Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 29th, 2012 - Long Island, The Exumas

Yesterday, we moved from our anchorage in Thompson's Bay over to Salt Pond and are anchored about 1/4 mile offshore and out from the government wharf. It's much calmer over here and a lot closer to access the amenities on shore.
Our hangout now is the Long Island Breeze Marina & Resort, which consists of a 50 foot dingy dock, a marina building with pool deck and a fantastic fresh water pool. This place is basically deserted. However the owner, Mike Smith more than goes out of his way to do everything he can for us.....and he charges us NOTHING! We all support him by buying beverages and the occasional meal from his second floor dining room.

To the side of his marina office he has some cottages that are 5 star and he's built a great little shaded beach with palm trees.

The view from the restaurant balcony is equally amazing. It's hard to believe that all that water out in front is between 7 and 8 feet deep for a hundred miles.

In the picture below, we're the last boat to the left ... Right over the peak on the gazebo.

Our supper that night was easily a gourmet meal at its best. Jan savoured the pan seared chicken while I enjoyed the hog-fish ... both served with hot bread, baked potato and glazed carrots. For dessert it was a generous helping of peach cobbler. Oh yeah .... we can't forget the red Cabernet. The evening was completed with a wonderful sunset over a calm bay.

Today it's time to get out and see this island after 4 days on the hook. Mike arranged a car rental for us and away we went ....
First Stop ....DEANS BLUE HOLE !!
We've all heard about these blue holes but in reality none of you could ever imagine just how beautiful they really are.
Deans Blue Hole is a wonder in its own. Situated on the Atlantic side of Long Island, just to the north of Clarence Town, the capital. It is documented to be the deepest blue hole in the world. You can walk to the edge where it plunges to a depth of 663 feet deep.

The raft in the center is anchored to the sides and has a cable extending to the bottom. This setup is being used as a training base for free-diving NO TANKS .... just fins. The couple we watched had just completed a dive to 50 meters for the woman and an unbelievable 90 meters for the man.
We watched each go down and diappear into the depths.
The woman later told us that it was so dark down there that you could just barely see your hand in front of you. The cable is marked all the way down. Soooo .... what would we be if we didn't try!!!
Out came the mask and fins. We snorkled over to the edge and down we went ..... 10 whole feet to where the bottom falls out from under you and inside is a huge natural cavern into the blackness ...... no sea monsters in here. We had done it and survived. What a great experience.

After basking in our glory, it was time to head down to Clearance Town to see the sights. It sure was a lot smaller than I had envisioned. Along the route were numerous churches but the highlights were the two Spanish style churches built by Father Jerome. You can Google him to find out more.

This is Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church.

Many contained very old Cemetary's within their walls.

After a short drive .... and you can't get lost because there is only one road .... and it's eighty miles long ... we landed at Max's Conch Bar.

Gary the owner prepared a fantastic conch salad for us.

While we ate, we were joined by Roscoe and Rosetter, who were two local fishermen that were in a boating accident and left for dead on Long Island in 1909. They have been here far too long .....

Tonight the MAIL BOAT finally arrived after two weeks.

The government wharf at Salt Pond is alive with folks finally getting their long awaited supplies which consist of everything you can imagine ..... loads of pop, car parts, building materials, fresh fruit and vegetables, fuel and imported palm trees.

After a long day it's time to return to Wind Warrior. Tomorrow we explore the northern half of Long Island, The Exumas. Good Night Everyone!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

February 25th - Georgetown to Long Island

LAT: 23 20N LON:75 09W

Today, at 0900, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer, and were now officially out of the sub-tropics and into the tropics ....!!!For those of you who don't remember, the Tropic of Cancer, located at latitude 23 30N is the most northerly point that the sun travels before heading back south to begin winter in the northern hemisphere.

You got it .... on the way across from Georgetown to Thompson's Bay on Long Island the line went ZZZZZINNNNNGGGGGGG!!!!
We had one.....However when I got it in, our Dolphin wasn't there ..... It was a three foot Barracuda .... and was he ever pissed off. You would be too if you had a big hook sticking out the top of your head.

These things fight you to the end and boy they have a lot more big teeth than I thought they did.

In the end, Ron was the champion. After dumping some vodka down the fish's throat it settled down and I was able to get the hook out. In the end I said "Good-bye" and tossed it over the side to hunt again.

The weather for our 40 mile trip down couldn't have been better .... calm seas and 5 knot s of wind, almost on the nose. The water was a beautiful translucent aqua-marine colour that we'll never forget.

Wind Warrior 1 is running very well now and we're really pleased with her. She likes this cruising thing now that we have everything working.

Jan is still hangin in there as captain .... Oh yeah ... this life is really tough on you.

So, today we're anchored in Thompsons Bay and are heading ashore to check things out. We expect to be here 4-5 days before heading back towards wherever. Oh yeah .... Now Cuba is only 100 miles away .... but we're not going there.

As a quick note ... Scott Hamilton is in Highborne Cay as of yesterday. He's having an issue with his transmission. Let's hope he gets that settled today so he can continue on down the Exumas.

Don't know the whereabouts of Dave and Paula Gaetz but we think they're up in the Abacos.

Last night at anchorage in Thompson's Bay the wind came up to 20-23 from the east but we were in a great anchorage .... just too far from town .... Sooooo, this morning we moved a lot closer and sit in 5'8" at low tide approximately 1/4 mile from the mail boat dock.

Tomorrow we're looking at renting a car for a few days to see the place.

Have a great snow day!

Friday, February 24, 2012

February 24th - Georgetown, The Exumas

LAT: 23 32N LON: 75 47W

Well, we've spent a week in Georgetown and it is a special community that really caters to the cruisers .... starting at the head of the dingy dock.

This small community has a liquor store, a couple small restaurants, a NAPA that's really big, two Canadian Banks, and a supermarket ...All making for a quaint setting.
Over on Stocking Island however .... that's where the action is.
It all centers around Volleyball Beach with the "Chat & Chill" being the main meeting area. What a great little bar.
The inside is covered with autographed tee-shirts, license plates, boat cards and just about anything else you can think of.

Along the beachfront is the main parking lot. They have placed pegs in the sand to tie up your dingy to while attending functions like playing volleyball, listening to other cruisers talk about their adventures or just hanging out.

We attended a seminar hosted by Bill on traveling to Cuba. He gave a very interesting talk and supplied cruising guides, charts and photo's that they'd taken on their recent trip. It was very informal and everyone had a good time.

Later in the day, Jan & I went for a little hike to the ocean side of the island. Man was it beautiful. We entered at Hamburger Beach and followed a trail through lush palm forest before coming out at the top of a 100 foot cliff and overlooked a beautiful beach.

Of course, Ron wasn't satisfied with stopping halfway up so he continued as was treated to spectacular views of both sides of the island.

Meanwhile, back on Volleyball Beach things were as peaceful as ever.

And everyone in the Chat & Chill were having a great time.

After a long day we decided to rest a while on our own personal beach at the base of the monument.
Oh yeah .... Three things you learn down here .... First, everyone has boat cards. Second, everyone has a zip lock bag for a wallet, and Thid, a cruisers drink is you open a can of diet coke .... take two mouth fulls out, then fill it up again with rum ... Mmmmmm .... the perfect mixture.

Lastly, you have to learn to relax.

See you all tomorrow ...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 19, 2012 - Georgetown, the Exumas

Well, We finally made it to Georgetown. The official distance travelled to here from our log is 2,658 nautical miles. We are approximately 150 miles NE of Cuba and after travelling this far it sure is tempting.

Georgetown is the final cruising destination in the south of the Bahamas. Although very small, everything is catered towards the cruiser.

At present there are some 250 boats at anchor in here .... although they say that there are usually upwards of 500-600.

This place is very sheltered and very pretty and relaxing. We plan on staying here for another 3 or 4 days before heading out to Long Island, some 30 miles to the south and east, for a week before heading back this way. We also plan on continuing south until we cross the Tropic of Cancer. Why you say ??? Because it's there and we're so close.

I'll get another update out to you tomorrow ... after fixing the outboard, cleaning the boat, (oh yeah, I did the hull today) and all the other things that should get done. The boat is working great and we're having a great time.
Oh yeah .... the temps are in the high 80's

Friday, February 17, 2012

February 17th - Georgetown, The Exumas

Lat: 23 30.7N Lon: 75 44.6W

Well folks, after a grand total of 2,568.27 nautical miles .... Man, that's a long way .... we finally made it to the last and most southerly cruising destination in the Bahamas. We are anchored here in Georgetown with about 300 other boats, and there's still plenty of room for another three or four hundred. We're in a great little spot, perched under Monument Hill and just off "Hamburger Beach".
So, in a nutshell, Cuba is a mere 157 miles to the SW and the Dominican Rep. is 350 miles to the SE .... talk about tempting!!!
Yesterday we experienced something very new to us when we came out from our anchorage and entered Rudder Cut (Lat 23 52.5N Lon 76 13.4W).
We were hit smack in the face with a RAGE! A rage is the effect of a swift tide between two islands that occurs when a strong wind, and of course waves, is coming directly at one of the small cuts from the ocean. The outgoing tide from the bank can create huge waves and confused water with very dangerous conditions. Given the right conditions, the effect can easily overpower a boat. WELLLLLLLL.... did we hit it right. As we rounded the corner from behind Rudder Cut Cay and entered the cut we were instantly hit with 7-8 foot very confused waves. We took one of them green right across the dodger window. This insane condition lasted for about 350 feet. Did I mention that when you put to sea you should always DOG DOWN ALL THE HATCHES!! Our two main salon overhead hatches were only closed and when the wave rolled over the deck, they were opened by the force of the water and guess what too a shower ??? You guessed it .... The floor of the main salon.
We cleared the area in about 10 minutes and had a great day of motoring .... and why not, the wind was again on the nose ..... down to Georgetown.

Now I'll get back to our time since the last update.

After leaving Black Point Settlement we had a great sail down the inside bank to Rudder Cut Cay (23 52.5N 76 13.4W) however, inside the Cay the water was too shallow for us so we had to depart the channel about 2 miles early and sail outside and come in the back door. Musha Cay, where we departed is owned by David Copperfield and from what the other boats told us, it's absolutely beautiful in there.

In this picture you can see how nice the water is and how well Wind Warrior has been sailing, although we only have the jib out. Now, as for charts ..... Navionics said we only had two feet of water in this position while the Explorer books said 2.1 meters .... and they were right. We had 8 feet of water over this area. That's Costello and Tango following us.
Inside the cut was fabulous .... Palm filled beaches and large caves lined the shoreline.

However, this whole scene was spoiled by LARGE "NO TRESPASSING" signs everywhere. I went ashore to write my "appreciation" in the sand by one of these signs and was quickly chased back to the dingy by guard dogs. How to spoil a beautiful area!!

Back to the beautiful stuff .....

The next morning, February 16th, we left for Georgetown and after surviving the Rage in the cut we were again in the beautiful true blue colour of the ocean.
Jan was quick to try to find lunch and got out the fishing rod.

I pity the poor fish that ever got caught by this fisherman. What's with the sweater .... it's 85F out there??

Ron also gave it a shot but I'm sorry to say that all the fish are still safe.

So as you can see, we're tucked in nicely off Hamburger Beach on Stocking Island.
Georgetown isn't all that much but they have a cute corner where we could get internet access. Here's Jan Skyping to Kelly from the street corner.

More to come later ....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14th, 2012 - Black Point Settlement

After withstanding a very windy night and strong currents all night Jan and I had put in a very long night standing watches while on the mooring ball.
You see, earlier in the day I dove on the two inch line that was pinned on the bottom and all looked well .... Until I checked the area where it passed through the ball and had chafed down to two strands of nylon....NOT GOOD!!
So, off I go again with dock line in hand and swim down the mooring line to a place that had a knot in it and tied our line tightly below it so it wouldn't slip up. At least that gave us some hope that the 5-6 knot current wouldn't set us adrift during the night.
The next morning, Sunday, we departed for Black Point Settlement in 7 foot on the beam seas until we rounded Harvey Cay and headed south. Now we were on a broad reach with half a jib and racing down the cays at 7 knots. As we passed Black Point Settlement a call to Costello told us that they had 1-2 ft waves in there so we made the decision to bypass and scoot down to the next cove at Little Harbour where we had more protection from northerly seas.
WE FOUND PARADISE!!!! What a fantastic cresent beach and teh anchorage area was flat calm.

The sand was pure white and the water colour was amazing. I couldn't believe that there were only four other boats in there with us. The entrance to the cove was guarded by a castle belonging to Doug and Mary Spencer of California. It just didn't suit the landscape ..... But that's another story.

Only one house stood on our perfect beach and it was owned by Frank and Meg O'Brian. Both were very wonderful people.
That night, as we were treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets yet, Meg and Frank joined us at our bonfire.

As you can see, the tide had fallen quite a bit as my anchor was in the water when we got there.
Monday, the winds died down and we made the 30 minute run back up to Black Point Settlement. It's become one of our favourite spots and we certainly plan to return.
The main street is very small and is lined by quaint houses. At each house the folks are weaving palm fronds into long strands for shipment to the Nassau straw market to be made into hats, purses, etc. What an art.

Corrine, at left, also backed the best home made bread yet.
As I said, the street is small with a couple bars, a very small police station, school, clinic and restaurant.

The pink building is the clinic and the small green one further up is the police station.

I had the pleasure of attending classes at the small school for an hour and had a great time. The school is quite small but has 5 separate classrooms.
Most classes only had 5-6 people but this one was full and they loved getting their picture taken.

These more senior girls were studying Religious studies.

Oh yeah ... The school ???? Here you go.

All the kids were very polite.
Back at the dingy dock, the water was so clear it looked like the boats were floating in the air.

Last night for Valentines Day Supper a large number of cruisers got together at Loraine's Restaurant for a delicious meal and a great time. The women were all given small stuffed valentines day gifts after supper.

Today, we spent the day swimming at the beach ..... oh, did I say swimming? ...well sort of. We took the dingy to the beautiful beach and when the tide went out we had to walk a quarter mile with dingy in tow until we had enough water to put the motor down. A new way of navigating .... hang your leg over the side and when your foot touches the bottom, STOP.... Get out .... and walk with dingy in tow.

Here Jan has found her own private spot under a palm tree ..... with no coconuts to drop on her head.
You can see where the beach ends and the blue, deeper water begins.

Sometimes, you just have to remember what all this is about and just how truly lucky we both are to be experiencing it together.

Tomorrow morning, we leave this wonderful village for out next anchorage at Lee Stocking Island, enroute for Emerald Bay Marina then on to Georgetown after the weekend.
It's a great retirement trip.
See you in a few days!

Friday, February 10, 2012

February 10th - Thunderball Cave

Hello Everyone ....

Here's where we are .... we're staying for a few days .... or more.

Today we're diving on "THUNDERBALL CAVE" that was used in the James Bond Movie. Tomorrow, we go to the beach on Big Majors and see the swimming pork chops .... mmmm .... I mean pigs .... heheheh. The water is crystal clear.

We are motoring along at 7 knots in 17 feet of water when I took these. Oh, yeah .... the antenna?? .... without that you guys get no more emails. It's good to about a mile from the base station.

Enjoy ....