This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

January 19th, 2004

Snow Birds

My husband JC (James Castwell), and I are headed to warm southern climes flying out of the wet, cold (well not THAT cold) Northwest on the 11th of February for the Bonefish-In at Emerald Palms on South Andros Island, Bahamas. We've made this trip a few times so other than the airlines misplacing our baggage again, there aren't too many surprises.

We did actually have a surprise - the cost of airline tickets was about $400 less for the two of us than it was in November of 2003. Our travel agent found that one on American Airlines.

We are doing it a bit differently this time. We are flying out of SeaTac (Seattle) the morning of the 11th, to Dallas, Miami and on to Nassau. We will stay overnight at the Wyndham Hotel on Cable Beach and then fly on to S. Andros on the afternoon flight (Western Air) arriving at the S.Andros (Congo Town) airport about 3:00 p.m. In time to unpack and still have time for a swim or Jacuzzi soak before dinner.

We do go prepared. Regardless of how many bags we have, although it is usually just two, I put all our necessary meds in my purse. It is recommended when traveling out of the US you have meds in the original container. I assume that is so you can't be accused of having 'drugs'. However, since we are going to the Bahamas, we've found we can carry a container which has the little divisions for each day without a problem.

Our friend Stephie mentioned she always rolls up a light sun dress and puts that in her purse as well. She was stranded without baggage at least once and found the dress worked well as survival gear. My purse isn't big enough for a complete change of clothes for both of us, but I'm honestly tying to find a way to cover us both if we run into a bad situation again.

There are some things anyone traveling to southern regions to fish should be aware of. This includes the FAOL folks headed to the Florida Fish-In next month. One of the main reasons we all want to go south is it's warm!

Sunshine! Sunburn? There are loads of sunscreen/sunblocks on the market and we've used a bunch. The very best we have found is an Australian product, BullFrog. Especially valuable because it is water resistant - important for fly fishers. The only time I've experienced a problem is when I've missed places. (Ear lobs are easy to miss.) Highly recommended and available everywhere.

Something else you might consider is clothing which blocks the sun. We both have shirts and pants which do this, and if you are a person who burns very easily you should consider this also. Several companies sell especially long sleeved shirts which will help protect you. Sun gloves are another item you should consider.

I had an experience many years ago where I got sun burned mostly on my hands, neck and ankles which were not covered. I ended up standing in a cold shower, drinking hot coffee. A call to the emergency room at the local hospital sent my then husband to the drugstore for some topic ointment. The next day, without sun gloves, I burned on top of the burn. It was an extremely painful experience. Avoid it. If I had sun gloves, even after the first burn, I could have avoided at least part of the pain.

Lightweight, hand-washable clothing is a must. Some places to have laundry service (including Emerald Palms) but if your flats pants/shorts are soaked with saltwater, it is a good idea to at least rinse them out.

JC and I both bought prescription Action Optics Polarized sunglasses, ours are the Aviator style in a copper which work for both bright light flats conditions and freestone streams. We went to the Bahamas one year with blue tint sunglasses and just could not see the fish! We ended up buying clip-ons from the little fly shop in the amber tone. Nothing like doing it wrong to learn how to do it right.

We will be field testing some zip-off flats pants/shorts which we bought from Redington on this trip too. We do have other flats pants, but it will be fun to try these. I can see a potential problem of the zipped-off pant legs blowing out of a boat - but since I see the problem, maybe I'll be smart enough to stow them properly. I suspect replacing one pant leg is not an option.

Bugs can be a problem anywhere, but we have the absolute best solution. We tried it on S. Andros twice and it just works. Available in either cream or spray it is 3M Ultrathon. In fact, the little 'gift shop' which will be at Emerald Palms has it on order, (we left some for the local folks there to test - they love it!)

My dad used to say, "Take half the clothes and twice the money." We've really cut down on the amount of clothing we take, but having some extra cash really is smart, even in these days of multiple card cards. We don't drive to our airport at SeaTac. There is a mini-bus which takes about the same time as driving, and we've had the car damaged twice in "secure parking lots," besides that there is a lot of construction at the airport and it's a mess.

A friend in the travel business recommended having at least $10 in one dollar bills in your pocket. Tips for curb-side check-ins, (a dollar per bag minimum) bell hops at hotels and such.

An odd side note, I tried to get a bottle of Pepsi at the terminal in Nassau. I fed in my Bahamian dollar bill. It was rejected. The machine only took American money. Don't you love it!

Another friend always takes a good book for reading on the plane or while waiting for connecting flights. Once he finishes the book he leaves it at the resort for another reader. Nice idea don't you think?

Another little thing we do is to take a box of nice cookies in our bag. Coffee or tea is available at nearly every resort or lodge, but if you come in from fishing and have the nibbles, the kitchen may not be prepared to just whip up a snack for you. (And there are those who have mid-night munchies at bedtime).

I'm back in the gathering mode again. Getting out the clothing we will take and making sure everything is ready to go.

JC does the gear gathering. He just got some new fly boxes (C&F of course) and ordered in some dumb-bell eyes for weighted bonefish flies from Bob at Hook and Hackle. He hasn't tied them up yet, but he has a little time. It won't be long before the rod bag is on the davenport in the living room and the pile begins to grow.

The rods we are taking will be two 9ft. 8 wt, Sage Xi2 for the main rods, and two other rods which we will be trying out for manufacturers who have asked for our opinions. Lines will be Scientific Anglers Mastery Bonefish lines. We will also be testing a line cleaner/treatment which we will report on when we get back.

Our little dog eyes the pile and resigns himself to another vacation at Club Vet. He has this all figured out - and no objections from him. We've been fortunate to find a place locally where the care is excellent. His shots are all in order, another of those details for travelers to attend to.

We did buy a new wireless laptop computer, and I will be making the Sunday night changeover to the new issue from Emerald Palms. They have their own satellite uplink so will not be a difficult thing to do. With a little luck we may be able to report in to the Chat room or Bulletin Board. I haven't exactly made friends with the new puter yet, but JC did buy me a little mouse to plug in just in case. (A few years ago I actually carried a full-sized keyboard too - I'm getting better.)

I'm looking forward to the trip - it's a lovely place with great fishing, terrific food and really super people. It might even keep me going until the Central Washington Fish-In!

By the way, there is still time if you would like to join us! ~ The LadyFisher

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