Month: May 2016
Looking for all new crew. I have fired all crew from Tanda Malaika due to excessive use of towels.
The above evidence has been found EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK!!!!
Please send chocolate to my personal address and I will let you know if you’re hired.
Co-Captain. Belinda Govatos
This morning a wonderful 15 – 20 knot wind blew from over the Atlantic against Tanda Malaika as we lay resting at anchor. I watched the sun rise among giant streaks of orange and yellow from my perch on the trampoline, the wind blowing my hair across my pillow, and I knew it was a good day to sail.
We raised the main, pulled up the anchor and immediately sailed out at 8 knots on a beam reach. The creatures gathered around me at the helm and talked quietly about how wonderful the wind was. Aidan walked forward and sat out on the bow, stretched his arms and felt like he was flying. We passed several small island before reaching the 3 main islands to Allen Cays.
As we entered the archipelago the twins kept watch for uncharted shallow spots, and we soon found ourselves in a blissful shelter from the wind, and anchored in 9ft of turquoise waters. Several other vessels were anchored as well, including a double masted schooner with a group of scientists to study the rock iguanas that inhabit the Allen Cays.
Just 37 miles southeast of Nassau, these particular Cays have been a restoration project to provide ideal breeding sites for the endangered Allen Cay Rock Iguanas. These iguanas are found on only 3 islands worldwide (all in the Bahamas), and have only 2 known breeding populations. total population existing is around 1000 iguanas. They reach a total length of about 4.5 ft and eat the leaves, flowers and fruits from 13 different species found on the Cays. Their diet sometimes includes small crustaceans and handouts from tourists.
As we set out in the dinghy to explore we felt like National Geographic Explorers on an expedition in the Galapagos, and I instantly fell in love with the little guys. They love the color red because much of the fruit they eat is red when it is ripe, and as I lay on the ground taking photos, I quickly found out they they were eyeing out my red pony tail holder that held my braid – sometimes coming too close for me to bring them in to focus for a photograph.
The creatures sat watching and photographing them for a long time too, and once in a while I’d hear a nervous, ‘…..mom……..’ from Emma, as thye came too close for her comfort.
What a fantastic, educational day it’s been. We love this place!
Eleuthera to Exuma
The creatures and I enjoyed another fantastic day on Tanda Malaika.
Once setting sail around 0900, we meandered our way through various island to an area called Current Cut, where the current is really strong through a small gap in between a couple islands. It is a short cut to the Exumas, shortening the trip by several miles. We were cruising along at about 6 knots and when we hit the strong current, we crawled through it at 1.2 knots. Once through the cut, an exquisite scene was laid out before us on the other side. Brilliant turquoise and green waters and bright white sand strips in-between. All we could do was stare in awe.
We continued on, turning to starboard and picked up some wonderful wind. The sails were full, and the only sound was the rush of water to the sides of our hulls…pure heaven. The deepest section of ocean that we journeyed through in our entire day of sailing, was about 35ft. All the rest of the time we were in about 5 – 15 ft of water. Needless to say, I sat at the helm the entire time, watching the depth gauge and making necessary course adjustments to avoid shallower waters. For a while, the ocean was a deep blue, and in the distance we could see a distinct line from where it morphed from navy blue to bright turquoise. It is fascinating to see. It always amazes me how various ocean floor material (sand, coral, rock, sea grass etc) and degree of cloud cover effect water color so drastically. Jude sat with her feet in the water and kept exclaiming over and over how unbelievably clear it was.
By early afternoon the wind picked up even more and we made good time at 8 knots on a port tack. The small rocky outer islands of Exuma spread across the horizon later in the afternoon and sea birds circled Tanda Malaika. We dropped anchor on the leeward side of Ship Channel Cay shortly before the sun dipped out of sight, and said a prayer of thanks for a safe journey.
This morning the creatures and I are moving on from Eleuthera to the Exumas. We are excited for this, as the exams are known as the crown jewel of the Bahamas. Approximately 365 islands make up the Exumas, with the Atlantic on the east side and the caribbean on the west. We have loved our time here in Spanish Wells and have made so many wonderful friends. We have accomplished our goal of doing humanitarian work, as well as learning and loving a new culture and people. When we first arrived here the creatures were unsure if they were going to be able to embrace the different vibe here, but have learned and showed themselves that if you open your heart and mind, love conquers all.
Yesterday I went for almost a 2 mile swim. I was in my zone, physically feeling the rhythm of my body gliding through the water with each stroke, and mentally feeling one with the ocean and the life it holds. The waters surface was so warm, that I was sweating as I swam, only to be cooled slightly when my arms reached down at the base of my stroke in the cooler thermal layer. My thoughts migrated back and forth between prayer and meditation, when I was abruptly interrupted by a 3ft Barracuda flying past me, just missing my left hand stroke. I glanced up, noticing a large dark form in the water ahead which resembled a bull shark that had no interest in me, and as I began following through with another stroke I felt the cold scaly body of a fish across the small of my back. I raised my head wondering what on earth was going on, when I heard someone yell to me from the back saying that he was gutting fish and a hammerhead and several bull sharks were grazing on it. I was dumbfounded, and yelled back, ‘so you bait the water more by throwing barracuda at me?’ To which he replied that he tried calling me several times and that was all he could think of to do. I chuckled and then he chuckled, I thanked him for his concern, and continued on with my swim, not seeing another shark the rest of the time. Funny experience!
Here’s to moving on to the next adventure, which will no doubt be fantastic. Photos and thoughts will follow later. I hope your day id filled with wonder too.
The past couple of days have been filled with lots of adventuring and beach time.
Danny and I spent some time building a marvelous sand castle while the creatures and about 10 other Bahamian creatures playing games in the water.
We stayed till sunset, which is a magical time to be on the beach. The breeze was calm, the lighting less intense and those on the beach chatted quietly after a long day. Even the creatures sat with some of their friends and enjoyed the peaceful quiet. Danny perched himself comfortable in the water, talking to an old man named Robert, who has built several of the fishing boats in Spanish Wells.
As we made our way back to Tanda Malaika, the colors of the sunset changed to more intense oranges and our home looked even more welcoming as we approached.
This morning we loaded up again and set out for another adventure. We wanted to show Danny ‘Preachers Cave’ and the blue hole.
The blueness of the ocean and clarity of the water was so welcoming. Danny drove the dinghy to the beach off Devils Backbone where the British had shipwrecked just off Preachers Cave.
It was interesting approaching from this side this time, realizing that it was the same way they did back in the 1600’s. Wet, cold and frightened, they probably prayed in gratitude having survived, asking for guidance to food and shelter. Preachers Cave would have been an amazing find!
After visiting the cave we walked for about a mile up the road to where the blue hole is. Aidan Enjoyed more time on his Penny board.
On the way we found an abandoned orchard with fruit falling all over the ground. Oranges, bananas, avocado, mangoes, paw paw, lime and sapodilla trees were all over the place. The only fruit that was in season were the oranges, sapodilla and lime. We gathered some of those and wished that the mangoes were ripe!
Danny loved the blue hole, and after we had spent time cooling off and lounging in the gorgeous sapphire water, we walked back to the dinghy and motored back home.
Another amazing day of adventuring with this tribe leaves me feeling tired, relaxed and so grateful.
Life as a sailor is a wonderful life.
Danny arrived home yesterday on the late afternoon ferry, and we were so excited to see him. About a minute before we saw the ferry he texted me saying he had missed it and the next one wouldn’t be in for 2 hours. I didn’t buy it, but it was a nice try! It’s always wonderful to sit and listen to him talk about his adventures.
For the past three days we have been scrubbing Tanda Malaika’s belly. Almost over night, she has grown an extremely healthy crop of algae that looks the same thickness, color and length as Grizzly Bear fur. It is by far the toughest stuff we’ve had to deal with thus far! With scrub brushes in hand we spent hours removing the hairy stuff and barnacles. On the first day of scrubbing we fought current as we scrubbed, and on the second and third days we were followed around by a school of juvenile fish who were so curious about our activity and watched for anything of interest to devour. The creatures and I now have tiny cuts all over our knuckles from barnacles, but we finally have the algae smell off our bodies and are relieved to have the job done.
When we were in Panama several months ago, we found a tiny gecko on the boat that was about two inches long. Over the months we haven’t given it much thought, figuring it had crawled off while we were still in Panama. Today, while Mycah was busy at the stern she called Jude for help saying she just spotted the little guy – who has grown considerably, and had just jumped onto the dinghy. Jude followed him into the dinghy so he didn’t jump off and drown, and rescued him. Aidan has name him Drew and he is somewhere back on the boat.
Our Bahamian friend, Kayston, took us aboard his 80ft lobster boat and showed us how everything works. His is one of six owners of the boat, and the season begins in August. Spanish Wells brings in an average of a million pounds of lobster tails each season. He told us that the longest lobster tail he’s seen was about a foot long and weighed about 3 lbs. The Atlantic Lady can hold about 40 000 pounds of lobster tails.
These huge arms are stabilizers and are lowered in moderate seas, and in heavy seas the stingrays (triangular shaped objects that look like anchors) are lowered to about 6ft below the water to stabilize the boat.
The galley is fairly large and had electric ovens. Lucky dogs!
The berths are bunk beds separated by curtains for privacy.
The freezer is set at twenty below where the tails are hung in bags till frozen, then neatly stacked on the wooden boards.
Atlantic lady has a giant engine and a fine looking helm station.
Three ‘scout’ boats accompany Atlantic Lady, and each morning the three boats leave with 2 crew per boat. One crew member descends on a hookah and checks the traps and collects lobster while the other grabs the lobster from the harvester down below. At the end of the day the three scout boats return to the Lady where everyone sleeps for the night till the following morning again. They are out for about 5-6 weeks at a time. We were fascinated by the tour of his boat and are so happy for him and his success.
Our time in Spanish Wells is coming to an end. We are hoping the creatures school text books will arrive tomorrow so that we can continue on to Exumas. It has been wonderful to explore these beautiful Islands and meet so many amazing people.
Me, a Mother
Call me old fashioned, but to be a mom is incredibly fulfilling. It’s where my heart is. Mother’s Day is still on my mind, probably because in my world every day is Mother’s Day. My beautiful children don’t treat me any different on Mother’s Day than they do any other day because they are that wonderful 99% of the time. They treat me with respect and so much love, and I am undeserving but so very grateful.I was such a tomboy growing up, and being the youngest of 3, I didn’t have a younger sibling to teach me patience. I never babysat for anyone and often thought little kids were annoying. I figured you just can’t build a good fort, race bicycles or climb a nice big tree with little kids around. I couldn’t see myself with children, and as I got older I thought perhaps I could stomach 3 kids max!
From the moment I was pregnant with my first I was instantly, completely in love with my baby. I love being pregnant, knowing there is life growing inside me and I am filled with energy and unbelievable unconditional love. During pregnancies my schedule didn’t change from all the hiking, camping and exploring, aside from learning to sew. I made quilts and baby clothes as I watched my belly grow. Labor and delivery is one of my favorite things. I love the energy, the pain, the determination in myself, and when each of my babies took their first breaths I wept, overwhelmed with a level of love I never knew existed. I became a mother when I was 20 and delivered my 6th and 7th babies when I was 30. My days were spent nursing, reading copious amounts of books to my little angels, baking, running through the yard, the parks and mountains with them. We built forts and gardens, camped, kayaked and hiked. When I married Danny I was blessed with 4 more angels, whom I love so very deeply.
So here I am, the girl who wasn’t interested in having kids, with 11 incredible individuals to love, harass, teach, learn from and explore the world with. I am a Mother. I am a Wife. I feel like the luckiest, most blessed woman to ever walk the earth.
Dismantling my head!
First thing the morning the Creatures and I went for some groceries. We saw a golf cart that would actually fit our sized family! If all the creatures were here, we’d need 3 more rows of seats. After that I had some very important business to attend to…
Today was the day…it was time. I’d been putting it off for a couple of days, but I cannot procrastinate any longer. The time had come to dismantle my head, bang it around, jump on it, beat in into submission, then reassemble it. It paints a disturbing picture, but for those who have been following my blog for a while now, you know that these issues have shown their ugly faces in the past, and once again it’s time to face the…toilet. Our marine heads flush with salt water which is a beautiful thing because we aren’t wasting fresh water, but it comes with some not so beautiful issues. When salt water and urine mix, nasty little crystals form around the insides of the hoses kind of like a clogged artery. It’s just as bad as a clogged artery actually because it would be so easy to have a heart attack when you pull the hoses out and take a peek inside them.I stood facing of the toilet this morning, like a matador faces a bull. We eyed each other out, I waved a rag back and forth, and then went in for the hoses.
I had to remove the hose at the base of the toilet, and also it’s end which happens to end at the glorious holding tank.
Of course all this takes place behind a closed door in an area the size of a broom closet, so getting up close and personal with the white porcelain thrown is part of the adventure. Keeping all that stench nice and closed in is a wonderful thing too! Once I’d removed the guilty party I took it out on the stern and did some not so lady like things to it. I smacked it, bent it around, fished a wire hanger down inside it and back out again, and washed all the badness away.
That process took over an hour, and then came the tedious part of threading the hose back in through the tiny spaces once again. I tied a string to one end and finally got the job by gently pulling and pushing and hoping.
I eventually had everything put back together, then pushed the electric flush button to test it, and found that for some reason now the macerator is not working. I must have jiggled something loose. It’s going to have to wait for another day, because I’ve had about as much fun as I can handle in one day.
During the afternoon while I was immersed up to my elbows in miniature stalactites, I thought about what I was doing and had to smile. It wasn’t so bad, and either way I’d rather be living on a boat, dealing with my head, than living on land and dealing with what that all involves.
My handsome husband just called and is in Taipei waiting for his flight to come home. He’ll be flying all through the night tonight and all day tomorrow, then return to us on Wednesday. We are so excited to see him.
The creatures have gone to a youth group get together tonight so I’m alone here at home in the quiet. I hear the water gently lapping up against my bedroom walls as Tanda Malaika ever so slightly rocks over the waves. Life is good, I have a beautiful clean head, and I’m going to sleep well tonight!
This morning I was awoken by 4 sweet Angels who had made me breakfast in bed. Egg in the hole toast, fresh orange slices, and oodles and gobs of love.
I am now the proud new owner of a pet crocodile (soap). Quite original and so cute! The creatures wrote me beautiful cards that made me cry, and just like every day, were so sweet, loving and respectful all day long. I never tire of their company and love to be loved by them.
Jude pulled the family car around so we could all pile in, and we set off to see what we could see while Tanda Malaika waited patiently for us to return.
We motored around to the north side of Spanish Wells, with the warm sun on our skin and the clear, turquoise water beckoning for us to immerse ourselves in it. While I watched over the dinghy with camera in hand, the creatures swam over to the 45ft high cliffs to climb them so they could jump off.
Just around the corner from the cliffs was a gorgeous beach with not a soul in sight. Waves were constantly coming in and crashing right on shore, so to avoid having the dinghy filled with water (or having to pull it all the way up the beach), we threw out the anchor and swam in. The pickle of course, had to join us.
Mycah got the brilliant idea of pickle surfing. We feel very strongly that this may just become an olympic sport…
While exploring the beach, we found all sorts of beautiful glass bottles to fill with shells. Emma fills them with tiny treasures and sells them, and has already sold a couple. Jude decided that she is going to mend this net and make a hammock out of it, and Aidan fell in love with a bright orange steel toes boot and a helmet!
When we returned to Tanda Malaika, the creatures made me dinner and Emma presented me with a beautiful cake that she had created. I feel like a Queen.
Danny messaged me when he departed from Genova. He is currently flying from Helsinki to Taiwan, and at 8:30pm my time he sent me a photograph of the sunrise the following day, his time.
I look forward to us being on the same time schedule once again. Hopefully he’ll be home on Tuesday. In the mean time I will continue exploring with the creatures and doing what I really love doing…being a Mom.
Preachers Cave and a Blue Hole!
Today was a blast and a half! Our new Bahamian friend, Kayson, came over in his boat and said he’d like to take us on an adventure. Since adventure is our middle name, we couldn’t resist. We followed him in the dinghy to Eleuthera Island and tied up.
We hopped into his uncle’s van and he drove us to a place called Preachers Cave.
In 1648, English settlers seeking religious freedom, shipwrecked on Devils Backbone and found this huge cave as a shelter. They named the place Eleuthera, which is a Greek word meaning freedom.
The rock formations and color inside was so beautiful.
Several openings allow light to enter the cave from above…
We hiked around the side and climbed up on top of the cave, and the view was beautiful.
Afterward we went to the Blue Hole, and loved jumping from the 25ft ledge into beautiful, cool, clear water.
The suns rays were streaming down through the water, creating a surreal, breathtaking scene.
I took several photos of the creatures swimming and playing around in the rays:
After a while I climbed to the top and took photos from above. We got goofy!
And then I had the idea to make it look like they were floating in outer space!
What a fun time!
Once we left there Kayson showed a place where we could go cliff jumping. It was low tide so we will go back sometime when it’s high tide to jump.
While on our way home some people we met in town last night, waved down our dinghy and asked if Emma could babysit for them tonight. She happily accepted, and after getting ready on Tanda Malaika, she drove herself next door to babysit.
Our wonderful friends on ‘Hi 5’ are leaving us for sure tomorrow to head back to Canada, and they came over for the evening. We love them so much and are going to miss them! Julie and Mycah played their Ukulele’s and sang to us. Sweet Dylan smiled all night and joined them periodically, singing at the top of his lungs.
It’s been another wonderful day of life and I am so grateful for it. I got to chat with my love in Italy and he is still doing well. His tomorrow evening they will be leaving Italy to return to Taiwan.
Life is good and we are humbly grateful to be so blessed with such an exquisite world.
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