Happy Easter! It is Easter Day as I am writing this, although I don't know when I'll be able to get online to post it, hopefully soon.
Puff anchored off Salt Pond, Long Island... photo taken from the pool deck of the Long Island Breeze.
It's beautiful here in Long Island, Bahamas. The sun is shining, the sea is calm and sparkling. There is a cool, steady breeze.
Chimney Rock Beach, near Deadman's Cay, Long Island
The harbour is full of cruising boats and the island's churches are packed for Easter Sunday services. We had coffee on the boat and now we are on our property where will spend the day building our new home. Name and address on the lumber when it arrived on the mail boat on March 24th.
There are Easter cook outs all over the island later today, maybe we will knock off early and attend the festivities. The Bahamians are getting ready for the mini-regatta tomorrow when they will race their beautiful handmade, sailing boats in the sound where we have Puff anchored. What a time we've had this year in the Bahamas. We sailed down from North Carolina at the end of November, spent Christmas in the Abacos, arrived in Long Island (home sweet home) before my birthday (January 21st), spent February hosting family and friends for fun visits, and March until now has been all about building our first house ever! Brian's family, Mom(Dede), Dad(Pete), and brother (Pete Jr.) visited for 10 days in February. Here they are at Dean's Blue Hole. Pete getting ready to jump off a cliff into the hole. Brian's mom and dad watch Pete swimming near the blue hole, he's that tiny dot out there. The Pucella clan at the cape, near the Columbus monument on the North end of the island. Max's Conch Bar for fresh conch salad and Kaliks! Fire on the beach, we had some cool days in February... it must have been at least 70 degrees! Brian and his Dad having sundowners with Puff in the background.
Pete checking out an island original. The Pucella boys on the beach. One of our favorite meals on the island, cracked conch at Rowdy Boys. The secret and beautiful shrimp grotto. Myself with Brian's parents on yet another gorgeous beach, at Lochabar on the South end on Long.
Pete and Dede found their favorite beach at Turnbull, in the South Central region of Long Island. Pete and Dede starting their last day in the Bahamas with a pina colada!
We had a fun time with Brian's family and we look forward to more visits from all of our family and friends. This is a super fun island to play tour guide on, so come on down!
Well, we've lived aboard Puff for nearly ten years now. We love boat life, the sea, and island life! We found our Long Island, Bahamas property in 2006. Now, we are building the home we dreamed into existence on it. We designed the house ourselves, following the same mantra that we have with cruising all these years, "go small, go now."
Brian finishing the girder on our house!
Instead of waiting until we could afford the larger two bedroom with an apartment underneath that we initially decided on, we redesigned and redrew our plans. We figured the larger home would take us three to four years to complete.
The new design will be almost complete in two months for a lot less money. By June, we will have the house dried in, that means foundation to roof, including floors and walls, completely built. Then, we need to go back to the States and work for the summer.
Next Fall, we'll install doors and windows, build interior walls and loft, do plumbing and wiring, build the screened porch/deck, and finish it off with appliances and furniture. First things first, we cleared the lot, cut trails through the brush, and planted some landscaping... then Brian drilled holes for the pilings with a jackhammer. Under the dirt is solid limestone rock. The jackhammer also came in handy for planting coconuts. Our new home will have a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. It will also have a loft over the kit and bath. And we will have an 8 foot covered, screened porch. The house is only 20 x 20, but I think when it is finished, we will all be amazed at just how efficient, comfortable, and roomy such a "small" home can be.
Charlie in our driveway.
The 40 foot trailer that our materials arrived on. We ordered our materials from a lumber company in Florida. They delivered the materials to the shipping house in Florida, which put them on a boat to Nassau, where they were unloaded and stored in a warehouse until the next mail boat got ready to leave for Long Island.
The truck in our driveway.
All of our building supplies off the trailer and on the property, organized and sorted by Brian into the order that we will use them.
The workspace on our lot.
Brian's custom made tool box.
The fridge we borrowed from friends is very nice! Getting pallets to keep all of our nice lumber off the ground. These are the holes for the pilings that will be our foundation. Brian used the jackhammer to dig them into solid rock about four feet deep. Here are the pilings in the holes before we cemented them in. There are nine altogether for the house and there will be three more for the porch. Cement mixer we borrowed from friends. We used buckets of rock, sand, water, and concrete powder to mix our cement. We braced the poles and then poured the cement in with a wheelbarrow. My job was to fill the buckets. Brian poured the buckets into the mixer. All the poles solidly standing in finished concrete and limestone rock. Charlie takes a water break. He drinks out of dried coconuts, as do the birds, they share. Charlie gets so worn out from all this hard work, but he's okay as long he has his monkey. Brian wrote our initials and the date in the concrete at the base of the center pole and we put our hand prints in it. We had some fill delivered and spread it underneath the house, it looks like snow! It's just fine limestone, eventually it will get packed down. We have sand in our drive, maybe we'll do more of that. And the girder goes up, by the time of this writing, only 2 days after Easter, (yes, it takes me days to write a blog post), the floor joists are already done and the plywood sheathing for the floor is down. We have built a ladder and can climb up and walk around on our "floor." We will draw all the furniture on it, so I can play house in my mind and make sure the windows and doors are in the right places! We pass this baseball field on the way to the property every day. Notice there is a herd of goats cutting the grass!
A unique island sight, to be sure.
These baby coconut sprouts were waiting for us when we arrived one morning. We still don't know who left them for us, but the gift was much appreciated. We planted them on either side of the driveway entrance. Who says you can't get fresh veggies in the islands? Long has it all, and also fresh fish that Brian speared! So, that's the house. And there is so much daily progress, I can hardly keep you current!
We are so lucky that Brian knows exactly what he's doing. All those years doing construction are certainly paying off. He drew up the plans, ordered the materials (right down to the last nail), and now he is doing most of the work on the house. I'm just the helper. I do what I'm told. I carry, shovel, hold, run errands, and encourage. It's been just the two of us so far, except for the unloading of the materials, when all of our fantastic neighbors joined in to help. Some of our neighbors: Sara, Heather, and Dan
Our closest neighbors, Dan and Sara, have been life savers. They've given us plants, water from their cistern, showers, meals, hot tub soaks, and more. Our friends, Kris and Jean, who live down the road have been enormously helpful as well. This would be so much more difficult without all of them. We are so very grateful for the support we've received from the community down here. The community was one of the reasons we chose this island. Everyone we've met so far has been friendly, knowledgeable, interesting, positive, supportive, and fun. It just can't get any better than that. Sara's sushi is to die for, and the presentation's not bad either... Getting together with more friend's and neighbors at Frank's house. Frank also lives in our "neighborhood."
Some of the other reasons we chose this island are: close proximity to the US, close proximity to so many other awesome islands for exploration, and modern comforts like some of the best grocery and hardware stores in the Bahamas. They have good water from an reverse osmosis plant. There are wonderful farms for fresh produce and some really excellent restaurants. The fishing and diving are superb. And, this is possibly the most uniquely beautiful island we have ever seen, in all of our travels. Friends: Charlie, Georgina, and Arthur before dawn on a spearfishing expedition.
Gotta make time to have fun, and catch dinner!
There is always something to do. There are plenty of events and social functions. Today, there are some Easter grill outs, tomorrow the mini-regatta, next weekend is a beach clean up and party, and the next weekend is the Vertical Blue Freediving Competition.
Chillin' on a secluded beach with Charlie.
Snorkeling around the cays.
The water clarity here is really unbelievable. On this day, when we went snorkeling, we were with a couple on vacation who had recently been to Tahiti, and they said Long Island was, and I quote, "soooo much better." When I asked them why, they said the water was more beautiful and the people were a lot friendlier. Friends, Joyce and Diane with little Troy looking at seashells they found. I love kayaking around here. The water is so clear, you can see sharks and other fish right below you!
Brian wearing his kayaking turban.
Or kitty, Jack Dreadbelly, likes kayaking, too! He is quite the navigator... Jack is 5 years old, he is part Maine Coon and has lived on a boat all of this life. All of our friends are animal lovers. Our Aussie friend, Tim, and his Aussie shepherd, Zuma, take a swim together.
Whats Next For Us...
Our plan is to live on Long Island roughly nine months out of the year and spend the remaining months visiting with family and friends. We have been living half the year in the States and half in the islands for awhile now, so that's nothing new. We left the rat race a long time ago. We're figuring out how to make it work as we go. Each year we get everything a little more dialed in. We wanted to sail though the islands without a care in the world, and we did that, for several years. Then, we wanted something else. A little more stability.
We wanted a home somewhere. A house and some land to call our own. We didn't know how it would happen, but it has. We want to have a family next. It may come as a surprise to most people, but you don't have to have a 9 - 5 job and access to a Wal-Mart to survive.
You don't have to have a mortgage or a car payment. You don't have to do anything illegal or irresponsible to live such an independent life. You can still vote and pay your taxes and give to charities. You can raise intelligent, responsible, and healthy children. You can enjoy good health and good relationships. You can have everything you need and more. Our quality of life is amazingly high compared to most people we know, and we don't have any more money than they do.
We live outside the mainstream of society, but we are not hermits or recluses. We participate in the local community wherever we are. When we are in the States, we make the most of our time. We visit busy, metropolitan cities at least twice a year, where we can sightsee, go to museums, shop, enjoy eclectic dining and live music. Our lifestyle ensures that we do not take such things for granted. But as we move about in the world, because of our lifestyle, we are also so much more conscious of the impact that our actions and decisions have on ourselves, others, and our environment.
On the sailboat and in our islands, there is no 911. There is no 24 hour emergency room, there is no repairman to call, there is no fast food, there is no quick replacement if something breaks, there is no running out to the corner store for a loaf of bread. There is no ignoring your trash and where it ends up ultimately, when you see it covering the beaches and lodged in coral reefs around you.
We don't let things go to waste, we are take good care of our bodies, we reuse and recycle everything we can, we fix what breaks instead of tossing it out. We keep cheap plastic items to a minimum. We catch, kill, and grow much of our own food. We live with care.
I am loving this journey that we're on and it makes me happy to share it with you. If you are asking the question that everyone else does, "how do make money?", then check this out.
Peace and Love to All! Until next time, in*joy your life!