Friday March 29, 2013
Trying to stay on our boats for the good part of the morning and early afternoon, we didn’t want to make it into shore for the fish fry too early all started to get restless for shore a little earlier than we thought and decided to make our way in a little earlier than planned. We found out yesterday that the fish fry was to go from 1-6, but Island Breeze was having a happy hour beginning at 5 that we definitely wanted to make it to. Parking the dink at Long Island Breeze once more, we swore that the 20 minute ride in from where we were anchored on the far end of the bay was not worthwhile and that if we were going to be here for a few more days we’d be moving in much closer. Cutting through the little paths that led between LIB and the regatta site where the fish fry was being held we could hear the music blasting away long before we ever got close. Seeing that you needed to buy tickets for both food and drinks we quickly purchased them and got in line for our fish fry. At this point the music was pumping so loud that we could barely get our orders in with which sides we wanted and had to keep yelling at the woman behind the counter although she found no reason to speak up while repeating it back to us. I had no idea if I’d end up with fish or chicken, and I was ready to take any two sides they chose to give me as long as there was food in front of me.
When all four of us had our food and drinks we sat at a nice set of tables with tiki hut roofs, overlooking the water. The fried fish that most of us ended up getting (Matt had to be the odd one with chicken), looked very similar to what we had just caught in Georgetown and tasted every bit as delicious. It was my first time having a whole fried fish though and a little strange still having the skin attached and picking the meat from the bone. Reminding me of our crab night back in Annapolis, I left a lot of the stuff I wasn’t sure about alone but was way too full to worry about if I had glazed over perfectly good fish. I figure I’ll still have a lot of chances to try. When we finished eating we figured we should try and mingle with some of the other cruisers in the area instead of staying in our own little group. Knowing that most cruisers are very friendly and outspoken, we went up to one table and waited for a few minutes to get any kind of acknowledgment but no one ever looked at us. We probably could have forced our way into the conversation, but I had spotted a group of people closer to our age that I wanted to talk to instead anyway. This also looked like a close knit group of people but Matt took it upon himself to interrupt and introduce himself.
One way that he found an in was because two of the people at the table were wearing hats that looked like they were made from palm leaves. Stephanie had wanted to ask about them anyway to find out how she or Brian could make one since they learned a little about basket weaving out of palms and thought a hat would be the perfect thing to add to the collection. What we found out after a few more introductions is that of the six people at the table, only two of them were cruisers like us. Their names were Ren and Ashley, an in addition to being cruisers, they are also world champion free divers. Everyone else at the table had flown in to take lessons from them at a blue hole on the south side of the island. They had been living in Long Island for the past five months on their boat Nila Girl (named for their late dog), and were at the blue hole almost every day either practicing or giving lessons. Ashley currently holds a few records for free diving including deepest with no fins, but is now taking it a little easy since there are expecting their first child this fall. Also in the group was a guy named Shiv and a girl named Alli just in Long Island for a week or two while taking lessons.
While telling them that we were very interested in seeing the blue hole and were thinking of hitching a ride there the next day, Ren and Ashley offered to take us with them in their car, as long as we didn’t mind squeezing the four of us into the backseat. It was not an issue for us at all and we were just thankful for the offer since we heard it can be a bit difficult for four people to try and catch a ride together anywhere and thought we might have to split up to get to the hole. We asked both of them a few more questions about free diving since it’s something we didn’t know much about, and although I’m sure they’re busy fielding questions like them all the time, they were very nice in answering all our inquiries. Next on our question list was the initial reason we came over, the cool palm hats that Ashley and Shiv were wearing. This was something that Ren was very excited to talk about and mentioned that he had some fresh palms back at a friend’s boat and that if we were planning on going next door to Long Island Breeze for happy hour that he could show us a few things. How could we resist an offer like that? Not that we were about to turn down happy hour anyway, but it was also nice to immediately be taken into a new group like we had always belonged. Ren even made sure that our bracket for the davits was given to the local welder who was also at the fish fry and was told we’d have it back first thing Tuesday, after all the Easter holiday festivities were over. Score for us!
With cold Kaliks in hand we all gathered on the deck next to the pool to watch Ren do his magic. A bigger crowd of other interested people gathered and his first lesson was in weaving a basket. Although I should have been paying attention, I was looking for lessons on a hat and decided to mingle with other cruisers instead. I met a lot of great new people, including Penny who we had heard on the net a few times. Her and her husband John own a home named Fairhaven a few miles north of LIB and are very sociable and friendly, not to mention funny as hell. Every few minutes I’d check in on basket weaving lessons and found Brian along with a few others already weaving away on their own. I asked about hats but found that you have to learn to weave a basket before you can move on to a hat. I guess I’ll have to rely on Brian to help me with that since I was so excited to skip ahead to a hat that I never learned the basics. It didn’t take long for happy hour to turn into night and before I knew it everyone was parting ways and heading back to their dinghies. We had set out that morning to experience a little local culture and hopefully make a new friends and I’d have to say we were pretty successful on all fronts. Plus Rode Trip now has a nicely woven basket to hold fruits and veggies. I’d say it was a good day.