I just came back from a holiday in the Bahamas, in a way, when looking back at it, much of the problems that occurred were due to my inability to speak out and tell the person who made myself and a few others – feel like we were at boot camp instead of it being on a 2 week holiday on the open seas on a 36 foot sailboat we’d all chartered together in the Exumas (the Bahamas’s outer islands which have yet to be over developed in tourism – thank goodness).
Boot camp you are saying to yourselves? Well, let’s put it this way. I was given the task of preparing evening meals for the crew – 6 of us in total. The day we arrived in Nassau, we quickly sped off to one of the local grocery stores nearby the marina. It should have been an easy task – but sadly – I started to discover that one of the members of our crew was a stickler for prices. Sadly, you cannot compare Bahamian prices to what we pay here in North America – sometimes the prices are triple of what we pay here! You just have to take a deep breath - maybe get something on sale – and pay what you have to for the foods you enjoy, but that wasn’t the case with us (tho’ we were allowed to purchase a few bags of precious chips). The $300 USD in groceries that we all chipped in for (and we continued to split the costs 3 ways over the next few weeks)– was IMHO – a steal! Even if we’d bought that tin of chicken or Spam (good for bacon) – or extra can of beans – it still would have been a pretty reasonable grocery bill! I mean, we’re on holidays, let’s enjoy ourselves – we only get to do this once a year - right? On top of the grocery bill of course, you cannot forget the Bahamian rum and Kalik beer that totaled $90 - split amongst 3 couples - awesome - how penny pinching can that be for a 3 hour tour? .
So, preparing meals with limited stock became a pretty stressful situation (I should have been popping happy pills thru’ the whole holidays if I'd been smart), when it came to figuring out how to spread a small can of beans/can of corn with 5 cups of cooked rice (I am so put off of rice now ) for 6 hungry people. I would be the last to serve myself, so in away that was good as I got the smaller portion that suited me fine most of the time. It was the lack of protein I usually have in my meal so my blood sugars don’t go wonky that really affected me the most. They did in the beginning – e.g. HIGH – when I was eating the same portions as everyone – but after a week of eating this way – I ate frugally – in order to stretch out the supplies. Though on a few occassions when I was left alone on the boat due to my health circumstances - I felt like a guilty child again (sorry Mum) and would sneak a digestive biscuit (thanks Pete) and even broke open the forbidden tortilla chips (considered too costly at time of purchase sad to say). It was heaven to have some sinful nibbles in my tummy (and yes - on this trip I lost weight).
Water consumption was another “issue” we were constantly reminded of. Our 36' Beneteau sailboat holds quite a lot (70 gallons). The result of this ended up with me getting a bladder infection (haven’t had one in over 20 years) due to not drinking enough since I was run down with a cold I devloped after a few days onboard – I was one sick puppy during the most of the holidays. When I got back to Montreal and went to my GP – I have pneumonia - oh joy). In the 2nd week when we decided to get some diesel fuel, we filled up with about 11 gallons of “extra” water – at the huge cost of $5 – we really broke the bank! Like …. SCREAM – why not just fill up the tank completely – even if it cost abit more? Along with water consumption being restricted (no showers permitted), constipation was creating problems for a few of us (did you know white rice can cause this?). Of course, stress/tension and change of life style can cause constipation as well, which some of us were all experiencing.
In the end, when we did go to a few ports of call (very limited in the area of the Exumas we were sailing in) – we purchased extra foods – e.g. bread and more bread (Lorraine’s Mum’s coconut bread from Black Point, hot dogs (remember – we were splitting the costs of the food bill thru’ the whole trip). On the outer islands, they only get food delivery once a week – sometimes less from the mainland, e.g. Nassau. So, what you could find in the small stores was VERY limited, often no fresh meat could be found, and of course, the darn price that bugged one of the crew members so much, would mean, no purchasing. Sigh.
On top of this, I was cooking over the stove at night, with a head lamp on, so as not to drain the battery with the cabin lights being on. Ehgads!!! It only takes a few hours a day, since we had winds that were light, to charge up the batteries as we were “power sailing” (e.g. sail are up – with engine running – to give you abit more speed).
So, our lesson on this trip? Before sharing a holiday with your friends – before even booking - plan to make sure that all members are on board with what they like to eat (one person had limited foods they liked to eat, and they suffered in a way with not having their usual foods which was sad). Plan for the worst case scenario and provision from the home base (in our case, we never made it down to Georgetown due to weather conditions to get meat, etc.). And if there is a control freak onboard with you – try to deal with it better then I did – speak up - be honest – and hopefully all will work out for the best of all partcipants.
Lastly, I will always have fond memories of the pumping of the head. A crew member was anal about flushing the head with LOTS of water (sea water) so that no floating bits/yellow mellow water remained in the bowl afterwards. We’d flush aka pump our stuff down into the temporary holding tank (which eventually was dumped into the sea – sorry Nemo). With the way I was feeling with fever, etc. it was exhausting work to PUMP IT UP!!! Yes sir, we had mini-me issues with the head just like on the Carnival Victory (the whole cabin stunk like you know what). Luckily in the 2nd week, the technical handyman crew fixed it (to none boaters – NEVER EVER put anything down in the head except for pee/poo (no toilet paper, no hair). The previous folks on the boat had obviously not known how to use the head properly, it got clogged, what a stinky mess. It didn’t help that Navtours who we chartered the boat from did a shoddy repair of the head prior to us leaving port – but they heard all about the probs not just with the head, but ripped main sail, etc. when we got back from the Captain and the Admiral. Luckily, Navtours they had a few days to fix things up for the next set of customers, as the next set of sailors weren't making their flight to Nassau due to the weather condtiions on the east coast further north (snow, snow and more snow).
Stay tuned for more adventures on the high seas – except these will be happier ones – since the awesome sailing we all experienced was what we all came to do with this holiday – along with visiting beaches that for some reason seem to have no one else on them except us – and the occasional washed up debris from as far away as Africa!