Monday, December 30, 2013

Junk and New? No! Junkanoo!

posted by Alexander

On the 28th we went to Junkanoo. Junkanoo is probably something of a new concept for everybody who has never been to the Bahamas including us. Luckily for all us ignorant folk, I’ve done some research!

Dinghying in the dark was kind of scary, but fun.

Junkanoo is a parade/celebration that usually happens on December 26th. It originated from the time when all the African people in the Bahamas were slaves. They only had one day of the year where they could be with their families and express themselves. This basically resulted in Junkanoo, a tradition that still lasts many years after the slaves were freed. When we went we saw fantastic papier mache costumes that looked like they had been worked on all year or longer.

The Junkanoo costumes were great.
A lot of work went into them.
There was a really catchy song that they played involving drums and trumpets with trombones and tubas.
We had heard the exact same song in Nassau when we were anchored there. They must have been practicing for Junkanoo! (They played all night and I barely slept.) We met our friend Colleen. The whole park was lit up with Christmas lights and it looked amazing.

Playing in the park with some of our boat friends.

We all watched Junkanoo together as well. It was tons of fun.

The parade went by us and when it was over we had to leave which made me sad because they were going to do another parade. But it was really late and we all went straight to sleep when we got to the boat.
Junkanoo was probably the coolest parade I've ever been to and if anyone else gets the chance to see it I say you should definitely go.

More great Junkanoo costumes.

By the way nobody knows where the heck the word Junkanoo came from.  My favourite theory is that it comes from the name “John Canoe” who was apparently an African tribal chief who demanded the right to party with his homies even after being brought to this part of the world as a slave.  There are other theories as well.  It is a pretty cool name for a festival, anyway.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christ-mass of presents

Posted by Katie:

I love Christmas!

Christmas day started like any normal day.  I had woken up in the middle of the night and heard the sound of reindeer hoof beats on the deck of the boat over my head.  I also heard the jingling of bells.  In the morning I read for like half an hour, almost forgetting it was Christmas.  Then after I got bored of reading I decided to get this party started!

First I got Mom and Dad into the mood.   Then I wanted to check if Christopher and Alexander had gotten Kidnaped by Krumpus (Krumpus is a German mythical character with horns, a big fury body and a sack that he uses to kidnap bad kids.  He’s sort of like an anti Santa.)  So I got up took one look at the table and poof!  Presents were in an overflowing pile, our stockings were stuffed with presents and apples, one of the cookies were gone and the milk all drank!  The letter that I had written last night was on the counter and Santa had replied in a bright orange pen.

Santa left us one cookie.

And he answered my letter.

I ran down to my brothers cabins looked inside…
Gasp!  I had kind of wished one of them was gone (remember Krumpus) but they were both in their beds –sigh.  But I quickly changed my mind about that because once we all got up we had a good old present opening party.  In our stockings we got one apple each and all a bunch of candy’s like Skittles, M&M’s, Milky Way’s, Snickers and in the very end of the sock were some Star Bursts that we would have never found if it wasn’t for Mom’s curiosity shaking all those socks.  Then we ate bacon and oatmeal it was Amazing! 

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Santa found our boat, and brought us lots of great stuff.

After playing with our new presents for a while we went over to the East Beach for our daily swim.  We had traditional Christmas dinner – turkey,stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, & peas (cause we had to have a green vegetableSick smile), followed by a roaring game of Dominoes which I had received for Christmas.

Christmas swim on East Beach.
Christmas dinner.  Plus peas.
Christmas dominoes.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

First annual Christmas poetry slam

Dad’s note: Earlier this  fall, one of my greatest friends in the world (K. McJ) who also happens to be an English teacher, asked each of the kids to write a poem at some point this year and post it on the blog.  Coincidentally, as part of her Christmas party planning, Katie decided a fun Christmas party activity would be if we were each assigned a Christmas topic, and given 10 minutes to write a poem, that we would then all share.  (I have no idea where she gets her party planning ideas, but if you ever get a chance to attend a party planned by her, I suggest you jump on it).  

Below are the results of our Christmas poetry slam.  Christopher abstained from having his published, but he did write a great poem for Shakey McJ a couple of months ago that I will post at some point, if he lets me.

Hope you enjoy our poems!  I have thrown in a few random pictures so you can see what the Bahamas look like around Christmas.


Katie’s poem: The Elf

Elves can be sweet and funny
Some can even be quit punny. 
They can wiggle your nose and say “stay outa’ my way.” 
Some make toys, some care for the reindeer. 
And some boy the just get into Mischief! 
Elves have many, many talents that have been shared over lots of Christmas’s. 
In the real world they would pass for lots of jobs like: builder, vet, architect and much more. 
But I think the most wonderful talent that all the elves have is kindness.


Mom’s poem: Jack Frost

Cold nose,
Freezing toes,
Woolly hat,
Extra fat,
Furry mitts,
Snowball hits,
Tall skis,
Fat skis,
Short skis,
Skinny skis,
Ice skate,
Snow flakes,
Hot cocoa,
Toboggan loco,
Snowball tossed,
Jack Frost


Alexander’s Poem: Reindeer

Reindeer are like horses with large horns that love snow
And they are smart. There is lot’s that they know
But all elves know is that they have to stoop,
To clean up the reindeer’s big stinky poop.
Reindeer are smelly and they fart quite a lot.
So one night the head elf came up with a plot.
The reindeer would vanish from under Santa’s nose.
And to elves no longer a stinky threat would they pose.
But Rudolph caught wind of the naughty imp’s scheme
He tattled to Santa causing the plan to fail,
And making all elves everywhere wail.


Dad’s poem: Santa (On the Lam)

Dressed in red,
Beard of white,
Riding a sleigh,
Out all night.
Freezing fingers,
Freezing toes,
Chilly earlobes,
Icy nose.
Dropping presents
Under your tree.
Breaking and entering
Is a felony.
Late one night,
In the house of a cop.
Handcuffs on.
Straight to jail, no stops.
Locked up tight
One year in the clink.
Next Christmas time,
See the children’s hearts sink.
Not a present in sight,
Not a card in the mail.
Poor Mrs. Claus
Couldn't post bail.
One year later, though,
Christmas came back.
Santa showed up.
Presents in his sack.
How did he do it?
What deal did he make?
Don’t spill the secret.
Rudolph staged a prison break!

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Eve on the Boat

Posted by Christopher

Just to start off this blog, I need to say: Our Christmas Eve was great.

It started off in the morning with my Dad and I going to East Beach. The reason for just us going, was that we originally were just going to go kayaking and “SUPing” together. When we didn’t know where to go, Dad suggested that we go to east beach, and I was much obliged! So we put our paddling vehicles up on the bank, and we began to hike over to the beach. The water was the clearest I had ever seen it and the waves were perfect for body surfing. Even with the large, but not massive waves, you could still see your shadow in perfect detail. Eventually we got tired and so we decided to head back to the boat.

Waiting for the wave.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful up until about 4 o’clock. This was supposedly when carolling at the beach was happening, so we leapt in to the water and began to breast stroke our way to the beach! (Except for mom who paddled on the paddleboard). When we got to the beach the carolling was just beginning to start, but there were no songs anyone in our family knew the words to, so we just decided we would play around on the beach. My Dad and I started to throw a Frisbee around and my brother was hanging out with some other kids at the beach. Eventually we thought we would finish our Christmas Eve on our own so we headed back to our boat.

Cruiser's Christmas carols on the beach.

We decided to play the present game (which I will not go into detail on how to play, but essentially I won!) and I got a cool balloon helicopter which I want to try out some time. Next we played with some of the dominoes that Katie got and that was when Mom came out with a delicious dinner she had been working on. It was a spicy meat pie called Tortiere and it was delicious. Finally I started to go to bed and that was the end of Christmas Eve.

Mom's delicious tortiere.

Christmas eve dominoes on the boat.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Blue Hole Again

Posted By Alexander

To take a break from sitting in George Town we went on a short three day trip to Long Island. The Bahamas one, not the New York one. The main attraction on Long Island is called Dean’s Blue Hole.  Apparently, it is arguably the deepest in the world. We rented a car and drove out to the little bay where the hole was.

We looked around for some children and non-swimmers to leave on the bank, but we couldn't find any.
I looked out over the water searching for a big round deep blue patch that would signify the blue hole. To my surprise it was to my left about five meters out into the water. It had a strange big white platform in the middle with a rope hanging down from it.

Dean's Blue Hole with the free dive platform in the middle.
Dad said it was a diving platform and we could pull ourselves down on the rope and see how deep we could go. As we went out over the blue hole little fish swam by ignoring us completely. The blue hole was just as it’s name described.  A huge circle of blue that went down and down and never seemed to stop.

Hanging out over the edge of the blue hole.
The diving rope just vanished into the murk. I tried a couple free dives down the rope but only got so far each  time before my ears threatened to explode. The blue hole is supposed to be about 200 meters deep but I couldn’t confirm or deny that from what I was able too see. Half the blue hole was open to the bay and the other was ringed by low cliffs.

Cliffs around the blue hole.
There were fish huddling at the base of the cliffs, and only a few ventured over the hole. Once we felt we had seen everything under the water we came up on shore and mom asked us if we were going to jump.  Christopher and I had no idea what she meant and then she pointed to the overhanging cliffs and said jumping was a big part of the blue hole. We found a little trail and went up the cliffs.

A C cropped
Standing at the top of the cliffs.
For a good couple of minutes Christopher and I just sat there debating whether to jump and risk our lives or to guarantee our safety and back down like cowards. I don’t know if we are just really stupid or really brave but I jumped.

This is the highest place I have ever jumped from. And Christopher and I both swear that when you jump it gets even higher. The world didn’t slow down dramatically though. In fact it went pretty darn fast. The wind rushed past my face and I struggled to stay straight so my landing wouldn’t hurt. When the impact came it was greater than I expected. The water pushed my arms away from my sides and for a second my whole body stung. Christopher went next and he landed in the water with a huge splash.

Christopher getting some serious hang time.
For reasons I cannot explain I decided we should go again. And we did. And it was terrifying again. And we got awesome pictures. And that is my personal favourite of the three blue holes we have seen so far.

Deans Blue Hole Jump from Scot Mountain on Vimeo.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Long Island Interlude II–Magic Morning

Posted by Scot

The trip from White Cay to Long Island is directly east, into the prevailing wind.  With the miracle of modern weather forecasting, we were able to time our passage in a calm between fronts.  This is pretty much the first really calm weather we have had since we have been in the Bahamas.  It made for an incredible motor across the shallow water to the west of Long Island.  The sea was as calm as a pond, and the water was so clear we could easily see the bottom the whole way.  It gave the illusion of flying across a sandy landscape.
Part way across, the temptation to jump into the inviting cool blue became too great.  Out went a line with a few floats attached, and in went the kids, to drag slowly behind our boat as we  meandered on.

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Not fast enough to water ski, but still tons of fun.

The next morning, the water in Thompson Bay was even calmer.  There was barely a ripple in sight.  We pulled out the stand up paddle board, and everyone took turns gliding out and around the boat.  The sky blended perfectly with the horizon, making it hard to distinguish where one ended and the other began.

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Sitting down on the stand up paddleboard.
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Christopher paddling off into the sky.
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The ocean ends somewhere out there.
As we watched Sara smoothly paddle off into the distance, Katie and I joked that the only thing that could make the scene more magical was if dolphins started leaping over the paddleboard, leaving rainbows in their wake.

A dolphin joining Sara for her early morning paddle.
Seconds later, Sara whooped, as a dolphin surfaced right next to the paddleboard.  It swam around her for about 10 minutes, then went off in search of other entertainment.  As she came back to the boat, we turned and looked back towards Long Island.  There was our rainbow.  Magical.

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Magical morning.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Long Island Interlude–White Cay Pirate Retreat

Posted by Scot

Monashee sitting in pirate waters (movie pirates, that is).
After spending a week knocking out boat projects in preparation for the next leg of our journey, we are pretty much ready to move on.  It has been a wonderful month in Georgetown, but if we stay much longer, we are at risk of falling prey to the “Chicken Harbour” syndrome, which traps a lot of cruisers in Georgetown, never to leave.

Unfortunately, we still have two packages en route to us from Florida.  It might not have been too wise to order boat parts this close to Christmas.  We aren’t sure when they will actually arrive, but we are hoping it will be before the end of the week.

Is that Jack Sparrow and Will Turner sword fighting?

Anyway, since we are all set up and ready to move, we figured that instead of hanging out in Georgetown waiting, we should head out and explore some more of the islands nearby.  And the weather this week is cooperating, with a few calm days that will allow us to make our way east toward Long Island.  Normally, this would be an uphill bash against the prevailing wind, but with southeast winds to start, followed by calm weather, it looked like a good time to go.

Buried treasure.  The treasure being the beach.
We were originally planning to head out on Monday, but by Sunday morning Sara and I were really itching to move, so we looked at each other and said “Let’s go!”.  That is the beauty of living on a boat.  We finished up a few last minute chores, slipped our mooring, and off we went.

Looking for sea turtles to strap to their feet.
Our first destination en route to Long Island was White Cay.  White Cay is a small island with huge sand banks extending out either side that are dry at low tide.  It is also purportedly the site where parts of “Pirates of the Caribbean” was filmed.  Exactly which scenes was a topic of much debate amongst our crew for the entire trip over.

Is that the ghost crew of the Black Pearl coming ashore?
The sail to White Cay was by far the best upwind trip we have had yet.  The wind sat at about 30 to 45 degrees off our nose the whole way.  Normally, this would mean a miserable close hauled trip into big waves, with all the accompanying bashing, bouncing, and nauseated kids.  Today, though, since the wind had just switched around to southeast from several days of strong east and northeast, the waves that had been generated by that weather were directly against the new wind.  That meant that the waves were just laying down, and hadn’t had time to build from the new wind direction.  So, even though we were headed up wind, the sea was as flat as a lake.  And, true to our experience everywhere else in the Bahamas, as soon as we left the Georgetown crowds behind, we didn’t see another boat the whole day.

Is that the Pirate Queen of the Brethren Court?
White Cay itself was amazing.  The anchorage there is very exposed, with shallow water a long way from the island, leaving our boat far out to sea.  In anything but very settled weather, there is no way you could spend the night there.  Fortunately for us, the weather was perfect.

Pirate attack!
We dropped anchor and dinghied in to the sand spit, without another soul in sight.  As the tide came up and reclaimed the beach, we used every minute of the remaining sunlight to re-enact scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean.  That was followed by some frisbee, plain old running around, and maybe even a bit of skinny dipping (it is a bit unnerving how easy it is to get our crew to dispense with the trappings of civilization and go swimming in the buff.  I can only imagine how wild things will be by the end of our trip!).

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Engine work–learning on the fly

Posted by Scot

Engine maintenance by the book.  Literally right by the book.
Since I got back from Alberta, we have been working on chipping away at our project list prior to leaving Georgetown.  Even though Georgetown is pretty small, there are still a few places here where we can get supplies and help if needed.  Since we are not sure what sort of resources we will find once we move on, we are trying to get as much done as possible before we go.

One of the things near the top of the to do list is our routine engine maintenance.  Both our diesels and our generator are getting close to being due for oil and oil filter changes, so we figured we would just get them all done together.  While we were at it, we figured we would do all the other standard maintenance that a diesel engine needs periodically.  This includes cleaning the sea water strainers and the pre-fuel filters, changing the primary fuel filter, and checking and changing the impellers.

One of the great things we got when we bought this boat - lots of spares.
According to people that know about these things, in the world of engines, diesels are relatively simple beasts.  The conventional wisdom is that if you take good care of them with regular routine maintenance, they will reward you with a long and trouble free life.  So, we are committed to making sure we keep things in top shape, to avoid bigger problems down the line.

Still not a lot of room in the engine compartment.  Alexander stood by to reach in and lend a hand when he could.
The thing is, neither Sara or I have ever so much as changed the oil in our car before.  It has always been so easy just to take it into Mr. Lube that the need has never really come up.  Out here, though, there are no Mr. Lube’s for the boat.  If we really wanted, we could probably find someone to pay to service our engines, but given that it needs to be done about every 100 hours, that would be likely to really limit our mobility in the future.  Also, if there is one thing it will be good to be familiar with, it is our engines.

Sara sanding off the old impeller housing gasket.

Fortunately for us, with good internet access there is pretty much nothing you can’t learn.  After a quick google search, we found an awesome video of a guy servicing his Volvo engines.  Between watching that a few times, and reading the owner’s manual many times, we were ready to give it a shot.

That hose was right in the way of getting the fuel filter out.  Managed it with a few contortions (of both the hose and my wrist).
We started with the fuel system, draining the pre-filter bowl and putting in new pre-filters on both sides.  We then switched out the primary fuel filters as well.  We then moved on to the raw water cooling system, cleaning out the raw water sea strainers and putting in new impellers on both engines.

Lubing up a new impeller
After that, we were pretty much done for the day, so it wasn’t until the next day that we tackled the engine oil, draining both engines with our handy dandy oil pump, and then changing the oil filters before topping up with clean, new oil.

Handy dandy oil extractor actually made changing the oil the easiest job of the bunch.  We should have gotten a slightly bigger one, though.  Our engines take about 3.5 L of oil.
Once we had managed to do all that for both of the drive engines, we were feeling pretty confident, so the next day we did it all over again for the generator.  The generator was actually easier to service than the drive engines, since it is in a bit more accessible locker.

So, now we have three fully serviced engines, and more importantly, we have the skills and knowledge to keep them well maintained.  Hopefully this will save us money in repairs down the line.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dolphins Live in our World. Amazing!

Posted by Katie

Dad's note:  ever since we swam with the dolphins here in Georgetown, we have been seeing them periodically.  The other day as we were working on the engines, one of them kept us company for a good half an hour, swimming by and checking on us every few minutes.  So, Katie decided to do some research on dolphins to learn more about them.  Here is what she came up with.

Dolphins belong to the order of Cetacea.  These creatures are the most specialized mammals, adapted to live all there lives in the water. Dolphins are part of the Delphinidae family.  Delphinidae is the largest family in this order.  Other mammals in the Delphinidae family are the Common Dolphin, Long Finned Pilot Whale, Pygmy Killer Whale, Atlantic White sided dolphin, Northern Right Whale Dolphin etc.

how big can a whale get again?

Fun Fact:Do Dolphins have hair?  Dolphins are mammals so they must have hair, right?  Well it is true that they are mammals, But dolphins only have hair when they are first born.This hair is fond on the top of the rostrum , which is the dolphins snout, and falls out within two weeks . Dolphins do not grow any other hair for the rest of their lives.

hairy isn't he?

Scientists have discovered fossil records of ancient Delphinids, which date back 11 million years.  There are over 30 different species in this family, the biggest, least cute, terrifying, harmless, and most awesome is the Orca or Killer.

this what I call a cute family!

Dolphins and whales belong to the order of Cetacea.  In fact dolphins are just a small version of whales.  To be precise dolphins are small toothed whales.  The order of Cetacea contains two sub orders :Mysicete and Ondontocete.  Mysicete includes all of the baleen whales.  Baleen whales do not have teeth.  Ondontocete  includes  all of the toothed whales.

cows are very different then dolphins.

The ocean can be one of the hardest natural habitat in the world for mammals to live in.  However dolphins are uniquely adapted for the marine environment How have marine mammals come to live in an aquatic world?  Scientists believe evolution holds the key to life.

this truely shows how much we and other creatures have evolved.
Fun Fact: How many teeth do Dolphins have?  There are dolphins with 8 teeth and there are dolphins with 250.  Bottlenose dolphins have 88-100 teeth.  They only get one set of teeth for there whole life.  Dolphins do not use there teeth to chew like I do.  They use their teeth to catch their food to then swallow it whole.

how many teeth do you think this dolphin has?

The maximum depth achieved by an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin during a dive exceeded just over 990 feet by a navy trained dolphin named Tuffy.

all mammals are warm blooded, which means they can regulate their own internal body temperature. If you look closely, you can see veins running through the tail flukes of a dolphin.  These veins are important for maintaining the internal body temperature of a dolphin.  In the summer a dolphin keeps cool by increasing blood flow out to the extremities.  the outgoing arteries expand with the blood flow.  The veins and capillaries along the surface of the skin also expand, allowing heat to be released through the surface of the skin.

dolphins have natural beauty in water.
Fun Fact:Do Dolphins drink water?  Dolphins do not drink water like humans do.  All animals do need water to survive but they don't get all their water in the same way. Dolphins don't get water like we do because most of the water they swim in is as salty!  Yuck Dodley Duck!  Instead dolphins get all their water from the fish they eat.  They may choose to eat different types of fish depending on the amount of calories and water they need.

Inside dolphins pectoral fins, dolphins have skeletal structure similar to a human arm and hand.  this is one of the many internal physiological structures leading to believe that dolphins and whales evolved from a terrestrial ancestor.  

the end.
References: Kids Dolphin Facts Website
Dolphin Research Center Natural History Page
Dolphin Research Center Physiology Page