Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pipe Creek

Is everyone tired yet of my posts talking about running from the wind or seeking protection from the westerlies? Well, it is usually a weekly event in the Bahamas, so it is not all about fun and frolics.
We are currently in the Exumas, and protected anchoring
spots are few and far between. We opted for Pipe Creek, where is is very shallow and fraught with reefs; we need to enter near high tide to get enough water to pass through. But this was our decision.

We got in with some gnashing of teeth but no touching of the bottom. Put down the anchor, and are quickly greeted by the boat next to us, telling us that everyone has two anchors out. We don't like to put two anchors out since Buster, our anchor, does such a good job, but when one boat puts out two anchors if you are close by, you must as well, so you all swing the same way. So we put out two anchors.

The best part of Pipe is that since the boats are so close together you are bound to make new friends. We farkelled with Paul and Mary on Merry
Sea, Donna and Jerry from Blue Jacket, and Floyd and Patty from Shangri La (farkel is a game; I lost).  Merry Sea has two dogs! Maggie, the twin sister of our dog friend Tinker Belle, and Jasmine. Two wonderful doggies with great owners.

The next night Free At Last put out a call to the anchorage for a Bash at the Yacht Club (another cruiser made up place where you hang up a bunch of sea crap and have parties), and the turnout was massive. We ran into Salty Turtle, which is an amalgamation of the former Gigi's Island and Oconee, whom we met four years ago. Gigi and Vic had just met and started cruising together and here they are, years later still out here. We met another Bob and Be, and there were a whole bunch of the Georgetown folk who are headed North and home. I am sorry but they are clique-ish. The female half of our host came to the Bahamas with another man on another boat and switched during the year. Heh, whatever works. She was more interesting than the crew from Georgetown.

For the entertainment at the party a mega yacht came into Pipe Creek. A mega yacht does not belong in Pipe Creek. It was traveling at about a half a knot and we think it was a new boat with a captain new at least to the Bahamas, and did not know that his Maptech charts were worthless. It was a hoot seeing a bunch of cruisers consulting with the crew about where they planned to anchor (on the flats), and generally, exchanging views about the quality of the Explorer charts.


He got a battery. I got a dress. Willow got a bag. Sully got a hat. When you figure in the dockage, the battery cost over a $1,000. My dress cost $25. I am such a cheap date.

At the Straw Market

Monday, March 18, 2013

From Warderick Wells we headed to Big Majors to hang out with another trillion boats all waiting for provisions on the mail boat coming “in a few days”. Other than for salad, a vegetable has not passed my mouth in over a week! There were more high priced power vessels here than at any time in my past and it would look like an economic recovery in the marine sector is definitely underway.

During happy hour at Warderick I had mentioned during our chatter that we were experiencing some battery issues. (Actually, this has been an on-going matter that my ever-the-optimist husband has until recently been in denial about, and refuses to believe that this is not a new problem.) Word of our situation caught up with Bob on Greenstone (thanks to wife Judy), and Bob dinghied over to offer suggestions and advice. We later joined them on their boat for sundowners along with Nora and John from Sabretooth, Cindy from Island Bound, a single handler whom we met years ago aboard Cloverleaf, along with two more folks whose name and boat I have forgotten. At sundown, Judy dragged out a bag of conch horns of various sorts and sizes, and a cacophony of howling horns accompanied by gut splitting laughter resulted. What a great idea and fun way to welcome the setting sun.

We moved on to Little Bay by Black Point, which is a good spot when winds are strong from the north, as it is easy to land your dinghy on a lovely sandy beach. A short walk over to the sound beach can be had, along with sea glass and, during this visit, small and well worn but large cowries washing up with the tide. We found Blue Heaven at anchor and the cockles of my heart were warmed when Arlene commented that we had been complaining about our batteries ever since Miami. Although I did not turn to my husband to tell him that I had told him so, I have decided to memorialize it here to once and for all document the evidence.

From Little Bay we had a rollicking sail back to Hawksbill, now on a mission to get to Nassau for new batteries before Beth arrives. Next day on to Highbourne Cay, the favorite spot of Bill and Carol, neighbors from Mill Creek. Highbourne has had a lot of press lately about their renovation (and I think a change in ownership), including the addition of a restaurant. When we visited the office to report that we were visiting from the anchorage, a request posted at the dinghy dock, we were informed we could visit the restaurant and the gift shop but could not leave the marina proper. My auntie would have called this getting some hot tongue and cold shoulder, so we tucked our tails between our legs and ventured back to the anchorage without the benefit of any exercise.

By then about 15 boats had laid anchor, including Jerry and Barb on Kumbaya. Jerry was on the computer trying to figure out how to get a new prop for his outboard, his being incapacitated. In exchange for some more battery advice and a few tots of Brugal rum, we offered them our spare-spare prop that had been drilled for us as an extra spare by our new friend Bill on Veranda for us a few years back after we received a replacement for ours.  We won’t ever forget the kindness of our then future-friends on Synergy who offered up their brand new spare prop for our identical outboard when they heard about our problem.  In this cruising life we are constantly reminded that what goes around comes around, and that friends, old and new, are the best part of cruising.

posted from Nassau, where batteries quoted at $240 actually cost $500. each.

Hawksbill to Warderick

From Norman's we had a quick trip to Hawksbill Cay, where we had not been for five years. We anchored outside of the mooring balls at the southwest end by the creek we had not noticed before. At low tide we ventured inside to find flats dry of any water, revealing treasures of conch and bright white West Indian chanks that clearly had washed back and forth over many years, lacking color and growth. I moved all the shells with live critters back into the deep water so that they could live yet another day, and continued following the stone cairns marking the trail.

This is a tough walk over a lot of razor rock so a walking stick and care are helpful. Upon reaching the sand banks, avoiding as much as possible of the mangroves poking their new shoots up through the sand, a short climb will lead to the eastern shoreline of the Cay, and one of the prettiest beaches in the Exumas.

Although we never seem to tire of each other's company, we decided to move to Exuma Park at Warderick Wells for their Saturday night pot luck and to hike over to the Sound to take a look at the monster 15 foot swell keeping travelers in port, unable to make through the cuts. The blow holes were spectacular, fueled with those large swells and a hefty wind chop. A blow hole is created when the water erodes the rocks, forming a hole that is exposed to the waves. A sinister howl results, along with a geyser-like spray of ocean turned to mist, which could be seen all the way into the mooring field.

A caution about buying internet at the Park: don't do it! At $15 for 24 hours but a very limited amount of megabytes, you will find you are quickly shut down. While trying to do one blog update, I was cut off in the middle of the unaccomplished task. And got nothing accomplished!

But don't miss Warderick Wells. The beauty of the park is worth the waiting list, there are tons of trails to hike, and a fantastic swap library containing hundreds of good literature and shoot-em-ups that my husband loves.

...posted many days later at Starbucks in Nassau, where internet is no longer free!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Normans Cay

Before leaving Rock Sound we phoned Exuma Park where we hoped to get protection from the continuing northwest winds and were told there were 15 boats on the waiting list. Thinking the overflow would seek refuge in Normans, we decided we were comfortable where we were, without any reason to move.  And another trip into town could result in more eggs, bananas, and clean laundry.  Last year while we were gone 3T’s Laundry Mat (the word Laundromat does not appear in the Bahamian language) was opened---a mini Rockside Laundry like at Black Point. While there we ran into George and Nancy on Trumpeter, one of the original trailblazers, literally, of the Raggeds. What til they see Maxine’s Tiki Hut, they’ll croak!

Temperatures plummeted into the 60’s and the winter jammies, long pants, and sweatshirts were hauled out. We enjoyed the company of Dave and Donna from Pas de Deux for cocktails and stories, and the next day, moved on to Normans. Dave and Donna know Seale and Hank George from White Stone, whom we met at dinner with our architect Bill and his wife Catherine.

Norman’s Cut is like a little alley between Normans and Wax Cay, a streak of dark blue water defines the anchorage, bordered by reefs and sand bumps.  Comfortable for say 20 boats, that number surges to uncomfortable levels before a cold front approaches. We are there now.

We loved the restaurant known as MacDuffs or the Norman Cay Beach Club, but sadly, I will never taste their conch chowder made with curry and coconut milk again. Another millionaire’s dream is under construction, we’ll see how long this one takes and lasts. A renovation of the restaurant and cottages is underway, with additional housing planned. It’s such a beautiful place, wish them luck.

The airplane of the Carlos Lehder drug regime that sank during a raid still remains, although it is continuing to rust away to just a memory. The drug “factories”, Lehder’s residence and those of his staff are falling into total shambles. On the positive side, the coral here is struggling to make a comeback, and the flowering bushes, although overgrown, continue to display glorious blooms unbeknownst to most of us.

This is another spot that we love to visit, and somehow, hope to fit into daughter Beth’s itinerary if good weather should befall us.