Tuesday, April 7, 2015

James and Sandra Little came to visit us in the Bahamas this year.  You can tell they are sailors; they haven’t much luggage.  You can tell they are friends; half of what they are carrying is things we asked them to bring (like a new outboard propeller).

Grilled lobster tail for dinner... freshly caught with melted butter waiting.  My 
napkin is already in my lap.

Here is a short movie of the blow hole on the beach at Black Point.  The water shoots 20 or more feet into the air.  The sad part is that the plastic trash in the ocean also shoots up into the air and lands on the rough rock where it is trapped.  You can see it scattered around the blow hole.

Sandra may look a bit tentative petting this pig, but they eventually became best buddies.  It is just what you always wanted to do on your vacation; fly 1500 miles to pet a pig.  From what we saw that day, there will shortly be even more pigs.

Bill found this Chinese fishing float on the rocky shore of Big Galliot Cay.  It was too big to fit in any of the boat’s lockers, so he let it go.  We watched it drift away from the boat toward the horizon.

This is the inside of a cave on Big Farmers Cay.  I would not go in, so Bill took this picture.

The yacht ‘Serque’ dragged its anchor and wound up on the same beach were we fed the pigs just a few days before.  I’d bet the owner had a frank discussion with the captain.

This a the view from a hilltop on Stocking Island looking over the anchored boats at Sand Dollar Beach in George Town.  We are out there.

Irish Eyes at anchor with a riding sail up, an anchor ball displayed, and both a Bahamian courtesy flag and American flag flying.

Hello from sunny and warm Sand Dollar Beach, George Town, Exuma, the Bahamas.

Bill and I have travelled a few miles and seen a lot since I last wrote.  On the morning of St. Patrick’s Day, we set sail for Black Point.  The wind was light, but we made the five mile journey by lunch time.  As we were lifting the dinghy’s outboard off the stern of ‘Irish Eyes’ and onto our dinghy, the pin holding together the block supporting the motor fell out into the sea.  The rope tangled and the outboard did not go swimming. Bill quickly put out a sounding weight to mark the spot so he could dive down and retrieve the pin.  Our friends Bill and Phyllis from motor vessel ‘Oh! My’ came over for a beer, and the retrieval dive had to wait.  We had not seen Bill and Phyllis since last year.  The afternoon was spent catching up.  The four of us decided to go to the St Patrick’s Day Happy Hour at Scorpio’s Restaurant.  Before going ashore Bill dove into the water to see if he could find the lost stainless steel pin.  He got it on the first try!  Amazing.  The thing was tiny, the size of a small broken piece of spaghetti, and was laying on the sand bottom among the grass and creature holes.  At Scorpio’s with Bill and Phyllis, Captain Bill had corned beef and cabbage, and I had conch.  We had green rum punches.  Lot of other boaters were there, and everyone had a good time.

The laundromat in Black Point has the best view of any laundromat in the Exumas if not the world.  I decided it was time to have clean clothes and sheets.  Back on ‘Irish Eyes’, Bill changed the engine oil and caught up on his boat chores.  At bedtime we discovered the holding tank for the toilet had leaked a bit under my bunk cushion (and our clean sheets). It took more than several paper towels to clean up the stinking mess. The next morning was spent finding and fixing the leak. The glue holding the level sensor in the tank had failed.  Fortunately, it was not a large leak, and we fixed it by smearing more glue over the spot.  It is always something on a boat!  Scorpio’s was again having Happy Hour that evening.  We needed a Happy Hour.  The holding tank leak was something we needed to forget.

Friday, we walked out to the blow hole and beaches on Black Point’s ocean-side shore.  We had been there before, but we had never seen the blow hole blowing.  This time we caught the tide and wind just right.  The blow was great, looking like something from Yellowstone.  The beaches produced a few good shells and a sea heart sea bean, making the trip quite worthwhile.

Sandra and James Little were due fly into Staniel Cay on Sunday, so back to Staniel Cay we went anchoring nearby in Big Majors Spot.

Early next morning we moved the boat from Big Majors Spot to a spot just off the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.  The tide was high, and we were the only boat there.  Bill and I chose our place, dropped our anchor, and were all set.  For some reason a forty five foot motor boat, ‘Docs Aweigh’, decided our chosen place was a really a good one and anchored beside us only thirty seven yards away.  While that was a little too close for our liking, the wind was calm, so we were not overly worried.  Bill talked to the captain on 'Docs Aweigh', who apologized for anchoring too close and said he was just waiting to pick up crew.  We went about our chores without any real worries.

Sunday afternoon Bill and I went to the airport terminal, a gazebo, and met the Littles.  On the way back to Irish Eyes we stopped in the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for a beer and conch fritters.  As we left I bought two lobster tails from a fisherman for supper.  When we got to ‘Irish Eyes’, ‘Docs Aweigh’ was still anchored near us.  It was still calm, so no problem.  We grilled our lobsters, ate, and all went to bed.

In the dark of early morning, Captain Bill woke up with a strange feeling of unease.  The wind had picked up and the current was flowing in the opposite direction to the wind.  On deck, in a more than excited voice, Bill called to me to come help him.  ‘Irish Eyes’ and ‘Docs Aweigh’ were swinging together, and a collision was imminent.  Although Bill tried to cushion the blow, the noise of our spare anchor striking the other boat was more than alarming.  That brought everyone else up on deck.  The two boats only hit that once, but they swung threateningly close several times, and with all four of us now on deck and working we were able to push them apart.  Fortunately, no more damage was done, and no one was hurt.  As soon as it was light, we pulled up our anchor and moved back to Big Majors Spot.  What an exciting welcome to the Bahamas for our guests!

While the Littles were with us, we fed the swimming pigs at Big Majors Spot, walked several beaches on different cays, swam a bit, found shells, took a long dinghy tour, re-visited Black Point, and (of course) talked a lot.  A cold front was to pass through the area on Friday night or early on Saturday.  The wind was going to clock all the way around from the southeast through the south and west before settling in the north.  The Littles were to leave on Sunday morning, so we needed to be near the Staniel Cay airport.  Bill and I decided the most protected spot near Staniel Cay was in the channel between Big Majors Spot Cay and Little Majors Spot Cay.  We left Black Point with a south wind and had a lovely downwind sail to our well protected anchorage.

The forecasted cold front came through at 3am.  The first gust of wind was a solid forty knots.  (I will never understand why this sort of thing always happens in the dark middle of the night.)  There was lightning, rain, and a constant thirty knot wind.  The only thing missing was thunder.  We watched the boats around us in the lightning flashes and turned on our VHF radio in case a nearby boat were to hail us, but nothing much happened where we were anchored.

On the other hand, over at Big Majors Spot things got interesting.  The boats there were completely exposed to the waves that the west wind had kicked up.  During the storm we could hear over our VHF radio the boats anchored at Big Majors Spot talking.  There were calls for some boats to take in anchor chain and others let out more anchor chain all to avoid boats dragging or striking one another.  Everyone there was asked to turn on their deck lights so their boats could be seen.  The 133 foot mega yacht, ‘Serque’, dragged its anchor and ran aground on Pig Beach.  Mercifully, it did not hit any of the other anchored boats.

In the morning after things had calmed down, the four of us got into the dinghy and went over to see what was up.  It was low tide and ‘Serque’ was resting on the beach with the pigs walking around the scene.  We wondered if the pigs got better food from the mega yacht than the eggplant skins they had gotten from us five days earlier.

After surveying the disaster from our dinghy we checked out several nearby pocket beaches before returning to Irish Eyes for lunch and a beer.  Later that day at high tide, we took the dinghy over to watch the salvage crew pull ‘Serque’ off the beach.  Overseas Salvage was doing the work.  They put floatation bags under the yacht and with three tugs pulling and a great deal of effort, they got Serque off the beach and safely anchored again.  The word we got was that the yacht’s propellers were damaged, but new ones would be on the way from Ft Lauderdale along with an engineer to fix everything.  It costs from $99,000 a week to charter ‘Serque’.  I guess they’ll have to work a couple of extra weeks this year to cover their unplanned expenses.

Sunday morning it was a cloudy, windy, and cool seventy degrees.  At 7am Bill, James. and Sandra left in the dinghy for the mile and a half trip to the Staniel Cay airport.  I did not go thinking that with fewer people in the dinghy everyone would have a drier ride.  The Littles flew out for home, and Bill came back to Irish Eyes only slightly wet.

It was time for us to head farther south.  Bill and I decided to work our way slowly to George Town.  We stopped again in Black Point, our third time there this year.  On the previous two times we had watched a police boat take things off a rather sad looking sailboat in the harbor. Finally, the police towed the boat out of the harbor and into a nearby creek.  After asking several of the locals, we found out that the owner of the boat had been arrested, we think on drug and weapons charges, and that the boat had been confiscated by the police.  We were told the owner had five illegal weapons on board and was planning a mass murder/suicide.  There are crazy people even here in paradise.

We left Black Point and anchored near Galliot Cut to be ready to leave for Georgetown first thing in the morning.  While at anchor, Bill gave me a haircut.  I am still surprised I let him.  Actually, I begged him to cut my hair.  It was a mess, but it is now (somewhat) better.

It was a pleasant 36 mile sail down to George Town.  Bill made a fishing lure out of an empty toothpaste tube by cutting off the seal at the bottom and slitting the walls into long narrow ribbons.  The leader went in through the open hole at the top and a big hook rested amongst the ribbons inside the tube.  It looked impressive in shiny red and silver.  We had one fish bite the lure, but the fish got off.  Oh well…  I didn’t want it anyway.  We arrived here in George Town at our favorite anchorage off Sand Dollar Beach in the late afternoon.  The trip was uneventful; nice wind and calm seas.

We have walked a few of the trails on Stocking Islands, looked for sand dollars, and generally enjoyed the scenery.  Saturday we joined a dinghy drift, a floating cocktail party in dinghies all tied together drifting along with the wind and current.  It was fun.  The sun set and the dinghies drifted almost all the way across the harbor to Georgetown proper before the party literally broke up and everyone returned to their boats.

I have been knitting furiously.  Bill has joined the Waterway Radio & Cruising Club and talks to other amateur radio operators on the HF radio.  He has busied himself working on our boat and has helped a couple of other boats with their problems.  Both of us have read a pile of books, but so far we have only looked at one of our DVD movies.  It seems odd to be so busy when we are busy doing nothing.

Remember Jimmy Buffet’s line, “We are the people our parents warned us about.”?  Yup, that’s us.

Jimmy Buffet sings....       (Bill remembers the Gardner McKay and the 'Tiki' from "Adventures in Paradise".)

Hope you all had a Happy Easter.

No comments: