Thursday, January 31, 2008

Governors Harbor, Eleuthera

 
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From Hatchet Bay we sailed and motored to Governor's Harbor, where we anchored in Balara Bay as recommended by Chuck from York River Yacht Haven. The harbor is known for poor holding, but Chuck promised good holding at this spot, and when a surprise blow came upon us, during the night of course, it proved to be true. We did a lot of hiking and shelling here; my catch from one morning is pictured.

We are now at Rock Sound, our last stop on Eleuthera before crossing over the deep ocean to Exuma Cays, where there are no grocery stores, laundromats, cell towers or internet cafes. So, I will be washing clothes in the sink, eating out of cans, and burning our garbage. The snorkelling and fishing are supposed to be great. Updates to the blog will be irregular.

It does not look like we will attend the big superbowl party at Staniel Cay, as we enjoyed Eleuthera too much and did not make alot of Exuma progress. Go Giants!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Da Spot on Hatchet Bay

 

While walking Hatchet, we met George and Lynne on Ketch'n Dreams and together we toured the town. It is a very poor community and while some homes were patched together with plywood and plastic, more than likely to repair hurricane damage, the town was clean, and well behaved and neat children were playing in the streets and attracted to George and Lynne's dogs. In the Bahamas, feral dogs known as potcakes roam the streets, and although "wild" and living off of the land, they do not appear to be threatening; these American puppies were quite an attraction. We read that the following day (Sunday) the Royal Police Band was to play at the Peoples Church, followed by a food fest. What a plan for Sunday!

After a good walk Sunday, we changed to decent clothes (as decent as they get for cruisers) and meandered back to town. We found no one who knew where the Peoples Church was, and finally were clued in that it was in a different town. So, now, while raining cats and dogs, we wandered the streets looking for anything resembling food, scarce on a Sunday in the Bahamas.

Well, we found Da Spot. Da Spot is a bar we had seen yesterday with great smells emitting therefrom but it was not opened. When we asked the proprietor where we could get a bite, he immediately opened up and concocted a drink, yes, you guessed it, rum, rum, rum and juice. Five hours later we ate Clayton's BBQ fish, chicken and ribs, and a Bahamian specialty, macaroni and cheese. The picture shown in Clayton with Christine and me.

We met a local at the bar who open learning Rob and Christine were on their honeymoon walked us all next door to the Pastor's home, where we were welcomed to receive a blessing on their marriage. It was a special moment. Across the street churchgoers were signing hymns on the street, and I joined them, remarkably picking up the tune. Quite a day.
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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hatchet Bay

 
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Current Cut to Hatchet Bay on Eleuthera

On January 26th we left Royal Island to head through Current Cut to Hatchet Bay. Current Cut is like a Hell Gate in New York with currents running up to 5 knots, but you have to mix in the fact that there are no current predictions here and once you pass through the Cut, you have to dodge very shallow water (as we found out, in places not shown on the chart). Depending upon the reference guide that you read, high tide at the Cut (the closest approximation to slack current) is 1 to 3 hours after Nassau high tide, quite a difference when you figure that a the cycle from high to low tide is about 6 hours. After much discussion, we decided to average out the opinions, and ran through the Cut at 11:00 am (HT at Nassau 10:20), and we picked up the flood current of about 2 knots. The Cut is very narrow, and we passed through with ripples and eddies but no problems. The reference guides suggest you head strongly to South (hard starboard turn) which we planned to do, but after reviewing our new Explorer charts showing a preferred route straight ahead, and passing near high tide, we decided not to bank right.

Celebrian led the way, and also went straight. When they took a hard right, I realized we had a depth issue. For about 20 minutes, we picked a route to get out of the shallows, by slowing going South. Following the Yachtsman’s Guides waypoints we cleared the shallows finally without touching ground.

We had a vigorous sail, tacking through 15 knots of east winds, until we finally lowered the sails and headed for the Hatchet Bay harbor. Even though the guides cautioned that the entrance is bigger than it looked, we actually thought we had made a mistake coming here, and being unable to clear the entrance. As we inched closer, the prospects improved, and we made our way clear. We even were able to pick up a free government mooring, new installed. As another blow is coming, I am happy to be tied to the ground.

Royal Island Starfish

 
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Royal Island, Hello Central Bahamas!

On January 24th, we arrived at Royal Island which I now understand is not part of Eleuthra, but just North of it. The motor sail night passage was uneventful with 10 knots of breeze, although initially I thought we might have a very rolly night with a five foot swell. The swell either died down or came from a better direction, or the Stugeron kicked in. (If any boaters read this and do not know about Stugeron, find out, and get it! Cannot be purchased in US or Canada; we bought our supply in the Bahamas years ago and just refreshed it. You will not get seasick if taking Stugeron, and you can bank on it.)
We lost Celebrian in the middle of the night as we seem to travel faster than she does. Peter successfully dodged several squalls, and woke me to take down the sail as one could not be avoided. When it came it brought rain but no wind. We turned in between the Egg Islands around 9 am and had anchor down at 10. Royal Island is desolate and beautiful, with the peace being disturbed on two sides of the harbor with construction equipment clearing off the land for development. Sad.
The water is crystal clear and warmer than the Abacos and snorkeling will be pursued post haste. While I napped, the former lawyer now Captain and handyman constructed a “glass” bottom bucket using left over plexiglass donated by Salty Dog and a purchased bucket. By placing the bucket in the water over your anchor, you can actually see if it is set correctly, and I imagine it will be helpful in determining snorkel locations. We dinked around taking pictures of sea life, and then turned in early to catch up on lost sleep. Tomorrow and the next, another cold front arrives, with winds up to 25 knots expected.
25 knots of wind is a bunch of wind, but not so much that it would have kept us harbor-bound in the past. Here, no one moves when it is 25. I suppose that is because the forecasting is not reliable and 25 can become 30 or more in a heart beat. So we languor reading books and doing chores.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Man O War and Bye Bye Tillmans

After Treasure Cay we had a short sail to Man O War Cay, which in keeping with the trend was a very scary harbor to get into. The channel in is very narrow, only one boat at a time can take the passage. As you enter it is best to stay dead center and not look at the sides, as coral heads appear to be jumping up to bite you. We picked up a mooring at Man O War Marina, with little water to spare beneath us. Unfortunately, we arrived just past closing time at all of the shops. Vickie and I agreed that this was the best spot we had been at. We planned to check out the shops the following day unless the cold front and high pressure system coming up appeared to be on a fast track. We walked the beautiful beach and I found many new, cool shells. We had dinner on board and watched Ratatouille which was a good story.

The next morning Peter and I got up at 6:30 to pick up Chris Parker’s weather report on our single side band, and based on his take of the front, we decided to may weigh immediately. Upon arriving back at Marsh Harbor we decided to take a slip to make it easy for Vickie and Len to unload the next day, and for us to ride out the front. We docked at Conch Inn for $1.40 a foot.

We rented a car and took a desolate ride to Little Harbour, where we had yet another specialty drink at Pete’s Pub, along with lunch. When you ask the bartenders at any of these hot spots what is in their specialty, they all say the same thing, “rum, rum, rum, rum, and juice”. Yet, they all taste a little different. Nippers gets my vote as best in the Abacos. Vickie and I toured the art gallery, and passed on the $180,000 sculpture, although Vickie did buy an overpriced hat. We had a nice dinner at Curly Tails, and went to Snappas for rake and scrape. I was so disappointed that the full contingent was not there, and Len missed out on what I had hoped would be a good send off back to the States.

The next day the big winds had not arrived by the time we dropped Vickie and Len at the airport, but it sure came through almost as strong as promised, hitting 30 knots for two days. Once it blew itself out, we did laundry and provisioned.

Last night we celebrated our new friend Rob’s birthday over dinner on Celebrian, and planned our departure for Royal Island in Eleuthra, which is planned for 5:00 pm tonight. If we make 5 knots, we should arrive in 14 hours, right after daybreak. Just in time for another cold front!

For a week now I have been running around trying to get an internet signal strong enough to permit the attachment of pictures, to no avail. As we now head down to the hinterlands, the frequency of any signal cannot be predicted, so keep checking for updates periodically.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Treasure Cay

 


Entering the channel into Treasure Cay is a scary thing, it looks as though you will hit bottom almost as soon as you enter it. At high tide we found no less than 8 feet, so we had no issue. We found a mooring, one of very few available, and paid the $12 fee, entitling us to use the showers and pool. A real bargain. We had lunch at Coco Beach, and then walked the beach, advertised as one of National Geographic's picks for top ten of the world.

The next day we lingered, and rented bikes. We took a long ride for a few hours (Judy, it was easy going out and hard coming back with the wind on the nose; I had no idea!) We shelled for a few hours while Vickie and Len hung out at the pool. I found some incredible shells for Willow; I need to become creative.

Tonight we had show and tell with my shells, Len brewed up a mean island drink, and we are having a turkey dinner, with plans for a movie afterwards. Tomorrow, we go where the wind blows.

On a very sad note, we learned today that our dear friend Alan's Dad George Rosenzweig passed away. If I had to choose a father but could not choose my own, George would get my vote. Whenever we saw him, he made us feel special and like we were family. I am so sad for his wife Ellen, for Alan, and for all of us. We are cheated.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nipper Juice Strikes Again

 

On my prior visit to Great Guana, I overimbibed on Nipper Juice at Nipper's Pig Roast, and I felt compelled to share this experience with the Doctor of Mixology and his Mrs. This tractor is one of the adornments at Great Guana. I am pleased to report that it is not only Lynn who gets put under with two Nipper Juices.

A cold front has brought out our fleece and tabled any thoughts of snorkelling. With all equipment now working, though, we are having a good time sailing around and doing what we do best. :)
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Len and Vickie arrived on Saturday the 12th at Marsh Harbor, arriving to good weather, but with Len being very much under it with either the flu or a sinus infection. We spent a quiet night allowing our newly arrived sickie to recover. The next day we went over to Hopetown, and as it was Sunday, the shops were not open. We did manage to get the recovering Len a conch burger. The following morning we awoke to alternator problems which necessitated our return to Marsh Harbor. Fortunately, we located Andrew, our Bahamian electrician extraordinaire, who quickly corrected the problem. Weather is good and Len is recovering.
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bakers Bay

 
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We joined Celebrian at Baker’s Bay for some great snorkeling. We took this picture looking into the water, it was very cool. A huge development is being undertaken here and it will be interesting to see if anything comes of it. But for now, it is deserted, except for the fishies and beautiful beaches where I collected lots of shells for Willow. Rob, Christine, Peter and I shared dinner and a good time that evening.

Although we planned to leave the next morning, Sojourner showed up and enticed us to stay. They were in the company of Chris and Bob from Leap of Faith, who make incredible sea glass jewelry. The ladies took a two hour walk on the beach and that evening we gathered for cocktails.

We had a great sail to Marsh Harbor, where in two days we will be meeting Len and Vickie for a 10 day stay.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Every Dog Has His Day

 

Chillin out in the Bahamas!
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Great Guana Cay

 

Having had a successful rounding of The Whale with Debra Lee and Madcap, we all celebrated at Nippers where I had a jolly good time on Nipper Juice. No idea what was in it but let's just say I had good cause to turn in a 8pm. Nippers has a pig roast every Sunday for lunch and there were tons of cruisers there (with a random handful of bikini babes flown in I am sure for entertainment). Our kind of music is played, there is a dance floor, and well, Peter got the opportunity to do "the swim" and his assorted silly 1960 dances. But when I looked around, he was not alone! Beth, you would have wet your pants.

We hooked up with newlyweds Rob and Christine, shown here at Nippers. We met them at Junkanoo, and found them anchored in front of us in Celebrian.

Today we will walk around the island, Peter eyed a bakery he wants to visit, and then figure out where to go from here. Anchorage is a bit rocky but I slept quite well, thank you Nippers.
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Saturday, January 5, 2008

Looking for Sea Beans

 

Following our celebratory bread luncheon, Rick and Linda from Sojourner and Bill and Deb from Deborah Lee and Peter and I walked the Green Turtle Atlantic Ocean beach looking for sea beans. These are either heart shaped or hamburger shaped "pods" that wash ashore from Africa, and can be found easily along the shore. I have found none, but Beep from Midwatch contributed a couple that she found for my collection. Pictures eventually will follow.

We have exited Green Turtle and are at anchor at Manjack Cay, as we needed a high tide to get out of Green Turtle, and the next day it would not occur until 4 pm, by which time we hope to have crossed over The Whale. This is a passage that can not be made if conditions are not right, and while we are not sure what they will be like tomorrow, a number of boats intend to try. We need to get around The Whale to get to Marsh Harbor where we will meet Vickie and Len a week from today. While it is only 20 miles from here, one can never tell when The Whale will "rage", which it has been doing for the last few days. No worries, we will be careful.

Hopefully you will hear from us next on the other side.
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I made Bread!

 

As my Pajama Party Girlfriends will know, I have always thought that the ultimate cruiser made her own bread, but I have been a failure at that culinary chore despite what I think is my otherwise success in the kitchen. While complaining about my lead brick attempts at bread making to Beep on Midwatch, she said she had a foolproof recipe. With time on my hands as we waited out the blow, I thought I would give it a try.

All throughout the process I was convinced my breadmaking continued to be lame, and it was not until I opened the oven to discover this loaf of sour dough, with a crunchy crust and airy center. Another cruiser next to me was also trying to make her first loaf, and we shared our esctasy over lunch the next day (conch burgers, yum). So, here's to Debbie and Lynn, breadmakers phenome!
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Junkanoo on New Years

 
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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year from Green Turtle Cay

The pot luck was great and we met many new friends. Fireworks welcomed in the New Year. On New Year's Day we all attended Junkanoo (pictures to follow when the signal permits). Junkanoo is a parade with the locals dressing in costumes and performing dances to cowbells and horns. Restaurants had food stalls and booze tables, fried conch and goombay smashes, etc. Met up with a lot of folk we had seen in Lake Worth and Manjack. Finished the day off with Happy Hour at Pineapples and more fireworks.

Now, the blow has arrived and we are snug on our mooring. Several boats have dragged their anchors, and reset or taken a slip. Tonight we are having Debbie and Bill on Debra Lee, our mooring neighbor in for cocktails. It seems the wind is picking up, although it is sunny and blue skies. I am, however, sitting here in a fleece, but there is no evidence of snow, sleet, or ice.

I have been having frustrations with internet signals. Everyone seems to be able to pickup the Coconut signal for free, except for me and our fancy signal extender. So, this is the fourth attempt at a blog update, this time without a photo.

Happy New Year.