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Trenton, Ontario, Canada
In June 2012 we started the Great Loop in our Bayliner Explorer. This blog is for family and friends who would like to follow our comings and goings and , for now, our getting ready for the trip. If you read this blog we would love to hear your comment& suggestions.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

And so another winter comes to an end

Dear blog reader.
As you probably know by now, Gary and I spent our winter in Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands of the Bahamas. Last year we stayed there for some time but this year we were lucky to spend almost 3 months enjoying the beautiful beaches and the excellent snorkeling and fishing that the islands have to offer.

We love this island and the only thing that surpasses the incredible beauty of this place is the beauty of its people. SO this blog is about some of the lovely people of Great Harbour Cay who we have got to know a little better this past winter. Each and every person we have encountered was unbelievably friendly, incredibly kind and generous and happy, smiling and joyful. It must be what happens when you live in paradise.

Originally from Cooperstown Abacos, Rufus came to the Berries in 1967 to work for the US Government manning a Lorance station on Great Stirrup Cay. In the 1970s he moved from there to Bullocks Harbour and ended up working at the Pro shop of the famous golf Club that is now nothing but a ruin. He also spent 14 years managing the marina.

EVERY day, Rufus would stop by the boat to say hello. You would hear the squeaky- squeaky of his truck with the bad suspension, before you would see him. He and Gary formed a friendship based on mutual affection and admiration. They both think the world of each other. Rufus has taken Gary golfing on the 9 holes that remain of the golf course and Gary has worked on Rufus’ truck and brought him fish and conch we have caught.

Golfing with Vic and Rufus
Always smiling and polite, Rufus brightened our days with his visits and we look forward to seeing him again when we return.

What can I say about this woman? I just love her! 

She is the Nurse Practitioner of the Berries, but she is also the vet and doctor and social worker. She is on call 24//7. Her given name is Agnes but everyone calls her Frenchie because of her French nationality. She is an incredibly kind person who opened her home and heart to us, as she does for many people. Frenchie and her partner, Tom are renovating a Spanish style house they have named Boogaloo. 
Here is Frenchie showing Miss Fifi he little chicks

Their outdoor pizzeria has been the gathering place for many evenings of food and laughter shared.  Frenchie and Tom are the kind of people who do things for others without making a big deal out of it. Frenchie has spent over 17 years on Great Harbour Cay and can tell you all kinds of stories of days gone by. I suggested she write a book but she says she is too busy.

I love Hans, he knows this, because I tell him that every time I see him. Even though we are the same age, Hans is like a son to me. He is Cuban born, Floridian raised and has worked all over the Caribbean.

He is EXCELLENT at managing the marina and everyone on the Island knows that Hans has improved many services since he started working there. I believe he is single handily responsible for the increase in the number of boaters that visit the island, and because of him and his staff, these boaters choose to return.

We lovingly refer to him a Handsome Hans but the most attractive thing about Hans, is how he makes you feel. When you are with him, he makes you feel like you are the most important person in the world; his willingness to do anything for his guests makes him the most valuable asset to this island. Thank you Hans.

The Staff of Great Harbour Cay Marina.
This marina staff makes this place feels like home. That is why so many people who visit it, come back again.
Kim and her daughter KayKay

Kim. There is not a thing Kim will not do to make your stay better.  Always with her beautiful smile, she will go over and above her duties.  She spoilt me and Gary with homemade food and treats all the time. She is currently working on marketing her own food mixes, of course specializing in Bahamian dishes. She is like a sister to me.

Sam. Sam is a very efficient worker and always greets you with a big smile. You can ask her to find a phone number or airplane schedules and she is always on the mark. Her family has been making candy in the Bahamas for years, no wonder she is so sweet. And boy, can she dance!!

Conswella.  Not only does she work at the Marina, she just recently opened her own restaurant. Her claim to fame is that she makes “Dam Good Bread  and Dam Good Mac & Cheese” My heart if full of love for Conswella.

Ramon. What a hard worker!  AND a fantastic dominoes player!! He always spoils me with fresh coconut water. This year he would come over to the boat and visit with us from time to time. The love of his life is Ramon Jnr, his son. Ramon can never do enough for you.

Miko.  Always smiling and singing, Miko is the happiest when he is at the marina and socializing with the cruisers.  He is always part of the party.

Roberto. I have no picture of  Roberto :( Of all the staff there Roberto is the quiet soft spoken one.  He is incredibly polite and speaks beautifully. His duty besides being a dock attendant also covers working at the fuel dock.

Hector. While he manages the fuel dock his real talent is as a chef. If you have eaten Hector’s food you know what deliciousness is. His pizza, chicken wings are great but you haven’t tasted heaven until you tasted Hector’s Lobster Thermadore. MMMMMMMM!!!!!

Marlyn and Callie. Every Friday night Calvin (Callie) fires up his bbq and cooks local dishes for the boaters. Marilyn makes great Mac and Cheese and peas and rice and for $10 you get a very good meal.

Ruth Ann. A long-time resident of the island Ruth Ann works tirelessly to decorate for dance parties and helped Gary a lot to prepare for my 50th birthday bash. She is also a fierce patong (Bahamian baci-ball) player and makes a wickedly good rum punch! She kindly took us out on her boat, Double Trouble, for a sightseeing tour of the cays in the Berries.

Father Haines is the local Anglican priest with a fondness for rum and raisin ice-cream. His sermons make you laugh and sometimes cry. He works tirelessly with the young people of the island as a guidance councillor. During his service, right after the sermon there is a break in where everyone in the congregation hugs one another.  It is quite an experience to be hugged by a number of strangers. But just goes to show, on this island no one stays a stranger for a long time.

Sugar. Father Haines’ sister, a lovely lady, who is the splitting image of her brother.  We became friends after Kim introduced us. Susan is from England but spent this winter in the Bahamas.

Percy Junior.  When you arrive in the Bahamas you have to clear customs, and if you are lucky you will meet Percy Jnr. He takes care of business quickly and always takes a minute to say hello when passing through with a naughty grin and a twinkle in his eyes.

Percy Senior.  A world famous bone fishing guide who often takes celebrities out fishing. He also makes very good conch salad. Percy kindly showed us how to clean conch and even though we get it done, we are not as skilled at it as he is.

Elon Runs a little store near the marina in case you need an icecream or fishing lures. He is the choir leader in church and has a voice like an angel. He live on GHC with his lovely witty wife, Ruth who  runs a little store that sells handmade crafts.
Conswella, Hector and Sam

Kim, her husband Cap' and Sugar

Conswella and Cardinal

These are just a few of the people who made out visit special, perhaps one day I will have the opportunity to tell you some more about the others.

AND To the amazing boaters we spent time with the winter, especially Vic & Iren, Solveig, Tim & Cathy,Carina, Pat & Celine, Casita and Clark, Karina & Miss Fe, DitcH’d, 

Ricco this one is for you :)

Thanks for the memories. Hope to see you all again soon.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

What difference a year makes....

What a difference a year makes.

If you are a loyal reader of this blog (thank you, by the way) you will remember that I lost my heart last year to a little Cay in the Berrie Islands of the Bahamas. By accident, we ended up at a marina on Great Harbour Cay where we spend a couple of months and we absolutely loved it.

We loved it so much we couldn't stop talking about it and we told everyone that they should come to Great Harbour Cay.  And came they did….. Now, I can’t take all the credit (or responsibility) for all the people that are here this year but I can take some. Last year there were 2- 3- 4- boats here during the winter and this year the marina has had to turn boats away because they are full. Locals have told me they haven’t seen so many boats here in years.

This of course has its positive and negative points. The positive is that the Island and its people are benefiting greatly from the number of tourists who spend their money here now. The negative is that I now have to share MY Island paradise with a whole bunch of people… the thing is, it was never really mine to begin with, so I have to remember that and not be so selfish.

Look, if I make is sound bad, it isn't my intent; I have met some wonderful people who will be in my heart forever. So perhaps I haven’t lost anything, perhaps I have gained something.  All I know is that my heart has grown with all the love I have recently received.

A lot has happened this past month, since my last blog entry, lots of fun times which I hope to share with you in the pictures that I am posting. 

Cathy, me and Iren enjoying the wonderful beach on GHC

Fun in the sun

At the Winter-fest, me sporting a Junkanoo headpiece fitting for a Queen

At my 50th birthday party with Kim, Cap' and Sugar

The lovely Pat and Celine who worked so hard on my Birthday party

Local fauna and flora

Birthday party with Hans, Cathy and Vic.

GAry's good friend Rufus, who stops by every day to say hello

My birthday gift from Gary .A wooden plaque shaped like a book, signed by all my friends and family who were here for my birthday

Gary taking a picture of a shark right off the dock by our boat

A evening guest

The annual Wahoo tournament that is held on GHC was won by Sandy and his crew. One of the fishermen gave me apiece of Wahoo which I cut up and had with wasabi. Delish!!

Good friends -The Beautiful people on SV Carina - Tim and Cathy

A typical evening of docktails with new and old friends.

Full moon rising over Time& Tide

Fresh donuts delivered to us by a good friend  from Nassau

First time spear fishing he got these beauties.  I tried spearfishing but found myself unable to kill a living fact the older I get the harder it is for me to harvest conch and kill fish.  Gary feels the same way - seems like we are getting soft in our old age

Beach scene


It is so beautiful here, I have no words to describe it

                                                                                                Pam and I .                                                                                                                                       Pam works as part of a crew on a 8 mil $ yacht.For my birthday I was invited for a glass of wine on board the yacht.Of course I said yes!! I was even treated to some carrot cake. 

Cushion Star


A week ago a fire broke out on the island.It is very dry here and the fire spread fast. The local fire department has worked for days now to put it out. The smoke was horrible as an easterly wind carried it right down to the marina where we were in our boats. The fire didn't cause any major damage , just burning brush and trees, among them the Poisonwood tree.The Poisonwood tree's sap ,leaves and bark is very dangerous and causes blister-like burns if it comes in contact with skin. The smoke from this tree is also very irritating if inhaled. Kudos to all who worked so hard to prevent the fire from spreading further

Left over after the fire

On Tuesday evenings we have DRIFT AND DRINK. We go out on our dinghies, tie them together and drift with the tide and winds.....and have a drink while watching the sunset.This is Iren and Vic in the foreground.

The crown I am wearing was made by a local lady It is made from palm leaves and shells. It is fitting for a queen And everyone made me feel like a queen.

So many people worked so hard to make my birthday party a success and it was the BEST!!!

A picture of the fire ( thank you Frenchie)

My favourite place in the world

Lately it has become more about the destination than the journey for us. Great Harbour Cay remains the highlight of all our travels and our favourite destination. I hope to come back here next year, but we shall see where the winds and the tides take us. For now we still have plenty of time ahead to enjoy this piece of heaven with the lovely people who live here. be continued.