Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 29th - More on Nassau

I've been telling you about a lot of things that we've seen and done over the past eight months since we left home. Just to let you know that I'm only touching on the highlights.
Now, here we are in Nassau, in the Bahamas and this is the first time I've EVER seen something like this .....

The guy in the white shirt? ... He WAS our bus driver. We're all on the bus ready to head back down Bay Street when the police stopped him, made him shut off the bus and "walk a staight line!" .... after which they promptly arrested him for drunkenness while driving a public bus. Go figure!!!
So we had to wait for another bus.
What next ??? A little sightseeing....
Here at government house is the remnants of Prince Harry's visit a few weeks ago. They really had things done up nicely.

On the way past the straw market Kelly decided that she wanted something else so in we all went, to be accosted by the sellers once again.

Looks painful, doesn't it?
Day three in Nassau began with a trip in our rental car .... we'd had enough of drunk bus drivers .... Just kidding .... and in to downtown again enroute to the Junkanoo Museum. For those of you who don't know what Junkanoo is, I encourage you to Google it. It sounds like a great time.
For those of you who don't know how to use "Google", her's what it's all about.

The museum displays an assortment of the various costumes used in the parade over the years. They're very elaborate and many of them have won awards.
While we were there, we were given the pleasure of watching a group of young students as they made their "parade hats" in the workshop.

Upon completion they were all herded out into the back yard to conduct their own Junkanoo Parade, dressed in their special hats and carrying large drums, whistles, cow bells or Kaliks, and the girls were in front showing off as dancers to lead the parade.
We, as visitors were also issued whistles and told to make "a racket".

Off we go in our little tiny car over to Paradise Island to visit ATLANTIS. This huge resort houses a gigantic aquarium and marine park, along with the thousand or so rooms and nice beaches.

The room on the bridge rents out for $25,000 US per night.

Some of the weirdest creatures can be seen in the aquarium.

I don't know who was more intrigued by who .... fish ... or Ryan?

There were sharks of all sizes, manta rays and large sawfish.

After a long day, Ron had had enough and wanted to go home.

So with a little persuasion it was back to the boat for the last night in Nassau for Kelly and Ryan.
Today, we managed to find the airport in time for their flight back home to Halifax. Jan and I spent the rest of the day watering up, fueling up, and provisioning the boat for our departure early in the morning for Spanish Wells on the northern tip of Eleuthera .... some 40 miles to the northeast of Nassau.
We were treated to a spectacular fireworks display this evening, a fine way to remember our stay in Nassau!
Have yourselves a good night.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nassau Bahamas

Today is our last day in Nassau. Kelly and Ryan arrived last week in Staniel Cay and stayed with us for the past 9 days and travelled with us from Staniel Cay up through the Exuma chain and back to Nassau where they flew out this afternoon.
Soooooo .... back we go to March 21st as they arrived on Flamingo Air from Nassau.

This plane looks perfectly good to me, but Ryan had never flown in anything so small. They both said the trip was great and they saw all the wonderful colours of the water on the way down.
Their introduction to the Exumas started as we walked from the airport over to Isles General Store with suitcases in hand and waited to get in after taking a number. You see, the mail boat had just arrived with all their stock so they had to put it all away before we were allowed in. We were given #14 and they only let 5 people in the store at any one time. Folks were walking out of there with a months worth of groceries so you can imagine how long it took for us to get through.
Our evening was spent at Staniel Cay Yacht Club among all the mega yachts and we had a great time.

The next morning at slack low water it was off to Big Majors Cay where we were entertained by the swimming pigs as they followed us into the beach.

Upon landing at the beach, both Kelly and Jan were astonished as to the size of these giant slabs of bacon.

However, where there are big pigs, there are bound to be little pigs and so there were .... all five of them.

The afternoon brought us back to Thunderball Grotto where we snorkeled into the cave and viewed all the fish and colourful corals.
After returning to the boat we were invaded by .... you guessed it .... SHARKS !!! About 15 of them came in for a feeding and all were around eight feet in length.

So, Kelly, taking after her father said "Let's go and see if we can get eaten." We donned our maskes and fins and jumped over the side where we spent nearly an hour with these fellows.
Kelly had a ball trying to hitch a ride.

Ryan wouldn't be so brave so he took the pics .... Gotta love the tan!!

The next couple days were spent back down at Black Point Settlement where we watched the locals weave their palm fronds into long rolls for shipment to Nassau.
A day at the beach was a welcome reprieve from the heat of the day.

Both Kelly and Ryan had a great time trying NOT to get sunburned as they were both very white on arrival.

As the afternoon wore on, it was time to head back out to Wind Warrior for the night so we could get an early start in the morning.

Early the next morning it was time to get going as we had to travel about twenty five miles up to Cambridge Cay and pick up a mooring for the night. On the way up, Ryan disappeared to the stern ..... I think he was trying to sneak in a smoke.

A pleasant evening was had by all before heading up to Highbourne Cay to avoid a passing cold front with it's accompanying high seas out of the south west.
Highbourne Cay Marina is very small and offers great protection from winds and seas from any direction. You know that your forty-five foot boat isn't really all that big when you're among these fellows.

Like I said, the winds were high and so were the seas so this really was worth the expense of staying at a marina.
That night the decision was made to slug it out and make the final push to Nassau. The winds were supposed to increase over the next few days and we didn't want the "kids" to miss their flight home on Thursday. We pushed on into four foot seas for the thirty mile journey which only took five hours to complete.
Our arrival began with a sightseeing trip through Nassau Harbour before finally docking at the Nassau Harbour Club.

By arriving a day early, we now had an extra day to play tourist, so off it was to the Nassau Straw Market where you can buy just about anything you want out of straw. We bought hats, wraps, purses .... you name it and we bought it. Kelly found out just how you haggle over prices.

With that, we were all pretty hungry and upon Jill's advice we dropped in at Senior Frog's for lunch. We were met at the door by this fellow.

The bar is on the waterfront giving us a great view of the cruise ships at their docks.
Jan almost couldn't buy a beer due to "HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS" as you can see here.

After a fine lunch and refreshments we decided to head up to the Pirate Museum ... but not until after some more refreshments.

It was a hot day you know ... and besides, I had my new hat on ... hahaha.

Kelly was finally starting to get some colour, but I think it was from all the booze in her drink.

Well, we couldn't stop now, and just around the corner was the pirate museum. We saw displays from Anne Bonny, teh infamous "Black Beard" and many other well known pirates.
The museum is very well done and contains many excellent displays including the life sized ship.

A fun afternoon was had by all.
The seas are safe with the likes of these out there to steal your wealth.

Our next update brings you day three in Nassau with visits to the Junkanoo Museum and Atlantis, on Paradise Island.

Have a great evening.
Ron, Jan, Kelly & Ryan .... YoHoHo ... we need more rum !!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 20th - Pot of Gold Under Every Rainbow

We're still here in Black Point Settlement today along with 32 other boats. The wind is blowing around 18-20 knots and after cleaning out the V-berth to make room for Ryan & Kelly I remembered that I forgot to post some pics of the unreal world that exists out there......that of the super rich!
To us, there really is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. Some of these beauties are for rent at a mere US$330,000 PER WEEK. The smaller ones are going for about US$200,000 PER WEEK. Man I don't even know how much money that is.
As we left Big Major's last week we came upon these little beauties.

Right off there stern was this one.
Equipped with a helicopter and if you notice near the stern, there is a garage door on the starboard side that raises to expose the jet skis, sport fishers, all the toys you could imagine, and much more. Why not .... there is about 250 feet of hull to use for something.

This one was called "CAKEWALK".
You have to think that the cake business is doing pretty good these days.

That "little" sport fisher across the stern was bigger than our sailboat.
Oh to be rich and famous. I guess we'll just have to keep playing the lottery.
Getting back to our kind of reality ..... it was back to the same old boring thing....navigating the beautiful waters of the Bahamas into Cambridge Cay and making sure you gave those sand bores a wide berth.

The opening at the end of this one was about 20 feet wide with 7 feet of water between the bore and a rock......with current. As you can see, Breeze Hunter had already made it through.

As our route took us around the north end of Belle Island we passed the ocean cut. It was a little on the rough side with the persistent easterly winds. As we cross the cut we saw the "Bahamas Sphinx" guarding the entrance and standing as proud as could be.

The anchorage inside twas the usually crystal clear water in 10 feet. The Exuma Park has placed a number of moorings here to protect the bottom. There were about 10 boats in there including our little group.

So, we're all here .... now what? Oh yeah, lets explore the beach and take in another wonderful sunset. Jackie and Roger were the first to set up shop and greeted us on our arrival to the beach. Oh the life we lead!

The next day was taken up with snorkeling on a spectacular reef and a sunken airplane followed by some beach time and shelling by the girls as George & I went off in search of conch for supper. Shhhhh! You're not supposed to do that inside the Exuma Park boundary.

As we approached the beach, the tide was falling and when we anchored the dingies we were in knee deep water. What a surprise we got 40 minutes later when it was quite the walk out to them.

During our time on the beach we were hit with a huge rainstorm ..... HOORRAY .... FREE SHOWERS !!! What could be better? Here we were in our bathing suits, n a pristine white sand beach, and now we're getting free showers to boot. All is good.

n the way back to the dingies, Jan found this beautiful Bahamian starfish and we couldn't resist the photo op .... so here it is.

Day two was taken up with more exploring as we all headed down to Rocky Dundas, a pair of huge rocky outcrops that contain large caves that you can access by dingy.
The caves are reported to contain large stalactites and stalagmites and was once used by the Lucayan Indians as a sacred place.

Unfortunately, they face to the east and the sea conditions made it too dangerous for us to attempt to enter either by dingy or to snorkel in.

After a long day of travelling about in the dingies we all headed back to our boats in Cambridge Cay only to find this big guy who had tried to enter and took the wrong channel…… YUP!!! Hard aground, and I’m hoping for the crew’s sake that the owner wasn’t aboard.

We were astonished to see his prop wash fly some 25 feet through the air as he tried to get off the sand bank. He was successful after some thirty minutes and left. Guess he wasn’t going to try that again,

If you look close just off the point of rocks, you see a darker blue line just above the light blue. That was the narrow channel that we had to follow to get in there……. Yeah…. Good luck to him!

Departing Cambridge Bay the next morning, and passing the south side of Belle Island we were all amazed at this site.

How do you completely destroy a pristine island in God’s country?

You are the Aga Khan, the head of the worlds Suni/Muslim religion in Iraq. When the civil war forced his VERY QUICK departure from Iraq he apparently showed up on Belle Island, gave the Bahamian government a token US$1 million dollars and started to develop his own personal marina. We called it raping the island or its beauty.

You have to remember that this is inside the Exumas Park…… a no take, no discharge, protected area and they let something like this happens. I gues money does speak.

Well, another side trip had come to an end and as I said in my earlier emails, the rest of our friends all departed northbound to the Abacos while Wind Warrior 1 headed south to Black Point Settlement.

Have a great evening

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19th - Black Point Settlement

We've decided to stay here in this beautiful little village to await Kelly & Ryan's arrival on Wednesday.
Yesterday, the entire cruising fleet here held a fundraiser cookout to help one of the elder women get a flight to the USA for treatment of her cancer. The locals provided a fantastic lunch including ribs, chicken, fish, peas & rice, macaroni pie and much more. For a measly $10 you got a huge lunch. This outdoor cookout was held in the yard of Coreen, whose daughter also runs a local restaurant. In all, it was a huge success and enough money was raised to get the flight paid for.
The fundraiser continued on into the evenight as Lorraine's café hosted a St. Patrick's Day party.
As the people say here .... "If we don't help out each other, nobody else will help us".
I felt really bad on Friday afternoon when I took three Jerrycans in to the street tap (the only one) to get some fresh water for the tanks. As I filled the last one, the tap ran dry. That was all the water there was, as the desalinization plant had shut down for the weekend. Later, in the local bar we noticed a bucket of sea water sitting beside the toilet for flushing as the entire population was now without potable water.
We think in Canada we have it tough, but when you see things like this we really have nothing to complain about.
It humbles you to see these wonderful people struggling to make a living while at the same time you have to admire them for their friendliness and how they are so proud of everything they do. From the young school children in their bright green uniforms to the older folks just walking down the street, everyone says HELLO and wishes you a good day.
I make it a point to drop in to visit with the older folks just for a chat to break up their day, as they do their work around the yard. I meet many friendly faces now when I walk down the road. Even some of the kids recognize me and run out to say "Hi".
At the water's edge this afternoon, a young black boy was playing with an old rusted piece of metal. He was very shy and afraid of this old white haired person who approached him. After introducing myself and shaking his hand, he told me he was 5 years old, went to school .... and liked it .... He told me his name (but I'm ashamed to say that I forgot it). We talked, he smiled, then went for a walk along the rock-covered beach looking for some other old "toy" to play with. The beach is to the right of the photo.

This morning the tap was running again but it had a stagnant smell to the water. Nothing a little bleach won't take care of.
I visited with Doris & Sam again this afternoon as they were weaving their palm fronds into rolls to ship to the Nassau Straw Market. They get about $20 per 50 foot roll that they weave and it takes them better part of a day to make one roll.

I've become friends with Sam who's in his mid 70's, has 9 children and 30 grandchildren. We talk daily when I'm around here. He's a very nice and wise man. Jan always wonders why a small errand takes so long ...... it's because I was talking to Sam for a while.

To get the succulent part of the frond to weave they must first take a bunch and cut the edges off them with a sharp knife .... then they cut off the end where the stem is. The part that is cut off is used for burning "when the mosquitos come out" as Sam says, as they don't like the smell of the smoke. Coreen uses these to cook with when she makes her fabulous coconut bread.

This morning I got a thrill when a large leopard ray swam up beside our boat. On came the snorkeling gear and in I went. The ray was spectacular and allowed me to swim with it in it's arena for about 30 minutes before it decided to venture off to another area.

There are thirty-one boats in this small harbour today and as you can see, most of us try to anchor near Lorraine's Café so we can get a wifi connection on the boat.

Tonight, the wind has come up to its usual 15-18 knots and continues to blow. We were treated to another beautiful sunset again tonight and saw the green flash for the third time this trip.
As the sun melts ito the sea one more time, we bid a humble "thank you" for another wonderful day.

The conch shell trumpets come alive once more in appreciation to Neptune.

We, who are only visitors here, sit back with a glass of wine ..... relax .... and say "goodnight" to Mr. Sun.

Have a wonderful evening everyone.

Friday, March 16, 2012

March 16th - Back in Black Point Settlement

For everyone who was asfraid that we had been eaten by sharks, left to die on some deserted island, or locked up in some Cuban Jail and left to die ...... NOT TRUE !!!
We've been to some very nice deserted anchorages for the past week where there were no people, never mind no internet. On top of that, our new RadioLabs antennae broke last week and we were left with nothing.

So, since our last email, we left Georgetown a week ago and headed north to Black Point for the night then further north again to Big Majors Spot Island for a couple days of snorkeling, swimming, swimming with pigs (real ones) having sundowners and chatting with friends on the beach.
After a few days of that it was north again to a beautiful anchorage behind Cambridge Cay (Lat 24 18N Long 76 32.5W)
This morning we had to depart our anchorage and head back south to Black Point Settlement to reprovision, water up, and await Kelly and Ryan on the 21st in Staniel Cay.
We had to say goodbye to our cruising friends Chris & Brenda (Tango), George & Marianne (Wet Wings), Klaugs & Rose (Gypsy Rose), Darius & Cathy (Breeze Hunter), and Roger & Jackie (Audacious). We had a great time cruising with them all but now they have to head north to the Abacos. Hopefully, we'll meet up again with some of them after Kelly & Ryan fly back home on the 29th.

So, Lets get back to being in Georgetown .......
We found this terrific beach called "Flip Flop Beach" ..... so named because apparently that's all they wear there. Fortunately for all of us, there were no nudists there, everyone was gone.
On the beach, the cruisers (nudists) had constructed this great little shelter, so they wouldn't get burned, and we used it for our get together and picnic lunch. There were about a dozen of us and the food and refreshments were plentiful.

Like I said, the beach was wonderful, but this poor guy just couldn't wait for the tide to come in before diving in.

I told George (on Wet Wings) that he should try to steal one of this guy's fins because they were in better shape than his!
The next day Ron went mountain climbing up to the monument. What a great view from there.

Stocking Island is quite the place for cruisers and has three hurricane holes, as you can see.

The view down the hill towards our boat was also breathtaking.

Here we are just to the right of the trawler. As you can see, it's very sheltered on our side of the island but the waves on the east side are over 12 feet high.
So, after a steep climb back down the hill, we rested before heading out from Georgtown for the trip back north towards Black Settlement on Big Guana Cay. Enroute we entered the banks again from the ocean through Cave Cay Cut. There was a moderate rip current (about 6 foot waves) coming out the cut agains us but we managed it OK.
Once inside we detoured around inside Musha Cay (owned by David Copperfield) and took in the beautiful beaches and bright tranquil waters.

Now that we're back on Exuma Bank and in the lee of all the cays it is easy sailing back up to Big Majors Spot Island to the north of Staniel Cay. This is a fantastic anchorage with three pure white beaches and is noted for its swimming pigs ..... That's right ... pigs .... and they weigh about 150 pounds a piece.
When you take the dingy in to the beach you have to be very careful as these mothers will try to board you and could easily flip you over as they attempt to steal your food.

You'd better be armed with a sandal or something to beat their noses to make them back off. These pigs are excellent swimmers and will often swim a hundred yards or more out to your boat if they think you have food.

After an exciting morning of hog watching and some snorkeling for conch, it was time to relax on our beach with many friends we've met on our trip.

I know .... we seem to party on beaches alot ..... but that's not really true ..... these are strategy sessions where we discuss what we've done and what our future plans are....... and if you don't have any, you make them up .... HAHAHAHA !!!!

So, after Big Majors .... and I hope all you guys are googling this stuff, it was north to Cambridge Cay with our friends for a few days. We saw Johnny Depp's private island and Belle Island that is owned by the Aga Khan.

For the rest of this weekend until next Wednesday, we're here in Black Point Settlement on Great Guana Cay eagerly awaiting the arrival of our daughter Kelly and her fiance Ryan ..... 4 more sleeps guys.

Ron & Jan