Friday, February 29, 2008

Volleyball Beach at Georgetown

 

We are currently anchored between Volleyball and Sand Dollar Beaches while the high pressure blows through at 20-25 knots. Yesterday it calmed down a bit and we dinghied over to Volleyball where regulation volleyball is played by some very serious cruisers. Watching it reminded me of my college days when friend Sharron and I played on the co-ed varsity team and I think we won the State championship. Anyhow, Volleyball Beach exemplifies the nickname for Georgetown: Day Camp for Adults. Different activities are announced on the morning net on the VHF: an insurance seminar, yoga, basket weaving (no kidding), mahjong, DVD swap (I picked up Little Miss Sunshine which I have seen before but can't wait to see again), it goes on and on. Some like it. Others don't.

We picked up some Kaliks at the Chat N Chill and met some new friends, Kim and Steve on Fine Lion, and Bev and Larry on a Swan 44. We sat around doing nothing, drinking beers, until it became dinner time and we decided to dine together with Stan and Kathy (Gaspara?) at St. Francis Yacht Club, where a Texas Hold em tournament was being held. We had a nice meal and good company.

Kim is going to show me the reefs and beaches where we can take Amy and Lisa when they arrive a week from today. I call Amy my little best friend, although as a college sophomore she is not so little anymore. She will be joined by her University of Georgia sorority sister, Lisa. We intend to show them a good time and send them home with gorgeous tans.
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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mother Nature's Fireworks

 
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We knew a cold front was coming and winds were expected to blow. What we learned mid afternoon was that there was an 80% chance of squalls gusting to 50 knots. This is big winds, like our near hurricane experience at Pungo Ferry. We had already moved our boat to a harbor where we would have protection from the expected wind direction. In squalls, the wind can be circular but may have a tendency to a particular direction. The prediction was for west winds, which placed us anchored near a lee shore. This means that behind us we had land, which is not preferable in case we were to drag. But we had faith in Buster, our Queen-Mary sized anchor, and chose to stay right where we were in order to ride out the prevailing wind after the front passed.

Right after sunset the light show began, and as we watched the lit up clouds move past us, we realized there was a good chance the storm would pass us. And it did.

Having been struck my lightning I believe I will never be able to enjoy a thunderstorm as I did in the past. But there is one good thing about our lightning strike: we lived to tell about it. Perhaps my anxiety will some day pass.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lee Stocking Island resident

 

After several days at Black Point we finally found perfect weather to transit on the Sound to Lee Stocking Island on the way to Georgetown. Lee Stocking used to house research scientists but for some reason unknown to us the Center has closed. It is remote and eerie. We picked our way through the shallows and put down in front of the Center, without any one in sight. We snorkelled a bit and walked a beach that had virtually no shells at all, unusual in the Exumas. The scientists must have absconded with them all.

In the morning, we were visited by this nurse shark who must have come by to enjoy our leftovers from dinner. Immediately after taking this picture, we departed, and ran smartly aground. We were able to free ourselves in short order and had a good passage to Georgetown, the sailing Mecca of the Bahamas, where we are now at anchor. We ran into old friends (old has a new meaning, we met them in January but feel as though we have known them forever)on Deborah Lee. We had dinner with them last night and danced until my hips hurt at a Rake and Scrape. Native musicians deliver a different kind of music using barrels, saws, and all sorts of untraditional musical instruments. Rum and juice or native Kalik beer flows freely.

Today we attended a weather seminar and as usual, I continue to be an Weather Dropout and Dufus. I gave up on the afternoon session as I was as lost at Hansel and Gretel but without the crumbs. I shopped. I am good at that.
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Back to Black Point

 


We returned to Black Point, where we had hoped to tutor students in an after school program that unfortunately was cancelled while we where there. So, instead of doing good deeds, we took long hikes along the ocean side of Black Point, where we found many many sea beans (more to follow on this eventually), some shells, and loads of sea glass. Our last hike, four hours long, has taken a toll on my hips. A month from now daughter Beth, Doctor of Chiropractic, arrives and hopefully she will once again rid me of my pains. It could be dancing to the Rake and Scrape last night did not help things either.

Shown in this picture is the anchorage, at low tide, from the hiking trail.
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Waterspout!

 

It was a humid, overcast day, we had just returned from a hike and someone announced over the VHF, "all boaters in Big Major's, waterspout to the west". And there was this funnel cloud descending from the clouds down to the water, which appeared to be churning like a washing machine where the spout touched the water. You may be able to see this in the picture. It was so awesome I forgot to be scared. After about two minutes it disippated and I then realized that I had read you just motor or sail away from a spout since they are usually so slow. But we were at anchor. What if it had paid a visit?

Worse yet, what if we were that sailboat shown very close to the waterspout? Lots of laundry the next day I wager.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Color of Happiness

 

Every morning we wake up around 6:30 to listen to the weather report (no, we are not lolly gagging until the wee hours of the morning). Around 7 the sun rises, and this picture is what we see. Sometimes, you can see little fishies, or rays, or even nurse sharks, swimming around your boat. But every time, we see this beautiful water. And it is over 80 degrees. Life is good.
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Piggies at Big Major's

 

These piggies actually swim out to greet you, expecting homage to be paid in the form of carrots or apples. It was difficult to feed them because they will not dive for your contribution but rather need it hand fed. They have big teeth and scary looking mouthes so this is an odd situation.

It is hot! Peter is changing the squealing alternator belt which he insists is OK but is finally humoring me. Today we will explore Staniel Cay where the mail boat is expected tomorrow, and along with it, fresh veggies of which we now have none.
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Big Major Spot

 

In addition to having a very cool name, this anchorage is the home to pigs that swim out to your dinghy in search of apples or carrots or comraderie. Yes, it is true. Pigs in the Bahamas.

We met up with Midwatch, who we met in the Abacos and whose Admiral taught me how to make bread. It is a great spot, near Staniel Cay, where we hope to pick up daughter Beth and anyone else wanting to visit. From here we snorkelled Thunderbolt Cave, where a 007 movies was shot. This snorkelling has to be the best ever as the fish are fearless and are fed by the cruisers. As soon as you anchor, trillions swim up to you and surround you when you dunk in the water. After freaking out a bit about their closeness, you dip under a rock formation and enter the cave where the bad guys stored the atom bombs. But, ah, James came to the rescue. I want my granddaughter to see this.
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Valentines Day

 


My husband made me this wonderful gift, a somewhat heart shaped rock that he chiseled with a piece of coral and "engraved" with the sentiment. It is shown here with my rose from Lorraine's; see prior blog entry.
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Valentines Day at Black Point

We had a glorious sail in 20 knots down to Black Point on Great Exuma Island. Black Point is a large community in the Bahamas, with 300 residents. It is a very poor community but is struggling with a resurgence, spurred on by a new laundromat that is for the cruisers. Around these parts, the natives hand wash and line dry their clothing, and until this new spot, the cruisers would drop off their laundry for a large sum of money to be done by a resident. Black Point also provides free water and garbage receptacles, a big draw in stead of dropping your trash off at a marina for a $2.50 fee. We had a great Valentine's dinner with our friends Rob and Christine at Lorraine's which was packed to the ceiling with all cruisers, maybe 50, enjoying BBQ and adequate wine. After dinner Lorraine, who has clearly flourished with the support of the cruisers, gave a speech thanking us and handed out long stemmed red roses to the ladies. No small feat for this island community.

Bananaquits at Warderick Wells

 

We wound up spending a week here and it was a magical place. In the Exuma Land and Sea Park you are prohibited from hunting (which means taking lobster) and fishing, and as a result, there are many to be seen while snorkelling. The bananaquit birdies alight on your computer monitor, or on your hand. The lizards join you for lunch. The hiking trails are great. We have now moved on, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this place.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Boo Boo Hill

 

We hiked to the top of Boo Boo Hill where cruisers leave mementos, decorated driftwood usually with their boat names etched or painted. In a few weeks we will be visited by my little best friend, Amy Tillman and her friend Lisa and I have asked them to bring some colored markers so I can create something cool.

At the moment the winds are calm, but that is between fronts. Later today it is supposed to pick up to near 30 knots, again, and then hopefully we will be able to leave by Thursday. It is hard to complain because I hear a blizzard is forecast for the northeast.
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Monday, February 11, 2008

Some times it is like the Amazon

 
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Some times it is like a desert

 
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Hiking Causeway Trail

 

Peter and I hiked this wonderful trail that led to the Exuma Sound. We crossed over this tiny bridge and underneath it saw this Momma Ray trying to get to her kiddies which had partially dug themselves into the sand on the other side. She made it although the tide was falling.

Hiking here is great. There are lots of hills that you have to work hard to climb, and when you get to the other side you find an intimate little beach where you would not be the first to skinny dip. Snorkelling is great too, all of the spots are explained on the snorkel guide you pick up at HQ. You have to snorkel at slack since the current is brutal here. Gorgeous.
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Warderick Wells Cay

 


I may never leave. We have been here since Thursday (it is now Monday) and we are sitting out a blow at 30 knots, this time for real. It is a wonderful location, and we were lucky enough to get a mooring in the North Anchorage which is near the Exuma Land and Sea Park headquarters. Here, you can get ice, souvenirs, and internet. There are tons of hiking trails and snorkel sites, and kayaks you can borrow. We are here with Ketch'n Dreams, Mystique, and Celebrian, and little tiny birds that I will find out the name of that sit on your computer monitor while you type.

This is where the good people go when they die.

My husband does not wear shoes any more.
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Friday, February 8, 2008

Heaven at Exuma Park

 
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Shroud Cay text

We spent one day at Shroud Cay, where we met friends of Ketch’n Dreams, Cheryl and Carl on Mystique. Shroud has a network of mangrove trails which you can explore by dinghy. Unfortunately, we visited at low tide and had to walk our way through the sandy muck for a good portion. We saw many fish, two sharks (it was really fun during the walking part to think of these guys that we had seen) and some type of ray during this adventure. We visited Camp Driftwood, which at one time was a hermit’s home constructed of flotsam and jetsam found along the beaches. It apparently was demolished during a hurricane as we found little evidence such as was described in the guidebooks.
The next morning we hauled anchor early as the anchorage was very rolly in 20 knots of breeze.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Shroud Cay

 
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Lynn and Peter with the Iguanas

 
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Allens Cay and Iguana Heaven

 
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We dinked over from Highborne to Allen’s Cay where literally hundreds of iguanas come out of the brush as soon as you beach your boat, more than likely hoping for a meal. We are encouraged not to feed these critters, in order to not make them dependent upon us for survival. This was an incredible moment. If you stand or sit still they will come within a foot of you looking for a tasty morsel, which hopefully will not be you. Any movement and they scatter a few yards away.

We tried snorkeling again but the current was too strong at the time of our attempt. It is almost necessary to snorkel at slack current, which, incidentally, is not predicted anywhere. We use a rule of thumb that slack somewhere around high or low tide, which is generally available for someplace not too far away to be irrelevant.

Celebrian and First Edition were hosted for happy hour on Ketch’n Dreams and Lynne served yummy hors d’oeuvres. I mixed up a batch of happy juice using banana rum and baked each of the boats a dinner-sized loaf of bread.

Exumas! and Highborne Cay

 
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On February 2nd we left Rock Sound headed for the Exuma Cays. It was challenging picking our way through the sandbar off of Powell Point, having elected to do it the hard way, in typical Forgosh fashion. Never touched bottom, but oy! Forecasted winds of 20 knots some how did not get even to 10, but nasty rollers kept us bouncing around. After watching six feet depths for the first hour, we entered Exuma Sound and picked up several thousand feet under the keel. Our trolling line was approached by something that bit our lure in half but left us no other sign of his visit. Seven hours of motoring later we arrived at Highborne Cut where I proceeded to take the wrong entry. Fortunately, the sun was at our back and Peter was able to pick out the coral heads and sandbars. The lesson here is that we cannot rely on our electronic charts in the Bahamas. They simply are only a very rough portrayal of what is underneath you. So, it is back to counting rocks and cays from the paper charts and posting a lookout in order to enter a harbor or inlet. Fortunately, George from Ketch’n Dreams had already entered and gave us some advice on what to set our sights for.

Once the anchor was down at Highborne Cay Peter and I headed over to a spot called Octopus’s Garden to snorkel. Absolutely amazing coral and fishies and warm water. Our new dinghy ladder consisting of strap with a foothold (purchased at West Marine) allowed me to get back into the dink, but not artfully. Our dinghy anchor held nicely, having found a grip on someone’s outboard motor contributed to Neptune on some earlier excursion. The best part of this snorkel adventure was the beautiful Willow-sized pink conch shell found by grandpa Aye-Aye.