Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cat to Little San Salvador to Rock Sound

A long day from Conception to Cat Island, accompanied by Eagle’s Wings. After listening to the weather, we all decided we did not have much time to linger here with west winds coming. Bill and Martha hiked up to Father Jerome’s Hermitage, and we went off in search of some place to dump our garbage and get a little exercise. Many of the Bahamian villages have brightly colored shacks on the waterfront that may house a take-away opportunity (food to go). On Fridays, usually a fish-fry is sponsored with proceeds benefitting the community’s entry into The Family Regatta in Georgetown, the Bahamian equivalent of Mardi Gras with sailboats racing in serious competition. At Cat, we found a good mingling spot with Kaliks and conch salad, cruisers and locals alike.

The next day was perfect sailing to Little San Salvador which, unfortunately, was bargained away to a cruise ship line as one of their day stops for fun and frolicking in an artificial but impeccable Bahamian village, complete with pirate ship, seadoos, and fancy tiki huts to seek shade. As it was Sunday, usually a cruise turnover day, we hoped no boat would be in the harbor, and we lucked out. But at sunrise the next morning, the Nieuw Amsterdam approached, and all five anchored sailboats quickly got underway.

Our next port of call was Rock Sound in Eleuthera, a wonderful harbor for protection from any direction. We were disappointed to find the town run down. The cruising guides all rant and rave about Dingles Motors, where you pick up your fuel in jerry cans, and in the past, we have been great supporters. However, there is no gazebo or happy hour put together by them, and never has been since 2008 when we started coming here. The service seems cranky. But you can buy a pint of ice cream for $12. No kidding.

We tried lunch at Pascal’s (which we knew as the Four Corners Restaurant) with Martha and Bill and had good food with New York prices. The following day we had a better bargain at Sammy’s, although Bill thought he was told the lobster was $20 but was billed $32, an unpleasant misunderstanding.

I found some decent wine at the liquor store, but the market shelves were not as abundantly stocked as at our last visit. But for $10 we did get a slight half gallon of coconut ice cream. Remember ice milk? Same thing.

We and ten or so other boats came here for the 35 knots of west wind, which has been revised down to 25, 30 in squalls. We are considering a move over to Warderick Wells or Normans tomorrow for a much-needed change in scenery and beaches to walk, which you won’t find here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Conception Island

Conception is a magical place and I can’t quite explain or even figure out why. It is a lovely beach on an island surrounded by the ocean. There is nothing there, no people, no Batelco tower, no cruiser-created yacht clubs. A short hop from Long Island, you have the opportunity to fish. Once there, you cannot “take” anything even though the reefs surrounding the island are abundant with sealife. It is part of the Bahamas National Trust and protected from the likes of us and all others.

On the way over my hunter husband nabbed a mahi, which we thought was a small one, even when we landed it on board. But it turned out to be our biggest ever. (We had also snagged another, which took our second lure and went away. Mahi travel in schools and you are advised to not bring the first one you catch on board if you are trailing multiple lines, as you will surely get another. Apparently [don’t be sad] they will not abandon a fish on a line.) Fish tonight! And some in the freezer awaiting Beth’s visit.

As we approached the anchorage, we saw a few sailboats at anchor, one 233 foot mega yacht, and close to shore something that looked like a large, very large, piece of metal, perhaps a shack of some sort, that had been washed ashore.  When we got closer, we realized it was just Batman’s boat. Understand that as ugly, or elegant depending on your point of view, as Batman’s boat is, this is a multi million dollar affair. It did not have appear to have doors, antennae, or an anchor line, but they were all there somewhere. At lunch the next day, their launch brought back 15 people from the mega yacht for dining. I could not see the activity, but pictured white table cloths with fine wine and filet mignon en croute.
The damned mega yacht disbursed four or five seadoos (AKA maggots) the following morning, and a runabout which pulled two water skiers, thoughtlessly circling the anchorage and making wakes.  So much for peace and harmony.

Despite the shout-out to the anchorage for happy hour on the beach, none of the Rich and Famous attended. At the gathering we met Martha and Bill from Eagles Wings, Keith and Rose from Camelot, Donna and Dave from Pas de Deux (whom I had been hearing on the single side band as Potted Earth, go figure and what the hell with my five years of French), and the folks from Between the Sheets.
Tomorrow, on to Cat Island. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Water Cay to Thompson Bay, Long Island

We said our goodbyes to Hog Cay and about eight hours later laid anchor at the north end of Water Cay. This is a beautiful spot. You can anchor right up to the iron cliffs and listen to the song birds as well as the nearby waves crashing on the reefs. It has been an interesting season of different birds and flowers than before. More bugs from the standing water from hurricane Sandy led to more birds and an abundance of flowering plants, including passion flowers. The hummingbirds, unlike those at home, were very curious and on several occasions flew very close to my face as if they were considering whether or not to rest on my cheek. Not at all skittish.

The anchorage was a bit rolly but as the night came upon us the seas settled. Nearing cocktail hour, we sighted a power vessel that we thought might be Utopia, and sure enough, they hailed us for happy hour. On the way to Utopia we passed Northstar, single handed by Fred, whom we met in 2009 at St. Mary's Georgia aboard Elan playing Mexican Train. As it turned out, Fred knew Utopia and joined us for cocktails as well. We had an enjoyable evening with Fred, Linda and Herb, who tried their best to get us to return to the Raggeds.

Speaking of the Raggeds, Julian, Maxine's son, was sited by a fisherman suffering with a failed transmission. He had rigged a sail and exhausted, anchored for the night, only to be dragged six miles into the ocean. The larger fishing vessel from Ragged, Cap'N Ryan, towed the skiff back home to a thankful island. And the party was on!

We have reached Thompson Bay where there are about 25 boats, a large number for Salt Pond although at least four times that number would fit. We understand there are now 300 boats at Georgetown!

We sat through six loads of laundry while sharing the world's best Phillie Cheesesteak and finally getting pictures posted to the blog. Lots of folks here getting ready to head to the Jumentos after the imminent cold front passes. Next for us: any place but Georgetown.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Random Pictures, Take Two

A typical Ragged Island Beach. We sift the garbage for seabeans and shells and whatever.
The Hog Cay Yacht Club.
The long climb to Duncantown.
Check out the tee shirt.

Superbowl Party

Before leaving, we were treated to a double rainbow.
This little piggy went to market. At Maxine's.

Pot Luck at the Yacht Club
He was delish.
Conch being dried for making into a powder to be sold as an aphrodisiac.
Filling up at the gas station.
Maxine's Tiki Hut annex to the Yacht Club

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

One Last Trash Burn

A whole bunch of boats came in today, and a whole bunch left. No word on Maxine's son, and every one is laying low, not calling for a status report. After four days, well, can good news come?

We went into the club for a final burn before we depart tomorrow. West winds are coming, and with so few spots to get protection, a party on hold, and ants in our pants after nearly a month here, we plan to haul anchor tomorrow. We will listen to our weather guy, then decide where to go.

Tonight was another green flash night. For some reason, seeing the green flash is a regular event here in the Jumentos. Just as the sun falls below the horizon, some phenomenon causes what looks like a mini green explosion of light. It was a good one tonight, following a great one two nights ago. I think tonight's was the first for a lot of people, making it kinda special.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Boat Watch in the Jumentos

Even in Paradise things can go wrong. The local Bahamian, Maxine, who supplies us with groceries and basically runs Duncantown, has been waiting since Friday for the return of her son. Julius was due back from Nassau where he had made a delivery in his 21 foot open skiff. The trip should have taken 8 hours in this type of boat. The weather was calm but had turned windy. A sadness hangs in the air.

We are so lucky to have the support of the US Coast Guard when things go wrong for us at home. Here there has been support from "the authorities" looking for Julius but the resources available are very limited. Since Friday night we have seen only one small airplane, and who knows if they were part of the search party.

Last year Maxine's daughter had a stroke and she has been travelling back and forth to Nassau to care for her and her grandchildren while her daughter recuperates still. She only recently returned here to Duncantown in order to prepare for her annual Valentines Day Party, which is obviously on hold.

Please say a prayer for Maxine and her son, the father of four.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hunted While Hunting

Before heading back to Hog Cay, we decided to attempt to increase our lobster count, choosing a spot where we thought we might get a better universe to choose from. Although to my eye the reef we chose looked like a loser, in no time we had three lobster onboard and a happy hunter.

While the diver searches and shoots, it is the job of the dinghy driver (usually his spouse, or a close friend with a broken eardrum) to monitor the progress for a spear raised with a lobster on the end of it. When that happens, the driver races to the hunter, grabs the spear, and wearing heavy gloves, slides the critter off said spear into a bucket, hopefully where the lobster can mingle with his cousins. This used to be hard for me, but now I manage it with gusto. Another job of the driver is to be on the lookout for shark on manhunt, and until today, I had performed this in exemplary fashion.

Usually it is the driver who yells out "Shark" or shows some pre-agreed upon hand signal (ours in a fist on the head moved rhythmically up and down). I have never had to show this movement, and just imagine my surprise when Peter yelled out "Shark", frantically waving his spear at me in a gesture indicating "get here quickly". As I approached, his yelling became a little louder and repetitive, and I realized that the shark was actually attacking him, as he continued slashing his spear in the water while he attempted to move in my direction. Holy crap.

As I approached I became unconcerned that I might grind Peter on the propeller, figuring disfigurement was better than dismemberment. He hopped in, slightly hyperventilating. He had seen a small shark, perhaps two feet long, which appeared uninterested in him and perhaps being aware that as a lawyer they were kindred spirits. Then the parent showed up, all six feet of quivering venom out to protect its offspring. I never saw a thing.

We readied First Edition for the short trip back to civilization and once underway, got to see the formation of a water spout from a dark cloud overhead. I figured the odds of a shark attack and a run in with a waterspout in the same day were pretty slim, so I managed to control my heart rate.

The number of boats in the anchorage at Hog had more than doubled in size with the upcoming Valentine's Day Party a week away. We tucked in, dinghied ashore to assess the progress on the annex to the Yacht Club, and finished our day with a long shower and clean, crisp sheets, grateful to have all of the body parts attached where they belong.

Friday, February 8, 2013

One More Day at Southside

Today was a great day. We got to see a picture of Sully, our seven month old grandson, and got lucky with an 18 inch lobster, maybe six pounds or so.

I didn't say we caught it.

Cruisers are great, and lobster hunters actually enjoy the thrill of the hunt. We barely know Dave on Dyad, and after our not-so-terrific outing on the reefs this morning, Dave came by and gifted us with monster lobster, as big as the one our friend Jay speared with his machete during a morning walk two years ago.  I tried refusing (half heartedly) but he insisted, as they have more than they can eat.

Today the Captain Sea, the mailboat, arrived in Duncantown. This means our grocery orders were ready, so we took the very long and uphill climb into town to visit the school for internet with the intention of posting pictures (no go). We had placed our order with Maxine last week and picked up two bags of romaine, 3 heads each, a papaya, a bunch of bananas, six oranges and six grapefruit. Forget what I asked for. This is what I got. Sooner or later Maxine will tell us how much we owe her. I long for watermelon, and real milk, the kind you all have at home in your refrigerator. Oh, and a supply of flavored coffee. I will even pay cash.

Tomorrow we will give it another try before limping back to Hog and the inevitable question "How many did you get?". I think Pinocchio may have been conceived here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Southside Bay

Despite the success of many near the Hog Cay anchorage, Peter decided he wanted more than mini lobsters at the end of his spear, and with settled weather in the predictions, we headed for the two hour sail to Southside. On arrival we found 3 catamarans and rolly seas, and new scenery.

We opted for a beach walk and it would appear that no one had thought of that this season. Without much searching or any digging we found a hawkwing conch, 11 hamburger beans, a shell we have never seen before but which we think is a mouse cone, 3 star shells, numerous tellins and immature conchs, and a very bleached out cowrie, all along the shoreline on the Bay.

Tomorrow we will go ahunting. With Veranda home earning a living and Chris on Synergy boatbound with a pierced ear drum the position of Lobster Master has been earned by Bill on Puddlejumper. Our friends on Blue Bay were on the way to earning the title but ran back to Georgetown for family duty. There it is again, life getting in the way.

Our daughter Beth could not come soon enough for me. I am running out of coffee. (And as I drink coffee with flavors like Hot Buttered Rum, I won't find any until we make it home, or Beth comes toting a supply.) Woe is me.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Random Pictorial Review of The Jumentos

Klaus's birthday party at the yacht club was a huge success despite the rain showers. With the arrival of Salty Paws and Dyad the music combo is now complete, and Makaya and Free Bird get a break between stanzas. Having failed at the tambourine (ask Roland on KoKoMo for his opinion) I can report that I have mastered The Egg, a large plastic container once holding Easter candy but now serving as the Bahamian version of Marachas.  Although absent from the festivities, Happy Birthday greetings are sent to Robin on Seabiscuit and Jay in Vero, formerly of Far Niente. Which reminds me, this is the anniversary of my face gashing. Two years later and I still can't feel a thing on the right side of my face where I was kissed by the razor rock, but thanks to my friend Doctor Bob, there is no evidence of the mishap.

The Super Bowl party was a washout. Mr. Parker failed to enlighten us about the 25 knots of wind from the Northwest and at Hog Cay, this is not a drab of fun. So, after rescheduling the foodfest for the following day, we turned on the TV to find CBS and the pregame show. Discovery joined us for a last minute get together and dinner and we all yawned through til half time, when the Ravens were kicking some serious butt. The following morning we listened to CNN's Super Bowl Update, but had to wait over an hour for a vague reference to the Raven's victory.

We gathered on a few boats for a pick up by Fickel for transport for the delayed party, now a luncheon. I had hoped for a healthy serving of the promised cracked lobster with all the traditional sides and internet sufficient to finally post pictures. I'll get over it.