February 16 - February 21
Miami Beach Art Center * Crossing the Gulf Stream * Clearing Customs * King's Highway * Golf Carts * Singing at Church * Haitian Community * Octopus * North Winds * Straw Market * Bimini Museum * Ernest Hemingway * Conch Hunting * Leopard Rays * Buried Chain * Bimini Art Back to Home Page
Day 210 - Friday, February 16
Belle Isle, Miami Beach, Florida
Mile 1089 on the Intracoastal Waterway
Our alarm clock rang at 3 a.m. this morning so we could get an early start on our crossing to the Bahamas. But when Dan went out to the cockpit the wind was whistling and the waves were rough from a small front that was going through, so we went back to sleep and saved our crossing for a better day.
Since we had an extra day to spend in Miami Beach, Dan decided to fill our propane tank. We weren't sure if we would find propane in the Bahamas or not. Some people said that in the Bahamas you would give them your tank, they would put it on a boat for Miami and a week later you would get it back all filled up. It seemed to make more sense for us to fill it ourselves before we left Miami.
Dan made five dollars worth of phone calls searching for the nearest place to get propane. There wasn't anything close by, not even at the marinas, even though lots of boaters were looking for it before they crossed offshore. The closest place was on 79th Street in Miami, several miles away on the other side of the Causeway. We decided it would be worth paying for cab fare to get our tank filled there. Dan took the tank up to the road and tried to hail a cab. You never have to wait long for one to go by down here. The drivers all waved at him, but none of them stopped. Just when he was ready to give up, one driver stopped. It was a fellow who used to be a boater, so when he saw Dan standing there with a propane tank in this hand, he knew just what was going on. He told Dan that the other drivers were probably afraid to pick him up because of his beard. Most of the cab drivers are Latino, and they associate beards with Castro and don't want to get involved. Dan's cab driver was very helpful and even waited for him to get the propane then brought him back. The total cab fare was $37. The propane we needed to fill the tank was $7. Well, now we've got enough propane to last for several months.
The kids were thrilled to have another day to spend with their friends. Zion went off with Jason, and I took Tricia and Tory out for a cultural experience. We went to the Miami Beach Art Center. The Art Center is right on Lincoln Mall, in a series of old department stores that have been remodeled. Artists rent out studios where they can work and display their work. They have privacy, but the rooms have big windows where you can look in and watch them. Some of the studios even have open ceilings so you can look down inside from the second floor. It was fun seeing the different styles of art done by each artist.
One of the buildings had a magnificent tiled floor through the hallway. The tiles sometimes curved up the sides of the walls and included lots of interesting tile pieces, like ceramic fish and shells. It also had a staircase arching up, through and down to the otherside. Along the staircase was a bronze handrail filled with stained glass pieces. The rails near the bottom of the steps had sea creatures and water bubbles. As you climbed higher there was a gorgeous depiction of an egret in a bayou with hanging Spanish moss. At the top there were rainbows, stars and other celestial objects. I think we spent more time looking at the floor and staircase than at any of the paintings on the walls! The details were amazing.
The Art Center also had a current exhibit that was fascinating to both me and the girls. Out front, there were screen-printed gauze hangings of the different levels of a forest. As you walked through, it really felt like a forest because the sunlight could filter through the gauze. At the back of the gallery was a big curtain. Behind the curtain it was dark, with video images being shown on a hammock of gauze that lay across the floor. The videos showed crashing waves, sunlight rippling on water, forest reflections and other natural scenes. It made you feel like you were really there. When the waves came toward you at your feet, all of your instincts told you to jump back. The girls immediately recognized all of the different kinds of water, since they had been seeing them often over the last six months. The exhibit would be a great way to bring the feel of the sea to land-locked people. In fact, the docent on duty thought it could make a great travelling exhibit to county fairs around the country. Because of the way it was designed, you could actually walk through the middle and see the water part on each side - just like Moses going through the Red Sea!
We learned that the Art Center also gives many art classes and sponsers other events in the community. If we stay longer Tricia would like to give the drawing class a try.
After the Art Center we went in search of the Community Center. We had some information that said they held community dances every Friday night. We wanted to check out what that was all about. The Community Center was on the other side of the Convention Center. This happened to be the week that the International Boat Show was in full swing there. This is one of the biggest boat shows in the world. In addition to all of the vendors at the Convention Center, there are power boats on display at one marina in town, and sailboats on display at another. It's a hopping time.
The community center was very nice. We found a few people getting things ready for the dance. Unfortunately, tonight was a Latin dance for senior citizens. But next Friday, if we're still around, is break dancing for the teens. I think Tricia is hoping for another week of bad weather.
That evening we listened carefully to the weather forecast. Winds would be gentle and southerly tonight and tomorrow, but late Saturday evening they would swing to the north and bring stormy weather. The crossing to Bimini in the Bahamas is only forty-five miles. At five miles per hour, it should only take nine hours. Since the short-term forecast was so ideal, we decided to set our alarm clock for 3 a.m. again. Even with a few unexpected delays, we should easily make it to Bimini before the north winds come.
Day 211 - Saturday, February 17
Weech's Dock Marina, Alice Town, Bimini Island, The Bahamas
N 25' 43.3" W 79' 17.9"
Today when the alarm rang at 3 o'clock, the wind was gentle and the water
mirror calm. It was the perfect time to pull anchor and head out to sea.
Zion helped us get to the water dock and fill our tanks, then he went back to
bed. Dan piloted the boat through Miami and out to the sea. I stayed up
because it was so beautiful. There were several bridges we had to pass under
and they were all brightly lit in blue and deep pink against the night sky.
The big skyscrapers in Miami and Miami Beach twinkled their own mixture of
colorful lights. We went right past the docks for the big cruise ships, some
of which seemed to be pulling into dock. They were lit from top to bottom and
you could see the big ballrooms up on the seventh deck. They were quiet; the
partying must have been finished for the night, but here and there you could
see couples standing out along the balconies in the dark, looking at the same
spectacular sight of Miami's night skyline that we could see.
As we continued out the channel to the ocean, it got darker as the city
faded away. Now we had to watch for boat lights. Luckily, at this time of
night there wasn't much traffic. We saw a ferry boat and a fishing boat or
two. We even passed another giant cruise ship coming in to harbor. When we
reached the sea we hit a few waves, but after a mile the shore waves stopped
and we entered the Gulf Stream. Here the waters were 1000 feet deep and
moving gently north in happy companionship with the south wind.
We could see the lights of Miami until we reached fifteen miles from shore.
At daybreak, Zion got up and we put up the sails. We had been travelling at
five knots with the motor alone; when we added the sails it took us up to
eight knots. That extra speed would cut several hours off of our trip. Then
Zion put out his trolling line, hoping to catch one of those big deep-sea
fish. But I think we were moving too fast to make his bait look appealling.
He never got a nibble.
We saw other fishing boats and sailboats and big freighters as we made the crossing. The freighters were headed north or south, but the sailboats were all headed to Bimini. Because the Gulf Stream moves north at about 3 1/2 knots, we had to head the boat southeast even though Bimini is directly east from Miami. This means our boat is actually moving in a slightly sideways direction, not exactly straight ahead. It makes the compass on our boat give a different reading from the direction that our GPS says we are heading. The compass always shows what direction the bow of the boat is pointing. The GPS shows what direction you are actually moving. It does this by taking readings of your position as you move along and calculating your direction.
This was our first chance to use our new autopilot on a big sea crossing. We love it! With the autopilot, you can set your boat in a particular direction and then just walk away from the steering wheel. If the autopilot senses that you are moving off course, it turns the wheel and puts you back where you should be. Dan could sit up on the front of the boat and watch for ships while the autopilot took care of the constant little wheel adjustments that make piloting a chore.
Every so often we had to check the GPS and make sure we were still headed in the right direction. It sure makes sailing easy, almost too easy. Just for fun, Dan and Zion had estimated what our course correction should be by drawing vectors on a piece of grid paper. It helped Zion understand what trigonometry is all about. He's decided to study trigonometry instead of algebra for awhile because of its usefulness on our sailing trips.
Tricia awoke late in the morning as we neared the island of Bimini. Around the island the water becomes shallow and is filled with shoals and sand spits. We were all up on deck to stare into the clear turquoise water and help Dan navigate through the deeper channels. There are no dredged channels into the island, and no channel markers. Choosing your path is hit-or-miss.
Dan got us safely into the Bimini Harbor, and we pulled into Weech's
The dockmaster, a black man named Morris, helped us into dock and welcomed us
Bimini. He had a very warm and friendly manner. He gave us the forms we
needed to fill out and take to the Customs Office which was right next door.
Before entering the harbor, Zion had put up our yellow quarantine flag. It
tells everyone that we haven't cleared customs yet. As long as the yellow
flag is up, no one can leave our boat except the captain.
Tricia, our official family secretary, filled out most of the forms. Dan took all of the information to the two-storied pink Customs Office. It didn't take him long to come back, then we took down our quarantine flag and put up our Bahamas courtesy flag instead. Whenever you visit another country, it is courtesy to fly their flag up on your mast. You can put your home country flag below it, or on the back of your boat. It cost $100 to enter The Bahamas, and that automatically includes a fishing license for everyone on board. We can go to any islands we want for the next sixty days. When we get back to the U.S., we have the call The Bahamas Custom Office and tell them we are back home.
WE MADE IT! After only seven short months, we finally made it out of the U.S.! Certainly not a speed record, but we had a great time along the way. It just shows what you can do if you take your time, enjoy every place you are at for as long as you want to, and always wait for good weather before proceeding. It's a wonderful way to travel.
Zion and Dad went into town first to check things out. When they didn't
any signs of coming back soon, I went ashore on my own. Tricia didn't want to
leave the comfort of the dock.
We were in Alice Town, the biggest city in Bimini. It has several hundred residents, 99% black. There are two roads on this long, narrow peninsula. King's Highway runs along the harbor and Queen's Highway runs along the ocean side. The roads are paved (sort of) and are just wide enough for two cars to pass each other. But there aren't many cars. Most of the vehicles are golf carts or bicycles. There are no painted lines down the middle, and everyone drives on the left side, just like in England. As golf carts go down the street, groups of laughing children run along behind them, trying to jump on and catch a ride.
There are little one-room stores everywhere. Some sell groceries, some sell clothing, the Burger Queen sells kitchen things. People were walking around everywhere, some having family barbecues along the beach. Island music blared from big speakers set out near the street. Children danced and sang in the doorways. Some played baseball with a rock and a piece of lumber.
I passed a roadside vegetable stand where they were selling Cuban yams, jicama, tomatoes, oranges and a few other things I didn't recognise. I had a nice talk with the woman running the stand. She said she knew the hassles of city life because she had gone to school in Miami. Miami might be only fify miles away, but the difference between that trendy city and this little island community was like the difference between night and day. It's hard to imagine that they are both on the same planet, much less so close to each other.
When we met back on the boat that evening, Zion showed off a few bleached conch shells that he had found along the beach. We learned that the marina had showers with fresh water that we could use. Since we weren't sure how long it would be before we found lots of fresh water again, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity. I pulled out the perm kit and spent the evening trying to give Tricia's hair a permanent wave. After several hours of work, we had to conclude that it didn't work. Her hair is still as straight as ever, and we just about killed Zion with the smell. From now on, we'll stick with wet braids to put kinks in her hair.
Day 212 - Sunday, February 18
Bimini, The Bahamas
N 25' 43.3" W 79' 17.9"
We all awoke early to attend 9:00 Mass at Holy Name Catholic Church on top of the hill. It was right next to the Anglican Church. There is also a Baptist Church and other Christian churches on the island.
When we arrived we were greeted by the most enthusiastic singing we've ever heard. As Dan says, you don't sing your songs around here, you shout them. Melody isn't very important, either, but everything has a great beat that you could dance to. Older children, in dresses and suits, gave the readings. First they were done in English, then they were read in French. Their melodious island accents were a delight to listen to (God rhymes with could). The pastor gave a thoughtful sermon on loving your enemies.
The French readings were done by and for the Haitian community on the island. After communion a Haitian family went to the front of the church to sing and sway to a beautiful a cappella "Veni, veni" hymn. We learned later, by listening to the Bahamian radio news, that Haitian refugees are a big problem in The Bahamas and all of the other Caribbean islands. Last year Bahamian officials had to send 5000 illegal Haitian immigrants back home, at a cost of one million dollars. This is a lot since there are only 250,000 people in all of The Bahamas.
After church we had to leave the dock. Check-out time was 11:00. By now the wind had kicked around to the northeast, and we had a difficult time pulling out of the dock. We tried a Y-turn, but the wind caught us hard and pushed us towards shore. The water was shallow, warm and clear, though, with a sandy bottom, so Zion and I jumped in and pushed our boat back out. Some other boaters on the docks helped, and on our second try Dan backed the boat all of the way out of the marina without a problem.
We didn't have to go far. The anchoring spot was just a bit north of where we were, right past all of the marinas and next to the electric generating station. There were already about ten other boats in the anchorage. There were acres and acres of water flats stretching to the west, with only a small area near the island that was deep enough for anchoring and staying afloat during low tide. The water was twelve feet deep with a sandy bottom in the deepest pockets, but slabs of black rock jutted out from the sand here and there making it all a bit treacherous. We found a spot to anchor and settled in.
Zion rowed me in the dinghy over to the water flats. We wanted to look for conch. They are said to be plentiful in the flats, but only one in five hundred is big enough to harvest. The wind was strong so the rowing was a challenge. The water in the flats was clear, but there were so many ripples from the wind that it was hard to distinguish what those things under the water were. We found a few small live conches, and lots of old discarded conch shells. The old shells were interesting because they often had other animals living inside. Zion found one with an odd creature inside that looked like a ball covered with suction cups. We decided to take it back to the boat to identify it.
We got the old shell back to our boat and up into the cockpit. We were
to get it into a bucket of seawater, when it suddenly uncurled and shot out
onto the floor. It changed from a ball to a long and slender animal with
eight long legs. Then, to our surprise, it stood up on all eight legs and
puffed its head up. It looked like a little ghost doing a dance on long legs.
Because of its
suction cups, it could even crawl up the sides of the cockpit benches. It
obviously needed some water to breathe in. It was gasping through its gills.
I picked up the slimy thing and dropped it into the bucket of seawater.
Suddenly the water went black. It had shot out some ink jets so we couldn't
see it anymore. Now that we knew it really was a little octopus, we threw it
back in the water. It stretched out into it's streamlined shape and sped away
from our boat along the top of the water. Then a gull screamed above us and
swooped down to make the octopus into a tasty meal. But our octopus friend
had a few tricks up his sleeve (sleeves?). He squirted out another ink jet,
foiling the gull's intentions, and dived down to deeper and safer waters.
While Zion and I were gone, Dan had had a tricky time with our anchor ropes. Although the wind was strong from the north, the current was also strong and it kept changing directions with the tides. That meant our boat, and all of the other boats in the anchorage, kept spinning around in all sorts of directions. Our anchor ropes actually got tangled around our boat and almost pulled off our ladder. Dan and Zion spent the rest of the night setting out more anchors, moving our anchor ropes to different cleats and trying anything they could think of to keep our boat from swinging so much. Luckily, the anchors held solid in the ground so we didn't have to worry about dragging (much).
Day 213 - Monday, February 19
Alice Town, Bimini, The Bahamas
N 25' 43.3" W 79' 17.9"
All last night, and all day today, the wind howled from the north. The sky was cloudy and the water was choppy, so we didn't even think about going to land. It was the perfect day for traditional school work!
There was lots of time spent fiddling with the anchors again. One boat in the middle of the group broke free. Several boaters went out in their dinghies to help the adrift captain. As he was being blown into another boat, the dinghies worked like little tugboats and pushed him away from disaster. He eventually got out of the anchorage field and tied up at a dock in one of the marinas.
Day 214 - Tuesday, February 20
Alice Town, Bimini, The Bahamas
N 25' 43.3" W 79' 17.9"
The winds finally settled down today and the whole family had a chance to
dinghy into town together (two trips, of course). We climbed up a small sea
wall and found ourselves near the Administration Building, also in pink like
the Customs Office. It seems that all government buildings are painted pink
around here. The Administration Building had the Police Department, the Post
Office and the Office of Tourism. The workers were having a slow day and were
chatting together standing outside their office doors in the covered courtyard
. They were all dressed very professionally. The police wear a very
distinguished uniform, navy pants and white shirts with lots of gold braid.
When we headed to the Post Office door the postmistress entered ahead of us.
We bought some Bahamian stamps. Regular stamps are 65 cents, post card stamps
are 50 cents. Not too bad.
Further down the road we came to the Straw Market. It was a collection of wooden outdoor booths were island vendors were selling things. There were lots of island clothes, like sarongs, and jewelry. One of the women showed Tricia how to wear a sarong around her waist or as a dress. There were also straw bags and hats woven by the islanders. And one booth sold fresh, homemade bread. We bought two loaves, one regular and one coconut. The bread was like the white bread Grandma makes back home, but sweeter. The coconut bread was dense and delicious. We would fry it in a little butter and sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar for breakfast. Zion bought a necklace of wooden beads. When we got back to the boat he attached one of his shark teeth to it with some jewelry wire. Some women at the Straw Market wanted to braid Tricia's hair in the island style. It costs $2 a braid. She's thinking about it.
Across from the Straw Market was a small building. The upstairs room held the Bimini Museum. One of the local Social Studies teachers worked with his classes to create this room full of pictures and memorabilia of the history of the island. Half of the room was devoted to deep sea fishing. There were also pictures of British royalty visiting the island, and of the nurses and midwives that have served the community over the years. There was a small display devoted to Martin Luther King, Jr. who visited the island twice. They have a U.S. flag that was flown over the U.S. Capital on the tenth anniversary of King's first visit to the island.
Further down the road was the Compleat Angler, an inn and tavern that had been a favorite stomping ground for Ernest Hemingway and his deep-sea fishing friends back in the 'forties. It has an outdoor courtyard with a bar and shade trees, and a live band was playing island music on the porch. We went inside to view all of the Hemingway memorabilia on display. Supposedly, he wrote "To Have and Have Not" here, and his autobiographical novel, "Islands in the Stream" begins with a description of Bimini. This spot is supposed to be a popular hang-out for the college crowd during spring breaks.
Day 214 - Wednesday, February 21
Alice Town, Bimini, The Bahamas
N 25' 43.3" W 79' 17.9"
This morning broke extremely calm, sunny and gorgeous. The glistening
flats were beckoning. Tricia, Dan and I spent the morning wading through
twelve inch deep water. Since it was so calm, it was easy to see the exotic
plants and animals hidden below. We found lots of round, black sponges, and
irregular red ones. There were also broken pieces of coral, brain coral and
antler coral, that must have floated in from the faraway reefs. We found lots
of old conch shells, too. One had a red creature with big claws hiding inside
of it. We
set the shell in our dinghy, and eventually the creature crawled out. It was
ten inches long, and I thought it looked like a lobster except that it was
red, not black, and it's long tail didn't have a shell. It was curved and
soft. We checked it out in
our seashore books later, and to our surprise it fit the description of a very
large hermit crab. Weird!
We also managed to find three conches that were big enough to eat. We learned that when they are alive they look like huge snails. They have two little black eyes on the ends of two little fingers that they stick out of their shell to look at you. Very cute. Tricia got so attached to them, she refused to eat them later.
We took our booty back to the big boat, then took up the challenge of getting the conch meat out of the shell. They tell us that the locals are adept at this job - even the small children can do it with ease. There is one local man who is legend. They call him Conch Man. We saw him go out in the flats every day with his little rowboat. It's small and wooden, like our dinghy, and he stands up in it, peering over the front. With a single paddle in his hands, he strokes from side to side to propel himself, all of the while calling out in a singsong voice to lure the conch to him. They say that he can clean a conch in a few seconds, then skin it by holding the edge of the skin in his teeth. If you saw how slimy one of those creatures were, you would be as impressed by this feat as we are.
Our efforts were less than elegant. The typical way to clean a conch is to make a small hole in the end where the animal is attached to the shell. If you cut through the attaching muscle, the animal falls out. The trick is, you need to know exactly where to cut the hole. And we didn't want to put a big hole in our beautiful conch shells. We wanted to save them and make them into conch horns. So, in an effort to save the shell, we tried another trick. Someone had told us that if you just drill a little hole in the end, it releases the pressure and the conch will fall out. Well, Dan drilled a little hole. It made the animal scurry out of his shell, but he couldn't go far because he was still attached. Now we could clearly see the head with the two wiggly eyes, the long body, the one small foot and the one huge foot that contained the big muscle with the meat. At the bottom of the huge foot was a piece of shell, just the right shape to fit in the outer shell's opening. It was like a little door that could be used to shut up the shell home tightly. I've never seen a stranger looking creature.
Well, since the conch didn't fall out, Dan kept drilling the hole bigger.
Still unable to get the little guy out, Dan finally just gave him a big, hard
pull. When we told some locals later that we pulled it out, they laughed
pretty hard. What came out was a pile of guts, some long wormy white things,
lots of slime, the muscled foot, and the black-speckled head. We didn't have
a clue which parts were edible and which parts weren't. There was a boat
anchored nearby us that had several experienced divers on board, so Dan
dinghied our bowl of conch innards over to them and asked them what to do with
it now. The only part worth using was the muscled foot. Dan brought it back
all chopped into nice little pieces in a baggie. The instructions were to
soak it in lemon or lime juice for several hours to tenderize it. You can
also tenderize it my mutilating it with a metal conch hammer, but we didn't
have one of those. Now that Dan knew what to do, he cleaned the other two
conches and I ended up with two cups of chopped conch meat. I let it sit in
lemon juice all afternoon. We needed some time to distance us from the
slaughtering process before we were ready to eat the things.
In the afternoon we were treated to a spectacular water show from the giant leopard rays that went gliding past our boat. Occasionally, they would fly into the air and land with a big splash. Their wings were at least three feet from tip to tip, and their backs were dark with golden spots, like a reverse leopard skin. One time, one of them twisted in the air during their leap out of the water and I could see its white belly.
Since the rays were so active, Dan and the kids dropped a line off the back of the boat, put on their snorkels, and went down to join them in the sparkling clear aqua water. They got a good, close-up look at one of them and were surprised to find that it actually had a head that looked like a dolphin's head.
Zion spent most of the afternoon snorkeling around the boat. He brought up
some rusty old boat parts that he had scavenged, but his best find was a
length of giant chain embedded under the rocks at the bottom. Each chain link
was about a foot long, and it was held solid in its place by layers of rocks
and dirt. This would make a perfect mooring. Zion dove down and slipped one
of our anchor ropes through one of the chain links. Voila! Instant mooring.
Nothing would be able to blow us or drag us from this spot. Too bad we hadn't
known about this before Sunday's windstorm.
Dan spent time visiting with the divers next door. They had spent a lot of time in Honduras. They knew the sea, but they were new to Bimini. They were having trouble getting their anchors to set, so Dan gave them some help. It didn't do much good, though, since the captain was so drunk.
For dinner I spent an hour chopping the small pieces of conch into tinier pieces. Then I mixed them with eggs and bread crumbs and made them into hamburgers. I figured that was the only way I would get the kids to eat it. It had to be cleverly disguised after what they had seen that morning. The burgers tasted good, a lot like scallops.
After dinner we went into town for some culture. We had seen signs that
would be an art showing by a local Bimini artist at the All Age School. We
wanted to see the island art, plus we wanted to get a glimpse of what their
classrooms were like.
Their school is a long, low wooden building painted in pastel Packer colors, yellow and green. Each classroom has a door opening to the outside yard. The yard is dusty, bare earth with a few picnic tables scattered beneath trees. In the classroom all of the desks had been pushed to the side. There was a chalkboard in front that still held a math problem from the day's classes - how to calculate the distance around an oval track. The wall's were sheets of corkboard covered with yellow paint. The artist's works were tacked to the wall. What amazed us most, however, was the lack of clutter in the room. There was nothing besides the school desks and three roughly constructed book shelves, each holding only a few old textbooks and one old encyclopedia set. Nothing like the kaleidoscope of colored posters and artwork and books and teaching aids that you see in an American classroom.
The artwork was not what we had expected. We thought we would be seeing some kind of brightly painted island scenes. What we saw was computer-generated apochryphal art containing water and fire and monsters of all sorts, with smatterings of Hebrew here and there. It's the kind of stuff that Zion and other boys his age get a kick out of. It was a surprise to learn that the artist was a devout, mild-mannered, middle-aged man named Norbert Cox. He spent a great deal of time studying scripture in Hebrew, Greek and English, and his art was symbolic of religious messages he had received and was passing on to the rest of us.
But our biggest surprise was yet to come. At 8:00 they showed a video on Cox's work that had just been aired in Britain as part of a series on apochryphal artists. (Yes, the school had a beautiful new TV and VCR.) After the video we were talking to some of the local people in the audience, telling them about our boat and that we had come from Wisconsin. They told us that Norbert Cox was from Wisconsin, too. He just came to Bimini in the winter to paint. They asked where in Wisconsin we were from, and we said "Green Bay". They said "That's where Norbert was from, too.". Suddenly, things began to click together in Dan's mind and he realized that he knew Norbert Cox back home. They had met while exploring some of the local caves in Wisconsin, like the Chilton Nature Center and Maribel. Norb had been the editor of the newsletter for the local spelunking group. It's hard to believe that we spent six months to get off the shores of the U.S. only to find someone from back home on the first island we visit.
In fact, the woman's son was a young painter who had befriended Norbert during his stay on Bimini. Right now, her son is in Green Bay staying with Norbert's brother and sister-in-law. He is a U.S. citizen because he was born in Miami. And just to make our little world even smaller, the woman's husband is Morris, the dockmaster who gave us our first greeting in Bimini. Her two daughters were with her. One is a teacher at Holy Name School, next to the church we attended on Sunday. The other daughter works for Chaulk's airline. Chaulk's runs a small plane service from island to island in the Bahamas. They take off on the water and we see several planes zipping by our anchorage every day. They are fun to watch. We exchanged names and phone numbers, and told her to come visit us if she ever goes to Green Bay to see her son.