Wednesday, February 10, 2016

February 10, 2016 Nassau to Cave Cay Marina

February 10, 2016 – Nassau to Cave Cay, Exuma

12/16/2015 Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau Harbor Club 171 nm
12/23/2015 Nassau Harbor Club to Nassau Harbor Club 11 nm
12/24/2015 Nassau Harbor Club to Nassau Harbor Club 15 nm
1/01/2016 Nassau Harbor Club to Hawksbill Cay, Exuma 48 nm
1/02/2016 Hawksbill Cay to Pipe Ck. 25 nm
1/05/2016 Pipe Creek to Cave Cay Marina 27 nm
1/08/2016 Cave Cay Marina to Elizabeth Island, Georgetown,Exuma 40 nm
1/09/2016 Elizabeth Island to Thompson Bay, Long Island 25 nm
1/11/2016 Thompson Bay to Georgetown 38 nm
1/16/2016 Georgetown to Cave Cay Marina 42 nm
1/18/2016 Cave Cay Marian to Little Bay Great Guana Cay 14 nm
1/20.2016 Little Bay to Black Point Settlement 3 nm
1/21/2016 Black Point Settlement to Cave Cay Marina 16 nm
1/25/2016 Cave Cay Marina to Black Point Settlement 15 nm
1/26/2016 Black Point Settlement to Cave Cay Marina 15 nm
1/30/2016 Cave Cay Marina to Rudder Cay 3 nm
2/03/2016 Rudder Cay to Bay Rush Bay, Great Guana Cay 10 nm
2/04/2016 Bay Rush Bay to Western Bay, Little Farmers Cay 2 nm
2/06/2016 Western Bay to Cave Cay Marian 7 nm

Total Miles To Date: 1324 nm

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.”
James Michener

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Buerthold Auerbach

Yea I know it has been a while. The weather this year has sort of dominated our thoughts an paths for that matter. It won't take you long to figure that one out for yourselves. A quick glance at our “ping – ponging” in and out of Cave Cay Marina for West wind protection will leave no doubt of that in your mind. Besides I've just been lazy and the stories just would not come.

Despite the weather we have managed to delivered our relief supplies to the Long Island Children, taken this years school photos at Black Point Settlement and Little Farmers Cay, found 2 mermaids off Rudder Cay, taken in the Five Fs with our friends Cori and Dale on “Hi Flight” (a meeting 2 years in the making), and generally had a good time while slowly going broke paying slip fees. 

Da Gang at Ty's Beach Bar

Mermaid Does Her Hair

Dale / Cori
Cori & Dale


Life is full of the everyday but every once in a while something “magic” happens. These are the moments we all live for. I was on a collision course with one of those moments but didn't know it.

We had made our way to Little Farmer's Cay a few days before their “First Friday in February Farmer's Cay Festival” better know as the “5Fs.” The weather was perfect to snuggle up to the Island in Western Bay and make the run in to take the school photos at Little Farmers All Age School. I had called Ms. Cox, the one and only teacher at the school, the day before and set up a shoot for around 10:00 on Thursday morning. 

Little Farmers All Age School

I guess one should not have favorites but this school is mine none the less. The kids greeted me with warm Bahamian smiles and their usual display of proper manners. All the kids quietly came up to me, introduced themselves, and shook my hand with no prompting from their Teacher....all 9 of them. Nine kids thru 8th grade. What teacher would not love to be able to give their undivided attention to only 9 children?

As you can see from the photo the shoot went usual. The children went back to class and Ms. Cox stayed out side to speak to her janitor / aide. I went in with the pupils to put my stuff away...and here is where the “magic” comes in. As I was packing my camera. Arron came up to me, looked up with his typical Bahamian soulful soft brown eyes, and asked, “Mr. Cope-lee (they can't seem to get the Copelan right) do you want us to sing you our “Island Song?” I was a little surprised by the offer but of course my answer was yes.

Aaron took me by the hand and lead me around the partition where all the kids were sitting at a table working on their computers. Aaron took his seat and at some unseen lifting of the baton they all started quietly singing in perfect unison and in perfect harmony....

Little Farmer's Cay
smiling in the turquoise sea,
Lazing in the Sun at noon,
dreaming safe beneath the moon.

Where sky meets sand and sea-
my precious island, Farmers Cay.
This is home to me and it will always be.

Daytime on the Cay
thrashers singing in the tree, buzzing bee,
sun is shining down on me.
Swaying of the trees,
rising tide and rising breeze
what a perfect place to be.

On Little Farmers Cay-
smiling in the turquoise sea,
lazing in the sun at noon,
dreaming safe beneath the moon.
Where sky meets sand, and sea-
my precious island, Farmer Cay.
This is home to me and it will always be.

Three stanzas into the song something changed. Nathan, the oldest boy in the class, became the leader. No word was spoken or sign given but Nathan became the leader. He began to sway as if he was one with the palm trees and the breeze was gently, quietly, putting him in motion as well. The rest of the class followed his lead. The rythems became more “island” with a syncopation known only here. Nathan leading just a beat ahead of the others all swaying gently to the music of their Island....

In the falling dark-
laughing voices and dogs bark, at dock
boats are sleeping peacefully.
Windows golden light
a million stars are burning bright-
what a perfect place to be.

Back home on Farmers Cay-
smiling in a turquoise sea,
lazing in the sun at noon,
dreaming safe beneath the moon.
Where sky meets sand and sea-
my precious island, Farmers Cay.
This is home to me and it will always be.

This is home to me and it will always be.
This is home to me -
My precious island, Farmers Cay.

The singing ended or rather didn't end it faded into me like a dying breeze at sunset...peaceful, safe, with a touch of reassuring magic. I was spellbound and totally consumed by the moment. Those children could not have given me a better gift. That moment will live in my heart forever. In future when ever my thought turn to Farmers Cay it will awaken somewhere deep down in my soul the music, water, and breezes sung to me by Nathan, Aaron and his classmates on that Thursday, February 4th, 2016, in their school, on Little Farmers Cay...smiling in the turquoise sea, lazing in the sun at noon, dreaming safe beneath the moon, Little Farmers Cay.

Smashie & Smashie
It is funny how friendships evolve. In the cruising community you develop a keen sense of “people.” In our world place and time are so transient we don't have luxury of the bullshit and formalities of land-side relationships. Most new friends just drift away with the wind and tide to be pickup again when next we meet on that never ending circle. However, some friendships become strong as iron and nothing will break them. You are truly a lucky person if you can count 2 or 3 of that variety in a lifetime that, like Kipling wrote will standby you true and true. “Smashie” Van Fergerson from Black Point Settlement I consider one of mine.

It started my first year in the Exumas. We were “newbes” and Mac and Shirley on “Cats Paws 2” took us under their wing and we cruised with them off and on for 2 winters. Mac and I became fast friends and Shirley, Gigi's – 2 friendships made of iron. During that time Shirley introduced us to Smashie who worked at Sampson Cay. We didn't know it at the time but Smash was a living legend in Bahamas racing/boat building circles and was to became our first introduction to Bahamian sloop racing.

Smashie is about 5'6” tall, stocky, with a big Bahamian smile. He has big hands...the hands of a craftsman and big wide bare feet to match. As a matter of fact I've never seen him with shoes on but once – the day he was inducted into the Bahamian Sailing and Boatbuilding Hall of Fame. On that day he wore a lavender, 3 piece suit...and yes “shoes” all bought by his son Bo especially for the occasion. He walked right past me on his way to the podium and I didn't recognize him until he spoke. 

Smashie with Shoes

Nothing upsets Smashie. He is quiet, unassuming, and a true gentleman on and off the race course. I saw “Whitty K” hit him so hard in the Five Fs a few years back it contributed to a cracked mast that he lost it in the second race. Whitty K won the race and the series. All Smashie had to say in his soft Bahamian lilt was, “Dats alright. I get him next time.” 

Whitty K

On our next trip to Black Point on our second year of cruising we looked Smahie up and he introduced us to Agnes, his wife. We casually asked Van where we could get some “real” Bahamian food and he said, “I tink Aggie will make you some on Sunday. You come for dinner. OK?” It was delicious and The next trip to the Point Gigi went to church with Agnes and she took her on a “stroll” latter that afternoon. In case you don't know what a Bahamian “stroll” means “introduction” - introduction to EVERYBODY. Agnes took Gigi to almost every house in Black Point and introduced her to everyone including the new babies. For some reason we had gained their friendship and respect. We four have been fast friends every since. 

Ten years ago Van was a force in Class C Bahamian racing. Over the years we have know him not so much. Something always breaks, goes wrong, or the fates just didn't align properly. This year at Five Fs he got “Smashie” (his boat) moving again. He took first in the “Ocean Race” (banks not really ocean) and a second overall in the series behind..guess who...his old nemesis Whitty K.

Typical of Van not everything went smoothly. Between the second and third race Bo raced over to Salty Turtle in the skiff. Vic, Vic you got a big hose clamp? Da rudder she starting to separate. We need a hose clamp to shore her up.” I got a hose clamp, a half dozen screws and the screw gun and off we went. Five minutes later “Smashie” was ready for the next race.


Van is always at the helm of his boat but the last race something unprecedented happened. Van was not at the helm of his beloved “Smashie.” Van Fergerson had turned over the boat to Bo, his son, and his crew.... They took a second to Whitty K of course. It seems a slow changing of the guard it taking place. 

If you ever make it to Black Point Settlement go over to the house across the street from Lorain's Cafe and you will probably find Van and his wife Agnes sitting in the shade of their porch plating palm fronds. Introduced yourself and tell them you know us and I will bet you 2 Sands beers he and Aggie will break into a big smile. You see, they are our friends...a friendship made of iron. 

Van & Agnes

We hope to make it up to Staniel Cay the end of the week when (and if) the weather breaks. Now if you guys would do your part and keep those nasty Cold Fronts up North where they belong it would be most appreciated.

Fairwinds and Rum Drinks,

Vic Copelan

F5s Start of Race


1 comment:

Vicki, Buck and Magic said...

What a beautiful expression of your experiences in Black Point and Farmers Cay with both prose and photos! You and GiGi make "friends of iron" because you both are"friends of iron"! It is a two way street. So happy that the weather cooperated long enough for you to enjoy 5F's and the swimming and fishing. Take care, my friend and enjoy every minute! Would have loved to have been with you at the school but feel I was right there when reading your beautiful words!!