One of the greatest aspects of sailing in the Bahamas is making friends with other boaters. Some connections last minutes, and others become repeat encounters and friendships. Buddies are important for so many reasons when one is sailing to new ports in sometimes shallow waters. The beauty of the teal Bahamian waters belies their delicate coral reefs and “bommies.” Buddies share information and often provide great tips for good food in distant places and sights not to miss, never mind providing great "sundowners" after long or short passages in these small islands. Most importantly, buddies provide a lot of safety tips and guidance.
DOLCE: In Bimini, we made two sets of significant buddies. We started with Carolyn and Gino on Dolce, a new 40-foot catamaran. We met them in Coconut Grove, FL. We had contacted them when we were up in Hollywood and asked if we could buddy with them to Bimini. They were in Coconut Grove, so we sailed down along the coast, past Miami and met them down there. They were trying to sell a 9.9 Horsepower, 80+ pound boat motor that was simply too much for Allen and me and our boat and dinghy to handle. We joined them leaving early AM from Key Biscayne crossing to Bimini. Carolyn and Gino were great hosts for two sundowners on Dolce and one on Afterglow. We shared stories and books and nurtured our matchmaking instincts to connect my 28-year-old granddaughter and her 35-year-old son who were both in the film industry. (Emmy is a film editor, single, and Ben, also single, does a lot of advertising work and other commercial work for the film industry. They both live and work near Hollywood.)
Gino is a well-known journalist, a smart sailor and writer, a documentary film producer and director, and has done some awesome film work in faraway places. Check him out at https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1456358/bio/. His wife Carolyn, formerly a nurse, is a whiz and can make the best impersonations of a Bahamian calling a rude speeding boatsman (who zipped by and waked several other boats) a “jockass. We are gonna get you the next time you pass.” Carolyn had us in stitches laughing at how well she used the Bahamian accent and intonation. She is smart and absolutely gorgeous in so many ways and a real knowledgeable trooper with her new boat.
BONITA: Our current buddy boat is Bonita owned by Canadiens Suzanne and Randall who are competent sailors with previous experience in the Bahamas. Like Afterglow, their 40-foot boat Bonita (1994) is a monohull and a bit older than our boat (1999). They spent two years during Covid 19 time planning their seafaring adventures here and have lots of cool stories and great advice as well. Their experience is really paying off as we have traversed together from Bimini to the Berry Islands.
Suzanne loves to cook and uses her oven to bake. (My oven is filled with Tupperware. I mostly use the microwave to bake.) She bakes gorgeous bread loaves. Randall, quite the boatsman and storyteller, is an electrical engineer (as is Allen) and formerly a technical officer in the Canadian Air Force (Allen a former officer in the US Navy). He and Allen and Suzanne talk mostly about wind and current while I wish I knew more about these important navigational issues.
Their dog Riley is a really good dog and gets out of the boat to vomit if the need arises. On the beach, Riley is all energy, digging holes to bury his frisbee and swimming out to retrieve his toy when it is thrown into the water. He’s a real joy to be with, a wonderful pet and boat mate.
Randall has been a font of information; he even gave Allen his spare "Mr. Funnel" filtering fuel funnel and showed Allen how to use it. This should help ensure no water or large particulates get into our fuel system. Here is a photo showing Randall performing refueling while underway between Bimini and the Berry Islands.
Today we all had the freshest, very best conch salad made fresh right before our eyes at the Government Dock on Berry Island just outside Great Harbor Cay, and tonight we had sundowners on Bonita and made plans where to go next. Suzanne and Randall have the same philosophy we have—check the weather and go where the wind takes us.
Allen asked me to write a poem about one night on our trip. Just north of Bimini, the ocean waves noisily and persistently knocked us all about. Here goes:
The Motion of the Ocean
Aligned with warm emotion,
the motion of the ocean
rocked us to hold on tight.
Each blast of a turquoise wave
tuned our ears,
lessened our cares,
and we crashed in unison.