The Abacos, Bahamas are exactly like the screensaver we have on our computer. It is truly the perfect cruising ground and I can see why so many American snowbirds travel back and forth each year. There is reflective clear teal blue water, white sand beaches, gorgeous reef, plenty of fish, beautiful temperatures, 3G and easy access to groceries!
Now all of this does make it great but what made it wonderful for us was experiencing it all with friends. For 10 days we traveled around the Abacos with our friends on Gromit and Tahina. The 3 buddy boats went everywhere together. We planned out our days and evenings together. Activities included snorkeling, hanging out in shallow clear water on the sandy bottom, potluck's, board games, movie nights, beach barbecues and fires, cockpit charades, performances by fire light, storytelling and visiting. This made our time in the Abacos some of our best cruising ever. Perhaps too because we all are on our final leg home it made our experiences that much sweeter. Often times we would start sentences with, "This is our last....." It started to be an ongoing joke with us all. Frank from Tahina is a budding photographer so we are also so lucky to have so many of these memories captured with photo's.
You would think that we would have all tired of being in such close proximity and making decisions together but we didn't. We laughed about how strange it would be to have dinner with your friends or neighbors for 7 nights in a row. Even once every 3 weeks seems too often back home. lol.
Graham and I have been thinking about what's next. We have loved our time on Salty Ginger but we are thinking it may be time for a new dream. We are both excitedly talking about touring France and other European countries via a CANAL BOAT!!! When we were in the Canary Islands bringing Salty Ginger across, we met boat friends that had just finished traveling the canals in Europe for over 2 years and they were truly inspiring. After our initial meeting Graham and I came home and it was pretty obvious we were both bitten by the dream bug. This couple traveled the rivers with their sailboat and with the mast strapped to their deck....oh and their 3 dogs! I think Graham and I will look for a proper canal boat and we can even bring Aiden, who I miss terribly.
All of this said, we think we will put Salty Ginger up for sale. She still looks brand new and is all kited out for some family to realize their dream on. We will stick around Toronto for a couple of years while the kids begin University and we build our plan and educate ourselves on river boating. Who knows we may even find some other adventure. We also talk about traveling through Africa in a kited out landrover!
Eventually though I know we will return to the sea. Something keeps pulling me here. The water seems to center me and the challenges make me feel alive. Right now we are on a 4 day passage from the Bahamas to Beaufort, North Carolina. There is almost no wind and the water has just a slight wind ripple along the surface. There is a long wide rolling gentle swell. We have the engine running but it isn't obnoxious since we have a current and flat seas.
Once we arrive in Beaufort we are going to navigate the Intra Coastal Waterway (ICW) to Norfolk. The ICW is basically a river route inland which will be about 200 nautical miles. We will only travel during the daylight and will motor the whole way but we are told it is an experience unto itself. It should take us about 3 days and we are looking forward to this adventure. We are also told that once you have done it, you won't want to do it again. lol! The river is quite narrow and shallow in spots. You need to try and time your journey for the openings of the bridges otherwise you need to try and stay in a small space waiting for the next opening. The other major stressor is that there are some bridges which do not open and the height is dangerously close to our mast height. We measured in the Abacos and will most likely be within a foot. We will need to time our arrival times at these bridges with the low tide. It is definitely going to be challenging and after all our relaxation in the Abacos I am looking forward to it. Might even be a small taste of the river cruising we are dreaming about.....but I am thinking not quite ;-).
Well I am off to enjoy the calm waters and ponder life. I will try and capture a picture of it but it seems like it never truly reflects what I see. Too bad I couldn't mix in my emotion with the photo ;-). Enjoy the day everyone.