Monday, April 5, 2010
Happy Easter! Bill and I are anchored in the harbor off Black Point Settlement in the Exumas. We finally got to the beautiful clear water surrounding the Exuma Islands.
While we were in Bimini, we met a young couple who described themselves as boyfriend and girlfriend. They had crossed the Gulf Stream from No Name Harbor in a 23 foot Compac sailboat that they had trailered from Texas. For those of you who know our Tanzer 22, Canary, their boat is about the same size. Only their Compac has fewer conveniences than Canary; no portapotti nor ice box. They were very grateful to be in Bimini as their crossing was a little more adventuresome than they had anticipated. Bill and I had them aboard Irish Eyes for an afternoon of conversation and a few cold beers. I am really glad I never let Bill talk me into coming to the Bahamas in Canary! We purchased five lobster tails from a local fisherman walking down the dock and had the first two for supper. Yummy.
The expected cold front came through Bimini Sunday night and Monday. Tuesday the 23rd was beautifully clear with winds from the west. We paid our bill at Weech’s Dock and left bound for Nassau and the Exumas. The first hour of this leg was not fun. We were motoring into the wind and waves as we ran out through the cut leaving Bimini. This is my least favorite way to travel; into the waves with water washing over the deck, spray everywhere, bouncing up and down, and unmarked shallow sand bars on both sides. I was ready to fly home! We turned first north to sail to North Riding Rock then east across the Great Bahama Bank finally putting the wind behind us which is much, much more pleasant. It was so peaceful on the boat that I was able to knit. Several boats that had been with us in Bimini left when we did. We chose to sail all night, but they basically pulled off to the side and anchored in the middle of nowhere with no land in sight. I don’t know which would be better – sail at night or anchor. Ships headed from Nassau to Florida use this route. It can also be pretty rolly in the ocean swells. I don’t know if I would sleep any more rocking away at anchor than I do between my stints keeping watch while we sail at night. The night passed uneventfully except the passing in the dark of five or six ships and any number of sailboats headed for Florida.
We arrived at New Providence Island around sunrise. The wind was still out of the west and the sun was shining… so on we sailed toward Highborne Cay. The wind died down a little, and after Bill did some of his calculations, we figured we would be in Highborne after dark. Not wanting to anchor in the dark, we turned on the engine. We were anchored before sunset after 36 hours on the move. Whew!
Next morning we decided to move down to Big Major’s Spot near Staniel Cay. We were trying to meet up with our nephew Seth, and Staniel Cay has an airport, cell phone service, and WiFi. The trip from Highborne to Staniel took us about 7 hours. We anchored and agreed the next day was going to be a rest day. It took us two days to get up enough energy to even launch the dinghy.
The beach at Big Major’s Spot is called Pig Beach. There are pigs that live on the island and have been fed by so many boaters that they even swim out to greet the dinghies. I didn’t trust the beasts with their little hooves and teeth around our rubber inflatable dinghy but of course went to see them anyway. They are pretty unattractive but a novelty. We finally made contact with Seth, and sadly he couldn’t make it to the Exumas.
Yet another cold front was to pass over the Exumas which brings wind from the west. This leaves many of the anchorages exposed to wind and wave, Big Major’s Spot one of them. We upped anchor and sailed to Little Farmer’s Cay. The night before we had watched the video Dove. It’s, the story of a young man who sails around the world alone. Of course there are scenes of sailing fast with water coming over the deck and waves crashing into the boat. Well, Bill must have decided we needed to have some heavy weather sailing. The wind was blowing about 20 knots directly in our faces. Skipper Bill unfurled all the sails, except the staysail, so we were sailing at a 30 degree angle with water pouring over the deck! The fuel jugs on the deck were floating and water was spilling into the cockpit. I really don’t like having to hang onto something, anything, to keep upright. I fussed enough to convince Bill to reef the mail and pull in some of the jib. He is never watching another sailing movie! We felt our way through the shallows into the harbor at Little Farmer’s Cay and picked up a mooring. We hadn’t been settled long when the folks from Sea Fox X came over to tell us the other moored boats were going to the Farmer’s Cay Yacht Club for dinner. We radioed the Yacht Club and added ourselves to the reservations list for dinner.
The Farmer’s Cay Yacht Club is a cinder block building painted a vivid coral color. It has tile floors and lots of windows open to the breeze. Perfect. We had a lovely dinner of fish, cracked conch, peas and rice, and slaw. It was another boater’s birthday so we had carrot cake for desert.
The predicted cold front whizzed by with high winds and some swells. On the advice of the mooring ball owner, we put out our anchor in case we pulled the mooring’s anchor out. We were fine, and it wasn’t too rough at all. After the frontal passage we dinghied over to Great Guana Cay, the cay across from Little Farmer’s that helps form the protected harbor. It is on the ocean side of the islands and we were trying to find a path to the beach. Along the harbor shore were several houses; all but one uninhabited. We met Sam who lives in a house that is under construction. It has walls and the windows in place, but it doesn’t have a roof. Sam is quite the dreamer. He is building the house himself. It has a great view - just doesn’t have a roof. He may get around to it one day. Sam showed us the way over to the beach which was beautiful. He found two big cowrie shells for me. We ate a few of the wild cocoplums that Sam pointed out to us. They are okay but not my favorite.
We left Little Farmer’s headed back north to the Black Point Settlement for Easter weekend. Black Point is about 10 miles from Little Farmer’s. To break up this ‘long’ trip we anchored off Bay Rush Bay for two nights and for one night off White Point. We went ashore to the beach every day to walk and look for stuff. Bill walked over sharp rock and through waist high vegetation across the island to explore an ocean side cove. He has hiking boots and jeans; I have flip flops and bathing suits. I declined to go along walking the beautiful pink beach on the sound side instead. I did not see another soul all that day.
We arrived in Black Point on Saturday, April 3rd. We had heard via the VHF radio that Black Point was having an Easter celebration with all sorts of contests and a Junkanoo parade on Saturday night. Lorraine’s Café in town advertised on the radio that they were having a BBQ dinner before the Junkanoo. We called and added ourselves to the list. Lorraine’s also has free WiFi. Bill packed the computer into our new waterproof bag, and off we went to town.
The WiFi was incredibly slow, so we gave up on that and joined the couple from Sea Fox X and some folks we hadn’t met for our BBQ supper. I had mutton, which we suspect was goat, and Bill had chicken. It was really good. Our dinner party broke up, and we all went out into the street to wait for the parade. There were food and drink stalls along the street. We tried to purchase drink tickets, but we were told the bar was out of mixers. Bill asked if they had ice and rum. The answers were yes and yes. He purchased tickets for four drinks. We had triple measures of coconut rum over ice; very tropical and very intoxicating.
Black Point has a population of about 300. I believe all 300 were out on the main street along with about 100 boaters and a film crew from ZNS, the Bahamian TV station. The Junkanoo band arrived about 9pm. The band was a small version of what I have seen of carnival bands in Buenos Aries. Loud horns, feathered costumed pounding drummers, rake and scrape players, whistles and cowbells. The parade went about half a block down the street and back, but it took them nearly an hour. All the onlookers were walking, jumping or just keeping the beat while following along. It was great! The young kids were out with their friends; you can’t get away with much in a town of 300. Some of the kids were chanting Obama, Obama in time with the beat. Why, I don’t have a clue. For us the whole thing lasted about an hour and a half. Bill and I set off from the town dock in our dinghy in the pitch black dark, but for reasons we do not fully understand, had a little trouble finding Irish Eyes among the hundred or so anchored boats. Other boaters were still coming home and having problems finding their boats at 3am. We just lay in our vee berth, listened to their shouting, and laughed.
On Sunday evening we once again dined at Lorraine’s Café and then attended the awards ceremony for the fishing, basketball, pool, and dominos contests. They drew ten winning tickets from the raffle. Thankfully we didn’t win anything. After the awards a young gospel singer from Nassau performed. Sunday evening was much calmer than Saturday. The drinks stand wasn’t open.
We somehow have a WiFi signal on board today, so we are spending the day doing our on-line business and updating all of you.
Have a wonderful spring!
Posted by Adair Murdoch at 1:33 PM