25 September 2017

Thoughts On Hurricanes & Jungle Cruising In The Abacos, Bahamas

EDITOR'S NOTE: It feels really weird to be publishing blog posts about this past season cruising in the Bahamas on our sailboat knowing that there are so many people out there who lost their own boats as a result of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria. For some of these people, their boats were also their homes. They don't have a base on land to go back to. For others, these boats were also their livelihoods. The trail of devastation and destruction that these hurricanes left in their wake is almost inconceivable.

I know some of you who follow our blog aren't sailors or boat owners and it might be hard to imagine what it's like to live through a hurricane and lose your floating home. If that's the case, then you might want to check out this blog post on Where the Coconuts Grow.

The folks behind this blog are a young family (they have a 3-month old baby) based in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. The mom and baby left the island two days before Irma. The dad stayed behind to secure their boat, as well as the boats for the charter company he works for. Fortunately, the dad survived the hurricane and mom and baby were safe back in the States, but they lost everything. Their post describes what it was like to be apart, surviving a hurricane and their hopes for the future.

Sadly, there are many, many stories like this one throughout the Caribbean and in the States.


If you want to read about some of our final days cruising in the Bahamas, have a read below. We've got a couple more posts scheduled which will wrap-up this past season's cruising adventures and then it will be all about what we've been up to since we've been back in the States while we're getting working on boat projects and getting ready to head to the Western Caribbean this coming season. If there's anything in particular you'd like to see us blog about, let us know.


Do you remember how we weren't sure which way to head back to the States from the Bahamas? After flipping a coin, we headed back via the Abacos, which turned out to be a good decision. One of the reasons why is that our friends, Bruce and Michele on s/v Wind Spirit were there.

This is them at the dinghy dock in Hope Town. Notice that dinghy next to them? The orange one? That's their dinghy. I love it for a lot of reasons, mainly because of its orange dinghy chaps. {Dinghy chaps protect dinghies from the elements, kind of like chaps protect cowboys from nasty stuff like thorns, thistles and the like.}

Orange is a great color. It's cheerful and happy. Orange never complains. Orange is always excited to greet the new day. Orange can't wait to go out and play. There are other colors I'm not very fond of, but I won't mention them here. Let's just say that there were certain crayons in my crayon box that didn't get used very often when I was a child.

The other reason I love Michele and Bruce's dinghy is because it picked us up from our boat and took us on fun adventures. I don't think we had to use our dinghy once while we were hanging out with the crew of Wind Spirit. I really think I could get used to getting chauffeured around in an orange dinghy.

One day, they took us out for what they call "jungle cruising," which basically means messing about in the dinghy and checking out the scenery. Bruce chauffeured us around the shallower waters of Hope Town's Harbour.

As you'd expect, there were lots of boats.

But what you might not expect is an old canon. At least, that's what I think it is. What do you think? Is it a canon or something else?

Check out this boat. It's boom sticks way out over the stern of the boat. It's a well known boat in the area, but for the life of me I can't remember it's name or anything much else about it. If you've cruised in the Bahamas, have you seen it before?


Cruising Log | Tuesday, 11 July 2017 - Wednesday, 19 July 2017

11-13 JULY
Hung out at Marsh Harbour. Laundry, provisioning, snorkeling at Mermaid's Reef, beers at the Jib Room and sundowners with our friends on Wind Spirit. Not a bad way to spend a few days.
Nautical Miles = Nil. Engine Hours = Nil. Spending = $86.22 (laundry, groceries & drinks).

Got Tickety Boo ready to go and turned the engine on. Plan was to head to Hope Town, but our buddy boat ended up having to sort out their solenoid.
Nautical Miles = Nil. Engine = 30 mins. Spending = Nil.

We finally escaped Marsh Harbour. Anchor up at 9:45 AM. Anchor down outside of Hope Town at 11:30 AM. Issues with our roller furling. Scott may have said some naughty words. Showed the crew of Wind Spirit around Hope Town. Very, very hot. Did some jungle cruising.
Nautical Miles = 8. Engine = 2 hours 15 mins. Spending = $37.03 (groceries & drinks)

Lazy, lazy, lazy. Hot, hot, hot. Steak sandwiches for dinner - yummy, yummy, yummy.
Nautical Miles = Nil. Engine Hours = Nil. Spending = Nil.

Anchor up at 9:00 AM. Anchor down at 1:20 PM at Sandy Cay. Had lunch and then went snorkeling. Some of the best snorkeling we've done in the Bahamas. Scott narrowly avoided having a remora attach itself to him. Anchor up at 4:30 PM. Anchor down at 6:00 PM at Tilloo Cay. Delicious dinner on board Wind Spirit. If you're ever in an anchorage with them and they invite you to dinner, say yes.
Nautical Miles = 24. Engine = 5 hours 30 mins. Spending = Nil.

Anchor up at 7:45 AM. Back to Sandy cay for more snorkeling! Very roly-poly. Storm cell came in and we got the heck out of there. Anchored off of Great Abaco Island so that the boys could do some "hunting" with their Hawaiian slings. Another storm cell came in and we got the heck out of there. Headed over to Marsh Harbour where an evil bee stung Scott. I've never been stung by a bee. Seems painful.
Nautical Miles = 24. Engine = 5 hours. Spending = Nil.

Got the boat ready to make our way back to the States and did some provisioning.
Nautical Miles = Nil. Engine Hours = Nil. Spending = $117.01 (diesel, water, groceries, coconut bread and tin foil).

What's your favorite color? Are there any colors you dislike? Do you prefer to drive or would you rather be chauffeured around? Do you have a hurricane story that you want to share?

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23 September 2017

Saturday Spotlight | Black & White By Nick Wilford

In addition to the usual blog posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday about our eccentric travel adventures and day-to-day life living aboard a sailboat, I also occasionally post on Saturdays, focusing on things related to writing such as cover reveals, book launches, reviews, interviews with authors etc. So if you're a bit of a book nerd like I am, check in on Saturdays - you never know what might pop up.


Today, I'm featuring Black & White by Nick Wilford. Nick is one of my blogging buddies from the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Turns out Nick lives a few minutes away from where we used to live in Scotland. It sure is a small world. Shame we didn't meet before I left Scotland and headed off to New Zealand. 

Nick, over to you!


Hi Ellen! Thanks for having me over as part of my blog tour. Today I’ve got something fun – the young heroine of my novel, Ezmerelda, is attending a careers interview. Let’s see if it goes well.


Hello! It’s Ezmerelda Dontible here, a student at Magnificence High School. But everyone calls me Ez. To be honest, I just put up with the place. Bit too cliquey with the power structures… anyway, today we’ve got a careers adviser coming in to talk about our aspirations for the future. Wonder what’ll happen in my interview. Oh, looks like it’s my turn… just got to head to this little office here.

Framble: Hello… Ezmerelda. Nice to meet you. My name is Arthur Framble and I’d just like to have a little chat about your future.

Ez: Nice to meet you, Mr Framble. Call me Ez.

Framble: Okay, Ez. Now, according to my notes here you’re an extremely conscientious student, putting in a lot of extra study hours.

Ez: Well, I do enjoy learning as much as I can. Besides, the library is my favourite hangout during the lunch hour. My friends don’t really enjoy the same passion for learning, shall we say…

Framble: Oh, that’s a shame. Well, it seems that a smart young lady such as yourself could do anything she wants after graduation. What are your dreams?

Ez: I don’t really know. I mean, my dad works for the government as an adviser and keeps saying I could follow in his footsteps. But I wouldn’t mind being a teacher or something. I’d like to help people. I don’t think the current system is that fair… I mean, it’s meant to be fair, with everyone receiving a guaranteed pass in their grades, but it’s this study log thing. People forget you’ll get a better job if you put in more hours, so I’d like to do something that makes studying more… fun.

Framble: Do you have any particular ideas on that?

Ez: Quizzes, maybe. That could be done on an individual basis online, or even some sort of organised event – people could take part in teams and their friends would come along and cheer.

Framble: I think that would be very popular. What would the prizes be?

Ez: Just extra study points, because that’s what makes a difference to your chances.

Framble: I’m sure you’d be a fantastic teacher, but if that doesn’t work out, do you have a backup plan?

Ez: Erm, yeah, well, I mean the government thing… I’ve thought about it and I can’t say I haven’t wondered about what really goes on. It’s all a bit shrouded in secrecy. Maybe I could bring about some more transparency… oh no, I’ve probably said too much, haven’t I?

Framble: Don’t worry. Between you and me, I can say that once you join the government, things become a lot more clear.

Ez: But only on one side of the wall, right? That doesn’t seem very democratic.

Framble: Look, Ez, you’re young and very idealistic, which is admirable but…

Ez: But that’ll get beaten out of me once I sign up with the powers that be? (Stands up) Okay, Mr
Framble, this interview’s been very helpful. I am going to join the government, and then you’ll see some real changes around here.

(Walks out)

Framble: Oh, dear. What have I done?

Title: Black & White
Author: Nick Wilford
Genre: YA dystopian Series #: 1 of 3
Release Date: 18th September 2017
Publisher: Superstar Peanut Publishing


What is the price paid for the creation of a perfect society?

In Whitopolis, a gleamingly white city of the future where illness has been eradicated, shock waves run through the populace when a bedraggled, dirt-stricken boy materialises in the main street. Led by government propaganda, most citizens shun him as a demon, except for Wellesbury Noon – a high school student the same age as the boy.

Upon befriending the boy, Wellesbury feels a connection that he can’t explain – as well as discovering that his new friend comes from a land that is stricken by disease and only has two weeks to live. Why do he and a girl named Ezmerelda Dontible appear to be the only ones who want to help?

As they dig deeper, everything they know is turned on its head – and a race to save one boy becomes a struggle to redeem humanity.

Purchase Links:

Meet The Author:
Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those early morning times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He has four short stories published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew. Visit him at his blog or connect with him on Twitter, GoodreadsFacebook, or Amazon.
Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of my collection A Change of Mind and Other Stories or a $10 giftcard! a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thanks again to Nick for stopping by the blog and sharing Ezmerelda's careers interview!

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22 September 2017

Making Difficult Navigational Decisions By Flipping A Coin

Note: Our blog lags reality by many, many weeks. So, while you're reading this post about our cruising adventures in the Bahamas, in reality we're back in Indiantown Marina for hurricane season working on dreary boat projects. Cruising in the Bahamas was far more fun. {Sigh}


How do you make really difficult decisions? I mean seriously difficult decisions, not decisions like whether to have extra sprinkles on your hot fudge sundae or not (the answer is always yes, by the way).

Are you one of those people who puts together lists of the pros and cons and then makes a sensible decision after careful consideration? Or are you like us and just flip a coin, letting fate decide what to do?

There we were, anchored at Royal Island near Spanish Wells in the Bahamas, trying to decide which way to go to head back to the States. Should we go north through the Abacos and over to West Palm Beach or should we go west via Bimini and then over to the Miami/Ft Lauderdale area?

We went back and forth and forth and back and around in circles for a while. By then we were so tired from our mental exertions that we took a nap, followed by sundowners in the cockpit. That's because we're strong advocates of the school of thought that says:

"Have a difficult decision to make? Why not put off until tomorrow what you don't want to do today?"

We're good at procrastinating. We put the "pro" in procrastination. All you have to do is look at our very long list of boat projects that haven't been completed to know that.

But, eventually, you have to make difficult decisions. We got through the Egg Island Cut near Royal Island and had to decide which way to go. And so we did. By flipping a coin.

Heads meant that we would go via the Abacos and tails meant that we would go via Bimini. At least that's what I thought they meant. Turns out Scott thought heads meant we would go via Bimini and tails meant we would go via the Abacos.

Yeah, you read that right. We can't even decide what heads and tails stand for. It's a wonder we get anything done or manage to sail anywhere.

Eventually, we headed north towards the Abacos.

Turns out it was a good decision. The weather was favorable and we had a pleasant crossing. There were even rainbows and dolphins. Who knows, maybe going via Bimini would have been a good decision too. Then again, maybe we would have had bad weather and scary sea monsters in our path.

I don't have any good pictures of our crossing to share with you, so here's one of Scott's feet at anchor while we were having sundowners in the cockpit and procrastinating difficult decisions.


Cruising Log | Saturday, 8 July 2017 - Monday, 10 July 2017

Went through Egg Island cut - not sure which way to go. Flipped a coin and headed to the Abacos. Sea state variable - 1-3' to 3-6'. Light winds. Several freighters - two passed close to us. Current slowed us down off of Great Abaco Island. Rainbows and dolphins spotted. North Bar cut was easy-peasy. Nautical Miles = 60. Anchor up at 6:30 AM at Royal Island. Anchor down at Tilloo Cay at 6:30 PM. Engine = 12 hours. Spending = Nil.

Anchor up at 9:00 AM. Anchor down in Marsh Harbour at 11:30 AM. Hit the grocery store, did laundry and got water. Bunch of kids hanging around at dinghy dock messing with boats. Nautical Miles = 12. Engine = 2 hours 30 mins. Spending = $33.46 (15 gallons city water - $2.70, 15 gallons RO water - $6.00, groceries/household - $23.26, laundry - $2.50).

Went in early to town before "dinghy dock gang" got there. Nautical Miles = Nil. Engine Hours = Nil. Spending  $28.75 (groceries).

How do you make decisions? What's the hardest decision you ever had to make?

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20 September 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Ship Wreck At Peck Lake, Florida

EDITOR'S NOTE: A few months ago as we were walking along the beach at Hobe Sound Wildlife Refuge in Florida, we came across a shipwreck. I wrote this post several weeks ago. Sadly, with the latest hurricanes (Maria and Irma) there are so many other boats that have been wrecked and washed up on shore. There are so many sad stories behind each shipwreck. It just makes our hearts break.

Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - We came across this ship wreck when we were walking along the beach at Hobe Sound National  Wildlife Refuge near Peck Lake.

2 - This is every sailor's worst nightmare.

3 - The boat has been stripped of everything of value. Not sure if it was by the owner or by someone else. 

4 - I wonder what happened? Was anyone hurt? Did the owner give up sailing for good or get another boat?

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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18 September 2017

Going For A Walk With A Load Of Laundry | Spanish Wells, Bahamas

Note: Our blog lags reality by many, many weeks. So, while you're reading this post about our cruising adventures in the Bahamas, in reality we're back in Indiantown Marina for hurricane season working on dreary boat projects. Cruising in the Bahamas was far more fun. {Sigh}


I have this great picture of Scott carrying a bag of laundry on his back through Spanish Wells in the Bahamas but he won't let me post it on the blog. Party pooper. So, you'll just have to use your imagination instead. Go on, you can do it. I bet you have a very creative imagination. What you imagine is probably better than the picture anyway. I'm not a great photographer.

Are we all set? Have your image of Scott lugging laundry on his back firmly in your mind? Okay, then let's carry on and tell you about our time in Spanish Wells.

We motored over to Spanish Wells from our protected anchorage at Royal Island intent on accomplishing five things:

1 - Get diesel;

2 - Get groceries;

3 - Get drinking water;

4 - Dump off trash; and

5 - Do laundry.

You could just feel the excitement in the air as we got in our dinghy and headed into town. Spanish Wells was going to be the answer to all of our first world cruising problems.

It was a dark and gloomy day, but that didn't get in the way of our enthusiasm. Look, cool fishing boats!

Look buildings on shore that surely had laundromats, well stocked grocery stores, abundant supplies of water and the like!

The first stop on our adventure - Pinder's supermarket. Yes, they have diesel! We tick that item off the list gleefully. We head into the store confident that this is our new nirvana - we'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to groceries.

Well, turns out we were spoiled for choice, but only if we wanted to choose between different Jello products. I never knew so many varieties of Jello products existed. I might of even have bought a box of Jello if I had water to make it with, but guess what....yep, no non-salty drinking water available at Pinder's or anywhere else on the island for that matter.

We left the store slightly disheartened, but determined to carry on and find a laundromat. The lady at Pinder's said that there might be one at a small store over the hill. So we dumped off our trash and carried on.

Even though the Bahamian election happened weeks ago, houses were still decked out in their preferred party's colors.

It was an interesting walk, although I imagine the sack of laundry Scott was carrying on his back was starting to get a bit annoying.

Okay, just in case you're wondering, yes, I did offer to carry it multiple times (remember his bad back?), but he said he was fine.

We found the store that might possibly have a laundromat at. It turned out to be a small corner market that had been recently reopened (I think it was the old CW grocery). It was run by a really nice woman who was deaf, but read lips. After a few attempts to explain what we were looking for and a lame attempt on my part to spell words out in ASL, she showed us to a shack outside of the store with an old washer and dryer. Unfortunately, they weren't operational. She did suggest we try the marina and see if we could use their machines.

So off we set, feeling a bit deflated, but determined to carry on and enjoy the adventure.

Then we ran across this really cool cemetery. I love cemeteries. This one had such colorful flowers.

Then  we poked down a side street to check out the beach. I don't think there's a bad beach to be had in the Bahamas. Just look at that water.

Remember how it was dark and gloomy? Well, then it started chucking down rain. Fortunately, we stumbled across Buddha's. They were getting ready to celebrate Bahamian Independence Day and the place was decked out in blue, yellow and black bunting.

If you're looking for a delicious and inexpensive cheeseburger, Buddha's is the place to go. Plus they have a giant, glittery gold Buddha head. Who doesn't like a giant, glittery gold Buddha head?

After the rain let up, we headed back down the hill in search of the marina. By the way, when I say "hill," I'm using the term loosely. The Bahamas are pretty flat. These aren't like San Francisco kind of hills.

Just around this bend is the marina. Hang in there Scott, we'll find a washing machine soon.

But wait, here's some really weird stuff to look at first.

Okay, here's a handy tip for you if you ever want to do laundry at the marina at Spanish Wells - don't say this:

"Hey, do you have a laundry machine I can use? You do? Cool. Is it only for folks who are staying at the marina?"

Guess what the answer is. Yep, it's something along the lines of:

"Get lost!"

Obviously, much more politely worded than that.

After that we kind of gave up on Spanish Wells. At least we accomplished two items on our list - trash and diesel. Who needs water, groceries and clean clothes, really?


Cruising Log | Tuesday, 4 July 2017 - Friday, 7 July 2017

Anchor up at 8:20 AM at Rock Sound. Anchor down at 4:30 PM at Hatchett Bay. Very pleasant sail. Crazy entrance to Hatchett Bay - very narrow. Pretty much had the place to ourselves. Nautical Miles = 39. Engine = 2 hours 15 mins. Spending = Nil.

Anchor up at 6:30 AM. Anchor down at 2:00 PM at Royal Island. Motorsailed entire way. Lots and lots of flies. Very hot. Nautical Miles = 36. Engine = 7 hours 45 mins. Spending = Nil.

Lazed about. Scott went out for dinghy ride and disappointing snorkel (very murky water). Still very hot. I guess summer is here. Nautical Miles = Nil. Engine Hours = Nil. Spending = Nil.

Motored to Spanish Wells and anchored on south side of channel. Spotted some squalls so waited for a while on the boat. Still squally, so Ellen stayed on boat while Scott went into town to get diesel and water. After a while, we both went back into town and walked around. Nautical Miles = 10. Engine = 2 hours 45 mins. Spending = $56.90 ($43.30 - 10 gallons diesel, $2.15 - 2 cans of pop, $11 - snack at Buddha's & $9.45 - groceries).

Do you like Jello? What's your favorite flavor? Ever carried laundry around on your back for a few hours?

If you're interested in more of our Going for a Walk posts, click on Walk underneath Labels on the right hand side of the blog or just click here.

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15 September 2017

August In Numbers

Clockwise from upper left: (1) Washing off the anchor chain; (2) Emptying and stowing the water jerry cans; (3) Too many chilies, too few chilies or just enough chilies?; (4) Making rogan josh curry; (5) Checking in to see what tropical cyclone activity might be headed our way; (6) Visiting friends at Sunset Bay Marina and having a wee bit of marina envy.

EDITOR'S NOTE [9/14/17]: I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and it's kind of strange to look back at it now after Hurricane Irma - especially the part about "waiting out hurricane season" in Indiantown and the picture above showing how we monitor the National Hurricane Center daily. We ended up evacuating Indiantown as Irma's track at one point showed her heading up the middle of the state. Turns out there really aren't any "hurricane holes" when it comes to monster storms like Irma. We're currently still in Atlanta, but will probably head back to Indiantown in a couple of days once traffic clears up, gas is more readily available and, hopefully, Indiantown gets power and cell service back on.

It's time for our usual monthly recap in numbers. We spent all of August back at Indiantown Marina in Florida. We're waiting out the rest of hurricane season here and working our way through our list of boat projects and upgrades that we need to do before we head off to the Western Caribbean.

All in all, it's been a pretty quiet month as we readjusted to life tied up to the dock, which isn't an easy adjustment after you've been out cruising in the Bahamas. It's been so sweltering hot and humid outside, that we've haven't wanted to leave our air conditioned boat and venture outside very often, which means not as much as gotten done as we would have liked. Hopefully, September will be a bit cooler and more conducive to ticking things off of the boat project list.

Anyway, here's the very random list of what happened last month by the numbers. 

  • 3 - Number of curries we made - rogan josh curry, Thai green curry and panang curry. We love, love, love Indian food, but finding good Indian restaurants can be challenging at times. So, we've decided to try our hand at making Indian and Thai curries from scratch (rather than relying on ready made powders and pastes). They take a lot of time and ingredients, but the initial results haven't been too bad and it's been a fun activity to do together. 
  • $392.95 - How much we spent on groceries. One of the great things about being back in the States are the grocery stores - so much selection and much better prices than you find in the Bahamas. A large chunk of our spending was on stocking up on a specialty ingredients and spices for our curry-making.
  • $658 vs $570 - Price comparison of a monthly slip for a boat our size. When we visited our friends at Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, we had a bit of marina envy. In some ways, it's a much nicer place to keep your boat than Indiantown Marina (in the center of a city, nice views etc.). But, we're happy at Indiantown for a few reasons - it's cheaper, you can work on boat projects more easily, it has a real community feel and it's considered to be a hurricane hole.
  • 100+ - Number of items on our boat project/upgrade list. Some are small things (like replacing a hand pump and getting a new hose for the grill), some are big things (like sewing a new headsail and replacing the chain plates) and some things we might end up deciding not to do (like installing a composting toilet). 
  • 5 - Number of things we ticked off of the boat project list. That leaves 95+ items to go. So depressing. Will we ever get out of here? Will it ever stop being too hot to work outside?
  • 2 - Number of Powerball tickets we bought. Nope, we didn't win the jackpot. If we had, we could outsource all of our boat projects rather than do the work ourselves. Heck, we could probably buy a new boat that doesn't need any work done to it.
  • 2 - Number of times we went to Taco Tuesday with friends. Mmm...tacos.
  • $1.59 - Cost of a Redbox rental. I watched The Arrival. It lived up to expectations. Isn't that nice when things live up to expectations? Too often you're excited about something, only to have it disappoint.
  • 1 - Number of new Kindles we bought. We are now officially a two Kindle family. Much easier to use on a sailboat, but I have to admit there are times that I miss reading old-fashioned paper books.

In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite blog posts from last month:

The Coolest Laundromat Ever | Black Point, Bahamas
Dumpster Diving in George Town, Bahamas
Here Piggy, Piggy | Big Major's Spot & Staniel Cay, Bahamas

How did last month go for you? What are you looking forward to this month?

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13 September 2017

Wordless Wednesday | Fishing Nets

Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - Fishing nets are kind of cool looking.

2 - Of course, they're not so cool when one gets tangled up in your prop.

3 - We had zero luck catching fish while in the Bahamas. But maybe that's a good thing because you can run the risk of getting ciguatera poisoning. That sounds nasty.

What words does this picture(s) bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!