't come, so there were no eggs. That's what we were told. These people have their eggs mailed to them I guess.
We were almost out of water, and I read through the Bahamas guide looking for where we might fill up again, but I couldn't see any chance in the near future. I've decided a watermaker might be a good investment if we were to spend much time here. The seawater is extremely clear and clean, and there is almost constant sunshine so we have quite a bit of electricity to spare from just our two panels. Anyway, that's for another time maybe. I set off to look for the nearest water to the dock in Landrail, and was directed to the man with a shop and a well. Water could be bought for $8/gallon, but US gallons, which is only 3.5 pints or so. Or we could help ourselves at the well out the back.
I'd just filled one container when the handle went slack. The pump was broken. I'm afraid my first impulse was to run away, but in a moment, I remembered how old I was, and I went to look for the shopkeeper to break the news of his broken pump. The shop was now shut. Round the back, I found a well worn path to the house next door and tracked the man down to his breakfast table. The fellow was familiar with the problem, and lent me a wrench to have a go at fixing the pump. The wrench wasn't enough though. This called for a complete dismantling, and Jack went back to the boat for some WD40 and the socket set. This called for some serious plumbing.
The shopkeeper returned when the hard work was over.
We chatted as we filled the containers and then he gave us a ride back to the dock in his pickup. The fellow showed us the house he'd been born in, the house next door. It's a real pleasure to chat with these people. They actually listen to what you're saying, and then respond, thoughtfully, and kindly, if they can fit that in too. There's no talking over you, or saying one thing and implying another. Just friendly curiosity and a warm openness. I don't know if it's the church life that does it, the isolation, the lack of noise and distractions. What? I don't know, but I know I like it a lot.