Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Local Knowledge

Posted by Scot and Katie

A friendly local Caymanian
As interesting as it has been to experience all the different countries we have been to in the last several months, we have found that the best way to get a real perspective on a place is to spend some time with the locals.  This hasn’t always been possible, but here in the Caymans, we have been lucky enough to do just that.

To start with, we got to meet Terry and Tove, who are friends of Sara’s parents.  They have known each other for years, having met in the Varsity Outdoors Club at UBC back in the day.  Tove’s family has had a place on Grand Cayman since the 70’s, and now Terry and Tove have a lovely condo right on 7 mile beach.  When they aren’t on Grand Cayman, they live aboard a 47 foot steel monohull named Siri (after their daughter, who’s lovely name predates Apple’s version).  They keep Siri (the boat, not the daughter) in New Zealand, and sail up to Fiji every year.

One evening, as we were just finishing dinner, they stopped by our boat for a drink.  We instantly sensed the love of life, adventure, and humour that seems common to all the ex-members of the VOC that we have ever met.  I’m not sure if it is selection bias, and that kind of person just gravitated towards the club in the 60s, or if it was something they put in the water back then, but all of Sara’s parent’s friends that we have met from those days are a hoot to be around.

Here’s an example.  As we were eating a wonderful dinner at their condo a few days after we first met, Terry and I were comparing the “gross tonnage” of our boats.  (That is the kind of thing sailors talk about.  Not that size really matters).  When Terry heard that we weighed upwards of 19 tons (or tonnes, I’m not sure), he couldn’t believe that we weighed more than his beloved Siri (again, referring to the boat). 
“Yes,” I said, “but you have to remember, you only really have half a boat.” (“half-boat” is how the owner of a catamaran sometimes refers to their underprivileged brethren on monohulls, usually with a sort of pitying smile on one's face).

Without missing a beat, Tove responded.  “Yes dear, we have taken our training wheels off.”
Touche, Tove, touche.

Talking to these two experienced sailors yielded story after story, and we relished the opportunity to bask in their knowledge.  The tale of the time they lost their wind-vane (which helps steer the boat) in a 60 knot storm somewhere between New Zealand and Fiji left us all wide-eyed.  As the wind “calmed down” to 50 knots, Tove strapped Terry to the transom with two lines, and sent him over the back to fix it.  As Terry recalls, being off the back of the boat in the waves that accompany a 50 knot wind means you are under water as much as you are above it.  Between dousings, as he caught his breath, he managed to repair the wind vane, and restore their steering.  He climbed back aboard, and as the wind calmed down further to “just 40 knots”, he left Tove to finish her watch, and went back to bed.

Anyway, we had a lovely evening with them, and enjoyed their hospitality immensely.  The kids had a great time swimming with them off their beach, and again in their pool, where Terry threw them around with more energy than I could muster.  Add in some ping pong, a wonderful dinner, and great conversation, and we felt lucky to get to spend the evening with them.  We couldn’t believe we forgot to take our camera, and didn’t get any pictures of them for the blog.

Another great opportunity for us to spend time with some locals came yesterday.  Just as we were finishing lunch, and making plans for the rest of our Sunday, I was surprised to hear a voice calling me from the side of our boat facing the water.  I turned around, and there on his own boat was Geoff, who runs Marine Power here on Grand Cayman.  We had met over the phone the week before, when he helped us get the part we needed to fix our generator (more on that later).

Anyway, Geoff and his 10 year old daughter Jojo were out on their boat for a Sunday drive around North Sound, and they had stopped by to see if we wanted to join them.  Without hesitation, we finished our lunch and hopped on their boat, throwing in our snorkel gear and lots of sun screen.

Heading out of the Barcadere Marina with Geoff and Jojo
Our first stop was Stingray City, which is one of the main attractions on Grand Cayman.  In the past, fisherman traditionally cleaned their catch on this sand bar in North Sound, so the stingrays learned to congregate there for the free meal.  Now, the stingrays get fed by the hordes of tourists that come to visit.  There are huge numbers of the black, velvety creatures flying around in just a few feet of water (the stingrays, not the tourists).

Take me down to Stingray City.
This was apparently a quiet day at Stingray City.  Hate to be there on a busy day.
The stingrays.  In their city.
More madcap stingray action.
Alexander, getting up close and personal with his new favourite local.
Katie wasn’t too keen to hang out with them, but the boys couldn’t get enough of them.  Geoff, who seems to know everyone on the island, introduced us to some of his friends who also happened to be there.
After Stingray City, Jojo drove us expertly over to the “mini-sand bar”.  I’ll let Katie take up the story of our day from there.  She has decided to do so in "rainbow".

On Sunday at lunch time we heard a purring sound not the sweet purr of a cat but the even sweeter purring sound of a motor!  Just then a big dingy bigger than ours it was a boat owned by someone my parents had just met the day before we didn’t know that it was his boat because we had seen it (we had not seen the boat before today) we new it was his boat because he was on it.  The boat was inhabited by a dog a girl named Jojo and my dads friend.  Dads friend who was named Geoff called aboard. “Jojo and I were going for a little cruise for a few hours and we were wondering if you might want to come.”  We immediately answered with a yes.  We finished our lunch and we hopped on board. as the boat zoomed across the water at like infinity knots, Stingray City came into view

After Stingray City we arrived at somewhere called mini sand bar. Jojo who was driving parked the boat in the shallows so we could easily walk off and on in knee deep water at the farthest point.  We all hopped off and splashed off to the beach. Some other fellows on the beach started a game of cricket which I honestly have no idea how it works.  My brothers got involved and played for a bit which I was a little nervous about because no offense cricket fans, but I thought it was just like baseball but more boring which those fellows playing cricket agreed with because alexander told us when we were leaving that they told him they  thought the same thing. 

It turned out Geoff knew everyone on the mini-sandbar too, so we got to meet even more locals.  The boys jumped right into the cricket game.
Christopher, taking a turn as the bowler.
Anyway it was better than them going swimming in the pond in the middle.  Jojo told me that the pond was filled with dog pee and dead fish. EEWWW!

Katie and Jojo, discussing what is in the pond in the middle of the sandbar.
When we got going in the boat again Geoff asked if we could use some ice cream.  Surprise surprise, surprise!  Yeses came from everyone and soon we were traveling to Kaibo Marina to get ice cream!  Soon we were all tied up at a dock and hunching over a freezer in a store the size of a gas station. Soon we had picked out ice creams and were back on the boat.

We zoomed across the water and were soon in a beautiful canal where Jojo parked the boat on a dock by the first house in on the canal. There dog named Hugo went for a swim which was sort of worrying but Jojo said he would come back.  The house belonged to Geoff and his wife who soon came out of the house to talk. The backyard would be beautiful even without the wonderful wet lot.  The backyard had concrete tiles the shapes of circles making a path around the house.There was also a octangular picnic table.  Soon we were done talking and Geoff drove us back to our boat in his car.

Thanks for a great afternoon, Geoff and Jojo!

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