Sunday, May 29, 2011
I have taken plenty of pictures of sunsets. Bill tells me that sunrises are just as pretty and took this picture looking east across Great Guana Cay to prove it to me. Someday I’ll get up in time to look for myself.
We caught this dolphin fish trolling in the Exuma Sound. Within a half an hour it was in the freezer - ten meals for two people.
Isabella (along with her parents, Julia and Josh) came to George Town and spent a week with us on the boat. She spent most of her time developing her digging-in-the-sand skills.
On the rocks at Spanish Wells we saw two of these yellow-crowned night-herons. It was the middle of the day, but they were night herons just the same.
We are anchored in Marsh Harbor, Abaco, the Bahamas, and we are now moving north and officially headed toward home. Things have calmed down for a few days, and I have time to write.
We saw Haynes and Laura off in Staniel Cay back on April 30. After a day’s rest, we pulled up the anchor and sailed south to White Point on Great Guana Cay where there is a beautiful sand beach and nothing else. Along the way we noticed the genoa sail UV protection strip was coming loose. The sun had rotted the thread that held it in place. Between long walks on the beach, we took the genoa down, Bill sewed the UV strip back on by hand, and we raised the sail again. That took us two days. Life is tough when you are cruising.
A few days later, we motored the 4 miles south to Bay Rush Bay, another beautiful beach without so much as a single footprint in the sand. We walked the length of the beach in the morning, and Bill later crossed the island to the Exuma Sound side of the cay. There he found a Plexiglas bottomed, two person sea kayak washed up and overturned on the ocean side beach. Bill talked about this kayak all night. In the morning, I followed him across the rocky island to see the boat. It really was a nice kayak, but there were 300 yards of the sharpest, most jagged, loose limestone rock that would have to be crossed to get it to our side of island. Julia, Josh, and Isabella were to meet us in Georgetown in a few days, and it would have been perfect for paddling about with our grandchild looking at the fish and coral below. But… We were 60, the boat weighed 80 lb, the rocks were sharp, and a single slip and fall would have ruined everything… If you need a glass bottomed kayak, it is plainly visible atop the grass covered sand dune at 23°59.2’N 076°19.7’W. That is where we put it down. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Maybe its owner will find it.
May 8 brought Mother’s Day, and both kids sent notes. We motored south to Cave Cay and anchored between Cave Cay and Musha Cay. It was a nice spot. Cave Cay has a marina and the beginnings of a resort development, but it looks like the money ran out before the development was finished. Musha Cay is owned by David Copperfield, the magician. The whole island can be rented for $375,000 for a week, maximum of 20 guests. Sounds like a great place for a family Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday, don’t you think? That’s only $16,000 each exclusive of food and transportation.Monday we motored out of Cave Cay Cut into the Exuma Sound headed to George Town. The wind picked up a little in the morning allowing us to raise the sails and motorsail south. The sea was fairly flat, so we put out a fishing line. We hooked and lost one dolphin fish (mahi-mahi), but landed the second, a 42 inch, 14 pounder. Bill cleaned and filleted the fish making a huge bloody mess in the cockpit. I put 10 packages of fish with two servings each in the freezer. A few hours later, we were anchored off Hamburger Beach near George Town in time for a supper of fresh fish, peas and rice, and the bread I had baked along the way. Suitably stuffed, we joined the other cruisers ashore for a bonfire and a few drinks. Among the cruisers was a couple from Tennessee, Trevor Wilson from Kingsport and Sara Magee from Chattanooga. They had quit their jobs, and still in their twenties, took a year off cruising on her 27 foot Hunter sailboat. We enjoyed their conversation at the bonfire that night and again a few days later over beer and hamburgers at the Sand Bar Grill.
Getting ready for Self family occupied our next several days. We moved Irish Eyes to the town side of the harbor, did our laundry, got propane, fuel, and groceries. While getting fuel at the Shell service station, Bill was approached by a man selling local mangoes. The smallest note Bill had was $10, so he got $10 worth of mangos. That turned out to be twenty four mangoes. Some were soft, red, and sweet; some were yellow and firm and fibrous. All were rapidly ripening, and they were more than we could eat. We shared our ripe mangoes with Trevor and Sara.
Sunday, May 15 Julia, Josh, and Isabella arrived bringing with them the sandals, camera, and book we had ordered over the internet and sent to them. It was like Christmas; gifts and family. We hung out on the boat for the rest of the day chatting and letting Isabella explore our 34 foot universe.
While they were with us, Irish Eyes became our Mobile Beach House. The harbor at George Town, Elizabeth Harbor, is formed by the large Great Exuma Island to the north and the narrow and long Stocking Island to the south. Stocking Island has beaches and beach bars. Exuma has George Town. We moved from one spot in the harbor to another as the mood struck us. Isabella wanted to go to the beach twice a day, so we did. We had lunch at the Chat and Chill on Volleyball Beach and days later at Alvin’s Sand Bar on Hamburger Beach. Isabella dug in the sand, we searched for shells on both the harbor and sea sides of Stocking Island, and everyone swam both at the beach and at the boat. Bill took Josh on a jungle hike and later took both Julia and Josh out to the Lilly Cay reef to see the fish, sea fans, and coral. Julia filled two cream cheese containers with shells to take home. Sadly, the week ended, and we took our guests to George Town, put them in Rudy’s Taxi #9, and sent them to the airport and home. Isabella in her three year old voice declared the ‘hamas to be a good place.
Our original plan was to hang around for a few days of R&R for us and restocking for the boat, but the wind was from the southeast, home was to the northwest, so off we went in the morning. The first day took us up the sound side of the Exumas through Dotham Cut to the Blackpoint Settlement, the next day north on the Exuma Bank to Roberts Cay, and the third day across the banks and through Current Cut to the Current Settlement in north Eleuthera. These were all-day trips – sun up to near sun down; that is if we could have seen the sun. With a trough of low pressure over Cuba the sky was cloudy, the sun was blocked out, and the water was gray. It was like the Exumas with their blue sky and clear water were leaving us before we left them. On that third day without sun we had real problems seeing and avoiding the underwater coral heads north of Beacon Cay that threatened to reach up to grab our boat. That tiring three day marathon was capped off with the shallow approach to Current Cut between the sand bars on one side and a rocky coast on the other ending in the aptly named narrow cut with its fierce current flowing against us. We anchored near a beach north of the cut in preparation for some time off from our mad dash north and for a day a trip over to Spanish Wells to look around and buy a few groceries.
Spanish Wells is on an island at the northern end of Eleuthera and was about five miles from our anchorage. We had never been there before because the harbor is narrow and shallow. We needed a little rest, so we motorsailed over and anchored off the harbor entrance. The dinghy was in the water and ready to go by late morning. Bill and I watched a ferry from Nassau go into the harbor as we were readying the dinghy. The harbor channel is very, very narrow and the ferry used up every bit of the width. Bill steered our little dinghy along in the shallow edge of the channel. He said if another ferry came along we could just step out and run.
We walked around town looking at all the industrious people working on the boats in the two full service yards. We were reintroduced to road traffic by the constant stream of cars, motor scooters, and golf carts that whizzed up and down the streets that lacked sidewalks. Since Spanish Wells is a Methodist community, our lunch at the Generation Gap restaurant was accompanied by iced tea rather than beer. There were banana and mango trees among the houses reminding us that we still had some ripening mangos from George Town aboard our boat.
The wind picked up while we were in town, so we moved into the lee of a small island called Meek’s Patch. It must be a hopping place on the weekends. There were chairs, tables, hammocks, grills, and all kinds of other stuff in the shade of the trees along the beach. But on Wednesday it was all deserted, so with the island to ourselves, we had a nice walk and a refreshing swim before supper. With the wind from the northeast and blowing a little more than we like, our plans were to stay put for a few days and enjoy goofing off.
I woke up at 5:30 in the morning to find Captain Bill already up, dressed, and ready to go. The wind had died down a little and gone to the southeast evaporating my dream of a lazy day. “Let’s head for Abaco”, he said before even the sun had gotten up. Short of munity what could I do but go along? The sailing was pleasant enough, although at 65 miles, most of which was in the open ocean, it was a long day. We came through the Little Harbor Cut and were anchored behind Lynyard Cay in time for supper.
We sailed and motored up to Marsh Harbor on Friday morning. It looks like we will be here for a few days. The weather is not going to be good for heading to Florida this week. That’s okay. I am getting my chance to goof off, and if need be, there are lots of things to do in and around Marsh Harbor. The Abacos are different from the Exumas. In the Abacos there are far more restaurants, shops, and bars and far fewer cruiser organized events. In the Exumas there is more public land to explore and fewer private property signs. It is just more civilized here. We like them both in their own way.