Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

It’s hard to believe, but our sign has been on top of Boo Boo Hill on Warderick Wells Cay for seven years.

This is a large heart sea bean.  It is the seed of a vine that grows in Costa Rica.  It was among the dry seaweed on the beach in Eleuthera.  That’s quite a voyage.

The view over the Atlantic from the Northside Restaurant was breathtaking.

Ron and Dee of Ursa Minor took us on a driving tour of Eleuthera.  Dee took this picture of me, Bill, and Ron on the beach.  Ron had the job of driving on the left side of the road in a left hand drive automobile.  Even during our five years in England, I never tried that.

The raft Antiki was anchored in Governor’s Harbour.  It was sailed across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to St Maarten then north to Eleuthera.  It floats on water pipes lashed together with nylon straps.

Greetings from Meeks Patch, Eleuthera.  We have covered several miles since my last posting.

Our last day at anchor in Black Point (May 6) was an especially tiring day for me.  I have tried since we got to the Bahamas to make one of my two cell phones work on the BTC cell phone network.  All I wanted was a phone with voice, text, and internet data.  I chose that day to give it one final last effort.  I first tried the newer phone, I gave up on it, then I went to work on the older one.  It involved unlock codes, APNs, and endless trips though the menus on the phone and through the voice menus of both the T-Mobile and BTC help numbers.  In the end BTC succeeded with the older phone.  While dealing with the cell phones, I also had to get my credit card un-blocked.  Apparently, I was to have let the Eastman Credit Union know I was going out of the country before I left!  I having failed to do that, they blocked the credit card.  All this phoning and technical talk took 8 hours.  Even with the warm sunny weather and the beautiful view out the port, I was exhausted, frustrated, and angry.  Why are Help Desks so completely unhelpful?

We decided to sail up to Big Major’s Spot just for a change of scenery.  We spent one night there then continued on to the Emerald Rock mooring field at Warderick Wells Cay in the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  Although we had stopped there twice already on this trip, we had not added the year 2014 to the previous six years engraved on our sign atop Boo Boo Hill.  Bill went and retrieved the sign, he carved 2014 in the sign, and we both took it back to the top of the hill.  It was fun to look through the pile of signs and find ones from people we know.

The next morning’s weather forecast was for a week of high east winds and rain squalls.  The west side of the north end of Hawksbill Cay seemed like a good spot to sit out the weather.  We had a pleasant sail from Emerald Rock to Hawksbill and were anchored by lunchtime.  The weather did turn crummy.  It rained off and on for four days, and the wind was very strong, gusting at times to over 30 knots.  During the rain squalls, we filled the boat’s water tanks.  Between the rain squalls we managed to do a bit of walking.  We explored the sand flats that dry at low tide between Hawksbill Cay and Shroud Cay, and we also walked across the island to the Exuma Sound beach.  The flats were beautiful.  I found lots of shells, but since we were still in Exuma Land and Sea Park, I left them.  Bill found an almost new aluminum boat hook which he kept.  The trail across the island to the sound side beach was rocky and steep, and I really did not like the sharp pointed rocks.  Washed up on that beach Bill found an apple and a can of soda.  You wouldn’t believe it, but he ate the apple and drank the soda.  (Luckily, he lived.)

The tropical wave that gave us the strong east wind and rainy weather was being pushed out by a cold front.  That would make the wind come from the west, and we needed to move to a place where we had protection from that wind.  Hawksbill would not be a good place to be.  In addition, our visas would expire on May 22.  It was now May 15.  Both the weather and bureaucracy said it was time to go.

The channel anchorage at Norman’s would provide us shelter from the wind.  It would also be a good spot to leave for Rock Sound in Eleuthera where there was an immigration office.  Thursday’s sail to Norman’s was pleasant, and we had the anchor down in time to dinghy around on the sand flats at low tide.  It was very shallow and at times we were sitting on the dinghy and pushing it with our feet.  There were hundreds of roller (immature) conchs.  Among them Bill managed to find one fully mature keeper.  He also found three nice shells to make into conch horns.

After our last at-anchor experience at Norman’s Cay, we were happy to spend the night far away from the other two boats anchored there.  All three boats had plenty of room to swing in the terrific current.

The cold front was a little slower arriving than was forecast, and we had a 12 hour window to sail to from Norman's Cay to Eleuthera even though there was still some chance of rain squalls and high winds.  We left at 8am, motored out through the cut into the Exuma Sound, raised the mainsail with one reef, and unfurled the genoa.  At first I thought the trip was going to be miserable.  The wind was strong and the waves were big.  As we continued on, the wind died some and the waves flattened a bit.  It ended being a very nice sail without any rain.  Our anchor was down in front of Dingle’s Dock in Rock Sound before supper time.

The weather forecasters were right.  The cold front came Friday night bringing us cloudy, windy, rainy weather.  Bill caught enough rain water to again fill our tanks to the brim.  It was again nice to have plenty of fresh water!  Saturday and Sunday were both rainy days.  We spent our time on board Irish Eyes reading, knitting, and puttering around.
Monday, May 19 was a beautiful Bahamian day.  It was a busy day for Bill and me.  We walked to the local grocery store where we found almost everything on our list.  We took a long dinghy ride to the Rock Sound Airport where we both got our 30 day visa extensions.  As a reward for our hard work, we had lunch at Sammie’s Place.  In the afternoon, I did laundry while Bill got fuel and visited the bakery for sweet goodies.

Also anchored in Rock sound were Dee and Ron from the sailboat Ursa Minor.  We met them in George Town this year.  The four of us walked over to the Atlantic side beach on Tuesday.  It was a pretty beach with lots of seaweed on the high tide line.  Among the seaweed I found a sea heart, a kind of sea bean.  After the two mile road walk to the beach and the long walk on the beach, we were hungry and thirsty.  We decided lunch at Rosie’s Northside Beach Restaurant was a good idea.  We walked to the restaurant only to find nobody there.  The door was unlocked and open, the TV in the kitchen was running, but no one was around.  Four very thirsty cruisers started back towards town.  Before we got to the end of Rosie’s driveway, she drove up.  We had an excellent lunch and plenty of ice cold beer.  Rosie insisted on giving us a ride back to town and the dinghy dock.  I was glad we did not have to walk the two miles.

Dee and Ron invited us to join them on Wednesday for a road trip.  They rented a car, and we drove from one end of Eleuthera to the other.  We saw beautiful beaches, Preacher’s Cave where shipwrecked settlers took refuge, and much more.  We stopped at two different produce stands for locally grown pineapple and bananas.  The highlight was the Glass Window.  There the Atlantic has been cutting the island in half trying to join the Atlantic Ocean on one side of the island with the Bight of Eleuthera on the other side.  It first punched a hole through a narrow spot leaving a natural bridge 70 feet above the water.  The natural bridge washed out in a 1926 hurricane and was replaced by a series of man-made bridges which have also been damaged.  In 1991 a wave moved the bridge 7 feet to the west.  The bridge has now been repaired, and the island is connected again.  It was a fun day.

We left Rock Sound and sailed north to Governor’s Harbour. The wind was light, and we had to motor some, but we had a pleasant trip.  It was clear in the evening, and we saw a green flash at sunset.  (They have been few and far between this trip.)  The next evening Bill and I went over to the local Friday Night Fish Fry.  When we had been there on an earlier trip, the fish fry was on the beach.  They have come up in the world; they now have a building with a deck.  There was music and dancing, a limbo contest, and the local Junkanoo band paraded through the crowd.  The world is small.  We met people from both New Bern and from Tennessee.

With almost no wind at all, we motored north through the aptly named Current Cut which greeted us with almost six knots of current going against us severely taxing our little diesel).  We anchored off a nearby beach to let the engine cool down, rest a bit ourselves, and spend the night.

Yesterday, we motored over to a couple of islands called Meeks Patch, anchored off the beach, put up the sun awnings to keep things cool, went for a swim, and goofed off.  Today we will make the short trip to Spanish Wells to see what has changed there since our last visit.  After that we will sail over to the Abacos.

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